The Terms of Agreement and of Consent to Relinquish Privacy

A Manifesto

  1. PERSONAL INFORMATION
    1. We give up our likes and dislikes.
      1. We gain access to the information concerning them, and concerning all the multitudes of the world in return.
      2. We give up the superiority of feeling that our interests are intimate and personal to us in exchange for the ability to make our interests public and allow for a greater knowledge about them.
      3. We gain the ability to recognise that our personal interests fit into a larger picture of the world in which we can discover related delights that we would never have previously had access to.
    2. We give up our particulars.
      1. We gain access to universals. We share the minuscule details of our life and, in doing so, find out they are not so minuscule; that instead, they have the potential to create communities, combat loneliness.
      2. We gain the knowledge that it is the particulars that help us create the grand and the important things. Relinquishing personal, private particulars into the digital public sphere changes and embeds them with an importance, and in doing so, grants us a confidence in ourselves.
    3. We give up our hopes and dreams.
      1. We gain the means and the knowledge to execute them. The near infinite realm of information available at our fingertips changes hopes and dreams into tangible, possible goals. The internet not only gives us the tools of execution but also the knowledge of how to use the tools, how others have used them and how to succeed in doing so.
      2. By publicising our hopes and dreams into a digital realm it physicalises them; it allows them to develop as autonomous entities, worked on by anyone interested and gives the creator access to the most potent and powerful database of minds ever created.
    4. We give up our basest desires and secret kinks.
      1. We gain the comfort of learning that they are not so secret, that they are nothing to be ashamed of and, perhaps most importantly, that they already exist and are shared by others. Pornography is an explicit and powerful manifestation of our desires and can rid us and the wider world of archaic taboos, creating a more open and more proud world.
      2. We understand that secret desires and fantasies can be appreciated vicariously. We must understand that the internet, that pornography (sexual or otherwise), is often a fantasy and engaging with it is not a replacement for the physical. To strike a balance between desire, fantasy and reality is necessary.
      3. We understand that secret desires can remain as secret desires.
    5. We give up the changing nature of our interests.
      1. We gain changes. The non-linear nature of the internet and of digital devices creates a space for multitudes, interests can change and morph seamlessly. Contradictions have been condemned through history, but to be human is to contradict. The digital world encourages our contradictions and our changes, it gives us the tools to be more human than ever before.
      2. We give up to gain more of the same. That our interests can be acted upon with immediacy means that they can change. In doing so, we have and can continue to be the most informed generation in history.
      3. We promise that through the documentation of our change we will only be motivated to continue in our evolution and not stagnated through a wish to remain who we said we were.
    6. We give up our questions.
      1. We gain answers. There is hardly a simpler or better transaction in all of human history than this one.
      2. Our reliance on Google and other search engines means that we have lost some level of conversational debate and relinquished our ability to store knowledge. What we have gained dwarfs these relinquishments. We have forfeited minor conveniences for access to all the information accumulated across the entire history of the world.
  2. MARKETABLE DATA
    1. We give up our data.
      1. We give up a comprehensive and deeply informative history of ourselves. This is not something we give up lightly. Our digital activities, lives and footprints are not our own, to be online is to accept that we are not acting anonymously and that we are feeding ourselves into the network. This is an active decision and is ever present knowledge online. It does not have to be feared.
      2. We give up our data as a way to fuel the economy, especially with local and growing businesses. When we give out our digital footprint, it is most often used by people and companies who need it, so that they can find the right customers for their products. When we create businesses, we too have access to these pools. It is a self actualising benefit.
      3. We give up our data with the full knowledge this is a risk but a risk we have evaluated is worth taking. Cambridge Analytica and the events that unfolded during the 2016 Election are remarkable in their capacity as an anomaly; it shows, more than anything else, that this is not what technology companies are doing with our data. Companies promise, legally, to keep our data private and, apart from irregular breaches from third parties, they do. When they are acting inline with human law, companies use our data to sell to advertisers and to adapt their platform to the way it is being used. These are positive things that improve our digital experiences. If we accept that we live in a capitalist society, we understand that companies must make money to survive and through harvesting the data that we willingly relinquish they can sustain their growth while providing us with more potent and useful advertising and better understandings of our digital habits.
