Tagged: web shadow

Data exhaust trails

Another useful insight from Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think:  

A term of art has emerged to describe the digital trail that people leave in their wake: “data exhaust”. it refers to data that is shed as a byproduct of people’s actions and movements in the world. For the Internet, it describes users’ online interactions: where they click, how long they look at  apage, where the mouse-cursor hovers, what they type, and more. Many companies design their systems so that they can harvest data exhaust and recycle it, to improve an existing service or to develop new ones. Google is the undisputed leader. 

As datafication continues, our data exhaust trails get larger: cameras and other sensors, carried by people and installed in .

Cisco’s Chief Futurist says shops’ CCTV will become the equivalent of web analytics to examine how shoppers are making their choices and allowing shops to optimise their layouts and even their offers in realtime… 

As video pixel counts increase, retailers will use video surveillance to hone in on shoppers with new levels of precision, determining demographic traits like, age, sex, and more. In-store activities can also be monitored with video, including display effectiveness, customer traffic patterns, and aisle dwell time. All of this data can be assessed in real time to adjust store operations dynamically. For example, the number of open registers could be increased based on an the number of shoppers in the store; heat maps will show which aisles attract the most traffic; and object detection can figure out which items shoppers are interacting with most.

This trend is at once exciting from a business and data strategy point of view and concerning from a personal point of view. How can we manage our web shadows when we aren’t even sure what data we are leaving behind us? 

Love in the time of textual harassment

Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)
Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)

I met my wife when my internet access was restricted to a 36 kps modem at one computer in my office, next to the fax machine in the secretaries’ room.

I bought my first mobile phone after we’d been together for about six months. It would be a year or two before text messaging started in the UK.

Image: What my first phone looked like - what the image doesn't show is the credit card sized SIM card or the massive brick-sized battery.
Image: What my first phone looked like - what the image doesn

If we phone one another in the day during that honeymoon period it would be on a land-line. That would happen maybe once a day.

I had email. She didn’t.

So… I have no idea what online dating, or the early stages of a relationship conducted in the modern world is like. I’ve never had a Facebook status other than married and I’ve never had to de-friend an ex and divide up our friends online like so many paperback books.

Have some sympathy, then, for today’s yoot. While it may be easier to meet potential partners, once you have the etiquette is shifting as fast as the technologies and if you happen across someone whose boundaries are different to your own, there might be trouble. Your web shadow, social network presences and always-on personal comms device (mobile) mean that when things you don’t like kick off they kick off fast.

Encouraging, then, to see sites like thatsnotcool.com offering teens a helping hand with dealing with a terrifyingly long list of behaviours that might upset them, including:

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Pestering via email and texts
  • Malicious slander
  • Hacking email and social network accounts
  • Asking for inappropriate photos
  • Posting said photos online

The has advice, spaces to discuss these issues and an amusing/disturbing set of “call-out cards” you can send / post to a harasser’s web page by way of a hint to them to back off (a selection of which are below)…

Image: Call out cards
Image: Call out cards

Via Dirk at Herd

Web shadows: Looking after ourselves online

 

What does your web shadow look like?
What does your web shadow look like?

 

I’ve been reading and therefore thinking a fair bit about privacy and personal online reputation.

It’s something I’ve touched on in the past and the posts Managing your online reputation will be a core life skill and Online overshare: the personal rep pitfalls have had a small but steady trickle of traffic ever since. 

I tend to be an optimist, and in accepting the considerable benefits of living in part online in social media, have learned more and more to be open, while also being clear with myself about where the boundaries of one’s public online life are set. 

For some time we’ve had the concept of Google Shadows – what people find out about you when they put your name into Google (Jeff Jarvis is who I heard using it first). 

I like the idea. A shadow is something that’s always with us, that follows us, that’s not separate. We increasingly need to be conscious of the shadows online cast by our actions in everyday life. 

It’s not just Google, though, these days, but our other online places, all the public and private databases and spaces in our working and personal lives and in our social graphs, of course. 

We need to not only be aware of what our web shadows are, but how we affect them through all of our everyday actions. Sometimes when people want to know more about you, the shadow is all they will see. 

Here’s some of the most interesting posts and articles that I’ve been chewing over: 

  • When a Governor in Arizona’s indiscretion was picked up by an open mic Lawrence Lessig takes CNN to task for broadcasting it, and muses on how it seems we have to ”remember that there are a million privacy invading technologies surrounding us”. The discussion in the comments is very good indeed. 
  • Like Lessig, private investigator Steve Rambam, summons the spectre of of life in the Cold War communist bloc in this video of his presentation called Privacy is Dead: Get Over It. Rather than worrying about Big Brother though, the proliferation of digital photography and video, among other things, means it’s more “Little Cousin” – as in we never know when we’re being recorded by one another, even inadvertently.
  • Rambam, an individual with a colourful Google shadow, to say the least, was also quoted in an article in the Economist’s the Perils of Sharing, part of the newspaper’s The World in 2009 special edition. More on that later… 
  • Lastly, the brilliant David Spark’s 12 Great Tales of De-Frieinding reminds us how quickly we are having to evolve new social strategies to deal with relationship issues online.

Meantime, one last recommended read on privacy – the New York Times had a great piece called You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy?

In part, it follows an experiment at the MIT Media Lab where 100 students electronic trails (emails, calls, etc) are recorded and followed. It also recalls how the data about us can be mined to interesting effect: 

In 2006, Sense Networks, based in New York, proved that there was a wealth of useful information hidden in a digital archive of GPS data generated by tens of thousands of taxi rides in San Francisco. It could see, for example, that people who worked in the city’s financial district would tend to go to work early when the market was booming, but later when it was down.

One suspects that early morning cabs are pretty plentiful at the moment then…  Anyhow, Dr Pentland, who heads the project describes this sort of thing as “reality mining”.

 

A map expressing collaboration between students in an MIT Media Lab experiment
A map expressing collaboration between students in an MIT Media Lab experiment