Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

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Class 6: My Avatar and Me – virtual identities

November 7, 2019

Who’s who in the digital environment and how do we know? The question posed by Locks Aichi in this week’s class.

Locks Aichi started the discussion by asking us ‘Who are you?’ She qualified it by suggesting we could respond as our avatars or our real selves. All the replies were short and to the point with some of you giving your avatar names and others your class name or the subject you are studying.

Locks continued by asking us to consider the pieces of data that make up your identities in the virtual space and this produces a range of replies:

  • what you post on your feed
  • putting out a reflection of yourself
  • in SL you can choose how to display yourself – the visual aspect makes it different from the limitations of text-based social media apps
  • the Green Team noted their decision to share a single identity as dogs. (Is that your only identity? Is there anything beyond the pack?)
  • Exposing your identity
  • recalling Sitearms comments a few weeks ago you suggested that people can create different personas
  • present differently online from how you are in RL
  • present the best part of yourself.

It was suggested that social media provides a curated or crafted version of yourself, it also presents the highlights of your life. In RL we are so used to reading body language that it can be harder to hide aspects of yourself than it is online, which provides the opportunity to be more deceptive, perhaps.

Then Locks asked ‘Who owns your digital identity?’ You thought that there is much less privacy now than before – we tend to be more open and post everything that we do. We don’t really have privacy.

In RL who owns you? Nobody. Why is it different in the digital space? In the early days of social media we frequently heard the aphorism

if you are not paying for a service you are probably the product.

Data is sometimes referred to as the ‘new oil’ because of how valuable it can be. How often do we read the terms and conditions before signing up for an app or a service? Do we take the time to understand what data we are handing over? In Europe GDPR legislation (General Data Protection Regulation) has come about to protect our data. Organisations are not permitted to hold our data without permission, nor are they entitled to use it for any purpose other than the one for which we have given explicit permission. It also gives us the right to be forgotten – digitally.

By not making a choice we are actually making the decision to give our personal data away. If you share too much without giving consideration to the consequences it makes it harder to shape your online or virtual identity later. So, for instance, Locks made the decision to use her twitter account solely for professional purposes. It is not possible to glean anything of her personal life from it.

Do you think about the shape of your digital life: socially, personally, professionally?

LouHug said that he posts less online now than he used to two years ago – part of the reason for this is that he doesn’t want to appear foolish in front of his kids later on in life. Others suggested that you could use multiple accounts for different personas and/or purposes.

Locks suggested that it is becoming more difficult to live outside the digital world. So much commercial transactions are now carried on digitally that it has become necessary to link digital identity with our real world identities. For example, banking legislation is increasingly resisting anonymity to ensure trust and reliability and to counteract laundering and other illegal activity. The data trail is now becoming an asset.

Locks asked us to take five minutes to think about how you would present yourself as a professional online and post your response in 140 characters or less. When you had all posted your responses in local chat she asked how you had made the decision about what information to share?

  • started writing about the future but then reverted to describing the present
  • gave abilities rather than personal details
  • personal perspective – tried to look at it from a client’s perspective
  • professional – present as diligent, dedicated, reliable and experienced in team work
  • professional but with one personal trait for balance
  • look like the best professional possible
  • factual

Virtual identity is something you create. Given time and careful curation it can become a valuable asset. So, for instance, if somebody retires from an organisation their profile may well remain. The identity is transferrable – it has become a quantifiable asset. Therefore, we are now seeing an increasing interest in laws around privacy, intellectual property and ownership of digital assets.

Impersonation is also a greater problem because it can be easier to present a false identity in the digital environment. Hence the rise of accredited identities such as the blue tick used by Twitter, although the service has been put on hold.

All of this underlines the importance of trust in the digital landscape. You should decide what you are trying to achieve with your online digital or virtual identity and allow that to guide your approach to developing it.

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Class 7: Privacy

November 15, 2018

We started this week with a discussion about your blogs with some general feedback on how you are getting on. John presented the assessment criteria given in the rubric again describing each one and drawing your attention to the weighting in particular. I stressed the benefit of smart working – don’t spend time doing work that will not contribute marks in your assessment. Be clear on what the criteria are and address them in your work. In this context the the content and creativity of your blog is weighted at 40% with your voice (or writing style) and design both weighted at 20%. Remember that.

