I am amused by the furore around the right to be forgotten.
I am often amused by stressful situations. Laughter helps me to quell rising panic. It is a trick I was taught by a friend when I was 13. We had both badly messed up a maths exam. In part, because we didn’t know enough maths, but greatly exacerbated by total panic at the obviousness of our impending failure as we each skipped from question to question looking for ones we even understood. We later went on to get pretty good, certainly good enough, at maths, but we both failed that test by a staggering margin.
One of my failings was percentages. Even then I knew enough to be sure that 19% was a calamity. The saving grace was that that still put me in the top 5 in the class of 30, or the top 17% as I later discovered.
My friend told me that he laughed to himself in such circumstances.
I still routinely laugh at the most awful times. Stressful meetings, presentations that turn out to contain glaring typos, budgets in US Dollars that you thought were in GB Pounds, the rise of UKIP, the agonising loop of a ball between bat and hands that have enough time to go through the process of trying to remember how to catch on purpose rather than on instinct. In all but the last scenario, it works.
Anyway, the reason I find the furore over the right to be forgotten, privacy, the emergence of several monopsonies (*a real word, see below) so funny, is that otherwise I’d be unable to stem the rising tide of panic these engender.
In the latest outbreak of insanity, it appears, and this really is quite funny, that we have effectively asked Google to decide which links should be retained and which should be removed. Forgive me while I pause for a moment to mop the tears of what is really open terror rather than actual humour from streaming down my face. That is utterly INSANE!
Thanks to the therapeutic nature of laughter I have once again regained control. Thanks also to my playground friend from 1980 for providing me with a lifelong coping strategy for my daylight terrors.
Not happy with Google being an unregulated shadow bank (both retail and investment, it’s utterly brilliant isnt it?), it now seems we are close to turning over the legal system to them as well. They’d better hurry up and beta test Google Legal pretty quickly though. Otherwise we will we have the equivalent of ambulance chasers proliferating pop up adds on online Scrabble and further spoiling my commute.
“Your friends on Facebook are arranging a class action to erease the ‘Riga incident’, would you like to join in?”
“Are you tired of everyone thinking you are actually a money launderer / drug dealer just because you went to that Breaking Bad fancy dress party?”
“By the way, would you like that photo of you in John Major underpants deleted at source?”
How about we declare Google to be a church as well and have done with it?
Anyway, as people in Yorkshire tend to say when the hopelessly lost ask for directions, “I wouldn’t start from here”. By which I mean that we need to retrace our steps, work out how we got here and then take a different path by design. No one from Yorkshire would ever put it quite like that, obviously.
Deleting links is all very well but stopping them from being there in the first place or ensuring that any result posted by Google (or any other search engine once we have redesigned that market so it is no longer dominated by one player. Where do you start, it is all such a mess!!!) are the clear responsibility of the originator(s) so THEY can delete them AT SOURCE. I generally have little sympathy with Google et al but in this case I share their exasperation.
A post script: Monospony is an epoch defining word, don’t forget you saw it here first when everyone is using it all the time this Chistmas, and when it then appears in Private Eye’s Great Bores of Today column in the new year. Ok, you may actaully have seen it on @dougshaw1’s blog first, http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/brand/routine-and-the-importance-of-choice/ , but that’s not the point. Look it up on Wikipedia, it is where a company achieves dominant buying power. Think e-books, just for starters.
A second post script: In 1980 a teacher called Mr McAuley took on a group of relatively bright kids, myself included, who had all but not been taught maths for the two previous years. We almost all spectacularly failed a test in our first term at high school. We then learnt three years of maths in one school year and went on to do well. My thanks go to Mr McAuley.