We are about halfway through this audio book club project now that chapter 12 is out. In this bonus episode of “Between the Chapters” Martin, Clint, and I take a pause to get meta — it’s a podcast about the podcast. We share about our audio labour of love, specifically as we discover what it means to augment text to audio and how to share an aural history of ed tech through these episodic personal/professional reflections.
It’s the end of January. For many it is the realization that a new years goal, new habit, or personal objective has been met. For many, the start of a new year and new decade might even mean saying goodbye to old things that are taking up space in your life, i.e. clutter. Some of the clutter that is often overlooked are usually at our finger tips and in the cloud — digital clutter.
With more opportunities to create, capture, make, and share with emerging technologies, there are increasingly even more ways accumulate and hoard digital bits. We barely think twice about snapping multiple photos, as it is either on a digital camera and often on our mobile devices (that we have not thought about about in a while). I’ve been thinking about this issue since I left my university role last August. You would not be surprised to learn how much your life can get digital entwined and how much one person accumulates in terms of digital files, folders, projects, etc. in just one decade. Now factor in this digital mass with your personal devices (all of them), cloud-storage, and obsolete technologies you have collecting dust at home. Who knows what lies within our digital archives personally and professionally? [No really. Who knows?] Since I was studying this topic last year in INFO 5841, I thought I’d share my own research and reflection of what to do when downsizing these digital artifacts — or at least taking account and review if you actually need “these digital things” in your life anymore. #DoesItBringYouJoy
It is so easy to continually collect, hoard, and stockpile all things digital these day. There is such portability with how we carry these images, books, information, and content, that we rarely think twice about space or cleaning out these digital closets in our personal lives. Gunn (2018) defines the term personal digital archiving (PDA) as “the collection, management, and preservation of personal and family materials created in digital media,” (p. xi) such as photos, videos, documents, email, websites, and social media content. With our social media existence and how we contribute a large amount of digital content virtually, there is no doubt that our PDA contents could fill a digital abyss. With our tethered technologies, access to networking platforms, and ability to connect with others, there are more digital, social platforms collecting a growing number of written comments, image or photos, and media files (e.g. videos, music, & audio files) scattered among our email inboxes to an outdated device and even amassing real estate in the digital cloud to save it all.
Although organized, stored, and audited my my professional and scholarly life, I will need to confess I have neglected to offer any of my PDA the same attention. As a researcher and learning design consultant, it is critical to showcase and preserve the formal knowledge in academic journals, data repositories, conference presentations, and more via Google Scholar Citations, ORCID, and ResearchGate. Additionally, you can find my invited talks in SlideShare, educational video clips in YouTube, and training audio or podcasts archived on Soundcloud to offer examples of my learning experience design and consulting portfolio. That being said, there has been very little accomplished with regards to formal wrangling of my digital footprint outside of my career. We could all use some “life-changing magic of tidying up” (Kondo, 2014) when it comes to archiving our personal digital lives. The average American seems to thrive in digital clutter with an average of 582 pictures stored on their mobile, 83 websites bookmarked, at least 21 desktop icons, and 13 unused phone apps with almost 645 gigabytes stored on external space and between 1000 to 3000 unread emails (Booth, 2019). These digital hoarding statistics and the European Commission’s (2017) goals to protect personal data with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, it seemed like an appropriate time to deal with PDA aspects of any forgotten online accounts, untouched social media channels, rarely used apps, and even outdated, electronic hardware and/or storage devices. With these factors and the need to consolidate personal digital archives, it was time to figure out how to get rid of this personal digital excess and unorganized mess.
The KonMari method (Kondo, 2014) of tidying up and clearing the clutter asks one question when as you decided to keep or discard an item: “Does it brings you joy?” For the thousands or millions of virtual artifacts in our personal archives, this question might be an exhausting practice as we sift through all we have collected and curated in our digital lives. There are a number of unused accounts that need to be closed, passwords that require updates, and artifacts that need to be preserved into a usable and accessible format (Palfy, 2019). In addition to this, we have to identify the apps, accounts, web services, subscriptions, and emails that need to be purged. With this purge comes sentimental values as we consider the text messages, voicemails, emails, photos, and videos we have been holding onto – along with the accounts, websites, and apps we no longer frequent; however, all are holding space on our devices, in the cloud, and, maybe within our hearts.
Our digital lives are continuing to scale and are ubiquitous with how we live. Beyond a digital clean up, how can we preserve our memories and mementos we are creating and contributing online, in apps, and within virtual spaces? There always seems to be more cloud storage or added space on upgraded devices, that we forget to remove personal digital archives and artifacts that may no longer serve us. Also, these digital platforms and channels allow for communities to grow, experiences and events to happen, and information to be shared across the globe. This means that PDA may also impact and influence cultural institutions, museums, library collections, and other organizations, who often have little guidance for how to guide digital preservation digital collections and/or how to best guide public outreach to offer support for their digital archiving practices among community members (NDIIPP, 2013). This could include government documents, like the recent Mueller report, or even historical events and alternative news coverage, such as the Iran elections and political uprising that surged on Twitter in 2009-2010, as the platform allowed for communication and revolutionary protests. PDA creates an individual mountain that is difficult to climb and a rising concern among community members and our society as we try to find ways to preserve digital artifacts connected to a time, place, and group of people. Specifically, how can we archive events, experiences, news, and knowledge as it is created digitally? Additionally, as platforms, digital file types, and ways to store and access evolve, what are the best methods to archive these personal artifacts? And how can we model and help others curate their personal digital artifacts and archives for digital preservation and future access?
