Fandango’s Provocative Question (11 November 2020)

For today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Which is more important to you, privacy or security? How much privacy are you willing to give up for security?

Okay, this has got to be a split.

The obvious example is online. If you buy something from Amazon, you’re going to have to share your address with them, else your shiny new toy won’t get delivered. That’s a flippant example but it does show that, under certain circumstances, we need to be prepared to give some things away. A less obvious example might be when we go to the doctor’s surgery and they ask us for our DoB again. The problem exists anyway, computers just amplify it.

At the other end of the scale, people who are scammed invariably say “I didn’t think it could happen to me”, so there is obviously a need to be aware of how much information we give out inadvertently.

So, whereabouts along that curve do we fit? I guess that all depends on how adventurous we feel.

In terms of “big brother” security, I see two aspects to this: (i) harvesting the data, and (ii) converting that data into knowledge.

That the “knowledge” is invariably a bad thing (for the person whose data is harvested) I assume is a given.

Harvesting data happens, I’m sure, in bulk nowadays. Every government, every big organisation. But I don’t think many of them are any good at actually using the data. An example of somebody who was good at using it is somebody like Cambridge Analytica, but.. governments? I doubt it. Cambridge Analytica would have attracted the best brains and offered the best salaries (even if they weren’t so bothered about ethics) and the public sector just can’t compete.

Incidentally, did you notice how far-Eastern countries have not had so much of a second wave of COVID? Here’s Taiwan:

worldometers.info

compared to the UK:

worldometers.info

Would anyone care to speculate why that is? My theory is that this is a privacy thing – Eastern cultures are far more willing to accept state authority (and therefore give up some privacy) than western cultures. When their governments want to do something, people tend to fall in line. Heck, we elect free-marketeers as leaders so their whole ethos is to get economies trading again, even at the expense of more infections.

But I’ve been known to be wrong before.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge (11 November 2020)

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), scalawag. I guess this is the equivalent of the UK word scallywag – the two words seem too alike to have different meanings.

In the UK, in my thinking at least, a scallywag refers to someone quite specific. Shortened to scally, it refers to a youngster, wearing the latest sportswear (Nike or Reebok or somesuch) including the latest sneakers. It became associated with people from Liverpool, just as a generalisation of what people wore up there. In fact, I seem to remember that I used to go by the handle “scallywag” on a few internet forums.

Anyway I came up with this short poem. There’s loads of UK slang in there but if there are words you don’t follow, post a comment.

Full of boast and swagger,
Emerges from his street,
The latest Nike trainers,
Worn proudly on his feet.

Bedecked in brand new trakky,
His Staffie as a prop,
He lights himself a spliff up,
And saunters to the shop.

He meets up with his cronies,
A uniform implied,
“There’s fuck all going on here”,
Amuse with a joyride.

They steal themselves a Beamer,
A shiny, brand new car,
Hotwire the engine into life,
But don’t get very far.

A hundred down the bypass,
They come upon a bend,
Car skids and flips right over,
Our scallies meet their end.

Blogging Insights (wb 9 November 2020)

Dr Tanya asks a few this week, but don’t worry, each one is quite short.

Evergreen or Topical content, which do you prefer writing?

I don’t really differentiate between the two, and writing one or the other depends on my mood. I also like to mix things up a bit.

In the sense that a lot of my posts are responses to prompts, and prompts are issued on a certain date, then you might say that a lot of my posts are topical.

However, when I come up with responses, most of the actual content is evergreen, so I’ll go with that instead. Poems, flash fiction, or even about my beliefs… none of them have a shelf-life.

I try not to overdose on subjects like politics, some of which is topical. Sometimes I just feel so strongly about something that I let off steam. Often, politicians are inconsistent, and I don’t mind pointing that out. But in general, it isn’t that I’m not interested, but more because I think people don’t want to be reading that. I don’t, not all the time.

Which do you write most often?

Evergreen, probably, although I don’t keep count. I’m certainly conscious that I don’t want to ram things like politics down people’s throats.

Which of these adds more value or engagement to your blog?

Value? That’s for the reader to decide.

Engagement? Funnily enough, I think my poetry, which I consider to be mostly evergreen, seems to attract the most readers and likes. It’s quite difficult to tell because again, I don’t keep tabs, but just taking a cursory look at my list of posts, poetry seems to attract as much as 50% more likes than straightforward prose posts. For my part, if people enjoy reading this nonsense then I am encouraged to keep writing it. But at the same time, I don’t want to write just poetry.

As for engagement via comments, I have no idea. I try to field each comment as it comes in, but don’t look any deeper. Most comments are from people I already know (in the blogosphere) and actually, it would be nice to sometimes receive something short from people who “like”, but don’t comment, even if just to say Hi.