Facebook & Privacy?

Sarah Steiner, Learning Commons Librarian at Georgia State University, posted a link to the following video Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?. The video makes interesting and disturbing claims about privacy concerns regarding the site Facebook. It quotes from the terms of service posted on Facebook, which I have to admit, I’ve never read. Here’s a quote.

“When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.” Facebook. 25.May.2007 http://colostatepueblo.facebook.com/terms.php

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the validity of the claims presented in the video, so of course I googled the author. The video was created by Georgia web designer Vishal Agarwala (http://www.vishalagarwala.com/index.html). When I searched for his name, I ran across another post by Fred Stutzman on his blog, Unit Structures (here) that references this video. Stutzman points out seemingly contradictory statements in the Facebook Developer section of the site (which I couldn’t actually find myself). Some of the comments to Stutzman’s post include good counter arguments, especially refuting the allegations in the video about Facebook ties to the CIA and Department of Defense, which were provocative, but not well grounded in fact.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, it sounds like Facebook users grant Facebook the right to redistribute their user generated content, and Facebook promises to be ethical in its use of this content. Also, it requests that Facebook developers likewise respect user privacy. It sounds like Google’s “Do no harm” mantra. I suspect that most users, who like myself haven’t even read the terms of service, will only really become concerned about the possible privacy violations that could occur when they do occur. Until then, we’ll just keep posting with a refreshingly naive and trusting attitude. Be gentle with us Google and Facebook!

If you want to talk about this, sit with Ivan Gaetz (Dean of Libraries at Regis University) at lunch at the CALC Summit on June 1st. He will be facilitating a table talk regarding Privacy!

Generation Jones

Today, on the blog, Tame the Web, I read a post entitled Generation Jones by guest blogger Michael Colford. In it, he poses the question, “So what do you think? Why do some people take to emerging technology trends and ways of interacting while others do not? Do you have any thoughts?”. He is specifically referring to why some Generation X (which I am and which I’ve heard of :D) and Generation Jones (which I’ve never heard of, but which he says are those born between the mid ’50s and mid 60’s) members are quicker to embrace new technology than others. He puts forth the idea that it may have something to do with early experiences with technology and also with personal need for said technologies.

My own personal thinking on this is that it is basically a personality trait. If you are a person who likes, even thrives on, change; then you will be quick to embrace new technology. In fact, many people of this nature like new technology just because it’s “new”. I have to admit to having this sort of outlook myself. Like Michael, I am an Omnivore according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s Typology Quiz. The Annoyed Librarian refers to us as Omnibores! But then s/he is a Lackluster Veteran, so what’s her point?

So I’ll pass on his question to you. First of all, are you an enthusiastic early adopter of new technology? Omnibores, speak out! And if so, do you also find you are the sort of person who embraces change in general? If you are not fond of Web 2.0, what is your overall attitude to change in general? Talk to us Lackluster Veterans. Let’s test my theory.

ACRLog » Blog Archive » Get To Know Your Moblearners

StevenB at ACRLog made the following comment today regarding mobile communication and academic libraries. I thought I’d comment as to our library’s status in this regard. We have primarily received requests for PDA accessible information from our Nursing students. In response, we have purchased a new Dell PDA and are working on adapting our Web pages to be easily viewable on handheld devices.

Future ideas include using IM to conduct reference transactions and further developing our library information and instruction wiki to provide an easily Web accessible resource for students.

My next step will be to create a student advisory group to help guide our efforts. I have created a MySpace and via that, I’ve met several students who like to talk about the library. I would love to hear more from them.
ACRLog » Blog Archive » Get To Know Your Moblearners
I don’t know about you but I am sometimes concerned that academic libraries are, to a significant degree, not ready for moblearners. By that I mean that our resources are far from ready to be used efficiently on the mobile devices that are dominating students’ lives. I know there are a few libraries out there that have experimented with delivering databases to the handheld device, but those seem few and far between. What I would really like to see are more traditional database aggregators developing their products for the small screen so that academic libraries can be a part of the mainstream mobile learning environment. We may also need to do more with texting as a communication channel. I suppose the saving grace of all this change is that there are abundant challenges for academic librarians as we navigate the road to relevancy. Having to adapt to moblearners and much more will keep us from growing complacent.

What is Technology?

In just a few minutes, I’m on my way upstairs to our Instructional Technology Center to tape a segment for a promotional video they are making. As one of the first round of “faculty champions” for their program several years ago, Geri has asked me to talk about my experience and some of my thoughts about technology. In preparation, she sent me the questions ahead of time and the first one was a real stumper. “What is your definition of technology?” Well. Gee. Is it computers? Is it software? Is it the Internet? Is it the wheel? According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Ed., 2000, as accessed on Bartleby.com, technology is all of the following:

Inflected forms: pl. tech·nol·o·gies
1a. The application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives. b. The scientific method and material used to achieve a commercial or industrial objective. 2. Electronic or digital products and systems considered as a group: a store specializing in office technology. 3. Anthropology The body of knowledge available to a society that is of use in fashioning implements, practicing manual arts and skills, and extracting or collecting materials.

As I consider these definitions, none of them really seem to have anything to do with technology as I experience it on a daily basis. However, if I substitute the words “communication” and “information” for industry and technology, maybe I get a bit closer? i.e. “The scientific method and material used to achieve a communication or information objective”.

I would say that, at least in the world of education, technology is primarily about communication. It is a medium that allows society to share information and discuss information and ideas in new ways. It facilitates new ways of communicating socially. Thus, the primary challenge for libraries is to understand how to communicate with our patrons in new ways.

I think the wheel might have been easier!