Big brother is reviewing you

In John Naughton’s column in theObserver today he describes a chinese plan to ‘review’ the behaviour of its citizens and award or deduct brownie points depending on what you do – with real world consequences, he writes:

In particular, they are adapting the ubiquitous “reputation rating” system by which online platforms try to get feedback on vendor and customer reliability. The government is beginning to roll out its social credit system, which is designed to “raise the awareness of integrity and the level of trustworthiness in Chinese society”. It will focus on four aspects of behaviour: “honesty in government affairs”, “commercial integrity”, “societal integrity” and “judicial credibility”.

When first conceived in 2007, the intention was to replicate the credit rating systems common in the west for assessing people’s financial creditworthiness. But why, thought the Chinese, stop at finance? Why not use the technology to assess how “good” a citizen one is? Everyone starts off with a baseline allowance of, say, 100 points. You can earn bonus points by  doing “good deeds” such as separating and recycling rubbish. On the other hand, behaving in what is regarded (by the state) as antisocial behaviour can lose you points. Examples of deductible behaviour can apparently include: not showing up at a restaurant without cancelling your booking, cheating in online games, leaving false product reviews and even jaywalking. And if your social credit score is too low, you find yourself barred from taking flights or travelling on certain trains.

Read the whole column here

Thinking about all the fake, aggressive, dishonest agenda driven reviews that appear on Trip Advisor, IMDB, Amazon etc. It does make you wonder who’ll review the reviewers.

Big brother is reviewing you

Friday Poem – ‘How to make a good crisp sandwich’, Katherine Stansfield | Seren Books Blog

I think there’s a debate to be had here. I like my bread softer. It has to be butter – thickly spread if possible and the best bit is always the satisfying crunch of the crisps as you pick the sandwich up for the first time and press down on them.

Source: Friday Poem – ‘How to make a good crisp sandwich’, Katherine Stansfield | Seren Books Blog

Friday Poem – ‘How to make a good crisp sandwich’, Katherine Stansfield | Seren Books Blog

Birthday Cards

It was my birthday a little while ago. I had some lovely cards – although, because my Facebook account is deactivated, for the first year since about 2008, I didn’t get that flurry of warm electronic wishes from friends far and wide.

I missed that, but I also reflected that for every card I received:

An artist or designer had been able to work creatively and be paid for it.

Trees had been cut down and shipped (and replanted – I’m sure all my cards are from sustainable sources) keeping loggers, machinery manufacturers, HGV drivers in employ

A paper manufacturer created pulp and made the card and the envelope it was posted in. Printers applied the design (and bought ink from its own manufacturers who in turn bought and made the dyes to colour the inks)

Somebody put it on a shelf in a shop and sold it. I hope whoever it was that chose it for me had the pleasure of looking through all the possibilities, finding one that they thought was just the thing. I’m sure they did – I had some really smashing cards.

Then it was written, stamped, posted, collected, delivered and received with great pleasure.

So many people had a hand in each of my birthday cards, so many livings and occupations were supported, so much wealth spread around our little economies, such a lot of tax paid and collected.

There are environmental issues to be tackled to be sure – but Facebook’s huge server farms have their problems too. What struck me more forcibly than ever was that at least with my cards it isn’t just Mark Zuckerberg – getting grotesquely, absurdly, undeservedly richer and richer – who benefits.

Thanks to you all – I’ll make sure to remember your birthdays too. x

Birthday Cards

Frock Consciousness

Rosemary Hill entertains and informs in her lecture about women and clothes, Frock Consciousness. The phrase is Virginia Wolf’s who wrote:

‘My love of clothes interests me profoundly, only it is not love; and what it is I must discover.’

Hill reflects that this diary entry was written in the year that:

Woolf published Mrs Dalloway, which brought her to literary prominence; the previous year she had sat for her photograph in Vogue. For that she chose to wear a dress of her mother’s, which was too big for her and long out of fashion. To plant it in the most famous fashion magazine in Europe was to make a statement, however ambiguous. And the experience of the sitting prompted a further thought: ‘My present reflection is that people have any number of states of consciousness: & I should like to investigate the party consciousness, the frock consciousness etc. These states are very difficult … I’m always coming back to it … Still I cannot get at what I mean

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Hill adds,

I don’t suppose that I shall get at it either, but I will revolve the question again and apply the advantage of nearly a century of hindsight to the idea of frock consciousness, an idea that I think was not born but at least much heightened in that period between the world wars just as Woolf was trying to put her finger on it.

It’s fascinating. It answered questions a brother always puzzled about when he saw his sisters getting dressed (why on earth should girls’ buttons be on the opposite side?) and makes a case for the revolutionary importance of the pullover.

Worth reading in full here. The linked page contains a recording of the lecture, if you prefer to listen rather than read.

Frock Consciousness