We also considered what you should be writing about. You identified the instructions given in the ‘Things to do before the next class’ section of the class summaries. Each week you are given a topic to write about and these are usefully numbered from one to six (so far). This is the minimum number of individual posts you need to write. You should also be writing about the discussion topic for each class and the progress your team is making on the group project. I complimented you on the use of illustration in your blogs. This adds variety and keeps your posts interesting. Don’t forget to caption and credit any images. While the writing style common to blogging is conversational don’t allow it to be too casual. Remember to maintain an academic rigour in your references and vary your style from descriptive to reflective and critical as necessary.

There was a request for individual feedback on your work to date and I offered to meet you in SL after class or at another time that suits you. Let me know through email or the Facebook page and we can make arrangements. The first meeting was scheduled to take place after this class.

The topic for the second part of class was that of privacy. We spoke about the enduring nature of online activity and how things that you might have forgotten can return at the most unexpected times. The individuals referenced in the reading from last week lost their jobs as a result. I was a little surprised to learn that in your social circles you don’t appear to have conventions concerning the appropriate use of social media although, a few of you said that sometimes a group might agree not to post photos of an event without permission.

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Social media app that offered privacy.

I mentioned the social networking app Path which was marketed on the basis of its respect for privacy. Working along the lines of Facebook but limiting the number of friends to 50 it was a good solution for families, providing a safe and secure space for networking. Strangely, it was unable to monetise this USP sufficiently and was forced to close down last month after eight years in operation.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Lecture: watch From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) who explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation [accessed on 16/11/18].
  2. Read: Produsage– A Working Definition by Prof Axel Bruns [accessed on 16/11/18].
  3. Write the seventh post: to your blog with an update on the progress (or lack thereof) your team is making with the group project.
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Class 7: Personal branding

November 22, 2017

John was unable to get his voice working this week so the class had to be conducted entirely through text chat. This slows the conversation down considerably and forces everyone to be more precise in what they say, using the minimum amount of words – a little like conducting a class entirely in twitter.

We started off with some feedback on the participants blogs. John gave the following pointers:

  • Include your About Me profile in your blog.
  • Make sure it is easy to follow your blog – approach it as a first time visitor.
  • Tidy up your blogs – delete the template pages and widgets.
  • Caption your pics and illustrations.
  • Include references to the reading and cite them correctly.
  • Be reflective – discuss what you are learning (or not learning!)
  • Proof read before you post.
  • Make sure you approve any comments. Comment on your peers’ blogs.
  • Some of you need to ensure your have written all the required posts – don’t be a mean writer!

These comments will be supplemented by more specific comments for each student that will be sent by direct message in Facebook.

John also reminded the class that one blog post per class is the minimum requirement for assessment. From now on you should be writing about how your team is functioning on the group project. Refer to the talk on team work by Sitearm Madonna and describe you own contribution to the group in particular. Be constructively critical and remember this is a learning exercise not an exercise in perfection. In fact, you are likely to learn more from what goes wrong than what goes right.

We then discussed the reading from the last week in the context of our own online personas. The issue of ethics and morality surfaced almost immediately. Identity theft, catfishing (using social media to pretend you are someone you are not), trust and gender were discussed in similar terms to the issue of privacy, transparency and opacity last week. Glenn suggested there is no essential self to find… much in the way that it is not possible to have true transparency. But, he went on to suggest that trust is very important. We considered how difficult it can be to build trust yet how easy it is to shatter it. barrrttyy suggested that developing a personal brand might be important when we consider it may last longer than a single job or career.

John asked everyone to consider the difference between our personal identities and our professional ones in the online environment. Do we always distinguish between the two? Should we? How might we do so? This is where the importance of digital literacy becomes clear. We need to be aware of our online behaviours to ensure our current behaviour doesn’t exclude us from future opportunities.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: about the girl who resigned her position as UK police youth commissioner in 2013 due to previous tweets. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  2. Read: about another example of person losing their job over a racist tweet. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  3. Read: User Generated Content and Virtual Worlds  from the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 2008. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  4. Write the fifth post: to your blog about how you might convert your personal presence online into an identity for professional networking.
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Class 6: Opacity

November 15, 2017

We don’t often see class participants on horseback at DIT…

 