    2. We give up our marketable value.
      1. We enter a market in which we are both consumer, vendor and product.
      2. We advertise ourselves. If we choose to use it, this is an equal bargain. The tools that Facebook, Google and other companies provide to sell users to advertisers are available to anyone. On a simpler level, they are tools to spread ideas, wants, products and persons. We are sold to advertisers, but we are also selling ourselves, as artists, writers, intellectuals, comedians, thinkers, activists. The internet is the greatest tool for self promotion, and the greatest means of selling a product. We understand that we are the product and sometimes we are sold to advertisers, but mostly we are selling ourselves to the rest of the world available through the network.
    3. We give up access to our finances.
      1. We gain full access to a global market that bypass the limits of geography and financial tools that bypass the oppression that has been built into their industry. Online banking technology allows the secrets of the financial world to be freed from their gatekeepers. It allows for those without an expensive education to become small business owners. It allows women to be responsible for the finances of the households they have historically only held up with their time, free labour and their emotions.
      2. As our money moves online it will inevitably lead to a proliferation of goods and evils but we solemnly acknowledge that the risk we take in regards to crime will inevitably be outweighed by the democratisation of global economics. It will remove the gender and racial bias that has dominated this world. It will spread the tools of investment, saving and access to funds that have previously been held back from those who cannot afford entrance to the purposefully over-complicated world of money.
      3. We trust that these new financial systems will continue the human tendency towards decency and to honour one’s commitments in the law.
      4. We gain the ability to order a book and have it arrive the same day. For this we would give up our bank details for eternity.
  3. BRAIN FUNCTION
    1. We sacrifice our memory.
      1. We gain the ability to record and collect the data of our lives. We gain the ability to conjure a moment in its entirety at a touch of a button.
      2. We give up access to our photos and videos, to the images of our lives but we do not give up the emotional connections that these moments holds and we gain the ability to have access to these emotions and defy the human brain’s capacity for storage.
      3. We gain an offshore memory bank and we promise to attempt to use this new space for emotion, for progress and for new paths to enlightenment.
  4. DOCUMENTATION
    1. We give up our likeness.
      1. We gain an accessible database of our lives. We gain the knowledge that our present selves are ever evolving and have been created because of an evolution of our past identities. We hold strong to our commitment to continue to change ourselves and we do not let the accessibility of our past iterations embarrass or deter this perpetual motion forward. Instead they remind us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. The presence of our history opens up the possibility of our future. One can track the person they were. One can monitor the tiring and seemingly impossible physical and mental work they have performed to escape the limitations that held them back. When the task of future transformation feels overwhelming, the ability to track the distance one has already travelled is a reminder of the human resilience and the ability to continue.
      2. We gain the ability to remind ourselves we exist even when the whole world is telling us we are forgettable. We post online in order to exist. For those of us that occupy bodies that society or situation wishes to marginalise we gain the ability to force this existence onto the world.
    2. We give up access to the visual imagery of our lives that we have chosen to capture.
      1. We gain the means to capture them. We gain the ability store them. We are not oblivious. It may seem like we document with abandon and with no awareness of the consequences but there is so much of our lives that we do not capture. What we give, we choose to give and we resist the perspective that we are not fully conscious of what and how we document.
      2. We gain increasingly democratized access to artistic tools that have previously been held only by those who can afford them and access to the time to understand how to use them.
      3. We give up the sanctity and mystery of artists and photographers but we give it up for a world in which we all have access to embody these once revered positions.
      4. We gain a system of distribution that gives families, friends and lovers who are parted by huge distance a window into the lives of their loved ones.
      5. We gain a permanent residence in the largest and most impressive art gallery the world has ever known.
    3. We give up pen and paper.
      1. We give up the privacy of the written word and in its remains we reveal the true meaning of writing; to share ideas and to spread them across the human network as we together get closer to discovering what it means to be alive.
      2. We gain the ability to solidify our unique perspective on experience within a now global framework. We gain the ability to begin to understand the eternal venn diagram of human opinion and perspective and to revise, reevaluate and reinterpret our own thoughts as a result of unprecedented access to the thoughts of others.
      3. While our words now may join an overwhelming cacophony of voices that makes them less easy to hear, when they are heard they are heard by a global network that we would never have previously had access to. They are raised above the noise because of their worth and validity, unhampered by gatekeepers and money and access to influence.
