Privacy Gradient

PrivacyGradient --- ?RonGoldman 14 Dec 2001

. . . within TheContextOfOurLives our machines need to understand who we are willing to interact with. As we move about---Electronic Nomads (OnePersonManyMachines) and AwarenessOfPresence---we want our programs to respect our privacy.

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People have a need for privacy. We do not want everyone to always be able to peer at us. In our physical architecture our rooms have doors that we can close, and windows have shades that we can draw. The best buildings have an Intimacy Gradient (Alexander, APL) to separate the public from the private parts of our lives.

When you are online you similarly might want to expose more or less of what you are doing to other people. For instance if we are on vacation---Gone Fishin' (AwayMessages)---we may want our family and close friends to know our schedule and how to get in touch with us, while we do not want that information revealed to strangers or casual acquaintances. We may want to restrict access to our online calendar to just the members of our project team. Our machines should be able to distinguish who is asking, and provide appropriate answers.

Software for many business applications currently uses authentication to confirm someone's identity and authorization to control what information they can see and modify. We need to extend this ability to our personal online lives.


Let people have control of who can see any of their personal information that is available online. All programs need to respect the access policy that a person chooses.

Contrast this pattern with InterruptionGradient that allows us to control which incoming messages and requests will be brought to our attention. PrivacyGradient gives us control over what information about us is broadcast out to the rest of the world.

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People might want to specify policies for groups of people by defining an InnerCircle.

It is vital that people feel SafeToUse about how their personal information is handled.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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