21 September 2007

College ain't what it used to be

As some of you may have heard, some poor, misguided souls have put me in charge of a classroom. So now I'm what passes for an adjunct professor around here.
Yeah, it's that bad.

I'd thought that, since I'd been away from campus for so long, I would be amazed at the utility of teaching technology. Well, I am. But not in a good way.

Between the grading unit crashing and the entire data system needing to be purged once a day, I had no choice but to give up on (AU's implementation of) the Blackboard™ classroom management system.

Among the suite of tools I'm using to replace BB is Google Groups. When I explained to the class that I wanted to have the ability to instantly email them announcements and so on, one student actually protested that her inbox was too full already.

She had a point, and this hints at a larger problem, the real reason for tonight's post. You see, I'm also a Inbox Abuser. But I am now recovering, with a little help from my friends.

For my money, no one frames the evils of Inbox Abuse better than Merlin Mann. Here you go, video junkies:

18 September 2007

Tin-Foil Hat Guys: Right All Along?

See, I told you privacy was dead! But no, you had to hear it from the NSA:

Washington D.C., September 14, 2007 - Today the National Security Archive publishes a collection of documents concerning the use of U.S. reconnaissance satellites to collect data on targets within the United States over the last four decades. This new publication follows the August 15, 2007, revelation in the Wall Street Journal that the United States is planning to expand the use of reconnaissance satellites over the United States in support of civil agencies (those outside of the Defense Department and Intelligence Community) in response to recommendations by an independent study group.

Obtained primarily through the Freedom of Information Act and archival research, the declassified documents published today describe a number of uses for which U.S. reconnaissance satellites have been employed, including evaluation of satellite performance, mapping, disaster relief, and assistance to Environmental Protection Agency investigations.

What I find most interesting is the subtle way that transparency activists and privacy activists are seeing common ground. Sure, this happened with the Privacy Act, but the PA only served to perpetuate the illusion of privacy.

Someday I hope we will all come to terms with the death of privacy, and figure out how to live in a world without the expectation -- much like folks in rural areas have lived for some time.