TechCrunch sees through Google’s new privacy dashboard:
It’s interesting the company feels the need to spin so hard on privacy. The language used on this dashboard is couched to suggest Google’s data gathering activities are performed principally for the user’s benefit. Which is a pitch-perfectly disingenuous response to growing consumer concerns about data privacy.
Most users, blinded by the illusion of free, won’t question Google’s motivations and its way of redefining words:
Google has seized on consumer privacy concerns and done the very best it can to defuse them with marketing misdirection, or bland and intellectually dishonest statements such as: “We keep your personal information private and safe—and put you in control.”
It’s not private if Google can see it (and use it), and you have no control if you can’t turn that off, or even know exactly what your data will be used for and how.
As Google looks to promote its big new product, that raises a serious question: do you trust Google with your photos? Do you trust anyone with them? Google isn’t alone in trying to solve the photo-sharing puzzle, and it’s likely to have plenty of competition in the years to come. Photos’ interface is impressive, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be copied by teams at Apple or Microsoft. The scope of the storage is impressive too, but well within reach for any company running its own server farms. But as the world’s largest tech companies look to take over your camera roll, the rarest commodity may be trust.
But Google’s attempts at reassuring people through new privacy controls mean very little, because
Google looks through every image you upload as part of its automatic scan, which is necessary to categorize the photos by content. There’s no way to opt out: it’s central to the way Photos approaches organization, and the service doesn’t make sense without it. At the same time, if you’re using Photos to keep track of legal documents or more sensitive pictures, it’s easy to see why that might make you nervous.
There’s something for Apple too in the article:
Unfortunately, Apple’s photo system is all built on top of iCloud, which has a long history of security failures and general service issues. The massive leak of celebrity photos in September was a particularly damaging reminder, and one Apple still hasn’t lived down.
When someone uses someone else’s password to access their private information and distribute them to the world, it’s not a leak. It’s theft.
Instead of cash, people pay Google in kind: with their identity, their behaviour, their habits and their preferences. Google collates and analyses this user data on a global scale, sells it to advertisers and, according to Edward Snowden, more than occasionally gifts it to US and other intelligence services.
Even before I left Facebook I knew this would be my next big project. Let’s see how that goes.
The Verge, writing about Richard Allan, Facebook’s chief of public policy, and his comments on the fragmentation of European privacy regulations:
He believes that operating as a pan-European business should be done subject to one coherent set of pan-European rules instead of having to “comply with 28 independently shifting national variants.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right.
That’s myopic bullshit. While I agree that Europe needs more coherent regulation, I’m sure Facebook was very okay with the EU’s regulatory fragmentation when it opened up shop in Ireland.
It is entirely in Facebook’s interests to make the quitting process as difficult as possible, of course, but eventually it is indeed possible to get out and stay out. Like many people, if I never saw that awful blue and grey layout ever again, or never had to waste precious time fiddling with privacy settings, I would be simply delighted. It is a deplorably bad site in many respects that matter to me as a user.
Ever since I left Facebook, I’ve only received positive comments—apart from the occasional and inevitable snarky “You won’t last without Facebook.” But the reason people think so, jokingly or not, has less to do with me specifically and more with Facebook itself. But they’re so wrong.
And not having to deal with horrifying design is just icing on the cake.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how the Internet, and social media in particular, is the new public square where we exercise our free speech rights. And yet, this new square just isn’t public. If you post content to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or SoundCloud, you are on private property—the owner can step out the front door and shoo you away at any time.
It turns out that the World Wide Web is very fragile. At the Internet Archive we collect one billion Web pages a week and we’ve discovered that Web pages last only about 100 days on average before they change or disappear. They blink on and off in their servers, gone forever unless someone has thought to preserve them. So the Web lacks a memory, an enduring archive of what has transpired there.
Trevor Timm continues a discussion that, despite being two weeks old, should not be forgotten:
What this discussion has missed is perhaps the most crucial element of Facebook’s new power: the right to chose between the free expression of ideas or to instead impose censorship when it deems content unworthy. That should worry the public, because when given that power in the past, Facebook has ruled with an iron fist.
The Atlantic recently cleaned up a 1982 article by James Fallows, in which he tells the story of how he started using a computer to type.
I thought I’d smile at what I now perceive as ingenuities (and perhaps I did), but more than that I recognized some very familiar feelings: the fascination with technology, the thirst for power and speed, and the need to find ways to make room for new objects that change the way you live.
Above all, I recognized that urge that makes some people stop being users, start tinkering with the machine and try to bend it to their will.
[W]ith Facebook’s announcements [of March 25th], it’s suddenly significantly harder to avoid the service at all. If you didn’t have a Facebook already, like 1 billion other people, you’re going to find it even harder to avoid in the future with these changes. It’s now becoming the easiest way to do anything on the internet.
The problem is that Facebook controls what you see and when. If it becomes the primary way to consume news and watch videos, what happens when a news story is controversial about the company itself? Or isn’t within its content guidelines (like pornography)? You’ll be receiving a filtered version of the internet that’s controlled by one company.
All tiny pieces that don’t sit well with me, and that are part of the reason why I left Facebook. That even Google should be scared doesn’t make it any less worrisome.
Just as we live in cities, we inhabit our digital spaces. How these spaces make us feel is important, and so functional considerations need to be balanced by less tangible qualities if these spaces are to become truly special. Variety and richness of aesthetics allows products to stand out in relation to one another, and in doing so reach a true expression of beautiful design.
I will talk about Mad Men at PCA/ACA next week, and Esquire’s interview with Matthew Weiner touches on some very relevant themes:
Everything is done with intention. But some things are meaningful just to me. I think the thing that would be most surprising to people is how much the construct of the show as a period piece is a smoke screen for the writers—and I’m not just including myself—to put their own lives into their work. It’s not done in the first person, but there are things that are so specific, they actually happened to somebody.
I could dissect that paragraph for hours. I might have to do it in just twenty minutes.
The latest prayer controversy in Bologna emerged after priests began their Lenten ritual of canvassing their parishes, carrying supplies of consecrated water, in order to offer Easter blessings to shops, offices and individual homes.
Laity in Italy makes for a sweet anagram, but whether it means inclusiveness, as one interviewee claims, remains to be seen:
“What do you mean by this term ‘laity’?” [asked the Rev. Raffaele Buono, who oversees religious education in the Bologna schools]. “Two words: inclusive and exclusive. The French way of understanding laity is to exclude. You have to ban every religious symbol. In Italy, by tradition, we understand laity as inclusive. You have to put value on your ‘belongings,’ including your religious ‘belongings.’”
[O]ver a period of about 40 years, watching TV went from free to quite expensive. More expensive even than a family’s communications costs (i.e. telephone service.) That’s quite an achievement at a time when technology diffusions caused huge price reductions in other goods and services. Consider that the TV set used to watch the programming improved dramatically while decreasing in price over the same period.
But we’re now in the era of cord-cutters, and the future doesn’t look so bright for cable.
I got to last week’s episode of On House of Cards only yesterday. I have to agree with the commenters on the website: as knowledgeable as they are about DC politics, the episode’s guests seem to miss the point of House of Cards being a fictional story. First they say they don’t like it because it’s too unrealistic, then one of them says her favorite show about the White House is Scandal, because it’s so unbelievable. Pick a lane, ladies.
Still, the episode makes interesting points about the role of the First Lady of the United States, and it’s a fun way to spend a half hour if you like the show.
A typical clinical study might include hundreds or thousands of subjects; a ResearchKit study could easily include hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions. Plus, ResearchKit studies would have another unparalleled advantage: the cost of recruiting subjects would be basically zero.