Research: Life Sharing by Eva and Franco Mattes


For ordinary people like you and me, the thought of someone else (quite possibly a hacker) looking through and copying or modifying our personal files is enough to make us cringe. 

Why, exactly, is privacy important to us? There is no one simple answer to this
question, since people have a number of interests that may be harmed by invasions of
their privacy. In the day and age where there’s rampant use of smartphones, computers and technology in general, the type of data stored our gadgets can paint an almost complete picture of even the most private details of our private, personal lives. We share everything with our computer: our time, our space, our culture, our personal relationships, our memories, our ideas etcwe now carry a lot of our private and sensitive information around with us on a daily basis.

As a result of just how lonely and lost we feel, we’re increasingly willing to exchange privacy for the opportunity to have others notice us and pay attention to us. I also argue that abandoning your privacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In many ways, privacy benefits banks and corporations more than it benefits people.
– Niedzvicki on Privacy

As artists, we somehow feel need to guard and protect our intellectual property.
Not these artists though…


Image by Kyle Bean

“A computer, with the passing of time, ends up looking like its owner’s brain. It does it more and better than other more traditional media, e.g., diaries, notebooks, or, on a more abstract level, paintings and novels.”

– via

Out of all these information that we keep, we can choose to share some our hard-disk files with other people; This process is called File-sharing. A couple who goes by 0100101110101101.ORG, Italian artists whose medium is the Internet, then decided they would do Life-sharing.

Eva + Franco Mattes


Title: Life Sharing
Artist(s): Eva and Franco Mattes aka
Duration: 2000 – 2003
Media: Internet Webpages, Computer Hard Drives & Contents
Technology: Debian GNU/Linux, HTML, Javascript, Flash, Python

Life Sharing is a real-time digital self-portrait. Started in the year 2000 and active uninterruptedly until 2003, Life Sharing is 0100101110101101.ORG’s personal computer turned into a real time sharing system. Any visitor has free and unlimited access to all contents: texts, images, software, 01’s private mail. One can get lost in this huge data maze. Based on Linux, Life Sharing is a brand new concept of net architecture turning a website into a sheer personal media for complete digital transparency. Permanent infotainment pioneering the peer to peer mass diffusion. Privacy is stupid.

– Eva and Franco Mattes, Life Sharing, Artists’ Statement


Enter two net “experimenters” that didn’t fit into traditional art spaces or existing categories; Eva and Franco Mattes. For them, living publicly online is their form of performance art in the digital age. Their personal and private lives became the subject of their public artwork. 

This out-of-the-box piece, whose title is a play on the term “file sharing,” provides an exercise in transparency. It is an act of data exhibitionism as the artists that turns viewers into peeping toms. With that, they welcome you into their world and website by greeting you with the message: “Now you’re in my computer.”


 Visitors to their Website are greeted by this message.

Except for a few sensitive files, like those that might allow the project to be erased, the machine’s contents — software, e-mails, even error messages — are accessible by anyone and everyone. Naturally, most people would be worried when the concept of someone else snooping on their personal files, not with the Mattes as thats is one of the points it is trying to bring up by removing the barriers between the public and their personal lives. The couple champion the open-source computing movement, which is based on freely available, communally developed software. Social network didn’t exist when the work began; thus freely sharing files was not common.


Their private e-mails shared in real time via their website.

Eva and Franco Mattes explains why they were so intrigued and willing to put themselves at risk of making themselves vulnerable to potential identity theft and other online violations in the name of art: 

 When started, we were all blown away by the idea of having a sort of personal live channel accessible to anybody in which putting our things, but in the mid 90s, this was very abstract and rudimental — the Internet speed sucked. When we did Life Sharing and put all the contents of our home computer online and shared them with everybody, we were like cavemen trying to make art with bones and stones, stoned.

– Eva and Franco Mattes, on Life Sharing, Art 21 Interview

As open source and net art is more about the participation of the viewer and less about the work itself, I feel that they have managed to get people involved in their work and its amazing how given the platform to do whatever they wish with these data, people interact with this differently. Here are some screenshots of what people have done with their website:

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This is open source living in the digital age. It’s making a political statement about ownership and commercialism. It’s not just about viewing. Not only can you see in, but you can use the plans yourself.

– Steve Dietz

Though Life Sharing was created in 2000 through to 2003 where social networking sites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter did not exist yet, they were an early representation and exploration of what Peep Culture might become and how it would have manifested itself. The author of Peep Diaries, Hal Niedzviecki notes:


“We have entered the age of “peep culture”: a tell-all, show-all, know-all digital phenomenon that is dramatically altering notions of privacy, individuality, security, and even humanity. Peep culture is what  happens when we entertain ourselves by watching real people do real things, as opposed to watching actors and performers pretend to do real things. Peep culture is YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Reality TV.”

– Niedzviecki on Peep Culture

Today, we’re getting used to the fact that our everyday lives are a potential source of entertainment for other people. An example of that would be vlogs, or Video Blogs, in which people videotape themselves going about their everyday lives and publish it online for people to watch. A quick search on Youtube would reveal plenty of vlogs uploaded by different people everyday. The funny thing is, the internet culture has become accustomed to watching people. Even for those of us who just watch, there are consequences. We start to think of people’s lives and problems as just entertainment.


