Got Social?

When is a friend a friend

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how and when to allow someone into a specific network.  I know the word ‘allow’ carries some of its own baggage, but that truly is what we do – it often even says “allow” on the request.  When this whole dustup happened with Facebook, everyone was griping (including me) that the FB folks were “allowing” others to see information we did not want them to.  Technology, and specifically security, is all about “allowing” or “permissions”.  Permissions are often toggle type settings written into code and are at the very basis of everything we do.

Has this person presented the right credentials (user name and password) to authenticate to this site?  Yes – allow.  No – do not allow.

With social networking moving at the just sub-light speed it has been for the last few years, we have started to develop within us a set of “permissions” based on the networks we interact with.  Do you have the same criteria for who you follow (or block) on Twitter as you do on Facebook or Linked In?  Probably not and you probably should not because each tool serves a different purpose.

When I get a notification that someone has followed me on Twitter I look at their profile to see if there is something they are posting that I’d like to follow back.  Many times, although interesting, I have to make a choice as to who to follow back because there are just too many options and  information is wildly fluid and difficult to keep up with on Twitter.  Yes, Twitter’s lists have helped, and some 3rd party vendors help manage this.  But the amount of work to manage this needs to be proportionate with the benefit.  I’ve found Twitter to be a much better information spout than pail, and great to keep up with what is going on in real-time.  For this reason, I’m not at all picky about who follows me and open, within reason, of who I follow back.

Facebook is another story.  I must have some kind of connection with the person I friend on Facebook.  The more personal the connection the more likely I am to accept the connection request.  I’ve even gone through and unfriended some folks who I had no personal connection with – folks I’d let in when my Facebook network was smaller and FB was better about their privacy issues.  Since I know that the folks at FB have a habit of mishandling privacy issues, I keep as little private information on FB as possible, but use it as a connection tool to those I have a personal connection with.  If something else were to come along, and address my needs, I’d consider a phased switch.

LinkedIn is an even tighter network for me.  When you sign up, and in several places around the site, the folks at LI tell you how important it is when you get connected to someone.  They suggest that we should  ”Thoughtfully select those people you know and trust because these are the people you will seek advice from and request Recommendations about your/other’s quality of work. Because of this, the quality of your connections is always more important than the quantity of connections. It is important you know your connections because you may be asked to recommend one of your connections to another. If you know little about the connection you weaken the integrity of the Recommendation and your network.” (citation).  I take this advice very seriously and only allow into my  LI network those who I have some work experience with.

Any other social networks I’m a member of, I typically don’t spend my time “tending” to them.  Usually I signed up for an account as research, so when someone asks me why Facebook is better than MySpace, I can tell them (which is actually part of my job).  In order to update all of my statuses (or would that be stati), I use a service called  I simple tell Ping what networks I’m a part of – I then post to Ping and Ping goes out and updates all my networks for me.  Easy Peasy.

Ok, i didn’t just say “easy peasy” in a blog post. [blink blink] Yeah, I did.

How do you decide?  Do you even think about it? Do you have your own rules of etiquette for your interactions in various social applications? How important is it that we pay attention to this?  If we’re in education, and using technology in a classroom, are should these types of thinking be included in the learning objectives?  If we are going to require these technology, how much is it our responsibility to make sure students know how to interact with them responsibly?

Destroying our rights to our private information

In a recent Tweet  I wrote “Set up a wiki for posting information about Facebook & how they are destroying our rights to our private information.”

Marc Parry, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, responded with “marcparry @sorry_afk “Destroying our rights to our private information” Bit extreme? Nobody forces you to have a Facebook account.”

My response couldn’t be boiled down to 140 characters  :-)  or even a couple of sets of 140 characters!  LOL  So I’m responding here in my blog and will post this link to Twitter.  I encourage others to continue the conversation in the COMMENTS section.

Marc, I don’t think its extreme at all.  What I think is extreme is the management of Facebook’s cavalier attitude toward our personal data.  When I first came into Facebook I was promised a level of  expected privacy.  Slowly that has been eroded until now, I have no control over it.  And I don’t even have the option to opt out, they say they are keeping everything, AND can still publish it, after I’m gone. AND, they’ve gone out-of-the-way to make it as difficult and confusing as possible to opt out of even portions of this.

Chris Hoadley sums it up really well here:

I suggest people start paying attention to what is going on here.  If this type of privacy invasion is left to be set as a standard, big brother will all to soon REALLY be watching, as will the entire Internet.

5 Minutes with Me – SPECIAL EDITION – Facebook, continued

I’m doing this special edition of 5 Minutes with Me in my work/professional blog, as opposed to my personal blog (which you can find in the right hand navigation bar below) because this has as much to do with my professional life as personal, and also my studies I guess.

