CC.2: Week 1, introductions

What brings you to LFP? What are your personal goals for this course?

What brings me to LFP is a real concern about search engine behavior affecting people’s getting the most relevant responses to their queries. It’s a freedom of information issue and functions like censorship; trained information professionals (librarians) need to be where the action is around developments concerning this, particularly if they’re of a regulatory kind.

What brings me to LFP is an increasing unease with how libraries - and government, and schools - tend to approach technology instruction and access. Treating device/internet access as a pure, unmitigated good, without providing a grounding to my community in basic privacy protection, nor building out infrastructure that provides some privacy protection beyond deleting session data, feels like malpractice. Like I’m actively putting people in harm’s way - from scams, from surveillance, from misinformation - and just swapping one problem for another. My personal goals are to A) develop some ideas about how to weave privacy and antisurveillance into every tech service we offer at my library and B) meet rad people who are also about radical libraries.

2 Likes

I found LFP on a whim! I was preparing for a data privacy workshop last spring when I started searching for what other libraries had done when I came across LFP’s page. Once I learned more about the project, I definitely wanted to join the group to improve the workshop for the next go-around. I hope to learn how I can educate students, faculty, and staff on protecting their digital footprint while using our databases. Also, one problematic database that comes to mind is NexisUni ( :nauseated_face: ). Has anyone else used it?

1 Like

I wanted to share from reading The California Ideology how eerily prescient I found this passage 'Nationally, the triumph of Gingrich’s neoliberals in the legislative elections was based on the mobilizations of “angry white males” against the supposed threat from black welfare scroungers, immigrants from Mexico and other uppity minorities.

'The hi-tech industries are an integral part of this racist Republican coalition. However, the exclusively private and corporate construction of cyberspace can only promote the fragmentation of American society into antagonistic, racially-determined classes."

And also to ask a question (from the same reading) ? “After twenty years, we need to reject once and forever the loss of nerve expressed by post-modernism.” (emphasis mine) Can somebody give some examples of what’s meant by that? The old philosophy major in me wants to know :slight_smile:

I stumbled upon LFP on accident but was immediately interested. I work with patrons and computers daily and run into many privacy and surveillance concerns. I often have to explain to patrons about scams or help them though the steps of recovering from identity theft. I can’t count how many times a patron has told me their social security number or passwords without me prompting.

I hope this course will ultimately help me help my patrons to understand the importance of protecting their identity and to open discussion between other staff members on how to better handle privacy concerns.

I’m not sure how I learned about LFP, but I applied for the crash course because I felt like privacy was an area where I didn’t have a great sense of how to connect what knowledge I had to my actual work practice - how to talk about it in a way that’s approachable to patrons, how to start conversations about it with my colleagues, and just how to make patrons aware that privacy is something the library does (I live and work in a working-class and heavily-policed neighborhood). So personally during the course, I’m hoping to bridge that gap some, and I’m also really looking forward to having a group of people to hear from/generate ideas with during that process.

I’ll be honest - I don’t remember how I found out about LFP haha. I have a habit of going down internet rabbit holes during work, which is how I found out about the organization. I saw that they had courses and I applied!

Part of the reason I applied is because I want to do more computer and internet instruction at my library. We serve a mid-size population in Blue Island that also includes many people from the south side of Chicago who use our reciprocal services. We don’t have the budget to support these people the way they deserve (which is another issue entirely), and as the programming librarian I’m always looking for creative ways to bring educational opportunities for cheap or free. Similar to what @NinaRivera said above, I often have to explain to patrons about scams, internet privacy, identity theft, and other online privacy issues. Many people come to the library for computer access, as the only “smart” device they have are phones, which frequently don’t work with the services and websites they need to access. There’s a big need for computer literacy and education classes in our community and I’m hoping to bring what I learn through this course to the community!

I have been concerned about the impact of corporate and state use of technology for a long time. Unfortunately, my attention to state actors didn’t come until a little later on. There are so many ways that the information gathered is being used (both known and unknown) and the implications are far-reaching in both online and physical spaces.

I hope to learn more about how to engage with others around the importance of protecting individual privacy and contribute to the advancement of collective action through our politics. I also look forward to the opportunity to be in conversation with this group around these issues.

I don’t remember exactly how I found LFP. But a colleague recommended the crash course specifically. I personally would like to leave with a new privacy program. Students are often unaware of how their data is being used by their academic institution and in general I think the impact that technology and the biases they contain is not really well understood. So i want to be as knowledgeable as possible on how to educate others.

Hey all, I want to apologize for having to leave early so I could pick up kids - I really wanted to hear everybody’s intros! I don’t know if anyone else has kids, but childcare was hard to find in the Before Times and it’s even more of a mess now - something I hope to have straightened out before this course ends, but if I duck out the last half hour, that’s why. Sorry!

1 Like

YESSSS ANOTHER PHILOSOPHY MAJOR
I read it as equating post-modernism with relativism - and a relativist wouldn’t have the “nerve” to reject a harmful ideology? But I will also admit that the first reading for this week made me realize how out of practice I am reading academic-speak.

