Not a shread of malice, just pure stupidity

I found a mention of Nick Diamos when I looked for a quotation I can use to lead a piece on the social networks soon-on-a-PC-near-you gaffe. The quote was perfect (see below,) but I couldn’t find anything solid about the man who said it, other than a book strangely named “Valentine in remembrance of theatre builder Nick Diamos from his daughter Aleksandra Maria Diamos.” Then, just as I was ready to post this piece, I found another Nick Diamos – a singing chef from San Francisco. More Nick Diamos’s crept out of the Googlework later in the day.

Nick Diamos (theatre builder and/or singing chef) said that we should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. This saying seems like the perfect way to sum up a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) entitled “‘Friend locator’ could become next craze for social networkers.” It appears that registered user in social networks, like Facebook, will “soon be sharing their exact whereabouts with their friends in real-time, owing to new technology that uses the mobile phone as a tracking device, experts say.” This nifty facility, called gypsii (NB: website is slow to load), is offered by GeoSentric, a developer of location-based technologies.

What gypsii does, basically, is using the location-identification capabilities in one’s cellphone, linking them to Google Maps, and coming up with a visual location of social network members. An SMH quote goes like this:

“Look, that’s Bill, my friend in New York. He’s 3,800 miles away,” explained Toon Wee, a director of Gypsii, as he pointed to a coloured pin in the middle of a map of Manhattan while explaining the product at the Mobile World Congress in Spain.

I can see the fan in full blast, facing a massive amount of unsavoury substance, flying at it at incredible velocity. Only recently, Facebook had to apologise to its users, after installing a system called “Beacon”, a tracking facility that ‘shared’ with members what their friends bought (and where and for how much) and inviting them to do the same. Members
were decidedly underwhelmed and took the network to task. Facebook execs promised extra diligence in issues related to members’ privacy.

How will Facebook execs explain gypsii? As invasion of privacy goes, gypsii is Beacon on steroids. Gypsii is much better than knowing what Charlie bought for Susan – it allows us to follow Chuck and Sue, through their personal meanderings – where they went, and when, and for how long. I can see a long string of lawsuits, various legal challenges and out of
court settlements, after all — gypsii can be used as an effective, powerful surveillance tool.

I feel that gypsii deserves better. It has some terrific – and totally legal – applications: users can use maps as personal GPS facilities, leading them to concerts, restaurents, hotels and nature reserves. Travellers can follow famous routes world wide, literature’o’holics can crisscross the world in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout. B&B’s can guide visitors
through these dynamic maps….

But, as we can probably guess, stupidity – rather than malice – will probably cause social networks to mess, yet again, with members’ privacy. Nick Diamos is spot on right – and I don’t even know where on earth he is.

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