Trending Now

View All
Ad
Ad
Ad

LEARNING & SHARING IN THE OPEN

Writing about the things I discover, uncover, make, teach and try to invent. Inspired by you.

OPEN EDUCATION

Tinkering with ways to make learning more accessible, collaborative and meaningful through community empowerment and OER.

OPEN SOURCE

Open Source software developer, contributor, and participation architect. FOSS changed my life – paying it forward as mentor and teacher for others.

OPEN LEADERSHIP

Exploring ways to empower community leadership through ‘learn by leading’ opportunities and content.

OPEN SCIENCE

Personal goals for helping #OpenCancer, but have figure out how to make a difference as a contributor.

Latest Updates

View All

Open Science

View All
Ad
Ad
Ad

Blog Highlights

Escaping the Economy of Souls — Starting with Facebook (in 4 steps)

“I think it’s time for a reclamation movement.” –

Tim Wu author of The Attention Merchant in a talk at @ Mozilla Toronto last week

A little over two months ago, I removed the web-warping, soul exploiting, goggles of a ‘free’ Facebook account — free as in guinea pig. I lost my best friend and partner to cancer around this time, and Facebook knew that.

I found myself staring at content curated just for me — a Ted Talk about end of life care, cancer foundations, hospital foundations, an ‘inspiring’ story of a boy who survived cancer, and a review of ‘Option B’, Sheryl Sandburg’s book on grief… I had joined her Facebook group, but they knew that too:

And there I was, as if waking in a horror movie finding vile tentacles of a venomous creature wrapped around me, I saw; I witnessed and felt the cost of free. The cost of my well being, of dignity and for all those around me — the cost of my attention, focus and awareness of the world around me.

Was my feed part of an experiment or just really shitty and cruel algorithms? Facebook doesn’t hide the fact it’s learning from people like me during personal crises. Rather, it publishes reports on the findings:

And probably what upset me the most was that Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook, whose book I liked and shared, who should be protective of people in grief was bringing large numbers of people to her Facebook group —so much heartbreak, so much trauma data. And Sheryl is aware…

“ However, the company was widely criticised for manipulating material from people’s personal lives in order to play with user emotions or make them sad.

In response on Thursday, Facebook said that it was introducing new rules for conducting research on users with clearer guidelines, better training for researchers and a stricter review process.

But, it did not state whether or not it would notify users — or seek their consent — before starting a study.”

— BBC News “Facebook admits failings over emotion manipulation study”

The reason I write this is to wake you up as well, although you are likely partially there — you need to get all the way there. Please stumble with me to some type of reclamation movement, it’s important for humanity (no exaggeration). Facebook, and others in the economy of souls design addictive technology to keep us there.

I’ve used the same excuses you are. The spine of Facebook’s business model is your contact list — and this should be the center of reclaim.

Below are the steps I’ve taken to wean myself off Facebook and my contact list off Facebook for good. I want an empowered online life, and I want that for you too.

Step 1 — Snap out of it!
I really hope you don’t have to lose someone close to you, or go through a trauma or tragedy to see the impact of your data being used against you. If you need inspiration watch Tim Wu’s talk and embrace the message that ‘free’ is not free. Read Facebook’s data policy, and remember they never said they would stop doing this.

Step 2— Get Facebook Messenger, Disable Facebook
Didn’t see that one coming did you? As much as Messenger annoyed me, being a separate App, what it provides is the ability to fully disable Facebook itself, but keep messaging for a transition period — which can be as long as you need it to be. You can still talk to, and share photos with grandma.

Think of Messenger as nicotine gum for FB addiction. Not great, still being tracked, but will likely get you further than cold turkey.

This one step means you you’re unplugged from:

Fake News
Like/Reactions
Mindless feed scrolling
Interacting in groups
Unsolicited emotional reactions to content
But keep:

Messaging
Sharing photos,
Group conversations
And slowly start migrating people to other tools for chat and conversation. Let them know why.

Step 3— Curate Personal Content
Even though you spent a lot of time reading content on Facebook, chances are you’ve read fake news, crappy click bait and remained in a filter bubble of your own opinions. There’s a whole world out there!

Subscribe(yes pay) to actual newspapers with real reporters. I now subscribe to the New York Times, and support local journalism with a subscription as well.
Use good tools. I like Flipboard, and organize all ‘read later’ content into Pocket, which is my goto for the times I would normally have opened Facebook. Remember we’re dealing with addiction — replace habits with new ones.
Watch Netflix or read a book. Step away from news and the world and escape. ‘Attention Theft’ of Facebook really makes sense to me now I realize how many extended periods of time are available to me.
Follow people unlike yourself on Twitter. I know Twitter has issues, but one thing at a time.
Step 4 — Influence others
I feel like a tiny drop in the ocean, but when people tell me their is on Facebook, I tell them I’m not on Facebook and so require another way. I see others doing this too. Even public pages on Facebook are not public — they’re draped in a kind of ‘free membership paywall’, that hides half the page if you’re not logged in.

Facebook groups are not good for forums, there are (much, much) better and open source forums. Suggest alternatives.

