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Posts in category 'Identity'

28 May 2014

When big data meets dataveillance: the hidden side of analytics

 

Among the numerous implications of digitalization, the debate about ‘big data’ has gained momentum. The central idea capturing attention is that digital data represents the newest key asset organizations should use to gain a competitive edge. Data can be sold, matched with other data, mined, and used to make inferences about anything, from people’s behavior to weather conditions. Particularly, what is known as ‘big data analytics’ — i.e. the modeling and analysis of big data — has become the capability which differentiates, from the rest of the market, the most successful companies. An entire business ecosystem has emerged around the digital data asset, and new types of companies, such as analytical competitors and analytical deputies, are proliferating as a result of the analysis of digital data. However, virtually absent from the big data debate is any mention of one of its constitutive mechanisms — that is, dataveillance. Dataveillance — which refers to the systematic monitoring of people or groups, by means of personal data systems in order to regulate or govern their behavior — sets the stage and reinforces the development of the data economy celebrated in the big data debate. This article aims to make visible the interdependence between dataveillance, big data and analytics by providing real examples of how companies collect, process, analyze and use data to achieve their business objectives.

Degli Esposti, Sara. 2014. When big data meets dataveillance: The hidden side of analytics. Surveillance &
Society 12(2): 209-225. http://www.surveillance-and-society.org | ISSN: 1477-7487
© The author(s), 2014 | Licensed to the Surveillance Studies Network under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.

5 March 2014

Has privacy become a luxury good?

privacy

Julia Angwin, a senior reporter at ProPublica, writes in the New York Times about how it takes a lot of money and time to avoid hackers and data miners.

“In our data-saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good. After all, as the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. And currently, we aren’t paying for very much of our technology.

Not long ago, we would have bought services as important to us as mail and news. Now, however, we get all those services for free — and we pay with our personal data, which is spliced and diced and bought and sold.”

But, she asks, do we want privacy to be something that only those with disposable money and time can afford?

26 February 2014

What the tech business hasn’t yet grasped about human nature

20140225_Gen_Bell_MWC

Genevieve Bell, Intel’s in-house anthropologist, sees constants in our behavior that could mean big bucks for businesses that find a way to capitalize on them. C|Net reports on her talk at the Mobile World Congress yesterday.

“In this digital world, the story we’re telling about the future is a story driven by what the technology wants and not what we as humans need,” Bell said at the WIPjam developer event during the massive Mobile World Congress show here. “We want mystery, we want boredom, a lot of us in this room want to be dangerous and bad and be forgiven about it later. We want to be human, not digital.”

24 February 2014

Will your clothing spy on you?

big-brother

In his lecture “The Ethicist’s and the Lawyer’s New Clothes: The Law and Ethics of Smart Clothes,” I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School, warns of the potential for wearable technology to annihilate privacy for good.

According to Fortune’s David Whitford, Cohen drew an analogy with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, where the action takes place in two locales: Venice itself, a hotbed of commerce and greed; and nearby Belmont, the refuge to which the protagonists escape for love and art. Smart clothes threaten to “disrupt the place of refuge,” even when we leave our phones behind. “At some point we squeeze out the space for living a life,” he warned. “Lots of people have things they want to do and try but wouldn’t if everything was archived.”

20 November 2013

Teens in the digital age

 

Two talks on teens in the digital age:

The App Generation: identity, intimacy and imagination in the digital era (video – 21:18)
Talk at The RSA, London, UK – October 2, 2013
Today’s young people have grown up almost totally immersed in digital media. But have we really begun to take full stock of the impact that living in the digital era has on young people’s creativity and aspirations?
Drawing upon a unique body of new research, father of the theory of multiple intelligences, Professor Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist at Harvard University, explores the particular challenges facing today’s “App Generation” as they as they navigate three vital areas of adolescent life – identity, intimacy and imagination – in a digital world.
Addressing the areas in which digital technologies can both positively and negatively affect relationships, personal and creative growth, Gardner looks at how we might venture beyond the ways that apps are designed to be used, to ensure that technologies act as a springboard to greater creativity and higher aspiration.

It’s Complicated: Teen Privacy in a Networked Age (video – 22:14)
Talk held at Family Online Safety Institute, Washington, DC, USA – November 6, 2013
Dr. danah boyd, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, expanding on her new book It’s Complicated (Amazon link).

Perhaps not surprisingly, Howard Gardner (born in 1943) and danah boyd (born in 1977) come to quite different conclusions. boyd’s talk is quite consistent by a great one by Tricia Wang at EPIC in London, by the way.

