Book Review, Digital Literacy, Reflections

Under Surveillance: Privacy, Rights, and Those Capitalizing On Us

“I don’t care who sees or reads what I post online. I am an open book — I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Have you heard this before? This is a common response I usually hear when talking with a students, staff, and faculty in higher ed about their personal data and privacy online. Not all take this stance; however, most feel like it is almost too late to take back what is already available and online — this includes their identification, their behaviors, and more. Have we past the point of no personal data return for what we share online?  Are there things we should be thinking about our digital behaviors? Have we thought about how to optimize privacy on these portable computers we bring everywhere — our phones? Is digital privacy possible?

This is a topic I’ve written and spoke about before, as I often feel caught in the privacy paradox in my own digital life. Earlier this year I have began auditing where and how I take up digital real estate. I don’t think giving away our personal data for a “free service” or online account is a fair trade. I have thought more about the fine print in the terms of services for a number of my social media and digital accounts, especially controlling who can collect my data and in “opting out” to control who might use my personal information. This is really important as we see more companies gobble up social media sites and grow their own data collection business based on online information they can find — I’m looking at you Facebook and Google. Whether you share a product on Instagram or tweet about an event, these companies are interested in scooping of this information.

You can go nowhere unseen… We found this ‘camera’ on a window pane in a small staircase to the attic, in the most remote corner of an abandoned hospital.
Flickr image c/o Fabian https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapsi42/3925435964/

I just finished reading Shoshana Zuboff ‘s latest book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, where she defines surveillance capitalism as “a new economic order that claims [private] human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales.” This is directly connected to our digital behaviors, such as our clicks, views, impressions, and even who we are. We share a vast amount of information accessed through our social media accounts, mobile apps, digital platforms, and smart devices — ask your personal digital assistant, Alexa, Siri, and/or Google Home all about it.

In the privacy camp, you can find a number of postsecondary colleagues and learners who are concerned about protecting their personal data and digital information. Similar to others online, most want to know how to maintain digital control of their data and manage their online reputation. Just over 60% of Americans WOULD  LIKE to do more about their privacy; however, their social media use is mostly unchanged since 2018 and I suspect most would value the cost of privacy at $0. Do you think people would pay to protect their information? Who would pay to use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. if it meant more control of who uses their data? I have my doubts that many would actually pay to use apps and social technologies.

Last year, negative impacts of the personal digital life included contentedness overload, trust tensions, personal identity issues, and failing to focus. Privacy, data collection, and surveillance are loaded issues. They are not issues we can tackle on our own. It can be so overwhelming for any one of us to deal with. This needs to be a collective movement for change in society — this might include efforts to push for accountability from technology giants, pushing for regulation, demanding specific privacy standards, and encouraging more of us to change our own behaviors so our actions are not feeding into the business opportunities of surveillance capitalism and data collection. We need to do more than just secure our own data. We need to work on ways to secure all of our personal data and identify standards that block opportunistic actions from technology companies.

Choosing to not use these tools, devices, or platforms is not a viable option to solve this problem. Data security and information collection impacts everyone. Whether you are active on a digital platform or opting out, there are pieces of data and information connected to you in some shape or form. Surveillance and data collection is so ubiquitous that we often take it for granted (Lewis, 2017).  Privacy is less of a paradox, and more of a fact of life, whether we like it or not:

“We can’t buy rooms at the panopticon hotel and then complain about the surveillance.” The internet cliché “You are the product” is wrong, argues @DKThomp. We are neither products nor workers in surveillance capitalism’s quest for data. We are a passive source of raw material—a field to be harvested, or a mountain to be strip-mined. To counter the “nothing to hide” quote that started this post, Zuboff thinks: “If you have nothing to hide, then you are nothing.”

Take a listen to the Crazy/Genius podcast episode to hear more of their conversation: Why Should We Care About Privacy?

Want to hear more about privacy, data and surveillance? Check out these past podcast episodes:

References:

Lewis, R. (2017). Under surveillance: Being watched in modern America. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.

