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Death of Privacy

So many deaths. I’m thinking of starting a site called “Deathwatch” that monitors the discourse of death around cultural phenomena.

This time a review of Lori Andrews’ I Know Who You Are and Saw What You Did (great title btw) which is about social networking and “the death of privacy.”

Somehow we’re going to need to figure this one out in a more nuanced way. Sometimes data sharing is great — like when people’s medical history can be aggregated to better understand disease or, more mundanely, when taste is aggregated to help make recommendations for movies, books, and music. Sometimes its sinister, as when Facebook or Google create a profile of you based on your views and texts so that advertisers can identify your tastes better. Government snooping, well, that’s the pinnacle of the iceberg of sinister data collection.

I actually think there is a fairly simple way to address this — anonymization. It seems the only functional difference between the two scenarios above is that one ignores who you are and from whom the information came from and one is entirely oriented around retaining it. So if we could have some interface that anonymizes all of our data generation (when we view, when we text, when we get checked-up) then we could have the good of information sharing without the bad.

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