By the way, note Boyd’s definition of privacy: “Privacy is not simply the control of the flow of information, but it is in many ways the control of a social situation.”

9 February 2013

UK Report: Notions of identity will be transformed in the next decade

changingidentities

Hyper-connectivity – where people are constantly connected to social networks and streams of information – will have a transforming effect on how we see ourselves and others in the next decade, according to a new report published by the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington.

The Foresight study Changing Identities in the UK – the Next Ten Years looks at a range of areas affected by identity including social inclusion and mobility, education and skills, crime and mental health. It shows that traditional ideas of identity will become less meaningful as boundaries between people’s public and private identities disappear, with wide ramifications for policy-makers.

Reading the (long) executive summary, it all seems rather optimistic to me, as the grinding impact of a slow-growth economy in the UK as well as the increasing “under-the-rader” control systems of corporations and governments through the unleashing of algorithms on big data sets, don’t seem to be valued enough in this report.

Key findings (summary)
Rather than having a single identity, people have several overlapping identities, which shift in emphasis in different life stages and environments. These are changing in three important ways:

  • Hyper-connectivity: Sixty per cent of internet users in the UK are now members of a social network site, increasing from only 17% in 2007. The UK is now a virtual environment as well as a real place, and increasingly UK citizens are globally networked individuals. Events which occur elsewhere in the world can have a real and immediate impact in the UK. People have become accustomed to switching seamlessly between the internet and the physical world, and use social media to conduct their lives in a way which dissolves the divide between online and offline identities. The internet has not produced a new kind of identity. Rather, it has been instrumental in raising awareness that identities are more multiple, culturally contingent and contextual than had previously been understood.
     
  • Increasing social plurality: As the large UK post-war cohort reach old-age, the number of over-75 year olds will increase by over a million, from 5.1 million in 2012 to 6.6 million in 2022, a rise of more than 20%. The Report identifies a shift in attitudes, with the emergence of new transitional life stages being defined by attitudes and roles, rather than age. Traditional life stages, for example between adolescence and adulthood, or middle-age and old-age, are being delayed or blurred together.
     
  • Blurring of public and private identities: People are now more willing to place personal information into public domains, such as on the internet, and attitudes towards privacy are changing, especially among younger people. These changes are blurring the boundaries between social and work identities. The widespread use of mobile technology could, in time, allow social media to be linked with spatial tracking and even facial recognition technologies. This would allow people to draw on personal information about a stranger in a public place, changing the nature of what it means to be anonymous in public spaces.

The Report goes on to question what identity means today. It finds that:

  • Identities are controlled both by individuals and by others: People can choose to present certain aspects of their identities, or to disclose particular personal information. Identities can also be imposed by others. Even if a person does not create their own online accounts, their families and friends may discuss them or post photographs online.
     
  • People have many overlapping identities: Understanding which of a person’s identities are most relevant in a given situation depends on the context. Identities are, therefore, culturally contingent and highly contextual, but can also be strongly linked to behaviours.
     
  • People express their identities in different ways: One of the most significant observations of the impact of online identities is the way that some people can feel that they have achieved their ‘true’ identity for first time online. For example, some people may socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online.
     
  • Identities have value: People’s identities have personal, psychological, social, and commercial value. The growth in the collection and use of personal data can have benefits for individuals, organisations and government, by offering greater insights through data analysis, and the development of more targeted and more effective services. Identities can unify people and can be regarded as a valuable resource for promoting positive social interaction. However, this growth in the amount of available data also has the potential for criminal exploitation or misuse. Trust is fundamental to achieving positive relationships between people and commercial organisations, and between citizens and the state, but surveys show that people are less willing to trust in authority than in the past.

Finally, the Report provides some recommendations for policy makers, particularly in six key areas:

  • Crime prevention and criminal justice: The growing quantity of personal and financial data online, as facial recognition technology, ‘big data’ and social media together begin to connect information about individuals, means that there will be more opportunities for criminal exploitation and cybercrime. However, there are also opportunities for enhanced crime prevention, intelligence gathering, and crime detection. The foundation of English law is a liberal society where social identity is, as far as possible, a personally defined and freely chosen individual possession, and so the legal system will need to continue to ensure that people’s online and offline identities are protected.
     
  • Health, environment and wellbeing: The implications of changing identities for the built environment, transport, infrastructure, and mitigating the effects of climate change will need to be considered by policy makers. The development and application of biomedical technologies, such as drugs to improve memory and cognition, and developments in reproductive technologies, could have the potential to transform the way that people relate to themselves, each other, and their environment. However, there are complex ethical and practical implications for government in regulating and responding to these technologies.
     
