Wednesday, August 25. 2010
The way privacy is encoded into software doesn't match the way we handle it in real life.
By Danah Boyd
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.
Privacy is not in opposition to speaking in public. We speak privately in public all the time. Sitting in a restaurant, we have intimate conversations knowing that the waitress may overhear. We count on what Erving Goffman called "civil inattention": people will politely ignore us, and even if they listen they won't join in, because doing so violates social norms. Of course, if a close friend sits at the neighboring table, everything changes. Whether an environment is public or not is beside the point. It's the situation that matters.
Whenever we speak in face-to-face settings, we modify our communication on the basis of cues like who's present and how far our voices carry. We negotiate privacy explicitly--"Please don't tell anyone"--or through tacit understanding. Sometimes, this fails. A friend might gossip behind our back or fail to understand what we thought was implied. Such incidents make us question our interpretation of the situation or the trustworthiness of the friend.
All this also applies online, but with additional complications. Digital walls do almost have ears; they listen, record, and share our messages. Before we can communicate appropriately in a social environment like Facebook or Twitter, we must develop a sense for how and what people share.
When the privacy options available to us change, we are more likely to question the system than to alter our own behavior. But such changes strain our relationships and undermine our ability to navigate broad social norms. People who can be whoever they want, wherever they want, are a privileged minority.
As social media become more embedded in everyday society, the mismatch between the rule-based privacy that software offers and the subtler, intuitive ways that humans understand the concept will increasingly cause cultural collisions and social slips. But people will not abandon social media, nor will privacy disappear. They will simply work harder to carve out a space for privacy as they understand it and to maintain control, whether by using pseudonyms or speaking in code.
Instead of forcing users to do that, why not make our social software support the way we naturally handle privacy? There is much to be said for allowing the sunlight of diversity to shine. But too much sunlight scorches the earth. Let's create a forest, not a desert.
Danah Boyd is a social-media researcher at Microsoft Research New England, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and a member of the 2010 TR35.
Copyright Technology Review 2010.
In connection to this post, you can look a this picture from Mashable site.
Tuesday, March 16. 2010
At The Mobile City, we are currently researching the design processes that shape the cities of the 21st century, and bumped into an interesting paradox (also pointed out by others):
The experience of our present day city in every day life is increasingly a hybrid one – meaning that it is made up of both physical and mediated experiences that mutually influence, extend or contradict each other. At the same time, the design of our cities is for the most part still a rather stratified process where different disciplines shape the different ‘layers’ of the urban experience.
Planners and architects are still mostly interested in the physical, spatial design of cities. Whereas it is artists, telecom-operators, activists, and dotcom-start-ups that shape the software and interface layers through which the experience of a physical place is optimized, extended, reframed, negated, denied, contested or contradicted. What is more, these different disciplines all have their own traditions of understanding what a city is or should do. Often they don’t even understand each other’s language.
This is of course not necessarily a bad thing. Cities have always been heterogeneous or hybrid spaces where different logics are at work – and in competition with each other. Urban culture has always been a negotiation between the spatial embodied ideals of architects and the messy practices of everyday life.
At the same time we think that this time around this negotiation is becoming more complicated. It is not just the architect or planner that sets the stage for our urban experiences. Digital media, software and embedded technologies – varying from location based services to ‘smart’ sensors – play a co-constituting role in setting and sorting the stage as well as in both enabling and regulating public interaction.
While trying to get a grasp on the different ways that digital media technologies are shaping our cities and could be incorporated in the design process, we came up with a number of possible ‘design approaches’. They form a somewhat ad lib constituted list of categories, each made up of different elements that together set the boundaries for the design process. These design approaches combine certain design tools, a methodology, a particular way of understanding what a city is (often embedded in one or another discipline) and/ or particular urban ideals. A design approach thus consists of a particular way of understanding the world, and / or a particular methodology, tools and objectives to intervene in that world.
These design approaches are not neatly comparable variables: in one approach the tools might be decisive, another departs from social processes, a third from technologies and a fourth stresses a particular urban ideal. Some operate at the scale of urban planning, others mostly focus at hyperlocal interventions. Some of these approaches are overlapping, others might be combined.
