‘We’ll be like Adam and Eve biting the apple, and suddenly realizing that we’re naked’

This was a draft post from July 2010. At the time it was prompted by yet another Facebook privacy scare (‘Facebook data harvester speaks out‘) but it’s more and more relevant each day. The quote was such a succinct summary of the state of privacy and social media that I had to share it: ‘we’ll be like Adam and Eve biting the apple, and suddenly realizing that we’re naked’.

It’s from Perspective: Carnegie Mellon’s Jesse Schell on Mobile and the Art of Game Design:

I’ve been thinking a lot about augmented reality. I’ve been thinking about how very soon all the scattered data about us on the web will be consolidated in ways that will shock us. Someone will hold their smartphone up as they walk by my car, my house, or my person, and suddenly get information about my life, my interests, and my family. This is going to make us feel like our privacy has been violated, even though no new data is being shared — rather, the old data that is already out there on Facebook and on the web is going to be consolidated in unexpected ways. We’ll be like Adam and Eve biting the apple, and suddenly realizing that we’re naked.

The location-aware future is here (and why cities suck but are good)

Thought-provoking article in Wired on the implications of location-aware devices for our social relationships, privacy concerns, and how we consume and publish geo-located content:

I Am Here: One Man’s Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle

The location-aware future—good, bad, and sleazy—is here. Thanks to the iPhone 3G and, to a lesser extent, Google’s Android phone, millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity. That old saw about how someday you’ll walk past a Starbucks and your phone will receive a digital coupon for half off on a Frappuccino? Yeah, that can happen now.

Simply put, location changes everything. This one input—our coordinates—has the potential to change all the outputs. Where we shop, who we talk to, what we read, what we search for, where we go—they all change once we merge location and the Web.

The article neatly finishes with a sense of ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same’, which seems to be one of the markers of the moments when technologies are integrated into our lives:

I had gained better location awareness but was losing my sense of place. Sure, with the proper social filters, location awareness needn’t be invasive or creepy. But it can be isolating. Even as we gradually digitize our environment, we should remember to look around the old-fashioned way.

Found via Exporting the past into the future, or, “The Possibility Jelly lives on the hypersurface of the present” which in turn came via a tweet.

I also recently enjoyed ‘How the city hurts your brain… and what you can do about it‘. It’s worth learning how you can alleviate the worst symptoms, because it seems cities are worth putting up with:

Recent research by scientists at the Santa Fe Institute used a set of complex mathematical algorithms to demonstrate that the very same urban features that trigger lapses in attention and memory — the crowded streets, the crushing density of people — also correlate with measures of innovation, as strangers interact with one another in unpredictable ways. It is the “concentration of social interactions” that is largely responsible for urban creativity, according to the scientists.

BCS: Is It Time For Copyright 2.0?

The British Computer Society (BCS) asks, Is It Time For Copyright 2.0?

The piece summarises and links to Lawrence Lessig’s WSJ article, In Defense of Piracy and says:

In the meantime, I think the best way forward may also benefit from the idea that, in a global digital content economy, (where content flows easily across national boundaries), we should seek to implement and embrace a global framework for copyright, in order to lessen the reliance on national systems that far too often add undue complexity to the notionally simple concept of Intellectual Property. This is, in many ways, similar to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s call for an overhaul of the global financial regulatory system that would better serve the needs of a global financial economy. Perhaps the copyright system should also take heed before it suffers a similar fate.

BBC: “Aboriginal archive offers new DRM”

A new method of digital rights management (DRM) which relies on a user’s profile has been pioneered by Aboriginal Australians.

The Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive has been developed by a community based in Australia’s Northern Territory.

It asks every person who logs in for their name, age, sex and standing within their community.

This information then restricts what they can search for in the archive, offering a new take on DRM

It’s a fascinating example of how real world community practice can be translated into online viewing. As the article says, “[f]or example, men cannot view women’s rituals, and people from one community cannot view material from another without first seeking permission. Meanwhile images of the deceased cannot be viewed by their families.” This has been an issue for Australian museums in the past and it’ll be interesting to see if this ‘DRM’ solution is adopted more widely.

BBC: Aboriginal archive offers new DRM