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

The Phone Zone – Lessons in Reduction

Greetings and good evening….

As is often said, “Where did the month go?” Three more days until we enter in the last quarter of 2018. It’s just after 9pm and it was a long day at work – two hour meeting followed by coming up to speed on various aspects of the current mission I’m working on, via a lot of reading. Top that off with the fact I should have gotten my tail in the bed earlier last night.

In any event, those of you that have been following my many blog posts this month, Darrenkeith and I have been on an accountability journey regarding this sabbatical we’ve both taken from Facebook, Instagram, and a few other social media sites (save Twitter), waxing philosophically as we go. As said earlier, what I thought (in the beginning) was spending too much time engaged in social media turned out that the result of that was the lack of putting my phone *away and out of sight*. I’m convinced now that is the crux of the issue – an issue that I’m glad became clear during this sabbatical. I’ve read and shared a few articles with you on the subject already and came across one that I shared with Darrenkeith this morning. It was interesting because it involved a handful of subjects who sought to deal with this particular issue in their own, separate ways. I’ll share a link to that article below. I’d be interested in reading your comments on the article. in addition, there is a podcast that I recently listened to that provides fantastic insight and balance on the exact topic of this blog post, it talks to considerations of persuasive technology.

Suffice it say, I’ve come up with a number things I plan to put in to play in hopes of dealing with the same, in a way that I hope to prove beneficial. That said, if I am a lot slower in getting back to you via text, Messenger, Twitter DM, and the like, as Jermaine Jackson sang “Don’t Take It Personal….” (it truly isn’t)… just attempting to return to a time, long, long, ago (LOL) of less distraction from mobile device-ism, less “device dopamine hits” and more movements towards being in a “tech-less” moment and goals achieving state.

In a few days, I’ll reactivate my FB account and deactivate my personal Instagram account but keep two music production Instagram sites for branding purpose – the only difference this time is that neither FB or IG apps will be back on my phone. All (what I continue to be) my best photos will be seen from my Flickr account from here on out. The pleasure of blogging from my own “theater” has returned this month, so be on the lookout for this relationship:

content creation > content consumption
(where content = blogposts/music/podcasts/photography/code/film score music and video)

Come 1 Sept, the rubber (of the sabbatical) meets the road (of reality) – let’s see what sticks after a month off.

Thanks for bearing with me….

:::oceans of rhythm:::

Fresh!

References:
1. Tech Titans Dish Advice About Phone Addiction – Great Escape – Medium
2. This World My Life – Darrenkeith
3. “Persuasive Technology” from Let’s Know Things – A podcast about context and the news.

NP: Lovely Standards/Amel Larriuex

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 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 9 – 09 Aug 18

Greetings all…

A fair amount of things are on my plate at work, but I kinda fell back today to spending a little too much time on Twitter. I gathered a lot of resources with respect to the #100DaysOfCode campaign I’m involved in, but nonetheless, I’m bent on maximizing the insight I can out of this sabbatical. I was telling DarrenKeith that after nine days in, I’m starting to realize it wasn’t necessarily the need to kill the habit of constantly scrolling social media solely…now I’m starting to see the component also involves how much I keep checking my phone for way more than making/receiving calls. That, in itself, is a factor in the grand scheme of this experiment.

I found another article today that addresses this very same mindset…and some of it, no…a lot of it, walked right down my street: Why productivity isn’t the only thing your smartphone is stealing from you

There are tons of articles out on the interwebs like this, yeah, I get it, but there are a few points here that really resonated with me.

1. Dopamine has us hooked on tech.
We receive small shots of dopamine we receive every time we open a notification…check for text replies, scroll the net, etc. Instead of letting the mind be quiet or think on or of other things, or even being bored (*gasp*), human nature sets in, feening for that rush.

2. If you work a 9–5, I would go as far as to say that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave your smartphone out in your car and only allow yourself to check it during lunch and then again after work.

