Julie A. Cunningham

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Mapping Privacy

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Privacy is dead.  ((Like Nietzsche’s supposition in The Gay Science that “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?”   We can easily input privacy into the phrases with a very realistic conversion of the concept that privacy is “no longer a viable option.” Wikipedia.)) Honestly.  It’s just a question of whether we are willing to accept that truth, or if we want to continue believing the lie that the world is flat.  Folks, we’ve hit the end of the map….

Maps used to be flat, crusty pieces of paper.  Today, maps are interactive, 3-D catalogs of daily life across the plant.  Oh, and they are sometimes used to get us from Point A to Point B, or to collaboratively denote the path of a wildfire and evacuation zones. ((See recent Four Mile Fire in Colorado.)) Last year, I introduced my 3rd grade students to Google Maps in the Computer Lab prior to their walking field trip through our little community.  We started looking at specific landmarks in town, but it quickly turned into “There’s my house!”.  What really shocked me was that I had at least 4 students who were outside when the street view camera recorded, and now their image is up on the web.  Granted, their name isn’t attached to their face, but I can see that this particular child lives at this address.  Down to the pattern on the backpack and the zipper on the jacket. Did their parents grant Google permission to take those images and put them up online?  Nope.  Would they be surprised to see it? Yep. Yeah. Sure. You betcha.  Today, Seth Godin posted about privacy ((See his post “Do You Really Care About Privacy?“)).  It got me thinking a little further about this issue because he posits that it’s not the lack of privacy people object to, but the element of surprise.

The world is round.  I know that.  You know that.  But some people still think it’s flat.  Surprising them with the news that the world is round is one thing.  Surprising them with the news that they are standing on the bottom of that ball ((Hello to my friends at McMurdo Station in Antarctica!))  and won’t fall off (gravity!) is even harder.  How do you go about sharing a 3D concept in a world of 2D understanding?  How do we help educate parents, administrators, and teachers about this “death of privacy”?  (And it wasn’t a quick death…. it’s been gasping and wheezing for decades.  Facebook, anyone?)  What are the ramifications for educators as we continue into the 21st Century? ((Thanks to Bud Hunt for demonstrating in his recent posts that, yea verily, you can use footnotes in WordPress. Shocking, that.))

2 thoughts on “Mapping Privacy

  1. I was tracking right with Seth on this one. The problem really isn’t a lack of privacy when we get down to it, it is when we are surprised by the lack of privacy because we had wrongly assumed that we had some. Parents put their kids pictures all over the web all the time, between facebook, shutterfly, or sending pictures via email we take our private lives and make them public. The problem comes when they didn’t really intend for the information to be public, or didn’t understand that it would be. Why do you think grocery stores give out their membership cards? It isn’t because they are so giving and want to help you out on your grocery bill. They want to know what you are buying and with what frequency, they want to know what coupons to send you that will bring you back in the store. From the education perspective what this means is that we need to not surprise parents with their child’s presence online. We need to let them know what we are doing, how we are doing it and then share the results. I think the less surprise there is, the more willing parents will be to let go of some of the privacy concerns (read scares).

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mapping Privacy | Julie A. Cunningham -- Topsy.com

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