I just posted the following on Twitter:
And then realized I should follow up on this, so here is an actual scan of an actual magazine with Orson Scott Card’s actual home address.
This was part of a larger spread of writers’ residences in Greensboro, North Carolina. Each one of them with a picture and an image of their actual motherfucking house. It was brought to Brown’s attention as the picture of Randall Jarrell’s house in that spread was not ours, but an earlier one Jarrell owned.
I’ll just leave this here with one comment: I don’t know whether Mr. Card approved of this information being made public, but if so, he has never been on the Internet. Ever.
EDIT TO ADD: Yes, yes, I know I keep a home blog with pictures of our house. Please note the lack of actual physical addresses in that blog. Have fun driving around the thousands of miles of residential streets in scenic Greensboro!
11 thoughts on “Submitted with minimal comment”
Any idea if he was crazy enough to sign off on that? I’m assuming not, but it’s always possible.
No clue. The article has quotes from several living authors, but the majority of the 16 sites were homes of (or hosted) now-deceased authors. I can’t imagine the magazine publishing something like this without him signing off on it, though. The lawsuit potential alone…
Mr. Card’s wikipedia entry says he lives in Greensboro, NC.
A google search turned up a link to the county’s property tax page as the fourth link in the search results, upon which typing in his name into that page turned up his property record, complete with address, what he paid, what his taxes are, etc.
Total time to find his address: less than 5 minutes.
Property records are generally public information everywhere in the U.S.
Sorry for the late reply: Sunday (busy), Monday (awful).
Data and its use is increasingly segmented by the difference between CAN and SHOULD, Of course data can be searched out; I have no doubt that Anonymous (as an example only) could yank your financial information out of the digital aether if they want to. However, providing this information in a magazine without any buffers… well. So what if a writer can make up a list of local authors’ names and track down their residences via property tax records? This is not something they should have done. Basic common decency that you do not make public highly personal information, even if that information is available and technically not “private” or “confidential”.
(I read this article and my first thought was its similarity to a Hollywood tour of famous homes, with non-celebrities living in the same house where a starlet killed herself. Yes, the information is out there, but exploiting it makes the world a poorer place, especially for the people who just happen to reside in those homes.)
And there’s also the new old saw is that security is inversely proportional to convenience. That is definitely the case in this magazine article. Someone who wants to interact with Mr. OS.Card might see this and decide to act, either by sending mail or by visiting his residence. If this sounds unrealistic, ask the artist of *SOMETHING POSITIVE* about the time the strangers showed up on his doorstep.
Yes, the information is out there. Yes, it can be found. No, it should never have been put into print as part of a fluff piece.
“Please note the lack of actual physical addresses in that blog. Have fun driving around the thousands of miles of residential streets in scenic Greensboro!”
And not to be all stalkery or anything, but it only took me half an hour or so to find your address.
This is a big problem with mental models of privacy these days; municipal or local authorities publish records that have always been publicly available from the local courthouse or wherever to the web without realizing that the big change this makes is not availability, but the material’s searchability. We all only have privacy through other people’s lack of interest in us.
Add in that this tends to result in massive databases with hilariously wrong information in them, being traded around between governments and private entities. We regularly get calls from folks thinking that we’re a church, and trying to sell us things.
And yet somehow you see apologists romping about insisting that things like PRISM are a good thing, or somehow will be free of all the human errors found in, oh, every other human endeavor ever.
Or folks like the fellow above, who thinks that information available in obscurity is somehow the equivalent of cherry-picking the data most valuable to stalkers and blasting it out onlinein a manner that will increase its importance and searchability through search engines.
It comes down to, yes, the information exists. Yes, bad things can (and do) happen because of this. Yes, bad people can find it.
But do we have to make it EASY? This doesn’t help people with a legitimate need for the information. You don’t have any legit need to know what her property taxes are, so why is the information available to you? None of his readers have a legitimate need to know where Mr. Card lives. Period, full stop, they simply don’t.
My feeling is that ALL personal information, and the privacy concerns related to it, should be handled like medical information (in theory- I’m well aware what really goes on with that). If there’s no need to know it, you aren’t permitted access. If you want data for an aggregate because you have a legitimate need for masses of data, then the data is collected only from the willing, and is anonymized before being handed off to the persons doing the study.
took me even less, plus both interior and exterior photos.
ack, hit submit too early. let me know if you want to know the site I found it from, I don’t know if it’s possible to get the info taken down, but I didn’t want to link it in a publicly-viewable spot, and I couldn’t find an email address on the comic page.
Thanks,but I’m aware of the site and those photos. That site is part of the blurry public-private discussion, too, since everything there was made available by the previous owners but we’ve owned this place for nearly three years so when does what they posted intrude on our privacy? It all gets very odd.
(One day this house will not be green, and it will blend into the beige American landscape, and I will be happier because of it.)
There was also a recent study which involved using a photo (with scenery) to locate where it was taken from.
I can’t remember the name of the study, and I can’t find the link, so I’m guessing they’re not web-available yet.
But it’s only a matter of time…