Facebook’s recommended privacy settings should emphasize more not less

Facebook’s “Privacy Settings” always seem to be a work in progress. One thing they do consistently is default to less privacy overall, thus more sharing of your information on their site. For a website that depends on user-generated content the motivation to encourage sharing is clear enough. Still, why do they use the word “privacy” if they’re not actually embracing the idea?

For example, a recent update introduces a table with degrees of privacy from less to more (left to right). Types of data are listed in rows, while access is shown in the columns, with Everyone to Friends Only, again left to right.


Curious about what Facebook “Recommended” settings were, I clicked and am sharing the screenshot below. I am not surprised to see that they wish me to open-up all content I generate; status messages, posts, images, etc. and discourage allowing anyone I don’t know to comment on posts (probably as spam prevention).


I have been thinking about privacy quite a bit this week, developing ideas for what next to do with Give Me My Data, and providing an interview about social media for Naked on Pluto (along with the likes of Marc Garrett and Geert Lovink). Plus I went to see the “geek hero story” The Social Network at the Babylon Cinema last night.

Anyway, after all this thinking about Facebook’s past, I’m curious about its future, and how it will continue to try to hold on to the #1 social networking website position that Friendster and MySpace lost so quickly. The API, games, etc could be expected, but the Facebook Connect tools that are so prevalent now, even on Yelp, a site I figured could make it without schlepping, were a surprise.

Facebook Connect, a jquery “widget” that allows you to login to other websites using your Facebook ID, is clever and eerie at once. It allows Facebook to track you when you are not even on their site, and make sure you stay loyal. If that sounds sinister, well it is. What other purpose could there be for making available a service with the single purpose of mediating every interaction or bit of content you add to the web? It seems at first like OpenID, and it is, except that its run by a multi-billion dollar social media corporation.

Reading list for August 2010

About to embark on some new projects here in Berlin. Here’s my reading list at the moment…


Free: The Future of a Radical Price
by Chris Anderson
July 7th 2009 by Hyperion

Traditional economics operates under fundamental assumptions of scarcity–there’s only so much oil, iron, and gold in the world. But the online economy is built upon three cornerstones: processing power, hard drive storage, and bandwidth–and the costs of all these elements are trending toward zero at an incredible rate.

The Exploit

The Exploit: A Theory of Networks
by Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker
October 1st 2007 by Univ Of Minnesota Press

“The Exploit is that rare thing: a book with a clear grasp of how networks operate that also understands the political implications of this emerging form of power. It cuts through the nonsense about how ‘free’ and ‘democratic’ networks supposedly are, and it offers a rich analysis of how network protocols create a new kind of control. Essential reading for all theorists, artists, activists, techheads, and hackers of the Net.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto


Group Work
by Temporary Services
New York, NY: Printed Matter. 2007

Based on a pamphlet published by Temporary Services in 2002 titled Group Work: A Compilation of Quotes About Collaboration from a Variety of Sources and Practices, this publication provides a multitude of perspectives on the theme of Group Work by practitioners of artistic group practice from 1960s to the present.

Automata: Counter-Surveillance in Public Space paper on the Public Interventions panel at ISEA2010


ISEA2010 RUHR Conference in Dortmund, Germany

P26 Public Interventions
Tue 24 August 2010
Volkshochschule Dortmund, S 137a
Moderated by Georg Dietzler (de)

  • 15:00h | Owen Mundy (us): Automata: Counter-Surveillance in Public Space
  • 15:20h | Christoph Brunner (ch/ca), Jonas Fritsch (dk): Balloons, Sweat and Technologies. Urban Interventions through Ephemeral Architectures
  • 15:40h | Georg Klein (de): Don’t Call It Art! On Artistic Strategies and Political Implications of Media Art in Public Space
  • 16:00h | Georg Dietzler (de): Radical Ecological Art and No Greenwash Exhibitions

About my talk:

Automata is the working title for a counter-surveillance internet bot that will record and display the mutually-beneficial interrelationships between institutions for higher learning, the global defense industry, and world militaries. Give Me My Data is a Facbook application that help users reclaim and reuse their Facebook data. The two projects, both ongoing, address important issues surounding contemporary forms of communication, surveillance, and control.

