‘We have been harmonized’: Cultural specificities in research and innovation

One of my recent reads has been Kai Strittmatter’s We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State (Exeter: Old Street Publishing, 2019). It provides an illuminaring account of how China as a state uses new technologies and social media to ‘harmonize’ its citizens by clamping down on their online activities, including long lists of words are forbidden to be used in social media, for example, etc. We Have Been Harmonized reminds us of the uses and abuses to which online media can be put. In western countries such as Sweden we do not escape such surveillance, but our relatively high-trust environments lead us to assume that little or no harm will come our way from the commercialized (and state) surveillance we already submit to, and which we see evidenced in the ads directed at us when we go online. The point: more critical digitality is necessary to enable all of us to take a more critical stance towards our online lives and to, for example,the acceptance of cookies that we are now always asked to agree to, and which we frequently do, without having read what we are actually agreeing to.

Gabriele Griffin 

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