Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Data Privacy Singularity

Having worked for almost a year on a social networking platform, I'm very familiar with issues of personal privacy and the sharing of data and information.

It's very important to us that people don't misuse the information posted online, to steal our identity, or to withdraw a job offer after seeing inappropriate pictures of us taken when we were out drinking with friends. Equally worrying is the thought that Big Business or Big Government (ie. Big Brother) might be piecing together a profile of our interests and aspirations so that they might market their products to us or otherwise lead us like sheep towards some unknown, but presumably sinister, end goal.

However, there is a trade-off between these fears and the immediate benefits of sharing information and media with our friends, colleagues and like-minded netizens.

We live in a society where short-term reward outweighs long-term thinking about the issues -- so I assume that the trend will be that more people will share increasingly more information not less.

With the information sharing trend increasing exponentially, I can imagine a singularity. A point at which so much of our personal information has become irretrievably part of public domain -- that we cannot fathom what it will be like to live in that world given our current understanding of society.

I would suggest though, that although it will be painful for our generation -- it may actually be a 'Good Thing'

As I've already mentioned our fears about shadowy figures having access to our personal information. Whether these fears are justified, or mostly Phildickian conspiracies -- the basis of the fear is that your information is in the hands of someone you don't know.

But imagine that your information is in the hands of everyone and anyone.
Isn't that a little bit liberating?

Provided that everyone has equal access to the information of everyone else, then no one gains an advantage. Steal my identity and I'll steal yours.

Also, if our society has to adapt to the *assumption* that your personal data is public domain, we'll have to develop more sophisticated tools for secure transactions. And those are probably tools we need anyhow.

So, I say -- bring on the Data Privacy Singularity.

To start this off, I'll post my national insurance and social security number here ... wait -- you go first.


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Coversourcing is not Crowdsourcing

I was reading about a competition where designers were invited to create a cover for the upcoming book, Crowdsourcing. This competition, cleverly named 'Coversourcing' -- was presented as being an example of crowdsourcing in action.

Except it's not. It's spec work.

I was compelled to comment on this on the Creative Review blog post about it.

Reprinted below:

I disagree with the definition of crowdsourcing presented by this competition.

This competition is spec work -- getting lots of designers to design something, with only a few getting compensated.

Crowdsourcing is when 'the many' can do a job better, faster, and more comprehensively than the 'the few'.

Wikipedia is an example of crowdsourcing. Facebook being translated by members into multiple languages is an example of crowdsourcing.

This competition is not.


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