Thanks to you all again for your insightful comments and for sharing your discoveries through these activities.
The issue of tracking and privacy on the web has reached a fevered pitch in the last couple weeks as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal gets deeper and more troubling. Ray commented in his post [Note that this attribution is better than APA because I provide a direct hyperlink to the source material.]
Frankly, I am distressed by the news that the Facebook accounts of 50 million Americans were unknowingly hacked before the 2016 election.
But the trouble with this statement is that these 50 million accounts were not hacked. A third party (Cambridge Analytica) was granted access to those accounts by design. This is precisely how Facebook was built to work.
what Cambridge Analytica did “is exactly the type of use that #Facebook’s platform is designed for, has facilitated for years, and continues to facilitate every day” @jason_koebler @motherboard https://t.co/eUzqgAev6w
— David Golumbia (@dgolumbia) March 20, 2018
Ray also asks what we can do to ‘take back’ our information on the web. Well, that depends on who owns what you wrote? He correctly identifies the barriers to pulling back your Facebook data; it takes a long time and isn’t guaranteed to work. I deleted my profile on Facebook in the midst of trying to finish my thesis, but I am certain that Facebook still has a profile on me. These are called ‘shadow profiles’ and they consist of data that Facebook has gathered on me despite my intentional removal of myself from their database.
On the other hand, we have this course. First of all, notice that we are using a domain and server that we control. Each of you has a site on the domain create.twu.ca, which is a subdomain of twu.ca. Our service provider is Reclaim Hosting, a company based in the US which grew out of a project at University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Furthermore, I know exactly who is running this company, and I know that they are committed to providing a secure environment for higher education. Without looking at their site I can tell you that the founder of the company is Jim Groom, who currently lives in Italy and with whom I had a Skype conversation about Reclaim. Their technical genius is Tim Owens, with whom I have shared a meal in Richmond, Virginia. Do I trust Reclaim Hosting more than Facebook or Google? Absolutely!
So how does that compare with Google Docs/Sheets/Slides? Well, everything you do on Google servers is contributing to Google’s bottom line profits. I am consistently shocked at how much Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is promoted in BC K12 schools. This is in blatant violation of BC’s privacy legislation governing publicly funded organizations (as a private institution, TWU falls under different legislation). I suspect that Google (Alphabet) is the one company better than Facebook at monetizing your personal information (and ultimately using it to drive cultural polarization.) Naturally, I would argue that we should not be feeding Google’s bottom line with our academic work.
So, what happens to your posts after you are done this course? Nothing that you don’t control. You don’t have to ask for them back, because they are already on your own site. If you want to take them down, you take them down. If you want to export them to your own domain, you do that. Granted, your posts are syndicated to the course hub, but if you remove the post from your own site, or set it to private, it is no longer accessible from here. You are in control because you never relinquished control. And if you would like more control, for $50(USD) per year you can sign up for your own domain with Reclaim. You can find me at madland.ca.
I am wondering if it would be helpful to create a professional development (Pro-D) site for all of the MA Lead instructors.
Great question. We have some things already available (though not widely publicized yet), like this. But I’d also challenge you all to think of your own blog as your own Pro-D site customized perfectly by/for YOU, and also useful for your colleagues at TWU and beyond. When you post questions and you link to other people who may have answers; or when you respond to questions by including a link to the original question, you are creating community! You are building competence in yourself and your colleagues. With your humble little blogs in WordPress, even the handful of you who are currently active in this experience have the power to build a tremendously powerful resource for yourselves simply by narrating your work. Use your blog as a place to test your ideas, criticize your practice, and support your colleagues and amazing things can happen.
In fact, I would argue that you would not be taking this course right now with me if three guys didn’t do exactly that back in the early 2000s. Here is a bit of the latest chapter in their story. The way I fit into that story is that I had the privilege of working with Brian Lamb at TRU for several years, and through him, I met both D’Arcy and Alan.
So if just a handful of people can create rich, meaningful, and professionally supportive friendships through blogs, just imagine what the MA Leadership network will look like once we have a few cohorts graduate with their own blogs that are deeply and richly linked to each other…