miss_yt: (Batman Beyond by Toketsupuurin)
We're currently studying privacy and surveillance in my information policy class, and we discussed two interesting points. One is that the argument for privacy laws is more effective when one considers the detrimental effects of surveillance on society rather than individuals. The individual argument doesn't hold up well, but the chilling effects of a surveillance mentality on society as a whole are a compelling argument. I think that the "social effect" argument is actually becoming more and more mainstream these days.

The second point is the whole concept of "sousveillance," or giving up on privacy and embracing the transparency created by surveillance culture. Some proponents of sousveillance do stuff like perform in front of security cameras or tape security guards in department stores. Others - for instance, a lot of people in my generation - share their lives on the internet and effectively have no shame, because they don't believe they have anything to hide. Even reality shows are a form of sousveillance.

I am for the sousveillance argument too, because the availability of cameras in the internet makes sousveillance a widely available option. There are websites where people can upload videos or digital snapshots of police brutality, for instance. When it's not just the state, the corporations and the media who have cameras and methods of distribution - when regular people have those things - it changes the balance of power in surveillance. The Big Brother or Panopticon model (both things we talked about in class) aren't really adequate, because they assume that surveillance power is centralized.

Part of the idea of Big Brother or the Panopticon is to make people afraid they are being watched. But what happens when people know they are being watched and don't care?
miss_yt: (The Laughing Man)
I went to visit the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor this weekend. Right now I am in the Detroit Metro Airport waiting for my flight home, having paid entirely too much for about an hour of internet access (I have a problem. I really do. But anyway...)

Before I came here I was pretty much set on Drexel, but I found myself really liking the School of Information at UMI. The staff seem to go the extra mile to help students (or visitors) as a matter of principle, which I heard is not the case at Drexel. The professors are very enthusiastic about teaching their subjects. And the students, while they admit that being a student there is hard work, generally give positive reviews of their experiences.

Now, there are some advantages that Drexel would have over this place, for me: first, it's close to where I live already. Second, I know that if I get in (and I think I will, although I have not heard back from them and it's kind of upsetting me), I know they will cover some of my tuition, and I don't know about that in UMI. Also, Drexel really focuses on the technical aspects of information science, while at UMI, if you want to learn that stuff, you kind of have to go looking for it because it is not emphasized so much in the curriculum.

But honestly, UMI seems to have their act together better, I like the town, and I like the particular specialization I want to do (and this is the last term where they will offer it, before they split it up into smaller specializations). I know I can be proactive enough to find my own more technical classes. I have a good idea of what I need to do, and I don't have to worry too much about funding, although it would be nice if I could get merit scholarships or something. Oh, and UMI is really good about helping their students get jobs, whether part-time jobs during the school year or full-time jobs after graduation. That's nothing to sneeze at.

The University of Michigan would be very far from my family, and from my good friends in Philly. I can make myself living arrangements and get to classes and such in a new place, but I have a hard time making new friends. However, I think in the long term Michigan might be the best place for me - though I should still visit Drexel before I make a final choice.

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miss_yt

August 2011

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