#HEdigID, Digital Literacy, Professional Development

#HEdigID Chat no. 13: Living a Purposeful Digital Life

It’s almost impossible to not have any aspect of your life be in the digital. An increasing number of digital objects, environments, and applications often consume our daily lives. Whether it is a text message, calendar notification, online bank transfer, a voice-assisted inquiry, a “like” on social media, or ping from your smartwatch, technology impacts and influences how we live, work, and play. It is not about unplugging or walking away from a device, as the online and offline experience goes beyond a single location or scheduled time. Digital dualism, the belief that online and offline are separate and distinct realms, is no longer feasible in the lives we lead. Also, digital dualism presents a false dichotomy of spaces and real/virtual; in particular, the digital interacts and influences the offline realm, and vice versa (Suler, 2016).

This ubiquitous digital life is seamless as technology is more accessible and just over 50% of the world is now online. Thanks to broader networking abilities and “smarter” mobile/computing devices, our connection and interaction with information, media, and society are constant. Recently, Mozilla released the 2019 Internet Health Report (SPOILER ALERT: The Internet is a bit under the weather.) to identify these issues and needs around:

  • Privacy and security – how safe is it?
  • Openness – is it open?
  • Digital inclusion – who is welcome?
  • Web literacy – who can succeed?
  • Decentralization – who controls it?
  • Participate -10 minutes to a healthier internet (action!)

In listening to the summary of this report on on CBC Spark, I think that Mark Surman, Mozilla‘s executive director, left some room for hope at the end of the interview. It is really up to the collective us, web developers, engineers, government, and society, as what we need to think about broadly for how we engage in the web. On a bright note, Internet health is now a mainstream issue that we are having conversations about to understand what can and needs to be done for the future of the web we want to be a part with Surman’s call to action:

“…how we do design this stuff? We still have the rule of law. We still have governments that we can actually decide where to take this. We’re at that kind of a juncture right now, and we can also govern it stupidly. And so now is the time for engaging in really thoughtful, hard-nosed investigation of what we want the digital society to look like..”

Bringing these issues to higher education, we often direct these concerns towards the support digital literacy among our college/university learners; specifically how they are using technologies, devices, and platforms. We should not assume competence of digital abilities for other campus stakeholders (e.g. staff, faculty, administration, etc.) without understand if/how they are being supported as well. I get that clutter, optimization, and being intentional are pillars of the digital minimalism book by Newport (2019); however, I think his solutions and strategies come from a point of privilege and lack of experience of actually using the digital platforms or social media sites. If you never had an account or you aren’t actively using a social media channel for your personal/professional life, how can you tell others to use these less if it’s a vital tool of their digital life? There is nothing wrong with finding focus and doing deeper work — I fully support that. But, I think there needs to be a balance and compromise with how we navigate the landscape of our evolving personal and professional digital lives. Constant connectivity, emerging technologies, and increasing expectations for life online will not disappear, so we need to figure ways to manage and survive.

Next week (May13-19, 2019), I am teaching this OLC Workshop: Developing your Digital Presence & Taking Control of your Online Identity, which means I will ALSO be facilitating a Higher Ed Digital Identity (#HEdigID) chat next FRIDAY (May 17th) on this topic:  Living a Purposeful Digital Life. Join us for the ALL DAY (slow) Twitter conversation using the hashtag: #HEdigID If you’re not into tweeting, you can still SHARE and RESPOND to the same questions/prompts that I will be adding to this open Google doc soon: http://bit.ly/hedigid13

Here are a few QUESTIONS to get you thinking about HOW and WHERE you live your “best digital live” these days for Friday’s (May 17th) #HEdigID ALL-DAY discussion:

  1. What digital spaces and/or social media platforms are you most “present” on these days? OR Where online do you want to be more active on? How can others connect and engage with #highered professionals (staff, faculty & administrators), in general? List WHERE and WHY you are an active participant digitally these days and living your “best life.”
  2. What online NETWORKS and COMMUNITIES do you often connect with to find other #highered professionals with similar interests/research/work? This could a platform you go to learn, share, or promote your practice/teaching/design/scholarship. SHARE any groups, hashtags, podcasts, blogs, websites, etc. you follow and connect with.
  3. Using digital spaces and social media to share our professional work forces us to differentiate between our ‘private’ and ‘public’ lives. The reality is, this is much more complex as we share our personal and professional lives online. What CHALLENGES or RISKS concern you most about being a ‘public intellectual’ online in #highered?
  4. It’s so easy always be connected — online or to our technologies — so, how do you take time to UNPLUG or DISCONNECT when you need a break? Share how you digitally detox and/or tend to your well-being when you need to escape the digital grind.
  5. What is one piece of ADVICE or a SUGGESTION you want to seek from or offer other #highered professionals related to “living your best digital life” on social media, online, etc.?