I’m on a Facebook boycott.  I’ve not deleted my account yet, because I want to see how Facebook responds to this latest outcry.  So far, I’ve not seen that they’ve cared very much.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  But I’ve started out by not signing into Facebook all the time, as I was before.  I always had it open and running in the background.  Now, with this new invasion of our privacy, if I do that, they can get their grubby little hooks into ANY OTHER WEB PAGE I VISIT IN THAT BROWSER WHEN I HAVE BOTH OPEN.  Yes, you read that right – and in all caps.

I’ve also decided that if I DO need to go into Facebook, I’ll do so in a different browser and have nothing else open.

I may leave my account open without really adding anything because I may want to get in touch with the hundreds of people in my networks to be able to tell them where they can find me.  Eventually, something new will come up and start to take away the user base, it’s already happening.

As I said, Facebook clearly made a guess that those who were left would still earn them enough money to offset those who leave, including the cost of the bad press.  Lets hope that’s not true because they have just drawn a line in the sand that others will start to cross if we let Facebook get away with it.

I plan to start a wiki that will be open to the public to edit, where people can find important links about what is going on with Facebook and our privacy but also where people can post links to things for others to find.  Anyone will be able to post as well.


You may already be aware of how upset I am with Facebook and the massive privacy betrayals, not just the past ones – which have been numerous, but certainly the most recent on.  I’m not going to take the time to explain all of this here, others have done a good job of it already.

Chris Hoadley is a faculty member at NYU, in the department in which I am getting my PhD.  Here is his take on what is going on: Make sure to check his blog out and follow it via RSS.  If you’re not sure what RSS is (and how it will make your digital life so much easier) – watch this:

Here is an awesome chart sequence showing how dramatically our privacy rights have changed at the hands of Facebook:

If you have other resources from the web that are talking about this, please do post them here in COMMENTS.

One of my main problems is, if I leave Facebook – and it seems almost certain that I will, where do I go?  I love what Facebook has to offer as far as connectivity and being able to stay in touch, share things – but the rulers have gotten greedy and in the process have broken several cardinal rules of social networking, not the least of which is developing trust with your clients (and we are, after all, clients in a way) by not endangering their privacy.

One of the other cardinal rules, broken more recently, is the OI/NOO – or – Opt In / Never Opt Out – meaning, if you want to introduce something, don’t force it one me and make me opt out, give me the option to opt in.  They didn’t do that this time around because they knew that nobody would opt in and how else could they have made money on this if nobody opts in.

Well, the question of where may have been answered – or at least partially.  A group of four students from New York University (my some-day-soon alma mater!) have decided to devote their summer to developing an open-source, free, privacy-driven social network to replace Facebook.

Their effort is called DIASPORA and you can find them here: Check out their video and then make sure to stick around to the very end :-)  Also, one of them, Max, goes into a very little detail about the project here:

I will be keeping a close eye on them, and the progress, and hope to have good things to report back soon.  In the meantime, what am I doing about Facebook?

Well, first, I went through and deleted all personal information about me that they would let me delete.  I also went though ALL of the privacy settings and set them to the strictest I could (or was willing to).  I also went though all the applications that I’d given access to my profile over time and cut all those connections.  I will also be pulling down any photos I don’t want up there (I’ll leave some as others may still want to have access to them) and will also likely prune down my groups.

The other thing I plan to do is to start de-friending people.  Why?  Because, in this latest breach of our trust, Facebook has made it possible not only to share our data without permission but to share our data through our friends without permission.  Details can be found at the links about.  So, if my “friends” don’t have their accounts secured properly, my information could seep out through their accounts.

I really REALLY hate doing this.  I love Facebook – I’ve really enjoyed getting into it and love being connected.  But I love my privacy more.  I really don’t have all that much to hide, but I want to be the one to control who sees what.

Cleaning a white board

I have this white board in my office.  About 2 years ago I’d posted some information there, a list of people attending a big meeting.  The information needed to stay up there for a while so it ended up getting “stuck” on.  We tried EVERYTHING in the book to get this white board clean.  We tried buying the “cleaning” solution, it failed – miserably.  We tried water, windex, I even tried writing over the old ink with new ink – and that worked, a little.

Well, today I am starting a project (or rather, a part of a project) that requires the use of my white board.  Now, I needed to get the whole thing clean (except for the squinchy face Elisabeth drew on it many years ago).  I had nothing in my office bu Purell.  I though, hey, its got alcohol in it, maybe it will so something.

Lo-and-behold, the board is now sparkling white.  I’m not sure if pure alcohol will do the same, but from now on, I’m cleaning my white boards with Purell.  Clean AND germ free.  LOL

Auto Sign In

Thanks to John from the CHSS Tech Team for providing me the instructions on how to set up our Faculty Resource Room computers to automatically sign in to the Faculty desktop.  Here are the rough instructions, I’m putting them here so I can search this blog in the future and find them if I need – hopefully, it might be of some use to others also.

Go to START—>RUN and then enter

control userpasswords2

When the pop-up opens, uncheck the box at the top that says “user must enter name and password”

When you hit APPLY it will provide a sign in window, where you can enter the user name and password of the account you want to automatically sign in when the computer starts up.

