Microblog

of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Microblogging and Privacy

In response to my query about the advantages of a microblogging which was posted as part of a discussion at HASTAC, John Carter McKnight responded,  “One approach might be to ask, what would you gain by keeping it private? Changing your default assumptions might generate interesting answers.” At the time, I did not have a good response to his question; a question that would convince me to try microblogging on a (almost) daily basis.

Yesterday, I came up with an answer:  Privacy.  You gain privacy by keeping your blog/journal private.

I am not being sarcastic when I make this point.  I had actually considered the privacy issue before starting my microblog; mainly in terms of writing about specific class sessions.  (I had already developed strategies for writing about students.)

There are some journal entries that are important reflections that should not be published.  It is not that there is anything illegal or unethical about the posts.  It is just that they are imprudent or that no useful purpose could come from sharing.  Yesterday was a case in point when I received an obtuse e-mail from someone on my campus.  The content was relevant to some work I am doing with individuals both on and off our campus.  However, as I pointed out to the Dean when I forwarded the message to her, sharing the content would not reflect well on the individual who sent me the e-mail, his department, and our college.  She will take care of the problem next week.

Could I learn from reflecting on this situation?  Could I use it as a mirror to reflect on my  own actions in dealing with colleagues and students?  Of course it could.  But in answer to the question “What would you gain by keeping it private?” there are many answers:  maintaining relationships, not embarrassing colleagues, not making it more difficult to fix broken systems…  Reflection in a private journal might be valuable, but I can see nothing gained by not keeping the details of this situation private.

There is much to be learned from yesterday’s e-mail and the follow-up from it.  But those lessons will rightly remain private.



Commented on Elizabeth Sunshine’s “Literally the Best Blog Post Ever! (Part I).”  Love and Logos, 14 January 2012.

Commented on G. Corey Ducious’ “Discovering the Americas and Digital Humanities Together.”  HASTAC.  13 January 2012.

Spent time watching YouTube videos concerning Martin Luther King, Jr. that I could teach next week.  My plan is to post a list of videos on the Film Studies blog.

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