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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unit 2: Access, literacy, sustainability on my mind... Privacy, not so much

I'm not going to do the Make for this week, although I read Jonathan's piece on Is My Data Showing?

I have to just admit right off that I'm not someone who is motivated strongly by the trust/security issues that Jonathan raises here, although I know others are. That is because when I think about "data," I don't just think about digital data, but all the traces — the memory of ourselves — that we leave behind as we interact with people. Society has, since forever I guess, proceeded with a real anarchy of memory. Memory that is highly selective, deceptive, unreliable... untrustworthy. In large part untrustworthy because it is private. But at the same time, memory is very real; it is what powers the connection between past, present, and future, making it possible for us to be humans and to have the human cultures that we do.

So, while I understand that some people are highly motivated to work on trust and security issues that surround digital data, it's not how I choose to spend my time. Instead, I am much more interested in working (and working and working) on the non-digital-data questions of language and memory and tradition. Admittedly, I use the great technology of WRITING (the greatest technology ever invented) to do that, and I appreciate immensely the convenience of digital forms of writing to let me do my work in all kinds of new ways that profoundly extend the reach and depth of language.

Likewise with my students. Insofar as they are doing work online on the open Internet in my class, I explain the options for using their name (or not) at their blog  and at their project website, and I also have a "Google Yourself" activity, and it's intriguing to read their comments about that.  I'm cool with whatever kind of avatar they want to use; in order to make sure people realize it's fine with me to use a non-personal-photo, I use two different foxes.

At the same time, I don't make a big deal about this because I make a big deal about other things instead. In a world of limited time, energy, and attention, data privacy is just not something that has captured a lot of my own personal time, energy, and attention. Perhaps something will happen that will change my mind about that (?), but in my past 15 years of being online, issues of access, literacy and sustainability have just always outweighed my concerns (or lack thereof) about data privacy. But I did enjoy reading Jonathan's thoughts and observations, will skip the Make, and am on to see what might come next for Week 2!

~ ~ ~

Proverbial privacy... pre-digital-data. Yes, privacy was a problem even BEFORE the Internet was invented, as this old proverb attests: Hedges have eyes and walls have ears.

4 comments:

  1. I'm not either doing it either - partly for the very same reasons and partly because it just does not fit with all the rest of what I am doing. Not so long ago, I had to deal with a major online trust issue (of the misplaced variety). An explaining options post would be a good idea -- but to colleagues not students, although many are informal/unofficial students in this area ~ reluctant, recalcitrant, resistant (another three r's)

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  2. I was wondering if there would be spam/troll issues with my students and their blogs... but so far that seems to be going really well. I'm used to dealing with that and will be ready to step in and help; I guess I should write it up proactively, but I sure have been enjoying the LACK of problems! :-)

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  3. You said, "...when I think about "data," I don't just think about digital data, but all the traces — the memory of ourselves — that we leave behind as we interact with people."

    Immediately, I found myself thinking, spoken like a true folklore/mythology specialist and writer.

    Then you wrote,

    "I am much more interested in working (and working and working) on the non-digital-data questions of language and memory and tradition. Admittedly, I use the great technology of WRITING (the greatest technology ever invented) to do that, and I appreciate immensely the convenience of digital forms of writing to let me do my work in all kinds of new ways that profoundly extend the reach and depth of language."

    In their text, Understanding Digital Literacies, Jones & Haffner make a clear distinction between data, information, and knowledge. It's the working on data that creates information; likewise, knowledge is created through the workings of and with information. I am interested in the processes of knowledge creation in its endless iterations & processes, which feels very different from issues about data & privacy.... Does this make sense?

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  4. Oooooh, that is so intriguing, Karen - I will admit that I am not very careful at all in my use of terms like data, information, and knowledge - data is definitely different from the other two in being more raw somehow, but the difference between information and knowledge that you describe here is intriguing. But yes, I guess I do see information as being more raw, closer to data - although I had never thought about putting them in a progressive series like that. Very nice indeed!
    Have you read James Gleick's The Information??? One of the very best books I've read in recent years, and it gave me a new appreciate for the way data and information can be studied as such - the idea of a "bit" as a quantity of information that can be measured like other quantities is still kind of mind-blowing to me!
    James Gleick - The Information

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(I have limited this to Google accounts only, but no word verification; meanwhile, if you want to contact me directly, you can do that too! laura-gibbs@ou.edu.)