Meeting the parents – on web 2.0 tools, privacy, identity and a lot more – DI

Yesterday a meeting took place with a group of parents of the UniC school in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The framework was the project Web2Learn – introducing web 2.0 tools for practical use to parents. The meeting was not the first of its kind. Meetings with the parents are to become a regular event.
The meeting started out with short intros and discussions on good practice Web 2.0 tools asselected by adults. Special attention was given to Audioboo (intro video here),Fotobabble (intro video here) and IDentifEYE (intro video here). Dutch readers – please fill out this questionnaire on the topic.
While the tools presented have a practical relevancy, modern technology as such has a far greater significance: it is the communication grammar of youngsters. Apps and services may come and go but technology as such is an inherent element of youngster interaction – and of youngster identity. Therefore, it is important to understand its contexts, trends, opportunities and risks.
Privacy is a logical first concern. A recent Dutch documentary film painted a bleak picture of where we stand now. Apps like Lightbeam reveal how often we are tracked online – an by whom. But there are things we can do – we are not doomed. Apps like Ghostery allow us to disallow individual trackers, one-by-one. Ad blockers like Ad block can help us get rid of unwanted ads. Services likeGoogle allow us to disallow third parties from receiving our information that is gathered on their servers. Nevertheless, the best remedy against any kind of online challenges is reflection, by youngsters themselves, supported by their parents. This means the generational divide should be somehow overcome. Projects like Dynamic Identity and Dynamiczna Tozsamosc are working on just this.
Online technology trends confront us with a lot more fundamental challenges than just privacy. One is about identity. Am I me online? If someone violates my avatar online – is that me being violated, especially when it is a scanned copy of me that is my avatar? And what if I am projected as a hologram – is that me?
Even if I would accept the digital me is me – what about manipulation? Digital reality can be manipulate so that objects dissappear – in real-time. Augmented Reality on the other hands adds what it wants – even to the point that it provides evidence for the existence of Santaclaus. It can transform our faces in real-time. What is real? Is my digital me real?
It is not just our digital twins that we share in the digital world. We also share real world data. We measure ourselves in many ways possible – our muscles, our mouth bacteria, our breasts, ourbrains and even our sex lives. These data are transferred as Big Data to companies to be interpreted. Dreams, for instance, are interpreted. And thoughts of dogs. And those of humans. Fortunately, the interpretation is not just to benefit companies. We may also choose ourselves to share these interpretations of ourselves   (by allowing an artificial tail to wiggle, for instance, or a dress to reflect our mood). We can also use these interpretations to help us see what we subconsciously like – in real life and online.
Naturally, one might say that the digital space is a limited space – but that is changing rapidly. The Internet of Things will include many daily devices to the online world while the physical around us turns into one big interface to the digital world: surfacesair and even bathtub water.
Now our access to the digital world is still limited by devices. But these devices are integrating ever more seamlessly into our world, thereby integrating the digital world and the real world ever more seamlessly. We can already transport virtual 3D objects virtually to a 3D printer and then print real objects. While Glasses are the first step contact lenses are the next. Does this mean we are heading towards this dystopian world?