WILL MONGE
December 17, 2020
Defending Your Data
Happy Data Privacy Day!

This week you’re going to hear a chorus of companies saying they care deeply about privacy. At Good Research we seriously mean it. We’re technologists who love technology but also worry about the social implications of what we build and what our industry builds. It’s why our tagline is “innovate without the risk.”

In 2020, we set a goal to share more about what we do and how we do it. We redesigned our website, got serious about writing down our experience, and dusted off our Twitter account. Our first drafts kept coming back long, with a bunch of asides and footnotes, full of explanations of foundational concepts and supplementary details in case people were unsure about the context. After this happened a few times we wondered why we felt compelled to explain so much. Was it just us, or was this an opportunity to do something?

This year we’re celebrating Data Privacy Day by introducing a new effort: DataCurious.org. Our vision is that it can be a place with simple answers to timely questions about data. Our CEO, Nathan Good, has been working at the intersection of human factors, security, and privacy for about as long as the field of usable security has been a “thing.” As the makers of technology, we’re constantly asking people to complete tasks that they can’t really complete. We don’t support them in goal formulation and we don’t make it easy to find the options that would satisfy their goals. Our hunch is that advancing the conversation about how data should be used requires people being able to ask questions, get answers, and form their own opinion. How can we help people divulge the amount of information necessary to get the desired functionality without oversharing?

Our practice has always had a human factors focus: how can we build technology and steward data in a way that serves people? Over time, we’ve realized that we could all benefit from having a better foundation of basic knowledge in regards to data privacy. We’re launching with a handful of entries and will regularly add to it. When we write new blog posts, we’ll add relevant entries that we can reuse over time, and we can all start building a foundation of shared knowledge about what’s going on with data. We’re also looking for more contributors. Do you have an idea for either a question you want answered? Or an entry you’d love to see written? Or a longer note that you’ve been holding on to, that’s also full of footnotes and asides. We’d love to hear from you!