The Difference Between Privacy and Exploitation: Why Understanding The User Data Conversation Is Important

The New York Times recently published a piece called “Just Don’t Call It Privacy,” and I think it helps to explain a fundamental misrepresentation in the United States of what’s really at issue when we talk about personal data.

Data collection giants, such as Amazon and Google, currently have pretty free reign over the information they collect on individuals who use their services. Even when headlines announced a huge data breach at Facebook, there was no mass exodus away from the social media platform.  After all, what does a data breach even mean? Everything related to the conversation about user data is termed using oversimplified vocabulary attached to abstract definitions, so of course it’s easy to get lost.

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Paying My Library Fines

I haven’t updated here in a while – and so much has happened! So now, it’s time for an OVERDUE post – let’s just say that this post is to pay my dues and settle that account 😉

In my last update, I discussed how I quit my full-time job working at Green River College and had applied for a part-time job at a library (actually, I applied for a couple). Part of why I’ve been so busy is that I got the job (as I hinted I thought I had)! Actually, I got BOTH of the library jobs I applied for (different locations, same work), but I turned down the one with less hours. I now am working around 25 hours a week. Somehow my time is still incredibly pinched, even working so much less than when I was employed full time, but I have been really glad for my new job (even if I haven’t made it up to campus for any extra offerings or events, as I had hoped). Working in a library space feels like a natural extension of learning about libraries in school – plus, there are lots of very human realities that just aren’t included in classes. Libraries are one of the last truly public community spaces, which means we see a variety of populations (and problems).

I’m now in the last third of my second year in the program – which means I’m approaching the last year of classes before graduation! I’m very nervous about my last year of grad school, especially making sure I meet all the requirements to graduate (there is a special Capstone Project you must complete as part of graduating, I guess I should probably figure out what that is).

Funny side-story: I also accidentally joined the leadership for the Society of American Archivists – UW branch. On the student Facebook pages they were saying that a club needed a graphic designer to do publicity stuff and I signed up before even checking what club it was. So I made sure to become official and actually join the Society (which means $$), but I’m honestly fascinated by archival work so I’m not sorry it worked out as it has. I’ve learned a lot working with this club and hope to maybe get a chance to do some archiving experience – unfortunately, the University of Washington (where I attend) does not offer very much in the way of archiving classes.

That’s essentially the life update! Also, I’m hoping to get back into doing some circus classes again in the somewhat-near future….timeline isn’t set, but there are opportunities on the horizon. I’ll also do my best to not be so “overdue” with a blog update next time and keep updating!

Thoughts as I prepare to begin my second year

My first year of school was many things, such as inspiring and engaging. But also incredibly BUSY!! Being a 2/3rd time student while also maintaining my full time job – and also remodeling and moving into an apartment – got to be very overwhelming. Towards the end of the last quarter of my first year back in school, my partner Katie and I  made the big decision that I couldn’t keep juggling everything. So I gave my notice at work.

Leaving my full-time job was terrifying. However, despite the financial challenges, I know we made the right choice. I have had the summer off from school but kept incredibly busy doing finishing work around our basement apartment – we were in the middle of moving when I left my job as well as in the middle of actual construction work on the apartment itself.  The apartment is in the basement of my girlfriend’s family home (her sister is living in the main house and is acting as our landlord), so we’ve had a hand in the physical work that needed done to make the space livable (as well as design decisions, since Katie’s sister doesn’t care as long as it doesn’t cost more).  Unpacking and moving us in definitely took its share of time as well. I’ve barely noticed that I’m unemployed – my days have usually been very, very occupied.

Lately, as we’ve become more settled and the necessary work at home has lessened, I’ve also applied to several part-time library jobs. Speaking of which, recent events suggest that the latest interview is going to result in a job offer! Fingers crossed!! Katie meanwhile has changed jobs herself and is now happily working more hours for higher pay closer to home. She’s doing fantastically at her new job and finds that she truly enjoys the work.

School starts again towards the end of this month, and I am happy to report that I am feeling quite settled and prepared to start digging in to learn again. I loved my first year of school and the experience of my classes. And I am really, really happy that during this upcoming quarter my new schedule will allow me to take advantage of some of the many extracurricular opportunities offered to students, like listening to guest speakers or attending networking events. I’m hoping to update here more frequently as well with the thoughts and ideas that grow out of these experiences, as well as (remember, fingers crossed!) hopefully the experience of working in a library itself. Change is risk, and risk is scary. But sometimes, risk is necessary for growth…

On to the new school year!