BOGOTA — Have you heard? Your phone is spying on you, Apple isn’t as friendly as you think, and Facebook is getting scarier by the day!
Today, information is an increasingly valuable currency, not only because it allows companies to generate strange intangible assets that are so difficult to replicate, but also because what we do with our mobile phones in particular is more and more complex, things that would have been considered magic not that long ago: taking photos and sending them in seconds to places dizzily far away, for example.
But after everything we heard from Edward Snowden, we are questioning the way we manage information and the trust that we put in companies and corporations that we don’t know. But what we should really be questioning is the way we use our time creating, processing and sharing this knowledge.
My work colleagues, family and friends very often criticize my participation in social network sites because they see them as a waste of time. But the truth is that it’s the most effective way to share what we’ve learned and to take advantage of what others have learned.
Let’s say, for example, that we took a wonderful trip to the beach, and in the process discovered a great budget hotel with an attentive staff. A few years ago, we would have kept the hotel’s card and shared the information with our closest friends. These days, we’re much more likely to post something about our experience on tripadvisor.com, then, via Facebook, show all our friends the charm of that special breakfast and the owner’s smile as she served us that fresh fruit in the morning.
By passing on this information, we simultaneously help these business owners and engage in communication, conversation and trust with our friends, acquaintances and even strangers.
Using social media sites allows us to share our knowledge and make the world more accessible to everyone. And if that isn’t the goal of mankind, then what is? To cram useless knowledge into our heads? To ponder obscure articles written by academics who decided to redraw the world in their office in the manner of Plato’s cave? The world is outside, and life is to be shared. We are connected by our thoughts — a global village, a collective intelligence.
Russia gave Snowden a safe haven with a computer, a secure connection, some good vodka, warm red borscht and encouragement to publish everything he knows in open networks. So as far as I’m concerned, the dawn will come. Long live colloquial knowledge, the two-way gatherings within the walls of debt and equity. Long live the breadcrumbs that lead us to the photo of that beautiful woman in the faraway plaza in a destination we’ve only dreamed of. Long live free information, easy to access and as thorough as we dare to make it.
*Lobsang Salguero is a teacher at Icesi University in Colombia, director-creator of Singeria (www.icesi.edu.co/singergia) and a consultant in trade and advertising.