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Cars – More a Nightmare Than You Thought

Of course we now expect Chrome (aka Google) to track you but did you know that modern cars are tracking you as well? According to the linked report by Mozilla 25 out of 25 cars tested collected vast amounts information on you. From the songs you played and how fast you drive to your sexual history, car companies want in on your data so they can sell it or use it to sell you on more stuff.

The extra insidious nature of this is that car companies have used marketing to convince cities that cars are the best thing for cities so many of us, myself included, have little choice but to own a car and drive it. That means we really don’t have a choice about purchasing a machine dedicated to tracking us so that we can use our cities.

Cars stole the roads and now they’re a micro-transaction laden requirement for most of city life. Public funds supply the roads for cars. Public funds cut the grass beside roads. Yet when we talk about public transit we say it needs to be something that supports itself…despite the fact that the infrastructure for cars doesn’t support itself. We dump money into roads at the expense of making cities livable for everyone.

By chance this conversation came up on Mastodon a week or so ago and my first thought was to purchase an older car that has no tracking at all because it has no features that are capable of tracking you. Then keep driving this older car and fixing it.

At this moment, without public pressure and laws to stop it, car companies aren’t going to give up on collecting and selling your data.

Networks Matter

A few weeks ago I wrote about the dilemma of content creators. This specifically focused on the monetary success, or lack thereof, that writers and YouTube people hope for. This week I came across an interesting set of videos on how artists succeed.

In short, gatekeepers matter. The video explains that based on the first 5 gallery showings of an artist they can predict the future success of the artist to a very accurate degree. They also highlight a few hundred artists that didn’t have a great first 5 showing, and still got the recognition of the most influential art galleries. They were able to get a jump on their career by not sticking to conventional wisdom.

See the conventional wisdom says to find a gallery that supports you and stick with it. But if the first galleries that will work with you are not well connected, you’re going to be stuck with those first galleries forever. Instead, work with lots of galleries. Show your work everywhere you can get your art shown. This increases the likelihood that one of the nodes you connect with, will have a connection “up” the network to a more prestigious institution.

In many ways this flies in the face of meritocracy which says that if you do good work, people will just notice you. Belief in meritocracy gets you to believe that if you don’t succeed it’s your fault because you’re not doing good enough work. The truth is that social mobility is low1 so if you’re not already connected to a “good” network, it’s not that likely you will ever be connected to that network, no matter how amazing your work is.

Meritocracy is also a belief that capitalism wants you to have. Capitalism wants you to believe that you picked your life, or you deserve it through your effort level. Thus when you’re doing poorly, it’s your fault and you shouldn’t look at the system. If you’re doing well, it’s your fault and you owe nothing to the system that helped educate you, provided the roads you drive on….you should just keep your success.

Further Reading on Networks