Following on from last week’s discussion about the project Glenn introduced one of the text‘s from the reading list. Édouard Glissant is a poet from Martinique, a small island in the Caribbean, who in the late 20th Century formulated a demand for the right to opacity – ‘We clamour for the right to opacity for everyone’. He was writing from the context of a small island community where residents’ privacy is often violated – a perspective that will resonate with the Visual Arts participants from Sherkin Island. In addition, Martinique is a former French colony and Glissant is acutely aware of the post-colonial discourse. However, his thoughts are finding a new audience with the rise of social media and its implicit demand for transparency. Glissant suggests that the process of ‘understanding’ people from the perspective of Western thought is based on the requirement for transparency. Of course, total transparency is not possible and, according to Glissant, not even desirable. Difference must be recognised and opacity acknowledged. The opaque is not the obscure though, it is that which cannot be reduced.

This apparent conflict between transparency and opacity is also explored in the TEDx talk by Tranberg and the film by Krotoski also.

This led to a very lively debate with a range of views expressed and many concerns about the quantity and nature of data gathering by social media corporations such as Facebook, Google, YouTube among others.  We talked about how easily we gave away our rights in exchange for the convenience of using online apps, frequently without even reading the terms and conditions before ticking the box. We need to be careful because if something appears to be free then it generally means we are the product.

Glenn referred to a symposium After the Future…of Work and a presentation by his colleague Conor McGarrigle in which he explores how we are training our own AI (artificial intelligence) replacements in the workplace by using digital applications.

We also touched on the generational difference in response to these issues; the notion of data in a ‘cloud’ whereas in reality it is stored in very grounded physical locations; the range of legislative jurisdictions versus the ubiquitous internet and the impact on governance and oversight; the use of anonymised big data versus data on specific individuals.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: Digital Identity Development is a Process. [Accessed 17 November 2017.]
  2. Read: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man. [Accessed 17 November 2017.]
  3. Read: Your Employee Is an Online Celebrity. Now What Do You Do? a Wall Street Journal article about employees developing their personal brand and implications for their employer. [Accessed 17 November 2017.]
  4. Look at: the infographic Personal Branding: 10 Steps to a New Professional You. [Accessed 17 November 2017.]
  5. Write the fourth post: to your blog describing your contribution to bringing the group project team together.
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Class 12: Virtual identities

May 3, 2017

Sitearm Madonna visited DIT in Second Life this week to talk about the origin and development of his online persona. An engineer in the US oil industry in RL and manager of Virtual Dublin in SL Sitearm is glamorous female avatar who happens to be male in RL.

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The glamorous Sitearm Madonna discusses the evolution of his avatar.

A resident of SL almost since its inception in the early 2000s Site elected to inhabit the virtual world in the form of a female avatar from the start. Attracted to the classical Greek myth of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth and virginity but finding the name already proliferating in SL he settled on the anagram. He muses on this decision wondering how it might have been influenced by his working single mother’s life experience, or a simple curiosity. He soon discovered that not only was there a greater choice of clothing available for female avatars but, male associates were prone to bestowing gifts of jewellery.

In the early days of SL communication was via text chat – voice chat did not became available until late 2009 – so there was little to give away the fact that a female avatar might be directed by an RL male. It was only as Site became more engaged with the virtual world in RL, attending conferences and developing a consultancy practice for companies trying to move into SL that his identity became an issue. This led to some colleagues variously being surprised, irritated, embarrassed or unaffected by the revelation.

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Sitearm, left, introduces one of his alternative avatars.

However, men using female avatars and women using male avatars turns out not to be unusual in SL. Women sometimes refer to unwelcome attention from male avatars as the reason for their choice and, indeed, Site also spoke of this. Locks Aichi also spoke of her decision to use a male avatar saying that she grew up as a tomboy and felt comfortable that way in SL having tried female and male avatars. She does have a female avatar in traditional Nigerian costume which she reserves for special occasions.

We also remembered a past student, Box of Chocolates, who photographed herself in RL with a cardboard box over her head and face, sporting hand drawn features, which then influenced her avatar for the semester.

