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The perception and fears of sharing personal digital data in digital public space

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2018
Number of pages337
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis provides a critical and practice based investigation of personal fears of
sharing personal digital data. In it, I explore the fears and growing tensions between
the requirements to share personal information while maintaining the need to
control and protect personal privacy. The emphasis of this study was to develop
research through a series of multi-disciplinary, practice-based projects alongside
external industry partners.
I begin by exploring the rise in surveillance methods, from the Panopticon to the rise
of social network sites and examine the consequences of sharing personal
information online. Data sharing has been made easier through the proliferation of
internet connected, mobile devices and wearable technologies that has led to a
growing reciprocal trade in personal information in return for online services. In a
world of ‘digital narcissism’ and perpetual life-logging brought about by the volume
of shared data, modern surveillance is an increasingly manifestation of consumer
activity. However, since the Snowden revelations in 2013 which revealed the
National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on US citizens, the consequence of
sharing personal information has led to a proliferation of leaks, thefts, and growing
anxieties amongst the public, resulting in a greater awareness of privacy concerns
and wariness about divulging personal information.
My research focused upon those that obstruct, withhold information, and avoid
contributing to sharing personal data. Therefore, my research was designed to
identify the strategies available to designers working with shared data to combat
fears of data surveillance and exploitation. The outcome of my research has shown,
through a series of case studies, how individuals perceive the physical environment
and the proximity to their data, and how data will be shared.
My research was part of the innovative Creative Exchange programme, one of four
Doctoral Training Centre knowledge exchange hubs funded by the Arts and
Humanities Research Council. The aim was to develop research using
multidisciplinary, practice based research projects alongside external industry
partners, utilising a variety of research methods and co-design approaches to
investigate concepts around the emergent subject of digital public space.