Where in the world is…(my privacy)?

unsplash-logoNESA by Makers

NP: Daneel – Debris (Inner Ocean Records)

Greetings, all…

I’ve been out of the blogopshere for awhile, but this topic has been brewing within me for months. As you’ve probably guessed by know, it’s on the aspect(s) of data privacy in this, today’s information age. I can go on for, seemingly, forever citing the many data breaches report on in the news over the last few years – everything from Yahoo, to the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, to Equifax, to Strava, to the latest faux pas’ involving Facebook and Google. While they all are about personal data (or what I like to also call Personally identifiable information (PII)), what I’m going to write about here more aligns itself with location awareness data.

As we all know, the explosion of location awareness really took off with the invention of GPS, but with respect to social media, the sheer personal alignment came with marrying it to mobile phones and GPS enabled smart watches. I really took notice of it after reading an article in Wired Magazine entitled “I am Here: One Man’s Experiment With The Location-Aware Lifestyle”. This article (see the reference at the end of the post), almost ten years old, really enlightened me to the implications (good and bad) of location awareness. Fast forwarding to today, location awareness capabilities are deeply pervasive. Again, with respect to the social media world, many people see it as welcomed convenience, if not a boon. I personally don’t see it as the latter. While there are aspects and applications of it that are truly welcomed by me in some situations I could name here, the act of using it – just because I can – doesn’t interest me at all. The primary reason is because of the vast development of the technology when it comes who and how location awareness data is being collected and what it is used for. While I certainly have nothing to hide, I dislike the fact that my location awareness data, in the most innocent sense, can be used, in so many ways, to market ads to me – marketing in which I have NO INTEREST WHATSOVER. The fact that this data can be collected against my will, brokered and sold to whoever can male use of it, bothers me, bothers me to the point where I refuse to give it up, willy nilly. I won’t even get in to the aspects of how it can be used for ill purposes (geolocation meta data on photographs uploaded to the web, aggregation of data regarding every place I traveled for a day, how long I’ve been on vacation (or similar) away from my home for ANYWAY to know and for how long simply because I keep uploading pics and status everyday I am gone, checked into, established I reviewed on Yelp, or similar, ultrasonic beacons being used to assess my shopping habits and likes when in a clothing store, etc, etc). The issue I have with apps (especially those smaller companies), is while they ensure that your data is protected via their technical design and terms of service, they can no longer ensure your data will be protected in the same way if their company is purchased by another company. What happens to my, one protected data, then? Sure, this is an everyday, common issue, but still…

I know what you’re thinking….”He’s paranoid, for sure”.
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(cues Paranoia Will Destroy Ya/Black Sabbath)
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Honestly, because “1984” (and then some) has been here for a minute – I’d agree with you – to a certain extent. Now that you’ve read this far, what do you think? Is it even passe’ to be paranoid at all in this day of of the information age. Is it something we should just accep? I’ve had this conversation with two friends of mine, two I consider to be technically adept, and they both gave me some interesting opinions. They are as follows:

1) Brian Tramuel (@btramuel). He’s is an avid user of the Gyroscope app and is even found on their website with a featured story. Not only is he an avid user, but a subscriber to their pro app (Gyroscope has a free version which I use daily and really like). Essentially Brian’s take on location awareness is not unusual, hey…it may even be common – “Every one is being tracked. The net, for as long as I’ve been using it, has tons of info on me already, so it doesn’t really matter nor am I bothered with putting my location awareness out there.

3) DarrenKeith Wyatt (@myloveformusic2). He made an interesting comment regarding the concern of today’s generation vs future generations. If I recall correctly, his thought was that future generations will have a far greater concern with data privacy, in general, than this current generation. I found that intriguing, because I’d say the opposite – I think it will become SO normal in the future that the concern will vanish.

In short, we are being tracked via cellphone tower triangulation all day everyday. I’m not one to purposely hand over location awareness data freely, 24/7. I continually monitor my app settings on my phone to only use location awareness when needed by me, I make certain (as best as I can) not to embed location data in EXIF data on my digital photos upload to the internet, and a few other things, and try not to post information about my location (DIRECTLY) at anyone given PRESENT time (although it could be inferred if makes the effort of aggregating enough data points (if many) at said given time). Yeah, call it paranoid if you want, but that’s “how I roll”) (pun intended).