Recent and ongoing projects

Howdy, it’s been awhile since I last shared news about recent and ongoing projects. Here goes.


1. You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore

You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore is an installation that projects moving US Geological Survey (USGS) satellite images using handmade kinetic projection devices.

Each device hangs from the ceiling and uses electronic components to rotate strips of satellite images on transparency in front of an LED light source. They are constructed with found materials like camera lenses and consumer by-products and mimic remote sensing devices, bomb sights, and cameras in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The installation includes altered images from various forms of lens-based analysis on a micro and macro scale; land masses, ice sheets, and images of retinas, printed on reflective silver film.

On display now until July 31 at AC Institute 547 W. 27th St, 5th Floor
Hours: Wed., Fri. & Sat.: 1-6pm, Thurs.: 1-8pm

New video by Asa Gauen and images

2. Images and video documentation of You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore will also be included in an upcoming Routledge publication and website:

Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice
by Rebekah Modrak, Bill Anthes
ISBN: 978-0-415-77920-3
Publish Date: November 16th 2010


3. Give Me My Data launch

Give Me My Data is a Facebook application designed to give users the ability to export their data out of Facebook for any purpose they see fit. This could include making artwork, archiving and deleting your account, or circumventing the interface Facebook provides. Data can be exported in CSV, XML, and other common formats. Give Me My Data is currently in public-beta.


Facebook application


4. Give Me My Data was also covered recently by the New York Times, BBC, TechCrunch, and others:

Facebook App Brings Back Data by Riva Richmond, New York Times, May 1, 2010

Picture 6

5. yourarthere.net launch

A major server and website upgrade to the yourarthere.net web-hosting co-op for artists and creatives. The new site allows members of the community to create profiles and post images, tags, biography, and events. In addition to the community aspect, yourarthere.net is still the best deal going for hosting your artist website.


More images


6. The Americans

The Americans is currently on view at the Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, FL. It features a new work with the same title.

More images


7. Your Art Here billboard hanger

I recently designed a new billboard hanging device and installed it in downtown Bloomington, IN with the help of my brother Reed, and wife Joelle Dietrick.

Stay tuned here for news about Your Art Here and the new billboard by Joelle Dietrick.


8. Finally, moving to Berlin for a year on a DAAD fellowship to work on some ongoing projects, including Automata.

More images

I’ll be giving a paper about Automata at the upcoming ISEA2010 conference in Ruhr, Germany.

Many thanks to Chris Csikszentmihályi, Director of the Center for Future Civic Media http://civic.mit.edu/ , for inviting me to the MIT Media Lab last August to discuss the project with his Computing Culture Group: http://compcult.wordpress.com/

Schematic for You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore

“Open sourcing” the schematic for the electronic components for You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore.

Picture 5


RBBB boards (Arduino clone)
custom-designed circuits
– female headers
– TIP31 transistor
– 6-wire Unipolar Stepper motor (48 step Nippon Electric Pulse Motor)
– ULN2803A Darlington Array
– hook-up wire
– various resistors
– LEDs
used camera lenses
aluminum “flat bar”
hose clamps
rubber wine corks
various mounting hardware

New yourarthere.net website is live

After 4 months the new yourarthere.net website and member-run content management system is now live. Thanks to Braylin and Brittany Morales, Beth Lee, and Chris Cumbie for all their hard work.

The site is valid XHTML/CSS and runs on PHP/MySQL using the Codeigniter framework. All the details from our research from inception onward are archived here.

This site is based around the idea that members should have control of the content on the website. Every member has a profile where they can add images, text, tags, and events to promote their artwork or group. Members can create a new profile for every domain they host with yourarthere.nets.

Picture 6

Picture 8

Give Me My Data updates

Give Me My Data is a Facebook application that helps you reclaim and reuse your facebook data. It is currently in-development but starting to receive an amazing amount of traffic from Facebook users. Apparently the developers at Facebook made a change to the interface this week leaving many users unable to find or display specific information they had added to their pages. Give Me My Data helps users circumvent the problems they are having with the interface by giving them another way to access their data.

