Big Tech: Convenience In Centralization & The Implications Thereof
Think now if you will about the magnificent size of the biggest technology corporations, or perhaps what the names of these companies are.
Google certainly comes to mind. On the surface, a simple little search engine that can pull in billions of results at once. If you want to be anybody on the vast landscape that is the information superhighway, you will generally employ something called “search engine optimization” to make sure you can be found through this and similar services, which further expands their power. Google is probably the most popular search engine out there, as it is the most popular email service. Gmail has over one billion active users, and it's fairly easy to see why. Having a Gmail inbox (and by extension, a Google account) gives you access to more convenient services that the big ol' G provides. Ever heard of Google Drive? Don't lie to me, yes you have. For no monetary cost (what we call “price” in economics), you have access to fifteen gigabytes of storage and a collaborative office suite all in the comfort of the “cloud” (Google's servers). But that's not all. Ever heard of YouTube? Stop lying to me, you absolutely have. That's Google too. The Android operating system on the very popular Samsung phones? Yea, Google did that too. Those laptop-wannabes that infect government schooling institutions known as Chromebooks? You get the point.
But before I go ahead and make my point, let's talk for a second about Facebook. Whilst declining in popularity with my generation, it is still very relevant in society today. Does the concept “Fear Of Missing Out” sound familiar to you? That would be the greatest argument for adopting Facebook into your browsing habits. “Everyone else is on Facebook, so why aren't you?”. And even if you don't use the titular service itself, Messenger and Instagram are both popular offerings of theirs that many people still use.
And what about our good buddy Amazon? Absolutely THE name in online shipping... and audio-books via Audible... and a formidable streaming service in the form of Prime... and the proud owner of Whole Foods.
Ok, so enough beating around the silicon bush. Our Internet consumption nowadays is generally consolidated to a few big websites, rather than many smaller ones. That sure is convenient, don't get me wrong. If you could get more done with fewer pages, you are being technologically efficient to some capacity. In fact, if you are using Google, Facebook, and Amazon on a regular basis, you are among millions of people who are, in this sense, technologically efficient. Emphasis on millions. These companies have millions of users' data.
Say what you will about privacy policies and companies' statements with regards to privacy. Most if not all of the software powering how we interact with these organizations are proprietary. We can't say for sure what data is being collected, what third party websites are being connected, and how your information is being used once collected. The more you interact with these and similar websites, the more information about yourself they receive. Your location via the IP address you log on with, your interests based upon posts you like & videos you click, what you buy, who you know and interact with (and the conversations that transpire), et cetera. But these sites are so damn convenient.
Just for the record, I'm not stating anything that isn't common knowledge or proposing any revolutionary solution to what I see as a problem of centralization. But consider the following: All three of the companies mentioned have invested interest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology (in the form of Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Facebook Portal) which is meant to be always on and out in the open. Again, we don't know the inner-workings of their software, and we can't say how much of our conversations are submitted back to these companies.
Also, do note that the US Government, among others, has their own surveillance interests, namely in the form of the NSA (whom could at the very least do us all a favor and change the 'S' in the acronym to surveillance). Surely they know of the data that big-tech has access to, and how it could assist their malicious intentions. Look y'all, I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.