Liked How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct (nytimes.com)

In offering these privacy tools, Google is a step ahead of other internet giants like Facebook and Twitter, which don’t provide ways to easily delete large batches of dated posts.

Yet there’s no one-size-fits-all for how people should use Google’s privacy controls, since everyone has different lifestyles and levels of paranoia. To give an idea of how you can tailor these settings, here’s my personal setup:

  • I set my search history to auto-delete. I rarely use Google Assistant and don’t visit Google News, meaning I don’t benefit from personalized recommendations. But I’m often checking Google Maps, and it’s useful to have a recent history of those searches to revisit destinations. So I set Web & App Activity to automatically delete after three months.

  • I set my YouTube history to self-destruct. I go in and out of phases that involve cooking different types of foods, and I like it when YouTube surfaces new recipes based on recent searches. So I set my YouTube history to auto-delete after three months.

  • I set my location history to auto-delete, too. I use Google Maps regularly, and I go on big trips twice a year. It’s useful for me to let Google know where I have been recently so that its Maps app can load relevant addresses and remember places I have been. But it’s not useful for Google to continue to know that I went to Hawaii last month for vacation. So I set my location history to auto-purge after three months.

It’s difficult to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take advantage of Google’s auto-delete tools. There’s no practical benefit to letting Google keep a history of our online activities from years back. So don’t delay in wiping a tiny bit of your digital traces away.

Bookmarked Privacy matters because it empowers us all – Carissa Véliz | Aeon Essays (Aeon)

Don’t just give away your privacy to the likes of Google and Facebook – protect it, or you disempower us all

Carissa Véliz pushes back on the idea that anyone can say they have ‘nothing to hide’. Whether it be attention, money, reputation or identity, she argues that we all have something worth getting at.

You have your attention, your presence of mind – everyone is fighting for it. They want to know more about you so they can know how best to distract you, even if that means luring you away from quality time with your loved ones or basic human needs such as sleep. You have money, even if it is not a lot – companies want you to spend your money on them. Hackers are eager to get hold of sensitive information or images so they can blackmail you. Insurance companies want your money too, as long as you are not too much of a risk, and they need your data to assess that. You can probably work; businesses want to know everything about whom they are hiring – including whether you might be someone who will want to fight for your rights. You have a body – public and private institutions would love to know more about it, perhaps experiment with it, and learn more about other bodies like yours. You have an identity – criminals can use it to commit crimes in your name and let you pay for the bill. You have personal connections. You are a node in a network. You are someone’s offspring, someone’s neighbour, someone’s teacher or lawyer or barber. Through you, they can get to other people. That’s why apps ask you for access to your contacts. You have a voice – all sorts of agents would like to use you as their mouthpiece on social media and beyond. You have a vote – foreign and national forces want you to vote for the candidate that will defend their interests.

Protecting our privacy is therefore an important aspect in preventing others from being empowered with knowledge about us. This touches on John Philpin’s argument that ‘data is power‘.

Veliz argues that we need to disrupt platform capitalism and the data economy:

Privacy is not only about you. Privacy is both personal and collective. When you expose your privacy, you put us all at risk. Privacy power is necessary for democracy – for people to vote according to their beliefs and without undue pressure, for citizens to protest anonymously without fear of repercussions, for individuals to have freedom to associate, speak their minds, read what they are curious about. If we are going to live in a democracy, the bulk of power needs to be with the people. If most of the power lies with companies, we will have a plutocracy. If most of the power lies with the state, we will have some kind of authoritarianism. Democracy is not a given. It is something we have to fight for every day. And if we stop building the conditions in which it thrives, democracy will be no more. Privacy is important because it gives power to the people. Protect it.

This makes me wonder about the IndieWeb and other such movements, and where they fit within this disruption of power?

Filed an Issue Export more detailed listening statistics (Customer Feedback & suggestions for Podcast Addict)

I like the listening statistics feature, but I often want to know more about my habits, more explicitly, and to be able to work with that data a bit.
Being able to track/download events such as time of playback, time of stopping, episode timestamp of start/stop, sleep timer timeout, or sleep timer interrupted, would be really interesting for me.
I write scripts that graoh and analyse my behaviour from exported data from mood tracker apps/my exported calendar, and often podcast addict is a good indicator of when i actually slept, or how I was feeling during my commute to/from work.

I think that this would be really useful. I would love to use this data to develop a monthly review of some sorts.
Bookmarked Learning Science: The Problem With Data, And How You Can Measure Anything (Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog)

The qualitative to quantitative switch means that you can measure anything; how you feel about breakfast, the weight of your shoes, or the validity of democracy. But it does not mean that the scale of measurement you choose, or the mechanism of measurement, is valid. So measure anything, but do it with care. And be both wary and careful of the measurements that people give you to prove a point. Especially when they are charging you for it.

