Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Be who you want, when you want

Back in May I presented a paper on contextual identity, coauthored with Sid Stamm, at the Web 2.0 Security and Privacy workshop. Contextual identity is the notion that people choose how to present themselves depending on context, such as their audience or location. In contrast, external forces (such as naming policies imposed by social networks) promote the idea of having all your identities in one big identity. Although this is often convenient or desired, conflating all your identities can lead to serious privacy violations.

The desire for spontaneous, positive human interaction often requires sharing personal information, and sharing information doesn't negate the need or desire for privacy. We still have far to go when it comes to understanding how typical users think about privacy, publicity and identity, though I am delighted that the Mozilla User Research team has recently made inroads into understanding user data types.

For your amusement, my talk slides are below. Be on the lookout for Snoop Lion and the popemobile!