Art took a seat on the globalisation train centuries ago, as long back to the first camel/mule trains that opened up the Silk Road and trade between East and West. Even to the present day in the wake of the worldwide financial crash which began in 2008, art has been of the areas of commerce that have seen the emergence of new markets, China, India and some South American economies have produced new buyers and auction houses. Also, the Internet has produced a market place which allows for more access and transparency and is even threatening to have an impact on the traditional vendors of high-end art. The auction houses of London, Paris and New York have to compete for customers in this new technological age. The likes of Christies and other established auction houses now provide live on-line sales, while new on-line outlets such as eBay etc. Are coming up fast to try and claim their slice of the pie.
However, a presentation by another visiting artist, Sarah T. Gold, did raise an issue that I believe; now more so than ever, that should be of concern to us all.
Data is the treasure that corporations, governments and even organised criminal enterprises seem willing to go to almost any lengths to accumulate. With, many going beyond the, admittedly weak and ineffective laws that are currently in place. Without the knowledge, permission of those who the information concerns.
“We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge” (4. Rutherford D. Rogers)
Sarah T. Gold in her lecture to us vividly portrayed how aggressive and sometimes criminal lengths the pursuit for the acquisition of data has become. It is no exaggeration to say that, with the development of software and other tailored made applications, personal information is being harvested every second of every minute of every hour we spend using Internet based services. More often than not, we are not even aware who is doing this harvesting, for what purposes and who they sell it on to at vast profits. After all, if stopped on the street by a perfect stranger and asked for personal details and preferences on all kinds of areas of our lives, the usual and accepted response would be a curt suggestion as to where the person asking could stick his inquisitiveness.
Every consumer, user or participant in the Internet Age has had a Digital Profile created; it is added too with virtually every stroke of our computer, Ipad or Smart Phones keyboard. Granted, this information is, initially, very fragmented with many, many various interested companies, each possessing a relatively small amount of data on an individual. But reciprocal deals between companies and general mass scrutiny by official bodies ensure our digital profiles are becoming more comprehensive and detailed in their content and therefore making them a more valuable as a commodity to interested parties, namely other commercial concerns and their advertisers, making the targeting of the individual for their wares easier to identify and target. It is an area of the Internet that has been largely left to the devices of those who seek to maximise profits, with relatively limited public interest, to most people it seems a rather innocuous activity but once aware of the scale of it people tend to resent what they consider to be, basically snooping, if not altogether surveillance. We should not forget that repressive regimes across the world have also recognised the advantages of knowing more and more about its citizens and possible opponents and come up with some strange and not so wonderful uses for using such amounts of personal data.
“ Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker” ( 5. Nelson Mandela.)
What is perhaps most disturbing, if not downright frightening is that with the passing of time, some and eventually, if change is not forthcoming, digital profiles are being started from virtually birth. Making the ability to predetermine lives a distinct possibility, not a comforting scenario at all.
The answer to the question of data harvesting has to be addressed and soon, there must be personal ownership of our digital profiles. Sarah T. Gold argues for Digital Licensing, giving ownership back to the individual who can then decide who and what can have access to the data in their digital profiles. The Alternet, as designed and being promoted by Sarah T. Gold could be part of the solution. It is a civic, autonomous network that operates in tandem with the existing Internet model, run by us to be completely transparent and so promote and allow for Fair Trade to be the norm. It would also hand back ownership of our digital profiles by the creation of easy, understandable digital licenses that inform sides, the individual and those who crave our personal data just where boundaries are. Laws will, no doubt have to be created, and ok, “what! More laws?” I hear people cry, but, when our eyes are fully opened to what is happening, the price is worth paying. The only available escape from the Data pirates was to educate oneself in the ways and means of using the Dark Web, the likes of Tor for example. Only problem with doing so, is the perception commonly held, is that by doing so, and concealing your presence and browsing activities you must be up to some skulduggery or other. I must admit, out of all the lectures that helped make up this term I did not for a second ever envisage that it would be the sterile, dull sounding world of Data that would engage me so much.
“Globalisation is a great thing but it needs a legal framework in which to blossom” (6. Loretta Napoleoni ).