The Normal Person’s Guide To Life (Or Why It’s Never Just You And The Smirking Clerk)


Three quick questions. 

Why was it Wal-Mart was able to get to supplies to Hurricane Katrina victims before the United States government?

Why are our nation’s school system in complete disarray?

And what on earth does the answers to those questions have to do with privacy?

The answer to the first 2 questions is really a simple one.

The government, our schools and most other institutions in this country don’t work because they were built for 20th Century problems. 


The schools your child attends was designed in the Henry Ford era.

Teacher (factory worker) teaches his focused topic (creates part) which when combined with others doing the same thing (assembly line) you end up with a graduated student (automobile). Despitetests and referendums (quality control)a lot of the students (automobiles) still aren’t successful.

Though our lives and what we need to know are completely different than what it was twenty years ago we are still using a 100 year old formula and look confused when it doesn’t work.


Wal-Mart, despite treating it’s workers like shit, is a 21st century company.

Now the basic difference between 20th Century and 21 Century companies and governments is how they acquire, use and leverage information.

Despite having access to more recources and information our federal government ‘dropped the ball’ on Katrina because it didn’t know what to do with the information it had.

Unlike the information heavy Wal-Mart or Fed-Ex it stumbled because our government is still using 20th Century strategies in 2006.

Now I said all that to say this.


A lot of smart people are wringing their hands at what is, in my opinion, a 20th Century problem. And that’s privacy.

When you go 20 miles out of your way to buy a porn magazine at a store where nobody knows you it’s not really a secret.

Visa knows.

All the survelliance cameras which track speeders and deter crime knows.

The navigation system in your car knows.

The computer system of 7-11 knows.

It’s never just you and the smirking clerk.

We gave up privacy a long time ago.

The 21st century problem is one of secrecy.

That’s what we have to ask questions about.

We, as consumers and citizens, should be able to know, whenever we want, who has access to our data and for what reason. We should know when it’s being sold or borrowed from the company we originally gave it to.

The secrecy of what happens to our data is a 21st Century problem.

Not privacy.

And we won’t solve it thinking like Henry Ford.


Explore posts in the same categories: Army Of One, blog networks, blogs, chartreuse (beta), cursing, New Orleans, personal, rebuttal, research, smart, Weblog, writers

7 Comments on “The Normal Person’s Guide To Life (Or Why It’s Never Just You And The Smirking Clerk)”

  1. TerryC Says:

    What happened to you yesterday!
    Interesting post but are you sure secrecy and privacy aren’t the same thing?

  2. chartreuse Says:

    They are close but here’s how I look at it.
    Privacy is something you want.
    Secrecy is something someone else wants.

  3. Robert Bruce Says:

    Reminds me of the old Orwell/Huxley debate…

    This culture generally believes that George Orwell’s “Big Brother” has us by the shorts, you know, can’t walk down the street without a camera on you, etc.

    The reality is actually closer to Aldous Huxley’s vision in Brave New World. Like those citizens, we’ve willingly taken the SOMA… sure, the drug manufactured for us, but it wasn’t shoved down the throat. We took it.

    Anyway, I like this post Char. You’re turning amateur philosopher on us…

  4. chartreuse Says:

    amateur is right!
    When are you doing another podcast?

  5. Robert Bruce Says:

    Just put up No. 4 this morning… gotten into a Wednesday morning groove with these podcasts.

    Thanks for asking.

  6. Adam Elend Says:

    “We, as consumers and citizens, should be able to know, whenever we want, who has access to our data and for what reason. We should know when it’s being sold or borrowed from the company we originally gave it to.”

    Knowing when it’s being sold or borrowed, knowing who has access… that’s disclosure. Secrecy would be the ability to control who had access, to control whether or not it’s borrowed or sold.

    And privacy, according to my 20th century dictionary, means the state or condition of being free from being observed OR DISTURBED. Your argument is strong on the observation front, but weak on the disturbing front. Freedom from being disturbed is certainly still a 21st century value, one that is under attack.

    Nice post, though.

  7. […] I was reading a post that that Chartreuse wrote and something clicked. He mentioned that the education system we all go through was designed for 20th century problems. It’s basically an assembly line where we get passed from one group of teachers to the next as they teach us the things we “need” to make it in the real world. Of course, Chartreuse also brings up interesting points about 20th century companies vs. 21st century companies and privacy vs. secrecy. […]

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