Watching the Watchers:

Eva and Franco Mattes also collected data on people who were watching them; their referred site history, countries of origin, directories and file types. I personally think these data visualisations are pretty darn awesome.

lifesharing-logs-ReqReferSiteHist-2000 lifesharing-logs-ReqCountry-2000 lifesharing-logs-ReqDirs-2000 lifesharing-logs-ReqFiletype-2000

”This is the beauty of a computer. It’s not the colors or the flashy stuff. It’s the functionality. How data goes from one point to another, how software interacts, even the bugs: this is the real Net art.”

– Renato Pasopiani, via New York Times Press

As the Life Sharing artpiece was so successful, the artists wanted to further magnify the impact of infringing their personal lives. They then set out to create Vopos, which is a sequel to Life sharing and is a project in which the artists wore Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitters to track their whereabouts, mapping their location on their Web site in real time. The artists also patched their mobile phone conversations through their server so anyone could listen in.

They certainly know how to push the boundaries with their work!

Research: A Bit[E] Of Me by Federico Zannier


Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 7.04.30 PM  You added Randall Packer as a friend

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 7.04.30 PM Sharanya Pillai posted in OSS NTU

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 7.04.30 PM MJ Quek invited you to like his page Merje!


Often, we skim through Facebook notifications to see whats new with our friends and with our own profile pages. Sometimes, we do it to get rid of the annoying red bubble on the header. Either way, we have access to our friends information and almost everything they decide to share and post on their pages.

You then go on and quickly scroll through your news feed; game requests, music suggestions and family photos… more family photos. On your own page; selfies, cat videos, music videos, photos with your classmates. You wanted to share these with your friends.

Like many, I spend hours everyday surfing the net everyday. Meanwhile, companies exploit my data and gain all the benefit from knowing what websites i visit, who I am friends with, the videos i watch.

There is no such thing as privacy
on the internet anymore.

“If you look at privacy in law, one important concept is a reasonable expectation of privacy. As more private lives are exported online, reasonable expectations are diminishing.”

Dr. Kieron O’hara

Facebook apps allow you to play games, take quizzes, and set up a family tree. Facebook allows apps to make the site seem more useful to its users. The company says 70% of users use apps each month. But what happens when the external companies that create these apps are allowed to gain access to your personal information?

They sell it and make money!

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 6.48.36 PM

You didn’t share all these internet data with them, they stole it from you – and they’re the ones making all the money! Quite a despicable plan they have set up, and we have little to no control about what kind of data and information they can mine from us.

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 6.48.47 PM

Companies that want to make use of the personal information people put online should pay for it.
– US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

The security of personal data on the Internet and Facebook has become a hot topic among many netizens ever since The Wall Street Journal investigated and reported a high-profile glitch: Facebook in Online Privacy Breach. Following the investigation, it is found that many of the most popular applications on the social-networking site Facebook have reportedly been transmitting identifying information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. 


The mining of personal data affects tens of millions of Facebook users – even the ones who have set their profiles to the strictest privacy settings. Putting anything up online is as good as offering the information for just about anyone to access.

“We have taken immediate action to disable all applications that violate our terms,” a Facebook spokesman said. Either way, even without Facebook apps, companies are getting smarter about how they go about data mining.


Zannier’s idea was simple – compile his own data and sell his data files for $2/day. He challenged this notion of companies secretly data mining by setting up a kickstarter page to sell his own personal data. His crass sarcasm made him money.


(click to view larger image)

“I’ve data mined myself. I’ve violated my own privacy. Now I am selling it all. But how much am I worth?”

“I’m selling this data for $2 a day. If more people do the same, I’m thinking marketers could just pay us directly for our data. It might sound crazy, but so is giving all our data away for free.”

says Federico Zannier in his new Kickstarter campaign. 

Good question.

Anyone who wants personal information can easily obtain much of it from your behavior on the Internet. Companies tracking and aggregating our clicks, taps, and swipes are the ones making money while the individuals are not. Our personal data information are worth billions to marketers every year. Should we be getting a share? Zanier’s project hopes to get more people thinking about the revolution of internet and big data.

According to Viktor Mayor-Shonberger, big data is “so fundamental a change… that it is important not just for every business, for every organization, for every government agency to look at big data… but also for society at large, because we need to put safeguards in place to make sure that big data does not control us.”

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A Bit(E) of Me on Kickstarter

“Zannier says he is willing to “give away a lifelong, international, sub-licensable right to use [his] personal data” as part of an experiment to see if there might be a market for such data sold by the individual Internet users who actually generate it.”
– reports PC Magazine

The project received overwhelming response and support. His initial target of $500 worth of pledges ended with $2733 – a whopping 546% funded. Clearly, many netizens shared the same sentiments as Zannier.

Federico’s Data Visualisation: (3 months)
(which I think is so awesome. sure, i’ll part with $2)







Although Zannier is not the first to come up with the concept of exchanging personal data for money, he got a lot of people thinking, as well as commenting on social media platforms.

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