  • Skills, employment and education: A critical issue for the future will be to ensure that individuals have the knowledge, understanding, and technological literacy to enable them to take control of their own online identities, and to be aware of their online presence and how it could be used by others.
     
  • Radicalisation and extremism: The trends towards greater social plurality, declining trust in authority, and increasing take-up of new technologies may all pose challenges for policy makers seeking to manage radicalisation and extremism.
     
  • Social mobility: Perceptions of unfairness in access to opportunities, rather than actual inequality, may in turn reinforce certain kinds of social identities and increase the potential for collective action. However, as access to the internet and hyper-connectivity increase, information and education may become more freely available and shared, enhancing life opportunities for many individuals.
     
  • Social integration: Greater social plurality, demographic trends, and the gradual reduction in importance of some traditional aspects of identity, suggest that communities in the UK are likely to become less cohesive over the next 10 years. However, hyper-connectivity can also create or strengthen new group identities. Policy makers will need to consider indirect as well as direct implications of policy for communities and people’s sense of belonging. There are opportunities for policy to support social integration and acknowledge new forms of community as they develop.

(via @urukwavu)

12 December 2012

Can reputation come down to a number?

hbr

The idea of a unified reputation currency is starting to take hold online, writes Josh Klein in the blog of the Harvard Business Review.

“With broad agreement that reputation is a form of value, and various mechanisms already existing to score people and institutions on it, convergence on one metric seems achievable—even inevitable.

It’s an enormously appealing idea. Imagine you could type in my name or email address or social software account and get a single number by which to judge whether you should do business with me—or indeed whether you should bother reading my point of view. What if, as a business, you could get a single number to determine how much to discount your product for a particular customer (because they might promote the product if they like it) or better yet, increase the price for those unlikely to enhance its appeal to others? Regardless of your motivation, having a single number to replace what would be a messy evaluation would be a huge convenience that computers seem ideally suited to provide.

But the idea is fatally flawed. As someone who is subject to hysterical bouts of techno-utopianism myself, I can recognize the signs. We want a single number to evaluate other people by, and it really, really, really seems possible, so it must be so. Except that it isn’t.

It’s nearly impossible firstly because reputation is so deeply context-dependent.”

[My emphasis]

25 October 2012

Book: Configuring the Networked Self

9780300125436

Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice
by July E. Cohen
Yale University Press, 2012
352 pages
Free pdf version | Amazon link

The legal and technical rules governing flows of information are out of balance, argues Julie E. Cohen in this original analysis of information law and policy. Flows of cultural and technical information are overly restricted, while flows of personal information often are not restricted at all. The author investigates the institutional forces shaping the emerging information society and the contradictions between those forces and the ways that people use information and information technologies in their everyday lives. She then proposes legal principles to ensure that people have ample room for cultural and material participation as well as greater control over the boundary conditions that govern flows of information to, from, and about them.

Julie E. Cohen teaches and writes about intellectual property law and privacy law, with particular focus on copyright and on the intersection of copyright and privacy rights in the networked information society. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

(Recommended by Paul Dourish)

6 September 2012

Consumers say no to mobile apps that grab too much data

PewInternet

A study by the Pew Research Center, released Wednesday, found that among Americans adults who use smartphone apps, half had decided not to install applications on their mobile phones because they demanded too much personal information. Nearly a third uninstalled an application after learning that it was collecting personal information “they didn’t wish to share.” And one in five turned off location tracking “because they were concerned that other individuals or companies could access that information.” A customer’s whereabouts can be extremely valuable to marketers trying to sell their wares, or government authorities trying to keep tabs on citizens’ movements.

The study seems to suggest a deepening awareness of digital privacy. And it contradicts a common perception that the generation of young Americans who have grown up in the Internet age blithely share their personal details.

Read article

23 July 2012

Ethical decision-making apps damage our ability to make moral choices

120711_FUTURETENSE_digitalethicscartoonEX.jpg.CROP.article250-medium

A recent crush of smartphone and tablet apps claim to make hard decisions easier, and the range of ethical dilemmas they can weigh in on will only increase. At this rate, Siri 5.0 may be less a personal assistant than an always-available guide to moral behavior. But depending on a digital Jiminy Cricket may be a regressive step away from what makes us all real, write Evan Selinger and Thomas Seager in Slate Magazine.

“Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, gives us a glimpse into what the next generation of apps might do. While discussing potential developments in “promptware” platforms that cue ideal behavior (for instance, sense that we’re exhausted and recommend we should pause before making an important call), he notes that an app in the works will enable users to determine whether they speak too much in critical situations (like business meetings) and make real-time corrections to improve their performance. He speculates large-scale adoption might do more than change personal behavior. It could transform ethical norms—the very fabric of what members of a society expect from one anothe”

Read article

4 July 2012

Big e-reader is watching you

Ebooks reader privacy

Would George Orwell have been amused or disturbed by the development that Big Brother now knows exactly how long it takes readers to finish his novel, which parts they might have highlighted, and what they went on to pick up next?

Publishers are thrilled with the new data – but what does it mean for the rest of us?

28 June 2012

Dr Paul Bernal on the right to be forgotten

Paul_Lion

What is the right to be forgotten? How could it work – if it could work? Is it something to be supported or something to be feared? Why is it such a bone of contention?

An article by Dr Paul Bernal, a lecturer in IT, IP and Media Law at the University of East Anglia (UK), tries to start answering some of these questions.

A quote:

“A more fundamental [problem is] the cultural differences in attitudes to privacy and free speech in the EU and the US. In the EU, and particularly in Germany, privacy is taken very seriously, and the rights that people have over data are considered crucial. In the US, privacy very much takes second place to free speech – anything that can even slightly infringe on free speech is likely to face short shrift. The right to be forgotten has been very actively opposed in the US on those grounds – Jeffrey Rosen in the Stanford Law Review calling it the ‘biggest threat to free speech on the internet in the coming decade’.

Who is right? Neither, really. The right is not what its more active opponents in the US think it is – but neither has it been written tightly enough and carefully enough to provide the kind of practical, realisable right to delete personal data that the EU would like to see.”

6 June 2012

The curious case of Internet privacy

bi.curiouscasex616

Free services in exchange for personal information. That’s the “privacy bargain” we all strike on the Web. Cory Doctorow argues it could be the worst deal ever.

“Far from destroying business, letting users control disclosure would create value. Design an app that I willingly give my location to (as I do with the Hailo app for ordering black cabs in London) and you’d be one of the few and proud firms with my permission to access and sell that information. Right now, the users and the analytics people are in a shooting war, but only the analytics people are armed. There’s a business opportunity for a company that wants to supply arms to the rebels instead of the empire.”

Read article

26 June 2011

What is your influence score?

Influencers
Imagine a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are. This number would help determine whether you receive a job, a hotel-room upgrade or free samples at the supermarket. If your influence score is low, you don’t get the promotion, the suite or the complimentary cookies. This is not science fiction. It’s happening to millions of social network users. Stephanie Rosenbloom reports on it in The New York Times.

“Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence — or in the lingo, rating “influencers.” Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you’ve amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgments — in the form of a score — online.

To some, it’s an inspiring tool — one that’s encouraging the democratization of influence. No longer must you be a celebrity, a politician or a media personality to be considered influential. Social scoring can also help build a personal brand. To critics, social scoring is a brave new technoworld, where your rating could help determine how well you are treated by everyone with whom you interact.”

Read article

20 June 2011

Individual and networked privacy

Networked privacy
Danah Boyd, researcher at Microsoft Research New England and Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, posted the crib of her recent Personal Democracy Forum talk on networked privacy.

“Our contemporary ideas about privacy are often shaped by legal discourse that emphasizes the notion of “individual harm.” Furthermore, when we think about privacy in online contexts, the American neoliberal frame and the techno-libertarian frame once again force us to really think about the individual. In my talk at Personal Democracy Forum this year, I decided to address some of the issues of “networked privacy” precisely because I think that we need to start thinking about how privacy fits into a social context. Even with respect to the individual frame, what others say/do about us affects our privacy. And yet, more importantly, all of the issues of privacy end up having a broader set of social implications.”

Read talk

21 May 2011

Are our lives vanishing into the cloud?

Cloud
“[Soon] we will no longer possess, in a formal sense, our own stuff,” writes Adam Silver, design strategist at frog. “Not even on our hard drives. Instead, it will have gone fully virtual, kind of like Tron but without the neon suits. Slowly but surely, our belongings are vanishing into the cloud.”

“When it comes to identity, users have historically been locked in a dance with the devil—our data in return for some subsidized service (search, email, whatever). Frankly, in the past it’s been a raw deal, because the data has typically been working for advertisers, rather than for us. But smart designers are now turning this equation on its head, creating a raft of sexy, bespoke services that use our data to better reflect our identities in their products, and (if we so choose) share that data with the wider world. They are designing these services to be transparent, intuitive, and delightful. And they are pointing the way towards a future where sharing data is actually worth doing.”

