CNN: Along those lines, you mention the many ways corporations provide incentives for us to offer our information (or disincentives for opting out). How do we say "no" when the economic benefits (coupons, targeted sales) are so attractive?
Morozov: The problem is that we don't say "no." This marketizaton of personal information is a big mistake. We need to start seeing privacy as a commons -- as some kind of a public good that can get depleted as too many people treat it carelessly or abandon it too eagerly. What is privacy for? This question needs an urgent answer.
If my decision to earn a buck off my personal information will greatly constrain the lives of people in the next generation, should I sell my data? I'm not saying that it will necessarily result in more people choosing to share less. But the politicization of information sharing -- the act of turning it from a purely economic matter into an ethical one -- is a necessary start.
CNN: How do you use the Internet? What digital tools do you find useful?
Morozov: (A prelude: I do hope that this question will soon make as little sense as "how do you use electricity.")
Well, I use both to get things done! "The Internet" is not some separate realm -- it's not a parallel universe that we enter under an identity that is different from our usual self; it's just a collection of services.
Does the data network through which Kindle delivers my daily newspapers count as "the Internet"? If it does, I use it quite a lot, as I get seven daily newspapers -- anything from The Wall Street Journal to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung -- that way and perhaps a dozen magazines. But some of those I also read over my iPad. I used to be a heavy user of apps like Flipboard, but to quote the famous computer scientist Don Knuth, I find myself more and more inclined to get to the bottom of things, and spend more time with books (I probably spend an hour a day on Amazon.com buying new books, many of them online) and more long-form writing.
I have less and less use for the cloud -- not so much because of privacy concerns but because I just find the overall "always-on" proposition a hindrance to getting all the reading done. So I try to have days where, save for my Kindle, there's little contact with the "Internet." My fairly intuitive rule is simple: whatever allows me to get more reading done must be a rule/tool worth embracing.