      4. We gain the ability to write our own stories, to tell our own narrative and create whole worlds within the spaces between our words. We take comfort from the knowledge that the technological brain will never match the creativity of its human counterpart. We relinquish some of the physical awe of artistic creation to further be able to express our own unique minds in unprecedented mediums.
      5. We turn our ideas into games, apps, stories told through multiple platforms. As humanity evolves, our creativity begets creativity built on creativity that would never have previously existed. The creators of the computer lead to the creators of the programs that live on these computers which create the artists who use these programs to create further. The limits on human creation, and our own personal use of the word, are endless.
  5. PRIVATE SPHERE.
    1. We give up access to our networks. The intricate friendships and acquaintances we spend a lifetime compiling.
      1. We gain the ability to retain partnerships that defy logistics. We gain the ability to not let circumstance define relationships. We gain a new understanding of what it means to be a friend; to decide whether it is dictated by physical presence, by personal understanding, or by meaningful discourse. We gain thousands of new types of friendships.
      2. We promise to continue to grow, learn and to reshape our understanding of how to be an ally in this world.
      3. We gain the ability to dictate personhood on our own terms and redefine where our priorities lie.
    2. We give up our conversations, our relationships. We give up our small talk, our big talk, our medium talk.
      1. We gain the means to have them, anywhere and anytime. The internet allows many of us to bypass the human flaws and the mental and physical handicaps that so often hold us back from relationships that fully express our personality and our ability to communicate. For those of us who suffer with mental illness or an ability to properly communicate we gain the tools to forge meaningful relationships that are not dependent on our flaws.
      2. We promise to learn to use the tools we have been given to enhance our communication and not to hinder it. We promise to learn what it means to have a conversation that fulfils us and to only use these tools when they are needed. We promise to be better.
    3. We give up our solitude.
      1. We gain the often unnerving knowledge that we are part of a bigger picture in everything we do. We gain the constant awareness of the people and things that make up our lives and our networks.
      2. We acknowledge the new reality of never truly being alone.
      3. We gain an understanding of the ramifications of our actions and we learn how to be responsible and generous with our place in the network.
      4. We gain the understanding that there is something beautiful in time and space as it is, untouched by interruption. Instead of this being the norm it becomes something we have to seek out if we want it to exist and while this may be a process and hard lesson to learn we believe it will ultimately lead us to a place of respect and appreciation of our moments of uninterrupted pleasure or pain.
      5. We promise to be diligent in monitoring our quality of life. The ability to be constantly connected is a drug and it is one we must learn to moderate and curb. We believe that this process of moderation will ultimately lead us to an appreciation for the fragility and beauty of human life.
    4. We give up our movements. We give up our coordinates.
      1. We gain the safety to be anywhere. How many places have been visited by people who would never before have gone there? Either because they didn’t know the way, or didn’t feel comfortable being alone, with no one knowing their location. How many lives have been saved through digital geotracking or cohesive and accurate mapping? How many arguments prevented by clear directions and readable roads? How many sleepless nights, slept through by parents, no longer worried that their child is lost on the way home, or dead in a ditch by the side of the road? How many life changing trips, adventures, journeys and experiences easily navigated with the confidence that the path home will be tracked, traceable and accessible within minutes?
      2. We acknowledge the sacrifices of this exchange however we believe it to be worthwhile. People talk of being tracked as a great invasion on human privacy. This comes from a place of massive arrogance, that their lives are worthy enough to be tracked maliciously. Forfeiting our ability to hide in the world is only troubling for those who wish to hide, and in that case the solution is simple. For us, to share our movements and coordinates is to have simultaneous access to the entire world and to our loved ones. It is to have the confidence to move through the world alone, to engage with places and people and to find hidden treasures. It is a perfect symbiosis of digital usefulness and physical engagement; a elegant solution to a million problems that opens up the entire physical world for us.
      3. We promise to continue to evaluate the risk associated with what we give up. Unlike Dave Eggers’ The Circle, we believe that we are advanced and, frankly, human enough to not misinterpret a lack of physical privacy as lobotomisation. What we give up will always be our choice, and we will always respect those who make a different one.