Join us for the conversation next week, and in the mean time — tell me:

How do you live your best digital life (with purpose) these days? 

Updated May 19, 2019: Twitter ARCHIVE from chat: #HEdigID Chat Transcript, No. 13: Living a Purposeful Digital Life (05.17.19).

Higher Education, Learning, Learning and Performance, Library, Online Learning, Professional Development

Why Can’t Learning in the Analog and Digital Just Get Along?

It’s the end of the academic term (well, almost, I’m still wrapping up my grading), but I have been thinking a great deal about learning, how we learn, and the modes of learning for both my students and professionals this semester. Back in March, Joshua Kim posed a series of questions related to the higher education conference learning that goes on, and questioning how we might need to rethink our own professional development for learning:

  • What if the way we think about professional development for learning professionals is actually holding back the learning profession?
  • What if what we really need is to create new knowledge?
  • What if what the learning profession really needs is original scholarship?
  • What if the resources, time and energy we devote to attending large professional conferences would be better spent in small-scale convenings, where the goals of scholarly productivity are foregrounded above all others?

These questions resonated with me, my friends/colleagues often ask if I will be attending an upcoming conference or event so we can meet up. As a professional with minimal funds for travel and also little interest in attending conferences during the academic term (I teach A LOT of learners during the two long semesters – Fall and Spring), many are surprised to hear I am not going to be at these events as I value professional learning. In the last few years, I have notices that I am not learning very much at conferences on site at these events. To clarify — I DO participate in valuable discussions, debates, and banter with peers at these events, but I’m not sure the format of a typical 2-3 day conference with keynotes, workshops, lecture presentations, academic papers/posters, etc. in a 2-3 day format is not how I WANT to learn.

Sure. I miss the connections and socialization within the profession at these conference events, but really, my learning and development is on-going and more tailored to what I need and want to learn about. These days, I think there are SO many ways to engage with professionals and gain the knowledge I am looking about — that I have not been interested in figuring out how to build a budget for one event. Sometimes I follow and read through a conference backchannel if I can’t physically attend; however, lately, I’m not sure I’m really missing out on anything. I think the biggest loss of not attending might not actually be the learning, but the networking and professional socialization that comes with the analog format of most conferences.  Also what is often lost in these large learning events, is the knowledge creation and sharing beyond a time, location, and date to a broader audience — that comes with “the common is a faith in the power of convening. And, in particular, a faith in the power of convening at scale” (Kim, 2019).

I think there are SO many ways professional to learn, develop, and gain knowledge in higher education. I typically find ways to learn from my peers and gain insights into my field through:

  • Books I borrow from the public & university library – I read A LOT!
  • Hashtags I search/follow/chat with on Twitter based on topics I’m interested in
  • Peers and colleagues work I follow — especially those who tweet, podcast, blog, and share in open access ways online
  • Journal articles and conference proceedings (ones that are publish)
  • PODCASTS! Like books, I listen to and learn from a wide variety of episodes, including the growing number of higher ed-focused podcasts, available on-demand, for download, and/or streaming. I guess I also create a couple to learn from as well e.g. @BreakDrink & @InVinoFab
  • LIVE/ARCHIVED web stuff: Webinars, web-events, broadcasts, YouTube live, Virtually Connecting sessions, etc.
  • Local events and happenings around DFW — at my campus, at other campuses, and general MeetUps or events. This even includes things posted on my local neighborhood network, NextDoor.
  • Subscriptions to learning, like this yearly membership I have to MasterClass.com
  • Open educational resources (OER) — e.g. MOOCs offered by FutureLearn, Coursera or edX and other OER repositories
  • Listservs and Google Groups — yeah, I still learn news, information, and find opportunities on these emailed spaces.
  • Library or research workshops at UNT Library like Software Carpentry for R and Python to tool up on a skills, platform, or research method.
  • Formal university courses. I take advantage of that staff/faculty discount at my own institution to take a non-degree course (I’m working on this certificate now).
  • Friends, colleague, and peer suggestions for learning and training — they just know I like learning, and what might peak my interest, in general. So I welcome referrals and suggestions for any of the above — and I get these often.

