New Facebook Privacy Settings Get Mixed Reaction

There has been a fair bit of hype around the promised improvements to Facebook privacy settings. The release of the new privacy settings format this week has come with a mixed reaction from users and privacy advocates. Many users claim some settings are in fact more open than they were before and that it is easier for users to give out details they may not wish to share.

The first time you log in since the new settings were put in place, you are prompted to review and update your settings. As you can see from the screen capture below, there is a long list of things impacting your privacy options to work through and check.

Personally, I was disappointed to see that some of the settings default to friends of friends. I was certainly hoping for default settings to be more locked down with the onus on the user to open up the settings to their liking. In working through this new setup, I noticed that not all settings seemed to adhere to the way I set them the first time through.

Be aware, and be safe online. Take the time to complete a thorough review of your settings. I would recommend the following actions:

  • a detailed review of ALL of your settings with appropriate changes saved
  • logout
  • login
  • recheck the settings for verification

I believe there continues to be more work for privacy and online safety advocates to do.

Related Reading

From the Facebook blog: new privacy tools
ABC News: 5 things to know about the new Facebook privacy settings.
Yahoo News: Privacy Advocates slamFacebook change

~ Mark

RCAC: Managing the Gap

One of the things I really enjoyed about the RCAC event this week was meeting people for the first time that I have only known though online interactions. It was truly a pleasure to meet @thecleversheep, @peterskillen and @aforgrave.

The format of the RCAC day is keynote, break out sessions, lunch, keynote and another round of break out sessions. This formula works well, and there is always a good selection of presenters and topics for the break out sessions. This year, I had registered for a presentation about the Creative Commons. What a pleasant surprise to discover that the session was being presented by @thecleversheep, who I had been following for some time on Twitter.  How wonderful to meet a kindred spirit who shares the same passion about copyright, licensing, managing content in appropriate ways in the web 2.0 world and spreading the word about digital citizenship!

I really liked the framework used to discuss content from a cradle to grave perspective: creation, ownership and rights of use through to public domain. You own the rights to content you create (original or using legal sources), all rights reserved and 50 years after your death, it becomes part of the public domain. The ‘gap’, defines the timeframe between creation and public domain. The Creative Commons provides a great way for you to formally indicate a specific type of copyright licensing and use of your work(s) while you are alive. Licensing typically fall into the  areas of:

  • attribution
  • share alike
  • non commercial
  • non derivative
  • and combination of these principles

Detailed license descriptions are available at the Creative Commons website. Excellent examples were given to illustrate music, videos, written content and remix/mashups. I had to smile when audience questions were taken at the end of the session and the answers to some scenarios were ‘that’s illegal’ and ‘that breaks copyright’. Just because something is easy to do with technology does not mean it is legal to to it.  The Clever Sheep knows his stuff !

I would encourage you to visit the Clever Sheep website and view the Creative Commons for RCAC article. Thanks for a great session, being a creative teacher and promoting digital citizenship.

Thank you to @dougpete and his organizing team for a great learning opportunity.

~ Mark

Video Streaming on the Go

I recently became aware of two applications that allow users to stream video from their iPhones. Today was a download, install and try out apps for the the first time day. The products I tested are listed below.



I am already thinking about curriculum applications. First impressions will follow in a future post.

~ Mark

Social Media ID Probe

Question of the day: How willingly do social network users give up personal data?

This very question has been explored by Sophos UK. Sophos conducted testing in 2007 and 2009. The results may surprise you.

Given the efforts put into promoting and raising the awareness levels of Digital Citizenship, online safety and privacy, I would have anticipated a trend of improvement to be reflected in the results. However, this was not the case. I wonder if a big factor in this result stems from the continuing growth in the numbers of social network users. The Facebook blog currently reports over 300 million users. Just a few months ago the number was in the 250 million range. TwitDir, a Twitter directory currently shows 5.3 million users with an aggressive growth rate. Some estimates place the Twitter growth rate at 1382%. The reality is that this means there are high numbers of relatively inexperienced social networkers in the mix at any given point in time who may not be as savvy as more experienced online users.

