The Data Prevention Manifesto by the Plumbing Birds
The privacy discourse sputtered out of steam. This has lead to the current stalemate: we know we’re observed, traced and tracked, but pretend it’s not happening or nothing to fret about. The question is not when the repressed will return but how? Hackers, have been proclaiming that privacy has been dead for decades, that everything can and will be captured, stored and analyzed. And they were right. What’s to be done?
What’s the best way to protect one’s self if not prevent to transmit data in the first place? Effectual hindrance of data coming into being. How to convene a collective dimension of “social networking” without being aggregated in huge data silos extraneous to us, yet profiting on us? How can we reclaim autonomy in our everyday life, knowing that there are all these sensors, bots and algorithms are still active? How can these technologies ever be decommissioned? Are we perhaps waiting for a Great Showdown, a WorldWar, a millennial cyber attack that brings down the entire infrastructure, a bad solar flare or an electronic magnetic pulse knocks out the power grid and erase all hard drives? Or are we about to fall asleep and be mumbed forever, having accepted that everything we do, think and desire, can and will stored, and can be used against us?
We need to de-codify contestation in order to multiply the lines of flight outside of calculated settings. We need to ask the hard questions, too. Do Adblockers, filters, firewalls, close-reading of terms & conditions and online protests of the collection and reselling of private data merely mitigate the problems that are at stake. Or, and perhaps more to the point, what logic does data prevention participate in? Is it, effectively, the same logic it aims to cloak and hide from? Why do we think life can be informationalized? What desire feeds the notion that big data can be transformed into a knowable, manipulated, gamed, anticipated, preempted, capitalized and controlled life? Are we hedging and feeding Unicorns or Frankensteins?
We’re not talking about the weather. Let’s move from protection to the design of a serum. Do not feed the platforms. We’re proposing creative sabotage, concrete forms of prevention that undermine the ‘big data’ regime on all levels, from the molar to the molacular. Let’s take concrete steps towards an overall data reduction. We will no longer feed the data-hungry Minority Report machines that are programmed to identify emerging erratic behavior. Prevention sounds innocent, but make no mistake, it is not. In many cases prevention itself is already seen as a crime. Do we only talk about preventing events from happening, or are we also generating new scenarios? Data prevention is a direct response to top-down smart city technologies. We aim to uphold the preventive-strike (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preventive_war).
Data prevention is part of a longer history, from native Indian Americans being against having pictures of themselves taken as they will have their soul stolen to punks in the streets of London refusing to have pictures of them taken, back in the ’70s.
Ted Hughes once spoke of the grin hat was trying out faces. Well, that is real. In our case it is fear attempting to become integral. Fear is trying out all human capabilities. Fear can trick us into living a nudged and predictable life. This has come to pass as generation after generation corrupt, spineless, greedy people have been in the drivers seat. We cannot call it leadership. These people, let’s say Bilderberg, Fortune 500 and MBA globally have facilitated anything ‘easy’, outsourcing anything ‘hard’ to places that could be exploited. So now there is no more place to exploit. Hence the fight for the internal space, the very notion of what it means to be human. If people can not be exploited and enslaved but would wake up already the shame some would feel of having been deceived for so long in what it means to be living, hmm hara kiri would be their only option. Most of them cannot wake up as there is no longer a self to wake up to. They are zombies. No it is not a coincidence that we have them on our tv. The writers feel they are real. I, too, see them every day. They have been among us for quite some time. I just never thought there would be so many. And we so few.
Before we launch our campaign and gather the many ideas how to design products and services that do not gather data in the first place, it is important to say farewell to the premise that data is the oil of the 21st century. Not only is it questionable that data can and will be financialized, as if this were an inevitable next step that is programmed deep inside the data itself. We should also question the ‘mining’ aspect of the metaphor itself, as if digging up resources is not a devastating environment crime that ruins our planet, from tar sand mines to coal pits and digging for cobalt. Mining comes with a prize. We want to disassociate ourselves from the dark side of financialization of data. Mind the metaphors you use.
Along the same lines we need to get rid of the idea that data traces are things that we ‘leave behind’ in some careless way. It not only legitimates the drag net, but it diverts attention from the rather aggressive techniques that inspect our browsers, networks, and devices. We therefore need to reshape the possibilities of data production. This also means we need to stop drawing parallels between computation machines and the human brain, between data and grey matter.
If it is true that the machine only works when all the relevant people are convinced, we need to tell other tales. Convictions are not innocent; they are about re-making worlds. You invest in it.
Let’s stop celebrating the invisible, de-activation, retreat. Let’s quit the visualization of data centers, data points, data pattern, data collection and recognition algorithms. We’re tired of being smeared with how Big Data might smell, feel, look or sound. We do no longer want to play into the game or change its rules.
As Heidegger wrote somewhere, Hebel built the Almanic. When his contemporaries wrote the first novels and poetry of old, he invented this tacky genre of riddles for Tuesday, and a motto for April. And the weather? Well, the weather. In his short text on Hebel, Heidegger writes in 1957: “We are roaming through a world that lacks a companion (friend of your home, huisvriend). Someone who understands and appreciates this technical global frame and the world as home for authentic living both equally strong and loving. We lack such a companion capable of accompanying the predictability and the technicality of nature to the open secret of a renewed experiential naturalness of nature. We lack that companion indeed. But we sense his arrival.”
