Thursday, January 18, 2007

Back-Channel Messages about the B4B EVO

This is the beginning of reflection on back-channel messages about the Blogging for Beginners Electronic Village Online workshop (b4b evo). As energy and time permit, it will continue in subsequent posts.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2007 6:44 AM (JST), I wrote to the b4b evo moderators to let them know:

... I've decided to pass on a few of the activities that you suggested before the launch, namely the following:

On Jan 12, 2007, at 21:16, bloggingforbeginners Moderator wrote:
I thought you might like to know why I've passed on those particular activities. This has to do with privacy and ownership issues that I'll endeavor to explain below, and probably rehash along with these lead-in remarks in some blog post(-s) later.

I appreciate the value that knowing about one another can have in fostering and developing a sense of community, and I realize how the survey and database may ease and consolidate your access to information about community members.

Yet I generally avoid posting personal information in public or unsecured private online environments. I also read privacy policies closely and explore sites' verification mechanisms as well. Below are my current perspectives on the four tools underscored (hotlinked) in the list of activities above.

The b4b introductory survey, for example, opens to fields for collection of personal information. Yet the opening page includes no whisper of implicit or explicit purposes for collecting such information, processes for storing it, or limitations on access to it and its use.

Photos uploaded to Yahoo! Groups albums that some else has created would leave my ownership and control. I discovered that I would not be able to remove or replace them at a later date, if I so desired (and yesterday the same was true about comments on the b4b blog).

The Frappr map was just another tedious sign-up process waiting to happen, for a functionality that has mis-functioned for me in the past. I decided that posting two words ("southern Japan" or "Kumamoto, Japan") on the mailing list is a quicker and easier way to provide a global fix - one unencumbered by physical appearances. (I haven't taken time to find out whether I could change or remove Frappr pictures or comments at a later date because I believe it probably isn't worth the time it would take to ascertain control over a thumbnail identity.)

Finally, although the Yahoo! organization is bound by its privacy policy not to abuse information in group databases, group members with access to database information may well ignore both that privacy policy and its underlying principles. Here perhaps I could sum my concerns up as a matter of ambivalent trust....

In response (Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, PST), I received an understanding reply. The gist of that reply was:
  • Participants are welcome to try anything they like, and to skip what they don't.
  • Your feedback and explanations are helpful; they will inform future endeavors.
  • If it is not too much to ask, please give us further feedback and assistance.
(a moderator)

Details of the moderator's reply addressed concerns that I'd had about the activities listed above. The moderator also suggested specific ways in which to further assist and inform the b4b evo team, and proposed work-arounds for aspects of the activities that I had found problematic. I plan to reflect further, and respond to each of the requests and proposals in subsequent posts.

1 comment:

  1. Most of recent correspondence took place via email for the sake of immediacy. I've digested but a fraction of that correspondence in subsequent posts.


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