Some highlights from the testing showed that:

  • 41 – 46% of users probed blindly accepted a friend request
  • one of the ‘blind friends’ was in fact a plastic duck
  • younger users tend to give out information more freely

Actual results of the probe are summarized in the chart below.


I would encourage you to read the report and recommendations for online safety at Sophos.com. From my point of view, the results indicate that there is considerable work to do in the area of Digital Citizenship and online safety.

~ Mark

December Tradition

Each year for the last decade, I have had the priviledge of participating in the Christmas Festival concert hosted at Benton St. Baptist Church in Kitchener. This event brings the church choir and soloists together with an orchestra formed through members of the local community. The weekend features four performances of the 2 hour concert program. This event is well received and each performance is sold out. I look forward to this event each year. The friendships and sharing of music with the participants is truly rewarding. I feel very fortunate to participate in this event each year.

The stage is set for the performances today. I wish you and your family a safe, healthy and enjoyable festive season.

~ Mark

PLP ‘on the road’

Yesterday I attended the ECNO annual AGM meeting in Toronto. As expected with the AGM of an organization, there is a certain amount of formal business processes to be followed. As mentioned in my blog post yesterday, by complete luck, I arrived an hour and a half early for the event. The best part about arriving early was that fellow Ontario PLP member @jeffreaburn.

I first met Jeff at the kickoff event for the Powerful Learning Planning (PLP) event in Windsor. Given the commonalities in our roles, we do cross paths at conferences and provincial meetings. Whether face to face, or online, I always find interactions with Jeff to be great learning experiences.

Our early arrival yesterday, was no exception. We had a great opportunity to discuss and compare IT department structures and strategies, netbook and iPod projects and the broad landscape of 21st century learning. Given our PLP connection, conversation eventually rolled around to a couple of key questions:

1. What is 21st century teaching?

2. How do we best create a culture of change and sustainability at the system level?

Culture changes in education need to encompass change that fundamentally impacts the way we teach. Ideas we discussed included:

  • teaching with technology embedded as more of a natural part of the learning process and not ‘separate’
  • significantly impacting teacher involvement in using technology – breaking past the keen ‘volunteer’ group and getting to a technology use by all scenario
  • strategies to expose and encourage greater use of free/cost effective web 2.0 tools in the learning process
  • ongoing PD opportunities
  • training for school administrators
  • stronger linkage of teacher technology training, embedded classroom use, school success plans and system goals
  • alignment of the instructional delivery to the technology world that is available to all of us – embrace the power

All in all, a great conversation that made the early arrival very worthwhile! The bonus was, I left with some key ideas to share with my staff and keep the conversation going with our Board. In the meantime, the learning will continue online.

~ Mark

Creatures of Habit?

This week I was scheduled to attend meetings in Toronto for OASBO and ECNO provincial IT functions.

Yesterday I set out to travel to the OASBO session which was begin hosted at the Peel District School Board, about an 85 km drive for me. I left just after 7:00 and pulled int0 the parking lot just in time at 8:55. I experienced major traffic bottlenecks in predictable spots, lots of inching along practising my shifting from 1st to 2nd gear and back.

Today’s AGM meeting was set for a location 3 interchanges farther into Toronto. Wanting to make sure I was on time for the AGM, I decided to leave earlier to account for the traffic slow downs experienced yesterday. I organized my morning to blast off at 6:30. Wonder of wonders, I experienced the ‘dream drive’ – no accidents, no construction, clear weather. I arrived in the parking lot at 7:25.

It was great to have an easy drive. I wonder  how predictably this ‘dream drive’ might occur? I wonder how much our ‘creatures of habit’ routines factor into making this drive predictable?

Just wondering.

~Mark