I’m truly interested on your take, your opinion…feel free to leave a comment or two (or ten).

Thanks for the read,
Fresh!

References:
1. I am Here: One Man’s Experiment With The Location-Aware Lifestyle (Wired, 2009)
2. GPS on Wikipedia
3. Ultrasonic Tracking – A Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast
4. Gyroscope – The Operating System For The Human Body

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 23 – 23 Aug 18 – Using less social media – Pt. 3

Greetings all…

Long work week, but the good thing is one more day left, until a two-day break from it all. So, as those who have been keeping up know, I have eight more days until this FB/Instagram/Reddit/etc social media break OFFICIALLY ends. One major thing I have learned up to now is that it turns out it wasn’t just the social media scrolling that I thought was the issue. What I believe the truer issue is…constantly having the phone in my hand which leads to said scrolling every time I subconsciously needed that “dopamine hit”.

I came across an interesting article a few days ago that I purposely saved for this blog post – one that I find totally ironic. The title of the article is

Use the New Tools in iOS 12 and Android 9 Pie to Fight Your Phone Addiction.

I think you may be able to understand why I find this ironic. I do get it, in that the said features in both operating systems are supposed to make you aware of how much time your spending surfing, scrolling, clicking, and the like, in hopes that, in time, you will spend less time doing it. Thing is, the very thing it is trying to get you to do…involves the same tool you are trying to get away from.

For me, I have no interest in the tools. What I do have an interest for is continuing what I have attempted over the last week and that is just to “put the phone down”. Foundationally, it’s that simple…no?

My mom is staying with us for sometime, I sat down to eat dinner after I came home from work today and (this is a perfect example) pulled out my phone to check my Twitter feed while my plate was in front of me. In true “nother mode” she says…”Can’t you eat without your phone in your hand?” She was timely (as usual), but this time…so very, very correct.

That has been my biggest insight out of this sabbatical…admitting that I subconsciously had some form of FOMO, something I always said I didn’t have. Realizing and admitting it’s something to be dealt with, I’m up for overcoming the challenge.

Thoughts?

Thanks for the read…

peace,
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 20 – 20 Aug 18 – Using less social media – Pt. 2

Another workday Monday has come and gone. It was productive, tedious but productive. This morning, the usual diatribe occurred between me and my brother in podcasting/tech/photographer/music, DarrenKeith regarding our social media use, or lack thereof. The discussion was briefly about plans of usage when returning back to FB and IG after this break is over. Strangely enough, I stumbled across this Twitter post and thread today:

The OP stated essentially the same thoughts I’ve been having regarding my return to Instagram. The only thing different between her and I is that she has a successful business that she’s been using FB and IG to promote. Me, all I have are two secondary IG counts used for branding my music production activities as a personal artist and one half of AfterSix Productions.

Reading the thread further solidfied my thoughts about deleting my personal IG account. Only two IG followers reached out to me since 1 August to ask about what happened to my IG account (there are 5 followers total whom I let know ahead of time that the sabbatical was going to take place). As of this writing, I’ve already requested IG send me a download link to retrieve all my content. That site will be deleted no later than 31 August 2018 at 11:59pm. The other two IG accounts will remain. As for FB, I’m considering what I will do once I returned regarding how much time I will actually engage there. Twitter will remain, as it provides a relatively high ROI. Flickr will become my platform for photosharing.

Well, studies say that it typically takes 21 days to form a habit. Tomorrow marks the 21st day of sabbatical from both FB and IG. We’ll see how valid, IRL, those studies are…

Peace and blessings,
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 18 – 18 Aug 18 – Using less social media (?)

Greetings readers…

Eighteen days in of disengagement from Facebook and Instagram. I’m starting to think about, increasingly, my reasons (and associated ROI) for returning to Facebook. I’ve not had the desire to even check it at all, so there is where I am right now. There are two groups I am an active admin in, which are both low maintenance, so my reasoning for returning (or not) is based on that fact. None of my co-admins have contacted me about an issues going on so….

