In ZG Mapping, one of the patterns that emerges suggests that as technology becomes closer and closer to us, we are less able to manage privacy at each advancing layer. Today, through social networks, sensors, geo-location software, personal DNA testing, quantified self technologies and more, highly personal, private and intimate information about us and our relationships is more readily available than ever before.
Can we really expect to manage privacy? Not so much. It makes more sense to turn our efforts toward managing vulnerability and reputation. What might that look like? I welcome your comments.
ZG Maps track the deterioration of privacy and the increased exposure to our most intimate selves using examples for each era. The years noted follow the ZG Maps twenty year eras.
The Public Layer: Mainframe Computers (1945-1965)
Mainframes were operated by experts for the benefit of a select few in higher level management. Most employees were data workers with limited access to information, dreaming of a day when information would be more available. Example: The public was vaguely aware that Eisenhower had an affair. Details and press were limited.
The Personal Layer: the Personal Computer (1965-1985)
Personal computers brought information much closer to us. The power of information, words and images, for storage and manipulation was now on the desktop. Example: President and Nancy Reagan used Joan Quigley as their personal astrologer. The press reported on certain instances where Ms. Quigley’s calculations determined the timing of delicate meetings and diplomatic travel.
The Private Layer: Mobile Devices (1985-2005)
With mobile devices, technology moved into our private space. At the same time, increasingly private information about public figures and about ourselves became more available to others. Example: The press covered every detail of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, including their creative uses for cigars.
The Intimate Layer: Quantified Self Technologies – personal DNA testing, etc. (2005-2025)
Technologies like Navigenics and 23andme.com make personal DNA testing available to anyone interested and willing to pay. Technologies like Zeo track our sleep patterns. FitBit, Nike+ and DirectLife track our activity. Geo-location technologies and sensors, track our every move. If you’re not aware of the emergent area of quantified self technologies, check MeetUp for meetings in your area. Example: We can share genomic data on 23andme and adopted children can use these new technologies to find their birth parents.
Another, irresistible example given the headlines today: We can read about every one of Tiger Woods’ lovers, read and listen to the text and voicemails exchanged, and learn a little about Tiger’s proclivities in bed.
In an era where we share our Zeo sleep data, use FourSquare to let our social network know our every move and Facebook and Twitter to share what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, who we’re connected to along with our favorite photos — what is privacy?
What can we benefit most from protecting? My hunch is, it’s vulnerability and reputation. What new tools and technologies support us to do this effectively?