Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

I wrote the following post to my students today about privacy, a surveillance society, embedded and invisible technology, and Google glass. Thought I would re-post it on my blog too.

This is not the best picture of me, but here I am wearing Google Glass with my new Pedego electric bike! Woot! The GPS function has really helped me find my way around the island without having to take my eyes off the road. But, here is a conversation I have a lot when wearing Google Glass:

Person: Are you recording me?

Me: No. Why, should I be? You doing anything YouTube worthy?

Person: haha. Doesn’t it record all the time?

Me: No, that would be a waste of battery, storage space and time 🙂

Person: but you can look up information about me, can’t you?

Me: sure, the same way I might Google you on the internet, but you would know because I have to talk to it! It does not have face recognition or anything like that. Let’s Google you, shall we? “…. OK Glass …. Google Person.”

Person: Wow, I see a light on it!

Me: Yep! It would be rather hard for me to do anything on Glass without you knowing – you would have to be not looking at me 🙂

End of Scene (and yes, I have had this conversation more times than I can count or remember).

Since before Google Glass came out, we were bombarded with articles about how Google Glass would invade our privacy. Companies jumped on the bandwagon to ban the device from their restaurants, see the 5 point Café, and there were lots of funny videos showing a man trying to scam pick up women using their Google glass. Of course, nobody knew what the hell they were talking about, and most people are still in the dark about the devise.

As we have learned in our textbook, what we need to be aware of is invisible technology and embedded technology. This is technology that is no longer on our radar because we don’t pay attention to it. Cameras on the street, being spied on at work, and so on and so forth. They are part of our everyday lives, like cell phones taking pictures here and there and everywhere.

Technology that we can’t see, or we simply ignore, that is what we should be worried about when it comes to surveillance, not technology like Google Glass. Google Glass is in your face and it can’t do anything more than your cell phone can do – and it does it more obviously. I have to give Google Glass verbal commands for it to work, although I can take a quick picture by taking my hand and pushing the button at the top of the glass. You will know if I am Googling you! You would not really know this if I was using my cell phone – I could do that in front of you, with a smile on my face, and you would not have a clue!

When it comes to voyeurism and invasion of privacy, be worried about the technology you cannot see, for example: a camera in a shoe. Here is a technology that has been around for years and years, and is being used ALL the time!

Although there are many lessons I want you to take away from this class, here is the lesson I really want you to take with you – the danger of embedded and invisible technology, ideology, and habits. Question what is not being said. Question what is not being seen. Question what is being left out of an article, a book, an argument and so on. The fact that it seems invisible, that’s what’s important. Technology and surveillance that you don’t know exists, or that becomes so every day that you don’t question it, you should be worried about that.

Think about it. I challenge you all to spend ONE day this weekend acknowledging all the recording devices you are exposed to: red light cameras, cameras in stores, all the time somebody takes a picture with a cell phone or portable camera, the use of cell phones, and so on and so forth. Be aware of the invisible technology in your life.


A Highway to Me

I wanted to write a quick blog post about the problem of search engines and advertisers targeting ads, and search result information specifically to each of our individual needs. I wrote about this in an earlier post about Google’s privacy policies, policies that went into effect yesterday.

Anyway, this morning I woke up to a friend complaining about Facebook’s algorithm regarding the posts we see on our news feeds. Now, people complain about Facebook.  It’s like breathing; you’re not alive unless you’re taking a little bit of time out of your day to bitch about Facebook changes. Facebook could change one color, on one letter, which would show up on one place on your Facebook wall, and somebody would complain about. But I honestly feel the complaint I read today is valid: 

so what I really want to know is… Why Facebook needs to prioritize
my wall based on it’s perceived notion of what I want to see. I’ve got
my sort set to “Most Recent,” and STILL the first post is from an hour
ago and the second is from 9 minutes ago. Thinking about boycotting FB

Part of the problem is that the information we are now being exposed to daily on the Internet is being narrowed to target OUR INDIVIDUAL interests. This is happening at Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and elsewhere.

