Posts Tagged ‘EDID09’
Putting children first: a design pattern for parents and guardians who publish online images of their children
Please, no more photos…, by Paula FJ
This pattern highlights the tension between personal online identity authoring and the responsibility we have towards others when their identity is enmeshed with ours. Specifically, how parents and guardians mitigate the risks associated with publishing online images of their children and the resulting contribution they make to a child’s digital identity.
Margarita Pérez García, Steven Warburton, Phil Archer, Josie Fraser, Sally Griffin, Jim Hensman, Mark Kramer, Finbar Mulholland, Leon Cych, Jonathan Poole, Mira Vogel, Yishay Mor. *Please ensure that the full development history remains with this pattern so that all authors are acknowledged.
Photographs have an important place in presenting, reflecting and understanding our identities, and in preserving our memories. The ease of capturing digital images combined with the proliferation of social sites and services for publishing them online make it is simple to share such content publicly on the Internet.
Parents and guardians who create an online identity that includes images and text about their children inevitably contribute to their children’s online presence. Parents and guardians can unknowingly participate in the construction of the digital identity of dependents who subsequently have little control over how they are presented or who they are presented to.
Whatever the reasons or justifications for the online publication of these images, the problem remains. An online picture of a child that is posted on the Internet contributes and/or interferes with that child’s online identity before they understand the implications and are able to build and manage their own digital identity. At worst these images can present a series of risks that need to be mitigated:
- Potential for abuse – this can be via cutting and pasting images, editing images or changing the context within which an image is viewed.
- Access to personal information – images can be used within flaming, stalking and cyber-bullying type behaviours.
- Identity theft – too much personal information can accidentally be made visible and lead to identities being stolen.
- Attraction of unsolicited communication – this could be to a parent or child represented in a given image via the online service in which the image resides, but this could also translate into tracing a person in the real-world if geotags (geographical identification metadata usually consisting of latitude and longitude coordinates) have been used.
- Misinterpretation – information may be inappropriately represented, errors amplified and false conclusions drawn, for example when images are taken out of their original context and aggregated into pornographic collections.
- Interference – images that persist over time have the potential to affect their adult life for good or ill. The created identity can interfere with the identity the children create for themselves in the future that will evolve over time as they play with their identity.
- Potential embarrassment of children in the short, medium and long term.
This is another contribution to the digital identities case stories repository, in the Pattern Language Network. Case Stories describe critical incidents of practice, highlighting key design challenges and possible solutions, They can be found at: http://purl.org/planet/Cases/
What was the setting in which this case study occurred?
Recently I have applied for selected job positions within international organisations in Europe. As soon as I had finished preparing and submitting my CV, I started to assess my online presence in case a potential employer ‘Googled’ me. I did not have any issues with my blog or my Netvibes universe: although they can always be improved, for example, making easier the access to relevant and structured information, they are in fact always prepared for public scrutiny! However I had a nagging thought in the back of my mind about my Twitter account.
What was the problem to be solved, or the intended effect?
Although I was reluctant to use Twitter, I fell into it in 2007. At the beginning I used it only for personal purposes, but I soon began to tweet about my professional activities as well, mixing personal and professional tweets as my life went on. I was wary of privacy issues and always paid attention to what I tweeted. However, I did not want to build a fake public persona by carefully selecting tweets and retweets according to the editorial line ‘what am I doing now that makes me look great’? (replace ‘great’ by any other self-aggrandisement adjective).
So I have happily tweeted as a professional, but also as a mother and a citizen about all sorts of things that fill my everyday life – when life was clement enough to leave me the time to do so.
A few weeks ago some events made me reconsider my twitter activities:
a blog post on the Internet titled “Is twitter my new CV?”
the proliferation of fake public personas within the EdTech panorama who are effectively using their Twitter accounts as an eReputation trampoline
I realised that my Twitter account is definitely not my online CV in action and I did not want it to be. I am not building myself as a professional using Twitter. And I don’t want people to build my online professional profile based on my Twitter stream.
With this idea in mind I reassessed my Twitter stream and found a portrait of myself that wasn’t uplifting for my professional self: a mother busy living a challenging life.
What was done to fulfil the task?
I didn’t want to delete my Twitter account, I just needed a fresh start. As a consequence I decided to delete just the Twitter stream and decide later whether I was interested in continuing to twitter or not. I deleted all tweets using TwitWipe, a tool that deletes all your tweets in one go: http://twitwipe.aalaap.com/login.php. When my Twitter stream was deleted I tweeted an explanatory message announcing that all 573 tweets had been wiped.
What happened? Was is a success? What contributed to the outcomes?
Deleting all my tweets feels like a success. I instantly felt weightless, without worries about the kind of professional profile that people can build by backward screening my Twitter account. However, given that the number of tweets in a profile are an identity marker, I would have loved to keep this indicator. I don’t want people to think that I’ve just discovered Twitter!
Since I deleted all my tweets I also feel less pressure to use Twitter. I have only one tweet explaining that I have erased everything else, I don’t have to twit anymore as well. I can escape from the banal world of ‘Hello Twitterverse!’ I do not even open my iPhone Twitter app. My life has changed: I have more time to concentrate in important things and be productive. I can always blog!
What did you learn from the experience?
I gained a better appraisal and management of the so-called spontaneous and ephemeral online activities.
During the Eduserv workshop on digital identity pattern design, at the British Library, we have been invited by Yishay Mor and Steven Warburton to warm up and socialize before team work by doing a sketching exercise, called ‘Faces of identity’. (For more on patterns see the JISC funded project: Planet – Pattern Language Network for Web 2.0 Learning)
They gave us three head outlines to draw three different representations of our identity. Then we had to turn them to our group and present them, answering the questions: ‘Of these three identities you have drawn, which do you make visible online online and why?’. And also, ‘which you do not make visible and why?’
This last question drove us to a space where each of us unveiled some aspects of the hidden rhetoric of our digital selves. We then shared our experience about online identity management: swearing versus non swearing spaces, consistence of icons and gravatars, negation of some aspects of our life that we feel may impact our public presence, including our ‘employability factor’ or aspects from our personal life that interfere with our professional life.
Soon we all found that we had a face of our identity, mainly built in relation with others, that was hidden or somehow protected by some reason, say, safety. Many stories came together in this exercise: Josie negating her motherhood identity for job search purposes, Phil protecting his children by never putting their image or their names online, Sally questioning herself about how their children may contribute to her online identity, and me controlling social interaction to some of the public images of my children.
I really enjoyed very much this session and felt that we were a highly productive team. We produced the Putting others first pattern. For this very reason I want to tell who these people are. And I hope I will have, in the future, the opportunity to work with them again.
5 people worked during the morning session presenting their stories, linking them, finding similarities and identifying the problem space. These were (from left to right in the drawing by Maisie Platts)
A pity that the patterns repository doesn’t give ownership to the entire group. However, if someone has to be held responsible for the words on the paper, then let’s say that Phil Archer was responsible for this!