Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Watching the Watchers: Leaders, Manipulators, and the Panopticon

Welcome to 2012 everyone!  Personally, 2011 was a rough year, and I am hoping that the new year will bring a brighter future for everyone, we sure could use it. For that reason, I'm not going to bother with a retrospective or resolutions this year.  Nope, let's start it off with some nice, ambiguous stories about what our Big Brothers are up to.

Whatever your opinion of the public schools, you will be hard pressed to argue the proliferation of standardized testing over the last couple of decades has not caused changes. Recently a member of a school board in California tried his hand at the tenth grade standardized reading and math tests. Of his performance on the math test he had the following to say, "The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly." He performed at a D level on the reading test as well. This prompted much derision from the usual suspects, especially after his identity was revealed and it showed his degrees to be in education. One expects that from the internet, but the article itself is knocking the testing itself. So the trick to this story is figuring out where you believe the incompetence lies.

Over in Washington, the SOPA bill which seeks to give the big media companies the right to break the internet and potentially put people in jail for five years for a first copyright offense is generating jobs.  Lobbying jobs that is. Are these people fighting on in the private sector for the things they believed in while in public service, or are such things evidence of corruption and quid pro quo relationships between the government bureaucracy and large corporations?

Meanwhile, people still want to know what you are up to, for your own protection of course. The proliferation of personal technology and the sensors and data that go along with it have created a market wherein shady, potentially malicious exploits are used in products sold to corporations, governments, and police forces around the world. Also unsurprisingly, military drones are trickling down into police use. Are these the necessary steps needed to protect a technologically advanced society from crime, or bricks in the metaphorical panopticon wall of a controlled society?

The choices my friends, are yours.

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