Today I want to talk with you about some of the work that I’ve been doing this week with some stu­dents and post-docs. Rebecca, Darya, and Manya have been here help­ing me and doing a lot of the heavy lift­ing here. 

As Golan men­tioned, I did my sab­bat­i­cal here about two years ago in the Studio and it was great fun. One of the things that I did while I was here besides mak­ing lots of quilts on all sorts of inter­est­ing designs and what­not was that I made some quilts where I attempt­ed to visu­al­ize pri­va­cy. Since my day job is to be a pri­va­cy and secu­ri­ty researcher, it was a good way to con­vince my dean that my sab­bat­i­cal was rel­e­vant to my career. 

I want to tell you about a cou­ple of these and then about the work that we’re doing this week. I went to to SXSW, and at Southby they have a trade show where they have all sorts of inter­est­ing star­tups who are try­ing to con­vince you that they’re going to be the next great thing. There was one of them called Beautécam. It was out of Japan, and they were hand­ing out free lens­es that you could attach to your cell phone to take very close-up, almost micro­scope images of your bad skin. The idea was they were build­ing a social net­work where you could exchange pic­tures of your bad skin and get advice. This hor­ri­fied me. I don’t want to look at my bad skin, let alone let oth­er peo­ple look at it. And it seemed like real­ly kind of ewww, and sort of privacy-invasive. But I like free stuff so I took one of their lens­es and then I went home and start­ed tak­ing pic­tures of thing that were not my bad skin. So I took these beau­ti­ful images and was show­ing them to peo­ple, and peo­ple would look at them and say, Wow that’s pret­ty but what is it?” And I real­ized that this privacy-invasive cam­era lens also served to kind of anonymize these images and made it real­ly dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to tell what they are. 


So I took a bunch of these images and dig­i­tal­ly print­ed them on fab­ric, and then sliced and diced and did the kinds of things you do when you’re mak­ing a quilt, and made a quilt out of it. And this quilt is called De-identification.” The quilt sort of tells the sto­ry of these images that are de-identified, and if you stare at it long enough you may start rec­og­niz­ing things in the images, and start being able to piece togeth­er what it actu­al­ly is. And then once you can do that you can actu­al­ly re-identify all of the images. I’ll give you a hint here. The blue thing with the green, that’s a forget-me-not flower. So that’s the size of my thumb­nail. And so all of the oth­er things are actu­al­ly also flow­ers in this sort of micro­scop­ic view.

Another quilt that I worked on was based on try­ing to de-identify myself. I start­ed with a pic­ture of myself and then ran it through var­i­ous fil­ters, and then made it out of fab­ric. So this is the quilt I cre­at­ed, which is a self-portrait:

Lorrie Cranor, "Self Portrait"

Lorrie Cranor, Self Portrait

I also looked at pass­words. That was a project that I was work­ing on a lot and actu­al­ly still am. I actu­al­ly came up with a title for this quilt before I came up with the design. It seemed to me that if I was mak­ing quilts relat­ed to secu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy, one of them had to be called Security Blanket.” It’s just the obvi­ous choice. So then the next ques­tion was What does a secu­ri­ty blan­ket look like?” So I decid­ed to take the 1000 pass­words that occurred most fre­quent­ly in a stolen pass­word set, and make a word cloud out of them. 

Lorrie Cranor, "Security Blanket"

Lorrie Cranor, Security Blanket

You can see these are all real­ly bad pass­words. If you see your pass­word here, go home and change it please. It real­ly should not be your pass­word. And so it seems fit­ting that they would go on a secu­ri­ty blan­ket, which may give you some com­fort, but no actu­al protection.

This was an inter­est­ing study. I spent a lot of time with this because they’re actu­al­ly all color-coded on the­mat­ic areas, and I tried to fig­ure out why peo­ple cre­at­ed pass­words with things like princess.” My spec­u­la­tion is that that’s one of the most com­mon names for dogs and cats in the US.

This actu­al­ly result­ed in inspir­ing some addi­tion­al research for my grad stu­dents. It also end­ed up appear­ing in Science mag­a­zine, which I thought was kind of cool. And then I decid­ed I need­ed a dress to go with the quilt. So I made a dress, and then a friend of mine made a chair which I then had to buy from her and put it in my liv­ing room. And I’ve made the fab­ric avail­able and so now oth­er peo­ple are mak­ing dress­es, shirts, and ties. Which is kind of cool.

So back to visu­al­iz­ing pri­va­cy. I have a lot of con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple about pri­va­cy when they ask me about my research and I tell them I do research on pri­va­cy, and they’ll tell me what they think about it. In some of our research stud­ies we actu­al­ly inter­view peo­ple or do sur­veys where we ask peo­ple to tell us what they think of when they think about pri­va­cy in cer­tain situations.

