From the walls of Pompeii to the modern day walls of Facebook and Twitter, we see data being preserved, stored and the idea that we are all information generators regardless of what year, decade or even century we are in. The thriving Roman city was buried under 4m of ash preserving an entire city as it was. When uncovered, historians we able to view the traces of the lost city.
Until recently, data remained largely invisible due to insufficient storage and sharing media however, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites where data can make this information visible, tends to outlive its generators. Just think, have you ever been to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, restaurant, local supermarket or any retail store where you have not had to fill in paperwork or been encouraged to sign up for loyalty programs? These businesses are storing every piece of data they can about you in the chance it might be useful in the future.
The centre of distribution is being displaced from traditional studios to online dialogic media forms(e.g YouTube) and with produsers moving more fluidly between roles of producer, sharer and content creator, the value is not in a single product but in the conversation.
What is astonishing though is that everything we do can and will be captured. I have witness this first hand with the notion of surveillance, matching store purchases to Facebook user profiles and therefore relevant advertisements. Many times I have posted an image, video or status and within 24 hours, companies have included their ads on the side of my profile. The larger the data flow it seems the more patterns there are to observe.
While we want to share some data, we also want to retain a personal space. Bruce Schneier’s taxonomy of social networking data categorises data as:
*Service data- data you need to give to a social networking site in order to use it such as your legal name and age
*Disclosed data- data you post on your own pages e.g blog posts, messages, comments, photographs
*Entrusted data- what you post on other people’s pages. Someone else has control
*Incidental data- data other people post about you
*Behavioural data- data that the site collects about your habits by recording what you do and who you do it with
We all want secure service data, consent for use of incidental and behavioural data and control over disclosed and entrusted data, yet the cost associated with such privacy is sometimes unknown. Active resistance to such data accumulation has resulted in some cases of protest for example #camover in which groups remove and destroy security cameras.
I believe that unless our personal data is used in the wrong way or gets into the wrong hands, there is no reason not to store everything. It makes sense as it is cheaper than deleting it, and may actually be of use to someone in the future. It is only when people begin to take advantage of and misuse the data that things can get out of hand.