Virtual worlds such as SL, and social media in general, allow us to explore our identities in new ways. This can be an interesting and revealing experience. In Asian Genders in Tourism Rokhshad Tavakoli reflects on how virtual tourism could be used to overcome barriers to travel for Iranian women. But, one needs to be mindful of the impact this may have on others. There are numerous examples of how it can go terribly wrong from the Syrian lesbian blogger who was revealed to be a married man in 2011 to the outing of a white woman who posed as a black civil rights leader in 2015. They were both seen as behaving fraudulently despite their own insistence that they were presenting an inner integrity.

Somehow, the discussion segued into the subject of robots and cyborgs with special reference to Donna Haraway’s seminal feminist text: A Cyborg Manifesto (1984) which challenges traditional theories of the performativity of gender, proposing the confusion of gender roles against the essentializing of them. For Haraway the Cyborg represents the space to move beyond binary codes into more a fluid and dynamic understanding of identity, she writes;

Cyborgs might consider more seriously the partial, fluid, sometimes aspect of sex and sexual embodiment. Gender might not be global identity after all, even if it has profound historical breadth and depth. (P.108)

Within this conversation Site told us about the Museum of Robots in SL and promptly his avatar become a yellow robot, reminiscent of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2.

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Tasrill Sieyes, an SL Resident who made Duchamp’s legendary painting come alive.

This constant merging and morphing of identities throughout the presentation was resonant with practices in the field of Queer Pedagogy which seeks to use pedagogical techniques to disturb and trouble the way social norms are constructed and affirmed through traditional educational frameworks. In Site’s performance, the ‘Dragging’ of identity expressed a creative space between socially assigned norms ie ‘Male/Female’, Drag being the in-between (/). Such performative pedagogies also subvert the traditional role of mastery assigned to the teacher in education, allowing for more constructivist horizontal approaches reminiscent of Joseph Jacotot’s radical conception of Universal Education discussed in the first session.

As an extension of this discussion and as a way to both engage with the ‘making’ potential of SL and to interrogate and question the formation of identity in SL, Glenn suggested we build a robot for our next project. However, given that this is the last class of the module before the exhibitions and presentations on the 17th May, this ambitious undertaking will have to be postponed until a future point.

This last class has really been the wildest of them all and certainly opened up new questions and new possibilities within Second life. The students have been on a creative and somewhat disconcerting pedagogical journey through this project, one which has been challenging and bonding in equal measure. It has broadened our understanding of what constitutes a world in the contemporary sense and how we might act in worlds that are still too new to be fully comprehended, but which might at the very least give us a glimpse of what is to come. Class ended with Site offering a guided shopping tour in SL. This was received with much interest and we closed a most interesting discussion.

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Class 2: Art and Utopia

February 15, 2017
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Exploring the changing light from the balcony of the DIT campus in SL.

This week we met three times! On Tuesday Glenn did a technical support session to resolve access to SL, activating voice for everyone and generally getting used to residing in SL. John followed this up on Wednesday to ensure everyone had joined the module group. We looked at changing the orientation of the sun for capturing dramatic photos and tried out flying. We also agreed to use the Sherkin Class 2016 private group for communication outside class time.

Only a few participants had checked the post from last week’s class so much of the activities were not completed. Please read them carefully and get them done for next week. It is particularly important that you start your individual blogs immediately so you can reflect on the issues that arise in class. If you wish to retain a sense of anonymity set up the blog with your avatar’s identity: there is no obligation to reveal your true self online!

We also spoke a little about how conventions in SL differ from Real Life (RL). For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to approach complete strangers in SL and initiate a conversation in a way that would be unthinkable in RL. More often than not, other residents are happy to engage. Sometimes they may ignore you or, indeed, may have stepped away for their pc – known as ‘away from keyboard’ or AFK – leaving their avatar abandoned and unable to respond! It is not possible to tell whether or not an avatar is inhabited merely by looking at it. Similarly, we don’t receive the subliminal confirmation that somebody has heard and understood what we have said because the RL facial gestures and expressions are missing. So, remember to provide deliberate cues during class discussion to confirm you are still in attendance and understand what is being spoken of. Type a comment in ‘Nearby Chat’ or even just a simple ‘y’ to indicate agreement. Better yet, type a question. Typos and poor spelling are perfectly acceptable in SL, as are txt words and acronyms – it is poor etiquette to correct another’s spelling or grammar! Familiarity with all this will develop as you  spend more time in SL.

