The privacy panel on day 2 of SXSW was led by danah boyd of Microsoft Research. Panelists included Judith Donath – MIT Media Laboratory, Siva Vaidhyanathan – University of Virginia, and Alice Marwick – New York University. The panel was centered around topics but rather than a conversation it felt more like a stream of points, thus my notes are more a stream of points. Sorry if it seems confusing and jumps around. There were some complaints about the panel being overly academic. Comments and corrections welcome.
Opening statements / remarks by panelists
- writing a book on the googlization of everything
- interested in the nature of transaction between us/users and google
- google provides some levels of control to users about what personal information they are permitted to collect, but those controls are not obvious
- he wants to debunk some myths he feels are common misconceptions:
- #1 – privacy is not merely the opposite of publicity – just because we post a lot of content about ourselves doesn’t mean we are not concerned about privacy
- #2 – privacy is not a substance that can be traded or given away; google’s stock phrase is “people are willing to trade a little bit of privacy for a better user experience”. This assumes we’re diivying out little bits of privacy
- Interested in how social media impacts status & is studying the microcelebrity
- there is positive value to publicness – i.e. there is value in twitter & participating in conversations; she’s interviewed CEOs who wouldn’t hire someone without a facebook profile; cites an example of emotional support as a reason to be public about difficult experiences
- the more information you put out there, the more valuable that is to corporate interest; corporations create valuable people profiles based on information you may not realize you are sharing; just because you make something public doesn’t mean anyone should use that for their personal gain
- Focus on social vizualization
- interested in private / public contexts; how many public faces do you have
- controlling your public persona is related to the larger issue of how many faces you keep and how many personas you maintain
- it is easy to collapse these contexts online; social norms exist in our daily public life i.e. in a restaurant it is not socially acceptable to butt in on another table’s conversations; however, it is harder to see these social norms online
- we don’t have a digital equivalent of a mirror to help us know the trail we leave behind
boyd – what is technology’s affect on privacy / publicity?
- no change is purely technological – also cultural
- corporations are rewarded for capturing attention – firms are interested in gathering our preferences, not just to target us personally but to target us in the aggregate
- in 1973 – 1976 Americans were concerned with rights as citizens / consumers; vocal movement brought about strong laws that reformed the credit rating system but also created laws that last to today such as it being illegal for one govt agency to share information with other agencies;
- people are unaware of the profiles created about them by “the corporation”; there needs to be a way to see the trails you are leaving behind; people don’t know what information is being shared with corporate entitities; having control over the data trail should be similar to how you dress and look; you should be able to choose how to shape your data trail
- villages have very little privacy as compared to today’s society that is more isolated & private; for most of history we haven’t had this type of “recording” ability; your information can be taken out of context 20 years from now; we’re forcing a public sphere that is extremely tolerant; we are looking at a large public space where the norms are very broad
- teenager research shows that kids felt their homes were not private to them, it was more public as parents controlled the household space
- each social context has different methods for information flow; information can easily move from one context to another
- people tell her they don’t believe in the separation of public / private but they don’t keep everything online
- is the burden on the individual or on the corporation to manage your information; ezpass as an example of non internet specific data about you that you should manage as well
- shouldn’t i have some stake in my information being used if i am creating social currency?
- most people are unaware of the controls that are in place for them to protect their information; we need to publicly design laws and controls that can be understood by everyone, not just the digital elites
- sometimes this social currency is to our advantage, ie. getting jobs based on what we’ve shared
- can surveillance create a better community? looking after each other can make each other treat others more humanely
- reciprocity – you share with friends / colleagues because you know that there is a limit to how much damage the person can do with your info; this is not true with corporate / govt; build in the notion of reciprocity in relationships; trashing the dignity of the star wars kid – we can easily harm the dignity of others
- terms of service are not amendable by users; they are not clear enough for people to truly understand how the information is being used; sites can change ToS unilaterally – you cannot fight back (though audience brings up that you can, and it was done with Facebook)
- What does it look like if you aggregate all of the information about yourself – what you’ve changed, where you’ve been, your ez pass? However you can’t see this portrait of yourself.