Due to the amount of questions I have received about the application I decided to launch a new website to share information about it here: givememydata.com


Facebook application interface

Visitors from this week (via statcounter)

The application profile page
Use the application

Letter in Support of Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum


To whom it may concern,

I write this letter in support of Professors Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum, and their collaborators at the Bang.Lab at the University of California, San Diego. The criminalization of the research conducted by Dominguez and Staulbaum can and should be expected by xenophobic and racist outsiders in the San Diego community, but I was appalled to hear that the University of California is not whole-heartedly supporting Professors Dominguez and Stalbaum in the wake of recent hateful and threatening responses to their current work. 

As a logistical tool, one could argue their Transborder Immigrant Tool will be only as effectual as the amount of GPS-enabled cell phones that can be made available in the area. Consider especially their demographic primarily includes human beings that would take the chance to cross miles of desert by foot, risking starvation and death, in order to find a better life. While efforts may be made to help the logistics of this project, this is not a group you would expect to have income to acquire such devices.

I think most importantly their research should be looked at as a humanitarian gesture to bring into light an important problem in this geographic region. The inequality between classes in this area, drawn along racial and political boundaries, has caused a deep resentment on both sides of the border. Professor Dominguez and Stalbaum’s tool, while it takes the form of a functional opportunity to save the lives of other human beings, is as much a cultural product that initiates a very public conversation about an important issue, and suggests at the heart of the problem is the inability for some groups to consider the well-being of others.

It is important the University of California facilitate this conversation and acknowledge the contribution this project makes to the fields of visual arts, human computer interaction, and cultural studies, and support the work of Professors Dominguez and Stalbaum in a time when they need it most.


Owen Mundy
Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Florida State University

Masters of Visual Arts, 2008
University of California, San Diego

Learn more about the issue

As usual, a perspective on past issues related to this problem in the area will help contextualize this one.

Learn about Herbert Marcuse and his problems with San Diego/UCSD in this documentary

Even more related, David Avalos, Elizabeth Cisco, and Louis Hock’s Art Rebate project which garnered all kinds of dissidence from the San Diego community, was intended specifically to bring into the public eye an important and overlooked part of the local economy—that of wages and labor of migrant workers.

UC San Diego professor who studies disobedience gains followers — and investigators, LA Times

Other letters

Temporary Services in Chicago

Cheap, low-wattage studio lighting (part 2)

The florescent bulbs and light kit arrived this week and it was good to see the results of my research. I only found one problem in that the 105W (400W incandescent equivalent) daylight-balanced florescent bulbs were so large the base of the bulb prevented them from fitting into the fixtures.

studioLights_pt2_01 studioLights_pt2_02 studioLights_pt2_03

I expected they would be bigger than usual, but (in the photos) its amazing how much larger they are than a standard 15W (40W equivalent) florescent bulb. To reiterate, the part you screw into the fixture is a standard (E26) Edison Screw type cap, the same type found on most home incandescent and CFL bulbs.

studioLights_pt2_04 studioLights_pt2_05

I was able to solve the problem for less than $5 at the local big box hardware store with two $2 fixture extenders, and luckily the rod of the reflector umbrellas just barely clear the big bulbs.

studioLights_pt2_07 studioLights_pt2_08

The fixtures are made to carry 250W so it is fine that my bulbs only draw 105W each. The adjustable mount for the lamp fixtures, however, are a little precarious. They are not made to support the weight of these larger bulbs along with the umbrellas so I had to tighten them more than usual. In the future I may find a better solution, but for this project they will do fine.

studioLights_pt2_06 studioLights_pt2_09

Here are some initial tests with the kit and bulbs. These were shot with one light in Camera Raw with a Canon G9, ASA 100, f/3.2 @ 1/13 between 6-10′ from the lights.

studioLights_pt2_10 studioLights_pt2_11

And these at  f/4 @ 1/13 with both lights at around the same distance.

studioLights_pt2_12 studioLights_pt2_13