In the first part of our Big Brother series, I concentrated on some of the concerns with privacy and security inside of the current technology. I focused much of the time on Microsoft and Windows XP, as the situation surrounding both of them is currently pretty intense. I do want Microsoft to succeed, and I do want to be able to trust their software, because I find some of it incredibly useful. I appreciate their Windows Update and Office Update options. They are two of the most convenient processes I have seen on my PC, even though I still prefer to use Windows 98 SE and Office 2000. The fact that I can put both of those links into the “Trusted Zone” in Internet Explorer 6, and then sit back and watch the update wizards do their magic is a very compelling reason to purchase their software. It saves me a great deal of time hunting down bug fixes, security fixes, and so much more. Windows XP even throws in the ability to download updated device drivers, for those who prefer XP.
I continue my love/hate relationship with the software/corporate policies, but I truly want Microsoft to get back on track and become trustworthy again. Given their role in the industry, it is crucial for us that they do succeed. I hope that debacles such as the Windows Media Player 8 play tracking discovery and their grudging acknowledgement of ongoing security leaks in their products snap them out of their old-world corporate culture and into a new, more forthright, more trusting relationship with consumers and the industry it dominates. I sincerely hope they learn their lesson and turn over a new leaf, because it would benefit everyone if they did.
A Whole New World
In part two of this series, I want to focus on how these new technological advances open the door for Big Brother to invade our lives in ways far removed from the world of personal computers. As annoyed as I am with the problems on the software side, I am absolutely stunned by some of the things I’ve found in doing research for this article. No longer are some of these items limited to X-Files-like conspiracy theories. They are now a reality, and a pretty scary one at that.
As with so many things, there are two sides to every story. As frustrating as it can be, I think it is important to look at each side in detail in order to make a sound judgment about the rights and wrongs of each issue. Over the years I have learned some hard lessons about being judgmental and bringing my own biases to the table. One of the few great things about growing older is that you can, if you are willing, learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others and mature enough to appreciate the value of an open mind.
By the time I had finished researching things, I realized that my initial impressions were harsh and made from an uneducated point of view. Luckily, I was not completely in contrast with my gut feelings, but my opinions changed in ways that surprised me. Perhaps the events of September 11th have changed my point of view more than anything else, or perhaps it is a combination of that event and some of my experiences as I age. Regardless, I think that a lot of people out there may struggle with how to feel about some of these advances.
Things are not as black and white as I expected them to be. Rather, there are so many shades of gray that it is almost disheartening. Nobody wants to be wishy-washy. It feels much better to have your ideas and opinions based on a solid foundation of information and experience. The problem is, the foundation is no longer so solid. Instead of bedrock, we have the shifting sands of a changing world, and that can be quite unsettling.
So, if I may be so bold as to ask, please hold your judgment until the end of the article, and please participate by expressing your feelings in the comments area that is linked to on the final page. The more we share, the more we know and the more we know, the more we can grow. (sappy, yes, but hey, I stopped drinking caffeine, so...)