Stalking = Playful?!?

It's a loooong story but in our genealogy class, there was a bit of a revolt and a group of students ended up going to the prof to request our final assignment be changed from something that, as assigned, was going to be very redundant and not give us much in the way of  library-centered learning (basically, the assignment was “do your family history and report on what you found”) to something more useful. 

At a class meeting, someone came up with the idea that we should have the option to do our final presentation on a genealogy-related area of interest or expertise for ourselves.  In effect, we would teach each other, seminar-style.  The prof agreed to this proposal along with the option to still do the original assignment for those who preferred that and/or had already done significant amounts of work on it.

I chose the new assignment and also, to come at the idea from a slightly different angle (something I love doing!).  So instead of talking about resources people are using for genealogy today, I tried to picture how librarians and others might be doing genealogical research in the future but looking back at us who are alive today.

“How will our children find out about us?” was the theme of the my presentation and the title I gave it was “Your Digital Footprint: Non-Traditional Genealogy Research on the Internet.”

Have I typed about this before?  I'm starting to have deja vu sometimes when I go to post having done just under 500 posts in the past year!  <quick search of site>  Oh, I did an entry while working on the presentation that explains what I was attempting to do:

I plan to talk
about how our children (and grandchildren) might someday do
genealogical research about all of us using intentional things like our
blog posts and our posts to message boards as well as unintentional
online traces like organization newsletters, workplace archives,
University web sites and so on.  I'm also going to talk about things
that are going to increasingly be a factor in recording your digital
footprint – social networking sites, even better search engines, even
better web sites and technologies that we can't even imagine, the invisible web becoming
more visible and so on.

So anyhow, this is all an extremely long-winded way (and ain't they all on this blog? ) of saying that, no matter what I called it, what my presentation really was in many ways was “Introduction to Online Stalking 101”. 

I don't necessarily mean stalking in the harmful sense of the word (although that is a huge issue of course) but in the (do I even risk using the word?) …playful…way that people can sit at their computers for fifteen minutes and find out so much about other people, whether the stalkee realises their information is out there or not (and frankly, part of my presentation was to hopefully make classmates realise their information was out there even if they didn't think it was.) 

Why is this presentation on my mind tonight?  Someone sent me a private message on Facebook that led to me checking out a particular web site.  On that site, someone had left a comment.  I followed a link on that comment to the commentor's web site which led to a post they'd made months ago about a class at FIMS which was none too flattering towards either the class and the prof. 

So this person, who may or may not be someone I know, thinks they've had a relatively anonymous rant about a class and really, it's about one blog post away from being fairly public knowledge. 

I'm not going to do that of course.  And I have my own worries about how some future employer/colleague/co-worker may react to something I've written or posted here – especially since I've made a decision not to be anonymous with this blog (and realising that nothing is ever truly anonymous on the Internet either.)  Nothing I've written was meant to offend anyone  (unless they've offended me first, bastards! )  But criticism and even differing opinions do get people's backs up – that's only natural.

So uhm, be careful what you write out there.  Or at least be prepared to deal with the consequences.  (I used a stat in my presentation that something like 33% of employers use Google to look up potential employees and 10% are even looking at social neworking sites now.) 

One last thing – in that presentation, I had the brilliant idea to link to a YouTube clip as the final slide of my presentation.  But doing a last minute edit, I somehow deleted the link and, having had troubles with technology already that day (the batteries on the remote for the projector went dead when it was my turn to present), I just read the statement you see below (which I luckily had on my notes in front of me at the podium) rather than trying to find the clip after a long morning of presentations (including mine which I'm pretty sure went longer than it was supposed to.)

Here you go – sorry it's so choppy.  (And how does something like this that I uploaded once and never looked at again have 200 views already?  Crazy!)

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Yeah, that was one of the best presentations I've seen so far in MLIS. I mean, the other presentations in that class were stellar, and extremely informative, but in a synthesizing-practical-information-for-you kind of way. Yours made me think.
    And what I thought was “huh – best way to avoid being humiliated is to not put humiliating evidence out there.” But I've just joined Facebook (! I know !) and can see how already there are pictures of me … which I didn't put there … in which I'm holding beer or making funny faces or what have you. And Facebook is addictive. You want to add everyone you've ever heard of. Not exactly the same standards I hold my *real* friends to. Who's a “friend” and just how much should they know about you?
    Ultimately, for me, I'm going to have to find the balance between needing to feel socially connected, and the need for self-preservation and privacy by exercising caution. I think it would be extremely easy to think you're being cautious and to still reveal way too much information, even if it's not embarassing. All my work and education info is there. May be impressive for potential employers, but it also makes it easier to track me down or steal an identity or something.
    Oh, and by the way … even though you didn't get to play the YouTube video in class, some of us still saw it. You emailed your PowerPoint presentation to the class. I went through it (yes, it was that good) and noticed the video. At the time I thought “what a cool idea” – but only if technology is your friend. As I recall, that was also the presentaion in which you uttered the “s” word when the batteries failed!

    Posted 19 Feb 2007 at 8:39 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Wow! Thanks for the compliment. I didn't even think mine was the best presentation in that class! The dead battery thing threw me for a loop (and prompted the “shit!” comment) but in some ways, that made me immediately forget any nerves, even small ones, I might have had about the presentation. Instead, I felt like, “well, it's already screwed up so let's just wing it” which is probably the relaxed state you want to be in for a presentation anyhow.
    Yeah, I hear you on the “revealing too much info even when you think you aren't” point. And something about blogging makes you (well, it does me) want to be completely open and honest, even about stuff that I might otherwise have kept private (putting up my marks being one example off the top of my head.)
    I do remember e-mailing my Powerpoint around (it made sense – I think I called it a “virtual handout” – or was that for something else in that class?) but didn't think anybody would look at it (or at least closely enough to see the YouTube link.)
    Anyhow, you might be glad to know that I've got posts pending on both my ideas on giving good presentations and the addiction that is Facebook.

    Posted 22 Feb 2007 at 9:16 am

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