»›In my projects that involve servers and computation I go by the principle of »Don’t collect it. If you have to collect it, don’t store it. If you have to store it, don’t store it long.‹«
CH: So what does Facebook know about you? What did you find out testing your data, were there any surprises concerning the data evaluation?
HDTD: I have not found any surprising details during my explorations with my data. I remember the first time I have seen my inferred interests according to Facebook in the ad preferences – which they have changed now to show a lot less compared to when I checked a few months ago. There, I was able to read that they know e.g. that I am an expat from Germany and that I am a technology early adopter. I can see now how they came to that conclusion through my location and the different devices I have used in the past. I wanted to test different visualizations of the data to make it more digestible and to see if I can make the data more valuable in that way.
CH: In your blog you ask: What’s more important: the privacy of users or their security? What were the controversial topics and questions used for the legitimation of data mining that crossed your way during your work on this project? What would smart and useful data mining be like in your opinion?
HDTD: The privacy vs security question is a hard one to answer. I don’t have an answer. I think in some cases data mining because of security reasons have other benefits for some platforms. For example tracking my location could be useful for determining that it’s really who just logged in (I had to go through many security checks because of my VPN connection to authenticate my identity), but my location is of course also great data point to target ads and information to me. To me this is a design problem and there is not enough focus on design for trust. I think it’s possible to make privacy for users a core value and find solutions for security and for profit based on that. An ad revenue based business model however will probably always come with intrusive data tracking. Apple has a big advantage compared to Google and Facebook, they don’t need user profiles and histories, they can give the users convenience and the latest tech features while protecting their privacy (e.g. no persistent identifier in Maps and Spotlight Searches; computation of personal information locally on the device instead of aa server). In my projects that involve servers and computation I go by the principle of »Don’t collect it. If you have to collect it, don’t store it. If you have to store it, don’t store it long.«
CH: You work as an artist, designer, and technologist. What are the different projects and topics you have worked on so far?
HDTD: I have always been interested in the relationship of media and society. Ever since I have discovered programming I like to use code in combination with design for communicating a certain perspective on an issue or status. Sometimes that can also be artistic. I have worked on an installation called the Nature of News, an interactive, audiovisual comment on the nature and perception of news. I tried to reconstruct the feeling of overwhelmingness and capture in an experience that we can only focus on so much.