opening or closing your (digital) curtains…

There was quite a lot of traffic to this blog (and additional discussion about privacy) as a result of a techcrunch article referencing a post from a week or so ago.

I thought it was worth expanding on this a little more – inspired by one of the blog readers comments let me start by saying that technical difficulty in and of itself is rarely an obstacle to most privacy related issues.

It’s a bit like the old rules of user experience design.
They used to say (in fact they probably still do say) that the user should always know

  • Where they are? (ORIENTATION)
  • Where else they can go? (OPTIONS)
  • How they can get there? (NAVIGATION)

If we transpose this debate to privacy then we need to always keep in mind the user should understand

  • ORIENTATION – What are the privacy settings
    are the curtains open or closed?
    see I know you were just waiting for the curtains to come in…
  • OPTIONS – What are the implications of changing the privacy settings
    what happens if I open or close the curtains?
  • NAVIGATION – How can I change the privacy settings
    how can I close the curtains?

If you don’t show the user all of this – in an application that has a lot to do with their privacy (e.g. sharing location) then you’re essential asking someone to get changed in their living room – without telling them how to close the curtains. (or worse yet – telling them where the curtains even ARE)

Whether we are talking about the popup echoecho notifications:

echo flash

or the automatic reply settings in an echoecho inbox:

blackberry autoreply setting

our aim is to offer transparency and privacy – without sacrificing speed or simplicity.


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