Breaking Trail on the Socials

A big aspect of my de-cluttering process is about breaking old habits, and forming new positive routines. So often in digital life we make do with the way we did things last year, because it takes more work to change, than to keep on doing things the way we always have. These are the well worn trails we have come to know and love. Using the same password for multiple online services, following social media accounts long after we find out they are a front for selling the latest kitchen gadget, or even keeping the same apps installed and taking up space on your home screen. I am doing a deep dive this month into all my digital nooks and crannies, and intend to, as so appropriately put by Brenna Clarke Gray, “talk frankly about the problems with the way we use technology and, more often, the way technology uses us“.

and I *do* feel used! By the tech that I once thought was so useful.

Whether its the multitude of passwords I manage, the two factor authentication I need to keep my information transaction secure, or the Captcha hoops I have to jump through to verify that I am human, I can’t help but think that its all making me less so. More machine, less human.

This is one of the reasons I joined the TRU Digital Detox and why it is now one of the cornerstones of my process. Its giving my a chance to think about the personal digital spaces I inhabit, and some of the professional spaces that we promote, support, design and use in my professional world at SFU. So I will be including both perspectives on my post today.

First, a bit about breaking new trail. It’s something I love doing snowshoeing or x-country skiing in the mountains, especially when we have the snowfall like we are getting today. Breaking a new trail is work, but it is also adventure. The unknown, the surprises with each new step. For some reason, breaking new trails in my digital habits is less than thrilling, even if the methods are more obvious. I will again use Twitter as my eg. I’ve found the use of this platform pervasive in my daily routine, It’s one part distraction, one part research, one part noise, many parts bullshit, and a decreasingly research and a personal learning network. that I have now deleted the app from all my mobile devices. Along with many others. Like following many accounts on social media, apps on my device tend to pile up, and never get deleted even if I only tried them once. I went through the app list on my device this morning and asked my self a few questions about each….

  • Do I even know what this app is or does?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • How much of my personal information did I give it?
  • Can I possibly service if the app is only accessible through the desktop?

It was a tough choice to cut Twitter in particular, because I have gotten so used to using it as a chat/text channel with some of my closest friends and colleagues. My new trail for Twitter use in now restricted to my desktop at work, and now that I have de-cluttered the accounts I follow there, it is less distracting and more supportive of my work. It’s research! 😀

Back to the Digital Detox and the last post on Ethics and Data Privacy. I can see from this post I have only begun to scratch the surface, but the information here as well as the prompts below have thrown some light on my trail breaking. I thought I would just answer them now, but most importantly (I believe) is that I will be sharing this process though our internal newsletter, with my fine colleagues at SFU. Hoping to kick off the year with some fresh discussions and learning opportunities, internally at first and then who knows.

  • Did you learn anything today about how data is used that will change your own practice? Yes! Mostly the stats on Turnitin  and I am not directly responsible for the use of these services at SFU, but I work with the folks that are.
  • What questions do you have about the tools you’re required to use for work or school? Does a tool being mandated change your perceptions of it? I am still forming these questions for our internal users.
  • What do you do to protect your data? This is the big question for me right now, and I have to admit I have been quite lazy in protecting my data… well no more! I’ve started to de-clutter the accounts I follow and apps and services I have accounts on. This is a huge task right now, and I’m going down a few rabbit holes, even in closing accounts. You would not believe how often this process has involved emailing the IT folks of said service, and being put on the equivalent of “hold”, while they figure out who this guy is emailing them to delete an account.

Well this post is already running long, and gone a few tangents. I’ll be back next week with my continuing adventures, but wanted to leave you with one gift, and image from the SFU Media and Maker Commons , 100% operational as of YESTERDAY. I was delighted to connect with many fellow makers at the grand opening yesterday, and am MOST delighted about the inclusion of the ol SFU printing press amongst all the VR printers and new fangled fer flugens available. Analogue baby. Making a comeback in 2020. (*fingers crossed*)

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