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Comprehensive Survey of L.A. Pools Dips Its Toes in Privacy Debate

A project by two researchers to map and measure all of the swimming pools in the Los Angeles basin is revealing not just for the information collected, but in how it exposed the ways in which personal privacy is being eroded by digital technology.
December 2, 2013, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Using publicly available databases, satellite photos, and crowdsourcing services, Benedikt Gross and Joseph Lee have compiled the "Big Atlas of L.A. Pools," a 74-volume 6,000 page analysis of every swimming pool in the Los Angeles Basin.

In addition to some intriguing findings ("the typical swimming pool in Los Angeles is oval-shaped and measures 16 feet, 4 inches by 33 feet, 6 inches"), Gross and Lee "discovered something more than just the real-world versions of the iconic David Hockney pool utopias," writes Bob Pool (seriously?!). "Their project also proved that two non-experts were able to take a massive amount of freely available data to peek into other people's lives."

"Lee says the baring of that private realm was unsettling: 'It's an art and mapmaking project that tries to highlight the growing issue of data privacy in our increasingly digitized and inner-connected world.'"

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Published on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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