The Data Detox Kit truly encapsulates what it is that we have been talking about all semester long. When I reflect on the meaning of this class, I interpret it as a look into ways where we can reduce our online footprint and be more present in our everyday lives. I am actually somewhat familiar with a few of the strategies that were described on the website, and I find that all of them certainly serve some kind of purpose when it comes to teaching people of how they can decrease their online presence in a way ro prevent some of the oversight we have gone over in class to this point. As I was scrolling through all of the different avenues that are available for us to use to this point, a couple of them stood out to me. I’m sure we have all downloaded an app or opened a webpage on our phone and we get those annoying notifications that ask permission to use our location. Or, look no further than whenever we have class meetings on Google Hangout or on Black Board with Dr. Nelson. I don’t know about all of you, but every time we sign on we are asked permission to use our cameras and our microphones. Although they theoretically should turn off once we log off or turn shut off our devices, it still behooves us all to double check and make sure that they have been turned off. Another one which is discussed is the naming of devices. How crazy! Because of the amount of people I have in my house, I am constantly getting kicked off the wifi on my laptop or my playstation. As I go in to reconnect, I am shocked to see my neighbors wifi show up. Not only because my device is detecting them and I could, in theory, connect to those wifi spots, but more so that they will use their own real name in some instances. That is a sure fire way for those who want to tap into your personal information to do so. Just a quick personal anecdote, my best friend lives across my backyard, and naturally since I am over his house quite often (not for the time being) coupled with the location of my bedroom, I find that my devices are consistently connected to his wifi even after I leave. What concerns me is his wifi is listed under his last name. Granted, since being in this class, I have become hyper-aware of the surveillance measures we see in practice and the importance of reducing our online footprint, so it is something I pick up on more than he would. Even still, it surprises me to see anyone use that level of personal information in naming their devices. How many of you have any iPhone that is shown as “(Your Name)’s iPhone?” At least by default, your device is putting that information out into the world for people to identify that as your phone, and by extension, a treasure trove of your own personal information. I think this begs an interesting question of why do our devices need such intimate information on them? How have we ended up at a place where we are so nonchalant about putting this stuff out there?
The section on tidying up your apps section struck me, as I personally am very guilty of this. You see an ad for an app for something that you may be interested in, or something that is advertised as something that could help with a problem you are facing, so you download it and add a whole lot of information onto it. Innocent enough right? Not so much when you consider it is just widening the opportunities and avenues for you information to be put up for people to see. I could probably get rid of 15+ apps that are on my phone right now and that have some semblance of delicate personal information, just like I would imagine that most people could. As mentioned on the site, browsers work in similar ways in terms of collecting our data and storing it as some of these other things work. Just like the apps and the location questions, the website gives useful information on reducing them by a considerable margin. The last part is something that resonates with most everybody in social media. Most of my friends are knuckleheads and we tend to get into some not so wholesome shenanigans on the weekends. You ever wake up, check your phone, and see a picture from the night before that screams “Don’t Hire Me!” Being in a fraternity in my undergraduate days, I certainly have. With that idea in mind, it is important to scrub your social media accounts and untag yourself in pictures that paint a wreckless picture or tell a dangerous narrative about you. It is not only of professional concern, however. Technology has made vast advancements, so storing these images on unknown data bases would not be out of the question. But, it’s okay to keep that picture of your cat, or of that amazing dinner you had at the Arthur’s Steakhouse. I would leave the picture of you and your friends enjoying Amsterdam somewhere people can’t see it, leave it for you and your buddies to enjoy.
Let me just say, I am finally starting to truly feel like myself again and writing this blog felt so very good. I’m sure we’ll have a great discussion on this in class this week, and hopefully we all listen to some of these warnings.