Information Systems Education Journal


V18 N3 Pages 38-43

Jun 2020

The use of short speculative fiction in teaching about privacy

Thomas Lauer
Oakland University
Rochester, MI USA

Abstract: This paper gives four examples of the use of short speculative fiction for teaching different aspects of information privacy. Information privacy is multi-faceted; as an area of study it intersects with a number of fields. A non-exhaustive list could include: law, information systems, decision science, marketing, management, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. The multi-disciplinary character of information privacy poses a challenge to teaching about it. Although using legal cases for teaching about privacy is valuable, the cases often involve disagreeable characters resulting in a distraction from the underlying privacy issue. In contrast, speculative fiction fiction can present a privacy problem in a relatable context with a more agreeable set of characters. Students can imagine themselves in situations similar to those of characters in a short narrative through cognitive processes of transportation (by becoming immersed in the action) and identification (finding the characters familiar and sympathetic). I give four examples (four short stories) where I have used speculative fiction to teach some different aspect pertaining to information privacy. For each example, there is a plot synopsis, some suggested assignment with possible discussion questions, and an analysis of the key points within the fictional work and how they relate to key issues relevant to information privacy. The four fictional pieces are: Business as Usual by Pat Cadigan, Scroogled by Cory Doctorow, The Perfect Match by Ken Liu, and Water by Ramez Naam.

Download this article: ISEDJ - V18 N3 Page 38.pdf

Recommended Citation: Lauer, T., (2020). The use of short speculative fiction in teaching about privacy. Information Systems Education Journal18(3) pp 38-43. ISSN : ISSN: 1545-679X. A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of EDSIGCON 2019