Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Unintentional Social Media-Enabled Collaboration: A Proposed ArtPrize Entry

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Idea for an ArtPrize Entry Using Body Scanner Images

I posted an article on my Facebook feed about the discovery that US Marshalls have secretly kept tens of thousands of body scanner images.

A colleague, Paul Jendrasiak (@pauljendrasiak), jokingly commented “I think they will be used for an ArtPrize entry hahaha.”

It’s a brilliant idea.

An artist could set up a full-body scanner and have ArtPrize participants walk through it – then project a display of their scans up on the side of  a large interior wall/projector screen – or better yet; the side of a building.  It would also be easy to automatically upload the content to a Flickr gallery and create a living, breathing exhibit online (where discussion could take place).

The work would be a great commentary on a variety of things 1) our Victorian notions of privacy (particularly if the images were depicted outdoors where everyone could see them which would likely cause those uncomfortable with nudity to object – fitting given that a large proportion of those same people are also supporters of unrestricted government surveillance), 2) obesity in the US, 3) government surveillance and individual rights…

I love collaborating with social media.  The accidental stuff is sometimes the best.

[Thanks to Cornell University College of Human Ecology for the body scanner image incorporated into the mock-up.]


Untangling Facebook’s Privacy Morasse

May 17, 2010 Leave a comment

UPDATE: Facebook’s privacy woes have become such a problem that MySpace is seizing upon them as a way of wooing users (via @mashable), AND Facebook is set to launch “Simple” privacy options (via @wired).

Facebook has long had problems with how it handles the privacy of its users; there was the Beacon debacle, the News Feed flap, the difficulties users have had when they try to delete their account, the problem with privacy regarding Facebook Apps, and more recently the opening up of Facebook profiles to search engines.

A recent New York Times article pointed out that Facebook now has 50 settings with over 170 options.  I’ve been online since became the first social networking platform and even I have trouble managing my Facebook profile – imagine if you’re a less-than-savvy grandmother who just wants to look at pictures of the grandkids?

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All the way along, Facebook has done what benefits Facebook – not necessarily what benefits its users.  That isn’t necessarily unsurprising – however, they’ve not been transparent when they’ve made their decisions and implemented their policies.  Jeff Jarvis encapsulated this perfectly in a recent criticism of Facebook:

“Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg seem to assume that once something is public, it’s public. They confused sharing with publishing. They conflate the public sphere with the making of a public. That is, when I blog something, I am publishing it to the world for anyone and everyone to see: the more the better, is the assumption. But when I put something on Facebook my assumption had been that I was sharing it just with the public I created and control there. That public is private. Therein lies the confusion. Making that public public is what disturbs people.” – (Jeff Jarvis, “Confusing *a* public with *the* public”)

Facebook should be wary; there are no shortage of other social networking platforms and as profile information becomes more accessible and portable – it’s easier and easier for users to migrate to other sites.  The Information Superhighway is littered with the bloated corpses of social networking sites that didn’t take that reality to heart and failed as a result.

The Futility of Abstaining From Social Media: A Plea for Rationality

January 4, 2010 2 comments Search Engine

Mashable just published an article surveying some of the recent stories of people rejecting social media (Anti-Social Media: A Rising Rebellion Against Web 2.0?).  They cite examples like the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, workplace bans (citing productivity concerns), and the phenomena of teens rejecting Facebook.

An abstinence-only approach to social media will likely be as ineffective as the abstinence-only approach to sex education: both rely on ignorance and are based on the assumption that one can control the behavior of others.  It’s far more effective to  be pragmatic and arm people with information so that they’re empowered to make decisions about their future.

Problem is, it doesn’t matter if a handful of teens are rejecting Facebook; that’s not going to stop information about them (or any of us) from ending up online.

The details of your life are online whether or not you choose to publish them: friends and neighbors are posting photos of you, corporations are digitizing records, and government documents are going online.  The process has been slower for digital immigrants, but for digital natives – it can begin even before they’re born as parents and relatives post sonogram photos or blog the intimate details of the pregnancy.

Don’t believe me?  Search for yourself with Pipl (a seach engine focused on gathering information about individuals) and see what you find.

I sympathize with the privacy concerns (I, like most, used to do everything online under pseudonyms), but here are two realities you can count on:

  1. More information will be published about you online.
  2. The tools we use to aggregate, sort, index, and categorize information online will continue to improve.

In that context – abstaining from social media seems a bit foolish.  By trying to stay off the grid, you’re voiding your say in how you’re portrayed online.  People (university admissions offices, romantic prospects, and employers) will invariably use the web to learn about you, and it’s prudent to participate in the identity that is created for you online.  At the very least, it pays off to have a Facebook account so that you can keep track of what your friends are saying and posting about you (and ask them to hide or untag photos/videos or other content that you’d rather not have go public).

Employers attempting to force employees to abstain from social media to maintain productivity might want to more closely evaluate that approach.  First, it’s expensive and time-consuming to try to block access to everything online (and most efforts can easily be defeated anyway).  Second, it hasn’t been established whether or not social networking adversely affects productivity (the research thus far is pretty skimpy – and it’s mostly based on surveys as opposed to measuring/observing employees at work).  You’ll likely want to evaluate the type of work each employee is doing and consider factors like these before making a decision:

  1. Do they need to incorporate creativity in their work?
  2. Do they need to collaborate with others (including customers/clients) on their work?
  3. Do they need to be aware of current events or social trends?
  4. Do they need to stay in contact with co-workers/customers/clients who aren’t within yelling distance?
  5. Do they need to frequently reference resources to do their job?