“SENSe” by Karen Tanenbaum and Joshua Tanenbaum, graduate students, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University.
About the Authors:
Karen & Joshua Tanenbaum are both PhD students at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology. Joshua is currently investigating interactive storytelling and games in the SFU SIAT EMIIE Lab under the supervision of Magy Seif El-Nasr and Jim Bizzocchi. His primary research is an investigation of narrative meaning in games and interactive media, however he also writes on embodiment in game interfaces, virtual worlds, and agency and performance in games. Karen is exploring user modeling and ambient intelligence for ubiquitous computing spaces under the supervision of Marek Hatala in the Laboratory for Ontological Research. Her research projects include work on sustainable design, tangible and tabletop computing systems, and expert recommender systems. They are currently collaborating on a research project called TUNE: Tangible Ubiquitous Narrative Environment, a physical storytelling space that responds to the actions and preferences of the reader.
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Description of the Idea:
The imagined social technology of SENSe (Socialization, Exploration, Negotiation, and Security) is a natural extension of two current trends in social networking: social presence and privacy concerns. It is evident that the growth in popularity of services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Google Talk and the parallel increase in mobile device usage are symptomatic of larger changes in the nature of social spaces, private spaces, and human interconnectedness. Already, we have seen how social networking supports the emergence of a form of ambient social presence. People now think nothing of signaling their receptiveness to phone calls by toggling a status indicator in Skype, while Twitter and Facebook allow users to periodically broadcast short status updates to their entire social circle. These updates and status indicators foster an “always‐on” sense of one’s social geography: what people are doing right now, minor incidents that occurred throughout their day, how they are feeling and what they are planning. Our new networked world supports the dramatic and the mundane in seamless concert. When disasters occur, these services support efficient real‐time coordination of rescue and relief efforts; when history is made, people around the world receive it in a thousand tiny haiku. If you see that a colleague is having lunch down the block you might join them for a bite to eat; if you see a friend is sad or angry about something you might call to offer comfort. The combination of distributed social broadcasting and pervasive mobile devices is a potent one that has already changed how we communicate in dramatic ways.
However, this is not a trend without consequences. As mobile devices become more pervasive and distributed, the line between what is public information and what is private information becomes much more difficult to negotiate. People are posting more and more information about themselves in public arenas, often without full awareness of the size of the potential audience for viewing this information, or how long it will persist. Small (but significant) indiscretions such as posting photos of last weekend’s party to a social network where they may be accessed by coworkers and supervisors have already resulted in lost jobs. Larger slips, such as accidentally making medical records viewable or failing to secure shared drives with personal documents such as passport or birth certificate information, can result in vulnerability to identity theft and fraud.
Equally troubling is the way new location‐aware technology allows for one’s daily routines to be scrutinized in subtle and often unanticipated ways. When geotagged Flickr photos, Twitter tweets and GPS enabled mobile phones allow easy Google map plotting of your home, workplace, children’s schools, and frequent dining locales, the potential for privacy invasions in the physical as well as digital world increases. As we adopt and embrace this technology we are often not made fully aware of how much of this kind of data is accessible online and how quickly tools can be developed to aggregate and synthesize it into detailed information about our personal lives. Seldom do we even pause to contemplate the potential harmful repercussions of this technology, or to consider how we might mitigate these risks without sacrificing all of the benefits derived from this new connectedness. SENSe provides a technological infrastructure to assist in the ever complexifying process of negotiating these public and private spheres.
In 2020 we expect to see a greater unification of the public and the private. The core affordance of these social technologies is an unprecedented level of access to each‐others’ private worlds, but it comes with an exaggeration of all of the risks spelled out above. As with any shift in the technology of socialization, a parallel shift must occur in how we negotiate and navigate the new social world. When humans first began living in cities, the social norms from an agrarian society were no longer sufficient to govern interpersonal behavior. In 2020, we anticipate a need for a new mechanism for negotiating our identities, our personal information, and our public and private spaces – spaces that will be closer than at any other point in our history. (more…)