We’re all surrounded by computers, devices, sensors, and services that use data about us to understand what we’re doing, to make predictions about what we might do, and to make generalizations about what people like us might do. There are tons of useful and interesting ways that data can be used to improve our lives and to improve society. But there can also be downsides and the moments when something undesirable happens can feel like they sting even worse when we’re left wondering, what happened, how can I recover, and how do I prevent it from happening again?
Being surrounded by technology all the time, with everyone excitedly using it, it can be daunting to take a step back to try and figure out what’s going on and what you should do to protect yourself. It’s hard to find good answers when you have questions. Or even to figure out what your questions should be.
Data Curious is about exactly that. Our mission is to help people ask questions about the technology in our lives and to give straight-forward answers to move you to ask even more questions. We know that it can feel hopeless to do anything about privacy and security right now, especially when you can’t get an answer about how things work.
It’s not you and it’s not hopeless. We all need to demand answers to our questions. To start, we’re asking you to get curious. Be curious about how your apps work. When you see something personalized, see if you can figure out how it’s done. Talk with your friends when you have uncanny moments with tech that seem related to your data. If you can’t get an answer send an email to the company or your local government officials. Keep asking until you’re satisfied with the answer.
It’s time for us to have higher expectations of organizations and companies that use data. It’s their responsibility to explain how they’re using your data and how they’re protecting it.
“Privacy” has become a buzzword these days, but how much about privacy does the everyday digital consumer really understand? While so much of our lives reside in the digital realm, the level of education, information, and transparency surrounding what happens to our data once it leaves our hands remains abysmally low. As someone who works in tech, I want to be sure we take it upon ourselves to make information about data accessible to everyone, so that people can not only be informed about what’s going on, but actually be empowered to decide what happens with their data.
I think there’s a common misconception that most people “don’t care” about privacy, so it’s okay for the tech industry to continue doing what we’ve always done. I think the truth is more complicated than that; sure, there’s user apathy and a sense of ‘well I have nothing to hide’, but that doesn’t mean we have to, or should, continue with the status quo. I feel there’s a lack of ground-level understanding of what data privacy actually means, and moreso, how the active actions in being proactive in your data privacy (or lack thereof) translate to in real-life outcomes. If people are going to be signing away their privacy in exchange for making a post, they should at least know what they’re getting themselves into and make that informed choice for themselves.
A few years ago, the word "data" was only a hot topic in the tech world; for everyone else, it simply meant how much "digital junk" one has or can store. Now this "digital junk" is in reality "digital footprint" and has become bread and butter in our everyday lives. This gap between the two worlds became even clearer to me when I moved out of the Silicon Valley. Often, confusion and helplessness about data usage turn into paranoia and distrust. Without proper knowledge, we feel the need to sacrifice our privacy in order to gain the full benefit of technology. I am not a data expert, however I aim to bridge the two worlds through one of the easiest mediums to communicate: illustration. Using metaphors and humor, I hope to show people that data privacy isn't as scary as it sounds and can be something small to help them regain control of their data. As the laywoman guinea pig of the team, I hope to bring another perspective to the table and try to relay some common questions and misconceptions from the public.
I want people to have the information they need to make informed choices about how to incorporate technology into their lives. We live in a world where we’re increasingly surrounded by devices and networked services all the time, yet the organizations that build them don’t seem to be taking their responsibility seriously when it comes to explaining what data’s collected and how it’s used.At the same time we’re expected to trust that they have our best interests in mind. Something isn’t adding up. People have questions and they should be able to get straight answers about how things work.
I’ve always been a tinkerer, someone who loves technology and all the things that can be done. But a lot of the time I don’t jump at the chance to be an early adopter because the way things are built don’t meet my expectations for how data should be used. I care about technology being built in a way that safeguards my data so that I can whole-heartedly recommend it to my family and friends. Without having better answers to questions about data collection and use, I can’t do that.
Curiosity is the best teacher. I love learning, but sometimes we all need a little bit of guidance. Within the topic of privacy itself, there are a few dragons that might seem daunting, but privacy is for everyone, not just technologists or lawyers; privacy is about our information, our identities, and our lives. With Data Curious, we aim to provide snackable pieces of guidance that will help you become more familiar with and more confident about our digital identities and what happens to them, so that you can make informed decisions about what matters to you.