Beyond professional learning conferences, this sentiment also present with the work I do in the online teaching/learning domain. At our colleges and universities (at least in the US), there seems to be more value placed on the analog vs. the digital work we do on campus. If I am not physically “present” somewhere, how can the work I be doing the same as my colleague? What does a lecturer do who does not actually lecture? Good question, let me tease this out a bit as a couple of recent reads around digital minimalism and revenge of the analog has peaked these thoughts.

Over the past five years, as a full-time non-tenure track faculty member, I have been involved in a great deal of teaching/learning as a lecturer (who might not actually lecture). My work involves instructing face-to-face (F2F), online, and blended learning university courses and also designing learning/training on digital platforms AND within new physical teaching spaces. This has been fun, as I try to apply what I’m learning and discovering in my own research/learning (see list above) to re-tool how to best design these educational experiences digitally (like others who move to online teaching). That being said, when talking to some colleagues, I do notice the embedded bias for the “traditional” teaching methods (e.g. sage on the stage, chalk n’ talk, talking-head expert, etc.) for what it means to be present on a campus as a faculty or staff employee.

Looking back, I suppose most of my own experience as a learner involved F2F means of instruction, student support, and interactions. Before finishing my PhD, I had a number of F2F and blended courses I taught or had been enrolled in myself. Part of the assumption of online teaching comes with the culture on campus and the expectations of what an online course will entail for the learner. For F2F courses, I think there is less pressure to have your entire curriculum prepared, available, and online at the start of each semester. A professor or instructor can just show up and talk (on or off topic) based on what might be loosely included in the course syllabus or schedule that day, often without any concern for lecture capturing, archiving, and transcribing media (audio or video) of their presentation. As a F2F instructor who teaches on campus, there is no need to be explicit in detail for assignments, or itemization of instruction on projects, tasks, or activities for learning. Students attending these courses on site can ask immediate follow up questions before, during or after scheduled class time. Additionally, students feel a rapport or social presence with the in-class instructor that is different those educators they might have online (not always, but it often it is so). These interactions to learn with peers or through impromptu discussions in class, does not require a script, plan, or set outline of pedagogy when comparing it to the defined structures of an online course.  Then there are other F2F learning experiences when faculty stick to the scripted presentation/lecture with minimal interaction or engagement.

Since my faculty role has primarily involved designing and delivering online learning, I have been a fortunate to lecture and capture lessons on video/audio, augment how I offer student support in office hours, create useful learning materials beyond a textbook, create social presence for myself and learners in these courses, and be mindful of making my educational resources accessible in a variety of different formats considerations for multiple formats. This reflection of my teaching online is constant and helps me to improve how to make concepts and learning relevant for my students.

For learning, it does not have to be a THIS or THAT debate. When it comes to the digital or analog practices, I think there is value in both. Like making a mix tape of music or playing a vinyl record, I take the skills of searching, listening, finding, and curating my music on Spotify playlists digitally. I don’t think I could do one well without the other. The skills for learning design offline apply to how I think about my online curriculum. Both should exist — it’s not an either or when it comes to the analog and digital experience for learning. Our college/university campuses and our professional associations could use a healthy smattering of both. We need educators, administrators, instructional designers, and student support services that are versatile in both digital and analog practices. I think teaching online, over the past few years, better informs my pedagogical preparation and considerations for how I design and deliver learning. Whether it is an in-person conference workshop or an online week webinar, I think the pedagogical experiences help to merge my digital and analog practices. It’s marriage of both skills sets to reach a variety of ways to gain knowledge and learn.

