Protecting Your Personal Privacy in a Digital World

Surveillance Cameras          Laptop Spying           Spy Silhouette

Announcing a new workshop…

Protecting Your Personal Privacy in a Digital World

Date: Thursday, March 2, 2017, 11-12
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC)
Sign Up (or just show up)

Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 11-12
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC)
Sign Up  (or just show up)
(Cancelled due to scheduling conflict)

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 11-12
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC)

We live in an age of pervasive digital surveillance, whether those prying eyes are marketers, hackers, governments, or employers. Learning the principles of online digital privacy is essential for navigating daily online activities, such as communicating with friends, engaging in social activism, or accessing a banking or credit card account.

This workshop will provide the tools and tips you need to make more informed decisions concerning your online activity. Here are some questions we will answer:

  • How can I manage all my passwords?
  • What options are available for browsing anonymously online?
  • Should I use the cloud to sync my devices?
  • How can I chat online privately?
  • What are some trusted sources for learning more about digital privacy and security?

Since each individual’s “threat model” is different, this workshop aims to provide practical information to help you think more clearly about your digital privacy needs. Our intended audience is the community of regular Internet users who wish to start thinking a little more systematically about their online activity.

Dissent in America: A faculty-librarian collaboration

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The early 2000s was an eventful period: a popping Internet bubble deflating the economy; the controversial presidential election hanging on chads in Florida and determined by Supreme Court justices long committed – at least rhetorically – to judicial restraint; the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington; and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Polarized politics, contested economics, and lots of bombs dropping in faraway places.

In these anxious times Professor Ralph Young created the Dissent in America course and students eagerly signed up. Young found students enthusiastic to learn about the history of dissenting voices and ideas in American history. Students were introduced to distant voices and gained insight on how the United States had come to its present circumstances. As an outgrowth of the course, Young started the Dissent in America Teach-Ins (see YouTube Video) on Friday afternoons which are open to anyone. Both the course and the teach-ins continue to this day.

After Dissent in America became a General Education course, Young worked with librarian David Murray to add a formal information literacy component. Murray, an experienced instruction librarian, worked with Young for ten years before departing for the College of New Jersey in the summer of 2015. Young published two books as a result of his work on dissent: Dissent in America: The voices that shaped a nation and Dissent: The history of an American idea.

On December 2, 2015 I spoke to Ralph Young and David Murray on Dissent in America and their work together.

—Fred Rowland

 

 

Kathleen Grady Talks Sustainability

Kathleen Grady

On Friday, March 6, Temple University is hosting the Tri-State Sustainability Symposium (conference topics) at the Temple Performing Arts Center and Alter Hall, sponsored by the Delaware Valley Green Building Association and many area businesses and organizations. Now in its fifth year, this is one of the regional events in which Temple University’s Office of Sustainability participates. Temple University established the Office of Sustainability under the directorship of Sandra J. McDade on July 1, 2008, in response to the recommendations of the Sustainability Task Force, appointed by then-President Ann Weaver Hart in 2007. Kathleen Grady became the second director of the Office of Sustainability in November 2012. Her office is charged with fulfilling the tripartite mission to “advance sustainable academic initiatives and research, create a sustainable campus environment and culture and…improve outreach and engagement on sustainability issues.”

I first became aware of the Office of Sustainability through the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability & the Environment, now in its fifth year, for which the director served as one of the judges. I also noticed that Temple University was sponsoring, initiating or participating in many environmentally-related events and programs. Finally, as discussions of the new library proceeded, I wondered whether new construction was carefully planned for sustainability. I was curious to know whether the Office of Sustainability was simply an excercise in public relations or a concerted effort to address its ambitious mission.

Though I have no experience in community or institutional planning, I came away from this interview impressed by the level of involvement by the Office of Sustainability in the life and operations of the university. Each year the office takes a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 30% by 2030 (base year 2006). Each year funds are appropriated to improve the sustainability of present buildings, and the Office of Sustainability is involved in the planning of new buildings, such as the future home of the Temple University Libraries.

I spoke to Kathleen Grady on December 5, 2014 on the role of the Office of Sustainability at Temple University.

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—Fred Rowland

Media, Pennsylvania: March 8, 1971

John Raines and family

 

John Raines teaching

In 2013 whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents and confirmed a vast National Security Agency spying program. Though there had been significant revelations before Snowden’s leaks, this new information made it impossible for the US government to deny the international scope of its intrusions into the privacy of individuals, organizations, and governments.

43 years earlier a group of eight middle class antiwar activists performed a similar public service, releasing internal FBI documents that revealed a pattern of abuse by J. Edgar Hoover and federal agents. The full story is told in a new book (Betty Medsger’s The Burglary) and a documentary film (1971, directed by Johanna Hamilton), both released in 2014. The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as they called themselves, burglarized the Media, Pennsylvania office of the FBI in the hopes of finding evidence of illegal FBI surveillance and disruption of the antiwar movement.

