a week in wireless

A Week In Wireless – Trust me, I’m smart

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Mrs. Informer went jet-setting this week, which gave The Informer a chance to catch up on some long-forgotten pleasures. First on the list was staying up far beyond a reasonable hour watching trash TV, eating conveniently delivered food that’s less than suited for managing one’s slender physique, and playing online video games. Because who needs friends anyway? All of The Informer’s friends are digital nowadays, in any case.

In amongst what became a haze of tortilla chips, late night TV casino shows and a slightly worrying addiction to polygonal video-game violence, an intriguing advert found its way onto the TV screen. Apparently, there’s a world out there where people actually make friends in real life (or “irl”, as we say online), share experiences, like each other and go out and do things together. A concept sadly lost on The Informer over the past few days.

Wiping away cheese-flavoured dust, and with tears streaming from his eyes, The Informer realised the power of relationships and the heart-warming joy a life-well-lived brings when shared with loved ones. Think of it as the ending of both It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol rolled into one.

Curious to see exactly what advertising genius had made such an emotionally compelling message, The Informer almost choked on his pop drink when the grim realisation dawned upon him that he’d been duped by a cunning marketer. Ironically, the conspirator behind an advertisement endorsing the power of physical human interaction was everyone’s favourite blue-thumbed digital friendship platform, Facebook.

It was the first time the OTT giant has appeared in front of The Informer on his television screen, and the next day it found itself plastered to the wall of his local tube station on his way to work. And the question why has Facebook turned to more mainstream, conventional forms of marketing has played on his mind in the hours and days since.

While I’m sure there are suitable, reasonable and logical answers to this question, the Orwellian conspiracy theorist inside The Informer leads him onto the next logical conclusion: Facebook doesn’t want you to forget to tell it everything you do, and who you do it with, and when you do it. Apparently digital privacy is becoming a “thing” again, after The Informer felt compelled to have a bit of a rant about it last week, too.

Over a spot of lunch this week, an industry colleague claimed Facebook’s database contains “the sort of information any intelligence gathering agency in the world would kill for”, ignoring the potentially contentious use of the penultimate word. And therein lays everything valuable about the social media platform.

As we alluded to last week, there’s been furore about digital snooping and personal privacy since someone kindly posted Samsung’s Ts & Cs about its “listening” TV’s. As one would imagine, several news outlets ran with a scaremongering approach, and this was compounded earlier this week when the good-ole Beeb posted a quaint little feature about how the internet of things will turn your toaster into a “silent recruit in a ‘thingbot’ army”.

It would be remiss of The Informer to highlight how said article appears to misunderstand the purpose of the technology in order to perpetuate the fear we’ve all had of robots taking over the planet since Arnie first graced our screens as the Terminator. It did, however, lead The Informer to question why exactly everyone is outraged by the idea of having intelligent, connected devices.

Of course, firstly, there’s the fear that connected devices could be used for malicious purposes, hacked remotely to conduct evil deeds on behalf of evil people.

More rationally speaking, however, there’s a likelihood of it coming down to the principle of personal privacy. Presumably, we must all secretly have a desire to not tell anyone anything about anything we do, ever.

“It’s all about trust,” The Informer’s aforementioned colleague concluded. There has to be a huge amount of trust placed by customers in their provider of smart-things before the utopian dream of a fully connected house, fridge’n’all, comes to fruition. Paradoxically, that trust has to be earned before it can be given.

And therein lays the problem. Facebook has proven that trust goes a long way, else why would over a billion monthly mobile users continue to integrate it into their most personal applications?

The Informer realised that Facebook had a log every time he wasted a few hours on his gaming console; every time he played Cwazy Candy Legacy on his phone; every Internet-based quiz he ever took to find out which “Friends” character he should start a business with (Ross, by the way); everyone he ever dated; everyone they’d ever dated; every picture he’d taken in every place he’d ever been with everyone he was there with. The longer you think about it the longer and longer that list gets.

Facebook knows because a huge amount of people integrate it with most software they use on their mobile, instead of creating yet another log-in. It knows because we trust it, for the best part, to protect that data and not abuse it.

There’s sure to be more scary headlines before widespread adoption of consumer-IoT becomes reality, but before the same can be said for hardware, that trust has to be established, and it has to be earned.

The Informer’s off to tidy up, have a shower and buy some flowers before Mrs. Informer comes home and gives him a telling off.

Take care,

The Informer.

  • Samsung Electronics

One comment

  1. Martyn Fricker 20/02/2015 @ 5:39 pm

    I don’t always read telecom articles. But when I do, I prefer The Informer. Thank you Informer for bringing humour and observation to the telecom world.

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