Cyberculture and privacy

Being actively engaged with a topic inevitably heightens one’s senses to any mention of it in everyday life.  One such example of this occurred this morning during my commute to work.  Half listening to the BBC’s Today Programme during the morning commute the subject matter turned to cyber security and I was immediately more attentive.

The item was referring to the use of social media tools by terrorists, both from a propaganda and organisational perspective, and the inability of security agencies to access encrypted messaging sent and received during the recent attack in London.

The debate centred on the relative benefits and pitfalls of social media providers creating a key or ‘backdoor’ to enable the security services to access encrypted messaging.  The opposing view presented was that the rest of the public would suffer a loss of privacy as a result and that such a backdoor would create a vulnerability that would be open to exploit.

This feels like another example of what Sian Bayne refers to as ‘complex entanglements’ (Bayne, S. 2014).  None of us want terrorists to be provided with unhindered means of organising attacks, and many might consider a loss of privacy a price worth paying.   But what if that loss of privacy allows state sponsored   meddling in our democratic processes.  What if our own security services were to misuse their powers and routinely access our day to day communications? (the  ‘snoopers charter’ debate).

This all felt very pertinent to the privacy aspect of this ‘Algorithmic Cultures’ block.  In one context collecting and presenting data in a particular way might appear entirely appropriate.  Perhaps what we need to consider is how else the data we collect might be used and by whom.


Bayne, S. (2014) ‘What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’?’ Learning Media and Technology 40(1), pp.5-20

Week 10 Lifestream summary

A work project moving from the planning phase into full on delivery, together with commitments over the weekend, left precious little time for blogging last week.  However, I did manage to find several periods of time over the week to write the required analysis of the Tweetorial.  I’ve since had a few more thoughts on the use of Twitter for education and I will either add these to the analysis or create a separate blog post.

The fact that I have what amounts to some self-imposed analytics on my Lifesteam, in the form of the calendar of blog posts, hasn’t escaped me.

Calendar of blog posts
Calendar of blog posts

I included the calendar for two reasons, firstly because I thought it might be helpful to future students of this course who visit my blog and secondly because it’s a reminder to me of the course requirement to ‘add to the Lifestream almost every day’.   The irony of this is that the Tweetorial analysis I worked on over several days only shows as a single post – another example of analytics not necessarily ‘making visible the invisible’.

As part of my current work project I’m using Articulate Storyline to create a tool that will enable our practice managers to review their current knowledge and use their input to point them to resources that will help them.  This has involved creating a means of filtering their input, which has required a multi-stage approach and several hundred conditional triggers.  In effect I’m writing my own algorithm and it will be interesting to apply some of the thinking I’ve done around Algorithmic Cultures to how the tool might be viewed by those it’s intended for, and by others in the business.

The Tutorial on Friday was lively and useful.  It was interesting to hear everyone’s views on the Tweetorial and the Algorithmic Cultures block.  In common with my fellow students my thoughts are now turning to tidying up my blog, continuing to add metadata and starting preparation for the multi-modal essay.