There were a couple of comments on my previous post about RDF and uncertainty in our Web 2.0 genealogy project concerning the problems of privacy in a genealogy app. My ideas about this aren’t fully thought-through, let alone implemented, but I thought I’d share them anyway.
First, the things we could restrict access to are:
Questions of identity and privacy are rather topical at the moment, especially here in Britain where last week a database dump including the names, addresses, bank details of half the country, along with our children’s names and dates of birth, got “lost in the post”.
Like the online identity calculator that I wrote about before, QDOS gives you a score based on your online presence. However, this score isn’t just based on a Google search. It has four components (which are each represented by a different colour, and are combined to give a very pretty pictorial “fingerprint”; check out Tim Berners-Lee’s QDOS, for example).
OK, so I can’t remain a Luddite for long. What’s a technological solution to the posterity problem, in particular in regard to web applications that tuck away all your data in their databases, just waiting to be forgotten?
Well, what if web applications accepted information as feeds rather than through forms? The original data would be distributed rather than centralised. Web applications would use the web as more than a distribution medium: they would be of the web rather than simply on the web.
We just had photos taken of the children, and it’s put me in a reflective mood. Norm posted the other day about his experience with information/task management products:
Then it hit me.
None of them, with the notable exception of Tinderbox, seem to store the data in any open format. I was seriously considering one of these commercial black boxes for an important chunk of the data that drives my day-to-day life. The little voice in my head reacted viscerally when the observation was made: “What the hell you thinking, man! Stop that!”
I (“Jeni Tennison”) manage to score 10/10 on the online identity calculator, thanks to having a pretty rare name and there being multiple archives of XSL-List, to which I was a prolific contributor in my early XML days. (I think I can also claim to be “Jenni Tennison”, “Jenny Tennison” less so, “Jenifer Tennison” is obviously the pre-XML me, and “Jennifer Tennison” not me at all, and quite rightly so.)
Anyway, I’ve just registered with claimID to get myself an OpenID, to lower the barrier to accessing certain sites. As well as getting a claimID URL (eg
http://claimid.com/jenitennison) to use as an OpenID, you can also use the URL of your own web page as your OpenID identity URL which delegates to the claimID identity URL, by adding links to the claimID server in the head of the web page. (View the source of my home page to see what this looks like.) This provides some flexibility in the event that claimID stops functioning: I can move to another OpenID provider without changing my OpenID.
Norm Walsh invited me onto Dopplr, and like a fool I joined. Why, oh why, did I bother? I never leave home. All my “fellow travellers” know where I am. And it just makes me jealous knowing they’re jetting off to… let’s see… Montreal, Sebastapol, San Francisco, Redmond, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Limoges, San Jose, Toulouse, Berlin, Seattle, Monterey, Lahaina, Tokyo, Geneva, Naples, Prague, and so on.
Maybe I’ll pretend my immobility is a principled stance against superfluous air travel.
I noticed what I think is a new phenomenon earlier this week, while reading my daily paper. This is an extract from an Independent story about the abduction of a toddler from a holiday resort:
In the UK, the distraught parents were criticised in internet chat rooms for allowing their children to be out of their sight. [snip]
Some bloggers taking part in discussions threads on the internet since the news broke have claimed that as well-paid professionals the couple should have known better than to leave the children unsupervised. [snip]
Of course I’ve seen stories about blogging and internet use in newspapers before, but this is the first time that I’ve noticed a mainstream news article reporting on what internet users were saying about a mainstream news story.