Fun, Dearly Bought

Camping was great. We laughed, we drank, it was better than Cats. The drive to and (especially) the drive home from camping, however, were the antithesis of great. B and I have decided that we're not driving further than the north bay for 1 year. If we get to do another Oregon trip in that time, I'll choke down my pathological fear and we'll fly. After 8 hours in traffic jams yesterday, B and I were miserable.

My pictures, while poor even by my low, low standards, will still be uploaded in a day or so (in the meantime, E's pictures look great, as always.)

On to a more sobering topic. The word got out over the weekend that a prof found a blog of a grad student and complained to a certain faculty committee. A ripple of panic washed over the tiny e-community of SC-based history bloggers and by this morning everyone was offline. K and I are the only ones left, and I don't know either way if she's going to stay around (correction: Tiny's still here, but she's password-protected now.)

At first, I was really angry. This is our space. These posts are written for friends or friends-of-friends. We use them to vent, we use them to amuse, we use them to take up time while we're supposed to be doing something else. Googling us and holding what we said in the relative anonymity of the internet against us is cheap, it's a dirty trick, it's bad.

But then I thought about it for 45 seconds and realized that I could never win that argument. The internet is not a "relatively anonymous space," it's the most public space that has ever existed in human history. In IT it's well known that the worst kind of "security" is so-called security-through-obscurity, where you just try to make your system kind of hidden rather than actually closing it off from potential threats. The same principle applies to each of our online worlds. I don't have the right to be angry that up until last night googling my name + the city I live promptly brought up my old blog, which would promptly lead you to my current one.

So in the end, I made two decisions: I'm not shutting down KFR, but I will sanitize it and everything else I do on the internet, even more than I do already. Only initials, including for city names. References to academia will be wrapped in layers of obfuscation such that quick-and-easy google searches won't bring them up. I'll delete my Friendster account (I feel kind of bad about that, since I was able to get in touch with people I had lost touch with via Friendster, but it's the one place on the internet where I'm listed with my real name and a link to this blog.) Etc. etc. etc.

I'm still kind of sore about this, but one irked prof is better than a job lost because of an idle blog post. Ultimately, we could all stand to be even more paranoid.


Jeff said...

Hey...just saw your post re: your Friendster account. you can take your profile private and not show your last name. We have a variety of privacy features and settings so users can tailor the experience any way they choose. Hope this helps.

-Jeff from Friendster

Queen Sieve said...

I'm staying on. I checked my posts and I'm going to keep things cleaner with with initials as well. If I can't say it in front of my students/in-laws/potential employer, I won't say it. But I do think I'm going to go to password protect as well.

Cabiria said...

Wow, that really sucks. I guess it is worth it to be more paranoid or password-protected or whatever, but still. Sorry so many people have left the internets because of that.

And on another note, sorry to miss you all this weekend, but it sounds like you had a great time!

The Goat said...

hey, kfr: I went through the exact same thought process as you. In the same order, even. I am totally in agreement. But I had to take my blog down anyway.

And start a new one, which I will keep public. I feel strongly about this, even though I am pretty sure I am in the wrong. I will pass my blog address to you privately. And probably continue to talk shit until my career prospects end up being office maintenance or plumbing. But that's cool, because I hear plumbers make a shit-ton of money.

kungfuramone said...

Dude: that's bold. And, just as AC/DC would, I salute you.

Rachel said...

mine is kept relatively clean already because my mom reads it. :) I'm sorry to hear about that - I think I blogged once about a woman who was refused a teaching license because of online pictures.

On another note, ditto Cabiria's comment. :) Looks like y'all had a blast!

Dr. Science said...

Disclaimer: I know nothing about the specifics of who found what on whose blog, and why they didn't like it.

That said, I'm totally against this self-censoring. I think people need to find a new fucking hobby if the highlight of their day is to deliberately google someone and then get pissed off about what they find. There's a lot of material in the world that people can find offensive. But we all have the choice to ignore such material if we don't like it. If it's not hurting anyone, then why waste your time with it? Find something more constructive to do.

Due to inflation, my $0.02 has lost considerable market value.

kungfuramone said...

Not at all! Your $0.02 is like precious bodily fluids around here!

The deal with this particular situation is that we (grads) could be held accountable down the line, professionally, for things we wrote casually in blogs. We were not told to stop, only to be careful since there are a lot of sensitive (read: emotionally stunted) people in this business, and getting a job involves a lot of very subjective choices (read: people hire you if they like you to nearly the same degree that you have to publish.)

So: it's bullshit, but it's predictable bullshit.

crashcourse said...

I made the choice to delete my "social networking site" accounts for a similar reason, being a teacher and all. I've been pretty careful to avoid names and any recognizable schoolish photos as well.

tip-toe, through the bullshit, la, la, la, la... you know that song.

Dolce Vita said...

I'm glad that you're going to buck the trend and keep blogging. We can just talk shit about one other, ok? :)

You also solved the mystery of the vanishing blogs for me. I am all for password-protected blogs (I have one of my own and it works great.)

Since you and B won't be driving further north of the bay for the next year, you should head south and visit me! I discovered on my recent trip to the Bay Area that the Alaskan current is to blame for all of those cold beaches. That is not the case here. It is worth visiting if only for the beaches!

FOSCO said...

Sad news, Ramone. Academia is stupid.

Like any of us are going to get jobs anyway...

kungfuramone said...

Well said, mysterious fellow SC person!