counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Identity'

18 February 2011

The business of personal data

Personal Data
The World Economic Forum just came out with a report, “Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class,” that surely is going to raise some controversy, as it explores what it means to commercialise personal data and make good money doing so.

Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class looks at the necessity to rethink personal data as an economic asset class, as it has the potential to represent untapped opportunities for economic growth and social benefit, whilst the issues of movement and protection of data must also be addressed.

There are many interrelated and complex cultural, business, technology and policy trends shaping the personal data ecosystem, and the report presents a user-centric set of recommendations for individuals, private enterprise and policy-makers, highlighting five key areas for collective action:
1. Innovate around user-centricity and trust.
2. Define global principles for using and sharing personal data.
3. Strengthen the dialogue between regulators and the private sector.
4. Focus on interoperability and open standards.
5. Continually share knowledge.

14 December 2010

Internet users say, Don’t track me

Gmail
Most Americans don’t want to be tracked on the Internet and are unwilling to trade their privacy for web ads that are tailored to their interests. So suggest the results of a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of Internet users conducted over the weekend.

The results are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 10-12 with a random sample of 814 Internet users living in the continental U.S. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Read article

13 December 2010

The internet and the ‘end of privacy’

Public living
As part of a new CNN series on internet and the end of privacy, John D. Sutter reflects on the world of public living — where most everything about a person’s habits, location and preferences is just a few clicks away.

“As people share more information about themselves online, the internet, in effect, has created a public transcript of consciousness — storing our thoughts, locations, social lives and memories in data warehouses all over the world.

This has enabled technological advances and shaped our social interactions.

It’s also really freaked some people out.

With a dearth of established, effective methods to manage online privacy, and with digital marketers looking to profit from users’ online lives, some privacy advocates and everyday Web users worry people have lost control of their identities on the internet.”

Read article

11 November 2010

Privacy and the user experience

Privacy
In a long blog post, designer and developer Alexander Dawson discusses some important privacy-related concerns — in particular, how asking for too much information can degrade the overall user experience.

“A user’s experience of a business and its services will only be as pleasant as the business is trustworthy. Treat visitors with respect and remove barriers to access (such as multiple data requests and spam), and you’ll improve usability — and empower your audience in the process.”

Read article

1 October 2010

Danah Boyd taking a pulse in roiling online world

Danah Boyd
The Boston Globe profiles Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd.

“At the center of the broader societal debate is Boyd, whose views on key issues like online privacy are followed closely by tech companies and policy makers. An opponent of “regulation for its own sake,’’ as she puts it, Boyd, 32, has become a go-to source for companies (from Google on down), government agencies, and academics seeking insight into youthful behavior in a 24/7 digital universe.

She prides herself on diving deeply into what young people think and feel about their use of social media. With her tongue stud, bracelets, and neobohemian style of dressing, she fits in seamlessly with her target demographic, even while joking that they all “think I’m an old lady.’’”

Read article

14 September 2010

Cellphones, social networks make eavesdropping OK?

Oversharing
Not only are many unconcerned about strangers overhearing cellphone calls, we purposely broadcast our personal business on Facebook and Twitter. Sharon Jayson reports on the implications in USA Today.

“A century ago, when the first home phones were “party lines” shared by neighbors, “worrying you were being listened in on was a common feature of American culture,” says sociologist Claude Fischer of the University of California-Berkeley.

Oh, how times have changed.

Now, we’re not only unconcerned about overheard phone calls, we purposely broadcast our personal business to large groups of “friends” and “followers” on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

As a result, we’re fast becoming a nation of casual eavesdroppers, where every day we tune in to a constant stream of updates on what others are saying and doing, from where they’re about to eat lunch (complete with photos) to their conversations with others.

All this sharing, some experts say, may be feeding a tendency toward exhibitionism, and devaluing the very privacy that earlier generations so desired.

But not everyone says the rise of widespread social snooping is such a bad thing.”

Read article

2 September 2010

Why privacy is not dead

Danah Boyd
The way privacy is encoded into software doesn’t match the way we handle it in real life, writes Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd in the Technology Review.

