This is an offline workshop. Participants are supposed to fill in the blanks of a text representing a normal day. By completing the story, they will understand the role and the ubiquity of their personal data each day.
Preparation time for facilitator
Time needed to complete activity (for learner)
Name of author
Support material needed for training
Resource originally created in
During this workshop, you will discuss the progression of a day that anyone might live by inviting participants to put themselves in the shoes of an everyman or everywoman. In the second part, they will construct a timeline documenting everything they have done in the previous days in order to identify their personal data.
Facilitation tips: To conclude this workshop, you can show the information here (interesting video and infographic on the trail of data we leave behind). For more information on personal data and digital identity, we recommended you see the related workshop plans.
A typical day
To start, participants will fill in the missing elements by stating only the truth. Everyone will need to write the missing elements on a sheet of paper. To help them understand, demonstrate with the first sentence:
‘This morning, I checked my inbox. I had a mail from my sister. I don’t understand why she insists on keeping her AOL, I use ________ and it’s perfect.’
Explain that they have to write (or say it if that’s how you’ve decided to organise the game) the email provider they actually use (Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
The typical day: This morning, I checked my inbox. I had a mail from my sister. I don’t understand why she insists on keeping her AOL, I use ________ and it’s perfect. She reminded me that her daughter’s baby shower is next week. Then I left for the doctor to get my medical certificate to take part in a semi-professional sports tournament. I play ______ (name of sport). The doctor asked me my address so I gave it her: __________. Next, I went to get a coffee. A person sitting near me asked me my name and what I do. I told them ____________. We spoke about philosophy and the environment for a while. I went home and ordered a gift for my niece’s baby shower. I head to Amazon and chose a pair of dungarees and entered my card number: ________ (first four numbers only). Before going for dinner at _______, I spent some time online. I love watching _____ and going on ______. I also like to learn more about my passion, _______, by watching videos about it on YouTube.
Now tell participants that the information they entered into the blanks represents their personal data.
Timeline, an infinity of data
Now, instead of a made-up version of a typical day, let them outline the way they spend their own time. Participants will have to create a timeline! If you are short on time, make a simple timeline documenting the previous day or the present day (in relation to the workshop). If you have more time, you can go back further – up to a month ago! Participants will have to give as much of the details from the following list as possible:
- places they went
- at what time and date
- with whom they went (and their relation)
- to purpose of going
- if they bought something, their payment method
They can begin from memory and can then refer to social media and things they may have posted online to remind themselves of specifics. They can even check MyActivity on which Google will display all their activity through data it has recorded. Leave them 20 minutes (or more depending on the time available). At the end, everyone can look at each other’s timelines. The idea is to reflect on the information they found online and that which they couldn’t. They should think about what this information they have listed on the timeline means – amongst the data, which of it is personal? Discuss for 5-10 minutes. In reality, all of these elements are personal data. Even the names of the people that go with you to wherever it is you go.
Following the discussion, define personal data in order to ensure that everyone has well understood the details of a personal nature.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives the following definition:
Personal data are any information which are related to an identified or identifiable natural person. The data subjects are identifiable if they can be directly or indirectly identified, especially by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or one of several special characteristics, which expresses the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, commercial, cultural or social identity of these natural persons. In practice, these also include all data which are or can be assigned to a person in any kind of way. For example, the telephone, credit card or personnel number of a person, account data, number plate, appearance, customer number or address are all personal data.
The digital world is vastly complex. It is important to understand that all of your online data – anything and everything related to you – comprises your digital identity. Your data will in turn be treated in a personal way. To give one example, when you visit a website, it will recognise and harvest some of your personal data and send them to advertisers so that these brands can tailor and target online ads for you.