Read article

18 May 2011

The grand delusion: Why nothing is as it seems

Delusion
This might come as a shock, but everything you think is wrong. Much of what you take for granted about day-to-day existence is largely a figment of your imagination. From your senses to your memory, your opinions and beliefs, how you see yourself and others and even your sense of free will, things are not as they seem. The power these delusions hold over you is staggering, yet, as Graham Lawton discovers and reports in The New Scientist, they are vital to help you function in the world.

What you see is not what you get
Your senses are your windows on the world, and you probably think they do a fair job at capturing an accurate depiction of reality. Don’t kid yourself.

Blind to bias
Do you see the world through a veil of prejudice and self-serving hypocrisies? Or is it just other people who do that?

Head full of half-truths
One of the most important components of your self-identity – your autobiographical memory – is little more than an illusion.

Egotist, moi?
Most drivers think they’re better than average. Most people think they’re less likely to have an inflated self-opinion than average. See the problem?

Who’s in control?
The more we learn about the brain, the less plausible it becomes that we have free will.

7 May 2011

Serious play: the business of social currency

Arrow dude
Social currency is shared information that encourages further social encounters.

It’s not a new concept, but the social web increases its prevalence. In the web-based collaboration software platform called Rypple, a simple act of thanking someone on a team and using a badge as a way to show your gratitude is a form of social currency. A platform called Badgeville promises to add virtual rewards to your digital media property through leaderboards and virtual “badges” that act as reinforcements to reward certain behaviors and encourage others.

As someone who has taken a deep dive in several social networks (he joined Twitter in 2007) and observes both the gaming and currency aspects of them, David Armano believes these dynamics will influence the business world as it becomes more connected.

In this “social reward” economy, here are a few things he suggests we may want to consider as we manage teams and work to build the brand(s) of our organizations.

Read article (alternate link)

19 April 2011

EU recommendations on privacy protection in smart meters

EUJustice
The European Union’s Working Party on Data Protection has issued five recommended requirements for the protection of personal privacy in a time of Smart Meters in the home (pdf), outlining what needs to happen in order to gain the benefits of Smart Metering data while minimizing the risk and cost to personal privacy.

The Working Group’s recommendations:

  • Electricity consumption data should be treated as Personal Information, because it can be traced back to an individual person. Europeans treat Personal Information very seriously, sometimes arguably at the expense of technological innovation.
  • Push-button consent: the Working Group recommends that Smart Meter providers develop easy buttons that consumers can push to grant or remove consent that their data be shared with anyone who seeks to offer them enhanced services.
  • The social good is not always the primary consideration. “The imperative to reduce energy consumption,” writes the Working Group, “although it might be a sensible public policy objective, does not override data subjects’ rights and interests in every case.”
  • Personal data collected should be kept to a minimum as required to fulfill services offered – and be deleted as soon as possible except in cases where the electricity consumer has requested services like annual comparisons of consumption.
  • Privacy by Design: “Security should also be designed in at the early stage as part of the architecture of the network rather than added on later.”

Read article (ReadWriteWeb)

5 April 2011

Storytelling and destination development

Storytelling and Destination Development
The study “Storytelling and Destination Development” by the Nordic Innovation Centre set out to scrutinize the possibilities and drawbacks of using storytelling as a means of developing and marketing Nordic tourism destinations.

On the basis of five selected Nordic cases, the study sheds light both on the ways in which storytelling is practiced and how stakeholder cooperation unfolds and seeks to determine the prerequisites for using storytelling as part of a destination development strategy.

Drawing on the literature on storytelling as well as theory on inter-organisational relations, the study develops a theoretical model which centres on four closely interrelated elements: types of stakeholders involved; stages of the storytelling process; outcome of the storytelling process; and destination development. The theoretical model serves as a central tool for the cases presented to illustrate the issues at stake.

The five cases – one each from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – consist of rich sets of data: interviews with main stakeholders; collection of industry documents, marketing material and media coverage; observation of stakeholder meetings; and participant observation of storytelling events.

The findings point to the importance of a location-based story to conceptualize, substantiate, and commercialize a destination. Findings suggest that some cases are characterized by individual stories of many qualities in terms of dramaturgical principles and customer involvement, however, an overall story framework is non-existent which makes the storytelling initiative poorly suited as a means of destination development. In other cases, a more holistic, coordinated story can be identified that ties the individual stories together and on this basis a common identity for the destination seems to materialize. The nature of stakeholder relations helps explain why some storytelling practices have destination development potential whereas others have not. Dedicated leadership, multi-actor involvement and two-way communication appear to be prerequisites for the destination development potential of storytelling activities.