The Web On A Human Scale

Sloweb and eMemory are two Italian-born projects aiming at making our relationship with the Web and high-tech devices more transparent, ethical, and safe. In other words, more human

  • The Web On A Human Scale
  • The Web On A Human Scale
  • The Web On A Human Scale
  • The Web On A Human Scale

According to the most recent studies, we spend more than four hours a day on our smartphones: that is well over one whole day every week! Using the social media, and particularly instantly sharing private and public content, is our most frequent activity. Yet which risks hide behind this constant log-ins, registrations and releasing personal data and information?
These are some of the issues that Pietro Calorio and Pietro Jarre, respectively the founders of Sloweb and eMemory, had to deal upon setting the goal of safeguarding the users without scaremongering, but instead fostering a responsible use of information technologies and devices, the Web and Internet application in general. How? Through information and education, and by constantly fighting against the improper use of the Web and promoting an ethical and respectful attitude towards people’s privacy and private time. We had a long and interesting chat with them.
SJ: Privacy is one of the main concerns raised in public debates around the Web. Which solutions is the Sloweb movement recommending?
Pietro Calorio: To fight against any improper public or private use of the Internet and the Web, Sloweb promotes courses, meetings and publications whose aim is that of raising awareness, offering a set of useful tools to help people understand what happens to the content and information released on the Web and how to protect their privacy - because after all they are the only custodians of their own privacy.
We aim to fix the root cause of the issues, fighting for common rights in terms of personal data at digital heritage: the right to delete, to have full ownership, to select and reduce the quantity of personal data available online. Basically, we fight for an “ecological use of digital data”.
SJ: What do you exactly mean by “ecological use of digital data”?
Pietro Jarre: The idea is to reduce the consumeristic use of digital data cause by an irresponsible use of digital technologies.  As if often happens, the problem is not the intrinsic nature of the technology, but the way that we use it – or rather the way that the business models of the main industry actors induce us to use it.
Using digital tools has become a sort of social coercion: not owning and carrying with you a smartphone all the time is deemed unconceivable, let alone not being familiar with the Internet. At the same time, the massive use of the social media has made the act of sharing compulsive and more urgent than the nature of the shared content itself: as soon as we get in touch with some data or a piece of information – no matter if it’s reliable or not – we proceed to sharing it even before analyzing, investigating or selecting it. Hence, in a way we waist our own and everybody else’s time, and the digital experience ends up filling every single moment of our life, even down times and waits.
SJ: What are the negative consequences of this phenomenon?
Pietro Jarre: The consequences are under our eyes: we entrust our memory to digital tools and devices. And it’s not just about avoiding to memorize telephone numbers, it’s about our personal memories – images, feelings, notes and opinions – often instantly shared on the social media with a significant loss of privacy and intimacy and without even allowing ourselves the time to process and elaborate events, to find a way to turn them into relevant storytelling.
The same behavioral model that pushes us to execute a quick set of actions in order to buy, consume and accept conditions ends up being applied to our lives. What we need to do instead is affirm our own right to slow reflection, and begin to take advantage of technology rather than being exploited by it. Regaining possession of our time is the real challenge that we need to take up in the future, and we at Sloweb believe that the way to do this is raising awareness, promoting public discussion, make some room for reflection; in other words, giving birth to an opinion and action movement.
The ecological use of digital data prompts the reduction of sterile data and the emerging of the fertile ones, allowing for a better employment of our time and of the digital space.
SJ: How does this happen in practical terms?
Pietro C:
  Sloweb gathers individuals, companies, professionals and organizations willing to practically help web through activities such as training courses on digital awareness and IT security, services aimed to protect and enhance digital assets, solutions to improve internet access for everyone, initiatives to promote full transparency around T&C and internet contracts in general, battles against dependencies and compulsive use of digital devices, and promotion of responsive and participatory behaviours in software development.
Of course, members engaged in developing web platforms are also committed to comply with our principles in terms of personal data safeguarding and transparency.
SJ: Still, digital tools and services can be a great resource when it comes to memory preserving.
Pietro J:
They certainly are, and based on this idea I created eMemory, a digital platform devoted to safeguarding and enhancing memories, emotions, personal and collective histories. My aim was to offer a different user experience, in a calmer and safer environment – a place where they could organize and preserve their own memories, and everything that they need to keep track of concerning their families and their jobs.
SJ: How does it work?
Pietro J: eMemory allows you to collect, select, arrange and store data and documents, turning them into stories to be shared, passed down or simply preserved.
SJ: So sharing is not necessarily wrong.
Pietro J:
Of course not, provided that it is done with a reason, and as the result of a reflection. Every eMemory’s core code has been written trying not to push or put pressure on the user. Every function has been studied to allow him/her to make relevant long-term actions and choices rather than instant outpourings. Although some of the classic features of the social media are included, they do not represent the service’s reason for being. eMemory was not born for sharing and socializing, but it may be used for that too. The same concept is behind the storing part: you may store every sort of things in your attic, but eMemory invites you to be more essential, to select, to clear your mind so that you will find a better way to tell your own story. The advantage for the user is the opportunity to tell your story in many different ways, thus discovering your own richness and complexity.
SJ: Which are the specific aspects connected with privacy that you worked on in order to make eMemory a truly “ethical” service?
Pietro J:
Everyone’s will is clear and expressed: you can’t get more ethical than this. The ownership of the data is exclusively in the hands of the user. Our terms and conditions are very transparent; Pietro Calorio has done a fabulous job in adopting strict definitions, short and clear sentences. We even developed a game to help our users self-test their understanding of the T&Cs. Finally, the ownership of the platform is well spread - a necessary (but not sufficient) pre-condition for independence and transparency. We already have 30 shareholders, in the future we aim to 30 thousand. 

Author : The Slowear Journal


internet  | web  | privacy  | safety  | sloweb  | ememory  |

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