Calvin and Hobbes or the Rise of the Security State…


I read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes as a child, teenager, adult, and likely into my geriatric years.  I think I identified with him and his adventures.  Something that I have tried to carry with me even now: fantastical imagination, hikes through forests, playing in the snow, and discovering alien languages.  Sadly, like Calvin, I was also bullied extensively in school.  Something which continued through high school.

I think it was this which has pushed me to be such a private individual as my informative years saw any admission as an entry into insults and sometimes worse.  Thankfully, I did escape this life and have been making efforts the last couple years to dismantle the defenses that had developed.  Like most will tell you, it is a slow process but that isn’t what I want to discuss here.

I watch my disclosures on websites; I try and limit the amount that I contribute to the databases the conglomerates maintain: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others.  For the longest time, I didn’t use a real name on Facebook, like many others, but I realized this had to change when I journeyed deeper into the User Experience world and I needed to have a public face.  Of course, here I am now, sharing about my being bullied on a blog. 

I think there are interesting discussions to be had about the intersection of User Experience and personal disclosures.  I led a discussion on this subject while at DePaul because it is something I find very interesting and something I follow in my personal readings, research, and design practices.  The crux of that discussion was talking about the design pattern to login with ‘x’ credentials.  X in this situation tends to be Google or Facebook.  First, this lessens the diversity of your passwords and logins and an individual site that has been compromised can lead to all of your sites being compromised.  Secondly, and most importantly in my opinion, is that this exposes all your information to a third party, who is free to do with it how they please.

I don’t know if it is still the same but Tinder used to only allow you to login with your Facebook credentials.  It seemed questionable for that to be the only way to login; they could post as you and your habits on their site…  (I know this tidbit from previous research) Also, you didn’t really have an account of your own; it was tied into your Facebook which seems ‘odd’ to me.

Out of curiosity, how many data breaches have you been a part of?  Is there any information about you which is still secure?  The street you last lived on?  Mother’s maiden name?  Social Security Number?

I guess this isn’t a true security state; it’s just all-knowing corporations pilfering our data and not being as secure as possible with it.  Which isn’t a new complaint, mind you.  And now we can add on top the NSA and FBI with the use of National Security Letters (

Finally, I don’t think a strict privacy policy negates the collection of personally identifiable information or the marketing of metrics which is where a lot of sites make their money.  But most problems don’t get solved when it is just a handful of people who are affected.  It’ll be slow progress on this.

We should just be aware of what we share, as we’re keen to telling teenagers these days, and realize it is all leading to a higher incidence of exposure.

And if someone is able to figure out that my password to Facebook is the name of the kid who punched me in gym class, well, kudos to you.  Cheers.

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