J. Edgar Hoover’s citadel was seemingly impregnable, built by decades of careful public relations and a comprehensive intelligence network. Though there was near certainty among antiwar activists and other protest groups of FBI malfeasance, there was no tangible evidence. After surveilling the Philadelphia FBI office and determining that it was too closely guarded, the Commission to Investigate the FBI looked to the FBI’s suburban offices for an opportunity.

After months of casing the Media, Pennsylvania office, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI made its move on the night of the first historic Joe Frazier – Muhammad Ali fight, March 8, 1971. By sunrise the next day, the Citizens’ Commission had eight large suitcases of documents – the full contents of the Media FBI filing cabinets – secured in an isolated farmhouse, waiting to be organized and analyzed. Hundreds of FBI agents were assigned to investigate the Media break-in, but no one was ever charged with the crime. The disclosures that resulted from the Media burglary provided concrete evidence of illegal FBI activities.

John and Bonnie Raines were members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. John Raines, now professor emeritus, has been at Temple University since he arrived from the Union Theological Seminary in 1966. John Raines spoke to me about his experiences with the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI on October 2, 2014.

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—Fred Rowland

The Digital Rights Movement

Hector Postigo image

 

 

 

 

 

Hector Postigo is the author of The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright, in which he presents three case studies of a broad group of loosely knit organizations and individuals that address issues concerning fair use, free speech, privacy, and innovation in the digital environment. None of these concerns are new but the digital medium has changed the social, legal, and economic configuration in which the stakeholders operate. Users are no longer simply passive receivers of content but producers as well. Anyone with a computer can generate new and original online content, or can reuse and remix content in creative ways. This is a real watershed for creation and innovation and the digital rights movement is motivated by a vision of culture as shared and participatory. Expanded conceptions of fair use and free speech are essential to facilitate this vision. Individuals, organizations, and businesses that “own” content through government-granted copyrights have an interest in maintaining control in their works, for commercial and other reasons. The lines dividing users, creators, and content owners are very fluid, so much of this story is about the evolution of legal rules – government regulation – with regards to copyright and digital technology.

By looking at three different cases in which the nascent digital rights movement struggled with the owners and producers of technology and commercial media over the meaning of fair use, free speech, and cultural production, Hector Postigo provides a unique perspective on the profound changes that digital technology has set in motion for cultures, economies, and polities.

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—Fred Rowland

Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

Maia Cucchiara image

 

 

 

 

Maia Cucchiara’s new book, Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities (University of Chicago Press, 2013), is a very timely intervention into the current debate about the troubled Philadelphia public school system. Most of the research for this book took place between 2004 and 2007 as part of her doctoral dissertation during the Philadelphia Center City Schools Initiative (CCSI), which sought to market and promote Center City public schools in an effort to retain middle and upper middle class Center City families from fleeing to the suburbs in search of better schools. She shines a light on this initiative by focusing on one school and one neighborhood, which she pseudonymously names “Grant Elementary School” and “Cobble Square”. In the course of her research, she interviewed parents, administrators, teachers, and local civic and business leaders, as well as participated in many events at Grant Elementary School.

One of the most important and illuminating aspects of Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities is the way it highlights the tensions between an urban area’s economic and civic space as citizens are increasingly seen as customers and consumers. What rights and duties do we have as citizens and how are those rights and duties constrained or enhanced when they are interpreted from a narrow economic perspective? On the one hand, retaining Center City families grows the tax base and potentially benefits all Philadelphia schools, given that schools are financed primarily through real estate taxes. On the other hand, how does one justify directing additional resources to Center City schools at a time when there are so many disadvantaged schools in the outlying neighborhoods? The tensions that Maia Cucchiara investigates in Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities are still very much with us today and make this book a “must read” for anyone interested in Philadelphia public schools and the future of public education.

I spoke with Maia Cucchiara on September 19, 2013.

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—Fred Rowland

 

 

 

Open Access Journals and Textbooks

Nick ShockeyNicole Allen

 

Colleges and universities face major financial challenges as state and federal funding levels fall and few new revenue sources can adequately fill the gap.  Tuition has already been raised to unsustainable levels, as aggregate student debt recently reached $1 trillion. Higher educational institutions are seeking to be more “entrepreneurial” in order to generate new revenues, but this is a rather slow process in most cases. These issues were pressing even before the housing meltdown in 2008. Now they are urgent.

With this context in mind, the Temple University Libraries are interested in exploring ways that the Internet can be used to reconceptualize and reconfigure how research and educational materials are delivered. If successful, this might both improve research and educational performance at the same time that costs are lowered. As part of the sixth annual Open Access Week (Oct. 22 – Oct. 28, 2012), the Temple University Libraries invited Nick Shockey, director of student advocacy for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and manager of the Right to Research Coalition, and Nicole Allen, director of Student PIRG’s Make Textbooks Affordable campaign, to discuss “The Connection between Open Access and Open Educational Resources: Exploring New Publishing Models.”

Before they’re presentation, they sat down to speak with me about open access journals and open educational resources.

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 —Fred Rowland