My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

6 Articles Tagged with “privacy”

  1. Teaching and Twitter

    So, my students finally found me online.

    Seriously, what took you so long?

    Not to boast, but I’m easy to find online. There are few enough Ben Babcocks that my various accounts, not to mention my website, eventually show up sometime on a Google search. So I knew it was just a matter of time.

    Knowledge of my online presence has spread quite quickly. I’m not that bothered. Long ago I made a decision to discard anonymity. While it’s a valid option, I found that in my case I wanted to be able to keep my online and offline lives as closely linked as possible. I knew that, with my chosen profession, this might pose some difficulties. However, it also provides a few opportunities as well.

    After all, we are still figuring out privacy in the digital age. Having hit its 20th anniversary this year, the Web remains relatively new. My generation is among the first to grow up with it as a professional platform for self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and self-expression. We have to suss out what is private versus what is personal. The bottom line, though, is that we are unquestionably making more information available in public (or to…

    Read more…

  2. Stage-managing the most popular one-person show

    The Facebook image for those with no profiles, modified to wear Groucho Marx glasses

    Each time I try to compose a post for my philosophy class, I resolve not to discuss Facebook or Google this time. I keep mentioning them, using them as examples, to the point where one might think I spend all my time using one or both of those services. Not so. Not even close.

    Wait, sorry, need to check Gmail on my Android phone….

    Well, I will succeed in not mentioning Facebook and Google eventually. Not today. No, because for my second critical response, I am discussing "Friend Me if You Facebook: Generation Y and Performative Surveillance," by E.J. Westlake. This article is in volume 52 of TDR: The Drama Review, available through Project MUSE (couldn't find an openly-available copy, sorry). We will be discussing this during week eight of class.

    This is an article that is exactly what it says on the tin (or title, as the case may be). Westlake discusses how Generation Y uses Facebook, arguing that members of older generations tend to be dismissive of Generation Y's proactive use of Facebook, focusing on it only as a tool that promotes exhibitionism and apathy. At the same time, she examines how one's activities on Facebook is…

    Read more…

  3. Your Internet may be monitored for quality control purposes

    Poster advertising the surveillance of London Metro stations by CCTV

    This is a critical response to David Lyon's "The World Wide Web of Surveillance: The Internet and off-world power-flows," published in the Spring 1998 issue of Information, Communication & Society. Those of you lucky enough to have a university account that has access to such things can find it there; those of you following along at home can read the earlier version presented at a Canadian Association for Information Science meeting in 1997.

    That was the single most difficult aspect when considering my response to this reading: it was written in 1997. True, that's only 13 years ago--but the World Wide Web itself is only 20 years old. That is pre-Google, the entity that has, perhaps more than any other Internet-based company, single-handedly changed the way we use the Web--not to mention introduced a suite of privacy and surveillance concerns that weren't around in 1997. So as a technophile upstart who came to the Web in 2004 and writes in HTML5, I had to keep my reservations regarding the article's age in check. After all, despite the changes since Lyon wrote this, most of the article is still valid. There are parts that read as outdated, and…

    Read more…

  4. Online/Offline is a false dichotomy

    Two months ago I read The Numerati, in which Stephen Baker discusses how technology--particularly the Internet--is affecting marketing techniques and how businesses and individuals manage their data. Now that we have the tools and understanding to mathematically model more behaviour than ever before, there's a new group of people--the eponymous Numerati--at the forefront of this information revolution.

    One of the concerns Baker briefly addresses is privacy. On the Internet, this has always been an issue, but the surge in popularity of social networking this year makes it even more relevant. MySpace and Facebook have made headlines with the Lori Drew case and the launch of identity management Facebook Connect.((Google Friend Connect gets no respect. Poor OpenSocial!)) What was once a matter of "privacy" is now a question of the most appropriate mechanism for managing the convergence of one's offline and online personae.

    And I can't help but feel that some people are missing the point.

    What is Privacy?

    Like "Web 2.0", we tend to throw the term "privacy" around quite a bit without much thought to what we actually want when we demand it. Does this merely mean we want our bank account details safe? Or do…

    Read more…

  5. Google Chrome, Part 2: All Your Base Are Belong to Google

    Yesterday, I explained why I was excited about Google getting into the browser game. Of course, no new Google venture is complete without some people taking issue with Google's privacy policies. In this case, the controversy was around Google Chrome's EULA, specifically section 11.1. Now, since everything on the Internet happens at the speed of light, Google has already changed the wording of that clause and applied it retroactively, claiming that it was all a mistake by the lawyers behind the curtain. However, this incident reminds us of just how much data Google collects, not to mention privacy issues online as a whole.

    I should begin with the disclaimer that I am not a Google fanboy. I love some of Google's services--I use Gmail, although I prefer to check my mail through Mozilla Thunderbird's interface, and Google Calendar is my favourite calendar application. However, I'm perfectly willing to criticize Google. I try not to be a fanboy of anything, but if I were, I'd be a Joss Whedon fanboy. So I'm going to hijack this post to mention that the Dr. Horrible soundtrack is available for purchase on iTunes. That is all.

    The Internet is transforming…

    Read more…

  6. I surrender. Now stop sending me emails.

    Great Bird of the Galaxy, forgive me.

    It was just a matter of time, of course. My willpower is far from legendary or anything, and I knew that I was going to "cave", as Cortney so eloquently puts it, sometime or another--I fully intended to, since once I'm done high school I'd like to preserve my connections with my friends through whatever means available. And, as much as I hate to admit it, social networking sites help.

    So I joined Facebook.

    That's right. I'm tired of those snarky little "I've added you as a friend on Facebook..." emails finding their way into my inbox, begging me to get an account. -_- Fine. I surrender. Now stop sending me emails. (I have a feeling I'm going to continue getting them anyway, since that's the nature of the beast).

    However, an interestingly paranoid Orwellian thought occurred to me. As our technology increases, the government institutes increasingly complex methods of keeping track of us. The day is not far off when some sort of "national ID" system will be implemented. We already have several numbers associated with us--driver's licence, SIN, health card, etc. Naturally people start to get paranoid about the…

    Read more…