  6. POLITICAL SPHERE.
    1. We give up centralised, community activism.
      1. We gain tools that activists from previous generations could only have dreamed of. We gain the ability to create grassroots movements in hours. We gain the ability to create movements that defy physical boundaries and connect us to activists across the globe. We gain the ability to advocate for people in every corner of the world, not only those in our back garden.
      2. We gain the potential for a truly democratised activism that bypasses the gatekeepers, who’s interests so often do not align with the movements goals. Historically social movements have been dependant on media, politicians and spokespeople. The hierarchical necessity of this mode of activism inevitably leads to a movement that does not fully represent the message of the people. We gain the potential for a truly horizontal, leaderful movement.
      3. We promise to learn how to use these tools to be effective. We promise to learn from our mistakes and to not let our ability to mobilise in minutes deter us from our responsibility to craft an alternative politics that will last. We promise to use these tools wisely and patiently and with a full awareness that their power may not always measure up to our ability. We promise to improve our ability until it does.
  7. SPACE AND TIME.
    1. We give up the moments of our time.
      1. We gain community. We gain the ability to escape our present and to occupy a world that is free from the constraints of our own culture and upbringing. We gain the ability to find people who think like us, to find people who look like us, to find people who are like us and to be with these people while we remain confined to spaces that don’t.
      2. We acknowledge that the tools that we have been given are addictive and we promise to moderate ourselves diligently. We promise to only give up time that can be better spent in our online sphere. Those who criticise the distracting nature of technology are part of a privileged sphere of humans for whom the actual world is comfortable and without need of distraction. For the vast majority the worlds they occupy are oppressive or worthy of opting out of, even if only for a moment.
    2. We sacrifice physical presence.
      1. We gain universal presence. We sacrifice our ability for total focus, we often sacrifice our physical presence in our work and in our art. We gain entrance to a space in this universe populated democratically by billions of people and with this humbling we also gain determination to spread ourselves across this network and not just to the people who occupy the places around our bodies.
    3. We give up our solidity in the physical world.
      1. We give up our solidity as physical beings and the rigidity of the physical world. It is an evolutionary process of transcendence. To engage with the digital world is to rebel against the dimension of space. When we look at our phones and digital devices we are teleporting out of the physical world; we are existing in two places at once, two dimensions simultaneously, defying every physical law of humans occupying space.
      2. We give up the human tendency to think in terms of space. Borders, boundaries, oceans, miles and distance are irrelevant, they prevent and protect almost nothing. Anything is possible when the physical is not an impediment. Objects can move from our screens to our homes within hours. The two realms are blending into one. The physical object and the digital objects are one and the same. The physical object may travel thousands of miles, but Amazon and online shopping have removed these miles are a physical obstacle. The physical world can be represented online and then physically materialise. Our location is not a hindrance to our ability.
      3. We renounce physical space and acknowledge that this act changes the way we have relationships. No longer as we burdened by the physical location of ourselves in our search for friendship and for love. If a soulmate exists, it is now not only possible to find them but also to be with them, in the same space, regardless of physical location. Our town, our cities, our countries mean nothing, the local does not exist, instead there is a higher plane, one that exists a physically and unifies all geography into a transcendent aspatial utopia.
    4. We give up our linear movement through time.
      1. We give up our ability to travel from cradle to grave at the pace dictated to us by our bodies and our brains.
      2. We gain the ability to fly, run and gallop through our own lives and the lives of others. We gain the ability to freeze and fast forward every moment and interaction. To produce time that contains multitudes and time that contains nothing but ourselves and a simulation.
      3. We promise to be responsible with the new found fluidity of moments. We promise to teach ourselves how not to run past the moments that matter and not to flatten or skip around the moments that cause us pain. We promise to take this gift and use it to learn about the importance of existence.
      4. We promise to still stop and watch the sun rise. We promise to find moments where time is loosened not through technology but through laughter. We promise to sit for hours drinking wine and eating food that has been hand crafted through wilful ignorance of the unnecessary need to hand chop an onion. We promise to idle.
      5. We promise to acknowledge that what we have been given is neither good or bad nor is it neutral. We promise to monitor and evaluate our own personal use of it as that is the only thing we have ever truly had power over. We hope that others will do the same. We understand they won’t. We continue anyway.