The Habitele project (“Habitele: wearable digital identities”) has been selected by the ANR committee of the call “sociétés innovantes”
The project is lead by Sciences Po Centre d’Etudes Européennes (Dominique Boullier, project leader) with a partnership in Computer Sciences with Telecom Paris Tech (Artur Hecker’s team).
The project aims to test a theoretical framework labelled “Habitele” by Dominique Boullier. This neologism seeks to account for the anthropological transformation we are experiencing, as two thirds of human beings have become equipped with a mobile phone (5.2 billion subscriptions, i.e. approximately 4.5 billion individual users, as of December 2010). The “connected being” status changes our mood, due to an alert state of mind; our everyday interactions in everyday life, based on awareness more than presence; and our coordination skills, because of traceability. But it also offers the opportunity of switching between social worlds we are affiliated to, whether it be sociodemographic features or peculiar tastes that connect us to an ephemeral community. We inhabit a new “personal data ecosystem”, which we call “Habitele”. Habitele is used to label the various distant connections with various social worlds that we are able to handle by carrying devices (phone, credit cards, IDs, keys and access cards) and traces (social networks and other online activities) that keep us in touch with these worlds. Henceforth, the mobile phone is rapidly merging all these affiliations, traces and access into one device, which is carried close to the body. IDs in the cloud and permanent bodily access are what make the mobile phone a universal terminal (and not the PC): our digital identities become wearable, as a new envelope. This general framework will be assessed through a carefully designed empirical investigation: indepth interviews (500 x 2), 45 case studies of typical use, data collection of personal behaviour (through automated extraction from the device), and mapping of connected social worlds. The international comparison is an important ambition of the project and it will involve France, UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, Tunisia, Nigeria, India, Korea. On the telcos and providers’ end, we will design a sociological experiment to test the propagation of (fake) personal data in violation of contractual limitations. Telecom Paris Tech expertise will be required on these privacy issues but the medialab will also contribute to the project.
A publicly accessible blog has already collected some relevant information about these issues: http://habitele.blogspot.com/
The project benefits of a funding of 434 000 euros, 2012-2013.