I tried this – even bought a Trac Phone to have my calls forwarded to me at my desk during the day. I have to say it did work, and I began to see this next point, owever, after the timeframe I bought ended, it was back to taking my phone into the building.

3. As you spend more and more time away from your phone, what you will find is that your focus sharpens, your quality of work improves drastically and your creativity runs wild.

Here’s a prime example. I will admit that I have always carried my phone everywhere I went – even into the rest room for that “breaktime” where I could check social, etc etc. Over the last two days, I stopped that. Today, I went down the first floor, taking the stares, and clearly got the vision of something that is going to help me better achieve the solution of a problem I’m working on. Had I been getting that dopamine shot as usual, I might have missed that opportunity.

My desire is to go back to #2 in order to minimize the effect of #2 so I can widely realize #3.

Time for some coding.

peace,
Fresh.

Now Playing:

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 7 – 07 Aug 18

One week, people. This is the longest I’ve gone without Facebook and Instagram together. In this one week, I’ve learned some things, been enlightened, etc. One of the things I HAVE noticed it is this – it’s not necessarily ONLY the time spent aimlessly (sometimes, that is) scrolling social media BUT the time spent on the phone doing it. The more I have the phone on me, the more prone I am to scroll these sites, eating up my time. By habit, I still pick up my phone to do it when it appears I have idle time (which, in reality, I rarely do), only to remember those apps are no longer on my phone. That said, the habit not to do it (because I can’t) is slowly starting to form.

I don’t access FB or IG at work, so I’m starting to realize I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. At least, what I believe will happen is, whenever I do go back to using either site, the habit will be formed that I will spend far less time on them – at least that is the desire. In light of things, over the past two days, I’ve been thinking about this:

Instagram, my personal feed to be specific, is what I am thinking of deleting. It’s strictly where I share photos BUT what is it netting me? Instagram has some fantastic photography, don’t get me wrong, but it is really more of a social media site and a branding tool. *I* am not a brand. Yes, I’ve found content worth reposting and hope that my content is worthwhile (I’ve been told by a follower that my positive contributions to his feed) as well. I get that, and I appreciate it, but again, what is it netting me? How is it helping me move forward in attaining any specific goal? I’ve told many of my disdain for certain aspects of IG – bot followers, bot friend requests, having to delete followers that post things I really don’t care for: viral videos, overkill memes, etc (none of which I can control), but I still love the beauty of photography, without the social media mess that comes with it. Filters, yeah they have their place, and one is not forced to use them, but again, they are another feature that I can live without.

Flickr, on the other hand, is where I started sharing photos prior to IG. It now offers 1TB of storage, shows the EXIF data of every pic you upload, has specific user groups, and has, what I consider to be, better user commentary without the social media branding and foolishness. I’m considering getting a digital SLR sometime in the future, as my love of photography is returning, The current camera I have is a Nikon Coolpix L810. Nice camera that my wife gave me for a gift 4 years ago, but it has a fixed lens and it’s not as fast (mechanically) as I’d like so…

I do have a fitness account on IG which I will keep, as well as two music production sites that are strictly branding tools, but for my personal Instagram, that may very well be going by the wayside. The thought process continues…

I’ve had some interesting discussions with DarrenKeith about the constructs of Facebook and ironically just came across this blog post about a construct called Blogmesh (see the last paragraph and associated link). Sounds promising for those of us that like to blog.

Thanks for the read,

peace,
Fresh

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 6 – 06 Aug 18 – The Experiment Continues

Greetings all…

Hope your Monday was not manic (cues Bangles song). It was typical for me. Posted my #100DaysOfCode status and made it through the workday. I’m actually in bed posting this (first time I’ve tried it).

Nothing much to say today, just learning a wee bit more about this experiment I’m conducting. Gave some thought of the possibility of ditching Instagram for Flickr, yeah Flickr, you remember that site, yes?

Ok lights out.

Peace,
Fresh