Teaching from the real world is pure joy most of the time. Students love it when they see something from class in the pixels of library journals and magazines, the mass media, or the technology press. Most of the time, discussing change while it’s happening is a visceral lesson in professional adaptability and continuous learning. However, I could have done without having to teach technology-related privacy issues to my “Digital Trends, Tools, and Debates” students in the shadow of the NSA’s newly-revealed surveillance practices.
Privacy in our society is being undermined with a daily intensity that may be unmatched in history. The confluence of compromises in our digital lives and the political arena chips away at our sense of what needs to be private and risks codifying a culture in which privacy is not a right but a state hard-won by continual effort or, worse, a state only available to those wealthy enough to protect themselves.
Last weekend I went to Spring Green, Wisconsin for a treat I’d been anticipating most of a year: a double-bill of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at American Players Theatre. I drove home from the theater with lines and themes from the play pulling together disparate threads in my mind, such as opportune moments and their opposites, MIT’s report on its behavior during Aaron Swartz’s prosecution, the Biss bill as the latest twist in the movement toward open access to scholarly literature, and sundry other past and present information-related struggles in academe, and I want to share some of my musings.
University of Washington iSchool’s Joseph Janes calls for libraries to strike a balance between protecting privacy and innovating to add value—with patrons’ permission. This essay is part of an exclusive LJ series, Reinventing Libraries, that looks at how the digital shift is impacting libraries’ mission.
In a series of exclusive essays, thinkers from the library world address how the digital shift is impacting libraries’ mission. Peer to Peer columnist Barbara Fister reflects on the need to reinvigorate instruction in light of how we now collect resources. University of Washington iSchool’s Joseph Janes, in turn, calls for libraries to strike a balance between protecting privacy and innovating to add value—with patrons’ permission.
With the continuing travels of Edward Snowden keeping the National Security Administration’s (NSA) surveillance habits in the news, the discussion during Sunday’s LITA Top Technology Trends 2013 panel at the American Library Association’s Annual Convention turned frequently to the future of privacy, and the role that libraries might play in protecting their patrons.
The American Library Association has launched a new website, ala.org/liberty, in response to the recent revelations about widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). The site offers a toolkit and other resources for libraries to convene forums and moderate community discussions on privacy. Many more resources will be added in the weeks to come, an ALA representative said.
I’m a writer, and a geek. So if CourseSmart had wanted to track students’ use of its etextbooks to improve the texts themselves, I could totally sympathize. But it seems to me that CourseSmart wants to use those analytics to fix, not the book, but the reader, and that has the potential to disturb privacy advocates and put students off etextbooks altogether.