8 Privacy Observations: All Your “Surface Information” are Belong to Us

Photo cred: Frog Design

Woah…Are you crazy bro? You’re going to check in?! But, everyone will know where you are! What if they want to rape or rob or…omg… what if there’s a creepy stalker dude just following you everywhere taking pictures to use in internet sex pornos?!

…wait, you don’t care?

1. “Surface information” is public property.

To this point, we’ve known privacy to mean that ONLY the people that we choose to bring in, will know things like your middle name, your location, the things you like, the things you hate, where you go at night, and who “it’s complicated” with…

We’ll call this “surface information“.  Surface information is the demographics of an individual.  It’s the type of stuff you add to your facebook profile.  If you’re still holding on to that information like it’s the key to your humanity…give up.

This information is no longer private. Privacy as we knew it is dead.

2. The kids and their rap music.

Think millenials are the ones changing the concept of privacy? Just wait…  Millenials’ children will have an entirely different view of privacy.  They’ll know the “innovative” platforms of today as the norm.  They’ll be raised with the understanding that their surface information is not their own but rather that of their networks.

There is a clear human need to share and connect that, with social sites like facebook and twitter, has knocked our previous perception of privacy and interaction on its ass.  I’ve witnessed this transformation throughout my life.  I can only imagine what’s in store for my kids…although if I have a daughter, she’s going to be locked in her room until she’s 18 and all tweets will have to be approved.

3.  The tools are coming.

So now that we know people love to share stuff, and connect with people based on the stuff they share, we will continue to build tools that allow for this human need to flourish.

As more tools are created to connect people and share information, more people will connect, and more information will be openly shared.

Foursquare is a new generation of technology that allows people to share information.

And it won’t stop there.  An interesting new startup was born out of Startup Weekend NYC recently.  It’s called Data Dough, and it allows people to “Take back the CASH companies like facebook and twitter make off of YOUR data!”.  People already love to share useless shit about themselves.  Imagine if they could actually make money by doing so…  Privacy what?

4. Businesses are starting to see the value in social platforms.

This means they’re more willing to pay to reach people on social platforms.  This means social platforms are more willing to sell your information.

When facebook made some this stuff automatically public, people had a fucking conniption. It was the end of the world. Our sacred information was just out there for anyone to have their way with.

Thing is, this information really isn’t worth much to us and is no longer considered worthy of hiding. In fact, we want people to know this stuff. We want others to know who we know, who we hang out with and as much of this “surface level” information as possible.

It actually makes our lives better when businesses know our tastes.  I can stop getting shitty ads about losing 50 pounds in 5 days and start getting more shitty ads about getting 20000 twitter followers in 15 minutes.  Much more targeted.

5. It’s not up to you.

You can try your best to control all of your surface information.  Unfortunately, we’re in an age where information is very often, crowdsourced.  That means that if you don’t post up pictures of yourself, someone else will. Anything you do or say in public is fair game on the social web.  So  unless you want to live like a hermit, you’re probably just going to have to accept it.

6. Augmented reality + facial recognition = everyone knows everyone at the surface.

Check out the image at the top of this post and the other sweet designs that Frog design came up with for augmented reality in our day-to-day lives.  Now realize, that the technology already exists, and this is not too far away.  The potential implications are vast, and will undoubtedly, redefine our perception of privacy in the next 10 years.

7. But don’t worry, you’re relatively safe.

As  documentation technology becomes increasingly engrained in society, the ability to do evil without being caught decreases greatly.  There are more eyes watching you so it’s harder to commit crimes without being seen.  More eyes watching means more information can be safely shared.

Try mugging someone in a major city and running away.  You’ll be more evidentially fucked than BP on earth day.

8. Real secrets are still yours to keep…even more so!

Privacy is becoming black and white. Some things you share with everyone, and other things you share with no one.  That means that the information you hold near and dear to your heart are more safe than ever.

Why?

People think that because they know your surface information, that they know who you are.  People are lazy, and so if they can convince themselves that they know everything about a person from checking their facebook page and a quick google search, they won’t dig much deeper.

That’s all I got.  You might disagree but it’s a clear trend in my eyes.  What are your thoughts? …or are you keeping them a secret?  Smart ass.

The Battle Between Our Hearts and Our Cameras

There’s this gorgeous little red cardinal that hangs out in my back yard.  I always try to get a picture of it but it’s the most elusive fricken thing ever. It’ll stay perfectly still until I point my lens in its direction, then it darts off right before I get a clear shot.

I get so frustrated because I want to record it’s beauty to be shared with the people around me…but I can’t damnit.  Only I got to see it.

I’m more concerned with documenting its beauty than I am in experiencing it for myself.

I watched Ricky Van Veen speak at the Mashable Media Summit where he spoke about this trend.  He showed a picture (seen above), from the Youth Ball on inauguration night, of President Obama and the first lady on stage. All the young people in the crowd, instead of looking at the president, looked at the back of their phones and cameras as they were taking pictures and recording video.

He said:

“We have a new generation that places documentation above experience”

It’s amazing how true this is, and it doesn’t stop there…

Because of the increased focus on sharing, and documenting experiences, there’s now this trend where we might even plan our experiences around the value of their documentation.

Could the ability to check in to foursquare and document your night determine which bar you go to?  Would my twitter followers be more interested in my thoughts on tonight’s movie premier, or my pictures from tonight’s concert?  Would a college student skip a frat party because of the possible negative facebook documentation that could occur?

Ricky gave the example of a girl deciding whether or not to go to a dance based on the potential pictures that she could take and share at the event.  Documentation is actually impacting our what we do and how we act.

We’re starting to think about the value of documenting our experiences, before the experience itself.

What happens when we can no longer sit back and enjoy something beautiful or fascinating simply for the experience? When the things that usually excite us are only exciting when documented?

The questions for you:

The point of Ricky’s talk was about content and regardless of your opinion on this trend, it’s a trend nevertheless.  So from a business perspective, is your content providing an experience worth documenting? And are you making it easy to document that experience?

Where else can you apply this trend?

Photo cred: Todd Ryburn