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Class 2. Continued…

Good start to the second session this week. We have most of the technical issues worked out at this stage, everyone is on the Facebook page and it seems that almost everyone has a voice and can hear when others speak. The room was arranged into a more informal setting to allow for the second part of the module, which will be based around the close reading of key texts on Utopia and Art. This week Glenn gave a broad introduction and overview of Thomas More’s Utopia text. The group was asked to read the introduction to Stephen Duncomb’s text: Open Utopia. This introduction is quite lengthy and quite dense, however, it provides two important ways of thinking about More’s Utopia. Firstly it addresses the idea of Utopia in the present and after a century of failed and violent attempts that led to Fascism and Communism. As a result of these attempts, the concept of Utopia has become a difficult somewhat closed or static concept. However, referring to Francis Fukuyama’s thesis on the ‘end of history’, Duncombe also suggests that while we may be at the end of large-scale social projects, the status quo is very far from perfect for most of the populace. It is within this context that the concept of Utopia is being considered anew, as a way to begin to look forward to the future in a way that has been somewhat barred since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. At a more technical level, Duncombe makes some interesting arguments about the relationship between criticism and utopia, suggesting that criticism is utopias antithesis. This argument is made in a more general sense and then in a way that is much more particular to More’s Utopia, and it was quite illuminating to read Duncombe’s interpretation of the book as a critique of the function of criticism. This critique leads Duncombe to assert the role of the artist in mediating the present-ness of criticism and the future orientation of Utopian projection. This articulation of the artist as the proposer of alternative modes of social formation will be picked up in the next session. The rest of the session looked at other examples of utopian literary exposition such as François Rabelais (1483– 1553) Abbey of Thelema from his novel Gargantua.  Finally, we looked at a couple of concrete experiments such as  André Godin’s  Familistère complex in 1859 and the Worgl Experiment in Austria in 1932.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: SL with some colleagues from the class. Visit at least 3 different locations that are new to you. Find them in search or ask other residents for recommendations, or simply select places at random.
  2. Write the second post: to your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Describe the places and include photos, if you can. Explain what you liked and disliked about the locations and describe any interaction you might have had – relate this to the concept of a Utopian place.
  3. Read: the very short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Ursula K Le Guin. 1973.
  4. Pose one question about the text to the group.
  5. Read: 5 steps to build a productive and tight knit remote team
  6. Read: 10 Rules of Professional Etiquette for the Digital Workplace
  7. Supplementary reading about SL and virtual worlds:
    in Virtual Worlds Magazine, Virtual Anthropology and the Prometheus myth.
    Interview with Rod Humble, former CEO of Linden Labs, owners of Second Life, Forget Playing Games. Meet the Man Who Wants to Empower You to Make Games.
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Class 3: Digital footprints

October 6, 2016

Following last week’s poll to select a communication app we agreed to set up a private Facebook group. Details will be circulated during the week.

Participants spoke about their experiences visiting locations in SL. You selected them from the list of suggestions offered by SL and from talking to other residents (as those who ‘play’ SL are known). Many of you appear to have visited interesting places that were unnervingly empty of people. This may well have been due to the time zone differences. But some of you found lively social gatherings that led to interactions with others. We talked about the maturity rating of locations from G(eneral) through M(oderate) to A(dult). It is important to remember that just as you would take care to read your surroundings in Real Life you should be cautious when visiting new places in SL.

John reminded the class that every participant should have their blog set up now, with at least two posts written (as described in the previous two class summaries) and the ‘about’ section completed. Some of you have not submitted links yet and should do so immediately. Remember, the blogs are assessed for progress after week four and need to be up to date before class five starts at 8.00 pm on 20th October.

You all received a notecard when logging into SL for the class, listing the student groups for the project. Only students who have submitted their blog were on the list. An updated list will be circulated next week. The brief for the project Who’s watching you has been posted on the website. We discussed the theme and John pointed out the reading and watching links that will get you started on your research work. Last week’s reading 5 steps to build a productive and tight-knit remote team should help you get started on the practicalities. The purpose of the project is to give you the opportunity to work collaboratively online so, please try to limit Real Life encounters on the project!

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Go: outside your established community/group (eg, this class group) in SL and make contact with at least two people relevant to your interests (artist, gallery owner, musician, shop manager, business owner, educator, builder, etc). Try to engage them in conversation.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing your encounters.
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