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[hyperpublic] Judith Donath

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Urs Gasser opens the conference by reflecting on the recent Swiss court decision that Google StreetView has to go to extraordinary lengths to obscure personal identifiers (like faces and racial identity), especially in front of “sensitive” public areas.

Judith Donath points to our increased discomfort with the new lines between public and private, while in an environment where it’s not only hard to separate them, but where the old well-defined norms don’t work. This is not solely a problem of the online world, she points out. How do we understand this new public as designers? In the online world, you can be public while sitting alone in your room.

She says she was one of the initiators of this interdisciplinary conference (also: Jeff Huang) because different fields have different ideas of what is desirable. E.g., lawyers traditionally think that privacy is a goal in itself.

Judith says we’re looking at this topic at a time in human history when we’ve had an almost unprecedented amount of privacy; e.g., we are more mobile and thus can shed our prior public selves. We have also been more isolated and alienated: we can live without engaging with others, in a city of strangers, in a workplace where all our ties are weak, etc.

She reminds us that during the day we should be thinking about how what we learn can be applied to help build a better civil society.

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