This list is also not exhaustive – please feel free to add any approaches that we might have overlooked. Yet we do think that it gives a sense of all the different concurrent and sometimes competing approaches at work in the 21st century hybrid city.
· The Wiki-City – Designing with new media – How can the design process itself be restructured through the use of (social) digital media? How can one allow for more participation, bottom-up input, and engagement in a productive way? How does this change the relation between client, architects and other performers, and the audience?
· The Real Time City – Data-aggregation in the Design Process With the rise of digital and mobile media and gps receivers, urbanites have started leaving numerous digital traces behind that when aggregated reveal their usage patterns of the city. What exactly do we learn from these datasets, and how can they be incorporated in the design process?
· The Living City – Urban experience, narratives and design Digital media can be used to annotate urban spaces with people’s everyday stories and lived experiences. How does this temporal inscription of place change they way we see and interact with the urban environment?
· The Multimedia City – The design of urban screens and media facades Architecture is increasingly using multimedia components as part of their elementary set of building blocks. How can you incorporate these into urban design?
· The Augmented City – The design of informational services in a physical context In augmented reality, additional layers of information are projected on or over physical environments. Thus the domain of digital information is embedded in the physical domain. What is the potential for urban design?
· The Sentient City – Designing Responsive Architecture Various sensors can register real-time information about the environment, and movements, (social) processes and identities of people and objects. Technical systems may also respond to changing conditions. How can this be employed to adapt the shape, function, usage of or access to buildings and infrastructures?
· The Smart City – Using artificial intelligence to design urban systems that respond or anticipate what is happening Can AI be integrated in urban design to anticipate and respond to urban patterns?
· The Hybrid City – Designing for hybrid practices. Digital and mobile media have led to changing urban behaviors and the rise of new cultural practices. For instance, the advent of WiFi has increased ‘mobile work’ from (semi-)public spaces. How can these changes in cultural practices be translated back into design, either by physically accommodating them or by design interventions that discourage them?
· The Layered City – Integrated design of the parallel experiences of physical places and mediascapes If the experience of the city is shaped by both the shape of the physical city as well as through exchanges in the media landscape, can we design both layers (or ‘channels’) of an urban project in concordance with each other?
· The Plugin City – using digital media to optimize, personalize or extend the experience of the city Can digital media be designed as ‘plug ins’ to the existing city, make the usage of existing urban structures more efficient and personalized or extend and deepen their experience?
· The Tactical City – using digital media to design alternative usage of the city Can digital media be designed to open up the design of physical spaces to other users or practices than initially intended?
· The Critical City – using design to foreground and discuss the dominant discours on urban culture Can design be employed as a means to a debate on urban culture, rather than shaping urban culture itself?
· The Interface City – designing urban ‘interfaces’. Some urban theories understand the city itself as an information platform where goods, opinions and ideas are constantly exchanged. Can new services be designed that optimize or extend this function of the city as a platform of exchange into the digital domain?
· The Informational City – The design of information spaces In our understanding of the media world spatial metaphors play an important role. Some architects have made the leap from designing physical structures to using their spatial expertise in ‘information architecture’.
Via The Mobile City
To follow the previous post, a list of mashup terms linking digital media and architecture/urbanism. The list seems quite complete and interesting, even so I believe it should hybrid itself with less media centered approaches (i.e. the previous post...).
Friday, February 05. 2010
by Brenna Ehrlich
Virtual memorials are nothing new — people have been paying their respects to departed loved ones on Facebook and Myspace for years. But a Facebook page set up for Henio Zytomirski, a 6-year-old Polish boy who was killed during the Holocaust, is truly revolutionizing the way we recount history and remember the dead. His profile is, in essence, a virtual museum.
The profile functions as kind of a piecemeal storybook, with Polish status updates in Henio’s voice as well as photos and other updates in the third person that tell his tale. Henio’s own voice is simple and touching, as you can see in the selection below. (Rough Translation: “I am seven years old. I have a mom and dad. I have a favorite place. Not everyone has a mom and dad, but everyone has their favorite place. Today I decided that I will never leave Lublin. I will stay here forever. In my favorite place. With Mom and Dad. In Lublin.”)
