It’s hard to talk about ‘privacy’ without more precise language, so I’m posting this as a good start.
Rob Horning writes in The Social Filter, ‘In the introduction to The Offensive Internet, a collection of essays about online privacy issues, editors Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore list four distinct ways to conceive of the stakes of privacy:
There is the value of seclusion, which is the right to be beyond the gaze of others. There is intimacy, in which one chooses with whom to share certain information and experiences. There is also the interest in secrecy, which is to information as seclusion is to the physical person. And then there is autonomy, which is the set of private choices each person makes.’
And from the same article: ‘From Facebook’s perspective, privacy is a kind of transaction cost weighing on “peer productivity” within its vertically integrated social factory. Giving users apparent control over privacy settings pacifies their concerns and elicits more voluntary labor from them.’
And ‘As Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger point out in their chapter on “Obscurity and Privacy” for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Technology, “Even if one keeps a relatively obscure digital trail, third parties can develop models of your interests, beliefs, and behavior based upon perceived similarities with others who share common demographics.” Regardless of what you have chosen to share, you can always be modeled more broadly. Companies like Facebook can ascribe simulated, probable data points to you, which will become factors in the way other institutions treat you, regardless of whether those probabilities are realities.’
I was so annoyed and bemused by something I read in today’s Urban Junkies London newsletter that I wrote to them.
I am really curious about today’s mailout, which says “Boris has temporarily come to the rescue. His launch of “Lates “” – but UJ have been promoting Lates at various venues for months, so you must know that the Lates initiative was already up and running when Ken was mayor.
I’m really disappointed – I know spin is everything and the truth means little in politics these days but I didn’t expect to see it in Urban Junkies.
It’s hugely ironic because Boris is probably going to have a huge negative impact on the arts in London. How dare his office try to claim an existing and well-established program started by the previous mayor as “Boris’ Lates”?
I’ll take everything I read in Urban Junkies with a pinch of salt now. I already did, to an extent, because their editorial direction was so clearly influenced by their advertisers, but at least it was obvious – when there was a huge ad banner followed by a big push in the text, you knew how to read between the lines. And Urban Junkies ran Lates ad campaigns before Boris was mayor, so I don’t see how they could claim ignorance of the prior existence of the Lates program.
I would like to think this is a hoax but I guess it’s not:
“FakeYourSpace.com – a companion service for MySpace, Friendster and Facebook – will from March 1 allow customers to buy attractive “friends” for displaying on their profile pages.” Age
It’s ages since I’ve done one of these, which perhaps shows that the web is progressing.
Websites that suck, number 3423456 in a series: if you google ‘Veuve’ the first link is www.veuve-clicquot.com. All good.
However, the first thing you see under that link is “This text is replaced by the Flash movie only if somebody cares about it.”
I don’t know if the developer did that to make a point about writing content for accessibility or whether they didn’t realise that it’s important, not least because search engines don’t read Flash.
Websites that suck, number 1234023450534 in a series: I tried to get to the Espy‘s site today to check out the rumour that they had pokies, and got this error (using Mozilla and IE 5.5). If anyone’s in Melbourne, can they ring them?
(A devastating rumour I heard in the middle of the Whitlams‘ gig on Saturday – Fraser’s incredibly bad timing was apparently inspired by “Blow up the Pokies” (mp3).)
Websites that suck, number 24023402012303 in a series: http://www.argos.co.uk/: “Sorry, the Argos Internet site cannot currently be viewed using Netscape 6 or other browsers with the same rendering engine.”
A variation on ‘websites that suck’ – mobile phone companies that suck. O2 keep sending spam texts to my phone, despite the fact that I very carefully never opted-in for any commercial or ‘informational’ email.
It took a while to find it but I found a contact page on the O2.co.uk site, wrote a message that hopefully stayed on the right side of rightful customer and didn’t verge into loony attention-seeker (“Stop sending marketing texts to my phone. I have never opted-in for any marketing or other information from O2 or BT Cellnet. The messages sent from O2 – UK don’t provide any method for opting out. I will change service providers if O2 continue to send unsolicited texts to my phone.”), filled in precious personal information that will probably lead to more spam, only to get the message, ” Error: escalation to O2 Customer Care failed.”
So now this post is really a ‘mobile phone companies that suck and their sucky websites’ rant.
Websites that suck, number 23452363467346 in a series: http://www.marksandspencer.com/. On entry (with Mozilla 1.0), I’m redirected to a “disallowed” page. They recommend Mac users use IE 5.01, despite it being a much older browser than anything I have installed – I’m guessing it’s an old browser detection script.
All I want to do is find out if they have a store in Kensington High Street, so I try the site in IE (5.1), and get another page that basically says, ‘we won’t let you in unless you accept cookies’. Surely they could restrict the need for cookies to any online shopping pages, and let any browser through, with a warning if necessary.
So I try the site in Lynx, accepting cookies this time, because god only knows I won’t be back so there won’t be much for them to track. Get to the store locator, but there’s no ‘go’ or ‘submit’ for the drop-down menu, so I can’t get the page to go anywhere.
The irony is that the ‘disallowed’ page title is “Welcome to Marks & Spencer”.
It’s a shame to see a big company offer so many examples of what not to do in web design.
It doesn’t work at all in Mozilla. Which means it probably won’t work at all in Netscape 7, which might be a problem when all those AOL users update.
Annoying websites, part 100030342 in a series: Last year, I paid yahoo for extra storage in a yahoo mail account. This year, they sent me a notice saying that it’d be automatically extended, unless I stopped it. I don’t need the space anymore, so I tried to cancel it. I’ve tried going through the whole process twice now, but I keep getting, “We’re sorry, we are unable to process this request.
Please return to the beginning and try again.
We apologise for the inconvenience. “. Going back to the beginning doesn’t help, unless they mean something different, like back to the birthing room, or something.
Annoying websites, part 100030343 in a series: Travelocity sent me a newsletter. I’m pretty sure I said I didn’t want any, but whatever, they probably just hid the ‘don’t subscribe me’ button a bit and I missed it. So I follow their unsubscribe link (which their previous newsletter didn’t even have), but got, “We’re sorry, we could not locate your email address in our mailing list. You have not been unsubscribed.” even though I copied and pasted the address from the To: header.