That’s What I Like About You

I did my undergrad at Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit school located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I love Marquette, it was ridiculously expensive, especially considering the value and quality of the flagship public university here. Hindsight’s 20/20, right?

In my experience, the cool thing about a Jesuit university, is that while we were required to take an extensive core curriculum, including significant amounts of theology and philosophy, I never felt like their religious views were being crammed down our throats. In fact, it was more like, “Yes, this is what we [as Catholics] believe, but here are ALL of the points of view. You decide.”

Or, in the words of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities:

Jesuit colleges and universities are places of intellectual integrity, critical inquiry, and mutual respect, where open dialogue characterizes an exciting environment of teaching, research and professional development. The Jesuit ideal of giving serious attention to the profound questions about the meaning of life encourages an openness of mind and heart, and seeks to establish campus communities which support the intellectual growth of all of its members while providing them with opportunities for spiritual growth and development.

All in all, I loved the Jesuit approach to education because it honored my liberty of thought. It’s funny, but it is exactly THAT emphasis on liberty of thought that draws me to Library and Information Studies as well.

Consider this, from the ALA on Collection Development:

Librarians have a professional responsibility to be fair, just, and equitable and to give all library users equal protection in guarding against violation of the library patron’s right to read, view, or listen to materials and resources protected by the First Amendment, no matter what the viewpoint of the author, creator, or selector.

Basically, one of the tenants of librarianship in the United States is intellectual freedom. Between that and an emphasis on privacy protection for patrons, the ALA’s view on intellectual development is right up my alley.

NOOB PWNED

I try to do a Facebook audit every so often, just because I’m a high school teacher and I know the kids go looking for me sometimes. As a general policy, I never accept students as friends until after they graduate (or I don’t work there anymore) and even then, I put them on a limited profile where they aren’t allowed to see my pictures, among other things.

So about six months ago, I checked out my security settings and discovered with the change to the “Timeline” layout of Facebook that it was left wide open. I was pretty much completely exposed to the public, at least with my Wall and About Me information. Maybe the pictures were still contained. I was horrified, scrambling to figure out how to lock it down again. Minimally, I had actually scrubbed out some pictures that I didn’t want up anymore before I had moved to the Timeline, but still. (Yes, I know Facebook still has them in their possession, but at least they don’t appear to be attached immediately to my account for everyone to see.) About a month ago, they changed everyone’s email address that is displayed on their profile to a generic Facebook email address without notifying anyone. Of course, I still haven’t managed to remove that email from my account (impossible), but I did get my email back to the display.

That’s the thing about Facebook. You just don’t know when a change will leave you exposed. They change privacy policies or remake a layout and you start over. More often than not, settings are buried in several locations so it is very possible to “miss something” sometimes. Wonderful. More rookie users or the naive that don’t think about privacy much probably never know. Back in the day, when Facebook was “young,” it wasn’t so tricky to tame as it is now.

For me, the most useful tool they have is the one that you can see how your profile looks to a specific user (you type in the name). Lately, I can never seem to find it though. It moves, I swear! Today I managed to find one that showed me what my profile looks like to the public, which was satisfying enough. I didn’t find the specific user view this time. I hope my Limited Profile view still is limited.

About a month ago, I found a handy little security setting that if my Facebook was accessed from a new computer, that it would text me a authentication code that I would have to use as a password to log in. I wasn’t too sure about attaching my cell phone number to my Facebook account, but I feel like it is better than getting hacked.

My most recent audit of Facebook this week didn’t expose anything as alarming as what I discovered with Timeline. I made a few tweaks. I changed a setting on I will need to approve when other users tag me in posts. I cleaned up some Apps that I felt didn’t need to be associated with my account anymore. I changed a setting so that Facebook can only text me 5 times a day. It never does, except for the authentication codes I described above, so I figured this is reasonable. I’d rather them not change a security setting again, and find out too late that I’m getting a hundred texts a day from Facebook.

A few years ago, I offered a community ed course called “Financial Peace University” by Dave Ramsey. (I am emphatically anti-debt and really believe in his method. If you want some getting-out-of-debt tips, I’m your girl!) Anyway, I used Facebook ads to publicize my course in the area. It didn’t really help; my enrollment was low no thanks to the $40 I spent on Facebook ads, but I tried, right? Because of this, I had a credit card attached to my Facebook account… I’m not sure why I never removed it before, but I tackled it today. It was actually a little tricky to remove. Typical…

My Google audit was also pretty clean. I used to be a little more visible with K-12 lesson plan sharing and stuff, but that seems to have settled deeper into the depths of my Google results. I had never thought to pull up Google images attached to my name before, though. That was quite a surprise. Not that the pictures were compromising, but basically all of my Picasa albums that were set to public were indexed with tags to my name. I guess I just thought that the link allowed people in, if they knew where to look, not that everything was tagged. There were a lot of pictures of family members that I don’t think I would have posted if I had realized that they were all tagged behind their back. I think I managed to evoke some privacy settings on the pictures, but I’m sure it will take awhile before they fall off the top results for Google images.

While I am fairly confident and secure about my digital image and digital dossier, I have a separate digital insecurity that has recently developed. Yesterday, I bought my first Apple computer–a MacBook Pro! I am excited, but COMPLETELY out of my element. I have been checking out MacBooks from the campus libraries for the last week because I require a Mac program for my final course assignment (I am using Pages to publish EPUBS).

