My Flickr Decisions

After last week’s thoughts on Flickr — the privacy of my children, not the silliness that ensued over merging of accounts — I decided it was time to take my children’s images out of the public domain. I didn’t delete anything, I simply used Flickr’s batch tools to change permissions on nearly 500 pictures. All of a sudden it dawned on me as I was wading through hundreds of photos of my kids that I’ve made decisions for them that has been completely irresponsible and selfish. What I find interesting about this is the chain of potential ah-ha moments the post seemed to make. Friends of mine, online and off, have made similar decisions … not all of them have been so open about closing the Flickr doors, but the decisions have been made nonetheless. Through the magic of Technorati I came across a great post by Josie over at SocialTech in which she takes the time to draw out some very good points … I am now thinking about how I can use this experience to help shape decisions in other social spaces and with other friends of mine.

It has started me down the path of asking more about my personal/professional/online/offline life decisions … what are the kinds of things that go too far? Clearly I can make these decisions for myself, but I am learning to recognize there are big differences between me Twittering my every move and doing the same about my kids. Funny though as I say that, I am tempted to Twitter something to the effect of, “The little lady wants to play Wii Bowling with mii.” So, are things like that OK? Clearly I am still wrestling with where these lines are. By participating in a social environment like Twitter am I placing myself or my family at risk? These questions will continue to expand as the whole social spaces thing continues to grow. I participate in a lot of them and I have to learn how to think a little more careful about that participation.

My Flickr decision has made start to see this whole notion of identity and privacy through new lenses … I actually feel a little “freed” (is that a word?) from the pressure of placing it all out there online. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but the further out you get, the more you feel like you have to participate. What do you all think?

4 thoughts on “My Flickr Decisions

  1. I don’t like to publish images of my family online. Too many creeps out there. I’ll keep it to limited to friends only.

    As for Twitter (see my post in our dept blog) I think it’s pretty distracting at best. And at worst could leave you or your family vulnerable should you say something like “My plane for Chicago is taking off soon”. The Twitter technology should be retooled for something more useful, IMHO.

  2. Pat, that’s what I’d like to see — some ideas on how a Twitter like environment could play well in either education or organizational spaces. Using it right now is the key to understanding that limits and limitations. As for pictures of the kids on Flickr, it was time to move on.

  3. Yes. Great post. I feel much too exposed and much limited by the kinds of personal questions, and the limited range of the answers available those damned pull-down menus in facebook (ditto the myspace ghetto and now orkut). I’m frequently denying requests to be a stranger’s friend. But when I heard one of your folks was experimenting with GPS tracking, a la, “where am I now web page”, I thought, man, THAT CROSSES *MY* LINE. Classes on common-sense privacy in the digital realm, anyone?

  4. I had some experiences a few years ago that convinced me that I need to always consider the boundaries of private vs. public when it comes to posting things online. The Web can sometimes make us think it’s an intimate experience between friends, but in the long run it is a public forum which anyone can view.

    I’ve been on a board of linguists answering questions for the public for a few years. To be honest, some of us have been a little snarky (and heavens knows I’ve seen questions which really deserve snippy responses.) But one time when a bunch of gave some off-the-cuff sarcastic responses about Esperanto, the original questioner actually compiled our answers and wrote a “scholarly” paper on how “Linguists do not understand Esperanto and are really a bunch of Anglocentric bigots buying into US hegemony” (apparently the author has never read Noam Chomsky).

    There were ethical issues in that we never got permission to be quoted and had we known we would be, we would have been more thoughtful in our responses. Yet legally, this guy probably had the right to do so…because it was all public and all online.

    When I’m online, especially if I’m presenting myself as an expert, I really want to be sure that I am representing an issue thoughtfully. Because you never know who’s reading your material and what they may do with it.

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