Posts tagged ‘privacy’
“That means that in the next few years (maybe much sooner), any camera that sees you will know who you are. You are your face, and your face is public. If not today, then very, very soon.” — Aaron Saenz
Your face is currently under renovation. You won’t see the change in a mirror, but looking around closely you may catch a glimpse of what’s happening. No longer merely the canvas where you express who you are, your face is now what semiotics terms a sign. What once was ‘yours’ exclusively today is “something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity.” This sign, your face, now functions as an interface—“a point of interaction between components … [in] both hardware and software.”
‘I was giving birth to our son, and instead of holding my hand and hugging me he was sitting in the corner entering the time between my contractions into a spreadsheet.’
Joe and Lisa Betts-LaCroix, self-trackers
There is a new logic afoot. It is a meme of staggering proportions that capitalizes on using the endless minutiae of everyday life to inform and enlighten us. From DailyBurn, a web site where you can track your body information (weight, body fat percentage), including workouts, nutrition, and challenges; to Sleep Cycle, an iPhone alarm clock app that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase, the quantified self holds a compelling promise: to know yourself, quantify yourself.
Most of us give little consideration to the further life of our digital explorations—the messages we text, the files we send, the photos we store. That is, until something that we thought was ‘ours’ becomes evidence of something else.
Douglas Brush is Founder and Chief Forensic Examiner of The Digital Forensic Group in New York City. The company’s mission is to use specialized computer forensic methodologies and tools for the identification, extraction, preservation, analysis and documentation of electronic evidence as it is used in civil and criminal matters. The Digital Forensic Group provides its services to law firms, corporations, government agencies, and individuals. In essence they devise a framework for investigating moments captured on digital devices in order to provide clarity and ultimately a report of what happened.
As we will see, Brush’s work is fundamentally about the unearthing and documenting of a Metalife. This life is a shadow digital existence with our name and footprints all over it.
“Would you have a drink with you?” the Stoli Vodka ad taunts us. “Create your alter-ego at Facebook.com/Stoli.” Alter-egos are all the rage now that 12 million people play World of Warcraft, and 500 million more have a second life on Facebook. Or perhaps, given the mounting evidence of how we are changing our lives, there’s more going on with this alter-egoing than meets the eye, or the I. We are all engaged in massively multiplayer online and offline role-playing. Is it a game, or a ruse resembling a game resembling a life? Whatever is happening as we evolve our identity, our tools and technologies, this is as good a time as any to ask a few questions. The following is an interview of the interviewer. The subject is Metalife. The Stoli’s on us. Both of us.
A recent burglary at the home of Washington Post writer and editor Marc Fisher was documented by a Facebook boast. The burglar took Fisher’s new coat, his son’s iPod, savings bonds, cash and a laptop. Then the burglar opened his son’s laptop computer and posted a photo of himself to the boy’s Facebook page. In the photo, the burglar flashes the stolen cash and is wearing Fisher’s winter coat.
“I like to watch,” says Chance the Gardener in Jerzy Kosiński’s biting 1971 media fable, Being There. Chance cannot read or write (satirically presaging the stereotype of today’s digital natives) but he knows what he likes. When he first rides in a car he observes, “This is just like television, only you can see much further.” We now have many more tools just like TV: our phones, gadgets and apps enable us to see further (and know more about) what anyone else is doing.
We are all becoming Chance the gardener. We all like to watch—and we are watching each other.
Bees have a secret life. As do numbers. Trees apparently have one, American teenagers always have had one. Secrets are immensely important to us, both in their keeping and in their discovery. We might even say, riffing Socratically, the unsecreted life is not worth living. But what happens to our secret life in the era of publicy and Public Parts? Hive mind and tribal display turn our privacy garments inside out: we wear our inner lining to the outer world. Our secret life is going public with more frequency, more intensity, more reality than ever before; at the same time it is also a target, a tracking and marketing tool for someone we likely do not know or know about. Our secret life is becoming a Metalife.
How does anyone know who you are? On the surface this may seem like a question too abstract (or obvious) to consider. Yet it is a question government officials are facing every day. In fact, governments around the world are presenting an intriguing new narrative that may come soon to a plastic card or digital device near you. With ID cards, at long last citizenry will have something as important as suffrage—an established identity.