Most people have no real appreciation for just how automated and integrated the world of marketing has become. We generate so much data about ourselves in our daily lives, and simply presume that all the organizations that we deal with are keeping our info secure.
Yet almost nobody reads privacy statements, and realizes that there are all sorts of 3rd parties involved in the marketing of goods and services. These service providers are applying tools and techniques that will either turn us into well-defined consuming puppets, or we can inform ourselves as Consumers, to learn how to turn these tools and marketing techniques to our advantage.
In order to become better-informed Consumers, and secure ourselves against possible abuses of our identity and the the data that we generate, these are the basic building blocks for a prosperous, vital, and more resilient Consumer Society.
Privacy: Is the ability to freely act and transact without divulging who we are, where we are, or anything else that would allow merchants or strangers into our personal and private lives. Consumers need to know (without any doubt) that only what they wish to explicitly disclose will be made available to others. At this point it can only be achieved with an entirely fabricated online alias (or total anonymity), but better options can be developed for even wider applications. The industry players who can do this all operate here in Toronto.
Identity: Is who we are to the rest of the world. But it isn’t just the ability to safely hold and provide the credentials and personal info required to securely interact with official bodies, and organizations, without fear of disclosure outside of those functions. It’s also how we represent ourselves to various levels of society around us. Like a castle that offers views through certain gateways, or public gardens, we should someday be able to selectively invite people into our front parlours, and inner chambers with the assurances that they can know us for who we want to represent ourselves to be. As media-literate and tech-savvy Torontonians, we should be able to do this with full rich-media capabilities, and sophisticated social conventions and etiquette, by communicating what we feel we need, and inspiring the talented innovators and producers all around us to build it.
Proper and persistent Identity is also required to enable really important social functions like reputation, authoritative value. It also provides the ability to properly attribute our sources, and limit plagiarism and idea theft, by showing better citations and sources. Our reputations should be able to follow us across social channels, rather than existing as fragmented user profiles inside of social silos. Good citizens should be well-known, as they set standards for others to follow.
Security: Not only understanding the technical requirements to keep ourselves, our homes, our devices, and our information secure from criminal intent, but also the assurances that this can be achieved seamlessly, and without anxieties about the unknown. Where we now subconsciously waste energy in the backs of our minds about unknown risks like the NSA, and hackers getting at us through WiFi and malware, we can instead pool our collective resources, and apply best practices while the required technology get’s applied to take this worry and wasted energy out of our lives. Creating a stronger, better informed, and more resilient society isn’t just an ideal for info and privacy. It also creates social awareness that builds stronger infrastructure and best practices around things like food, water, energy, transportation. Securing ourselves as citizens, is something we can share with the world as well.
Usability: This is the best one. In the same way that Privacy and Identity are on the same continuum, where you can’t have too much of one, without taking away from the other, Usability is enabled by assuring that Security measures don’t have to be prohibitive and oppressive. In the same way that better Community awareness and communication with police services can make security a more social and open process, usability is what we need to keep parks open, streets clear, and both our personal and online interactions as rich and fulfilling as possible.
Usability is where we look at our current capabilities and realize that we already have all the tools and technologies that we need to build a better Consumer Society.
What are the Primary Drivers for Progress?
Aside from our basic health, which is tied to the environment around us, isn’t just about everything else that we need driven by time and money? Let’s count some of the ways…