Hi everyone. It was nice meeting you all earlier. As I mentioned on the call, I’ve been involved in some local organizing around closing an ICE detention center in my city and that led me to want to learn more about protecting the privacy of the people in my community.

I am also excited to hear that a bunch of people are in the Abolitionist Library Association. We have a full-time cop at every branch in my library system, but there is a growing sentiment among my fellow library workers that we should end our relationship with the city police department.

Lastly, I have some experience as a union organizer, so I’m happy to share whatever knowledge I’ve picked up over the years with those who wish to unionize or strengthen their current unions. The labor movement has always been subject to employer surveillance so I’m hoping that the skills we learn from LFP can be used for labor organizing too.

2 Likes

So awesome to find a fellow philosopher, and I’m all about resting on my laurels! POMO always seemed to me a little too “whatever you want it to be” shilly-shally, but I think that’s looking at it more as a set of aesthetics. Foucault was saying some definite things about power, if you look at the use of his thought in the “Surveillant Assemblage” article, for example. I think it’s possible as whole post-modernists just wanted to avoid being tied to a particular set of values forever and always, recognizing the inevitability of flux, or drift, or whatever you want to call it. And you could argue that rejection of a sort of “eternal truth” is nervy in itself. Or I could be way off base :slight_smile:

Privacy issues are all access issues in this way. Surveillance is nearly always a means of social control, not just in controlling people by letting
them know they’re being watched, but then using the information learned about them to change outcomes. This is also how internet filtering software works – you have to spy on what is being searched for in order to block it.

I’m really looking forward to reading this book about exactly what you’re referring to here. There’s an excerpt in last month’s Logic Magazine. Our uncritical approach to technology adoption is just reproducing systems of injustice, and under the guise of helping people (to be clear – I really believe that most library workers want to help people, but they need better information about technology’s harms).

The whole LexisNexis universe is pretty bad. In particular I’m thinking about their contracts with ICE, but in general, the biggest players in the digital resources space tend to be the worst offenders. I have appreciated Sarah Lamdan’s work around connecting the issues of ICE surveillance with big library vendor mergers and acquisitions; basically, as these companies get bigger and bigger, they go from “traditional publishers” to “content and analytics” companies (often owned by private equity firms), and data becomes their real bread and butter. Here’s a chart of library vendor mergers and acquisitions that was just published in Library Technology.

You’re seeing why I included these readings, because all of them are some kind of crystal ball into the future. The reactionary politics of Silicon Valley have always been there, it’s just been dressed up as pioneering innovation. Those in power did a great job of reproducing the mythical origins stories of the tech guys in a garage coming up with some big idea out of thin air, but the reality is that a combination of government investment (including into public universities), de-regulation, and men from already rich or upper-class families (eg Zuckerberg, Musk, Gates) along with massive injections of cash from Wall Street.

TBH I have no idea what this means :laughing:

Me toooooooo. To me that’s partly a reflection of the trust our patrons put in us, and we can build upon that foundation of trust to help people know more and do differently.

Sadly so common in libraries and one of the major reasons we make LFP totally free, and try to find various paid opportunities for our people so that we can do this work in a sustainable way that gives us the ability to better serve our communities.

You know at this point, I have almost stop distinguishing between the two, because they collaborate so often in their surveillance systems (eg private companies like LexisNexis contributing to ICE’s databases), because their leaders go back and forth through revolving doors from Google to the State Department, because their relationships are symbiotic in so many other ways. Sometimes I’ll think that the state actors are worse, because they have the ability to actually lock people in cages or deport them or cause other enormous harm, but then I think about the geopolitical power of the “Big Tech” companies, which exceeds most governments. It’s a toss up really.

2 Likes

I just got that book off my holds shelf! The author’s interview on Tech Won’t Save Us was this perfect moment of having all of my vague, unfocused worries about libraryland being said out loud in a much more coherent way.

2 Likes

This is interesting to me because in my library system we have “Security Protection Service” or “SPS” guards , which is just a fancy way of saying the library has its own security guards. They are not cops but they look and dress in a coplike uniform even going as far as wearing bulletproof vests and wearing utility belts. Just recently their union voted to carry stun guns which has been…quite a divisive choice between their union and the library worker’s union. They had mandatory one day training a few weeks ago on the use of them.

I took the last LFP crash course, Systems & Policies, and learned so much that I signed up for Programs & Training. My initial interest was related to a project at my library where we evaluate vendors. We were (and still are) concerned about relationships between ICE and Westlaw/Lexis and decided to take a look at all of our major vendors to make sure their values align with our values.

A personal goal of mine is to continue to learn about privacy and to share with co-workers. Really looking forward to continuing to work with the LFP community.

Thanks for sharing this, @nate Nate! I started listening to it and it is quite good. Looking forward to reading the excerpt @alison shared, too.

1 Like

Hi, everyone! Happy to be here! I attended the last crash course and enjoyed meeting awesome privacy-minded library folks. My personal goal is to improve how I communicate with my colleagues about privacy, especially with how we can serve our users in ways that protect them (without surveillance). Convincing colleagues is a slow (oh, so slooooow) and steady process over here, but I hope to gain enough traction that we can make some headway with administration. Even if that’s a bigger and slower process. :woozy_face:

2 Likes