... in facebook

Young and reckless / bye bye facebook

20 Aug 2013 | 204 words | facebook messengers social media vancouver

So I finally killed (well deactivated) my Facebook account this morning after not using it for a month. in order to do so I had to log on one last time. Turns out that while I was away had tagged me in this picture taken at the 1st human powered rollecoaster in Vancouver in 1996:

Young and reckless

Guess this is facebook’s farewell present to me: A picture where I am young, reckless & blond! If my memory serves me correctly this shot was taken after I had been eliminated in the semi (or quarter) finals of the main competition in Vancouver by crashing my bike so badly that i twisted my rear wheel. At that point I had been the last rider competing on a fixed gear bike after having edged out a victory from Riche Ditta (on the left with the white cap) in the previous round. Richie helped me finding a replacement rear wheel (with tubulars!) so that we could have another race in the fixed gear only competition, which he then won from me.

Bonus: probably also the earliest photographic evidence of me wearing the bicycle chain wristband which I am still wearing on this day about 17 years later.

Seeing with more precision than a state

27 May 2012 | 299 words | facebook politics review books

So i am finally finding the time to read James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. At the end of chapter 2 he makes the observation that…

…the modern state, through it’s officials, attempts with varying success to create a terrain and a population with precisely those standardized characteristics that will be easiest to monitor, count, asses, and manage. The utopian, immanent, and courteously frustrated goal of the modern state is to is to reduce the chaotic, disorderly, constantly changing social reality beneath it to something more closely resembling the administrative grid of it’s observations.

This observation, which is essential in understanding how governments work, is even more interesting when seen in the context of large non-state entities like facebook. It clearly illustrates why the recurring attempts to compare facebook to a nation state (most recently in this otherwise rather informative Verge article on facebook’s security).

Seen in the light of Scott’s observation facebook is a quantum leap ahead of the modern state: Facebook does not need simplified abstractions to make sense of the social reality of it’s members as it had direct and unmediated access to this social reality (if you want to understand how granular Facebook’s analytical grid is, this Planet Money episode is a good start).

In the end this is what makes Facebook dangerous: it may very well be that this direct access to the social reality of it’s members does not justify it’s inflated IPO price, but with increasing pressure to monetize the social reality of it’s members, Facebook will sooner or later realize that governments are probably willing to pay for access in order to once and for all achieve their utopian, immanent, and courteously frustrated goal of total information about their populations.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: