“If you want to keep a secret, you have to hide it yourself too, ” wrote George Orwell in 1984. The fictional character of the “Big Brother” Orwell’s (1949) masterpiece has changed many times since the 1950s. It was the inspiration for television programs, movies, becoming more and more contemporary today.
“Big Brother is watching you,” this is the slogan that recalls in the book the supreme supremacy of the Great Brother. In 1984 it never becomes clear that the big brother had a face, whether it was a person, a symbol created by the party or entity. Today we are sure to have the ideas a bit clearer about what Big Brother’s face is on the Internet of things.
I bet that most of you will have thought about Facebook? About Google? Facebook and all of us, including Google, our smartphone, and our smartwatch, even more than our sweet half, our mother or our best friend can know.
There are not only “big” people
Google knows exactly what we want, what we are looking for and where we want to go on vacation. Our personal data (which only have our name) are now at the mercy of everyone, not just Facebook and Google.
Facebook and Google are just the most famous actors on the data stage, but as in every respected story, there are not only the main players, but there are so many secondary actors and behind-the-scenes actors that we often forget about, or we simply ignore it. Here are some examples.
There are many SDKs, software development kits and SaaS, Software as a Service created to optimize user experience.
There are some software (development kit) for example that record your screen when you use an app. The video is then sent to a server so that developers can see how we use the app in real time. This means that when you use an app, there is a chance that someone is watching our movements and choices to use that information to create a more personalized user experience.
Other commercially available services monitor user group sessions on sites by providing their customers with maps that are named “heat maps” that show the most clicked areas of own site to the purpose, therefore, to create and place the most relevant content in the areas where more interest is concentrated.
Here’s how a Google heat map looks like.
Your data (anonymous) to the best bidder
In addition to this kind of software and services, there are also businesses that offer our data (in anonymous form) as a package to the best bidder. There are now many companies of this type who sell our business data to optimize their advertising targets or the UX of their website.
Now, we do not want to raise the level of general anxiety about the use of personal information, or what unknown people may or may not know about our account. But it is good to know how we are constantly observed when we use computers and smartphones and how our data is sold for commercial purposes.
That being said, no wonder some apps are more popular than others or have a much more fluid UX than others.
But there is also something good.
The distribution of our data gives us some bitterness in the mouth, but it does not only have its negative sides. Thanks to this kind of software and technology, we make sure that the online services we use offer us an even better experience. How often have we complained about the poor user interface of a site or app, or did we prefer a service rather than another for the ease of use of the channels?
And was not this always the case? Any system, organization or business to work better and make our best experience has studied us carefully (like laboratory mice) to understand our psyche through surveys, market research, or watching movies studying our behaviors within a supermarket or shopping mall.
Today, it is faster, faster and more personal. Companies operating on the Internet of things know everything about us, and all they know we have told them.