Now, my brother-in-tech/podcasting/photography/music, DarrenKeith, sent me a very on-point article from one of my favorite radio shows, Marketplace from American Public Media. This article and podcast is entitled Americans, including tech insiders, are using less social media. Suffice it to say, the gist of the article actually said things I’ve heard in passing over the last six months, but I did learn some interesting things from it. One was the aspect of flat out quitting social media vs limiting your use of it (the same commentary was something discussed in a Twitter thread with one of my followers, Brian Tramuel, which started from an article he posted and I referenced in my own blog post that evening.

If you’re so inclined, let me know what you think of the Marketplace article. Some of the commentary definitely has me continuing to solidify my approach to using social media, whenever I return.

Have a great day/evening/night

Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 14 – 14 Aug 18

Greetings readers…

Hope all is well with you and yours. Ironically, another Twitter (and IG) friend, B.Tramuel, posted the link to an article entitled Managing Your Social Media Intake (Without Quitting it Completely). Our Twitter exchange went like this:

Yeah, I read the article and personally found it lacking only because it didn’t impart unto me anything I didn’t or not currently doing. In addition, I think it’s just plain common sense, HOWEVER, I don’t know it would be useful, especially in a day and age where immersing on social media COULD take up so much time that could be better well spent engaging with others IRL or even just taking time for self beyond the scroll/point/click….

I went fo a 2 mile run after I got home from work – it was good.

Goodnight,
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 13 – 13 Aug 18 – Google Tracking/Data Harvesting

Now Playing: Fluid – Drown in the electronic sound of instrumental hiphop, future soul and liquid trap – on SomaFM.com

Greetings good people.

Happy Monday, or whatever day you are reading this. Glad this workday is behind me, not because it was particularly hard, but my sleep patterns have been messed up ever since the attempted Parker Solar Probe launch attempt I blogged about two days ago (off patterns are exacerbated by not going to bed as early as I should have over the last few nights). Can’t believe I napped not only on Saturday but on Sunday as well. Gotta break that. After some coding tonight, I’m flat out turning in, within the hour.

Well, thirteen days into this sabbatical and the insight has been becoming clearer. My tech/podcasting/blogging brotha DarrenKeith, are continuing to discuss this journey we are on, exchanging relative articles to the “cut back” and the resurrected freedbom of spending less time on “the scroll”, creating more content through blogging, etc. Nothing wrong with consuming content, but my desire is to always make sure I am getting an ROI that results in moving me forward in the goals I’m trying to achieve.

Today a particular article referenced the age old story of how social media sites use us as product, harvesting the data collected from our likes, searches, and similar to share with marketers in order to show us more ads about they THINK we like. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

On a similar note, I ironically came across a somewhat disturbing (yet not not new) article about how Google tracks your movements, even when you have Location turned off. I thought having Location turned off meant exactly but according to this article, that is not entirely true. I won’t get deeply on what the article states, as I think you’ll get a clearer understanding if you read it, but the short of amounts to something I did last year, despite what my iPhone settings are, and that is to go My Activity – Google and adjust your location and Web App activity settings there, accordingly, for all your Google profiles. As you read the article, you will read about Google’s “Google-ease” (as I call it) stating that they are quite clear about how to keep your timeline activity and similar private, however (like Facebook’s famed chameleon privacy settings) that clarity is not apparent to the average Google user. So, yeah…read the article and adjust your My Activity settings as necessary.

“How do I do that?”, you say? Check this out.
Make sure check out the Google Dashboard page of the site as well I’ve had my location and web activity tracking on lock since last year.

POST EDIT (16 Aug 18): AP News updates the above story saying the Google has updated the erroroneous language on their Help page. The article is here.

POST EDIT (20 Aug 18): Reuters News reports of the first lawsuit, here.

Ok folks, “that’s all she wrote, the pencil broke”…I’m out.

