Privacy and Surveillance Slides


Increasing concerns of privacy

1. Do employers have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working? Why or why not?

Personally, in general, I don’t think that employers have the right to do so. Employees don’t get paid by the employers when they are off duty. During this “free time”, they are not in employment relationship, and the employers are not in a superior position and not responsible for employees either, so they don’t have the authority to get to know what the employees are doing outside the workplace. It is unfeasible for the employers to know what their employees are up to 24-7, because the employees are just working for them, not under their custody. It’s understandable that employers monitor what their employees do when they are at work place, it is for organization’s benefit, but if employers do so when employees are not working, I have to say that it is infringing on their privacy. (P.242)

2. Can these cases with professional athletes (Sanderson, 2009) can be applied to (or compared with) other types of employees — such as lawyers, teachers, advertising sales reps, etc. Why or why not?

Well, I don’t think that the cases in Sanderson’s article can be applied to other types of employees. Athletes are a special kind of employees, and they mostly are well-known and draw people’s attention much more than other types of employees. What they do are often eye-catching, and may affect their performance and then their organization’s revenue(P.251). In addition, these athletes are celebrities, and mostly are considered as role models, so they have more social influence no matter they are working or not. But other types of employees, like lawyers, teachers, they don’t have that much fans and normally people wouldn’t “monitor” what they do outside the work place. Besides, what they do when they are not working wouldn’t influence their organizations’ revenue as athletes do.

3. Should people be concerned about the location tracking capabilities discussed by Abe (2009)? Do these technologies have negative aspects?

I don’t think it would be an issue to be worried about. Unless we are suspects or criminals, we need not mind it even if the traces of driving are monitored and stored by the Car-Navi system. (P. 78) It’s true that we expose ourselves by using the information and communication technologies, but we are living in a digital era, it’s like you can’t leave no footprints when walking on the beach,  no one can be invisible and it is impossible to run away from these technologies.Besides, everyone is under the same “surveillance”, not just one or two people are specially targeted. The negative aspect of these technologies I can think of is that we lost some privacy that they use our data for profit purpose. Overall, these technologies brought so much convenience and far outweigh the negative aspects.

4. Is the typical college student’s participation in Facebook an example of Abe’s “peer surveillance”? Why or why not?

In my opinion, Facebook is not a good example of Abe’s “peer surveillance”. Although it has the similar nature with mixi, one of the most popular and biggest social networking services in Japan (P.79), that both of them are social networking websites, it doesn’t has the two main characteristics that are considered as “Peer Surveillance.” First, anyone can sign up on Facebook without an invitation from a member, second, it doesn’t have the “trace record” system that each user can check who visited his/her profile and diary page (P.79). These two features are the place where “peer surveillance” function and make users feel safe and comfortable, which Facebook doesn’t have, so I don’t think it is a good example.

Crowdsourcing: eclecticism

In this week’s reading “WHEN THE MEDIA MEET CROWDS OF WISDON—How journalists are tapping into audience expertise and manpower for the processes of newsgathering” by Karthika Muthukumaraswamy, I found the “News-Press utilities rates” case very interesting. I think the News-Press is very brilliant to use this innovative solution. It’s not surprising that residents of the Cape Coral county of Florida showed so much enthusiasm and initiative for participating in the paper’s investigation into the increasing costs of local public utilities, because that’s the issue related to personal interests, nobody wants to pay more for no reason. The residents utilized their abilities and skills and make the investigation into a team work to figure the whole thing out, and then they got a good outcome. We can see the power of crowdsourcing from the case, and it didn’t cost the News-Press much for the process. What’s more, “the News-Press launched a more structured project, called Team Watchdog.” It gave citizens a way to be “in the role the media plays in keeping government leaders accountable”, said a Team Watchdog group member.  Like Muthukumaraswamy’s article mentioned, citizens “brought to the newsroom  in terms of  expertise and manpower”,  and the crowdsourced journalism’s becoming more and more general, as in this article.

I think “Wisdom of Crowds in General-interest Reporting by Recruiting Generalists and Experts” is a suitable title for the case. Because firstly, “the increasing costs of local public utilities” is related to every resident’s interest, so it’s “General-interest”. Secondly, the News-Press invited local people to join investigation, and the “Generalists” are those “made trips to City Hall to question public officials, and obtained internal city memos to help uncover the truth behind the increased prices.” “Experts” are those with specific areas of expertise, engineers, lawyers, and accountants, who can interpret some certain documents.

In my opinion, the News-Press case is a good example of crowdsourcing. Like Jeff Howe defined “crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.  Although News-Press’s crowdsourcing is different  from the  in the article “Africa’s Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis” device using, “undefined, large group of people or community” did contribute a lot.  As Muthukumaraswamy stated,“one of the biggest advantages of crowdsourcing, of course, is to use expert help in areas where journalists traditionally lack training.”  If the citizens didn’t step in the investigation, only reporters or journalists probably wouldn’t be able to find out the reason of increased prices, for it’s hard to understand blueprints and balance sheets for people without certain knowledge.

