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Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy

Building a collaborative, shared-user network
December 3-5, 2008 / Reynolds Journalism Institute / Columbia, Missouri


Mizzou study will seek to answer: How do people value their privacy?

Participants in "Blueprinting . . . " on Dec. 3-5 will get the first briefing on plans for a major academic study and survey of consumer attitudes toward privacy. The survey, commissioned by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute aims to answer at least one key question: "In valuing their privacy, what will consumers trade for, in terms of goods or services?"

Or, "What is the market for privacy?"

The team will also study the extent to which the value of privacy to an indivdual changes with age. While an initial study of existing literature is complete, the group has not finalized survey questeions and thus "Blueprint" participants will be able to discuss the implications for journalists, government regulators, news consumers and citizens before the study queries are final.

Research director is Prof. Lee Wilkins of the Missouri School of Journalism, assisted by Mizzou doctoral student Seth Ashley and Discovery Fellow Amanda Wysocki.

"This five-part research effort aims to describe how multiple generations of Americans think about privacy," says Wilkins. "From providing urine samples as a condition of employment to choosing whether to use the default "public" setting on Facebook. Wilkins says likely questions will dradw on the theory of contested commodities, plus insights from philosophy and law.

Wilkins says the research effort begins with the assumption that privacy itself is an important component of human dignity and the construction of community -- and that it has global applicability. It will try to address the relations and distinctions among such values and terms as privacy, anonymity, friendship, intimacy and community.