Freedom for Our Files: Creative Reuse of Personal Data Workshop at Art Meets Radical Openness in Linz, Austria

This weekend I am presenting a lecture about GIve Me My Data and conducting a two-day data-scraping workshop at Art Meets Radical Openness in Linz, Austria. Here are the details.

The Self-Indulgence of Closed Systems
May 13, 18:45 – 19:15
Part artist lecture, part historical context, Owen Mundy will discuss his Give Me My Data project within the contexts of the history of state surveillance apparatuses, digital media and dialogical art practices, and the ongoing contradiction of privacy and utility in new media.

Freedom for Our Files: Creative Reuse of Personal Data
May 13-14, 14:00 – 16:30
A two-day workshop, with both technical hands-on and idea-driven components. Learn to scrape data and reuse public and private information by writing custom code and using the Facebook API. Additionally, we’ll converse and conceptualize ideas to reclaim our data literally and also imagine what is possible with our data once it is ours! Register here

Art Meets Radical Openness (LiWoLi 2011),
Date: 12th – 14th May 2011
Location: Kunstuniversität Linz, Hauptplatz 8, 4020 Linz, Austria

Observing, comparing, reflecting, imitating, testing, combining

LiWoLi is an open lab and meeting spot for artists, developers and educators using and creating FLOSS (free/libre open source software) and Open Hardware in the artistic and cultural context. LiWoLi is all about sharing skills, code and knowledge within the public domain and discussing the challenges of open practice.

Give Me My Data on Today Show’s Digital Life blog

How to back up your Facebook data
By Rosa Golijan

“There are plenty of reasons to back up your Facebook data — maybe you want to archive, reuse, or save it — and it turns out that there’s a simple way to do so. In fact, a few clicks and an app called Give Me My Data will do the trick in seconds.

Give Me My Data is a simple Facebook app with a single purpose — to help you back up your Facebook data so that you can do whatever you wish with it — and it does it well.

All you need to do is add the application, authorize it to access your information, and select how you want to receive your data — options include plain text, CSV, and XML formats — and … that’s it. Give Me My Data will proceed to spit out your details by category — personal information, status updates, links, pages, etc — and then you’re free to do whatever you will with it.

It’s worth noting that Facebook itself provides a way to download most of your data — the link to do so can be found in your account settings — but it doesn’t provide the various formatting options nor the varying breakdowns of data.”

Continue reading

DATAPOLIS Art | Science | Tech Biennale

Give Me My Data will be included in the upcoming exhibition curated by Pavel Sedlák at DATAPOLIS Art | Science | Tech Biennale in Prague.

Exhibition of the 5th International Art | Science | Technology Biennale Prague ENTER

DATAPOLIS is a one evening and three days of full-size experiment in art and technology. The exhibition addresses interactions of media technologies, novel visualization practices and urban realities. Exhibiting artists from all over the world discover moods and rhythms of our cities, bodies and planet. They innovatively mash both visible and invisible data that re-present individual and collective lives and actions. Keywords: data, city, communities, mapping, social, geographical, economical, political, sentient, ambient, mobile, ubiquitous, embedded intelligence, architecture, fashion, quantified selves, body & environment monitoring, robotic systems, trash, transport, pollution, open innovation & design.

Exhibition Opening: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 18:00
Exhibition dates: April 15 – April 17, 2011 (Limited version of the exhibition will run until Sunday, April 24, 2011)
Location: National Technical Library (NTK)
Address: Technická 6,160 80 Praha 6 – Dejvice,

Curatorr: Pavel Sedlák (CZ)
Co-curator: Andrej Boleslavský (SK/CZ)

ENTER website:

Artists in the exhibition:

Alessandro Ludovico, Paolo Cirio (IT): Face to Facebook
Mark Shepard (USA): Sentient City Survival Kit
Mark Shepard (USA): Serendipitor
Varvara Guljajeva (EST) & Mar Canet(ES): The Rhythm Of The City
James George(US), Alexander Porter(US): DepthEditorDebug
Eric Conrad (USA): Palbable City
Eric Conrad (USA): Bark Rubbings
Teresa Almeida (PT/SG): Modes for Urban Moods: Space Dress
Jenny Chowdhury (USA): 802.11 Apparel – Wifi Jacket
MIT SENSEable City Lab (USA): Trash Track
Secret Cooks Club (SG): FoodMatch
Dušan Barok (SK/NL): FaceLeaks
Owen Mundy (USA/DE): Give Me My Data
Jaro Dufek (CZ): Reality Ends Here
Aram Bartholl (DE) & Ivan Floreš (CZ): Dead Drops
Niki Passath (AT): Zoe
Dardex Mort2Faim (FR): Machine 2 Fish
Saša Spačal (SLO): 7K: New Life Form
Marie Polakova (CZ) & Jonathan Cremieux (FI/FR): Mimodek
Scott Hessels (USA/HK) & Gabriel Dunne (USA): Celestial Mechanics
Pedro Cruz (PT): The Morphing City