Remix:a way of reminiscing

This is the very first time I make a rideo. I picked some classic cartoons, and when I was remixing them, lots of memories rushed back.

I think remix is a way to reminisce or commemorate childhood or good times.

It’s hard to say whether remixing is a creation or not, but I do agree with the A Remix Manifesto video that  sharing is the nature of creation, and everything came from something else.  Besides, these cartoons are not “pure creation”, they all came elsewhere.

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Online activists: guardians of liberty

After I read Rohlinger and Brown’s article and found the organization like American Civil Liberty Union, I think I got a new knowledge of online activism. Like Rohlinger and Brown stated in their article “the Internet engages individuals in a broader range of activities—and this has important implications for democratic processes.”

It took me quite a long time to look for an organization’s website, since I barely knew one before. After plenty of research, I decided to choose the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union).  ACLU is the “nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” It was established in 1920, and according to Wikipedia, “the ACLU reported over 500,000 members in 2010.”  ACLU has the clear layout as, anonymous comments, functional links, related news updates and pictures, no advertisements, etc. ACLU encourage participants to give them support or donation then be a part of protecting rights and liberty, and it also “provided members a free space away from the direct control of dominant groups in which they could articulate an oppositional point of view” mentioned in Rohlinger and Brown’s article.

Meanwhile, there are some differences between and ACLU as well. Firstly, signing up on needs to provide name, E-mail and whole mail address while ACLU is even simpler that only needs the E-mail and zip code. Secondly, ACLU has a functional link to their blog, but I didn’t see it on Those blog posts are divided into many different categories like Capital Punishment, Free Speech, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, and Racial Justice etc. These posts are about ACLU recently helped people (no matter are their members or not) who has been suffering unequal treatment to defend their rights. Such as the newest one “The Best Person (Andre Cooley) for the Job…Fired for Being Gay”, the ACLU has filed suit on behalf of Andre. Thirdly, they have different missions. ACLU is more concerned about individual rights and liberties, and it gives those online activists a chance to be guardians of liberty, while is focused on political action and “enables progressive activists to talk to one another and challenge corporate power”.

In addition, I wasn’t aware of that Burma is one of the most censorious nations before I read Talbot’s article. I don’t think censorship can ever be a smart move because people are not easy to be fooled and they can always find a way to see the uncensored version.  I really agree with Rohlinger and Brown that “the Internet provides a unique mediated space, and social movement groups that understand how to meaningfully organize a citizen’s experience in this space have the potential to effect social change”, and it “provides an alternative media space for those that disagreed with the policies and challenges the power structure.”

Gain Political Knowledge through the Daily Show?

Honestly I’ve never heard of the Daily Show before, and we don’t have like political comedy this kind of formats in China, so watching the Daily Show is a brand new experience. I’ve never been into political news before,   and I think I’m one of the “less politically interested viewers”, according to Xenox and Becker.

The Daily Show I watched is Oct.5 –Bruce Willis. At first, Jon Stewart talked about  America’s apology to Guatemala for intentionally and secretly infecting people with STDs which happened more than 60 years ago. In “syph happens” segment, Jon said “by the way Guatemalan syphilis experi-mint—worst Ben and Jerry’s flavor ever.” Probably because of my lack of the background knowledge or my English comprehension, I didn’t “get the joke”.  I guess Jon thought  that the apology was pointless so he made  fun of it?  Afterwards, he talked about the Green the Army with Jason Jones.  I really thought Jason was a senior military analyst, but after I googled him it turned out that he is an actor. Then Lewis Black came up, I  thought it was serious. (Is it me or he really looks like Colin Powell? ) The second one I watched is Oct.06–Philip Dray. Jan began with the indecision 2010, I didn’t understand quite well either, but the north and south Delaware was really funny.  Afterwards, I went to Google to check whether Jason Mycoff is a real professor of University of Delaware or not.  I totally agree with Xenos and Becker that political comedy “to operate more as a news enhancer than a news supplement, especially for less engaged viewers who are most likely to come to political comedy without a particularly extensive existing stock of political knowledge.”  And I think “soft news” make the stories not that boring, particulaly for those who never watch ‘hard news’ like me.

When I was browsing Google News, I found myself was not very into political news. I looked the story like  “Beijingers should get back on their bikes” and “How bad is McDonald’s food”, other political news were hard for me to start to read.  The only political news I actively searched was what I heard from the Daily Show, then to find out what the real issues were, like the syphilis experiments, which is similar to the Xenos and Becker respondents.

I will continue to watch the Daily Show.  Although I’m probably one of “individuals who watch soft news shows do so primarily in serach of entertainment, not enlightenment” according to Baum. Based on the two epidodes I know those news are not totally made up, and it made me curious about the real issue to look up hard news then gain factual political knowledge .  I think Xenos and Becker is right that “comedy may serve to help less politically interested viewers gain information and understanding of political issues on the nation’s agenda. “