We will never change how we create and share knowledge, or learn new ways to do things, unless we change our professional practices. The model of conference learning is fine to socialize and network with the select few who can afford to attend the conference; however, I would challenge the number of professional associations I am/have been a member of to think about how to BETTER share and TRULY scale knowledge in a manageable way, specifically:

  • How are these learning artifacts archived beyond the dates and locations of these events?
  • Are there ways to share knowledge and learning that we need to start modeling for professional learning, training, and development of our own?
  • How are professionals who do not attend engaged and encouraged to understand the value-add of these learning experience or resources shared from the in-person meetings?
  • What was can data be managed and learning objects be curated to organize what was shared, learned, and presented at these events?

I don’t have the answers to these, but I think this is worthy of further discussion and consideration. I know I would be willing to support and work with professional associations/organizations who would like to consider how to effectively organize their own digital libraries for learning, knowledge sharing, and advancement of the field. Let’s chat.

Career, Job Search

Engineer Your Career Passion

Most people want to be satisfied and fulfilled by their work. What we do for work and thinking about our career is a central focus for most of my learners, colleagues, friends, and family. And why not? Our jobs take up our time, focus our priorities, or at least have our attention — as we spend  an average of 13 years of our life at work. Asking individuals to find their “career callings” is a stressful task. How can you find great work you love, when really you need a job to be functional, realistic, and something you can obtain? Finding a “job you love” may not pay the bills, support your needs, and be something you can do at the moment. Work can be fun, but not all work is. And, sometimes a job is just a job — it might be a job to support yourself and family, that is in the right geographic location, be the first step in your career, or just something you’re doing right now while you try to figure out the next steps to take in your professional life.

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That being said, many people seek meaning and purpose in their world of work. Which might be something that may never happen. Maybe we’re putting too much emphasis on this job fulfillment. Whether it is millennial burnout or workism as our professional identity, there seems to be no shortage of folks discussing and writing about the topic careers and work life these days. I appreciated how Elizabeth Gilbert breaks down how we think about our careers in a Hello Monday interview, specifically how we might confuse these four aspects of our life when it comes to reflecting on our work life:

  1. Hobby: Is something you do because you enjoy it and you don’t need anything back for it. It’s fun and you delight in it.
  2. Job: A thing you have because everyone has to have one. It doesn’t need to fulfill your emotional needs because it’s there to pay the bills and you have a life outside your job that is more interesting (e.g. family, hobbies, pursuits, etc.)
  3. Career: Should be something you are passionate about (mostly). A career is a job that you deeply care about.
  4. Vocation: A sacred calling of something that is very holy to you that is the center of your life that can never be taken away from you no matter what.

This framework presents ideas around careers vs. callings, specifically outlining what you do and how you do. In the span of your work life, you might find yourself in anyone or all four of these areas to find fulfillment OR to support your career planning.  Listen to the full podcast episode HERE.

Sometimes how we craft our work and leisure time leaves many professional unsatisfied by not answering their career callings and leading to professional regret (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010). This synopsis by Gilbert is not entirely wrong. Our job attitudes and meaning-making at work is highly predictive of how individuals thrive and contribute to their organizations of employment (Wrzesniewski, 2003), specifically when job crafting in service of purpose is encouraged and supports the well-being of the employee (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2013). Each semester I teach a course in personal/professional development, where my learners go through modules to figure out their own trajectory for their academic and career path. Some are first-generation, first time in college students; whereas others have years of experience in their profession and are looking to finish a 4-year degree to advance, transition to a new career, and more. I know that identifying career callings and directions are challenging. So I typically do NOT give the traditional advice to “find your passion.” I think passions are often developed and created as we gain employment experience, learn more about ourselves, and find opportunities for discovery in the wold of work.

I know that I am not alone in this thinking

Listen to the recent WorkLife with Adam Grant podcast: The Perils of Following your Career Passion that shares how the “do what you love” is often terrible career advice.

What will your future work self look like? Do you know what you want to be doing? What can you do now to get you there? Your first job might not make you happy or your next career move might not be your “dream job” — but what will help you learn, grow and enhance YOU for the next step in your professional life? How can you develop your talents and build upon your skills, interest, and abilities? These are the questions I pose to my learners each semester. That is, to really think about what drives you into action and to identify how to these interests to individual skills and talents for work.

