Plutonian Striptease is a series of interviews with experts, owners, users, fans and haters of social media, to map the different views on this topic, outside the existing discussions surrounding privacy.
Rob van Kranenburg lives in Ghent. He is in constant and full wonder about life in general and the human condition in particular.
Social networks are often in the news, why do you think this is?
It says more about the news now. It is clear that the idea of mass media itself is now adding to the core of problems; its hierarchical notion of gaining more attention or more ‘hits’ is fueling imbalances in the world.
In what way do they differ from older forms of communication on the Internet?
Simple people like me, with no money, no heritage, no support, felt relevant by the ability to publish anything they want on he internet. This is sanity to me. The social networks work like a bit of a tribe where old friends find you, you can quickly see where someone is.
Who is ultimately responsible for what happens to the data you upload to social networks?
Me. I sometimes hesitate to Twitter or facebook or blog an idea, mostly when I am angered and angry and realize every moment that anything I put out there is there to stay.
Do you think you’ve got a realistic idea about the quantity of information that is out there about you?
How do you value your private information now? Do you think anything can happen that will make you value it differently in the future?
I find it difficult to assert what is private at any moment. This changes over time. Strangely I believe I have more agency, which may not be true. The moment people assert their authority over me on account of formal reasons I walk away. If I can no longer walk, I have to go in hiding or fight.
How do you feel about trading your personal information for online services?
A trade off if I get my book, my networks, my data, my texts, my friends.
What do you think the information gathered is used for?
Making me a better offer. I’m not so worried about commercial parties; they want me happy, alive and rich so I can buy. They have no interest in putting me down. I may worry more about government databases but these are not as efficient so as to really worry. So I act in total transparancy and would not mind being tracked, traced and keylogged as it would only reveal my need to create more balance.
Have you ever been in a situation where sharing information online made you uncomfortable? If so, can you describe the situation?
Only because my friends started to reveal data that I knew they would regret later, and I deleted that immediately.
What is the worst case scenario, and what impact would that have on an individual?
In general in particular political contexts: death and worse if you are being forced to betray family and friends. For me in my luxurious situation the banality of my everyday life is all that is at stake.
Nowadays, most of the “reading” of what is written online is done by machines. Does this impact your idea of what is anonymity and privacy?
It makes me wonder even more about why we as a community and as activitists, theorists are so lured into this narcissism of being worried about our mundane simple and rather boring lives? How many individuals have really changed the course of history or have really been deemed ‘dangerous’ by those in power? The case in Holland about databases and abuse in the thirties dealt with simple markers – jewish, non jewish, gypsy; non gyspsy and these qualities can be ascertained from everywhere. They were not concerned with individual authorship or ideas.
Can a game raise issues such as online privacy? And if so, what would you like to see in such a game?
That the end would compel you to get out into the street and organize within local communities for better and simpler relationships between the neighbourhood, you and the world at large. For this you have to share and go out and make friends and take risks.