Video: Ranga Yogeshwar on the question, why do we freely provide so much data?


Many people freely, of their own accord, post the most private aspects of their lives to the Internet. On the other hand, many people are greatly concerned about data retention. How would you explain this seeming contradiction, Mr. Yogeshwar?

Ranga Yogeshwar: Yes, we're freely providing unprecedented quantities of data. At the same time, apart from the few who are sounding an alarm of caution, the general public is showing very little awareness of the need to think about "do I really want to post that?"

This has to do with a range of different mechanisms. First of all, we are all people who want to share, and that basically is of course something very wonderful. The Internet has become a platform for many exhibitionists who want to share just about everything, from their morning breakfast to their evening whatever. So we are experiencing a new sort of coexistence in our culture, a coexistence in which a great deal of private information is being shared.

A second aspect is that hidden transactions keep taking place. The basis for some processes is "okay, you get something for free and I get some data in return." In other words, Facebook is free, Google searches are seemingly free, etc. In actual fact, the real transactions taking place lack transparency to some extent. For they are indeed business transactions. And they function according to the principle of "you give me your data and then you get such and such feature free of charge." I think we need to look at this much more closely and carefully.

The next point is that this data enters a chain of processing and then loops back to us at some point. We shouldn't be underestimating the significance of this. In our digital culture, we ultimately have to be asking, "who is actually programming whom?" Could it be that our user behavior is leading to our gradually being influenced, that a user's purchase decisions – and this is already apparent – can be strongly influenced by the user's input?

If one thinks this through a little further, then it would basically lead to a scenario in which we are sort of like marionettes on strings. That is the point at which one really needs to start being careful with one's data. What is more, this openness is based on the fact that the price of the data has never been defined. Individuals seemingly benefit and say, "oh wow, that's value!" Many people are not aware of what can really be done with their data in the final analysis. When we are addicted to such value, many of us can find it impossible to pull the plug.

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