DATA stories from Birmingham UK

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Hello, I'm Fiona and I'm starting a regular newsletter called Observed City covering Data privacy, Art, Tech and Activism in Birmingham UK, which forms a lovely D.A.T.A. acronym to keep me on track.

I'm a pretty average digital citizen: not particularly techy but I like social networking, and emailing, and searching, and games, and maps, and chat apps…  I work remotely and purely digitally for clients anywhere in the world, and the internet is a convenience I can no longer do without.

Here's the tension…

I also value the right to privacy and I'm worried that the internet is turning into one big tracking system. We are in the process of creating this new world, one that clocks and quantifies our every move, and scores us and targets us. No one fully knows the implications of this, for ourselves and the next generation to come.

Worse still, few people are even talking about it, like it's happening over there somewhere. A lot of stuff is going on in London – for example, The Glass Room, which I was involved in last October – but as a Brummie, I want to raise some awareness about this in my home city. (We have a pop-up version of The Glass Room we can set up if anyone is interested by the way? It's a great conversation starter.)

I started a newsletter to address some of the challenges in how people engage (or don’t) with data privacy. And because I wanted to see if you can make online privacy and security easier to engage with, perhaps even FUN!

On a more specific personal note, I want to help my friends who are parents of teenagers, kids and toddlers, to navigate these issues with an eye on the future. Data doesn't die easily and the next generation is growing up to find they already have a record. I am envisioning a family manifesto pinned to the fridge with agreed social media posting permissions, coffee morning support groups in schools, a junior edition of the email edited by my goddaughter (hello Kitty!), data detox workshops and a traffic light system for the bad guys.

And I need to take a holistic view. There are some fascinating projects going on in the second city with big data and open data. This is about navigating the new world not dropping out of it.

So I shall be observing what is going on in my city and curating it into the ObservedCity newsletter once or twice a month. I hope there will be collaborations and guest editors and open discussion and a destination unknown. Let's start things up!

Companies always say in the small-print terms and conditions: ‘We take your privacy seriously.’ Often they don't.  This is a chance to start taking your privacy seriously.

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This is a new venture and I need help to spread the word. Please share the newsletter link and this post on to anyone you know who works with data privacy, digital arts, tech or activism in the West Midlands – particularly artists, activists, academics and organisations working with data, and anyone who wants to improve their online privacy and security habits.