do you feel like you are being watched?

fearful knowledgeit’s because you are. the recent discussions about the privacy of data – or the absence of such privacy when it comes to any form of telecommunication or electronic communication – has revealed that for now that even the basic implications that could lead to a meaningful discussion of the issues at stake are at best only vaguely understood.

the increasingly public lives we seem to live obscure the nature of information even further. the general public as judged by news coverage and political discussion seems somewhat nonchalant about their own data privacy, maintaining that private data could not be of any use to those who fish for it (what do you care about what I had for breakfast?), and that those who had anything to hide should better be found out early, with other words that to the law-aiding citizen the privacy of data is not of great urgency. The sheer mass of private, non-relevant information creates the further illusion that what one reveals in electronic form was as elusive as a thought shared with a friend in a crowd of people.

to reintroduce the idea  that information may not be – as more commonly understood – an abstract observation extracted from a state of reality to communicate the specific nature of that given state, but instead the first cause to make reality, with other words, that information is to the “thing” it describes what the letter is to the word and the line that draws the letter is to the letter, to reintroduce this thought at the moment when countless legal aspects of data privacy are already causing the discussion to meander without true force, may be pushing the discussion to the brink of madness, but it could also turn out to be immensely useful.

“In the beginning was the word”, this grand opening refers to the provenance of the idea – translating thus the term “logos”, which refers to the inherent logic and order of things. The order of things as encoded in a word very much like a program that at the same time provides a building plan for a specific “thing”, is the cause for its realization and provides the necessary algorithms to build it. Furthermore, if the chosen word, data, information, has “wisdom” (Hebrew for “word”), which means: knowledge of the world as a whole, to speak the right word is to give the initial and irrevocable impulse for the creative act out of which reality follows.

Maintaining authority over that kind of knowledge as far as it refers to your individual data, even if it included plainly what you had for breakfast, whom you’ll meet for lunch and what your favorite color is, might be a cautious and recommended approach until you could positively rule out that this kind of data is indeed what makes you. That could be the making or the unmaking of you.

 

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