From Nick Carr:
But there’s another reason, I think, that today’s internment of the self in centrally stored data has not spurred the kind of protests we saw a half century ago. In the 60s, the reduction of the self to computable numbers found a tangible, ubiquitous symbol in the punchcard. To hold a punchcard with your name printed across the top was to see your being reduced to a series of binary punch holes, a series of inscrutable ones and zeroes. Like draft cards, punchcards served as concrete touchstones for protest. Ordered by some faceless bureaucracy not to fold, spindle, or mutilate the cards, one felt a moral obligation to fold, spindle, and mutilate them. To tear up a punchcard was to liberate oneself from, as Mario Savio famously put it on the Sproul Hall steps, “the machine.”
The machine’s interface—its outward representation of the numeric self—is no longer the cold, bureaucratic punchcard. It’s the avatar, the selfie: the lovingly curated, intangible image of the I. The cloud, and particularly its social-networking mechanism, personalizes depersonalization. It allows us to design our own representation of the numeric self. Behind the scenes, it’s still all ones and zeroes, but whereas the punchcard brought the binary code into clear view, the avatarial image hides it. The apparatus of control wears a new face, and that face is our own.