Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Online assignment 4-5: In the digital society

This online assignment is worth two points. For it, you will explore and analyze your digital media presence on two major digital media platforms: Google and Facebook.

To begin, you need to collect the information Google and Facebook have about you. Let’s start with Facebook.

Partly in response to calls for greater transparency and increased user control of privacy settings, Facebook now enables users to download the data that Facebook has about them. So download your data and take a look at it!

Here’s how: Go to Facebook and be logged in. In the top-left corner, next to your picture, is an image of a little lock. Click on that, then click ‘see more settings.’ Then, at the top left, click ‘General.’ At the bottom of that page, click ‘Download a copy.’

You will need to enter your password, then it will tell you to wait a little while for your data to be generated. Probably it will tell you that it will send a notification to your email account. This takes between a minute and several hours, even a day. So do this ahead of time! And be patient.

Once the email comes, it will have a link to the data. Download the data (it will be in a zip file, so unzip it), and check it out. Explore what is in there.

Now for Google. This is somewhat simpler. With Google, we will focus on not all the information that Google has about you, but instead what inferences the company makes about you based on what it knows. To figure that out, go to:

This page shows you, in essence, who you are to Google. It shows two columns, corresponding to the inference they have made based on your search history and website visits. It also shows a number of variables about you (of which the most interesting may be ‘Interests’; click on ‘Edit’ there to see the full list of things Google thinks you are interested in—and do it in both columns).

Finally, for the online assignment. Create a post on your section’s blog. Describe your exploration a little bit. What did you see? What surprised you? Did anything about the exploration trouble you? Does Google know you accurately? What do they have wrong/right? Why? Then take us to some larger conclusions: What does your experience in this exercise suggest about life in the digital society? How does it shift your thought about how you communicate and interact online?

Your post should be 500 words, written in complete sentences. It is more of a reflection than a thesis-based essay, so you are not expected to have an introduction, body and conclusion; but nonetheless, it should have good structure, and where you draw on others’ ideas, you should cite them using citations or hyperlinks.

(If you don’t have both a Facebook or Google account, write your post based on the account information you do have.)

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