Bulletin January 12 2018: The irony of anti-hype articles

“Good article,” somebody said to me last week about a piece I had put together around Blockchain and the NHS. I had to make a confession — it was a reasonably paltry effort, as I noted, “It’s just the “not a magic bullet” response any “this is a magic bullet” hype. It goes with “Tech X is dead” vs “No it isn’t”, “It’s going to be more complicated than you think,” “Don’t forget the management aspects” and other handle-turning articles.”
So, yes, got me. It’s a conundrum: when to say something out loud, even if it’s been said before? Indeed, I’ll go further than that — it’s one of the reasons that, a few years now in the past, I arrived at a point where I felt I had nothing to say. The danger at such a point is to come out with something like “the end of history has arrived” but for one I didn’t, and for two, it’s usually proven to be rubbish.
Trouble is, in this hype-ridden industry we need the mundane perspectives. Some have built their careers on presenting the obvious as some profound wisdom, but without it, we are leave innovation to operate unchecked. On the upside however, the pioneers of the Internet cannot fully claim, or hold the blame for the failure to deliver utopia. As I say in this article on the topic, “Let’s not be downhearted, rather, let’s recognise that no technology can enable us to transcend our discomfortingly complex, conflicted and ambivalent nature as a species.”
The mess that is GDPR
Moving to articles that were less straightforward to research and write, I said I’d be talking more about GDPR, a topic about which I feel strangely sad. It’s one of the few areas of legislation I’ve ever felt compelled to write to its creators about — the EU powers-that-be kindly sent a hand-signed letter to inform me how my views would be taken into account (no doubt I should be happy not to find out that I had in some way entered myself into a competition).
Why the long face, you might ask? Well. For the life of me, I cannot fathom how it will make our general lives better, at the same time as causing considerable cost to be borne across the world’s businesses. If the former were possible, the latter might be a price worth paying; as things stand, it is not for several reasons:
* Scope: if data giants like Google can operate outside of it, can we really be more ‘private’?
* Consent: GDPR’s need for “clear affirmative action” will likely be trumped by complexity and personal fatigue
* Aggregation: What happens when third parties plug into APIs and unexpectedly affect privacy?
* Unintended consequences: what we see as needing to be private tomorrow may differ from today
* Speed of innovation: this moves far faster than regulation, and by nature works to ‘leverage’ its gaps.
Still, we are where we are and for now, we will all have to suck it up. As one reader, Peter, points out, “Just one point. GDPR is already a mess and is likely to be used as an excuse for price hikes.”
Extra-curricular
There’s a new GAWI (Getting Away With It) podcast up, while largely non-technical it does venture into some of the above. I’ve configured a Raspberry Pi for use as part of my house-wide AirPlay music network, which is a darn sight cheaper than the alternatives. Piano practice continues — I’ll be updating the vlog. And meanwhile, I’ve been revising the synopsis of the novel I am writing this year, more soon!
Finally, I’ve not quite managed the step to MailChimp just yet, so for now this is still coming from my desktop. Thank you to all my subscribers. Any questions, feedback or requests to unsubscribe, let me know.
Until next time, Jon

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