Readings 8: Privacy, Surveillance + Exhibitionism

26 07 2011

“On the Record, All the Time”  – Lifelogging presents a lot of thought provoking questions.  If everyone’s daily life was recorded and public, it would create a completely honest society.  Lies, manipulation, etc. would vanish; anything we don’t like to think about or deem embarassing would be in the open.  It’s a scary thought, but I think, from a long-term perspective, that it would be for the best.  Really, the things we keep private are our inner struggles, quirks, and secrets; things that are very ‘human.’  Putting all of that into the public arena would erase the facade we create when interacting with others. 

Jennifer Ringley created a site that documented her daily life through a webcam.  She shattered boundaries of privacy and I can appreciate the artistic nature of such a bold experiment.  I think an underlying principle of American culture is that human nature/the human body is ugly, so I think her courage to defy that is admirable.  Similarly, Justin.tv allowed viewers to follow someone’s life via webcam, but he actually brought the webcam into the public.  This is much more intrusive as strangers become part of the show and, unlike Ringley’s project, the camera follows Justin outside of the house. 

The Web Means the End of Forgetting was a good follow-up to On the Record, All the Time in that it showed a number of examples of how ‘lifelogging’ has become a burden.  Basically, people are ‘lifelogging’ as second nature now; social media sites are so common that virtually everyone has a distinct online identity.  The problem the article discusses is the persecution of people who have posted something that conflicts with another part of their life (Stacy Snyder not being allowed to finish her pursuit of becoming a teacher because of an online picture of her drinking.)  I think the article defends her, appropriately; as social norms change, people will have to learn to become more accepting of others’ varying identities.  I liked the example of seeing pictures of your accountant drinking or at a clown convention.  It doesn’t take away from his/her ability of being an accountant, but rather shows another side of his/her life.  The most surprising thing I learned from the article was that the media is permitted by law the release the identity of rape victims; I think there should be a boundary on this, as it may discourage other rape victims from reporting a rape.  I understand it’s a freedom of press argument, but this is one of the very rare cases that I believe information should be withheld from certain people.

HTML 5 May Weaken Privacy – HTML5 seems like it will fulfill its tremendous potential, but simultaneously, it draws some risks.  The biggest concern of mine that the article mentioned was the inability to keep track of items in a shopping cart before they are bought.  I feel that, with aggressive online marketing, people will be making many more compulsive purchases.  On top of this, I can see many people buying things without knowing that they are doing so; when your bank account is directly attached to your computer, it’s a legitimate problem.  The “evercookie”, a new cookie that stores and shares information in more places on your computer, sounds like it will be more annoying than beneficial.  Personally, I’m particular about things like saved passwords, or ‘keep me logged in’ buttons, so HTML5 does scare me a little bit.  Like most advances on the internet, though, I’m sure I’ll be on the bandwagon when it provides me with more mindless entertainment.

Google Debates Face Recognition Technology – I agree with the critics.  It’s an incredible technology that can make tagging much more dynamic and convenient, but it’s at the cost of safety.  Stalkers and identity thieves can use it for the wrong reasons and I think the current tagging system is convenient enough.  A few bad apples spoil the barrel.

Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Really Know About You? illustrated a number of points I was actually already somewhat familiar with.  Every time you take a quiz or start using a certain application, the developer can collect a lot of information about you/friends and use it for pretty much anything.  Technically, it’s only supposed to be used within facebook related things, but I don’t really see how a developer can get caught selling/sharing the information.  I’ve been pretty safe about this in the past and only allow respected developers access to my profile; even still, I’m sure my information is being shared with a lot of 3rd party affiliates.

Twitter on The Daily Show – I think I watched this for the Week 1 Readings, but it may have been on the recommended/non-mandatory list.  The Daily Show is great satire and I remember staying up late through middle-school and high-school to watch.  Jon Stewart is obviously always funny and Samantha Bee’s skit was good, too.  I liked the way she juxtaposed the media’s obsession with twitter with the obsessive habits of twitter users/followers. 

I Know What You Did Last Math Class – Any parent who thinks that being able to track his/her child’s grades is a bad thing clearly has their priorities in the wrong place.  The side effects are “exacerbated stress about daily grades and increased family tension.”  Parents are responsible more than anything else for a child’s academic success and reviewing daily grades should be a given, not a burden of stress.  Increased family tension? Like putting pressure on your kid to do well?  Sometimes you have to pick your battles. The article GPS Technology Helps Parents Track Teens is a similar concept, but isn’t about academics.  Being able to trust your children to not go places they shouldn’t is important, but knowing when they do is more important.  Safety should be a parent’s biggest priority and I don’t see anything wrong with keeping a constant eye on one’s child.

Watch this brief “howcast” for FourSquare – Now the article about MTV and Foursquare teaming up for STD awareness makes sense!  I recently got an iPhone and will have to try this out.  Seems like a great way to find new restaurants, cafes, hangouts, etc.  Seems like a perfect way to ruin my On Location Privacy.  I understand that there’s evidence of everywhere that I’ve been but I haven’t robbed any banks or hidden any bodies, so it doesn’t really bother me.  It does have a creepy 1984 aura, but if you don’t want there being records of you being at a certain place, don’t go to that place!

Watch this 8 minute video was great, and Bruce Schneier has great speaking skills.  I was engaged for the whole speech.  Security really is the control of information, and now with social networking sites, humans have to define ‘privacy.’  The boundaries of what we want others to know and in what context have to be solidified and enforced.  The fact that privacy has a different meaning to everyone makes it difficult to create a sound security system.  His explanation of the generation gap caused by the internet also made sense; my generation is fluent in how to use the internet, but mostly clueless as to how it works.  I think his prediction is accurate; that his generation will be remembered by their ability to securely process information.

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