Public is the New Default


Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via Compfight cc


The whole issue of privacy doesn’t really worry me.  Maybe it’s because I am a Xennial, having grown up on the cusp of technology domination. The author of this article describes my peers best with,  “We had one foot in the traditional ways of yore and one foot in the digital information age, we appreciate both in a way that other generations don’t.” Growing up things around me were always changing. I vividly remember my elementary school getting the big clunky Macs and using floppy disks. I used AOL Instant Messenger, was at one of the universities with The Facebook, and also had personal email accounts before my parents did.  I fumbled through the privacy issue as a college student and thankfully learned what to post and what not to post before the days of things going viral (sidenote: check out this video of Why Things Go Viral).  

I personally appreciate the convenience, help, and protection that comes with all the features of  Google, Amazon suggestions, and personalized news on Zite. I understand that I am allowing access to my personal interests, but in return I get a unique experience tailored to me whenever I use this sites. That doesn’t mean I am careless about my information, I only allow certain apps to have access.  Of course I understand sites can track my history and cookies, but I am not worried about that. As Jeff Utecht says in his blogpost Privacy, we can’t have it both ways. Our love/hate relationship with technology is a personal battle, one that I stand on the side of love. I would go on to add that we live in an instantaneous society where convenience trumps all and with that comes some compromise. What are you willing to compromise?

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In Jeff’s above mentioned blogpost he also goes on to say that “public is the new default”.  I like how he says that we should start with the idea that everything we do is public and work backwards from there. If I know everything about me is out there, what do I want to keep safe and how will I protect it? It is different for everyone. I know some people that aren’t on Facebook because they don’t want their lives documented and shared with everyone, then there are people who use Instagram or blogs as a way to make money. There are apps and Moments on Facebook that will allow you to send private photos to a group of people. This may be the right choice for some people. Again, it comes back to what do you want to get out of it and how open are you.  

The article When Data Gets Creepy, lived up to its title and made me a little paranoid when I read it. It had the feeling of scare tactics stating, “An interesting side-effect of public data being indexed and searchable is that you only have to be sloppy once, for your privacy to be compromised.” and warning readers that “ your tweets are public property”. I knew all this and I try to use discretion, but couldn’t help to double guess myself as I read.

Although this week’s topic is personal privacy, I had to think about my students’ privacy.  When I share my professional life on Twitter sometimes there is a picture along with the caption, and before I post I have to check make sure that their parents have signed the agreement to share their child’s image. Does your school have an agreement for parents to sign?  How does your school manage their students privacy? I would love to hear feedback and suggestions.

We need space mentally to play and experiment without the threat of judgement in order to grow into people who are internally free. –From Online Privacy: How Did We Get Here?

Last week reading through other COETAILers blogposts I kept thinking and even made a comment about teaching students empathy and forgiveness.  Even with educating our students about digital footprints, privacy, etc they will make mistakes. We need to teach them how to bounce back from mistakes or oversharing and teach them how to be less judgemental, have a little grace for others, and to help their peers move on after an incident.