Flickr You

Flickr You

No, this isn’t about the merging of accounts at Flickr … although I was a little sad to see my original old skool identity stripped away, but oh well. This is about protecting privacy — I think.

So in the face of all of my public Twittering over the last six days, I am wrestling with something very difficult to deal with — my wife and I are discussing taking our Flickr photos private. Not all the pictures mind you, but the ones of our children. I guess all it really means is that you have to be a friend/contact/family member to see them, but it does bother me given my intense belief in living an open and transparent online life.

This has been something my wife has been pushing me towards for quite some time. A couple of weeks ago one of my colleagues here at PSU did the same thing after he discovered some pictures of his daughters being marked as favorites by a suspicious guy. It is unfortunate, but there are strange people out there. So, in the cpming days I may be making that switch. Anyone have thoughts on that for me?

13 thoughts on “Flickr You

  1. Well you already pointed to my thoughts on this. It is a sad reality of our world. It is required me to be a little more deliberate with family and friends (sending them the link) but the reality they are folks who often forgot the simple link in the first place! 😉 So either way I have to send them an email and it is not a big step to add the URL for friends and family.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this on and off for awhile. I’ve put Evan so far out in public, and he didn’t really get a say in the matter. Not sure how fair that is/was. Will it come back to haunt him? Will he get teased in grade 8 because his old man posted a picture of him on Flickr?

  3. It is a good thing you get to decided. Everyone ought to think more about their comfort and level of disclosure, as sadly, there is a lot more to the seamy underbelly of the net than one may think. I have no first hand knowledge, but I would be a paycheck it is more prolific than we want to believe.

    Not that I advocate operating from a base of fear.

    That said, I never post flickr photos of family (well there might be a few stray holiday ones, and one of my wife hiding behind a pumpkin), but never identify them by name. I will only post photos of myself, friends, and my dogs with names attached, and nearly always first names only.

    If I had young kids, I most likely would not overly flickr-ize them (not a judgment on others, just my own level). I think the chances of unintended use of these photos is marginally small, and even smaller that you might ever know. I’d respect your wife’s decisions, generally they are a lot smarter than us guys.

    And we’ll check back with Evan in 10 years 😉

  4. I guess I am not sure I understand the moral imperative that you feel to live an “open and transparent online life”. It seems to me human nature that some things are private about ourselves and some things are public. Some of those things we get no real choice about (what our face looks like), and some we do (whether our face is on a web site). I know that Fred Stutzman (http://chimprawk.blogspot.com/) recently examined undergrads on Facebook and saw they were increasingly using the privacy features. It is all linked to the idea of identity. You have many identities that are contextually bound. How you are presented in a online space is something you have quite a bit of control over and thus you can more consciously shape your identity in that space. Maybe that is why you want to be open and transparent — to try and reduce this shaping and present a more “real” Cole. Of course that is nonsense and “open and transparent” online still means you are doing lots of manipulating of your identity. Simply by the choice to post some thing to twitter is an attempt to manipulate your identity in the public space. I guess that brings me back to D’Arcy and I wonder if you have the right to “out” others in your public space? As D’Arcy says they have no say in the matter, and yet you are making choices about their identity online, which impacts their identity far into the future. I think the issue of safety is real, but I also think you have an obligation to allow your children (and your wife) to create their own sense of self.

  5. No real way to respond to Scott other that to say that I feel compelled to participate at the level I do for a couple of reasons. The first is b/c I actually enjoy all this stuff and am interested at a serious level. The other is that I have the luxury of actually working in a space that overlaps so much with these interests. I feel like I have to throw myself into it all to help myself extract meaningful take aways that can be used in other contexts. I know that may not make sense, but if I don’t go all out with these small pieces I cannot build ways to meaningfully join them.

    The other side of it all is that I have been at this party for years and am not sure how to back out. I don’t think I want to leave, but at the same time it is getting harder to stay. With that said, I understand identity and I know how to hone and shape it to massage perception. Of course I do that. It is one of the reasons I choose to be here, but I am also here b/c I do enjoy the bonds it has created and the bonds it will continue to enable.

    I am not interested in pimping my family online — far from it. Most of what I have put on Flickr over the years has been for other people in my life. My parents, in-laws, etc so they can easily see these faces. Up until the last few months the members of this audience could have never figured out how to reliably access photos behind a wall. They just couldn’t handle that technically. As their skills mature and the walls get easier to open the time has come to take advantage of some privacy controls. I know I’ll get a ton of tech support questions as to where did the pictures go, but I can handle it. Like Allan said, maybe it will serve as a reminder that they are there at all.

  6. I would just add, as with Cole, the reason for posting family pictures is for the family, the extended family, and friends who are not close by. They want to see the kids and how they are growing, what they are up to, etc. The privacy feature of Flickr does this well, I think, and I don’t find this a “transparency” concern. I openly told people why I had removed the pics of my kids. If they are family/friends and want access all they have to do is ask. Similarly, I live openly in my home, but I don’t allow my kids to go out to the mall by themselves. If Grandma wants to take them, all she has to do is ask (and bring me back a donut!).

  7. I’m still undecided about this, Although I’ve been careful(ish) about the types of photos I’ve posted (no bathtub photos of The Boy™, etc…) and I’ve been very careful not to geotag anything within a few block radius of our home, I’m thinking about what to do. I mean, I post photos that mean something to me, that I think my friends and family might be interested in. Actually, I guess that answers it right there. If it’s for friends and family, there’s a control for that. I’m going to try pulling Evan-photos back from full-on public distribution to see how that works/feels…

  8. I just pulled all of the little lady and little man from public view on Flickr. It hurt a bit, but it is the right thing to do. Funny how conversation just sort of sparked action. I like this social stuff … I hope I’m not being too open 😉

  9. I have to admit, I was surprised that so many people did put these photos online. I have been rather jealously guarding the privacy of the family for years. Admittedly, back in the mid-to-late 90s I did have a family website, with family news and updates, but that was “back in the day” when a very few folks actually knew how to use the web.

    I am sure some would call it paranoia, but it seemed to me that keeping the family off the “public” domain seemed the most prudent course of action. One never knows just who is lurking, and looking.

    I understand the compulsion to keep the family updated. Lately I have chosen to do that through phone calls and emails (with attachments.) Again, back in the day, I remember rationing long distance calls because of the extortionist rates charged. But now we have all you can talk rates. I also hated to send attachments to emails, since everyone was on a VERY slow dial-up (yes, I remember acoustic couplers, and 300 baud… not kbaud, BAUD…) So many folks have high speed connections that attachments are no longer a problem. So… private communications it is!

    Now, I will say, I have chosen to not give my kids a say in how much exposure they have on the web (until recently). But for me the discussion was 180 out of phase with most of the discussions here. I told my kids that I actually would not allow them to post photos, or personal information on the web (or other various manifestations of “the net.”)

    As I say, that has changed recently, since they are now older. One is now an adult, another quite close… and the third.. we he can take care of himself. I still exercise veto authority, but have allowed more freedom for them to make such decisions as they transition to adult-hood, and the assumption of the responsibility for their actions.

    I hope my thoughts here in some way contribute to the discussion.

    Steve

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