Julian Stodd provides a useful introduction to quantitative and qualitative data. It is interesting to think about measurement alongside Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swans:

Now, there are other themes arising from our blindness to the Black Swan: We focus on preselected segments of the seen and generalize from it to the unseen: the error of confirmation. We fool ourselves with stories that cater to our Platonic thirst for distinct patterns: the narrative fallacy. We behave as if the Black Swan does not exist: human nature is not programmed for Black Swans. What we see is not necessarily all that is there. History hides Black Swans from us and gives us a mistaken idea about the odds of these events: this is the distortion of silent evidence. We “tunnel”: that is, we focus on a few well-defined sources of uncertainty, on too specific a list of Black Swans.(Page 49)

Another book on the topic of measurement and education is Counting What Counts.

Bookmarked Opinion | Don’t Trust Facebook With Your Love Life (nytimes.com)

Happiness, brought to you by the company that gave you the Cambridge Analytica Scandal™!

First Facebook flagged its own currency, now they are trying to capture our deep connections. The further this all goes, the more I think about The Circle and the platform as a social utility.

via Ian O’Byrne

Bookmarked The machine always wins: what drives our addiction to social media (the Guardian)

The interesting question is what it is that is so addictive. In principle, anyone can win big; in practice, not everyone is playing with the same odds. Our social media accounts are set up like enterprises competing for attention. If we are all authors now, we write not for money, but for the satisfaction of being read. Going viral, or trending, is the equivalent of a windfall. But sometimes, winning is the worst thing that can happen. The temperate climate of likes and approval is apt to break, lightning-quick, into sudden storms of fury and disapproval.

In an edited extract from The Twittering Machine, Richard Seymour touches on the addictive nature of social media. Whether it be positive or negative, it feeds our tendency for more. It reminds me of the Two Minutes of Hate in George Orwell’s 1984. This is something that Cal Newport touches upon. The question I was left wondering is whether blogging and platforms like WordPress are any different? If so, how?
Bookmarked

Ben Williamson discusses MIT’s AttentivU designed to measure attention and nudge users.
Bookmarked Some thoughts on the Myki data leak (Daniel Bowen)

What happened was that PTV released a whole bunch of Myki touch on/off data for a “datathon” event, where people see what handy things they can do with the data.

It was “de-identified” – that is, Myki card numbers were removed and replaced with another identifier, which could link trips from a single card together, but not back to a card holder.

Or so they thought.

Part of the problem was they left in a flag indicating the card type. This is not just Full Fare (Adult) or Concession – it goes down to the precise type of Concession or free pass. For instance type 39 is a War Veterans Travel Pass; type 46 is a Federal Police Travel Pass.

The recent Myki data release is a good example of the challenge of de-identified data.
Replied to My personal data sharing policy – Colin Devroe

Here are the main points of my personal data policy as it stands today:

  • Never share my current location publicly. I’m going to be certain my habits do not share my current location in a public way. I’m also going to audit any app or service that attempts to use my location data to be certain it does not share my current location publicly.
  • Download and remove all of my data from services that I haven’t used in over a year. I’ve got quiet an online trail that I’ve blazed over the last several decades. While I’m nostalgic for many of these services, and I hate dead URLs, I think it is best if I remove any of that data if I’m no longer using the service.
  • Evaluate each app on my mobile devices that use location data and read their privacy policies. In other words, make a more informed decision about what apps I share my location data with.
  • Delete any app that I do not use on my mobile devices that could use location or audio data. Believe it or not, many of the small utility apps that exist for free (like, doing fun image editing) have tons of third-party ad network code in them. I have dozens of these but I rarely use them.
I really like your approach Colin. I must admit that I have become more mindful of late, however I have a lot of work to do in making some of my practices more rigid.
Liked Facebook launches ‘clear history’ tool – but it won’t delete anything (the Guardian)

The new feature, part of a wider set of tools covering “off-Facebook activity”, will not delete anything from Facebook’s servers, instead simply “disconnecting” data from an individual user’s account.

Bookmarked Data Factories (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

Facebook and Google and other advertising businesses are data factories, and regulation will be most effective if it lets users look inside

Ben Thompson unpacks the world of data and shadow profiles derived by platforms, such as Google and Facebook. He discusses some of the issues with this:

Establishing clear requirements that users be able to view not only the data they uploaded but their entire processed profile — the output of the data factory — would be far less burdensome to new and smaller companies that seek to challenge these behemoths. Data export controls could be built in from the start, even as they are free to build factories as complex as the big companies they are challenging — or, as a potential selling point, show off that they don’t have a factory at all. This is much easier than trying to abide by rules that apply to every user — whether they want the protection or not — and which were designed with Facebook and Google in mind, not an understaffed startup.

This is interesting to read in light of the Facebook’s release of a tool to view data collected.

