Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Privacy and Persistence

It seems that the two issues we touched on last week are really alive in the press these days. Consider these three articles:

Should You Worry About Data Rot?

Storage: The bytes build up – but where can we put them?

Brussels to investigate consumer profiling by online advertisers

First, I hope you noticed the two different headline capitalization styles (the first clip is from the New York Times, the second two are from the Financial Times). Presentation aside, these are interesting in light of our discussion last week.

The first two articles address the question of backing up data. The "Data Rot" article looks at the question of storage alternatives from the individual consumer's point of view. It may not say much for the safety of CDs and DVDs as backup media, but read what the person interviewed thinks of online backups!

The second article considers the incredible rise in data volume produced by business. It also strongly questions the viability of any kind of cloud-based backup solution.

Finally, the third article speaks to our discussion of privacy when surfing the Web. European policy officials will be meeting to consider the problems posed by the way data is collected online.

The depth of what's available to interested commercial parties transcends anything as simple as cookie tracking or disingenuous data collection forms. Essentially, users are asked to waive fundamental rights to privacy when simply accessing the Web from home. Very interesting reading.

There may not be much that can be done to change persistent data trails left by the nature of the Web medium, but the article mentions transparency about that data trail as one goal of a more appropriate online environment. This sort of transparency is absolutely something that can be reinforced by choices in information and interaction design.

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