In studying unconventional career paths of “dark horses,” Rose and Ogas (2018) found that the pursuit of fulfillment requires work:

“Following your passion takes little effort. Engineering your passion, on the other hand, is a more serious undertaking. It requires that you diligently pursue a deeper understanding of yourself. Engineering passion is hard work-but the benefits are enormous” (pp. 76-77).

I think we all could put more effort into designing and building the career we want. Passion might be part of it, or we might decide this passion is something we do alongside our work life. There is no one standard formula for how our hobby, job, career, and calling exist with one another. Here are a few big questions to consider if you want to start engineering your career passion to create a fulfilling work experience and to support your future work self:

  • Legacy:
    • Where do you want to make a difference in the world?
    • What do you want to leave behind?
    • How can you start moving towards these goals?
    • Would your 10-year-old self be proud of what you are doing?
  • Mastery:
    • What sort of actions/skills put you into a state of flow?
    • What is something you can focus on for hours?. e.g. you might forget to eat, lose sleep, etc.
    • What knowledge, skills, or abilities do you want to learn?
    • What ways are you challenging yourself to actively improve, practice, or develop?
  • Action:
    • What are you doing (or not doing) today to move your career goals forward?
    • How are you honing your optimal skills and talents for the next job or career transition?
    • What ways are you making time to grow and develop your future work self now?
    • Who might you reach out to to support/advise/mentor with your career development in your organization, industry, and/or professional field?

References:

Berg, J. M., Grant, A. M., & Johnson, V. (2010). When callings are calling: Crafting work and leisure in pursuit of unanswered occupational callings. Organization Science, 21(5), 973-994.
Rose, T., & Ogas, O. (2018). Dark horse: Achieving success through the pursuit of fulfillment. HarperOne.
Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 230-240.
Wrzesniewski, A. (2003). Finding positive meaning in work. In K. Cameron & J. Dutton (eds.) Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, pp. 296-308.
highered, Podcast, Research

The State of Higher Ed Podcasts in 2019

Over the last couple of years, I have been looking at the landscape of podcasting within higher education. Today podcast and audio listening now has 50% of the US ear (The Infinite Dial 2019 report), as we witness some exodus from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  With the options of audio streaming platforms and increased ownership of smart speakers, I was not surprised to see the increase in weekly audio online listening:

As someone who listens to, creates, hosts, and enjoy podcasts, I have been following how my college and university colleagues have been involved in developing their own podcasts for the past couple of years: https://higheredpodcasts.wordpress.com/ Thanks to iTunes U, universities found a way to share their audio and video lectures, lessons, and student-produced podcasts. Now, we have innovative colleagues willing to share about their scholarship, offer suggestions for teaching, and tell more about their own practice on campus. I have shared shared some of this research and training materials in a previous blog post: Pod Save Higher Ed: Resources for Podcasting.  Over the Spring Break, I completed a review and update of the podcasts my peers are making. There are a number of additions, updates and archives, especially as more higher ed professionals are finding accessible ways to create and stream their audio productions.

For the purpose of my research, I am investigating podcasts that share about the higher education professional (graduate students, staff, and faculty) experience. These specific types of podcasts may offer a new way to learn, offer professional development, share a story, and/or improve to our practice in teaching, research or service. My review is to look at the genres, topics, audiences, issues, and ideas being shared in the higher ed podcast land. Here is the list of podcasts I’ve curated and I am currently examining in 2019 [also shared http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts]:

If you have a podcast I should include in this review of podcasts in 2019, please let me know! Here is how I am defining a “higher ed podcast” for the purpose of this study:

  • the podcast content is created and shared to support professional development, learning, and/or information distribution
  • the podcast has a target audience which might include graduate learners (e.g. masters or doctoral researchers), professional school students (e.g. social work, medicine, etc.), staff/administration, and/or faculty in higher education
  • the podcast is in an audio and/or video format that can be subscribed, downloaded, and/or streamed from an electronic device (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile)
  • the podcast is a program, show, broadcast, and/or episodes with a specific purpose or topic focused on the higher education domain
  • the podcast includes original content development intention: it was designed for a podcast, e.g. recorded college/university lectures, conference panels/presentations, professional learning webinars, recorded meeting, etc. (unless it was edited to fit into a podcast)
  • the podcast can be active or archived (no production since 2017)
Digital Literacy, Needs Assessment, Networked Practice, privacy, Reflections, technology

My Digital Audit: Where Do I Want to Be Online?

