There were three comments on my last blog post “Identified in Galway” from Charleen Hurtubise, Catherine Cronin and Sharon Flynn. Thanks to all.
Charlene in particular gave a perceptive insight ” Just because I am “face-less” at this particular level..I am not nameless.”
She is correct, we all act out of our own ethical contexts and Charlene continued to make valid points about how we might manage our online identities (here).
This concern for good practice is of increasing concern to me as we place personal data on applications that we rarely read the terms and conditions of and fail to consider how it might be used “down the line“.
John Naughton, vice-President of Wolfson College, Cambridge made us sit up and think about what really matters at the 2013 Computer Education of Ireland Conference.
He warned us of the dangers of becoming modern day sharecroppers (definition: A tenant farmer who gives a share of the crops raised to the landlord in lieu of rent) as we use online applications to “enhance” our lives, whether of the Google, FaceBook or myriad of other applications offered to us for “free”.
The question, How will our data be used in the future? is probably best answered by how data was used in the past.
I often reference dana boyd’s 2004 blog-post (here) “The Dark Side of Numbers: The Role of Population Data Systems in Human Rights Abuses” when talking about this issue.
I will let dana speak for herself
“Many people have heard me tell an anecdote that i learned while living in Holland: At the turn of the century, the Dutch government collected mass amounts of data about its citizens with good intentions. In order to give people proper burials, they included religion. In 1939, the Nazis invaded and captured that data in less than 3 days. A larger percentage of Dutch Jews died than any other Jews because of this system.”
I do worry about data will be used, not just in the future but now.
Say a teenage boy or girl is exploring issues about their sexuality on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender websites and that search is compromised?
How secure is their exploration – how faceless can they remain? Might they ever be exploited? Outed against their will or worse?
We as teachers and educators need to think seriously about these issues.
And yes, I am open to the charge of doing some of the things (in terms of the free applications) I am warning of – but again, we are “living contradictions” (Whitehead 1989) and therein lies the challenge of managing ourselves and those (especially in the primary and secondary system) in our care.
Dana’s blog is based on The Dark Side of Numbers: The Role of Population Data Systems in Human Rights Abuses. Social Research, Summer, 2001, by William Seltzer, Margo Anderson.
Whitehead, J. 1989. CREATING A LIVING EDUCATIONAL THEORY FROM QUESTIONS OF THE KIND, ‘HOW DO I IMPROVE MY PRACTICE?’ Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 19, No.1, pp. 41-52.
Image: Beehive Media.