Bookmarked

It is interesting think about uranium alongside John Philpin’s suggestion that data is energy.
Bookmarked What’s the Role of the School in Educating Children in a Datafied Society?

During our research, we also found ourselves reflecting on the unique position of the school as an institution tasked not only with educating its students but also with managing their personal data. Couldn’t one then argue that, since the school is a microcosm of the wider society, the school’s own data protection regime could be explained to children as a deliberate pedagogical strategy? Rather than something quietly managed by the GDPR compliance officer and conveyed as a matter of administrative necessity to parents, the school’s approach to data protection could be explained to students so they could learn about the management of data that is important to them (their grades, attendance, special needs, mental health, biometrics).

Sonia Livingstone, Mariya Stoilova and Rishita Nandagiri argue that schools have a place to not only protect students data, but build their knowledge and understanding of the world that they are being protected from. They provide an online toolkit to support this.
Bookmarked Ban smart phones in schools. Not because they’re disruptive but because of this (EduResearch Matters)

The ACCC has recently released their final Digital Platforms Inquiry, which raises important points that I believe should have led the recent debate when Victorian education minister, James Merlino announced a ban of smart phones in Victorian schools.

This report, coupled with a major project on human rights and technology by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Artificial Intelligence: Australia’s Ethics Framework (A Discussion Paper) by the CSIRO, provide a collective warning about the vast amounts of personal data being collected and its implications.

Janine Aldous Arantes argues that banning phones in schools is a helpful measure in that it makes the management of data and consent easier. Building upon the ACCC’ Digital Platforms Inquiry, Aldous Arantes argues that with the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data that the potential for harm is almost impossible to understand. For me, this is why modelling social media and supporting students in exploring online platforms is so important in being better informed.
Liked Pull requests and the templated self by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

A key question to building any software in the modern age is: “In the wrong hands, who could this harm?”

Decades ago, software seemed harmless. In 2019, when facial recognition is used to deport refugees and data provided by online services have been used to jail journalists, understanding who you’re building for, and who your software could harm, are vital. These are ideas that need to be incorporated not just into the strategies of our companies and the design processes of our product managers, but the daily development processes of our engineers. These are questions that need to be asked over and over again.

Bookmarked 🎵 TADA 🎵 A New Look At ‘DATA’ (People First)

If you want to start at the beginning and understand why even a date is such a hot bed of debate, misunderstanding, inconsistency and irregularity, then go read D is for Dangerous. If you consider yourself to be someone who is part of the data industry, you might find this a little light .. so move on. But first .. if you think you know that Samuel Morse died on 04/02/72 … you might want to dip in and check your facts.

A is for Articulate provides a little history of how we came to understand the building blocks of the world we live in. Data is not the central theme but is a necessary part of the series because it connects to and provides some context for part 4.

Since 2006, the world has suffered (and I do mean ‘suffered’) through a series of analogies as people have attempted to describe data as the ‘new ’. T is for Terminating Analogies kills off oil, soil, water and music analogies. Data is not the new anything … it just IS, which I get to in …

Part 4 – A is for Another Way Of Looking At Data – a new way of thinking about data (no spoilers) but does start to explain why Data ‘Lakes’, ‘Warehouses’, ‘Mountains’ and ‘Farms’ are probably the wrong way of approaching the challenge, let alone the thinking!

John Philpin takes a dive into the world of data. He discusses some of the dangers associated with simplifying things, articlutes some of the hidden complexities, pushes back on various analogies, such as oil, soil, water and music, and argues that data is best understood as energy:

Imagine if every single person on the planet had their own dashboard that allowed them to indicate their needs, desires, wants and flag it so that anyone who felt that they could satisfy those needs, desires and wants could respond with an offer human-readable terms of the contract, pricing, expected timelines, etc. (Source)

This reminds me James Bridle’s discussion of metaphors in New Dark Age. This is also a topic that Kin Lane has been exploring lately, reflecting on surplus, ownership, the emotional trap and what goes unseen.

Liked The Behavioral Surplus From Me Reading My RSS Feeds | Kin Lane (Kin Lane)

I wanted to take a moment to understand what some of the surplus data that is generated from me just reading my RSS feeds for about an hour in my Feedly web application:

  • Subscribe To – Every time I subscribe to an RSS feed, this information is added to my profile use later.
  • How Long – How much time I put into cultivating feeds is a default part of surplus data being generated.
  • Click and Read – Everything I click on and read adds a layer of behavioral surplus to be extracted.
  • Tag and Organize – Everything I tag and organize shares my approach to taxonomy and understanding.
  • Share With Others – The tags I turn into feeds and share continue painting a picture of what matters.

When you take these behavioral data points and multiply them by a couple thousand feeds, and hundreds of thousands of individual blog posts, GitHub updates, and Tweets that I subscribe to via my Feedly, it can paint a pretty relevant, real-time portrait of what Kin Lane is thinking about.