(Please prepare for a Second Person Dream Sequence, putting YOU in the driver’s seat) 

Consider this, you are someone who likes to use the Internet occasionally for Porn (I used this example simply because the musical Avenue Q is hilarious, and it gives me an opportunity to post this video).
Now let’s pretend you spent time daily reading the casual meet-ups over at Craigslist, just five minutes with your afternoon coffee on your phone, or you search for adult sites at home, alone with your computer. You might even enjoy Avenue Q and watch the “Internet is for Porn” musical number, and follow that up with a funny condom commercial your FB friend posted the other day.

Your next interest might be video games and blogs on video games: “Laura Craft is hot,” you once wrote on a blog.

Now consider this, algorithms have now identified you as someone who enjoys pornography, hot virtual chicks, hot puppet chicks, adult night clubs, and video games.  Hum the picture becomes … well questionable.  Now let’s say you want to search for results on a topic regarding our prison system for a paper that’s due for school. You put in your search parameters: “men versus women behind bars,” because you’re researching about the ratio of men to women within the prison system. What you think your search might bring back? Probably a series of webpages that not only cater to pornography, but adult entertainment sites, people who do odd things with stuffed animals, and maybe a video game or two in the same category. Maybe you’re going to be sent to that swingers bar down the street.

The bottom line is this, your information has now been narrowed, and the moment you have changed your interest, that narrow view of this algorithm, or that algorithm has about you has made grand assumptions about you want to see on your computer screen. 

Now, the opposing argument might be this: the more my algorithm knows about you, and all the searches you do every year, every day, every minute, and all the places you visit on the internet, the better it will be able to return information for you, personally, as a special individual.

But this type of information gathering and returns deceives the audience member seeking  information. For example, I have no idea what is been filtered out of that information or the search returns, and I am now living in a sort of a bubble where my Internet experience is kind of like having a personal “yes-man,” someone who will only agree with my interests, and never challenge me.

In this particular world, if I am a conservative individual, I will only get search results that will reinforce my conservative nature. The same goes for the liberal searching for information. Once this divide becomes established, how can the conservative ever truly reach out to liberal and Vice versa?

I hate being alarmist, and I love my Internet, but I must ask: what will this do for communications and knowledge in the real world? Do we really want algorithms to become the new gatekeepers of information?

What do you think?

A quick update!  A friend just pointed me to the book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser. I have never read this text, but it does look it examines this problem in depth!  If you are interested in this issue, consider this text.  R

Google’s New Privacy Policy and Wider Concerns

I spent the morning reading Google’s new privacy policy, which becomes active on March 1, 2012.  After reading the policy and also reading other views on the policy, such as articles, I have come to a few conclusions!

Information Control

Yes the policy on how much information they gather from you is scary, but not any more than any other company that gathers info from you, including Microsoft, Yahoo, and so on.  So what is the difference?

  •  Google is a huge company with lots of services, and so information is centralized.  

Question:  Have you read all those other policies you have agreed to in the past?  Not likely. I often  joke about it: “Well, there I go giving up another child to Apple,” I say as I imagine Apple’s new policy updates to be a lot like Rumpelstiltskin – offering tempting items at a horrible price.  Although educated, I also do not understand what I am reading with many of these agreements.  So, did I really agree to the agreement I agreed to?  I am not sure.  Is it legally binding if I did not understand what I signed?  +sigh+  But I digress.

So we have three particularly important issues: A) information with Google services is now centralized, meaning they can connect the dots about you more easily.  Big is scary and the bigger one gets, and the more power one has, the more scary that entity becomes.  Power corrupts and Google’s hope to “do no evil,” is less likely.  B) Likely for the first time, you are able to read the privacy rights you are giving up.  These are not new surrenders, but readable rights of privacy, which is scary.  It is easier to ignore what we cannot understand. Plain English makes it super clear

C) “Wishy-washy” language leaves us all on uncertain grounds as to what constitutes reasonable attempts to keep information private and accurate.  With that said, what really worries me, and it is something that Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all do, is how that information will be processed. I will quote from the new private policy for this one:

“We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.”

