Saturday, 24 April 2010

Is there such a thing as privacy online?

As an educator, I know I need to take this Q to heart, but as a 'digital immigrant' and someone who believes I can remain anonymous online--the fallacy--it's not going to happen to me comes into play. I didn't find any 'digital footprint' when I searched for myself on google or even on the Technorati site we were asked to try in the last F2F class. But in telling my husband about the search for my hidden identity, he suggested trying the search engine Bing. Couldn't believe it what I saw it--but there I was with an entry I made back in 1994 in an old TESL forum I used to be active on: Responding to ESL. I had completely forgotten about my participation in that forum, which now that I recall, I was particularly active on. The other I found, beside the predictable Facebook one (whose link I'm not including here b/c there's no reason to go there) was more of a brief 'claim to fame' (and a plug here for the read) as it's a blurb that's out of the Educating for Global Citizenship book by Boyd Roberts, IBO Projects Director, in which I was published: 'Students as Facilitators of Discussions.'

So, I guess I'm convinced that I, along with anyone else online, am 'out there.' Not that I have anything to fear, but is fear the question here? Yes, and no. We democratic citizens of nations and of the of the world believe that we're also entitled to privacy as an inherent right. One link I found on this week's reading: 'Beware the Internet could own your future' was 'The future of privacy and the web,' which points out the growing concerns among academics of the blur between public and private, given the current Internet usage. But then there's the other side of the coin that considers that times they are a-changin' and that we're on the brink of a paradigm shift regarding public v. private. I found another link on Facebook's: Mark Zuckerberg's move to make Facebook content public, despite his previous assurances of privacy on the site: 'Facebook's Zuckerberg Says...' Interesting read as the posters at the end of the article were grappling with whether even George Orwell is right in that the powers that be are in control and attempting to exploit (this found on Ho Nam's post):

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment… It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug into your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized (Orwell, 1984, 6-7)"

Or whether we are in fact heading into a new paradigm whereby we are just ready for a new definition of privacy. Here's Nam's Q: "Powerful companies such as Facebook and Google can be agents of change. Will they use their power to continue to increase power (and profit) or to serve their users and strive toward a better society?"

It seems to me that we're (we Internet users) are in the process of creating the new paradigm even as I write another post to this blog with all of these links I've added. Will Ho Name find his name on my blog? Would he care, or might he feel honored that I've quoted his very words here for others to read? Or, might he feel some sort of 'violation' to his privacy. (Hard to imagine the latter, given that he did post his link as well...)

It also seems to me that we have to take the 'good' with the 'bad' here. Another poster's comments by Mona Namura on the same site reminds us as educators of the need to employ our critical thinking in regards to this issue. And, which in turn, reminds us to bring to our students' attention, the same thing. So, we come around full circle to the need to begin educating our students at the youngest age possible of the implications of their actions on the Internet. I don't claim to know how to do this with young students, but I know others out there are already doing it (things are moving in place at our school as I write this... #4 of the NETS applies here:

4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:
a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources
b. address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies and providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources
c. promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information
d. develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures digital-age communication and collaboration tools

So that last post by Normura disparaging education and favoring the solution to promote critical thinking on the Internet is hopefully not true if we (and other schools) begin making these aims practical. I'm sure we'll learn more about how to do this in Course 2!

1 comment:

Jeff Utecht said...

I think all of this is continued conversations. Between us as teachers and with our students, and hopefully between students as well.

We need to continue to have these conversations to try and understand what's happening out there, because like it or not...it's happening.

Facebook and their recent changes have showed us that. Facebook use to be all about privacy, now it's all about openness and you can make it private....and huge shift in the way information is viewed.