Technology … is a queer thing.
It brings you great gifts with one hand,
and it stabs you in the back with the other.
–C.P. Snow, New York Times, March 15, 1971–
There’s a battle raging, yet it’s almost Truman Show-like in its subtlety. It’s the battle between art and the algorithm. Between emotion and rationality. Between indescribable magic and perfect information.
As the granular world of relevance, measurability and accountability tightens its grip on the increasingly emaciated flesh of businesses struggling to re-tool quickly enough to survive, many are rushing too quickly away from striving for the magic that has characterized the work we all admire, no matter what the decade or canvas.
As far as I know, no one is trying to kill me. Yet, I sometimes feel a little like the unfortunate hero at the center of the dystopian sci-fi thriller “Minority Report,” John Anderton. The famous mall scene in which Anderton (Tom Cruise), is assaulted by dozens of individually targeted ads — some of which, much to his horror, even loudly broadcast his name as he passes — represents a world a lot closer to ours than the fictional date of 2054.
It’s a world of perfect targeting. Optimization. Zero wastage. Absolute utility. Total accountability.