  • Worry number four: Google will be narrowly targeting our likes, dislikes, and interests.  Again, Google is not unique on this, but given the centralized mode of information collection, they are the most efficient at this.
On the outside, this seems good.  When I search for something, Google will look at all the collective information it has about me, and return specific results tailored to my preferences.  How awesome is that?  It is like having a conversation with a very close friend who knows you SO well, that he or she can fill in all the blanks to a silent conversation.  It is also cool that Google can help me coordinate and organize events using this information, let me know the closest pizza joint, and so on.  I like that.
But I also think this sucks. Sucks in a giant way.  I go to the Internet for information …. diverse and complex information. For me, the Internet = the most awesome complex research organism in existence! Now, sometimes I want direct results, such as directions to a Pizza place, but more often I am looking up ideas, news, and concepts.  I am exploring information and if I am given only a narrow sliver about that topic or news, I become a narrow person.  I may be liberal, but getting only liberally targeted links to news, blogs, and articles will help to create a limited and non-critically thinking being.  
But Google is NOT the only company to do this.  Look at Facebook and the type of messages and wall posts you see on your FB wall.  It is not targeted to provide you with information only about SOME of your friends – they ones FB thinks you like and enjoy the most.  Amazon has been doing this for years, and sending us all emails on what it thinks we should buy from them. Seriously, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT. We are creating a world where each one of us will live in a bubble of information that divorces us from the complex world of critical and chaotic thought.  It is almost enough to make one walk away from it all and simply use the world of libraries. 
Yes, the information gathered on us, and how our world in relation to what constitutes privacy is changing …. has changed drastically.  Be worried about this.  Be conscious about this.  Be careful about what you put out there on the Interwebs. But a larger concern lies in how that information is being used and processed.  Do you really want Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft and the rest to become YOUR personal gatekeeper regarding information and news?  Telling you what information you should be reading, and holding back the rest? This is what we are surrendering to, and I think it should concern us all a great deal.
UPDATE 2/27/2012: 

For those of you interested in
deleting your  web browsing history on Google before their new privacy
policy takes place, John Thomas Didymus at Digital Journal offered this great advice:

1. Go to the google homepage and sign into your account.

2. Click the dropdown menu next to your name in the upper-right hand corner of your screen. 

3. Click accounts settings 

4. Find the “Services section” 

5. Under “Services” there is a sub-section that reads “View, enable,
disable web history.” Click the link next to it that reads: “Go to Web

6. Click on “Remove all Web History”

When you click on “Remove all Web History,” a message appears that says
” Web History is Paused.” What this means is that while Google will
continue gathering and storing information about your web history it
will make all data anonymous, that is, Google will not
associate your Web History information with your online accounts and
will therefore be unable to send you customized search results.

Links to examine:


Yesterday was National Go Topless Day in the US, a day encouraging women to be the “skins” in a skins and shirts world. Here is what the organization has to say about the movement:

We are a U.S.-based organization founded in 2007 by spiritual leader
Rael and we claim that women have the same constitutional right that men
have to go bare-chested in public. As long as men are allowed
to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional
right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.
Rael, founder of and spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement (

NOTE: As a side note, the organization I support, SlutWalk, did not participate simply because this movement is a spiritual/religious based movement and SlutWalk does not wish to promote one spiritual set of beliefs over another. 

Anyway, today on Google+ several people posted about this event including +Jeff Jarvis, whose post encouraged over 169 replies in a matter of hours.  Reading the original responses, I was dismayed at the reality that most people responding were men.  The tone was set with this first response:

Back to the trade off between rights and responsibilities I think. A right probably, sensible, probably not.

And things started to deteriorate from there with the following generalized proclimations: 

Women’s breasts function in a sexual manner, and are pubescent developments.

But got interesting again with this line of thought:

mincing words, but keep the discussion in context. I don’t believe the
issue is with walking around the streets of New York topless. The real
discussion is breast feeding and the rights of a citizen.
how so? the civilised thing. somehow the thread hadn’t updated in my stream, I was asking about your previous post

disagree, it’s what the article says it is: the right to go topless in
public. breast feeding is something completely separate from this.

