Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A public private sphere

The computer screen is an interesting mix of a public and a very private space. You know the situation: Someone is showing you something on their computer or you are doing a search together, and inevitably all sorts of little private bits come up. The browser shows what other URLs have been visited, The bookmark bar gives an idea of where the person usually goes to hunt information, Google reveals what other searches have been done.
The latest version of Apples Safari browser (2.0) has a feature called ”private browsing”. This is how Apple describes it:
”When private browsing is turned on, webpages are not added to the history, items are automatically removed from the Downloads window, information isn't saved for AutoFill (including names and passwords), and searches are not added to the pop-up menu in the Google search box”.

I like that, It really annoyed me that I couldn’t control what information I revealed about myself to anyone who I might be collaborating over the screen with.
But in fact, it’s more or less just returning to how things used to be. It would seem smarter if you could opt for an in-between solution. Keeping the data, but only showing them if you specifically need to. History data can be very usefull – and very revealing.

One more thing, sort of on the same subject: I hate it when powerpoint presentations end, or when you have to skip from one presentation to the next, and the whole crowd gets exposed to the desktop clutter. It’s like seeing people in their underwear, it can be interesting, a voyeuristic thrill, but basically it damages concentration on the topic you were supposed to focus on.

No comments: