will require legal and infrastructurechanges, but it will undoubtedly alsobe mutually beneficial. Changes in theecosystem of personal data capture,data management, and data use wouldlead to more willing participation in theemerging economies around personaldata.
There’s plenty of research and
practice to draw on, should the
willingness be there to more effectively
investigate this space. Designers,
developers and researchers, and
experts in user modeling all have deep
expertise. There’s a gathering focus
on “scrutable” user models—models
that are transparent and inspectable,
intelligible, customer-centered, use-
oriented, and built for long-term
curation [ 5]. Issues like privacy,
visibility, error correction, “wasted
data,” and shared control of model
building are key. Researchers Judith
Kay and Bob Kummerfield, who
are focused on the design of student
models in tutoring systems, say that
“scrutable user models are designed
and implemented so that the user can
study, or scrutinize, the way she works,
to determine what information the
user model holds, the processes used
to capture it, and the ways that it is
used.” Clearly, to import these ideas
from tutoring systems to the world
of Internet services is ambitious, but
location-based services like Foursquare
and fitness applications that allow us to
export and explore our activity data are
showing us one way for ward.
So, how about that for a future?Co-ownership and the possibility tocurate our own data. The ability todelete, to aggregate—the ability torefute, augment, expand, annotate.
The ability to narcissistically, as wellas defensively, manage our own digitalselves. A scrupulous (ethical, principled,meticulous), scrutable (let me check it),and sumptuous world of personal data?I’ll sign up for that.
1. Foursquare launched a lightweightcheck-in app called Swarm earlierthis year which tracks your locationautomatically: http://blog.foursquare.
ready-for-you-download-it-now. At the
time of writing, I am still using the old
Foursquare app. I have not upgraded to
2. This is the rationale behind Facebook’srecent announcement in June 2014 that itwas going to start tracking users’ behavioroff-site. See, for example, http://gigaom.com/2014/06/12/facebook-will-track-your-web-history-for-ads-but-now-you-can-complain-about-them/
3. Cookies (tiny code attached to Web pages)track our progress over the Internet, andour personal devices have unique numbersthat allow them to be tracked (and us withthem) wherever we go.
4. See Zeynep Tufecki’s writings, e.g.,Tufecki, Z. Big data, surveillance andcomputational politics. First Monday 19, 7(July 2014); http://firstmonday.org
5. See Kay, J. and Kummerfeld, B. Creatingpersonalized systems that people canscrutinize and control: Drivers, principlesand experience. ACM Trans. on InteractiveIntelligent Systems 2, 4 (Dec. 2012).
Elizabeth Churchill is director of human-computer interaction at eBay Research Labs inSan Jose, CA. She also serves as vice presidentof ACM SIGCHI.→ firstname.lastname@example.orgSEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2014 INTERACTIONS 21