Within David Golumbia’s Crowdforcing article, he goes over many examples and in my opinion, tries overly hard to examine what ‘sharing’ truly is. I found it difficult to make my way through this article because he was unclear, such as when he talked about a “sharing economy” and the effects of Uber and Lyft on the world around them and “parts of the social world that are impacted by their services”. My only idea on what he could mean by that is their effects on companies that offer similar services to them such as taxi cab companies, something I know is a big issue for them right now, but this was never explicitly or clearly stated in the article. He also tried much to hard to use nice big vocabulary words and did not hesitate to invent his own (something else that confused me was that he said he thought an apt name for crowdforcing was as such, but he never explains why. Why is it an apt name? How? It doesn’t force a crowd to do something and it isn’t an individual forcing a crowd?) and even past this he tries to be clever and call people who use and defend Google Glass for xyz “Glassholes” which was just ridiculous to see in an article like this. The attributions of reasons to fit what he is arguing in the Google Glass portion rubbed me the wrong way too, stating that Google Glass failed because we reject the ideals of a corporation when really, there isn’t even correlation and I think a stronger argument can be made that the high cost to purchase the technology was what ultimately killed it, lack of profitability and consumers willing to pay into technology, especially a new one is what has led to the demise of many expensive home gaming consoles, not because the public had any quarrels with what the tech could possibly be used for. A lot of the article focused solely on what if a company (usually for monetary gain) uses your information. So much was discussed about how sharing is related and tied to money, that the other readings for today, from Emory University, offered a breath of fresh air on the subject of sharing and privacy.

The Emory readings were very in depth and knew what they wanted to communicate in a very understandable manner. The presentations of ideas swaying the audience to be a responsible digital citizen. I myself have very little knowledge on copyright laws, something that as an artist will very likely become very important very quickly. The articles and presentations clearly inform as to what is acceptable and offers tools and resources to make it easier on the audience to educate themselves on the subject. I think the issue with ideals like “the nine elements of digital citizenship” is that physical citizenship (as in the physical, not digital world) is so loosely defined, with unset boundaries of morals, rights, and responsibilities, that applying any of the elements digitally first requires application in the real world. I do see people with the physical understanding of these principles who abandon them once they slip into the perceived anonymity of an online persona, but more often than not, I see people who do not posses the qualities of an ethical citizen carrying those traits over into the digital space, at least from my anecdotal perspective.

With both of these writings, I think that something that needs to be examined is the defensive privilege that companies receive: its the self we are trying to keep private but companies are buying and selling our information like packs of trading cards. It is a company like Uber or Lyft that is taking jobs away from cab drivers. It is companies doing wrong by the people. But people are the ones behind the company. The facade that exists that it is a company directly harming others is ridiculous. Someone out there is selling your information and another someone out there is buying it, and a team of someones are using that data to then effect you. A Uber driver or a Lyft driver is just trying to earn money same way a taxi driver is, just in different flavors with slightly different rules. Everyone is just trying to live, get by with a little bit of money however they can earn it (for the most part, most people do have to worry about money and cannot just forget about it) and leaves the morality to the wayside because they need to live. I think that morality has a tipping point in our society where people discard their morals to achieve a selfish (in the sense that the word selfish is the opposite of selfless, and if sharing doesn’t necessarily mean good, then selfish doesn’t have to be a negative word) goal such as paying for food and shelter or their kids education. People do what is in their best interests, or in the best interests of their company because if they didn’t they wouldn’t be paid. Not to be preachy with ‘money is the root of all evil’, but I do think that if there was a better way we collectively as a global society decided that nobody had to work to survive, that everyone can afford food, shelter, and education, maybe we would see a decline in blind obedience to those who sign our paychecks and we wouldn’t have to have this discussion on why sharing or crowdforcing is bad.

Now on the other hand, with privacy and sharing, I think the number one rule is permission. Ask first, always source, don’t leave people in the dark. If you’re using something of the creators, they shouldn’t be unaware of where their content is being spread. If your audience likes something that isn’t yours, they should know exactly where to find more of the creator so they can offer praise or criticism or consume and support their other work. Journalism has been really bad with this lately in a lot of digital spaces, because there seems to be an almost limitless amount of people getting paid to say the same thing. Some are great. Some blatantly steal content then see the consequences of this in real time, such as if they embed a photo without permission, then the original creator finds out, and changes the photo to do harm to the website that stole from them. There have been countless articles I’ve come across that show people compiling lists of comments without citing the original author or even the forum space that they plucked the quote from.

Permission is an interesting beast, because sharing is so built into social media that the thought to ask for permission before sharing something that isn’t yours is a concept that doesn’t even cross the minds of the average citizen. I have friends in other universities where it is taught to them in introductory courses (what would be PACS for us) to ask permission before sharing a colleagues social media posts on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Most of the time the answer to your request will be yes, but for those few times you get a no, it is very good that you asked the permission.

Privacy and the companies ability to share your information is very interesting to me. The average citizen waives permissions more often than they might think, such as when you click “I’ve read the terms and conditions” or “Yes I allow this app to access ABC on my phone”. By doing these things, the user then loses rights to things without knowing that they were, and companies have the freedom to do what they will with what you allowed them. A scam that has been happening on the android phone market is the use of simple flashlight apps asking for various permissions on your phone that a flashlight wouldn’t need access to. Why would a flashlight need to know your contact information or your step counter? The company that put that app up for free is now selling your data that they collected and you gave permission for to third parties.

My takeaway from today’s readings are that permission is always an important step in sharing, and to read all the documents that can potentially take away your privacy. Now the drawback to this is that if you don’t agree to their terms, you don’t get to argue your contract and you simply cannot use their service. Relating back to Golumbia’s point of “if you don’t like it don’t use it” being a poor way to run a system, sometimes the system isn’t moral enough to do anything better than to exclude those who don’t want to relinquish their rights.

-Luke Bolle