This Art Installation Tests How Much You Value Your Personal Data

This art installation, Sensible Data by Martin Hertig, is a test: a test of how much you might be willing to give away about yourself in exchange for a little fun.

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On the surface it seems harmless enough. You can exchange a photograph of yourself for a line drawing portrait; an email for an assessment of your mood, age, gender and beauty; press a button to get a stamp of approval. It all gets assembled into a fun-looking identity card. It’s cute.

They’re silly little gimmicks, of course — but they’re also not dissimilar to techniques used all the time online to gather things such as your likeness and email address (and, unnervingly in the art installation, your fingerprint, too). Indeed, when the fun at the table is over, you receive an email containing the fingerprint, photo and email of someone else who’s already inadvertently handed their personal data over to the installation.

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“This project allowed me to explore the issues of ‘confidence’ surrounding data collection systems: fun in exchange for personal data,” explains Hertig. And it’s also a nice reminder to us all to be careful with our personal data — because you never quite know where it might end up.

[Martin Hertig via Flowing Data]

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DISCUSSION

I’ve always been an open book when it comes to privacy. My life is so boring and vanilla that if anyone wants to give me something for free to learn that I shop at Target once a week, eat at Burger King occasionally, drive a Chrysler product, and watch 6.9 hrs of TV a week, have at it. I draw the line at anything financial, but if you want to know what I’m doing at any given moment, feel free.