Facebook and Online Responsibility

The problems surrounding teachers using Facebook seem to be getting more and more complex. I’ve written before about how teacher’s private use of Facebook can impact their jobs, whether justly or unjustly. The issue that was brought up recently involves teachers’ use of Facebook on private mobile devices during school hours.

This is a tricky issue. We want teachers to be doing what they are paid to do – teach their classes and monitor their students. But how do you keep this in check?

We have Facebook blocked in our district because of some of the discipline issues is creates with students. It was suggested that we consider adding restrictions on Facebook usage on private mobile devices to our Acceptable Use Policy. I flatly disagreed with that. Our AUP regulates acceptable use of district-owned equipment and services, not private equipment. I don’t think should or legally could use a policy written for district equipment to be applied to private equipment. Continue reading “Facebook and Online Responsibility”

Please Rob Me

There’s a new website that’s been getting quite a bit of press lately. It’s called “Please Rob Me,” and it scans Twitter updates for people who have indicated that they are somewhere other than at home. The idea isn’t to enable thieves, but to highlight the carelessness of letting everyone know where you are every … Continue reading Please Rob Me

Bing, Buzz, Bip Bop Boo


What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,

Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.

– “What’s the Buzz?” from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Back in the Good Ol’ Days „¢, AOL had dominance in the online world. It started as a self-contained entity with its own news, shopping, and social interactions. The “Internet” was this other stuff that you had to pay extra to get to on a per minute basis, unless you purchased AOL’s more expensive unlimited plan. In fact, less savvy users often thought that AOL WAS the Internet, and couldn’t imagine accessing information through any other method. Browser? What’s a browser?

Fast forward a decade or so and we like to think we’re so much better off with so many options, especially within the realm of searching and social networking. However, there’s much evidence today’s social networking corporations have the same attitudes as AOL did. They only want you to play in their sandbox.


Let’s start alphabetically with Bing.com. While not a social networking site, they have inherited all of the exclusivity of their parent company, Microsoft. They have even invented their own malady, Search Engine Overload, to scare others toward their “decision” engine.” I think what sent me over the edge was when I tried to install their Bing 3D Maps, supposedly their answer to Google Earth. I go the following message:

Make Bing my default search engine and prevent other programs from interfering with my choice.

If I had checked that box I would have been locked into Bing permanently, I guess. The second part of that statement, “interfering with my choice,” is deliberately misleading. If you click this box, you have no choice. Continue reading “Bing, Buzz, Bip Bop Boo”

Teachers and Facebook

Yesterday there was an article in the Greenville News about development of a policy for teacher use of Facebook. The article stated that the board was holding off on approval of the policy because some members had raised “ethical, legal and technical questions.”    The new policy would put into place a procedure for dismissing teachers … Continue reading Teachers and Facebook

DARPA Challenge Update

Well, that didn’t take long. By 5:00 PM DARPA had already announced a winner in their 2009 Challenge. The challenge was supposed to last through December 14, but it was obvious from early on that it wouldn’t take that much time. As shown on the map above, the balloons were located in places where it would have been hard to miss them (although there is a large wedge of the Midwest with no ballooons.) The winner was the team from MIT.

I didn’t participate in the challenge as I thought I might. However, I did check in on the progress from time-to-time on Twitter. It was interesting to watch the competition progress. Most of the Twitter traffic seemed to be from those involved in the hunt, and I saw only one from someone that seemed to have honestly stumbled upon one (…sort of, but more on that in a bit.)

As I saw reports of balloons I wondered if I shouldn’t try to find the location and report them as my own. However, I figured that if the reports were THAT public, then others would have reported them. I just decided to watch the spectacle. Continue reading “DARPA Challenge Update”

99 Red Balloons

You and I in a little toy shop,
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
‘Til one by one, they were gone…

Actually, it’s 99 minus 89, but references to the 1980’s hit by Nena are inevitable. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA has come up with a creative challenge “that will explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.”

According to the challenge website ten red, eight-foot weather balloons will be tethered to locations around the United States. The first person (or team) to provide the latitude and longitude of all balloons will win a $40,000 prize.

CNN.com quotes Johanna Jones, a spokeswoman for DARPA, and provides a few more details…

At 10 a.m. ET, the 8-foot-wide red weather balloons will be released on property accessible to the public.

“They’re not going to be out in the middle of nowhere,” Jones said. “They’re going to be near places where there is traffic.”

She said the balloons will be tethered and will remain aloft for at least six hours. Each will be accompanied by a DARPA representative.

The first person to report the latitude and longitude coordinates of all 10 balloons will win the prize. The competition will remain open until December 14.

Nationwide balloon-hunt contest tests online networking
By Doug Gross, CNN
December 4, 2009

So, the balloons will only be aloft for a few hours on one day. That means no individual could travel to all 10 locations. Seekers will be forced to search for references to the balloons and reports in social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr. That is, of course, assuming someone reports the sighting and is willing to provide coordinates. If I didn’t already know about the challenge, I doubt I would stop and Tweet about a red balloon, giving its lat/long coordinates. Continue reading “99 Red Balloons”

The Incomparable Weirdness of Twitter


As if there were any doubt, my true nerd nature is about to come through.  Some of my admissions in this post will be embarrassing, but it gets my point across about Twitter.

I freely admit that I am a Trekkie.  I can usually name most of The Original Series episode titles having seen just a few seconds of one.  I am not, however, a “Trekker”.  I don’t have a Star Fleet uniform in my closet (although I did have a model phaser when I was a teenager), nor to I dress up like a Klingon and attend conventions.

So what does this have to do with Twitter?  I’ll get to that in a moment.  I signed up for Twitter as a matter of convenience.  It was a simple way of updating my blog and Facebook from one location.  I didn’t really have any intention of “following” anyone on Twitter, but soon I got tired of looking at my own updates.  I added a few friends and locals that I knew from other social networking sites. Continue reading “The Incomparable Weirdness of Twitter”

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