Do you know how much we weave social media platforms and online technology companies into our daily lives? Would it be possible to not live with Google, Facebook, Apple or other technology companies? It’s been something I have been thinking about for a while (like others), and often how much do we test these questions in the wild. If you have not seen the technology blocking experiment conducted by @Gizmodo‘s reporter, Kasmir Hill, you should. Kahsmir tries to take on and live without the technology giants, Amazon, Facebook (which includes owned companies, Whatsapp & Instagram), Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Impressive, right? But is it impossible? Even if you don’t plan to say, “Ciao!,” to these platforms this “Goodbye Big Five” investigation and hands-on reporting will inform you about how much we let these companies invade (most) of our lives, take our money, use our data, and capture our attention.

It is far too easy to sign up or sign on to websites, apps, and platforms with a simple click. No need to read those terms of service agreements. Nah! Also, all you need is my email, mobile phone number or one of those big tech accounts to sign up (e.g. Facebook, Google or Twitter), than why not join? Apps and social media platforms want to make our online user experiences fluid and seamless — which also allows the same platforms and apps to track your digital movement and access your personal data through your connected accounts.

Image c/o Vitor Sá: https://www.flickr.com/photos/virgu/12496426/

For the past 6 years, I have been doing an alright job of tracking of my digital life and auditing where/how I am online. I use a simple spreadsheet to itemize the account name, log in, information, connected accounts, purpose, and more for this digital audit. If interested, here’s a blank spreadsheet you can copy/download to use as you review your apps and online accounts yourself:

Digital/Web Audit TEMPLATE

That being said, it has been a while since I have given it a proper review to include where my personal data lies and maybe the social media apps, online accounts, and forgotten sign-ins that I have not really examined as closely. It is no longer easy to use JustDelete.me and a delete button to remove your data from online accounts. Our existence online is more complex and often woven into one another between the platforms we use and the shifts in these mediums. Maybe I have grown up a bit, but so have these digital platforms, and I’m not so sure they have matured into the tech adults I would like them to be. Here are a few platforms concerns with and why I’m considering closing a few of my own social media spaces, just to name a few:

Beyond policies, practices, and costs, I was trying to determine where I want to “live” online and what it means now that some of these platforms have merged or have experienced new management change. Back in January, I facilitated a workshop about managing your digital identity and being a professional online in higher education. Some of the big questions I challenge participants to reflect about their online selves and being online include:

  1. What do you want to share about your knowledge and expertise?
  2. How do you want others to find and connect with you?
  3. Where do you want to be online? What platforms would be best for the how and what you want to share?

I shared how my own digital presence or “being” online has evolved. Although I used to be in a log of social and digital spaces, that is not the case anymore. A number of platforms have been deactivated (RIP Google Reader & Delicious). While others might have been just a platform to test out or try on. That being said, if something does not resonates with me or find a purpose in my digital life, than I’m okay to say goodbye. So, if any digital space or online place does not “bring you joy” (hat tip to the digital #MarieKondo practice), maybe it’s time to bid farewell. Here is the main focus of my personal digital and data audit:

Where do I want to be online?

