Alchemical Thoughts

Some items on students and privacy

Posted on: August 22, 2008

For a while, I have been kicking around the idea of writing a post, either for my professional blog better yet for the library blog, on the issue of students and online privacy. If I wrote it for the library's blog, it would probably be more of an educational piece. On my own blog it would likely be educational with a bit of commentary on my part. Anyhow, I have been collecting all sorts of clippings for ideas and material. As usual, I am a bit short on time to ponder and write what I would like to write, but I want to at least preserve some of the thinking here as well as make a small list of some of the clippings.

  • The Krafty Librarian points to a couple of articles on "Our Desire to be Social and Privacy." One of the two articles the blogger points to is on med students and Facebook. I have not had the time to read it, but it sounds like it could have a lesson or two for a general bunch of students. Something to look over if I ever get the chance.
  • Karen L. Stevenson, writing for Litigation News, a publication of the American Bar Association, asks, "What's on your Witness's MySpace Page?" From the article: "As more and more people post personal information on social networking sites such as,, and even, attorneys are increasingly seeking discovery of such evidence, which is becoming commonplace in civil and criminal trials. Users’ pages often contain a wealth of personal facts, photographs, and videos, and links to other sites. Not surprisingly, colleges and employers now check applicants’ web pages on a regular basis." This would have made a nice opening for a possible post. A lot of students post all sorts of things on their Facebook, and I am sure they are not thinking very often about any possible long term consequences, or that potential employers may look them up on Facebook or other social networking spaces.
  • Now the whole shebang about that librarian who wrote a fictional piece about a library and its patrons, only to get fired, makes for interesting food for thought. I got the tip from Pop Goes the Library. But it was also featured on LISNews. Unfortunately, the local newspaper link from the blog is one of those requiring registration after 7 days, but I am sure a Google search might bring it up or other sources with the story. No wonder some bloggers chose to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym. This is not so much about privacy, but it does deal a bit with managing your online identity.
  • Here is a list of "34 Online Reputation Management Tools." I have to look at some of the sites, to be perfectly honest, but for now, I just want to keep track of it. The list comes from Duct Tape Marketing's blog.
  • Book entitled The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove. It sounds interesting and relevant. Here is the book's official website, where you could have actually find options for downloading the complete text at the moment, it does not seem to be working. You can also buy the book via the usual routes, or borrow it from a library. Hat tip to Stephen's Lighthouse.
  • Barbara Fister's article, "Face Value," from Inside Higher Ed on Facebook, privacy, and a few other things.
  • From the Free Government Information blogs, a tip to an article discussing the "I have nothing to hide" notion, a mistaken one if I have ever seen a bad argument. I have been meaning to read this, but it has fallen on the wayside.
  • From Salon's Machinist blog, article about an AOL survey on privacy online. The conclusion? That though many people claim to want privacy, they give it up easily for some small convenience online. Definitely food for thought. For the Salon piece, you may have to go through their site pass (i.e. watch a small ad before they let you in if you have no subscription). Found via Library Juice, who gives his view here.
  • Bruce Schneier, writing an opinion piece for Wired, talks about "The Eternal Value of Privacy."
  • And then there was the whole YouTube broo ha ha with privacy when they were ordered to turn over video consumption histories of users as part of a lawsuit. If that does not make you think about your online privacy, not much else will. Here is part of the events with comments and some more from Fred Stutzman's Unit Structures. By the way, Stutzman moved out of Blogger, so his current stuff is now here.
  • Stutzman also points to an Los Angeles Times story, all dealing with data portability.

And there may have been a few other things, but these were things that when I read them caused me to think a bit. And some of them are things I wish my students would look at and keep in mind as they jump in and out of places like Facebook.

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August 2008
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