Ambient Privacy

Because our laws frame privacy as an individual right, we don’t have a mechanism for deciding whether we want to live in a surveillance society. Congress has remained silent on the matter, with both parties content to watch Silicon Valley make up its own rules. The large tech companies point to our willing use of their services as proof that people don’t really care about their privacy. But this is like arguing that inmates are happy to be in jail because they use the prison library. Confronted with the reality of a monitored world, people make the rational decision to make the best of it. 

That is not consent.

The Story About the Story

Yesterday Apple announced the upcoming version of its desktop operating system, Mountain Lion, or for people who don’t like kitschy names that are easy to lose track of, OS X 10.8.

You can read about its new features at… well, pretty much everywhere. Despite that, to me the announcement of Mountain Lion, apart from its earliness, is not that huge a story. The story about the story is actually bigger than the story.

Yes, I used my title in my post. You’re free to leave if you don’t like how I run things around here.

You can read over at Daring Fireball how John Gruber and an undisclosed number of other Apple/Tech journalists were invited to individual presentations by Phil Schiller showing off the features of the new OS. This is pretty strange because I can’t ever remember Apple introducing a new product in this manner. They either do a quiet website update with a press release or throw a big event in Cupertino and invite everyone in advance.

But from Gruber’s description, they essentially replicated the format and tone of one of their big events, just for one person at a time. No one knows how many of these mini-keynotes they did, although I suppose you could walk around on the web and count the number of tech writers telling the same story. So far I’ve only seen it from Gruber and Andy Ihnatko. UPDATE: It turns out Andy Ihnatko was not included. He’s apparently just really quick on the draw, because he had that article up like lightning.

Anyway, check out this quote from Gruber’s story:

But this, I say, waving around at the room, this feels a little odd. I’m getting the presentation from an Apple announcement event without the event. I’ve already been told that I’ll be going home with an early developer preview release of Mountain Lion. I’ve never been at a meeting like this, and I’ve never heard of Apple seeding writers with an as-yet-unannounced major update to an operating system. Apple is not exactly known for sharing details of as-yet-unannounced products, even if only just one week in advance. Why not hold an event to announce Mountain Lion–or make the announcement on before talking to us?

That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.

“Now” presumably being delicate shorthand for “now that Steve’s gone”.

Interesting things afoot at the company I love.