Be good…
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 12 – 12 Aug 18

Greetings all…

The weekend is gone that quick…what else is new? It was a good one nonetheless, outside of my broken sleep patterns via trying to see the launch on Saturday morning. It was a success this morning at 3:30 am or so (I didnt wake up for it, but will be checking out the replay when I get to work tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a shot of the Delta IV heavy lofting Parer Soar Probe into space, courtesy a Twitter post:

Question…how many of you are into tracking your quantified self? I’ve been using an app called Gyroscope, the free version. I primarily use it as an add-on to my Apple Watch fitness track data. Gyroscope has some great features and a privacy mode, but as with many apps, I often wonder how the collected data is being used. The quantified self movement was very big some years ago and a friend of mine on Twitter is actually featured on Gyroscopes site as an avid user of the paid app. We had an interesting discussion about what he thinks about all the many types of quantified data he shares. In short, I’m still not certain if I could go to the extent of data sharing that he (or many do), even though we have our “always-on” mobile phones. From my understanding, the whole aspect of tracking one’s quantified data is to make improvements to yourself over time. It’s the data aggregation aspects that still don’t sit 100% well with me, though I admit there is lot to be seen from such data over time. Id be interested in your thoughts.

On the productivity front, I came across another interesting article that I was discussing with DarrenKeith, my brother in podcasting, blogging, and tech. Ironically, I received the latest Fast Company in the mail yesterday. There is a sidebar to an article in there that speaks to the subject of this article – Why productivity isn’t the only thing your smartphone is stealing from you. I think there are points in it we all can relate to. FB and IG are creating ways to cause us to spend less time on our mobile devices and there are a lot of apps that are made to do the same (although that whole approach seems like an oxymoron – spending less time on your phone my checking apps that help….that are on your phone….ok.). Then there is this approach of changing your mobile phone’s colors to grayscale. Supposedly this is less appealing than the colors we adore (there have been studies) and as a result, we’ll want to look at them less.

My solution – just put the phone down.

Have a good week.

Doug

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 11 – 11 Aug 18

Greetings…

It’s been a day…not a bad one, but moreso a long one. The launch I posted about yesterday was aborted close to 4:30am. The cause was a gaseous helium alarm detected from the launch vehicle, with about two minutes left of terminal count – they’ll try again at 3:33 am, Sunday. I went to bed late (12:30am), got up at 2:30am for the prelaunch activities, but never went back to sleep until 6pm for a two hour nap. That said, I feel kinda…out of it. LOL. I think things will balance out tomorrow. I am NOT getting back up in three hours to watch again.

I’m working on a new music project that I plan to drop in September, so this evening was spent doing sourcing some graphics for the artwork, while reestablishing my Flickr account. You can find me there (soon) for my serious photographic submissions:

Photostream
Profile

This broken sleep pattern has me meh. I did NO coding today…back to it tomorrow.

peace,
F!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 10 – 10 Aug 18

Hello…. and the weekend is here! In a way, it’s been a long one (work wise I guess), but Friday did get here kinda quick so I guess they cancel each other out. I’m sitting in Starbucks, with a cup of ice that is displacing 14.5 oz of Teavana Craft Iced Tea – Peach Green Tea. I’m sorta working/sorta decompressing with some me time before heading home. I’m debating getting up and leaving my warm bed at 2:30am to go to work for the social event they are having to witness the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft. The launch is scheduled for 3:33 am on a Delta IV rocket, courtesy of United Lauch Alliance.

Why is this launch special? It’s the first mission I worked on since returning back to the satellite/space exploration business. Though I didn’t work on it nearly as long as the other missions I’ve been working on for the last eight months, the company I work for built this spacecraft for NASA. So, that said, I may just do that. The second good part is that I get a crazy early start to my Saturday! LOL. We’ll see.

No articles to share today about the social media sabbatical. I did have a short chat with a friend who says she is thinking of cutting back a bit. I’m just gaining daily insight everyday overall. This isn’t the first time I left FB, but it is the first time leaving both FB and Instagram for this long together.

Anyway, that’s about it. If this is the first post you’re reading about the title subject, feel free to start at 1 August to catch up, if you’re so inclined.

Have a good weekend….
Fresh!