Month: August 2015

Week 5 Reflection: The Expectation of Privacy on Social Media

This week’s live session discussions were particularly interesting. We spoke a lot about transparency, privacy, and security on the Internet, and even talked about those silly Terms of Service that nobody ever reads. What stuck out to me though, was the particular discussion about privacy on social media — or the perceived privacy expectations when it comes to social media. The idea that some people expect their ideas and thoughts, and even information, to stay private when they post it on social media is almost crazy to me.

Isn’t the entire idea of social media to be able to share your thoughts and ideas? And to post updates and pictures? If that’s the case — and I believe that it is — I am surprised that people have any expectation of privacy. With the click of a button, anyone can share or retweet a Facebook or Twitter post, and anyone can take a live screenshot via their computer or smart phone at any time. So why then is there a sudden expectation that what we put on social media is not going to go viral?

Moral of the story: In the digital world that we live in where “going viral” can happen in a matter of minutes, don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want to leak out to the public.

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Week 4 Reflection: The Digital Divide and the Next Generation

It’s human nature to take things for granted, especially those things that are prevalent in our lives on a daily basis. The laptop that I’m typing on and the smart phone that is sitting next to me, and even the sheer ability to be able to use the internet, are perfect examples of this. That’s not to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with that — technology is everywhere — but many of us are lucky enough, and capable enough, to be able to use the technologies that exist in today’s digital age. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. The digital divide is real. There are people throughout the world that are not privy to have the necessary access to modern information and technology systems.

Having said that, there is little doubt that the gap is closing — more people are “connecting” every day — but at what point will that shrinking gap be more noticeable? There are companies, like Andela, built on the foundation of helping to bridge the digital divide, and the government is funneling money into public schools to enable them to include technologies that the students are not often exposed to at home (the charter school that my girlfriend works at in inner city Philly has Apple TVs in each classroom). So in the United States specifically, is it possible that by the time the next generation comes around, they will simply be in a better place in terms of having access to and feeling comfortable with digital technologies? I think that, as a country, if we can find a way to integrate these technologies into the school systems, we will be ahead of the curve when it comes to closing the gap.

Week 3 Reflection: Social or Socially Awkward?

It seems like each of my first two reflections posed some sort of overlying question, so I am going to keep with that theme in this week’s post.

As a twenty-something living in the digital age, I’d like to think that I am pretty well-versed in the world of social media. I use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat on a daily basis and others like Venmo, Yelp, and Netflix on a weekly basis. Having said that, this week, specifically the in-class presentations, showed me that even I have a lot to learn in the art of social media. For example, did you know that there was a site for book recommendations that also acts as a social network?! Well thanks to one of my classmates, I now know that there is (it’s called Goodreads, by the way).

There truly is a form of social media for almost anything these days. From book recommendations to photo sharing to instant messaging to money transferring and beyond. Regardless of our personal interests, society can choose from hundreds, and probably thousands, of social media platforms to connect with people around the world. In the same way that we are reliant on always being connected, we are reliant on being social. But are we really being social? We constantly hear about people who would rather text than make phone calls, or those who would rather post Facebook statuses than catch up with their friends. All of these different platforms allow us to connect in ways that we’ve never been able to connect before, and with people all over the world. The reach is undoubtedly bigger with social networks, but is it really helping people connect better with friends and family that they interact with on a regular basis anyway? Or is it, in a way, just making us more socially awkward instead?