One of the most vocal and intelligent women in this conversation was +Samantha Adams who rebutted many a lame observation this afternoon:

Two people are sitting topless on a beach. One is
arrested because she is a woman. The other is not arrested, because he
is a man. Fair? Forget for a moment what “society” thinks, because
society is fickle, and public opinion changes often. Look simply at
equality. Is there any argument out there whatsoever that can justify
why it is legal to arrest the woman and not the man for doing the same

I came to the conversation late, oddly enough after doing research on the lame rhetoric used to describe women in menopause, and I wrote the following:

problem is simple, women’s breasts are sexualize, which is why women
are often uncomfortable in their own skin. We augment them, smooch them
down, hid them, fly them, and make laws regarding them for the sake of
maintaining a desire status quo. It is obnoxious and, I must say,
frustrating for the woman who does not have the perfect set to breasts.
Consider this – how many nicknames exist for the boob – and tell me
breasts are not fetishized and objectified:

“Boobies, Winnebagos
(when they go cross country), ta-ta’s, melons (all kinds depending upon
size, from large to small, we have…: watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew
[do you honey do, do you?], grapefruit, oranges, grapes… ), hooters
(also a restaurant serving wings), feeders, ho-hos (a Hostess favorite) ,
bazoongas, bodacious tatas, the girls, milkers, bettyboops, fried eggs,
lulus, ant bites, mole hills, alps, apples, Babylons (babylons?),
bazookas (also a type of gum or gun), bread-winners, mammaries
(clinical), cans, rack, knockers (on my front door?), jugs, bee stings,
mosquito bites, Abbott and Costello, Ben and Jerry, Bert and Ernie
(why are these all male names?), airbags, blinkers, bombs (not the
explosive kind), balloons, boulders (for the over the shoulder holders),
cha-chas, chesticles (is there a resemblance?), cupcakes, Danny DeVitos
(Really? After drinking his Lemoncello!), lemons, David and Goliath
(Biblical), Devil’s Dumplings (Biblical?), Eisenhowers (political),
funbags, Gobstoppers (the everlasting kind), headlamps, high beams,
Holmes and Watson (should you get lost), honkers, hood ornaments,
hubcaps (to round out the car metaphors), John and Paul (Ringo and
George on Tuesdays and Thursdays), Mounds (of ice-cream? You scream, we
all scream for . . .), muffins, Tweedledee and Tweedledum (ba-dum,
ba-dum, ba-dum), Volvos (because Honda will not do), ying-yangs (because
balance is everything) and Yahoos (also an internet search engine).
Mother dear, may I have a drink?” (from: Writing the Diaphragm Blues)

I have written about the boobie issue before, indeed several times in this blog. I support movements that allow and make way for women to have a healthier view of their sexuality and being.  I would love to see women be happy and proud of their breasts simply because they are part of “her.”  I would also love to see a society that does not promote the augmentation of boobs, boobie implants and the like – all moves designed to further objectify a women via her breasts.

Chapter One: Under Where? Underwear!

As promised, here is a short excerpt from my memoir that examines one woman’s journey discovering and understanding her sexuality, her role as a woman, and herself.  In Chapter One, I talk about how we are often introduced to the idea of sexuality with a simple question: Where do Babies Come From? 

Facebook I read a status update that my nephew was told by a friend of his
that babies come from the great baby cloud. Since cloud computing is
getting so very popular, I could not help but imagine Google being
behind this operation, talk about Google+, with Apple on its heels for
iTunes downloads. Picture this, baby souls stored in “the cloud,” being
pumped with information from the Internet – twitter feeding the
virtual soul fetus along with Facebook wall updates, and targeted
advertisements.  Advertisers would be in heaven! Consider the potential
of training a child to be a consumer even before he or she popped out of
the womb!  Capital delight!

I also examine the sad truth that for many women, including many in my family, the first introduction to sex is rape:

this memory down, I sit and wonder what my Mother must have felt or
thought with my imitation of her eye drawings: for I now know this was
her first memory, and the eye was what she focused on as she was being
raped. She was a very young child when it first happened. This sexual
abuse would follow her throughout her childhood, adolescence, and into
the throws of young adulthood. Much of it stopped at thirteen or
fourteen when she pulled a gun on her attacker, her Stepfather, and
hitchhiked out of Fairbanks, Alaska, taking the Alcan highway. Maybe
she viewed the single eye as not only a physical example of her
attacker, but as the all-seeing Ra, a universal god.

