Afternoon Sessions 2, Room 1

Liveblogged luke | 19 June 2010 | 2 Comments

Online privacy and Gender Kate Raynes-Goldie (kate at k4t3 dot org @oceanpark) and Leigh Honeywell

  • Geeks design software for other geeks, but as social media becomes ubiquitous, geeks are designing software for everyone. The designers do not represent the same diversity as the users.
  • Online vs. Real-life distinction is no longer true. As a result, many of the same power structures showing up.
  • Assumed/neutral avatar is a straight right male. They are the designers, and it’s the cultural default.
  • Hard to think outside own experiences, so life experiences often lead us to miss side-effects of the systems we design.
  • Privacy is often a personal safety issue.

Google Buzz Launch Incident

On launch, Google assumed that the people you had a lot of gmail contact with were people with whom you would want to share your “Buzz” information. Blogger’s real email (she had been using an alias and forwarding) was shared with abusive ex husband, and UI quirk seemed to give husband access to many very personal comments, including current location (ended up not being the case).

(There are many reasons that someone with whom you have a lot of contact would not be considered a ‘friend’.)

Advertiser/user conflict (advertiser is the real client) mean corporations will likely never be perfect stewards of our data, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them try harder.


Fork of LJ codebase. Why it’s different: have made a series of explicit statements about what they will and will not do.

Significant access control. Paid by users, not advertisers. The user becomes the customer. Major shift in power relationship. Can install/run own ‘node’ and connect with other nodes. 75% of coders are women, non-trivial % have never participated in an open source development project. Has a significant impact on design of system/respect for privacy.


Definition: using one name/identity consistently online. Kate = Oceanpark. Controlling how you present yourself in various contexts is key.

Kate’s Foursquare experience: created a new pseudonym for Foursquare, but when linked to Twitter, her username was changed to her Twitter pseudonym, making her much less anonymous, which is a major safety issue with location-based services. ‘Outing’, association of pseudonym with real name, has long been an issue in many online communities, including fandom. Move toward real names happens over and over–believe it will improve level of civility. But two issues:

1) Doesn’t actually work

2) Many reasons one might want to use pseudonyms. Including use of female names makes you 25x more likely to receive harassing messages.

Parallel drawn to wearing of niquab in courtroom.

Children and Online Privacy:¬† How to support children’s autonomy while maintaining their rights to privacy – Ourania Xanthopoulos (oxanthop at ryerson dot ca)

How can parents/teachers/community/caregivers isolate childrens’ online autonomy and create a hegemonic environment, or create the opportunity to adventure and explore within a safe context.

Major concern is online predators. Most children lack the private/sharing filter. Provided anecdote of young girl in scarborough who was lured by online predator.

Autonomy = independence but free from reward or consequences–decision-making based on fact.

Provided anecdote of children who googled “Grand Bend”, got a number of pornographic results, and were punished by parents without chance to explain.

Ourania having trouble as an Early Childhood Educator getting computers into the classroom, because of safety concerns. But research shows that when computer is placed in a central area with supervision (but ambient, not ‘over the shoulder’/heavy), safe, autonomous learning can occur.


–parents don’t always help the situation. Setting up facebook accoutns for children who are too young, volunteering information about their children online.

–why don’t we integrate tech literacy early in the curriculum, like we do with reading. Banning it from schools/schoolrooms doesn’t do them any service.

–reward for buying things: many ‘safe’ online sites/games for give have heavy incentives for consumerism. Media literacy lacking as well.

–have to be knowledgeable, know that things happen innocently–inappropriate search results, etc. learn to deal with them.

2 Responses on “Afternoon Sessions 2, Room 1”

  1. Name Withheld By Request says:

    While the discussions at certainly generated discourse, the event did include a few flaws for several reasons, including the co-sponsorship of the event by individuals self-identifying as hackers. I was particularly offended by the nature of some speakers, particularly AFTER the official sponsor – the Government of Canada – left the event.

    The default “unconference” signup settings for the event on “barcamp” include a spam feature that sends mass email to attendees through the “eventbrite” application.

    Given the “unconference” nature of the event, I’m not sure presenter topics were vetted beforehand. The other sponsor of the event was the Government of Canada so I would suggest for future camps, that Ryerson University invite an attorney or member of law enforcement to speak on behalf of their community. No attendee was warned ahead of time that the event was affiliated with an off-site hacking organization, nor that an “after party” would be held at a secondary location with it’s own unknown and hidden WiFi environment along with individuals who did not attend Given the sensitive nature of topics presented, a private email should be forwarded to all who attended that others were subject to theft of private information by the individuals presenting the event.

  2. kate raynes-goldie says:

    Hi there,

    thanks for your feedback.

    to assuage your concerns:

    It was quite largely advertised that the afterparty would be hosted by the (what you call the ‘offsite hacking organization’). this went out in many mailings, on twitter and they are also listed as our sponsor on our blog. additionally, we thanked them a few times during the event. the after party was also an optional event, just like the whole event itself. there was no theft of private information by anyone (i’m not sure where you got that idea from). if perhaps you were referring to the RFID demo – those people were not affiliated with the hacklab, but actually are researchers at the University of Toronto (and no, they were not stealing your information either)

    i’m sorry you didn’t like eventbrite. it is an event management system and the only ‘spam’ we sent out were two emails reminding people about the event and asking for volunteers. it was not required either, and a number of people came to the event without registering.

    also our sponsor was not the government of canada, rather the office of the privacy commissioner. the hacklab was also an official sponsor

    unconferences are about participation and getting out of it what you put in. so i would suggest that if you dont agree with a presentation to vote with your feet and go to another room (there were two other sessions going on throughout the afternoon)

    (organizer of privacycampto)

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