Give Me My Data: A Facebook Application Inspired by the Stasi Files Controversy, talk at DAAD Meeting in Dresden, Germany

Giving a talk today in Dresden, Germany titled, “Give Me My Data: A Facebook Application Inspired by the Stasi Files Controversy.” Here is the abstract.

During the final days of the German Democratic Republic (or GDR) it became evident that the Ministry for State Security (more popularly known as the “Stasi”) was destroying incriminating evidence from its 40-year history of domestic and international surveillance. These documents, which the Stasi was attempting to destroy using shredding machines, as well as by hand when the machines failed, included information gathered through various clandestine methods about lives of citizens of the GDR without their knowledge or consent.

On January 15, 1990, protestors stormed the Stasi headquarters in Berlin in attempt to prevent the destruction of personal records which they felt they should be able to access. The phrase, “Freiheit für meine Akte!” (in English: Freedom for my file!) spray painted on the Stasi guardhouse during this protest embodies a desire by citizens to open this closed world of state surveillance in order to understand the methods of control employed the Stasi

This moment in history inspires my ongoing project, Give Me My Data, a Facebook application that helps users export their data out of Facebook. While clearly utilitarian, this project intervenes into online user experiences, provoking users to take a critical look at their interactions within social networking websites. It suggests data is tangible and challenges users to think about ways in which their information is used for purposes outside of their control by government or corporate entities.

At the height of its operations, the Stasi is believed to have hired, between spies and full- and part-time informants, one in every 6.5 East German citizens to report suspicious activities, almost 2.5 million people.1 At this moment, the ratio of people entering data on Facebook to non-members is one in fourteen for the entire world,2 introducing possibly the most effective surveillance machine in history.

Network graph grouping: A small art world

This “Mutual friends network graph” created with Nodebox using data I exported with Give Me My Data contains 540 “Facebook friends” and their connections to each other. When the graph renders it attempts to position people who have lots of connections closer together. With this you can see groups unfold based on your own social networks. Since I have spent more time in academia than I have at specific jobs my “clusters” are based mostly on my academic history.

You can also see that there are a lot of connections between my high school and where I did my undergraduate study, which is based on the fact they are located very close to each other, so friends from high school also chose the same university or town to live in. There are also a lot of interconnections between Indiana University where I did my undergrad, the University of California, San Diego, where I did graduate study, and Florida State University, where I teach now. This is probably due to the fact that my connections are all within a given field, in my case visual arts, and points to the often expressed notion that “the art world is actually very small.”

Give Me My Data and exporting mutual friends

On the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Give Me My Data I’m very happy to announce that you can now export your friends and your mutual friends from facebook using two new formats. Both of the data formats are geared towards making graphs by displaying objects and their relationships. Needless to say, this is the most often requested feature since the official beta launch in April 2010. See below for more information

The DOT language

DOT is a plain text graph description language and can be rendered using a variety of layout applications like Graphviz or Tulip.

This example (saved as a plain text file with the .dot extension)

graph G
	a -- b -- c;
	b -- d;

Produces something like this

Python / Nodebox 1.0

The other file format is also for visualizing relationships. You can copy and paste the contents into a plain text file saved with a .py extension and open it in Nodebox, a Mac application that uses Python to create 2D visuals. Learn more about creating graphs in Nodebox.

Here’s an example file. My mutual friends exported from Facebook…

Was weiß Facebook über mich?, in Bild

Picture 7

The German newspaper, Bild published another article mentioning Give Me My Data today.

Was weiß Facebook über mich? or in English, Facebook knows what about me?

“About 500 million people worldwide use the social network Facebook to stay in touch with friends. In Germany, almost 9.8 million people are registered with Facebook. Many users are worried about their privacy. answered the important questions…”