How do you find the perfect app? What can we do when all the major services have been designed to track, manipulate and control us? Should we just turn everything off and run to the woods?
Prepare your mind
The systems built to manipulate and control us weren’t built in a day. It requires all of us to focus intently on building a human-centric instead of data driven digital experience.
Remind yourself that will make a huge difference over the long run:
- Accept that your privacy, security, and freedom require your active participation.
- There will be many situations where mitigation is the best-case-scenario.
- Consider the difference between technology improving or imposing on your life.
- Not all tools are equivalent different options have incredibly diverse trade-offs.
Even the simplest habits can build up into massive improvements. Like many other things this is a marathon and not a sprint. Your choices matter a great deal because they change the incentives for systems and institutions. Managing expectations is critical in avoiding frustration.
One of the most effective ways to improve is to try new things. Everyone knows adopting a new messaging application is very difficult when nobody you know uses it. Getting others to join you helps everyone involved.
The most powerful way to help others adopt better solutions is to spend the time and effort to set them up. Very often little maintenance or support is needed once someone is ready to go.
As a team you can collaborate on supporting each other. Not everyone has the same familiarity and ability to adopt different solutions. Once your team gets familiar with one option it also gets easier to adopt others as well.
An underestimated advantage of teaming up is that you can now pool resources to solving problems. If teams of people using free and open source software that respects their privacy the burden of donating to support development could be shared much easier. Many developers for very important projects would benefit from donations by the people instead of larger corporations.
Accept reasonable compromise
Perfection is often unattainable. For example properly securing e-mail communication between multiple parties requires a great deal of effort that could be much better used by keeping mission-critical messages on more secure infrastructure. Odds are you will still need to be able to receive e-mails all the same.
Compromise is essential when working with many people. Your favorite (and possibly even most secure) option may not be easy right away for others to start working with. Ideally the first thing you compromise is urgency, a plan to move forward is much better than betting everything on immediate success.
Consider that a hot new app may make claims that have yet to be proven. Rushing people into adopting novel technology can very often backfire.
Embrace the analog
The fastest and most secure way to send someone a file is to hand-deliver them physical media with the data written to it. Every time you send files through networks the only guarantee you have is that they likely won’t be decrypted right away. Over the long run this guarantee becomes more of a hope.
Sending large amounts of data over the mail is easier and easier as storage gets better and better. For greater protection you could send a relative an encrypted disk/drive and then simply message them with the password.
I hope to generally avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater…but “smart home” devices are almost always a trap. I personally would only rely on a “smart enabled” lock or appliance without any connection to the Internet and running software I understand.
Thanks for reading this post. This is the last in my starting series discussing the big picture as I see it. I also want to thank my first paid subscriber! Moving forward upcoming articles will be about small scale improvements and how to bring them to your life. Premium articles will be similar to these big picture musings.