Privacy vs.Opportunity Costs: What Your Lack of a Digital Footprint ISN’T Saying About You

Opportunity Costs

  1. The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action

Privacy online. It seems the default for most people you talk to to fear the threat of identity theft criminals and hackers online getting them. The idea that their reputations might be at risk usually doesn’t register. This suggests to me that, perhaps, the information that the average person gets from mainstream media may not paint an accurate picture. (Or maybe this says more about the sorts of people I know than anything else but let’s proceed anyway). People trust the the Internet more and more despite these concerns. So what does this mean? As is often the case, reportage and reality may not be entirely congruent. Chomsky makes the argument against an impartial, reliable media best.

H. Aaron Cohl’s book, Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?: How Pessismism, Paranoia, and a Misguided Media are Leading Us Toward Disaster makes a well researched case that fear sells more advertising for media merchants than what we might classify as more useful information. This is not to suggest that we need not take these issues seriously. We must. It suggests that perhaps better education is required in order for us to make informed opinions as well, however. Is it not more likely that we, or our friends, are a bigger threat to our immediate well-being (professionally-speaking) than a cyber-crook who has millions (billions?) of potential victims to choose from?

The Wired article reading for this week by Evan Ratliff about his publicized attempt to try and disappear for a month seems frightening as well but the fact of the matter is that most people would not have a publicized disappearance for scores of cyber-geeks to coalesce around. It does highlight how much of what we think of as private really isn’t but if I run off to Thailand for a month of monkey-business this pool of experts would not be alerted to it or care.

Okay, rant session over. Now to my take on cyber-privacy. As a simple person, I tend to see things in simple terms. As I have no doubt written before and constantly tell my students, BE CAREFUL. What you post or upload has the potential to last forever. Does it pass the “Gramma test?” If you don’t want Gramma to know, DON’T TELL THE INTERNET! (I am sure I read this somewhere and make no claims to copyright). My own thoughts on privacy online are still forming and changing, still rather embryonic really, as many of the laws regarding the issue will no doubt seem in the not too distant future.

The other side of the digital privacy coin, however, is the exponentially increasing opportunities for finding people and being found by people. Our digital presence connects us more than ever before and to a vastly more far-reaching extent. Though we inarguably lose some privacy when we start creating cited or personal content online, by taking steps to present ourselves at our best we have far more to gain. A case in point, as part of my recent efforts at establishing my own online presence I use Twitter. It connects me with an expanding pool of professionals. By maintaining a positive reputation the opportunities for collaboration, sharing and the resources now constantly made available to me are greater than I can digest. While this may sound daunting, I am learning how to control the dials on my self-regulating Continual Professional Development panel. Someone I follow mentioned a celebration of Shel Silverstein’s work in her class. I tweeted about a re-imagined version I wrote in teacher’s college from a Canadian First Nations perspective and offered to share it. Whether or not she does end up using it (I hope you do Zoe because I would love to hear how it goes!), that exchange led to this idea (sharing it on my blog) which is one step closer to publishing. I have a lesson plan and supplementary materials available if contacted in the hopes of sharing more and finding more people to share with, bilaterally. As I write this, it strikes me that this might make for an inspiring motivational contest for illustrations for when I approach publishers/self publish. I further plan to turn my Freebook (free ebook ) into an “illustrated audio book” using Voice Thread. All of these things are possible because of digital me. Maintaining a respectful, professional web presence in order to maintain my professional standing and find work seems a small price to pay for the opportunities to share what I have created and collaborate with people around the world.

About Sean Thompson

Sean is an educational technology specialist at Sacred Heart International School in Tokyo. He travels extensively across southeast Asia speaking, presenting and participating in discussions regarding the effective integration of technology in an educational setting. In 2014 he partnered up with DEEP Learning to support the team with the development, promotion and execution of professional development conferences for teachers worldwide. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader , a Google education Trainer and a Certified Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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3 Responses to Privacy vs.Opportunity Costs: What Your Lack of a Digital Footprint ISN’T Saying About You

  1. Brian Farrell says:

    You’re absolutely right in that Evan Ratliff’s experience of trying to hide in a digital world is a bit extreme and doesn’t represent the reality for most of us. But hopefully it did give us all a bit of food for thought in terms of how much information is available about each of us online, should someone choose to seek this information out. Tying in the idea of opportunity costs is really what we’re trying to reinforce here; of course there is some risk to putting a lot of information about ourselves ‘out there’, but there is also a tremendous amount to be gained. The trick is finding the ideal balance that lets us manage this risk while also letting us having both intentional and serendipitous connections with like-minded educators around the world.

  2. Pingback: Deepen Your Digital Footprint: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide To Increasing Online Traffic and Web Presence | Technology Embedded: Living, Teaching & Learning

  3. Pingback: Deepen Your Digital Footprint: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide To Increasing Online Traffic and Web Presence | Technology Embedded: Living, Learning, Teaching

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