“Each time Facebook’s privacy settings change or a technology makes personal information available to new audiences, people scream foul. Each time, their cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

The reason for this disconnect is that in a computational world, privacy is often implemented through access control. Yet privacy is not simply about controlling access. It’s about understanding a social context, having a sense of how our information is passed around by others, and sharing accordingly. As social media mature, we must rethink how we encode privacy into our systems.”

- Read article (subscription only)
- Read article (full text)

2 September 2010

Mobile devices and privacy

Privacy
Should we focus on changing the behaviour of people OR changing the behaviour of devices? That is the key question in article by Ajit Jaokar on his blog Open Gardens.

“The many privacy related issues raised by the Web will be amplified in the world of mobility and even more so, in a world dominated by sensor networks. Current thinking seems to converge on one important conclusion: through the combined interaction of law, technology and Internet literacy, people should be in a position to control how their own personal information is made available and used for commercial (or other) purposes.

In this post, we explore the feasibility of users managing their own data .. i.e. if we indeed want users to manage their own data, what are the issues involved in making this happen? We also look at an alternative i.e. allowing devices to mirror social privacy norms. Hence, I see the discussion as ‘Changing user behaviour to incorporate new device functionality’ OR ‘Changing device behaviour to mirror privacy expectations in human interactions’”

Read article

1 September 2010

Technology aside, most people still decline to be located

ShopKick
Mostly the young are interested in letting others know their physical location. Others are reticent for safety reasons, or against providing too much information. The New York Times reports:

“Internet companies have appropriated the real estate business’s mantra — it’s all about location, location, location.

But while a home on the beach will always be an easy sell, it may be more difficult to persuade people to start using location-based Web services.” [...]

“For now, many people say sharing their physical location crosses a line, even if they freely share other information on the Web.”

Read article

1 August 2010

Reputation managers addressing our internet footprints

Mark Zuckerberg
In the modern digital age where seemingly everything and everyone is online, a new industry is emerging to “manage” the internet footprint that people and businesses leave online. “Reputation managers” can clean up and shape a person’s online history: burying the damaging stuff and promoting the good. The Guardian reports.

“Experts say that the huge growth of the internet has in effect created a “permanent memory” online that can be searched by anyone. Embarrassing statements, and photographs, or angry attacks by spiteful ex-friends once faded away. But no longer. [...]

There are now many firms offering help in keeping people’s online history safe. They include companies and websites like Online Reputation Manager, Reputation Professor, Reputation Defender and Reputation Management Partners.”

Read article

23 June 2010

Why we desire, display and design

Nancy Etcoff
Humans around the world wear clothing and accessories to hide their bodies, to emphasise them, even to evoke magic. Indeed, personal ornaments appear to be among the first forms of symbolic communication. US psychologist Nancy Etcoff linked fashion to psychology in the sixth Premsela Lecture: ‘Born to Adorn: Why We Desire, Display and Design’, delivered on 26 May in Amsterdam.

At the yearly Premsela Lecture, a speaker from outside the world of design addresses current developments in the field. The yearly lectures are organised by Premsela, Dutch Platform for Design and Fashion.

“”Dress, clothes and fashion are rare topics in the social sciences,” Etcoff said, “particularly the branch I inhabit, at the intersection of neuroscience and psychology. Perhaps that is because historically, there has been far more interest in reason and the mind than in emotion and the body, in depth rather than surface, [although] dress has as much to do with reason as emotion, as much to do with the mind as the body, and as much to do with our inner depths as our surface.”

She outlined the variety and importance of our reasons for adornment, ending with a call to designers to use science to push fashion further in its enhancement of human well-being.”

Etcoff, author of The Survival of the Prettiest, The Science of Beauty, is a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and a practicing psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Download text of lecture

(via InfoDesign)

11 June 2010

Recognising the nuances of privacy

Open
This weekend the new issue of OPEN will be launched at the Berlin Biennial. “Privacy” is the main theme, and the focus is “not so much on deploring the loss of privacy but on taking the present situation of ‘post-privacy’ for what it is and trying to gain insight into what is on the horizon in terms of new subjectivities and power constructions.”

Martijn de Waal contributed to this issue with the article: “New Use of Cellular Networks – The Necessity of Recognizing the Nuances of Privacy”.

