Friday, December 20, 2013

Acknowledging Diverging Interests

One of the things that REALLY bothers me about people talking about trusting in the market is the fact that my interests and the market's are quite possibly, very probably, almost certainly, different things.

This morning I woke to an email (literary - my cellphone beeped when I got an email and suddenly it seemed like the most important thing in the world) with a link to an article discussing a recent study into American schools and contracts around cloud services.

The results aren't at all surprising. The study pretty much says there's a whole lot of things that schools should be looking at and setting as their minimum requirements when looking into these contracts that they aren't.

Things like "does the information get removed once the original purpose for the collection of that data is gone?" or "should there be a data breach, is the provider of those services required to inform the school?" etc.

It annoys me every time I hear teachers say something along the lines of "Google/MS etc. are being altruistic". Here's the thing. They're working in their interests. Sure, those interests may intercept with yours, but they're still working in their own damn interest and unless you know what those interests are, you don't know what kind of behaviour is going on in the background that is counter to your interests.

In terms of education, the choices are being made for other people so this is all the more important. In order to make an informed decision, it's incumbent on us to learn all we can. The point is, the decision has to be informed and at the moment, it's not.

In which case, people need to acknowledge the fact that their interests, and those that they're representing may be VERY different from those of others. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. By acknowledging these things we can start to make informed decisions around acceptable compromises.

I was wanting an image or a video for this post. The first thought was a really boring Venn diagram (if you don't know what a Venn diagram is, you can be  forgiven. It's no longer part of the curriculum in New Zealand) - that bit where your interests and their interests meet up is a small proportion and what you need to be aware of is the bit where they don't meet up. And then I was thinking of a video on youtube about gerrymandering where they talk about how getting representatives from both parties (in a binary party system) to draw up electoral districts. This normally results in agreements being made so that parties get safe districts. The problem is that the video is only kind of vaguely related to the topic at hand and kind of ends up going off into some rambling tangent about gerrymandering and the 2009 Mt Albert By-election and how National aren't even trying (it's theirs to win).

I had stopped writing this post (and started another one about ditching Christmas altogether) and then came across the perfect video clip. This is it to quite an extreme. A guy telling us that it's cruel to feed people. There is something in there - I don't agree with food stamps myself as it removes choices from people's lives and the ability to make choices thereby further disenfranchising people BUT his interests, his experiences, the way that he views and experiences the world are to his interests and his agenda.

I guess it's for this very same reason that this colouring book is described as "non-partisan" and "fact driven". Though seriously... the name for the range of books seems really does sound like a slogan for propaganda - "Tell the Truth - Tell it Often - Tell the Children" - and given the language used, you can't call it "fact driven" or "non-partisan" for that matter.

Anyway, we need to stop emphasizing with what are effectively psychopathic entities (corporations) and start making some real informed decisions.

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