On authors who were publishing information technology panopticon concerns in the 1980s, or earlier

A quickie dump.

Paul Baran / RAND

  • "On the Engineer's Responsibility in Protecting Privacy"

  • "On the Future Computer Era: Modification of the American Character and the Role of the Engineer, or, A Little Caution in the Haste to Number"

  • "The Coming Computer Utility -- Laissez-Faire, Licensing, or Regulation?"

  • "Remarks on the Question of Privacy Raised by the Automation of Mental Health Records"

  • "Some Caveats on the Contribution of Technology to Law Enforcement"

Largely written/published 1967--1969.


Willis Ware / RAND

Too numerous to list fully, 1960s --1990s. Highlights:

  • "Security and Privacy in Computer Systems" (1967)

  • "Computers in Society's Future" (1971)

  • "Records, Computers and the Rights of Citizens" (1973

  • "Privacy and Security Issues in Information Systems" (1976)

  • "Information Systems, Security, and Privacy" (1983)

  • "The new faces of privacy" (1993)



Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (1988) Notably reviewed in the Whole Earth Catalog's Signal: Communication Tools for the Information Age (1988).

worldcat.org/title/in-the-age- archive.org/details/inageofsma

"Danger to Civil Rights?", 80 Microcomputing (1982)

archive.org/stream/80_Microcom (news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1)

"Computer-Based National Information Systems: Technology and Public Policy", NTIS (September 1981)


"23 to Study Computer ‘Threat’" (1970)


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Privacy and Information Technology" bibliography is largely 1990--present, but contains some earlier references.


Similarly "Privacy"


Credit Reporting / Legislation

US Privacy Act of 1974


Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 - Queensland Government, Australia


Arthur R. Miller, The assault on privacy: computers, data banks, and dossiers


"The Computer, the Consumer and Privacy" (1984)


Richard Boeth / Newsweek

The specific item I'd had in mind:

Richard Boeth, "Is Privacy Dead", Newsweek, July 27, 1970


Direct PDF: assets.documentcloud.org/docum

Based on an HN comment: news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2

@dredmorbius Nice list!

You could potentially add The Human Use of Human Beings (1950) by Norbert Wiener, and The Myth of the Machine (1967) by Lewis Mumford.

@vortex_egg Did Weiner address privacy/surveillance?

Fascism and Catholocism, I know he did.

Mumford's on my Very Copious List.

@dredmorbius It's been years since I read it... it might have addressed automation more specifically that surveillance. Let me check.

@dredmorbius In a way, it could be argued that automation, fascism, and surveillance all roll up in to the same set, which I believe is what Mumford refers to as the megamachine.

To be fair, I haven't read Mumford yet either; but my partner read it at the same time I was reading Zuboff's book on surveillance capitalism and we talked a lot about the similarities.

@dredmorbius No, you are right. Just paged through Human Use of Human Beings and God & Golem, Inc, and it seems like Wiener's primary target of concern for potential societal harm is that of learning machines and automation.

While that is tangentially related to the present-day manifestation of panopticon, he doesn't treat on the topic.

@vortex_egg Yeah, no mention of privacy, propaganda, surveillance, or advertising in the index.

Final chapter remains good.

@dredmorbius It's interesting to think about though... I wonder if Wiener and the other early cyberneticists were clued into and thinking about those topics in any way, or if they had enough other things on their minds.

Edward Bernays' work to wage "psychological warfare on behalf of corporations" against the American public, in the form of the newly created field of public relations, was public knowledge from the 20s with the publication of Bernays' books "Crystallizing Public Opinion" (1923) and "Propaganda" (1928).

@vortex_egg Them, Arendt, the Frankfurt School, George Seldes (and I.F. Stone after him). Possibly John Dewey and Walter Lippman. There's another set of mid-century sociologists, give me a minute.

Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders, popularly.

And later, Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky, Robert W. McChesney. Possibly Charles Perrow.

At least tangentially: Marshall McLuhan & Elizabeth Eisenstein.

Not directly addressing this, but medhia generally:

Media, Advertising, Sustainability, Externalities, and Impacts: A light reading list

@dredmorbius More names for my own copious list, new and old.

I appreciate that we're chasing after some similar ideas here (vis a vis cybernetics, propaganda, and surveillance).

And I doubly appreciate that you are significantly better researched than I am!

I've been more of an erm, chaos monkey manic pixie disaster with aspirations. But we do what we can with what we have.

@vortex_egg I am a chaos monkey manic pixie disaster with ... a large bookmarks, articles, and index cards file.

Some of these I've read in part, much only very topically. Organisation is far sparser than I'd wish.

But I try. And I've got a really bad habbit of digging through references and citations resources.

@vortex_egg And to emphasize the point: compiling and reviewing ideas is a superpower. The game changer is a system which enables flexibly drawing relations between concepts.

The specific toolset you use isn't critical, though simple and durable beats fragile and ephemeral.

Index cards and flatfiles are powerful.

@dredmorbius I didn't take notes on anything for years; just relied on my memory and subconscious processing to make sense of things in its own imaginative connectionist way.

I reached a point in the last year where I started telling people about my ideas. When they asked follow up questions I quickly realized I had no practice with actually retrieving or organizing my thoughts outside of my brain as concrete facts and repeatable claims.

I could probably improv an off-the-cuff TED talk, but if I had to write an outline for it first? Oof.

I'm slowly ramping up taking more notes (in markdown files). I really just need to practice doing it more and more frequently. I liked your concept about thinking in writing; I want that to become familiar and it will just take practice.

Weirdly my reading consumption dropped way down for the moment, because I'm no longer just plowing through stuff with the expectation that my subconscious mind will do all the heavy lifting of making sense of it in the background.

@vortex_egg Reading for me has become slow and higly interactive. Not becaause my basic reading speed has slowed (it hasn't), but because there's so much more processing involved.

@dredmorbius From what I've been reading about taking notes on literature there's an idea of having a dialogue with the text; processing what you are reading in real-time by thinking and writing it in your own words.

I need to get confidence in my written voice, even if it is just notes I'm taking privately for myself. Again, practice I'm sure.

I like talking... for some reason if I'm talking out loud to another person then I have no filters or blocks whatsoever and it just flows out.

It was suggested that I try dictating into a voice recorder. I've tried it a few times and I just get nervous and clam up. Same with writing; all my filters and judgements spring up. I think it has something to do with the recorded word being... definite.



having a dialogue with the text

For nonfictiion (and some fiction) I treat reading as an exploration and dialogue, not merely a journey down the author's path. Reading doesn't have to be linear.

I have questions and am seeking answers. Or at least better questions or guides to asking them.

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