Why, I remember when it was faster to walk than use the internet!

Aaah, how quickly we forget. Or, in this case, how quickly I forget. Seems that it’s newsworthy that whatever you post on the internet basically leaves your immediate control and can go anywhere, and has the potential to be seen by anyone, including people you’d rather not see it. Say, that you’d been hosting a party for the Super Bowl, where underage drinking is happening, which is in violation of your apartment rental agreement with UW’s Housing and Food Services. According to the PI, there’s a new generation of people who’re using Facebook to share photos, send out invitations for parties, and talk about illegal activites in places where University officials can easily take a looksee. And it’s not just UW students who aren’t thinking things through.

What really strikes me about this whole article is the surprise expressed by students that people who “shouldn’t” look at the information are, that it’s a violation of privacy.

I realize that my head-shaking about this dates me. I am the first generation to have the internet. I’ll get my walker out and recall 150/300 baud cupular modems, local bulletin board systems, and archaic software like Mosaic when it was brand new and exciting! This was when we wanted to be found – that was the entire point. To be found, to share. So sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that people who come after me by a significant amount of years have no concept of this. The internet is just another tool to communicate with friends, not a place where data is freely shared. It’s a definite shift in perception, and how the internet as a whole is viewed.

So although I roll my eyes at the need, I think UW junior Jerome McCuin, of the program on Comparative History of Ideas, has the right idea: educate people to understand what happens to the data they put online. To think of it in terms larger than just their tiny circle of friends.

Likewise, I love how David Silver, assistant professor of Communications, is using Facebook: to see what shows are popular amongst his students that quarter, so he can work appropriate pop culture references into his lectures, and to actually learn who they are, rather than just a sheet of paper with an attendance mark next to their name.

But I admit, every time I read one of these stories, I do roll my eyes, just a little, and remember “way back when.”

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