According to media researcher Martijn de Waal, it is time to rethink our ideas of privacy. The growing use of cellular networks is generating data that plays an important role in civil society projects. To be able to continue using such data in a meaningful and fair way, people must become aware of the fact that privacy is not only a question of either private or public, but includes many New gradations in between.

Read article (alternate link)

Some other articles are also available online.

26 May 2010

Mobile banking: mediated use

CGAP
Jan Chipchase (frog design and until recently an acclaimed user researcher/anthropologist at Nokia) reflects on the topic of technical and textual illiteracy in the context of mobile banking, and the role of privacy within the mediated use illiterate people often need to rely on.

“Textual and technical illiteracy is often cited as a barrier to the adoption of services and by default the benchmark for success is often set at ‘understanding and completing the task by oneself’. However if there are ‘literate’ people nearby to what extent does it matter that the user is illiterate?

‘Mediated use’ is simply recognising that part or all of a task or process is mediated through others.

Read article

16 May 2010

Danah Boyd and the Facebook privacy discussion

Monopoly
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd doesn’t need much introduction as her outspoken and well-developed analysis is frequently quoted on this blog. Two long articles — each with many comments — react to the current Facebook privacy discussion:

Facebook and “radical transparency” (a rant) (14 May)
The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being duped, tricked, coerced, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely unfair. It gives users the illusion of choice and hides the details away from them “for their own good.”

Facebook is a utility; utilities get regulated (15 May)
What’s next is how this emergent utility gets regulated. Cuz sadly, I doubt that anything else is going to stop them in their tracks. And I think that regulators know that.

9 May 2010

Tell-all generation learns to keep things offline

Privacy online
Members of the under 30 tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.

“The conventional wisdom suggests that everyone under 30 is comfortable revealing every facet of their lives online, from their favorite pizza to most frequent sexual partners. But many members of the tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.

While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago — mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry.

They are more diligent than older adults, however, in trying to protect themselves. In a new study to be released this month, the Pew Internet Project has found that people in their 20s exert more control over their digital reputations than older adults, more vigorously deleting unwanted posts and limiting information about themselves. “

Interestingly “mistrust of the intentions of social sites appears to be pervasive.”

Read article

26 March 2010

Private lives

Private lives
Our personal details are used everywhere. And it’s more easy to share, mine and exploit them than ever before.

This new report by the UK think tank Demos is an up-close and personal investigation into how people feel about the use of their personal information. The British public might not be as reserved as we like to think.

The database society is not inherently good or bad. The best we can hope for is that it is as democratic as any of the institutions, markets, and regulatory and legal systems that exert power over our lives. The rules governing information use will determine our power as individuals in the database society and the powers that the state, businesses and other people have over us. As the infrastructure of the database society passes through a formative stage, it is important to understand more about the use of personal information is understood by the people it affects.

Democratising personal information does not only mean giving people a voice in the debate. It means finding better ways of listening to what they say. This pamphlet is about what people think about the use of their personal information. It sets out the findings of Demos’ ‘People’s Inquiry into Personal Information’, revealing the opinions and ideas expressed over 13 hours of deliberation. The inquiry demonstrates how to engage in the conversations that bring personal information decision-making closer to the people it affects.

Download pamphlet

26 March 2010

Privacy in a public world

Privacy
The concept of “privacy” is incredibly different depending on which side of the Atlantic you live, says Eric Reiss. And in an increasingly globalized world, it’s becoming more and more important to acknowledge these divergent points of view.

“Americans tend to be less concerned than Europeans. Privacy, after all, is not a clear constitutional right whereas freedom of speech is. Freedom of speech is actually the first article in the U.S. Bill of Rights. It’s not that Americans don’t value privacy, but they often view it as a tool to prevent government from overstepping its authority. This represents a fundamental difference in the way Americans and Europeans react to privacy issues.

In Europe, privacy is considered a basic human right. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights spells it out, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” To put things in perspective, freedom of speech first comes in Article 10.”

Read article

14 March 2010

Danah Boyd: privacy depends on context

SXSW
“We’ve been looking at privacy and publicity as a black-or-white attribute for content, when really it’s defined by context and the implications of what we’ve chosen to share.”

This is the essence of Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd‘s keynote speech at SXSW Interactive. And here is Danah’s write-out of the talk.

