The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

In December’s edFocus newsletter, we published a summary, written by John Richards, Founder and President of Consulting Services for Education, Inc. (CS4Ed), on The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. The book is a thought-provoking new work by Shoshana Zuboff. In his report, Richards discusses Zuboff’s analysis of Surveillance Capitalism and how, specifically, it applies to the realm of education.

Zuboff describes what was initially a fair trade-off. We all provided data by searching and selecting, Google used that data to improve its search engine, and we were paid back by being better able to find the information we were seeking. But, it turns out we provide a surplus of information about our interests, our queries, and our searches. Google sells this behavioral surplus to the highest bidder. You look at a pair of shoes, and for the next few weeks ads for shoes pop up, emails about shoes arrive, and enticing text appears as you walk by a shoe store. That is capitalism after all – it could deliver helpful payback, but it also can be annoying.

However, Zuboff also argues that a more insidious scheme begins with the vision of empowering you through your “smart world”—your phone, TV, and home. Your calendar, phone, thermostat, lights, TV, and coffee maker are interconnected to ease you into your day. A personal assistant service leverages your history to select from news items and your messages; noting that you have not bought your favorite brand of milk in a while, and you may want to add that to your food order; pointing out that there is a sale on the new pair of shoes you have been researching; that linking to a (fake) news story that you will find compelling; ….

Read John Richards’ full book report on The Age of Surveillance Capitalism here.

Our December edFocus newsletter also features a Webinar of the Month, Podcast of the Month, and Stat of the Month, along with upcoming virtual events, and other news, reports, and resources. Check out the full December issue here.