June 21, 2013

Closeup of the pistil and stamen in the interior of a rose.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There is a lot of news of late about the federal government and the degree to which personal data is being collected and evaluated.  I am not going to include links to any particular article or articles regarding this issue as it is an important topic for which one would do well to explore all sides and the many and varied views and potential ramifications.

It is also worth considering that in the age of the internet and the degree to which info is already gathered and scrutinized by private companies (just do any amount of internet shopping and watch as the products viewed tend to follow as you move from site to site), not to mention the degree to which photographs displaying all manner of human behaviour are posted on various social media sites, privacy standards have already undergone a massive re-alignment.  Therefore, there a few questions worthy of consideration:

Just how close is too close with regard to personal information?  In other words, is just the metadata an issue?

To whom and for what purpose(s) should personal data be available? Does it make a difference whether it is the NSA or Facebook, as examples, mining data?

In ten or fifteen years will you feel differently about your internet profile and what has already been posted by and about you than you do today?

This last one is tough because the developmental and maturation processes often change one’s outlook on a variety of issues, and it can be difficult to predict just what that change might be.  Children are raised in a world where the minute-by-minute activities of daily living can be captured via photo and/or video, and then texted, tweeted, or otherwise broadcast almost instantaneously.  As a result, such behaviour has become a norm, if not an expectation, which has an impact on the value one places on such activities.  The ability to share so much so quickly is positively reinforced socially by the number of “likes” one receives and the number of “followers” one has and, as evidence suggests, biochemically by the release of certain neurotransmitters (re: dopamine) in the brain.  All of this is compounded by the research indicating that the part of the brain mainly responsible for critical thinking, decision-making, and the delaying of gratification, the frontal lobe, is not fully developed until the early 20s.  What feels “right” in the moment, may not be given a second thought;  however, once data enters the ether, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve and/or change.  These are powerful social, psychological, and technological forces at work and the definition of privacy is one area in which they coalesce.

This is heady stuff.

Take care.


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