Data prevention is not a strike, it is only perceived as sabotage by the apparatus needing to be fed by data. We do not believe in safe ways to deal with ‘big data’ that have been collected to monitor, and control, populations. What we prevent here is a conditioned, ultimately boring life that limits itself. Let’s get rid of the guilt to do the forbidden, and then feel the heavy presence of Big Brother, the all-seeing God that will remember every tiny move or bad thought. Let see it as consensual sex without consequences: data prevention creates space for pleasure and possibilities, it is not done to save precious space on our hard disks. Being in the space for possibility is breaking free from the dual pole of production (of data) and paranoia (for the same dynamic).
Let us err. Collectively.
We need to materially engage with the enigmatic, the flawed, the partial, the impure, the surprise, the transgressive, the black swan?
These days prevention is an offensive strategy that questions hidden power relations. It’s not just passive hiding but taking action. In WWII the Germans – in an attempt to confuse the Allied pilots – covered large areas with nets or painted wooden structures. One night one single RAF plane flew over the ‘village’ and dropped one wooden bomb. Let’s prevent this political tech design initiative from ending up in the offline Romanticism section. All actions, gestures, thoughts and movement can and will be captured and caught in the data trap. This can make us depressed, but this fate can also be turned upside down. There was and always will be an abundance of data. Let’s break free from the prospect to lock ourselves up in voluntary monasteries and other tribe-like inward looking social structures. There is no need to save data, let alone recycle them.
Data prevention makes a fresh start and leaves behind the tired discourse. The idea is no longer merely to filter, install blockers and build walls, protecting ultimately instable and open architectures. We create new design principles. Data prevention goes in the offensive. We’re tired having to protect ourselves. Join in this new design movement! Make people aware of what happens, and switch it off.
Engineers are taking us to real-time, thinking that it is an empty space. But we live there in dreamtime. We were ever caught by surprise in the plains. The rain dance went limp. Authorities caught us fishing, labelled aboriginals and slaughtered us filled our minds with cluttering noise and meaningless chatter chatter chatter. Counting on this we would lose the open line. This time this time we occupy that space with our tools and dreams as we live and we eat your tools and ‘logic’.
We, the Platform Plumbers, want you to tell us about your favorite things. Describe them any way you want. We record the richness of your emotions and feelings for your favourite things. We are getting used to doing with less. After all the sensors just measure light, motion, temperature, magnetic fields, gravity, humidity, moisture, vibration, pressure, electrical fields, sound, stretch, glucose level, oxygen level, or osmolality, anything else? Probably a few things but they you can do much better. Don’t you forget that. Practice. Start now and join us in shaping the Dionysian design genre.
Do not be afraid: we will work with you and your structures. We do need to appreciate the ethos of bureaucracy. All your assets, as you call them, belong to us to none no one. You my friend who is evil keep yourself evil still, the four horsemen and the jumper are hurrying down.
So it is up to us to make things find the hard road again. This is not a mass movement. It can only be done with those who are on the path already. If you are, read on. If you are not, don’t feel bad, there are plenty things left to do and who knows you may break through one day.
We will see you when you see us. You’ll see us when we see you.
The Platform Plumbers
Platform of the Plumbing Bird
we know what hides behind walls
and how to drill all the necessary holes
for good and bad
to fix, to change and maintain the pipes
to flood, disrupt, deny the waters.
Responsibility is not control
Awareness is a mercyfull weapon for the wise.
Is better to be aware today (brothers and sisters)
and awake at night as we must
standing for responsible data pregnancy,
and fair data under a fairer sky
Plato holds data (doxa) accountable of confusion and all wrong opinions
and Episteme he calls the field of the wise, that knows how to mark the land.
We don’t need faith into some theoretical dogma
We stay on the side of the platform
-on wich opinions falls as droplets-
and we sum up -upon us- the ability to collet these waters
knowing what to share, to store, to let go.
Because we are willing to use the source wisely
in the time of the drought
for humans, animals and woods alike
Because we share the point of view
of the whole ecosystemical bunch
Hold up to this notion of belonging
hold up to your refined data politeness
over their agendas of hidden data policies
and know what you can then well teach
to hold on before what you can only preach well
They say: money
money -without us- has no economical trust
we can better put trust into money that we bake ourselve up
and get on the path uphill
to “other ideas” that are good. Better.
fueled up by remote notions of debt
are obsolete by design,
and going to be worthless
Citizens, conspire to unfullfill the one way exploitation
to grow ecosystems of polite automatic conversations between pairs
instead of feeding motorised pushers of unwanted sleeping pills and snake oil
and allow these drops to be clean water for all of the living souls on this plain
while we learn, and sleep and love, outside,
the un-attended trap of tracked down, data-silos stored,
overvalued, obviousness works against us
we have no agency on the data, and we should
and WE KNOW
and the data is not the truth but her shadow, we know
to be used at will by self hypnotised puppetteers
to create fictions that does not compile into histories;
advertising for unwanted goods;
bed time stories for the lust of self loving politicians;
serving the one ideals of “the one percent”
We should have agency on data
because every shadow is a shadow of a body
hit by the light under the sun
we shall be close to these droplets and their sources
and the melting ice in spring
and say no thanks when we must
and please no when we feel is our right
We shall meet again (brothers and sisters)
on the verges of this gorgeous green land
once a desertified mud-bowl
each of us able to speek the language of choice
to amuse the friends and make the childrens laugh
ad we will be called the platform plumbers
the designers of the garden’s grid
the layers of the pipes, of filters, of the recycling ponds
the choosers of the right seeds to keep
the letter-go of wild grasses and bees
-because no design holds the whole-
we will be remembered as the observers of the waves
the happy carvers of algorithmic stones
that needed to grow into no pyramidal graves
Let the policies of the politeness-poets speek tonight
in, above and below the grid