Revoke Access to the Machine

The digital de-cluttering project continues. It has been a slog, I’ve been trying to be thorough and complete with my process, but the more I go down this rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. Thankfully there are many fresh resources out there and many other humans involved in this work, so I have pleasant company. Before I get to them, an update. I began this project by pruning my twitter feed (and other social media) and shoring up the apps that I keep on my phone and other mobile devices. What I did not mention was that simultaneously, I’ve been going through my passwords, and all the accounts on sites I have been joining over the years. It’s ALOT. And for most of them, (you guessed it) I have had one simple password. These are relatively pithy sites that you have to join to get a service or free sample, so maybe not that important, but each “sign up” requests a bit of info about me that is out there in server world. I have been more diligent about critical sites like financial services of course, and thrown a few curve balls on the “big four” social media platforms, but once a login pattern is established, it tends to get reused. My old trails on the net. Exploring these paths has been interesting to say the least, and time consuming as the dog barks.

I can only really do it in small doses, 30-60 minutes at a time, then I lose steam, hence it is taking the whole month. As sites and services come and go over the years, retracing these steps and covering them up is not a clear path. Not to mention that I have linked one service to another in many cases, to ‘sign up’ via a Google account for eg. or when I got married just HAD to post my instas to that wedding website. It gets to be a tangled mess quickly. I suppose its my awareness that has changed. Awareness about the accumulation of my data that has gone from, not really caring at all, (2004) to quite a bit of anxiety and smidgen of fear (2020), even though I have the best of buddys that have been sounding the alarms for years.

So therefore, this month I am diligently…

  • getting new passwords for every site
  • deleting accounts and apps
  • revoking access from one site to another.
  • revoking access from the algorithms to myself (as best i am able)

For the passwords I am using a password manager, so its even possible with the over 200 sites I am registered for. I wont say which password manager because I do not want to recommend any in particular. And I will be switching once I get them all done anyway. *Sometimes* deleting an account is simple, there is an actual button there. In other situations I have had to email support and go through an arduous exchange that takes days to verify… blah blah blah. Revoking access is the most fun. First of all its sounds like something a boss would do, and gives me a sense that I have some control. Also, there is usually a button. It is a very satisfying feeling, which I will relate to breaking a shackle, bond or some physical restraint. ahhhhh.

What I need is a mute button, or what my Nana would call the “blab off” for the internet. Except of course for the invaluable and notable humans who share the most important reads at the exact time when they can be received. There were many of these recently and I must share.

Algorithms in education

This is the really tough nut to crack. I have been looking at the relationship to the forces of big data in my personal life, but of course this is a glaring topic in my professional life as well. There has been no better way to start this bender than to sign up for the “digital detox” by Brenna Clarke Grays‘ Her 3rd post in the series, “Digital Detox #3: Algorithms and Exclusion” struck at the exact chord I’ve had on repeat this past month. (Open E) Follow that with a shot of Clint Lalonde from the #OER20 committee. Who is “Contesting Open Space” by looking at the dissonance between Open Source Software and Open Education. He will get this weeks quote.

As we begin to frame our discussion about what it means to work openly in an age of surveillance, we need to consider deeply the dissonance many of us feel using platforms that do not reflect our values as open educators. It is a dissonance I know I feel daily.

For the chaser, I’m thankful to Paul Stacy for pointing us to Project Information Literacy, a non profit that “conducts scholarly studies about students and how they find, evaluate, and select information for use in their courses and for solving information problems in everyday life.” Their recent report, “The Algorithm Study“, brings us toooo… our first comic! and not a moment too soon, all this text is starting to make my head spin.

Jessica Yurkofsky

This amazing comic says it all really. Far more than I’ve been able to say in my several of hours writing this post so far. It comes from creative technologist Jessica Louise Yurkofsky, and inspires me to no end. Among her many achievements she has worked on The Reading List for Life, which explored how open syllabus data might support lifelong learning in libraries. Now this is a rabbit hole I could get lost in.

How about some Porto as a digestif? You may have thought I have been doing lots of reading and clicking this month, all indications point in that direction, but I have also been listening…. to Team Human. Media Theorist Douglas Rushkoff has been producing this podcast for several year now, I’m way behind, only on episode #43 of the current #146 but its been awesome I’ve been binging. This whole post was supposed to be riffing off the many things I’ve learned so far in these episodes, but all I have time for now is a link. I’m sure it will be a good one. I’ll be back to pursue some of these trains of thought again, trust me. It’s a driving force in my daily routine at this point. All I will say for now is that I *am* on team human.

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