Category Archives: Online Privacy

Confessions of an Infographic Newbie


I am an infographic newbie.  (Mostly.)

I first tried one out last week in my Digital Design Club. In the spirit of getting to know one another better, while simultaneously teaching safe online sharing, I  asked the students to create an All About Me Infographic using a template from Piktochart. I played around with it a little before giving them this task, of course, but my playing around was more along the lines of how to… 

The template from Piktograph

The template from Piktochart


  • edit text boxes
  • insert a head shot
  • change graphics/colours/fonts
  • share and export


In other words, this Tech Integrator focussed on the Tech side of things…or the graphic in infographic.  


My first rushed job of basic manipulations of the template

I didn’t spend too long thinking about the information side of the equation (not to mention design) And that, I quickly realised, is at least half of the battle:

“What should I put down?”  “What do you want to know?”  “But I only know one language.” (in reference to the template’s graphic representation of language spoken) was heard throughout the room.

Later, giving it a second go myself,  I scratched my head wondering what to share and how to best to show that graphically.

My second version of the infographic

My second version of the infographic, more carefully thought out

I have spent a good deal of time thinking about design elements when creating presentations or possible infographics…And this visual does it very nicely…but it’s the what to share aspect of creating an infographic that is challenging, and needs just as much time as the how.

As fellow Coetailer Christopher Panna describes in his post :

They were initially excited at the opportunity to use this format, until they realised it would be just as much work as a writing project. Sketching a concept for their graphic, using the right kinds of charts, visuals, and colours, PLUS doing the research was no small task. “

He offers a book recommendation- Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures  where the first line of the promotional tag gave me a #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm kind of thought.

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it.”

People often describe the ability to teach (well) in the same terms.

So…I realised I sometimes get lost in the tech side of things and focus more on teaching the tool than on how to best use it to teach something arguably more important.

20 Minute Teaching Time Limit Dilemma…this is an After School Club, after all:

Teaching technical skills involved in manipulating an infographic template  vs presenting safe and interesting information worth sharing about oneself visually...all while incorporating design principles?

The more I think about it, being able to present key information graphically/visually can be paramount to others’ actually understanding that information.  

Just today I kept re- reading Google Support to check sharing settings when sharing things with colleagues vs students vs blog. But it wasn’t until I saw this visual grid comparing each sharing setting that it suddenly became clear:


Thank you, Saikat Basu, from 10 tips for managing files in google drive. I love my top 10 lists!

Finally, this is a bit random, but here are some more #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm moments I had while perusing this week’s readings:

  • This infographic showing How Productivity Works.  It  visually compartmentalises different areas of life (mindset-habit-body-”life hacks”) and how all work together to aid or impede one’s productivity…(and I wonder, happiness?)
  • This post from Seth Godin and the power of the words, “Here, I made this.” 
  • Here, I made this. Photo, Pixabay.

    Here, I made this. Photo, Pixabay.

“These four words carry generosity, intent, risk and intimacy with them.”

*If I had all the time in the world for this post, I would try to make an infographic or visual representation of Seth’s currently-all-words-concept.  Perhaps that’s my final project.


Tracking, the 4th Amendment and Apple vs the FBI

“The only true protection is to understand that anything you put up there can be accessed by somebody else.”

from the article 5 Biggest Online Privacy Threats.

Being a new user of Cloud Technology, and feeling excited about its potential (wow–I have unlimited online storage, can access all my photos on any device and share with anyone easily?  I love you, googlephotos!) these words really popped.  It’s like you kind of know it, but really you don’t.

“A huge concern about using the cloud is that your data does not have the same Fourth Amendment protections that it would have if it were stored in a desk drawer or even your desktop computer,” says Consumer Watchdog’s Simpson.

Being Canadian, I had only a vague sense of what the fourth amendment was.  So I googled it and found this in the featured snippet:

fourth amendment


Hmmm, so, stuff I keep on my google drive or icloud is not protected from being searched and seized?  Just like that, without cause? Was this all agreed to in the fine print?  I guess I (along with most people) am happy to play along as long as it is free.

Side Note: Here is where I learned about Featured snippets in search:”

Featured Snippet aspects highlighted using Skitch

Featured Snippet aspects highlighted using Skitch

  • Google is really helpful and want you to see it better.
  • The snippet is “extracted programmatically” from a  top hit website once it recognises the question you want answered.
  • The hyperlink featured is the website where the snippet was retrieved: a very well linked overview from Cornell Univeristy Law School.


Next I read Internet Privacy is the Wrong Conversation,  discussed how there is really no such thing as online privacy and that we should be demanding transparency, work to understand the 5W’s of tracking (our online behaviour) and not to conflate (and therefore confuse people and make it political) security with privacy.


flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Tracking happens – get over it.  

The article goes on to state, The conversation we should be having isn’t about absolute privacy, as the European Union seems to believe, but about transparency.

And further:

“Rather than today’s often-impenetrable privacy statements, companies should publish a detailed, dumbed-down description of their tracking procedures. When you visit a website, who is that website sharing its data with?”

Confusing road sign in New South Wales, Australia

Purposefully Confusing By Chelm261 CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This so resonated–who has ever read a privacy/user agreement for Facebook (for example)…let alone understood it, other than the lawyers who crafted it? Most people can’t possibly be fully aware of what they are agreeing to–I know I’m not.

Finally, this article details the latest debate relating to privacy vs security.  Major players are Apple vs FBI/US Government and it has been grabbing my attention lately. You can download this Smart Tech Podcast to your device and learn about it on your commute, too.  (Great podcast for keeping in the loop about technology/devices…)

Basically  the US government is trying to force Apple to write code to help the FBI unlock the cellphone of a suspect in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino.  Apple is refusing to buckle under pressure from the government to unlock phones and claims writing such code poses a threat to privacy everywhere and warns it could set a precedent for government interference in this open customer letter .