I’ve also talked to my kids about pri­va­cy. They are always very curi­ous about what I do at work. So they’ve giv­en me their views on pri­va­cy, and they’ve real­ly been kind of inter­est­ing. So I thought would­n’t it be inter­est­ing instead of just going out and inter­view­ing adults, let’s go and talk to kids about pri­va­cy, and let’s get them to draw. So last week we went into sev­er­al class­rooms in the area and asked the kids What does pri­va­cy mean to you?” What do you think about when you think about pri­va­cy? Draw us some pic­tures. We went to a high school class, and we also went to a 3rd-grade, a 6th-grade, and a kinder­garten. And we col­lect­ed lots of draw­ings. Then we said well, what about adults? I won­der if adults would draw the same things or dif­fer­ent things. And so we went on Mechanical Turk two days ago, and we asked a hun­dred peo­ple to draw us a pic­ture of pri­va­cy for a dol­lar. And we got back lots of inter­est­ing drawings.

Then we print­ed every­thing out and we came up here on the stage and just kind of spread them all on the floor and looked for themes and pat­terns and saw what we could find. And we’ve spent the last two days putting this togeth­er and it will by the end of the week be a chap­ter in the book that the Deep Lab is putting togeth­er. I’m going to show you some of the things that I found here.

One of the most fun­da­men­tal views of pri­va­cy is that it’s the right to be let alone, and there is a very famous arti­cle that describes it as the right to be let alone. And that’s what we see from the kinder­garten­ers quite a bit. Privacy is being by myself” says Emma, age 5:


But we also get this from adults. Privacy is the right to be by your­self. Privacy is isolation.” 

We also see a lot from the kinder­garten­ers that they have pri­vate places, a room, a club­house, bed­rooms. And adults have these pri­vate places, too. And that’s what they asso­ciate with privacy.

We also find that blan­kets and cov­ers are very pop­u­lar. We had a lot of blan­ket and cov­er pic­tures from kids, some of which describe what they do under their cov­ers that they don’t want oth­er peo­ple in their house to see. But we also got some from adults as well, who drew these pic­tures of blankets.

We did­n’t get very many pic­tures relat­ed to inti­ma­cy, but we did have one 8yr-old who drew a pic­ture of her par­ents kiss­ing behind a closed door, and pre­sum­ably her or her sib­lings bang­ing at the door and say­ing, Open up.”


We had lots of pic­tures of sib­lings bang­ing on doors, and sib­lings annoy­ing each oth­er and say­ing, I need pri­va­cy from my sis­ter or my broth­er.” Quite a few of those.

We also had pri­va­cy while chang­ing. The pic­ture on the left, it looks like a kid drew it but actu­al­ly it was a 32yr-old who drew that, and on the right a 5yr-old. And they’re both changing. 


One of my favorite pic­tures from the kinder­garten­ers is this one. Spiderman needs pri­va­cy to put his cos­tume on.” Very important.


Another place where peo­ple want pri­va­cy is bath­rooms, and we have a lot of pot­ty pic­tures. We also have pic­tures of kit­ty cats. They need pri­va­cy when they go to the bath­room, too.

We have a bunch of inter­est­ing pic­tures from the 3rd-graders of peo­ple walk­ing in on each oth­er in the bath­room and they seem to always say Aaahhhhh!” when it hap­pens. We have a bunch of those.

Showering. You want pri­va­cy while show­er­ing so we have, this is a 3rd-grader who drew the one on the left, and then a 37yr-old who drew the one on the top. And he says, Who wants to have an audi­ence while tak­ing a shower?”


These are pic­tures from adults. These are both from moth­ers who say that the bath­room or some oth­er per­son­al room is the only place they can go to get away from their kids, their hus­bands, their dogs, and have some peace and qui­et and pri­va­cy to their­selves, which was kind of inter­est­ing. All of the pic­tures we got in this cat­e­go­ry were all from mothers.

Doors. We have a lot of pic­tures of doors. Some very col­or­ful doors, some not-so-colorful doors. These are from ages 5, 11, 16, and 34. But all express­ing basi­cal­ly the same sentiment. 


Related to that, we have fences and walls. A num­ber of fences and walls and ways to guard things. The image on the left is actu­al­ly an infrared secu­ri­ty sys­tem. You can see the red light beams there.

Some peo­ple talked about per­son­al bub­bles. The one on the left is a 9yr-old who drew this per­son­al bub­ble, which I think is start­ing to get to be a more sophis­ti­cat­ed notion of pri­va­cy, that you can have this con­cept of a bub­ble around you. It’s not real­ly a phys­i­cal­ly bub­ble around you where you have your pri­va­cy pro­tect­ed. And on the right we have anoth­er one that was drawn by a 21yr-old and she drew a bub­ble around her­self. It looks like she’s sun­bathing, maybe nude sun­bathing. But she also drew an extra wall on the out­side just in case. She did­n’t trust the bubble.

Another notion of pri­va­cy that you read a lot about in the pri­va­cy lit­er­a­ture is the notion of pri­va­cy as con­trol. This is anoth­er very famous quote about privacy. 


