personal data in exchange for cat videos- the walled garden

The rise of the distributed network created the internet, as there is no central control centre and each end node is equal and possesses control, the information network is independent of the infrastructure over it runs. As Kevin Kelly explains, this “internet is a copy machine.” But what happens when walled garden platforms such as Apple App store and Facebook curate the content being sent out and tie it to the platform, stopping it from being copied across to other places? This is no longer the internet, as the walled garden “is a closed ecosystem in which all the operations are controlled by the ecosystem operator.” Because of this, these platforms are storing our data and treating it as a form of currency. In order to continue using these platforms, we must exchange our personal information and data. Bruce Sterling describes this exchange as “the internet had users, stacks have livestock.” As the users have become a source that produces surplus value.

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My remediation uses the biblical tale of Adam and Eve, which is set in a literal walled garden, in which the couple live under a similar “ecosystem operator”. It seemed like the perfect example to incorporate a quote by McKenzie Wark, “In exchange for the poll tax of personal data, we get to watch each other’s cat videos, while Google becomes some new version of the state, presiding over all our bitty lives, master of all our data, in aggregate.

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