Is being transparent a good thing? This was one of the questions brought up in this week’s class. The debate began by Glen introducing one of the texts that were assigned to read; Opacity. Opacity is a theory based academic essay written by the philosopher Édouard Glissant who argues against the need for transparency and instead “clamor for the right to opacity for everyone.”¹ Glissant comes from a small Caribbean island that was colonised and as a result the privacy of the tenants was disturbed. Even though this theory of opacity was developed in the 20th century, it is relevant in today’s world more than ever with the rise of data sharing platforms.
This conflict is evident in the TedxOxford ‘Fake It’ talk delivered by Pernille Tranberg and the documentary ‘Power of Privacy’ by Aleks Krotoski. Both of these videos do an excellent job at describing the conflict between opacity and transparency. They also explain the dangerous dark side of transparency and how the data that we share online can be used against us.
During the debate in class a lot of opinions have been raised and one point that I myself made was whether we have any choice in privacy anymore. Where ever we go there are CCTV cameras for our ‘safety’ just like it can be seen in the photo above, before getting the train back home my friend and I decided to get a coffee for the journey and we noticed the CCTV camera screen recording us as well as the cashier and the person preparing our drinks, it seems that we are constantly being watched by the CCTV cameras that are technically there for our safety.
Our phones track our location constantly right now and we all allow them to just so we can take a pretty snapchat with a nice geo-filter to show our friends where we are right now. On the note of Snapchat they also recently introduced a map that allows everyone see where exactly you are and whether you are on the move or not. Once I saw that option I immediately turned it off as I felt that I was being stalked by my own phone. Phones became such necessity in the 21st century, when I forget my phone I will force my parents to drive back home so I can get it because without it I feel like a part of me is missing. Phones allow us to keep in contact with our friends but they also make us vulnerable to hacking, stalking and abuse.
Another subject that touches on opacity and transparency that was mentioned in class was the software terms and conditions that nowadays we have to accept when we even set our phone up. However do many people read those ? In class it was said that they are on purpose written so long so that people wont read them and the size of the text also discourages people from reading them. I know I myself am guilty of not reading the terms and conditions and quickly pressing ‘accept.’ But when this was mentioned in class it made me curious in finding out how many people do actually read the terms and conditions and I found out a study carried out in 2010 on the licensing terms and conditions of software and it was found that no more than 8% of the public reads the terms of conditions, so if barely any of us read them what are we signing up to ?
Once the class was over myself and my team mates for the #metoo project have met up on Facebook and spoke about the project through group chat that I have created for us a few days prior to that.
Bearing in mind that we are all total strangers to it I have to say that it was a very pleasant chat about what we’d like to do for the project. It seems like people who have similar interests and the same aim can also colab online just as well as in person.
We have decided to go with the medium of a video to explore the project and as it was already late we have organised to meet another day to divide the work between us and organise how we’re going to achieve the final goal.