You Are Being Taken Advantage Of…
Things of minor value, things discarded, and the most important in the world
Humans are a curious lot. There are things that infuriate us to no end which in the objective scheme of things mean so little. Like people who fail at queuing, someone who cheated, or the embarrassment you think failure brings. Now some of these have variations that do matter, I know. But the point here is that we attribute value to concepts and possessions that have very little or none.
Now we should discuss the dangerous subject of ethics. It exists. Ok, glad we covered that.
Honestly, the ethics of companies and people are having a much larger role in society these days. I am going to assume you have your own code of ethics and understand that it differs from mine in ways. I don’t think knowing the minutia will push us here.
Outside of our ethics we are a collection of thousands of microscopic actions, thoughts, desires, fears, facts, emotions, and on to infinity. Collectively this is us.
We throw ourselves away on a daily basis. We share stories about ourselves, we throw away garbage which contains, realistically, private information on bills, correspondences, strands of DNA, and we interact with the World Wide Web leaving traces across a thousand routers and nodes. We spread ourselves to the wind but we need to remember we are not a zero-sum game, we reinvent or refresh ourselves. We are an infinite well.
Making art out of trash
Reusing someone else’s work
We tend to not think about this fixture of our lives. We have decided that this ‘information’ is of little to no value. It is meaningless. This works in most cases or until our disclosure is used without our permission.
Instagram Images Repurposed
Then our core self flexes against the invasion and we become proactive.
The Most Important
This is where ethics plays a role. When that information crosses that previously considered abstract and amorphous line.
This is called Identity Theft when it is serious or targeted marketing when it is not. Or the thousands of other interactions that bloom from these events: Facebook Memories, Suggested Purchases, Netflix Queues, mailing lists, or specialized coupons.
What is done with this flood? Well, everyone does something different. I keep mine in a hole I dug and forgot the location of. The pile thinks this is for the best.
Target is able to predict if you’re pregnant. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#3970dd1834c6
And this brings us right round. Are we being compensated for our flotsam? Is what we threw away truly worth nothing to us or is it a priceless shard of our soul? Is it something you feel you should be made whole for? That is the real question. Am I ok with a company knowing something personal of mine if they provide a better experience when I use them? And how do we deal with the release of this treasure trove that ends with negative consequences for the user alone.
If we are not ok, what can we do? Should we refrain from using social media? Should we hide our tidbits? Should there be mechanisms to protect us? Perhaps moving towards the European Union approach: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/technology/eu-data-privacy.html?_r=0
Although, I think the right to be forgotten is dangerous. I’ve said it before; just having our information isn’t the problem. What is done with it is the problem.
My Disclosure: I love exploring the intersection of User Experience and the rest of the world. I like to write, take photos, learn things, say hello, and buy gummi worms. That list bit is extremely well known by the major e-commerce sites.
Ancillary Note: This post was published a long time ago but was corrupted. I am republishing it.