Privacy, FourSquare, and Teens

Some days two things come up that give you pause. Today was one of those.

Masters of Deception book coverYesterday I finished reading “Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace, the story of the teenaged hacker ‘gangs’ of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. There are the usual questions of whether these kids were just curious, smart kids who were under-served by the schools or there really was criminal behavior. The book gives enough of glimpse into each of the actors to see the various blends in each one, as well as how the intent changes as the boys grow up.

Today, the twitter-sphere is bubbling over with news of changes in FourSquare’s privacy policy. Apparently, FourSquare will now be sharing full names and giving venue owners more up-to-the-minute data on check-ins starting January 28, 2013. This comes only a few weeks after Instagram was forced to back down on some of its new privacy policies.

My interest is generally around the work I’ve done with schools and teen-agers so these stories intersect. The story of teen-agers is really about how their judgement grows over time. This collision of massive amounts of data with limited judgement provides for some interesting times!

Will our new definition of privacy be more like a small-town where everyone knows what you had for dinner but social mores dictate the way that information is used or more like the anonymity of a big city where so much is visible that no one really sees it.

At any rate, seeing our teenage selves in public will surely shape society for decades to come. This was recently discussed in the NY Times blog “Motherlode” in the article “Thanks, Mom, for Not Telling the World I Pulled a Knife on You.”

Makes you think!

Evernote as a replacement for Diigo?

Here’s something I hadn’t thought about before. You can use Evernote to share thoughts and content on the web.

I came across this tweet from Miguel Guhlin @mguhlin today: 9 Surprising Ways Schools Are Using iPads Around The World

This led me to his Evernote open notebook that included both his thoughts and an infographic that he had pasted in.

It makes and interesting alternative to my old favorite Diigo.

Wordle and New Ideas

I’ve been a fan of Wordle since I first saw it but it’s hard to figure out the best ways to integrate it into the classroom. Not to worry! I just came across this Tweet from @tombarrett

A great early years example added to “Fifteen Interesting Ways* to use Wordle in the Classroom”

Which led me to this GoogleDocs presentation.

This is a great way to address the multiple modes of interacting with text and a quick way to compare texts. Now, we just need something that figures out if those are synonyms that have been used so frequently! Guess we’ll need teachers for a few months more!


For my first day back, I’m cleaning out all of my notes from 2007! One of the things people have asked is for better instructions for using I really got the hang of this and used is extensively in 2007. So, my first offering for 2008 is these two guides.

For those who prefer text instructions, How to: Part 1 from There is no part 2, but this is pretty complete for starting.

For video instructions, a simple tutorial from LBurch and posted at This is 30 minutes long but it’s easy to jump around and get just to the part you need instruction on.

Magic Pictures

I’ve been preparing for a session on organizing digital media for use in classes.  One of the things I’ve been struggling with is how to convince teachers that it’s worthwhile to tag any of their content.  It’s really taken me almost a year to figure out the best way for me to use my account.  The power of that service is all in tagging. I’ve also used Flickr extensively for a by searching on various tags and organizing slideshows or collections with that tool.

This week I came across PhotoSynth by Microsoft, which aggregates photos to create a seamless whole picture.  This is still in beta, but it gives a good picture of how this is going to get continue to become more useful. Right now the demos are using photos taken by one individual or a small team (gotta make the demo look good). But the longer vision of this is to enable users to stitch together their photos based on tags. Or better yet, use the Flickr tags of numerous people to build these 3D views.

From where I sit, this looks like more of the world getting flat.  Last summer, when AOL released data on all their searches, it was disturbing to see how quickly the little one or two word phrases that we typed in can be aggregated to give a snapshot of our whole identity.  That’s the dark side.  Finding a way to aggregate those little bits of data and create a larger common consciousness is much more powerful and exciting. We do that intentionally at Wikipedia and now we might begin to see it happen more automatically.