Each day brings its little surprises. Yesterday brought two!
I walked into the Newspaper archives section of the Toronto Reference Library to make an enquiry about an old newsletter from Western Australia. The gentleman at the desk, slightly younger than me, said “My Dad came from Boulder; born there in 1907”. Amazing. I knew of The Golden Mile; he knew of Charles Yelverton O’Connor’s suicide and the Goldfields Water Supply. For a few minutes it was almost as if I was with a school chum from Southern Cross!
An email from on old friend and colleague. “Shall e meet for breakfast on Saturday?”. Why Yes! And just to add icing to the cake, we’ll eat at the Eaton Chelsea, where I take coffee and papers each Saturday Morning.
As usual, I have to wait for Saturday Morning to get here ...
When I was young, ten to twenty years old, I used to skip across and up and down the low, Rounded Granite Outcrops in the WheatBelt of Western Australia like the young mountain goat I was.
Now I am afraid to jump from an Eighteen-Inch Concrete Wall onto the Sidewalk.
C’est la vie!
Apparently, gravity isn’t enough when you’re this good.
I have just finished reading “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari, and what a great read it was. The sub-title is “A brief history of tomorrow.
Harari writes, amongst other things, of the work done by Google in tracking disease symptoms in search engine requests.
Harari writes that Google allegedly avoids scanning emails.
But why should we care?
A mass-warning system such as this, with a ten-day advance in recognition of an epidemic, depends.upon as much data as it can get.
Forty years ago n Paris I was given to understand that the RATP system monitored in real-time the turn-style traffic and magnetic ticket passage to determine where loads were increasing (and decreasing) on the Metro subway system so that it (the RATP) could schedule train timings in real time.
That would depend on harvesting anonymous data.
It could be argued that Google is not collecting anonymous data, but let’s face it, if you walk into any branch of the Toronto Public Library and ask for a book that will help you assassinate all members of the Toronto Police Force, you will no longer be anonymous. The librarian will remember your face, build, speech patterns and accent, and possibly detail a clerk to trail you as you leave the library while a squad car is dispatched to intercept you. So much for anonymity.
Using a library computer to do a Google Search won’t help you any, because you log on to the terminal with your Toronto Public Library card.
Using the computers in the Eaton Chelsea hotel is no good. They have cameras in the lobby, you can be sure.
Whenever we do business with another party, we exchange data. My accountant taught me “Business is the exchange of two pieces of paper, one of which MUST be a cheque”.
That’s the nature of every transaction- exchange of data.
So, accept that in getting any benefit you hand over data about yourself. ‘Twas ever thus.
And today it is a Good Thing.