When technology works well, we don't think about it. We take it for granted. But some recent “technology failures” have led me to reflect on its role in my life, and how it impacts on how I see other human beings and the world. So much more than a watch My Apple Watch stopped working. … Continue reading [Miscellany] Some reflections from my use of technology
Recently, Google announced that it is buying Fitbit, the fitness tracker company which, not long ago, was the leader of the fitness wearable devices market. This acquisition gives Google a foothold in the large, growing and lucrative smartwatches / fitness band arena, which was lacking from their product portfolio. Most importantly, for Google, it gives … Continue reading What’s the problem with personalisation, anyway?
I have recently received a number of e-mail inquiries from people asking whether I would be available to supervise their PhD studies. The answer is that I could take on one, maybe two new students. However, if we are going to work together for 3-4 years, we need to have research interests in common. Most … Continue reading PhD research topics that I am supervising
I was chatting with a friend about the challenges of keeping the destination of her holidays secret from a certain acquaintance, because of a comment somebody else had written on her Facebook page. This exchange reminded me of an experiment of sorts, from a few years ago. Professor Vertesi, who was pregnant at the time, … Continue reading Hide and seek in the age of social media
This month (November 5th to be exact) marked the 10th anniversary of my PhD viva. I did my PhD at LSE with Dr James Backhouse, and investigated the profiling of undesirable customers (or customer screening). I looked at how organisations define who is a desirable customer, and who isn’t one; and the process that they … Continue reading My PhD, 10 years on
Historian Melvin Kranzberg once wrote that: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral”. That is, technology (digital techology, for instance) does more than allowing users to do something; the design of that techonological product actually encourages some behaviours, while discouraging (or, at least, downplaying) others. For instance, the addition of cameras to … Continue reading On social engineering in social media platforms (or, how we are not in control)
Our online activities leave traces, just like our physical activities leave footprints. These traces – or digital footprints – together create a digital representation of ourselves, which others can see. For instance, our work colleagues can check our various social media profiles; future employers or business partners can type our names in a search engine; … Continue reading What do others see, when they look at what you share online?
Last week, the news broke that Admiral car insurance planned to launch a new product aimed at new drivers, firstcarquote, whereby policy holders could get rebates on their annual premium, based on their social media activity. The Guardian reported that: Admiral Insurance will analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners to look for … Continue reading From Facebook likes and Internet of Things, to insurance premiums
There is a new initiative in the UK, the iRights, proposing guiding principles for the design and operation of digital spaces used by children, so that these young users of digital technology can fully benefit from the opportunities presented by digital technologies. I think that these principles are really helpful in moving the debate away … Continue reading Protecting the rights of children as consumers of digital technology
The Russia Today TV programme, Going Underground, has covered the book “The Private Security State - Surveillance, Consumer Data and the War on Terror”, in some depth. As you may remember, this book is the product of a large research project sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust, and led by Professor Kirstie Ball at the Open … Continue reading Our surveillance book has been featured on TV programme ‘Going Underground’