According to the AP, not everyone is happy with the project — the news company cites Adam Kopciowski, a historian at Lublin’s Marie Curie-Sklodowska University who specializes in Jewish studies, who thinks that writing in the dead boy’s voice is ethically unsound and amounts to “abuse toward a child that has been dead for the past 70 years.” Others have also raised the fact that the page — much like Doppelganger Week — violates Facebook’s TOS.
Still, Henio’s cousin makes very clear in a note on the profile that the young boy’s voice is meant to be purely speculative, and that he is to function as a symbol:
And judging by his 3,000+ fans, scores of thankful wall posts and avalanche of virtual gifts, people have become enamored of the long-lost boy.
Aside from being a touching memorial to a tragically departed boy, Henio’s profile is also a fascinating use of social media as an educational tool. Some of us have probably visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Upon entering, you receive a passport depicting someone who experienced the Holocaust, and throughout your tour through the museum, you learn his or her fate. Henio’s page brings this experience to another level, allowing you to interact with the boy, and to learn about his life in a way that integrates fully into your own social media experience.
This profile only goes to show how sites like Facebook are no longer silly time wasters or places to troll for your next collegiate hookup, they provide us with news, entertainment, advertisements and, now — as more and more people are seeing it as both a news portal and source — education. I recently became a friend of Henio’s, will you?
Monday, January 25. 2010
by Arnoud van den Heuvel
That’s one small tweet for man, one giant tweet for mankind.
Friday, January 22. 2010
by Pete Cashmore
Facebook’s new approach to privacy is bold, pushing users to be increasingly public with their data.
This public sharing is the new “social norm”, said founder Mark Zuckerberg in a recent interview. But is Facebook really responding to cultural changes or simply encouraging the type of behavior that will help the company to grow fastest? Possibly both.
That’s the topic of my guest column today in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.
Monday, January 11. 2010
Could this 2.0-bird be suffering from Infobesity? Then it must be the result of excessive infocalorie consumption.
Following people and news-sources on microblogservices like Twitter, has become a new addictive nature to many people. While our brains have only just adapted to print, radio, television and the (passive) internet, things worth knowing are now being funneled into them as if they were sponges. And curious swelling sponges they are! The average twittering brain has 126 followers which implies that an average of 126 brains are being followed back. If all these users stick to an average of 22 TPD (Tweets Per Day), reading the tweets will consume approximately 2,5 hours per day (not to mention responding to them).
One would think it is time for a diet. Yet according to Dunbar’s number 126 is still on the safe side! An approximate 150 is assumed to be the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.
But if you are are using a microblog and follow more than 150 people on a daily basis, the advise is to either evolve, “defriend” or not read everything they say… Proving your exuberant social skills leads to poor nutrition value and is a waste of energy in the end. Ask Tweetie.
You may also like to read this post at knowledgeissocial.com
Thursday, December 10. 2009
They say the soul weighs 21 grams, and now we have a measurement of the American mind on any given day: 34 gigabytes. According to a University of California, San Diego, study highlighted by The New York Times, the average American consumes 34 GB worth of content a day, including a whopping 100,000 words of information.
The report clarifies that we don’t necessarily parse a full 100,000 words per day, but that that rather astounding figure does cross our eyes and ears each 24-hour interval via multiple channels: the Web, TV, text messaging, radio, video games and more.
Video games saw the biggest leap in recent years; we now spend 2.5 percent of the day on computers, consoles, and on an increasingly popular selection of social networking games like FarmVille and Pet Society. And although pundits and sociologists have been quick to decry the decline of print as a corresponding decline in literacy, the increase in time spent on the Web actually means people are “reading more than ever,” according to co-author of the study Roger Bohn.
Do the results of the study seem realistic to you? Would you classify yourself as above or below the American average in your data consumption diet?
fabric | rblg
fabric | rblg is the survey website of fabric | ch -- studio for architecture, interaction and research. We curate and re-blog articles, researches, exhibitions and projects that we notice during our everyday practice.