I think I’ve made a few mistakes with the loaner Macs, like installing iCloud and logging into to my Chrome browser account on a machine that wasn’t mine to personalize. Since I am pretty green on how Macs work, I am unsure how much I have exposed myself or my data from my other Apple devices (like my iPhone or iPad) or even my internet browsing history. For example, because of my iCloud mistake (I think that was the culprit), my brand new Safari browser on the new computer was fully equipped with all of the UW-Madison Libraries Quick Links. Gee, thanks… Who knows what else got screwed up! Since I’m such a Mac newbie, I don’t even know where to look.

I’m hoping it will turn out okay, especially since the campus libraries re-image each machine every time when they are returned after 3 days. In the meantime, I’m trying to learn as quickly as possible and I’m making visits to the Apple Store for One-on-Ones. I had one this morning and I’ve got another appointment tomorrow before class. Maybe they can help this NOOB before she gets PWNED.

Lessons from Michael Jackson

Before I begin, let me just say that I remember SixDegrees.com. I actually messed around with it a lot my freshman year of college in the computer lab (because back in 1998-1999, most students didn’t have their own computers yet, but we all loved the internet and AIM). As it turns out, I might still be able to use it, that is, if I had any idea what kind of user name and password that I thought was a good idea when I was 18. I wish there was a way to retrieve them and get in again! I’m just curious… Anyway, I especially appreciated Jason Griffey’s mention of Six Degrees in Chapter 5 of the Library Technology Report from November 2010, just because it makes me feel a bit more like a Digital Native (p. 34).

Actually, I’ve been a member of Facebook since 2005, back when it was only open to college kids. I liked the exclusivity and I thought that MySpace was dumb.

I was born in 1980, which seems to be on the cusp between Generation X and the Millennials/Generation Y. I definitely remember the analog era and rotary telephones, filmstrips and Rural Route 1 mailing addresses. I think we had at least one computer in every classroom I was in from 1st grade on–and in 4th grade, there were 15. But there was no internet for me until I was in 10th grade. Before then, we used computers to play Number Munchers and Oregon Trail or to word process.

In Palfrey and Gasser’s Born Digital, they describe three types of digital citizens: the Digital Native, the Digital Settler and the Digital Immigrant (location 79-81… remember I’m a Kindle reader, so no page numbers possible for me–basically this was found in the Introduction). While I identify with [some] of the descriptions of Digital Natives, I can’t say that I grew up in an era where I had no control of the digital dossier that was being created on me, like our hypothetical child “Andy” (location 690 and on). I’m probably more like a Digital Settler, to be technical.

When I think about the thought that I try put into [almost] every online post or photo in an attempt to protect my privacy, knowing that it is out-there in permanency, it’s a little troubling that baby pictures are often put up without hesitation. Many parents today are Digital Settlers or Digital Immigrants or non-Digitals, are the first ones creating “baby Andy’s” digital dossier and even digital identity, through their photo-sharing and text-messaging. (There are a few genuine Digital-Native parents too, yes, but I am willing to bet that these are also teen parents who might not yet have mastered the art of controlling their online presence, just based on their predicament… nothing against teen-parents, I am a product of one, but as a teacher, I prefer to see my students make it out of high school first.)

I digress.

The contributions that Andy’s family–and later his friends and others–make to the dossier are quite different from the contributions of the medical community. The digital information that is in the hands of his doctors is likely to stay more or less private over time, whereas the online postings about a Digital Native created by friends and family are immediately in public view and social (Palfrey & Gasser, location 720).

The important point here is that the proliferation of copying makes digital files wildly difficult to manage–and right off the bat. The process starts even before Andy’s birth. After he’s born, the ability of Andy’s parents to control the information that is associated with him is immediately lost, and by the time Andy comes of age and begins to try and manage it for himself, the tangle of information will be even more impossible to unravel (location 740).

What if parents aren’t even thinking about controlling their child’s digital dossier at all? Is it fair that this child might have to deal with unraveling the mess themselves later? I’m starting to understand why some celebrities don’t allow their child to be photographed much (or they make them wear masks like Michael Jackson’s kids). While I mostly love to see my peers’ slew of photos of their kids every day on Facebook, it makes me wonder what kind of message we are sending and if this kid will appreciate being posted all over the internet when they are our age.

I really want to see more people understand the choices they are making when they put themselves out there. I think making digital footprints is inevitable  if we want to use the internet at all; I’m not saying we should encourage everyone to be like Eli Neiburger’s patron in Chapter 3 of the Library Technology Report from November 2010: “I’m a bit nutty, so I won’t tag things at the library so Agent Smith can’t find me” (p. 18).

I know there are kids who already understand what it means to control their digital presence and there are adults who really don’t. It’s a process. It’s just that there has been more than once where I have had to remind kids that other people can see what they post (because  they don’t lock it down) and that they can get themselves in trouble for it (like cyber-bullying). And then there’s the pictures they post that just should be on the internet, again because everyone can see them.

I think it’s good to keep in mind Palfrey and Gasser’s warning from the end of chapter 2:

Too often, we are leaving our children alone to shape their identities in a fragile, fast-moving, hard-to-control environment online. And too often, the decisions that we make in favor of convenience mean giving up control that, at some point in the future, we may wish we had retained (location 886).