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[liberationtech] What kind of activist are you?!? What role might you play?

Douglas Schuler douglas at
Wed Jul 20 17:43:04 PDT 2011

I wanted to pass on information on our first activist game.  
Anticipating possible criticism I included a privacy statement below.  
I  hope you like it!

--- Doug

What kind of activist are you?!? What role might you play?

We're very pleased to announce that the Activist Mirror game based on  
the Liberating Voices pattern language ( 
) is now available in English and Italian on Facebook.

Please give it a try and let us know what you think!

Please also help us spread the word by sending this note to people who  
may be interested in this topic.

You could also help by pasting this text to your Facebook wall:

     What kind of activist are you?!? What role might you play?

     Play the Activist Mirror game in English or Italian to find out!

     [And to help spread the word, please paste these four lines to  
your wall!]

Based on your answers to a few questions, the game determines what  
role you're likely to plan in activist activities and what four  
patterns (out of 22 that we used) from the Liberating Voices pattern  
language are most likely to be useful to you. The activist role  
concept is based on the work of Bill Moyer and his associates as part  
of their Movement Action Plan.

The Activist Mirror game was developed by Marco Scirea with design  
assistance from Fiorella De Cindio and Douglas Schuler. Brett Horvath  
and Cristian Peraboni also contributed useful insights at critical  

--- Privacy Note ---

We realize that (1) people are concerned about Facebook privacy in  
general; and (2) there isn't much information about privacy made  
available to Facebook game users. So, here is what we know about  
privacy and the Activist Mirror game.

We do NOT access the player's profile, we access only the most basic  
information (such as name and user id). We cannot read any non public  
data and we cannot read the player's wall. The request for the basic  
information is the default request, so every app on Facebook at the  
least must request this, and there is no way to not ask it. That is  
the way Facebook does it and most interactions with Facebook at least  
require knowing who the player is.

We have access to a really limited amount of data: name, profile  
picture, gender, networks, user id, and list of friends. The only data  
we save are: answers to the questions, patterns shown to the player,  
the player's user id, the player's vote on the patterns (and the issue  
the player is analyzing) and whether the player's clicks on a pattern  
and goes on the pattern page on the Public Sphere Project site.

The answers we get help us understand what answers are being selected  
the most, this helps us fine-tune the game. The patterns shown also  
help us for tuning. The player user id is really the only info about  
the player we store, we use this only to understand if the player re- 
plays the game. The player's vote on the pattern help us know what  
patterns are more interesting to the player (also relating to the  
issue the player is analyzing).

The last data we save is to understand if, by looking at a card, the  
player is intrigued enough to click on it to see the description and  
if after reading the description he goes to the pattern page on PSP.  
This gives us important data on the patterns: how intriguing they are  
initially and how interesting they reveal themselves to be once the  
player reads their description.

The data regarding the patterns is obviously of no use to anyone but  
the developers and we believe it's impossible to extract relevant  
psychological information from the 8 questions and answers. We aren't  
planning on sending emails but if we decided this in the future it  
wouldn't affect users that play the game now (as we don't save this  
data) and we would need to follow the Facebook policy and the CAN-SPAM  

The data is stored in a database in a server hosted by the Civic  
Informatics Laboratory (LIC) at the University of Milan (Italy). On  
the issue of trusting this third party, we believe we can trust it as  
it's not a corporation that would gain anything from the data stored.  
Recently a group of hackers attempting to show how insecure the  
information systems were leaked passwords for many Italian  
universities,; the University of Milan wasn't in the list, so we can  
presume that the protections are pretty good — at least for now.

Sadly there is no standard approach to privacy that Facebook game  
developers use. In fact even Facebook's data collection policy is  
anything but clear! There are HUGE grey areas in their Automated Data  
Collection Terms, as well as some more disturbing (and declared)  
clauses, such as the fact that everything you post on Facebook (be it  
text, image and so on) is Facebook's property. Our opinion is that  
just being on Facebook is surely more risky that playing our game in  
terms of data collection.

Douglas Schuler
douglas at

What Kind of an Activist Are YOU? Play Activist Mirror and find out!

Public Sphere Project

Liberating Voices!  A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution  

Liberating Voices!  A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution  

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