Of course, this is for computers that have more than one user profile.

Rez day?

What is a Rez Day, you may ask.  Well, if you’re not in Second Life, it will mean absolutely nothing.  Even if you ARE in Second Life, you might not have heard it put this way.  But one’s Rez Day is the day they first “rezzed” in Second Life, or in simpler terms, the day you started your account.  Its like a birthday – but its called a Rez Day.

Today is my 3rd Rez Day.  It’s been three years since I first created my SL account and SOOOOOO much has happened in that short time.

Today is also the 3rd Rez Day for Rixhawz Milestone and Hugo Vansant.  Doesn’t it seem odd that our of all the people in SL, and all the ones I know, that I know two other people who first created their accounts on the same exact day in the same exact year?  Well, for Rix, it is a strange and happy coincidence.  I met Rix a year or so into my SL adventure.  He works in the California educational system.

As for Hugo, well, having the same Rez Day is not such an odd thing.  Hugo is the first person I ever met in SL.  Back then, you showed up in an orientation area, a place where you learned the basic of using the application (moving, communicating, etc…)  Hugo showed up a few minutes before I did and we got to talking.  This is where the coincidence comes in.  Of all the places in the world Hugo could be from, he is Brasilian.  Now, for most of you that might not seem so odd, but that is because you don’t know about my ties to Brasil.  So, not only is he from Brasil, but he lives in Brasilia, a city in which I’ve spent a great deal of time.  Not only does he live in Brasilia, but he lives in a suburb (they call them satellite cities) call Guara I.  The suburb I spend nearly all of my time in Brasil in was Guara II, which is – as you can imagine, right next to Guara I.  So Hugo and I had a great deal to talk about, and knew many of the same places.  In fact, it turns out, that we used the same Pharmacy (Pharmacists in Brasil can dispense more medication than here in the US, often replacing the need to go to a doctor’s office).

It just goes to show – it really is a small world, but actual and virtual

Is Slideshare trolling?

A few days after the Keynote I did for the Center for Innovative Education at Kean (for which I posted my slidedeck up to Slideshare).  I got the following by email – seemingly from Slideshare:

?The Shifting Landscape: Virtual Worlds in Education” is being tweeted more than any other document on SlideShare right now. So we’ve put it on the homepage of (in the “Hot on Twitter” section).

Well done, you!

- SlideShare Team

?After hovering over the link to make sure it was a legit Slideshare link I ended up on their home page.  I clicked the “hot on twitter” link, but alas – my contribution was not there, as indicated.  I poked around for a while and could not find any sign of it.  In fact, it is not even one of my most viewed slidedecks.

I moved on and forgot about it, until yesterday – when I got that SAME email again.  Now, the number of views has not gone up – at all perhaps, but certainly not appreciably.

So, this begs the question…is slide share trolling out these emails to folks to push them to their site?  I hope that is NOT the case, since I’ve always thought of them as a reputable site that treated its subscribers well.  Has anyone else seen a similar email or had any experience similar to this?

Hey Ya, You Make My Dreams Come True

Ok, so you really must be wondering what the title of this blog is about.

Last night, on the Rachel Maddow show, I watched segment she did about Rolland Burris, the now famous Senator from Illinois, who was awarded President Obama’s seat in Congress.  He actually did a quite original reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, changing the words to reflect the current silliness in the Senate, thanks to “our friends on the right”.

This was a light covering to allow Rachel to cover this lip-dub-off that is going on between two schools in Seattle.

Here is the link to Maddow’s piece from last night

Here’s the deal, the first one, Shorecrest, is really quite good – and shot all in one take, which is quite an accomplishment.


They challenged their crosstown rivals, Shorewood, to top it, and for my money, Shorewood blew them out.  Here’s that video, but keep one thing in mind – this entire video WAS SHOT BACKWARDS!!!  Yes, shot backwards – thats how they got the objects to fly BACK into people’s hands.  And its AMAZING to see that even the lip sync is done pretty close to right BACKWARDS!


So, here is my point in bringing this up, aside from wanted to share both of these awesome videos with you.  This is what our kids can do if we provide them with the learning objective and let them create and construct the learning.  You might say, “please – what kind of learning in going on making a lip-dub video.”

Think of what had to happen in order for this video to take place.   These had to be very carefully planned out, orchestrated, organized, there are plenty of real-life, real-world skills on display in both of these efforts.   Maddow’s blog ( through some of the highlights of the videos and also some of the detail on what went into making them.  Especially interesting is the details on how the backwards video idea person made this happen, including how he made sure the lip sync worked right – BACKWARD.

Did I mention this was all show in reverse.  Watching it, I’m even having trouble wrapping my head around this.  Kudos Shorecrest and Shorewood.  Sorry, Crest, Wood has my vote at the moment.  :-)