Today I ventured into the drizzly day to have lunch in Hamilton and then work in my office on the second edition of the textbook of which I am writing the second edition: Understanding Human Communication, Canadian Edition.
Lunch at Bad Dog Café on Locke to talk social media…
I went to bed late, because I watch the UK election until 2am, so I woke up late at 10:49am, according to my BlackBerry. Amazing. I must have needed the sleep. I had a little cereal, chatted with my second oldest friend Lars Wessman (aka piratasum.com) on google chat. Then I got into my car and drove through the grey drizzle down to Locke St. to meet my friends Megan Coppolino and Chris Farias from kitestring.ca. We had a great four-hour lunch during which they shared their insights, thoughts, opinions and ideas about the social media chapter I am putting together for the textbook. They were so generous with their time! Truly appreciated.
Back at the University to talk to colleagues…
After that I went back to the office and chatted with my new colleagues, Dr Faiza Hirji and Dr David Ogborn. They are wonderful colleagues, and we chatted about how the year went. Both are an inspiration to me! So full of passion for teaching and research.
Coffee at William’s and more social media chat!
Then I met former student Chad Fullerton, who now works as a web designer at Manulife, and Joey Coleman who just took a position as a journalist with the Hamilton Spectator. We had a powerful discussion about privacy on Facebook, the effects of social media on people’s lives and how tablet computers, like Apple’s iPad, are going to change everything…
No privacy left on Facebook… you have to be careful…
Chad described how Facebook’s new Open Graph protocol would make Facebook the organising logic and structure of the web and how this could be a frightening prospect in terms of surveillance and tracking of our internet behaviours. He described how any page that has the new “Facebook Like” is essentially an I-Frame which sends data back to the Facebook Corp every time you visit a page that contains it – even if you don’t click on the “Like” button on the page. Now, this is really no different than the data that any old webcounter service or google analytics provide to be able to keep track of who’s visiting the website. All in all, it was a fascinating conversation which earned them both a mention in the book’s acknowledgments!
This led to a discussion about how there is basically no privacy left on Facebook – that it has been eroded since the social media service started as thefacebook.com, several years ago at Harvard. In fact, after the latest Facebook developer’s conference, F8, Google engineers started leaving Facebook in droves because of privacy concerns.
I said that I have always told my students and friends that you should consider any message you put out on the Internet to be part of your personal public brand. Whether it is a digital photo that someone snapped of you in a club, or stuff you’ve posted yourself, it is now on hundreds, maybe thousands of people’s hard drives around the world. You could have had a one-night-stand while on vacation: you know, you trusted a nice person who charmed you, you felt your inhibitions go down because of alcohol, excitement and being in a strange place far from home. You may not have noticed the camera behind the plant in your hotel room. In fact it might not have even been him or her, it may have been a sneaky friend of his or hers.
And presto – you’re an amateur porn actor on the Internet. It’s that simple.
Remember, that in the digital age, everywhere where there is a digital camera is part of your backyard. There is no more distance.
Another common mistake. You might think that you “de-tagged” from the picture of you spilling beer all over youself in a drunken binge on the beach during Spring Break – so you’re safe, right? Wrong. Biometric software allows people to surf the web, looking for patterns based on pictures of your face and body that someone already has. The software searches for faces that match the ones the artificial intelligence software has been trained on. So, if you were in your high school yearbook and someone scanned that picture in, they have the potential to start tracking your face down on the Internet. It’s terrifying, but it’s real.
Remember, friends, it isn’t complicated: police your image!
Don’t let people take your image from you. Your face belongs to you, not them.
Besides, they really shouldn’t be taking pictures of you and disseminating them on the web without your consent anyhow. It’s uncouth, and if your friends are doing it to you, well, guess what – they’re not really your friends, are they?
Finally home in a thunderstorm, with lightning flashes…
At about 7pm, I got home and tidied my house up a little. I am a very clean and hygienic person, but not always so tidy. I made an effort, though… I am having a friend over for lunch tomorrow! Cayenne-pepper marinated shrimp on the bbq to be dipped in a creamy mango-lime vinaigrette, with organic greens and asparagus on the side. Mmmm.
Now I am listening to the rain beat against my window in sheet after powerful sheet. Flashes of lightning clear the night away, creating moments of crystal clarity.