We actu­al­ly did­n’t get very many draw­ings of pri­va­cy as con­trol, which is inter­est­ing because we see a lot in pri­va­cy poli­cies where com­pa­nies are talk­ing about ways to con­trol your pri­va­cy. One of the oth­er things that we’re doing as part of this book chap­ter is we actu­al­ly went through about a dozen pri­va­cy poli­cies of big com­pa­nies and looked for inter­est­ing things that they say about pri­va­cy. So a lot about con­trol there, not so much with the peo­ple who drew pic­tures for us.


Some of our most beau­ti­ful pic­tures have to do with pri­va­cy in nature. People who told us that in order to real­ly have pri­va­cy, they need­ed to get away from it all. These were some of our old­er peo­ple, so we have 62yr-old Paula says Sometimes the only way to have pri­va­cy is to just get up and leave.” And Aneta says, A cur­tain of rain offers more pri­va­cy than a sol­id door.” So very philo­soph­i­cal as well.


Some peo­ple told us about pri­va­cy in their thoughts. That pink thing is a brain. And the light bulb is a metaphor for pri­va­cy of thought. 

Some of the kids told us about pri­va­cy while using com­put­ers and espe­cial­ly while tex­ting. Here it’s not just their own thoughts that they’re keep­ing to them­selves, but their thoughts they’re shar­ing with a friend or small num­ber of friends. I was sur­prised that there was an 8yr-old who had a device to be tex­ting but she does, appar­ent­ly, and this is impor­tant to her. 


We saw this also with the high school stu­dents. This high school stu­dent talked about the pri­va­cy of the com­put­er in his room and also point­ed out the door lock as well on his room door. 

Some of the kids told us that if you’re going to use com­put­ers, and espe­cial­ly if you’re going to use social net­works, it’s your respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect your pri­va­cy and they drew pic­tures of var­i­ous ways that you could pro­tect your pri­va­cy when using social net­works. We had some adults who talked about that as well, going incog­ni­to” with your web browser.

We had some adults who drew con­cepts like encryp­tion. And we had a bunch of peo­ple who drew pass­word entry box­es and pass­codes and var­i­ous ways that you could elec­tron­i­cal­ly lock things, or phys­i­cal­ly lock things. We have a large col­lec­tion of lock draw­ings now.


If you Google for pri­va­cy” and look at the imagery asso­ci­at­ed with pri­va­cy, one of the things that you see a lot of is eye­balls. And we did get some eyes as well. We also got some video cam­eras and some NSA


The two at the top were drawn by high school stu­dents, who as soon as I hand­ed out the mark­ers and said draw pri­va­cy,” they imme­di­ate­ly got out their lap­tops and Googled to find the NSA logo so that they could recre­ate it accu­rate­ly. They knew that that’s what they want­ed to draw. But we had adults who drew NSA stuff as well.

We had a few peo­ple talk about pri­va­cy in mar­ket­ing. These were all adults. We did not actu­al­ly get any kids who drew whole con­cepts with mar­ket­ing. A few I think men­tioned it in a sort of aside. But mar­ket­ing and spam. Lots about social net­works, both from teenagers and from adults.


Even Kim Kardashian made an appear­ance here. That is the cov­er of Paper mag­a­zine. The high school stu­dents, espe­cial­ly the high school girls, were actu­al­ly talk­ing a lot about Kim and about naked pic­tures and naked self­ies as they were doing these draw­ings, which was very inter­est­ing. In the bot­tom you can see there is a teenag­er tak­ing a naked self­ie. They all assured me that they and their friends would nev­er do such a thing. They did­n’t think that teenagers should be doing that but they want­ed to draw about it.

We had a cou­ple of peo­ple who talked about impli­ca­tions of pri­va­cy inva­sions includ­ing impli­ca­tions for your job. That if you post things on Facebook you could actu­al­ly get fired for it. We have quite a few of these sort of pri­va­cy col­lages that bring in lots of dif­fer­ent con­cepts of pri­va­cy and deal with both the phys­i­cal space as well as elec­tron­ic and surveillance. 


And then we had the peo­ple who said Nope, you don’t have pri­va­cy. Privacy is an illu­sion.” I real­ly like the spi­ral and the illu­sion that we see here. And there are cer­tain­ly some cor­po­rate peo­ple who’ve expressed sim­i­lar sentiments.


And then final­ly this came from an MTurker who his response to us as researchers ask­ing him to draw pri­va­cy for a dol­lar is You don’t get to know.” That was kind of interesting. 

So as I said we are putting this togeth­er into a book chap­ter and also a web site. And ver­sion 1 of the web site was cre­at­ed today, in the past few hours. And so you can actu­al­ly check it out on our web serv­er. Our plan is to put all of the images that we col­lect­ed there, tag them so that they’re search­able by dif­fer­ent tags, and then ulti­mate­ly have an upload fea­ture so that peo­ple can con­tribute to our Privacy Illustrated web site.

So I’ll end there. Thank you.