Tom Sherman

The key to the future is privacy. Privacy is not just a territory to protect, it is the essence of our personal existence--a space that mustbe developed, expanded, and maintained. Information control systems, such as families, religions, schools, States, political parties, corporations, community-based organizations, will seek to define our private, psychological space, attempting to limit and conform our inner worlds. We must resist.

In the future our identities will continue to be shaped by communications technologies. The wireless, digital revolution of the late 20th century was only the beginning of a massive assault on private, individual autonomy. Creative, critical thinking is built on a foundation of imagination and unorthodoxy. Minds must continue to wander and ponder the inconceivable, and investigate the improper. If we muck around freely in the privacy of our own minds, we will frequent

territory off-limits to others, and in the long run this internal exploration will help us to know who we are, and what we want, instinctively and intellectually. Connectivity with others is valuable as a means for sharing the bounty of our private worlds, but connectivity itself must be moderated, or the blood-life of privacy will be drained off.

The central issue lurking throughout these thoughts is the disadvantage of not having a private space to regroup or restructure within. Private space must be nurtured and protected, as privacy is an insurance policy against psychological and emotional incarceration. The work of artists will be increasingly important as they develop and expose their private worlds in broad daylight, for all to see.

Privacy is important because it allows us to pretend we are something, anything, we are not. It gives us the space we need to practice things we would like to be good at someday. Privacy makes us secure by letting us know we are very different than people think we are. We need privacy because it is the extra space we need to grow new 'parts,' as we are being used up and mangled everyday in the brutal, real world. We need a space where we can be true to ourselves, no matter what the consequences outside. There is so much compromise required outside.

The dangers with eroding privacy are the restrictions imposed on personal growth, including a lack of depth of analysis, limited critical perspective, and the evaporation of hard-core creativity (psychologically-rooted, anti-social, self-sustaining creativity).

Because I know that people are listening to my inner voice, I cannot afford to feel the way I once did.

Never undervalue mental health. Value continuous, perpetual, personal growth. Societies are dyamic intermixes of individuals and social groups. A society is a mix of psychological states and social organizations.

In a healthy society individuals sometimes become organizations and organizations become individuals, and there are other such transformations. Information-seeking organizations categorize individuals for various levels of exploitation, and individuals actively seek damning information from and about the corporate environment.

Artists extend themselves by revealing explicitly defined psychological and social positions. As the information economy becomes more obviously based on private or personal information, as the spiritual engine of the economy is totally decentralized, to a cellular level, all individuals will have to become expert at managing the input and output of personal information.

The idea of building aggregate majorities of diverse minorities is important. Alliances with others must be fused with frequent communication bridging the gaps, splitting the differences. Redundant compromise can add up to a tedious culture that must be continously challenged by the radical interventions of relative extremists. Social hybridity must not result in a dilution of its original, constituent components, but should spawn a new vitality based in recontextualized traditions and anomalous, a-historical trends. Without recognizable historical roots, hybridity will drift away from the reality of the street, turning in on itself in oscillating, wave-like patterns, inevitably heading for abstraction.

It is possible that more and more individuals will function like artists in terms of psychological extroversion. We will see the widespread return of impressionism. The distortion of normal visual and aural perception through a reduction of sensory information will become the norm. Let's call this "disnormalism." And there will be additive, expressionist tendencies where emotional tone spills out into the world colouring everything with melancoly, depression, and rage. Distortion, and hence abstraction, will rise against the explicitness of life under surveillance. There will be a need to reduce complexity, to discard needless detail, to uncover the essential forms and rhythms of the street and the mind. Many will learn how to read and write the most abstract code.

Will artists become scarce in societies governed by surveillance and psycho-social engineering? It may make less and less sense to externalize that which is better kept inside. Creativity may be driven far underground, into a wholely psychological domain. Or will the proliferation of digital tools result in a tremendous increase in the volume of art, to the extent that everyone will be part artist?

Information technology will encourage more and more people to externalize their private lives. Networked, Web-based, on-line publishing, digital cameras and camcorders/non-linear editing systems, and sound packages galore, will continue to offer ubiquitous opportunities for the production and distribution of previously invisible material.

Wireless, networked technologies will encourage the exchange of inane information, previously kept private.

It will be hard to build momentum for change when every single gesture is exposed, and compromised by moderation.

So many people today, when told they are under surveillance in the war against terrorism, seem pleased to be scanned by facial recognition software. It is always nice to be recognized. They feel secure being part of the databank. They have nothing to hide.

This is in itself an existential dilemma, as many of us exist only in records of consumption, a trail of information transactions. I burn energy, and accumulate material possessions, and am totally wired, therefore I am.

When we say we have nothing to hide, we are submitting ourselves to a future of global totalitarianism.

I refuse to provide my image, or a brief profile of myself.