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Daniel Reed offers three ideas about the future of personal
online information management. Ed H. Chi writes about
replication of experiments and how experiments are often
the beginning, rather than the end, of a scientific inquiry.
Changing norms and
may 11, 2011
Our notions of privacy and security are
deeply tied to our social and historical notions of person and place. The
aphorism “A man’s home is his castle”
captures that notion and its roots in
English common law. This Castle Doctrine followed settlers to the colonies
and was later codified in the Fourth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Your family heirlooms may be secure in your personal castle, but what
of the information about you that
lives on the Internet? The legacy of
physical place and norms around it
are far less relevant.
Equally importantly, we often con-
volve privacy and security without con-
sidering their differences. One needs
security to protect private information,
but one can have security without pri-
vacy, as many world events have shown.
Security is a topic for another day; let’s
talk about the evolving notions of elec-
tronic information privacy.
Riding the Light
That picture of you at a family reunion,
squinting into the sun, can rarely be delimited by a physical location. It might
be on disk two, machine nine, rack 23
in a North Carolina data center, but it
probably will not be for long.
Instead, information flows freely in
radio waves among our wireless devices
and on photon beams along the fiber-optic cables that connect the burgeoning network of worldwide cloud data
centers. It’s cached, distributed, forwarded, copied, mirrored, and indexed.
All of which suggests that we need to
rethink our notions of information pri-
vacy, moving beyond concepts rooted
primarily in person and place, and con-
sidering logical privacy. These issues
are complex and emotionally charged
for they challenge many of our social,
cultural, legal, and economic assump-
tions. I would not presume to offer a
definitive answer here. Instead, let me
offer three ideas to stimulate our de-
bate about the future of information
and electronic personal management
in this brave new world.