Here are a few of the reviews, from which I have distilled some telling quotes:

Techcrunch:

“Boyd says that privacy is not dead, but that a big part of our notion of privacy relates to maintaining control over our content, and that when we don’t have control, we feel that our privacy has been violated. This has happened a few times recently. [...]

To help underscore her points, she recalled and discussed a number of major privacy blunders from Facebook and Google. [...]

Boyd then transitioned to talk a bit about the fuzzy lines between what is public and private. She says that just because people put material in public places doesn’t mean it was meant to be aggregated. And just because something is publicly accessible doesn’t mean people want it to be publicized.”

CNET News:

“For Boyd, her years of research have been eye-opening into the divergence between what users want–and their emergent behavior–and the ways tech companies interpret those desires. “Often,” she said, “companies trying to build efficiencies into their systems profoundly misunderstand what they’re trying to be efficient about.” [...]

“There’s a big difference between publicly available data and publicized data,” she said, “and I worry about this publication process, and who will be caught in the crossfire.”

“We are going to see a continued emergence of new tools that complicate the boundaries between the public and the private, and technology will continue to make a mess of it.”

“Ultimately, then, for the people who build these systems,” Boyd said, “it is imperative that they ask questions about what people really want and what people want to achieve.”

“For marketers, it’s essential to remember that the accessibility of people’s information online doesn’t necessarily indicate that they want to be seen by you. Just because you can interpret people,” Boyd said, “doesn’t mean you’re going to get it right. Just because you see something doesn’t mean you know what’s going on.”

And to the systems designers on hand for her keynote, Boyd had one final message: “As designers, you need to think through the implications and ethics of what you’re doing,” she said. “You are shaping the future. How you handle those challenges will shape the future.”

More reviews in The New York Times and the Daily Telegraph (including the delightful quote: “Making something that is public more public is a violation of privacy.”)

28 February 2010

When American and European ideas of privacy collide

Liptak
An Italian ruling against Google highlights the clash between Europe’s love of privacy and America’s of free speech, writes Adam Liptak in the New York Times.

“Last week’s ruling from an Italian court that Google executives had violated Italian privacy law by allowing users to post a video on one of its services [...] called attention to the profound European commitment to privacy, one that threatens the American conception of free expression and could restrict the flow of information on the Internet to everyone. [...]

“The framework in Europe is of privacy as a human-dignity right,” said Nicole Wong, a lawyer with [Google]. “As enforced in the U.S., it’s a consumer-protection right.” [...]

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” The First Amendment’s distant cousin comes later, in Article 10.

Americans like privacy, too, but they think about it in a different way, as an aspect of liberty and a protection against government overreaching, particularly into the home. Continental privacy protections, by contrast, focus on protecting people from having their lives exposed to public view, especially in the mass media.”

Read full story

24 February 2010

Google’s bad day

Google
Luca De Biase, the journalist I translated this morning, continues to add interesting commentary:

Excerpts from this post (translated into English):

“The Italian sentence on Google says fundamentally that the judges do not consider the [YouTube] platform to be an editor (Google was not sentenced for defamation) but they consider it responsible when there are violations of privacy legislation, in particular with regards to the sharing of sensitive data related to a person’s health. It might be that the problem that could simply be resolved by adding a button to the platform, so that the user, when about to publish something, has to declare that the uploaded contents are not in violation of the privacy legislation. We shall see. [...]

One cannot ignore the fact that the motivations for the ruling are currently lacking. Once the judge will publish them, it will become obvious whether he did indeed take all this correctly into account, pointing out simply that in Google’s terms and conditions at the time, not all precautions were taken to avoid that users would upload materials that damages privacy – in which case the whole thing would be a lot less worrisome and platforms, in order to comply with the law, would just need to be more clear in asking users to pay attention to privacy matters.”

A second post provides some further reflection:

“The right to freedom of information and the right to privacy are increasingly in conflict. And all those who want to reduce the first can appeal to the second. [...]

And even if it all leads to the fact that the platform needs to ensure that those who publish contents have all the rights to do so, even by asking first third parties before going on to publication, all this will generate enormous complications for any platform that deals with user-generated content. If it is just a matter of a better description of the terms and conditions, then it could be resolved rather easily.”