Some of my digital self review has been going on for a while, but this year is the year to finish and probably shut down a few social media platforms and online accounts for good. Permanently. It’s time to simplify my streams and declutter my social (media) life. I have started the process and initiated the review of the audit spreadsheet to determine what accounts are active and to itemize what is happening online. Here are a few things I did to start this digital and data audit of me:

  1. Unsubscribe: I used Unroll.me to start the initial clean up and unsubscribe of email lists, advertising, listservs, and duplicate groups/listservs from all my email accounts (personally/professionally).
  2. Revoke/Remove Connections: By logging into your social media platforms, online apps, and digital accounts, you might see you have granted 3rd party access to other applications/users/accounts — remove said things.
  3. Identify the Accounts Where Your Personal Information Lies: Using the various emails, I used Deseat.me to get a list of my accounts and apps that I have signed up for to identify and delete the ones I am not using OR to add these to my digital/web audit spreadsheet to track. This method offers a GDPR message template (thanks, EU GDPR!) to send a template email to the platform administrator to remove yourself from online and social media accounts. This might (and does) require follow up messaging, emails, and sometimes confirmation contracts to remove your information and personal data from certain accounts. It might take some time to get responses and confirmations for deleting yourself from various platforms, communities, or online programs (I know. I am in week 4 of this process.)
  4. Download Your Personal Data: For the accounts and platforms you are thinking about deleting, consider downloading your account data. This might be an archive of activity, posts, etc (e.g. Facebook). Or it could be a files, images, and other items within each account (e.g. Flickr). Part of this download may require you to determine storage elsewhere, such as, in another cloud-based service OR external hard drive (or both). Figure out the how much of data and your use of it, to determine your next steps.
  5. Delete Yourself: Depending on your goals, you may just want to wipe your accounts online to remove all that is there. There are a few guides to get yourself off the grid to get you started. Deseat.me will remove your data and delete some of your accounts, but you will need to visit each account/platform you have to manually complete the deletion process. Check out these suggestions for finding/deleting accounts from the Internet, a list of “how to” delete yourself from social media platforms, and suggestions for deleting (or locking down) your Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The above is just a start — but I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on, ironically, offline and online to audit my digital and data self. Let me know if you have suggestions, resources, or ideas for this review process. I would love to hear how your own audit, review, and reflections are going if you are pondering the same thing.
#AcDigID, #EdDigID, #HEdigID, Social Media, SocioTech

Networked Practice: My Book List

For some of my own research and review, I have been accumulating a variety of books to my reading list for the networked practice study. Some deal with living online, being connected, and even understanding how communities, networks, and groups thrive (or the opposite) in the digital. For the month of January, I have been taking stock and reflecting on my own networked practice. Recently I facilitated an online workshop to support higher education faculty and staff think more about their digital presence and how to manage their own reputations online. Now my current students are thinking about how they will craft their digital identity online and engage with industry leaders, future co-workers, and engage with professionals in their occupational fields. I have enjoyed having conversations to consider what online reputation means, examining how/where our personal data exists, and understanding that “being” online means so much more in 2019.

Creating, crafting, and/or presenting our professional best self digital is quite complicated and complex — just like the individuals behind the profile. As usual, I continue to think about my digital imprint and I have begun to audit where I “live” online. [This process is taking a while, so I’ll share about this audit and review in another post when I am closer to wrapping it up.] as I start to audit my own life on social media platforms and other digital accounts. Of course, I continue to read and review what others are thinking about this process — being networked, living digital, cyber reputations, and online personas — who are connected and linked to peers and communities. Here are a few of the reads and resources I have recommended lately for higher education professionals (e.g. staff, graduate students, faculty, administrators, instructional designers, instructors, early career researchers, etc.):

Beyond this list, I am more than happy to share what I have “READ” and is accumulating on my “Networked Practice” reading list on GoodReads (some reviews included):

I suppose my attention is drawn to the ideas of self-presentation, reputation, and lived lives on social media platforms (and other digital spaces we don’t fully control). At the moment, I’m “CURRENTLY READING” the following books — thanks public and university library!:

My “WANT TO READ” book list is never short, but here are a few that I have either sitting on my home shelf to read (literally) around networked practices. I have no doubt I will add (or have added) to this list, especially as I hope to read these in February.  I welcome your recommendations for living a networked life, being a connected scholar, and being involved digital communities of practice:

What are you reading these days around networked practice? Do you have recommendations for those of us who live a networked, connected professional life? This could be about online personas, digital reputation, networked groups/communities, impacts of social media at work, and more. Share any recommendations you have, and if you’re GoodReads — be sure to connect with me, so I too can be inspired by the books you’re reading.