Doing the math: Why you need to change your thinking
The American Civil War remains one of the bloodiest in our nation's history, in good part because of a horrid and avoidable mismatch between tactics and technology. For over a century, armies around the world had fielded relatively inaccurate, short-range, smoothbore muskets. Accepted tactics of the day called for densely-regimented units to close distance and provide volley fire - essentially ranks of men firing in the general direction of their opposites to create a beaten zone, where the lead balls would hit someone, though they couldn't be assured of quite whom. They would then charge and finish the battle with bayonet and buttstock.
However, two decades before hostilities broke out, technology advanced subtly but significantly. First, the "rifled musket" came into being. Grooves cut into the interior of the barrel imparted spin to a fired bullet, dramatically increasing accuracy. Second, the "Minié ball" projectile was developed. This bullet was not a round ball but a more aerodynamic design that included a flared skirt to create a better seal for burning gunpowder's gasses. This increased velocity, extending lethal range from a musket's seventy-five yards to close to several hundred yards.
The technology was no secret, no mystery. The men involved were not ignorant of it, nor were they stupid. They simply didn't do the math. They didn't grasp the ramifications of combining this new technology and their known and accepted way of viewing things.
And so they marched tightly-packed lines of men into an abattoir. Riflemen, rather than "possibly hitting someone over there," cut down every individual upon whom they leveled their sights. Men, expecting to be relatively safe until in close range, marched across open fields where they were decimated before ever reaching the enemy's position.
Still, they didn't do the math. They couldn't change their views, even when their eyes witnessed the results before them. "What they knew" was too ingrained to change.
Don't be like them.
To Whom It May Concern
Most of us don't really "know" about surveillance. It's a term we've heard in movies, or read in crime or spy novels. It conjures up James Bond imagery, or political intrigue, or underworld investigations. And so, when we hear that it's something directed at us, we have a hard time processing that. We're not important. We're not special. We haven't done anything wrong.
The enemy can't possibly reach us from way back there. We need to close the distance.
But what we - you - need to understand is that surveillance has been depersonalized. It no longer involves nondescript vans, or men huddled in secret rooms. It is done electronically, with few humans involved, and massive amounts of cheap computer storage. More importantly, it doesn't require you to "be somebody" to become a target. In fact, it has become so cheap and easy to acquire and store data that it takes more effort to exclude someone from surveillance than to vacuum up the details of their lives.
Surveillance is no longer targeted at an individual. It's addressed to "occupant." Traffic camera videos, and space- and ground-based imagery collected by companies such as Digital Globe and Google are constantly grabbing images of our neighborhoods and roadways. Internet service and cell service providers regularly turn over blocks of usage data for all subscribers. And this is before we reach the only slightly more personalized data gathered as email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo scan the content of your email to better target ads to your interests; as your smart phone's virtual assistant listens to every sound in your home to respond to your commands; as your Xbox logs your in-game chats; as your "Xfinity home security system" provides real-time video monitoring of your home's interior.
With all this data in near-permanent storage, you don't need to have done anything wrong yet. Because if it's ever suspected that you have - or might - all the evidence will be there waiting to be cross-referenced and used against you.
Do the math
The technology is already out there. You see and likely use much of it nearly every day. It's no secret, no mystery. You are not ignorant of it, nor are you stupid. But you need to do the math. No matter how deeply "what you know" is ingrained, you need to open your eyes and see the ramifications.
Surveillance does affect you. You are being targeted, despite your innocence and banality. They can hit you from way back there.
You need to take cover.