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Hello lovely friends. In my home, perhaps yours too, several devices are constantly listening. Designed and operated by the largest tech corporations, these devices are in a continuous search for human speech amongst domestic din. They are listening specifically for a watchword, signifying the start of a command to be sent up to Central Command for interpretation and action. But the devices themselves are active all the time, not disclosing their workings or what they deem appropriate to pass upwards.

In terms of our relationships with their manufacturers, these devices represent an extraordinary leap in interface design; allowing these corporations to serve us in ways previously too cumbersome. And yet, they do this by operating a programme of mass surveillance, regulated only by their aversion to denting their corporate reputation.
Classy CCTV privacy metaphore. Can't see it? Probably best. Or click to view in your browser
PRIVACY: More-or-less all our online activity is of some value to someone, and so is tracked. An insatiable appetite for morsels of data in colossal volumes means Google's users are never really alone. Which is fine, if people are choosing this exchange, but Big Tech also has a habit of collecting data even without the user knowing. Or swooping in to acquire data given freely to someone else, like Fitbit. It seems Facebook wanted Fitbit too, but being outbid isn't going to stop them advancing into healthcare.

Although the links can be hard to find, you can often opt-out of data sharing. But users are apathetic. There are occasional clamours of interest, such as the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent Netflix documentary, but, in general, privacy in practice is far from the users' minds. Had we chosen to monetise it, our data could've made us a fortune. Instead, leaving our data around for anyone to use is so habitual, it begins in utero.

Dramatising privacy for the common user is tough. Understanding the boundaries and competently illustrating privacy and security in current affairs, and we could also learn from adult entertainers who tend to have a more, uhh, hands-on approach. Above all, our data is worth money but is also valuable in terms of influence, therefore our privacy matters because it empowers us. ✊
⚽️ Australia's women and men footballers to get equal pay: and also both get access to business-class international travel. Smart thinking has gone into this; a key step in closing the pay gap between male and female athletes to which all sports and countries should now refer.

🌯 Buffet lines are terrible, but let's try to improve them using computer simulations: there are people who queue, and then there are people who stand while thinking up ways to make this all work better. I'm very much in the second camp, as I expect a fair few of you are, but this guy went that little bit further: went back to his desk and modelled it. What a legend.

🚸 How To Talk To Kids About Climate Change: ideally, the next generation won't inherit our weird mix of wide-eyed panic and resigned inactivity. Here's a guide to parenting through a slow-motion emergency, in six steps.

🙆 I Really, Really Hope You Don't Neglect These 4 New Emojis: The new iOS release beckons forth new emojis, some of which—gender non-conforming emojis and able-inclusive emojis—are rightly getting a lot of attention. But here's four more you've not heard so much about, and what to do with them.

🍔 McDonald’s UK boosted by rapid delivery growth: everyone talks a good digital transformation game; one unlikely brand quietly got on with actually doing it. Now, home delivery is 10% of the UK business. Didn't see that coming.

🎶 How many people does it take to write a hit song in 2019? Songwriting credits can now run to 30 names. GQ explores why.

📱 Four Ways Technology Can Make You Happier: the good news is not all technology is tremendously invasive yet. Apps and social media can support our happiness, health, goals, and relationships, providing you're willing to become that person.
Rage against the machine: Within the next few years, digital privacy could become almost non-existent. Even though nine people in ten consider privacy to be a fundamental human right, we routinely exchange our privacy for free utility. We've been doing this long enough for it to form business models that have grown into massive corporations. You know their names. They know yours, too. But this extends far beyond Big Tech alone; for online publishers, habitual surveillance is commonplace.

'Luddite' has come to mean opposition to technological change, but the Luddites of the 19th century English textile industry, remembered for destroying machinery that harmed their livelihood, were neither opposed to technology nor inept with it. Rather, the Luddites objected to the ownership of these machines, and therefore the benefit of automation, resting with too few (i.e. the factory owners) as opposed being distributed amongst the many.

As the power of the internet becomes evermore concentrated in a small cluster of poorly-regulated, potentially abusive organisations, I think of the Luddites. Using machines to move skilled work to unskilled people has continued ever since the industrial age, but technological change with limited ownership has also spread much wider than the factory floor. Today, much more could be at stake than livelihood alone. 📇
Finally: Ten years ago, I called out David Letterman. This month, we sat down to talk. I found this really interesting. A writer publicly called out her former boss for sexist behaviour on his late-night show, including not hiring enough women writers and having inappropriate relationships with staff. Letterman didn't read that initial article until recently. He found it so disturbing that agreed to meet up with its author to talk about it.

While not cause for more than the most muted celebration, this does appear to be a man in a powerful position in the media, now on something of a journey of emotional growth and finding himself feeling compelled to make amends. A big step even from last year. 📺

Shut the front door, it's the bottom of the email. Things like this grow only by word-of-mouth: do you have friends or colleagues whose dreary inbox would benefit from an injection of interestingness? They can join in at momorgan.com/blast. 💌

Found something I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from you—hit reply! If these emails are not being delivered correctly, try adding this address to your contacts. More good stuff next week. Meanwhile recent back-issues are in the archive.

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