In the Interdisciplinary Studies program where I have begun working, we encourage students to go public with their work. It’s a common idea well beyond interdisciplinary studies: for students to feel more engaged with the work they do, to feel that what they are doing matters, they need to do that...
This article is sure to be germane to those reading on the topic of Open and Privacy for #EDU522. Within that realm I have automatically defaulted to posting everything public, in part to act as a potential model for my fellow classmates as well as for how teachers and students in general could potentially execute on open pedagogy using an IndieWeb model built on webmentions.
While my website apparently gets about 400 views a day lately, I suspect it’s a very small and specific niche audience to the set of topics I tend to write about. Since I post everything that I post online to my own website first, I have a more concentrated posting velocity than many/most, but it also means that some specific topics (like #EDU522 for example) can get lost in the “noise” of all the other posts on my site. If one compares this to others in the class who’ve only recently set up sites which have less than 10 views a day likely, there is a marked difference in public/private for them. (The concept of “privacy through obscurity” similar to its predecessor “security through obscurity” comes to mind, but one must remember it only takes one intruder to cause a problem.) Of course this doesn’t discount the fact that one’s public posts today, which seemingly disappear from the immediate rush of information, may still be found in the long-tails of their personal data to potentially be found years hence. With recent examples of people being fired for Tweets they made years ago (often taken out of context, or with serious context collapse) this can be a troubling issue.
Some recent examples:
- Disney Fires ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Director Over Offensive Tweets1
- New York Times Editorial board hired and fired Quinn Norton on the same day because internet trolls created a digital effigy of her using old social media posts from years prior. Even more ironic, she’s written and extensively studied context collapse.2–4
Public figures and journalists5 are actively deleting their tweets as a result, though this isn’t really a new phenomenon as people know that employers and others can search for their old content. As Ella Dawson has indicated, “We’re all public figures now”.
I don’t suspect there may be anything too particularly controversial in my #EDU522 posts recently that I might want to make private at a later date following the course (or even delete altogether), but who knows? Perhaps the public thinking on these topics changes drastically and I would wish to make them disappear a decade or two hence? It’s definitely something worth thinking about.
One of the benefits of supporting many of the IndieWeb tools and philosophies is that I can quickly make my old posts private to just me and with syndication links on them indicating where I’ve syndicated them in the past, I could very quickly go to those silos and delete them there as well. Of course this doesn’t get rid of copies out of my control or in locations like the Internet Archive.
Within the realm of open pedagogy, IndieWeb technology (and Webmention), one could certainly default their classes websites to private or semi-private. The WithKnown platform may presently be the best one for doing such a thing, though there are a few hoops one may need to jump through to set it up properly. As a brief example, there would need to be a private class hub site on which the teacher and students would need their own accounts. Then, so that students might own all of their own work, they would need their own sites to which they might post privately as well. The hub and the students’ sites could then use the Known OAuth2 server so that students could post their work privately on their own site, but still automatically syndicate it into their account on the semi-private class website. Of course, even here a student is relying on reasonable data security for the semi-private class site as well as having the expectation that their professor, fellow classmates, or the institution itself wouldn’t put their semi-private data into the public sphere at a future date.
As a proof of concept and an example of this type of workflow, I’ll highlight two posts (though in this case, both public instead of private so that you can actually see them) which I’ve made on two separate domains both running WithKnown:
- A post on my personal website
- A syndicated copy of that post on a public and openly aggregated multi-user Known install
image credit (also used on Matthew Cheney’s original post): “Dundas Square in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada” by Pedro Szekely, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.