Life Without Friction

David pointed me to this excellent NYT opinion piece earlier. Great read, very thorough. So why am I talking about it, when I should just link it and then go my merry way?

Because I think he blows by something crucial, and that is how we have worked so hard to remove friction from all of our interactions. There’s a couple of things…first, it has become important to us to make sharing easy. As an example, I believe Google + would have more traction if it integrated more easily with existing apps like Twitter and Facebook. But it won’t, because Google wants the mindshare. What that means to me, a Google + user, is that I have to post info about this particular blog post more than once. I have to do it twice, at the least. Yes, it’s totally a first world problem, but this rings true for all of us.  Another example: swiping your credit card through a mag strip reader has become so cumbersome for Americans that we have implemented technologies that allow us to just wave the card in your general direction. I like how this particular example  removes ACTUAL friction, and not just perceived toilsome logic steps. Because of the removal of friction, we have become a society that overshares our data, and what government or business in the world doesn’t want that?

And then we get our panties in a wad when we read about how that government or organization is using those very same technologies to track our movements.

So, before I proceed further, I should make one thing clear. I don’t think ANY agency should be allowed to just approach my tracker carrier and get all of that information without a warrant. IMO, that is a fourth amendment violation. But we threw that right away, as a country, a LONG time ago.

The second part of this issue is that, by removing the friction, we have made the person and the data inseparable. There is absolutely no way to remove that data footprint from the digital world. This poses loads of challenges, not least of which is that we can no longer grow past any youthful indiscretion. That data will always exist, and will continue to exist long after our metabolic processes are history. And what about data that gets added to our digital life that isn’t ours? You think that doesn’t happen? Do you know how easy it is for me to impersonate you? It’s frightfully easy, and even if I’m only marginally successful, that data now has the potential to follow you around forever.

In my mind, I would like to have more friction. Friction is a reminder that I’m doing something real, and that I should think about the consequences of that particular action.


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