Tell people why you’re not on Facebook, but not in an arrogant kind of way — more like ‘I quit smoking because my kids need me to live’ kind of way that makes people reflect on their own health.
Step 4 — Turn off Facebook Messenger
Turn off Facebook Messenger. I haven’t done this yet, but I am using it less and less. I probably use it 3 x a week for people I haven’t moved over to other communications yet.

Go explore the web again.

Step 1 — Snap out of it!
I really hope you don’t have to lose someone close to you, or go through a trauma or tragedy to see the impact of your data being used against you. If you need inspiration watch Tim Wu’s talk and embrace the message that ‘free’ is not free. Read Facebook’s data policy, and remember they never said they would stop doing this.

Step 2— Get Facebook Messenger, Disable Facebook
Didn’t see that one coming did you? As much as Messenger annoyed me, being a separate App, what it provides is the ability to fully disable Facebook itself, but keep messaging for a transition period — which can be as long as you need it to be. You can still talk to, and share photos with grandma.

Think of Messenger as nicotine gum for FB addiction. Not great, still being tracked, but will likely get you further than cold turkey.

This one step means you you’re unplugged from:

Fake News
Like/Reactions
Mindless feed scrolling
Interacting in groups
Unsolicited emotional reactions to content
But keep:

Messaging
Sharing photos,
Group conversations
And slowly start migrating people to other tools for chat and conversation. Let them know why.

Step 3— Curate Personal Content
Even though you spent a lot of time reading content on Facebook, chances are you’ve read fake news, crappy click bait and remained in a filter bubble of your own opinions. There’s a whole world out there!

Subscribe(yes pay) to actual newspapers with real reporters. I now subscribe to the New York Times, and support local journalism with a subscription as well.
Use good tools. I like Flipboard, and organize all ‘read later’ content into Pocket, which is my goto for the times I would normally have opened Facebook. Remember we’re dealing with addiction — replace habits with new ones.
Watch Netflix or read a book. Step away from news and the world and escape. ‘Attention Theft’ of Facebook really makes sense to me now I realize how many extended periods of time are available to me.
Follow people unlike yourself on Twitter. I know Twitter has issues, but one thing at a time.

Step 4 — Influence others
I feel like a tiny drop in the ocean, but when people tell me their is on Facebook, I tell them I’m not on Facebook and so require another way. I see others doing this too. Even public pages on Facebook are not public — they’re draped in a kind of ‘free membership paywall’, that hides half the page if you’re not logged in.

Facebook groups are not good for forums, there are (much, much) better and open source forums. Suggest alternatives.

Tell people why you’re not on Facebook, but not in an arrogant kind of way — more like ‘I quit smoking because my kids need me to live’ kind of way that makes people reflect on their own health.

Step 4 — Turn off Facebook Messenger
Turn off Facebook Messenger. I haven’t done this yet, but I am using it less and less. I probably use it 3 x a week for people I haven’t moved over to other communications yet.

Teaching Kids Programming

I’m an Senior Software Developer, working in Victoria BC for the past 12 years. Currently I work at Royal Roads University with Moodle, Drupal(Yay Drupalcon Denver!) and a number of other Open Source projects. I love what I do, and being a part of the Open Source community. I’m also mother to three beautiful girls and a proud community volunteer.

Most recently I’m focusing my volunteer-energy as a new and enthusiastic follower of the Mozilla initiative Hackasaurus and Open Learning I’ve been following Hive Toronto an Hive NYC , and I would like to see Victoria – or ‘Techtoria’ as we like to call ourselves out here, adopt something similar.

I am getting started teaching kids at Ecole Poirier in Sooke using Hackasaurus OER . I’m really excited.

Victoria

Well, VIATEC seems like they might be interested in setting up an event like this in Victoria. I’m meeting with them later in February, which should give me enough time to get my resources together (including this site). I’m really just so excited about growing this interest into something the tech and educational communities can embrace. I know kids are keen to learn.

Started an additional powerpoint presentation to go with Hackasaurus . Mostly it’s images of technology – to see if the kids can guess what they are. Some are easy like e-readers, some no-so easy like old-school phone modems 🙂 . I’ll try to keep track of the response with each group (and later I’ll post the ppt file)

More kids, More Learning (for me!)

My meeting with VIATEC isn’t until later in March, which gives me a lot of time to gather information, and get in some more experience teaching kids and getting feedback. Each time I do this, I go through the slide show of technology (new and old) and by a show of hands, ask who recognizes the item. It’s so interesting how random I’m finding these responses so far, no patters other than age groups. It think that < 10, influence is still mainly through parents, so they either have access or they don’t. Most kids know what a smart phone is because, even if their parents don’t have one – someone else in their direct care does (teachers, friends parents etc).

Most kids have no idea what this old modum is:

But then I realized that had as much to do with the phone as the modum – only half the kids can tell me what this is:

Of course I’m purposely trying to trick them. That’s half the fun 😀 Hackasaurus has been a huge hit – usually we take the school home page and make into a Harry Potter page, or just silly stuff about the kids themselves. I’ll try to share the next one here.

Anyway… I’m preparing two presentations for next weeks VIHET conference at the University of Victoria, which should be a good opportunity to practice public speaking and always love the chance to champion open source.