Ghosts in the Machine: Digital Identities & Online Privacy

Keiichi Matsuda

Two articles recently published on digital identities and online privacy provide interesting food for thought. Chris Arkenberg of Cagefree Consulting looks at digital identities in ubiquitous computing environments in his article, Getting to Know your Ghost in the Machine, and Kevin Gold analyses The Leaky Nature of Online Privacy.

Chris Arkenberg’s article, which can be accessed here, explores the experiences that can be made possible through the interaction of mobile devices through the networked environment. ¨Just as your face & voice provision you with access to your parent’s home and induce birthday parties in your name, mobile identity confers digital membership and can initiate personalized experiences around you,¨ he says.

The article discusses the realm of possibilities, illustrated by some thought provoking concept videos. One is from Greg Tran, on native augmented reality, which looks at how local networks might push experiences out to individuals based on profile & location, and the other, Domestic Robocop, by Keiichi Matsuda (pictured above and below), illustrates a waking nightmare of data saturation in a dynamic media landscape.

It is all very thought provoking stuff, and raises, not least, interesting questions for the future of pay-¨TV¨ in the context of provisioning entertainment/information services within networked home and public environments. Is our current vision too limited? There are also a host of regulatory concerns to consider: public and private identity issues, privacy, cultural sensitivities and the role of social media.

“Nymwars” is the hashtag given to the recent intense debate on Twitter as a result of the Google + policy requiring users to use real names, as opposed to fake names or ‘pseudonyms” from which the term takes its name. However, whether we are using real names or not, we are revealing far more information about ourselves than ever before, even if we deliberately choose to hide it.

Kevin Gold’s recent article, which can be found here, demonstrates how network analysis can betray our attempts to completely ‘hide’ our personal details. On the flip side of this coin, Gold argues that “information becomes more trustworthy than a traditional paper résumé once a person’s profile has at least 10 links, because people are less willing to stretch the truth in front of their friends and colleagues.”

It would be great if folks with perspectives like these could contribute to events such as the forthcoming 2nd Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference. See the conference programme and list of speakers here.

As Chris Arkenberg concludes, ¨Our devices will identify us and our digital ghosts will betray us to their friends.¨

Highly recommended. Get a cup of coffee and sit down for some quiet time, read these, and watch the videos.