Thursday, 28 January 2010

Data Privacy Day

Apparently its Data Privacy Day today (Jan 28th)

I had no prior knowledge of this. Might unplug the wifi and go off the grid for a day. That said there are quite a few handy resources on that site, which I might check out instead.

Data Privacy Day is an international celebration of the dignity of the individual expressed through personal information. In this networked world, in which we are thoroughly digitized, with our identities, locations, actions, purchases, associations, movements, and histories stored as so many bits and bytes, we have to ask – who is collecting all of this – what are they doing with it – with whom are they sharing it? Most of all, individuals are asking ‘How can I protect my information from being misused?’ These are reasonable questions to ask – we should all want to know the answers.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

a new presentation tool
this looks potentially useful, especially if I can combine it with some of the data visualisation I've been looking at. It allows you to zoom in and out of a presentation topic, rather than using a slides approach like powerpoint.

[Update: I used this to make a presentation for a workshop yesterday,I think it worked ok. It was pretty easy to use.]

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Politics, Technology and Surveillance - Talk at Royal Hollway Information Security Group

This Friday, I've been invited to give a talk to the Socio-Technial Studies group at Royal Hollway's Information Security Group. I'm quite looking forward to this, I'll repost the blurb from the website.

The talk will demonstrate the importance (and usefulness) of politics to issues of technology and surveillance (normally, the speaker works the other way, convincing other political scientists of the importance of technology). It starts with an overview of political science – what is it that a political scientists does, and how do they think about the world – distilling a set of core ‘sensitivities’ of political science. It then takes these sensitivities and applies them to technology research, coming up with a number of working assumptions and questions to ask. The paper takes a detour through the
developing field of ‘surveillance studies’ before presenting a short piece of interdisciplinary research on political surveillance on online social networks to demonstrate some of those working assumptions in action.

Slides for the presentation below. I'm aware that once again, there's not a lot of text on them. I'd quite like to get an audio recording of this talk uploaded if I can.

Politics, Technology and Surveillance - Talk at Royal Hollway Information Security Group

Thursday, 14 January 2010

politics of data visualisation

I'm getting very interested in data visualisation at the moment, it has high potential for making masses of data into accessible tools to allow us to see the world around us. However, as this video points out, there are dangers of the manipulation of data in visual form.

more data visualisation and infographics at
Information Aesthetics
and information is beautiful

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Bloodlines - ID

A short horror story as part of BBC Radio 7's 'bloodlines' series of short stories, about a man who wakes up in an allyway after loosing his identity card. On BBC iplayer at least for a few more hours (that's not incredible useful I'm afraid, but I only just came across it, these things tend to be repeated every now and then).

slightly more permanent - polling data on UK support for identity cards, pulled together from YouGov, MORI etc. UK Polling Report

Facebook - age of privacy is over

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg argued that 'the age of privacy is over' .
analysis of his statement can be found here and elsewhere.

One part caught my attention:

"We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be
updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are."

Can and do social norms change over a period of 5-6 years? (Zukerberg argues that was he starting facebook today, they would have gone with the privacy-off default that they set now for various bits of personal information).

The article linked to raises some interesting questions, suggesting that it looks like facebook has pulled a 'bait-and-switch'. Getting users used-to and comfortable-with sharing data within a private setting (or one that looked private, or at least corralled into certain social settings - e.g. colleges) before opening it out to an open fully searchable setting that offers to make more profit for the company (by leveraging the personal data it holds).

I'm not sure that social norms could change over this period, if that is understood as values and expectations. What could however change is habits, which are a bit more amenable to unconcious alteration.

The article also makes (I think) a mistake in assuming that users went onto facebook 1) assuming it was secure, and 2) making a decion about how private it was before joining, assessing that risk whilst in full possession of the facts, and then decided to join or not. From the focus groups we've been looking at, and some personal experience, it all looks a lot fuzzier.

Mike Zimmer has a good take on this statement, simply that it's not surprising, not new, and now true. Read it on his blog here

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Downloadable version of my thesis

Finally, after a fair amount of time, and the occasional prob, Nottingham University has managed to get a PDF version of my thesis up online.

The Articulation of Identity in UK discourses of surveillance is available to download from Nottingham eTheses repository here