Web Privacy Policies, They Know We Won’t Read Them

I just listened to this piece on NPR’s Morning Edition.  Google, Facebook and the rest force us to agree to privacy policies before we can use their products, but who is going to actually read them?  Almost no one.

There isn’t a person alive who would allow a corporation to step into their physical world and collect personal information about them, but in the cyber world, we just don’t notice it much and we become willing to let our boundaries slip.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t significant.

Many Web users have little idea about how, or when, they're being tracked. In this 2011 photo, Max Schrems of Austria sits with 1,222 pages about his activities on Facebook — the company gave him the file after he requested it under European law.

Ronald Zak/AP

Many Web users have little idea about how, or when, they’re being tracked. In this 2011 photo, Max Schrems of Austria sits with 1,222 pages about his activities on Facebook — the company gave him the file after he requested it under European law.

It’s Sharing When I Borrow

I loved Everything is a Remix.  It is so true, in ways large and small, that we justify when we copy and vilify when others do it.  Exhibit A would be an angry, red-faced kindergartener who is furious at her classmate because she copied her drawing, painting, construction, you name it.  To manifest possessiveness of intellectual property at that young age, it must be impressed into our DNA that creations, in any form,  are our possessions.  Even as a fully grown adult I don’t fall for the “Imitation is the highest form of compliment” excuse.  I still get really bothered with my friends who nudge closer and closer to some design statement I have invented for myself.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.  Maybe good ideas are just hard to come by and we can’t stand losing the corner on them, but there is something really visceral about being unique.

So I’m not yet sure how I’m going to do with this “It’s time to share everything” window of life.  On my creative commons license there was one choice that was a little more protective than another and for now, I checked that one.  I don’t know, I’m still feeling a little clingy about my words and my pictures.  In truth, I do realize I should be so lucky for someone to want to reuse something that comes from my writing voice or my eye behind a camera.

In the last Big Marker podcast, Jeff made a quick reference to copying being a cultural allowance in some parts of Asia.  I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for five years before moving to Tunis.  There were plenty of pirated DVDs for sale there, but what was interesting and conflicting was the copying of handmade goods.  The Newari and Tibetan cultures within Nepal are such artisans in metalwork, claywork, and textiles.  I devoted the weekends of my five years in that country to learning the Tibetan carpet industry and started a custom carpet export business called Knot Monkey (website currently under design).  I began the company in the first place because I became friends with a talented, Nepali carpet designer who was making pieces I thought were more marketable than what I usually saw in the tourist shops.  The longer I spent in the design rooms of the carpet factories the more I realized how motifs are borrowed from ancient Tibetan designs through to modern fashion magazines.

Some rights reserved by Julie Bredy


To mix it up even further, the projects from different export companies are often woven in the same factories so when you go to check on your work, you can see, and be influenced by, the ideas of other designers and exporters.  It is a rich environment for inspiration, but I had to try and stick to what I felt was my style and not wander off in imitation of the next pretty carpet I saw.  I must say my motivation there was more to create something different for the market than to protect the concept of another designer.

On the other hand, sometimes seeing the competition allows me to lay their ideas to rest and feel affirmed that I am creating something different and true to myself.  But then someone copies me and I feel, again,  like they’ve taken my soul.

Looking in the Internet Mirror

Some rights reserved by Christi Nielsen

I’ve long been nervous about Googling myself.  I had never done it before today.  It seemed to me like looking at your face in one of those magnifying mirrors you sometimes see in hotels and who ever needs to see their pores with that clarity?  Having done it, Googled myself, I really can’t imagine what I ever thought I would find that was objectionable.  Actually, my primary impression was that I think I would have been almost Google absent prior to one year ago.  A year ago, I started publishing a blog, then a few months later I joined Facebook, and finally, CoETaIL, which pushed my footprint up a couple of shoe sizes.  Prior to that, I may have been little more than a Social Security entry and a listing in the Lummi Island, Washington White Pages.  Man, I thought I was a little more out there than that, but really I wasn’t publishing anything in my name on the Web and that is obviously key.

I was a little surprised at what popped up and what didn’t.  There were some really random comments I have made on blogs or on Facebook that had an entire entry, but I make comments every day, so why these?  I’m still curious about that.

Was there anything I wouldn’t want a potential employer to see?  Not at all.  I guess I’m pretty straight up, but my links were Edutopia, Facebook, CoETaIL, Prezi, Social Security, and my 3 blogs.  The most you could infer about me is that I live my work, I supported a project called Perennial Plate, and I’m partial to artichokes.  There were no embarassing photos or references and because my name has an unusual spelling, there weren’t even any others with my name to confuse me with.

We lost a dear friend this past week to brain cancer.  Maybe you know David Hevey at SAS.  David was the video journalism teacher and was very tech involved.  I Googled David and only found about one entry for him.  That surprised me a little, too, but he was probably busy producing in-house videos and wasn’t putting much work on the Web.  I know he produced a great body of work and it made me a little sad to see that his talent wasn’t really present.  On the other hand, I realized that having a digital footprint may not be the complete measure of the person.