13 Privacy, Transparency, and the Internet in America
Privacy, Transparency, and the Internet in America
Telegraphy, telephony, and radio launched a rippling trend in communications: the sharing and representing of our symbols by, in, and through electricity and machines. Following telephony and the radio, the computing machine crept into existence, aided by hush-hush research on anti-aircraft machinery and other war efforts. From Colossus to Mark I to ENIAC, these machines extended the trend, further mechanizing and digitizing human behaviors and experiences. Initially, these computation devices were bulky and novel, limited in accessibility and scope. In less than a century, however, these devices evolved, commercialized, connected, turned palm-sized and ubiquitous. Computing machines inevitably transformed more and more genres and types of human communication into digitally digestible, electronically transferable, and storable symbols, or binary bytes.
Today, information of all breadths, ranges, and varying intimacies, from all types and classes of persons, is digitally mediated. Evermore, messages are sent and received through smartphones, tablets, and laptops connected to the Internet. As host and railway, the Internet witnesses much. IBM (2013) estimated “the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data daily” (Risen & Lichtblau). Further, this ongoing flood of data is only primed to increase in quantity and intensity. The International Data Corporation observed (2013), “from now until 2020, the digital universe is expected to double every two years” (Risen & Lichtblau). ← 295 | 296 →