Do the myths we tell our children about sex and sexuality eventually lead to larger misconceptions, such as the myth that women deserve to be raped, that it is the only thing that can control her? Or, rather, is this slippery slope argument without steam and substance?

Writing the Diaphragm Blues looks to the comic moments of sexuality, to the more serious consequences of sex and violence – all though the eyes of one woman, her experiences, and her efforts to better understand herself and her place in the world.

New Underwear Followers

Dear Reader,

Well true to form, after mentioning the following words on my post (prostitution, underwear, sex and procreation), I received a few interesting new Twitter followers, including 1 sex worker, a book promoter-promoting a”Where do Babies Come From” book and, this was interesting in the end, a company called PantyO.

Sex Industry Workers

Generally, Twitter sex industry workers are rather easy to detect becuase the avatars of these Tweets are of young, sexy, women who either suck on their fingers, a piece of fruit or are seen sitting with their legs wide apart. I highly doubt that any of this images are of the actual Twitterer, but you have to love their Tweets:

I just met a new girl and we are gonna hang out, wanna cum?

Oh Brother!  Again, each to their own, but these folks are NOT bothering to read my tweets, or my bio. Rather, all they are doing is targeting me with the use of searches.  As Pooh Bear states: oh bother.

But I did get two unexpected new followers that should be mentioned generally: What looks to be an interesting read on where babies come from and a company selling Panties.

Where do Babies Come From?

One new follower was advertising the book Birds, Bees, Babies by J.L. Sweat. Regarding the book, the author writes:

The birds and the bees.  Birds, Bees,
Babies is a book that takes a “Santa Claus” or nonbiological approach to
teaching children about the birds and the bees.  When a child asks the
age old question, where do babies come from, this book can help provide a
healthy and positive solution to having the birds and bees talk.  The
book follows a little girl who has been taunted by a friend because she
does not know where babies come from.  Her father tells her the story of
the birds and the bees and that babies are created because the birds
and the bees make a baby and then it is delivered by the stork.  This
unique and exciting story is intended to present a non-sexual approach
to the explanation of where children come from.

This book takes the opposition direction that my mom finally took when giving me low-down on procreation,  and it leaves me to wonder: what story is the better story to tell on this topic: the mythological non-biological explanation or the biological one?  What do you think (leave comments below!)


The other new follower from my post was a company called PantyO, and they make a Kegel exercise undergarment selling for over $50 dollars (ouch!). If you wish to investigate, here is an article that discusses the Kegel Exercises from the Mayo-Clinic. These female undergarments are designed to help strengthen the pelvic floor mussels, which assist in childbirth, urination (avoiding incontinence) and, of course, sexual enjoyment.   

At first I was a bit wigged out on this follow.  I thought to myself:

Great, vibrating panties are following me! 

But this was not the case; after doing a bit of research, I can see how this product could be helpful not simply for someone hoping to enhance sexual pleasure, but, importantly, for those experiencing incontinence.

I have cared for several older and sick men and women in my life and I can tell you, if they could have avoided the problem of incontinence, they would have. But the panties made by PantyO should really come in more styles, rather than the bikini cut version, including styles preferred by an older crowd.  If you are targeting to fight incontinence, then you need to market to those people as well.

Where do Babies Come From:

I am still interested in hearing the story you were given about where babies come from, why now leave a comment here!


Books, Books, Books

The Chronicle of Higher Education this week announced that HathiTrust is now open. HathiTrust is composed of a large group of several universities interested in preserving the work Google has done with digitalizing hundreds of thousands of books. HathiTrust, working to become the biggest library in the world, with Google’s help has currently digitized “2,108,109” volumes. Other stats include:

Currently Digitized
2,108,109 volumes
737,838,150 pages
78 terabytes
25 miles
1,713 tons
333,534 volumes (~16% of total)
in the public domain

This is an amazing resource for everyone. Stop by and check out their site at HathiTrust.