Club Troppo » Breaking down public goods: with an idea about privacy

So I wondered aloud to the group whether it might be possible to allow people to opt into a looser set of privacy protections in return for some low cost reward. As I said to them, I’m really not too concerned if my results from Harkaway State School are available for people to analyse. it just seems crazy that so much insight can be gathered from linked data sets – and yet it’s so difficult to do it because one needs to adhere to something close to the privacy gold standard throughout.

The other thing one could do is to focus privacy regulation more closely on the publication of private details, rather than the potential discovery of them. Thus one would be more permissive of privacy issues for public good research but one would still make it an offence to publish such information in a manner that identified people. We don’t stop court cases taking place, and sometimes judges leave courts open but then suppress any public disclosure that would enable identities to be discovered publicly.

Is this practical?  Probably not, certainly in the immediate future as far as the politics is concerned.  And the proposal to seek suppression of the publication of private details would not stop rogue sites run from other countries from circulating the information – though it’s hard to see an interest in doing on a systematic scale.

Anyway, I mention it as a thought experiment.  Somehow it’s a great pity that everyone gets the gold standard of privacy protection as the default, rather than be given privacy protection when they really really want it – or are prepared to tick a box saying they want it.  Is that so much to ask?

The Creative Brain On Exercise

An excerpt from a 2004 interview with Murakami in The Paris Review brings home the connection between physical strength and creating extraordinary work:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit, and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long–six months to a year–requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Murakami is guided by what the great scholars, writers, thinkers, and creators of ancient Greece knew yet so many modern-day creators have abandoned.