FBI director James Comey says in his op-ed:

“We have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure: privacy and safety.  That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living.”

Well, it begs to the question, who should solve it?  It seems to me, the American people don’t have much of a say beyond opinion polls, as the article suggests.  But maybe that is enough.

“What’s important to understand about the San Bernadino iPhone case is that its very existence is a public relations manoeuver.”

The article points to the timeliness with which the FBI is using this case to push their agenda: after recent terrorist attacks in Europe, when it is likely


What if the master key gets out there?
flickr photo shared by sk8geek under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

to have the most public sympathy and support. Apple claims there is no way to write code that simply unlocks one phone–there would be the equivalent of a master key, and once available, could be used again and again –by anyone with this knowledge.

Apparently there is no current legislation surrounding encryption, so the debate is allowed to flourish.  What’s crazy to me is that simply because the US government seems to believe they can force Apple (okay, also a US company) to abide by whatever legislation they come up with, the whole world (any Apple user) must suffer the consequences?

flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

From Switzerland to Israel with love: examining (digital) neutrality

After dropping out of the Coetail world for a couple of weeks, (and the online world in general–”vacationing” with twin toddlers in Israel with limited wifi…my activity reduced 

Requisite charming vacation pic posted

Requisite charming vacation pic posted

to lying in bed late at night with my phone, eyes blinded by tears, sand and exhaustion, but still determined to post those darn vacation pics!)


I returned home with my first assignment a week late and began to read the plethora of fellow Coetailers’ posts on the digital footprint.

I first read Amber’s post as she recently emailed me about a possible collaboration for course 2’s final project.  Amber reflects on her “personal vs professional” digital spaces and references articles warning us to avoid posting incriminating things in case your future boss sees.  (How you are embarrassing yourself online without knowing .) Why are these catchy and ominous titles so addictive?

I replied:

The quote about the innocuous statements you make on facebook really struck me…as I think about “liking” references to 4.20, for example. (Or highlighting that fact here!) But in all seriousness, I would hope employers (and anyone judging someone entirely on what is posted on social media) take what they see with a grain of salt, and understand that people change and their understanding of what is appropriate and what is not changes…unfortunately for a lot of young kids, that learning curve is very public. You are right –it is part of our job to get kids thinking about their digital selves and digital etiquette. Already I have had discussions with my 4 and 5 year olds about posting questionable pictures of others–me included (!) to our class blog and we have had to come to certain agreements about this.

The opening lines of Layla’s post grabbed me.  She wrote a beautifully worded, researched and analyzed article discussing our quest for identity…and how the internet is changing how that quest is undertaken, and how it can be manipulated to work for or against us.  She references an article by Meredith Scroeder to highlight the idea that

removing chunks of information that violate one person’s right to forget may in fact violate another individual’s freedom of speech and right to know.”

This highlighted quote made me immediately think of this picture:

Okay--I went ahead and posted it...this is an exercise for educational purposes, surely a higher calling than mere entertainment.

Vacationing with toddlers can go from barely surviving the day to this at any point. Pooped on and naked in the street.

I respond to Layla:

Thank you for your thought provoking post and helpful links. Like Brendon, I also wonder similar things…what happens when the views or ideas we may have expressed in the past have changed, and yet the digital ties to us are there forever…or when our well meaning friends and relatives tag us in silly or even offensive posts…

I myself am currently debating whether to post certain hilarious to me pictures during a recent vacation, but potentially embarrassing to my children in the future. Should I be posting pictures of them at all? They are toddlers and can’t give their consent…

Okay–so I went ahead and posted it…this is an exercise for educational purposes, surely a higher calling than mere entertainment.Does my action violate my child’s right to forget? Or Dad’s right?

Next I read Jon’s post about moving from a neutral footprint (previously a focus in many inquiries into digital citizenship) to a deliberately positive footprint.  I was left worrying and wondering at my relative lack of footprint, thanks to this article and after taking Lisa Nielson’s Digital Footprint quiz and realised I need to work harder to put myself out there in a positive and proactive way.   

I wrote to Jon,

I liked your comment about moving your “neutral digital footprint to a positive one.”  I feel I had been mostly working hard (okay, not that hard) to maintain relatively neutral online, lest I offend someone.  This approach only works to a point, as you mentioned in your “scare tactics” with your first graders–“Posting mean things online will get you into a lot of trouble” or “How would you feel if someone said something rude to you online?”   But I see this neutrality has left me without much of a digital footprint at all.  (Darn, I’ll blame it on living in Switzerland!)

It’s actually harder work to continuously seek ways to showcase our positive contributions–we have to go out of our way to write nicely worded comments on someone else’s blog or Facebook posts…the ‘like” button is way too easy.  But this this effort is worthwhile in the end, and is a good way to move that neutral footprint (both ours and our students)  to a positive one.


From the security wall in the West Bank, Bethlehem.

Shot taken mid spray!  The security wall in the West Bank, Bethlehem.


Finally, it seems to me there is still a war of ideologies going on when it comes to Social Media & Technology in the classroom.  On the one hand there are articles like this, basically telling us to use common sense when using Facebook as teachers, but at the same time informing us of different school districts who have taken matters into their own hands and outright banning communication via all social media between teachers and students.  And then there are more progressive approaches to Social Media, and selling the importance of “having the opportunity to publish online with your name attached.”

While one approach takes away freedom of expression, the other encourages it.  If there is one thing I learned while traveling with toddlers in Israel-it’s that everyone wants to be free and be heard.