In a secret government agreement granted without approval from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently granted the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.
Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.
Attacking efficiency is like attacking motherhood and apple pie, but I am going to do it anyway. The tedious quest for efficiency is a false talisman. What happens when we are efficient at doing the wrong things?
Companies have learned costs are easier to compute than benefits, so they cut the costs in the denominator to improve the efficiency—the equivalent of Walt Disney producing Snow White and the Four Dwarfs. Efficient, yes; effective, hardly.
“A person that loses a partner is called a widow [or widower]. A child who loses a parent is called an orphan. But there is no word for a parent that loses a child”
A very interesting point, that there is no word in English for a parent who has lost a child. Since our language affects how we think about things, does English need such a word? Could such a word bring greater understanding to and sympathy from those who know no such experience and cannot possibly relate, or would naming it risk reducing the seriousness with which we react to that which we cannot even name?
We’ve lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we’ve abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today’s social networks, they’ve brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they’ve certainly made a small number of people rich.
But they haven’t shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they’ve now narrowed the possibilities of the web for an entire generation of users who don’t realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.