A few days ago I read an interesting article by Scientific American magazine. The article was concerning transparency in our times. Although I had thought about transparency in the past, I never had a way to reflect on it. As a matter of fact, what ever ideas I had in my mind about transparency were rather vague. The article I read not only cemented the various of my embryonic ideas together well, they also gave me food for thought for more ideas. More precisely, the article worked for me as a seed to formulate more concrete ideas about the topic. Quite interestingly the article titled, How Transparency Will Change The World, by Seth Fletcher is a reflection of an earlier article titled, How Digital Transparency Became a Force of Nature, by Daniel C. Dannett and Deb Roy. Dr. Dennet is a renowned professor of philosophy. I have read his work in context of Free Will. I also wrote A Reflection on Reflections, that was basically a reflection on A Reflection on Fee Will. Daniel’s commenting on a topic as remotely connected to philosophy as transparency is slightly surprising, albeit a pleasant one. Daniel is a philosopher after all and transparency should be supposed to be a social issue. It may as well come across as a mundane social issue. However, it is really not so. It is quite important a subject, that is largely ignored by most of the people around the world. It is going to begin to matter in near future though.
So what is transparency after all? It would be much better if I described transparency a little bit here before embarking on the social repercussions it can have. I believe that it already has grave repercussions, that are largely evading the attention of most of the people, simply because of the ignorance of the latter.
Transparency, as the word suggests is that nothing is hidden from the view. In the context Daniel has reflected on it, it means that everything about everyone is obviously clear, apparent and known to everyone else. This is a simple and obvious description of transparency.
It is quite true that in our epoch nothing is quite a secret. All of this transparency of affairs can be attributed to the advancement of communication infrastructures all across the world. With the advent of the Internet, and now with the advent of social media everything is changed about how people communicate. And even if people do not communicate, simply by the compulsion of being on the world wide web, the harsh fact is that people and organizations cannot hold secrets any more. Nothing can be clandestine any more.
If you have a profile on any of the popular social media, everything about you can be profiled. And even if you are not on the social media, chances are that someone you know is on the social media. So you can be reached there, and profiled on the basis of friends you have. By simply having an email address, you can be looked at. It is said that Google can read the emails of all of its subscribers. Based on the nature of the electronic communication, a person’s personality profile can be developed. This has happened in the past with daunting consequences.
One can pinpoint obvious losers and winners in this transparent culture. An organization that deals in contraband goods, or a secret services agency is going to be an obvious looser in this transparent culture. On the other hand, a liberal entertainment company can gain a lot with this transparency in terms of the outreach transparency allows. Similarly, this level of transparency is allowing people from geographically remote areas to interact with each other. They can be profiled however, and sometimes it can be for their peril.
I wonder what would be the fate of conventional armed forces with this level of transparency? Would they be able to camouflage their identities well in wake of this increasing level of transparency? Especially, what would be the fate of the so-called secret service agencies in wake of this increased level of transparency? Would they be able to conceal their identities or would they be revealed, exposed, and eventually become dysfunctional? Or would this increased level of transparency help them in gleaning more information about their targets? These are interesting questions worth pondering.
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