So beyond cleaning out your closets, selling back old books, or shredding your bills or paperwork, maybe it’s time to pay attention to the digital clutter that has been accumulating over the years. How do you account for your digital artifacts? Do you spend some time organizing, reviewing, and discarding these digital items? Tell me about it — I could use some suggestions for my own review.
Gunn, C. (2018). Introduction: Putting personal digital archives in context. In B. Marshall (Ed). The complete guide to personal digital archiving, (pp xi-xxii). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Kondo, M. (2014). The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.
Marshall, B. H. (2018). The complete guide to personal digital archiving. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
So, I spoke with a number of friends and peers in my professional learning network, to learn about their career changes, pivots, and moves. And, since I have a podcast (or two) and very gracious colleagues (who let me record these conversations), I decided to share what I was learning on the #InVinoFab podcast for a series called #CareerChangers back in 2019.
I’m so grateful for the candid sharing of their life experiences for me and the pod. I have no doubt that listeners (and maybe future listeners) will find these stories just as fruitful and interesting as I did. On #InVinoFab episode no. 44, I highlight my lessons I learned. Really, SO much more advice was offered — but I will let you listen and learn on your own. Here’s a quick preview of career changing advice:
Find organizations that will help you to learn, grow, and thrive. ~ Diane
Align your career with your personal and professional values. ~ @Kristin_Roe
Be open to new opportunities, identify fit, and know this journey may not always direct. ~ @HRGore
Consider how your collaborations and creative ideas can shape your body of work. ~ @DrHelenKara
Assess, know, and play to your strengths to find ways to kindle your passions in work. ~ @ValerieHeruska
Reflect on the “things” (the verbs) you enjoy doing daily: activities, tasks, and projects. ~ @JaimieLHoffman
Always be learning and be a curious learner throughout your working life. ~ @Carol_Ed_Dev
This is just a slice. There was so much more I gleaned from these brilliant women (and many others) who let me bend their ear. I appreciate all of you who answered my questions, offered me professional advice, and provided me with insights to consider as I contemplate my career plans. Thanks y’all!
Beyond these informational interviews/conversations, I’ve been listening to and reading loads on the topic of career transitions/pivots. Here is my short list of podcasts and book recommendations, on the topic of career exploration/development, professional pathways, talent discovery, and what it means to get through this process:
Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges
Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna
Pivot: The Only Move that Matters is your Next One by Jenny Blake
With all this reflection/learning about careers, I thought I should mention…
I Quit My Job!
I decided to take a leap and I turned in my resignation in August. After spending 10 years at the University of North Texas, as a graduate student, staff, and faculty member (sometimes in a couple of roles, concurrently), I knew it was time to say goodbye. This end to a decade of work, did not come without all the feelings (good and bad); however, I thought it was time to make the move. Oh — did I mention I made this leap without the safety net of another job offer or another role lined up? This is true. Brave. Impressive. Stupid. What? These might be a few of the things going through your head (and mine) — but make no mistake, this decision was by choice and not just by chance. I am not lucky but rather being purposeful of what I do next — with the option to do so for once (i.e. no visa restrictions/requirements). p.s. If you email Laura.Pasquini@unt.edu — you are out of luck, as this address is gone. 🙂
The purpose of this career leap is to search, apply, and seek out a new professional experience to really excite and challenge me. Life is too short to “sort of” like what you do, as we spend a great chunk of our lives working. Since I gave my notice, I have a had an offer, negotiated for salary, turned down an offer, had discussions about another role to be created, and then some. I am not defecting from work. I don’t want to start my own business. Nor is this a move to ‘disrupt’ careers in higher ed. And, you will not find me outside your office window with my boombox protesting for a job reunion. All this, is to say:
“I am officially on the job market.”
I am looking for an organization where my skills and talents will be valued, and I can thrive in a thoughtful and creative culture. I am a solid multipotentialite who would be a perfect intrepreneur for any organization, if you are in need of a Laura-Of-All-Trades related to learning design, research, training, performance, and creative works. I know that I thrive in a multifaceted role that offers some agility and growth. And, I definitely want to be part of a collective that is seeking to improve the status quo and loves to have a curious learner around to think about things a bit differently. My future professional role is not industry-specific, nor does it require any set location.
I smiled a bit when I heard the Overcoats song called ‘The Fool’ as I could identify with the sentiments and purpose of this song’s goal towards new beginnings:
JJ Mitchell (of the Overcoats) described how their song ‘The Fool’ (song) is similar to the tarot card: “It signifies taking a leap of faith and jumping into the unknown. Conceptually, it felt like the beginning of the project. We wiped the slate clean and decided to jump. That’s why the video includes the footage of us shaving our heads. We’re ‘The Fool’, and we’re taking our leap.”
For now, this “fool” is has leaped and is around and open to the possibilities. What are you thinking about your world of work these days? Are there potential career opportunities I should consider? What questions/emotions/thoughts are you contemplating about your own career path and professional life? Feel free to reach out, I’ve got nothing but time – let’s connect!
“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?
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 connectedness 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.”
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.
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:
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:
LinkedIn, SlideShare, GitHub, and Skype are owned by Microsoft
Instagram and Whatsapp are owned by Facebook (See point #1 on Facebook)
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 as they consider their online self and where they want to be include:
Why do I want to share my knowledge and expertise? What interests me about “being” online and maybe even connected to my peers?
Where do you want to be online? How do I want others to find and connect with me?
What digital/social platforms would be best for how and what I want to share? Where will I find my professional networks online?
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:
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).
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.
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.)
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.
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.