Debating my role in the information society

I had a dream awhile back where I was nothing but information and that every job application and public revelation was like taking a layer or a limb. So maybe it isn't so surprising that I'm finding myself a bit discombobulated with the world at the moment. A day or so ago - somehow it slipped under the blog radar - I sent out what I anticipate as the last major push of applications, putting the grand total at 15. And having those little type written simulacra of myself floating around and being judged with me in absentia is always a bit nerve-wracking.

And yesterday, life in the information society caught up with me just a bit as my worst (Facebook) fear came true and a student found my profile and requested that I be their friend. I'll be curious to talk to my class about whether they ever agonized over the question the way I did.

And yesterday evening, I received a request for information from Who's Who in America, which actually feels like a scam to me, though I've read all the reviews. Really, what I want to know is who nominated me and whether it does anything for me to actually be listed there. In case it hadn't come across in the blog - which nearly always feels obscenely expulsive to me - I'm a pretty private person, and so I don't know that I necessarily want to be a Who's Who. I wonder what they'll do when (if I decide to submit) I refuse to divulge certain pieces of information they ask for?

So how about it, internets, what's your take?

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13 Responses to “Debating my role in the information society”
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kermitthefrog said...

I was invited to participate in a "who's who of high school students" when I was a kid. My impression is that it doesn't do anything either way in terms of popularity/notoriety, but they make all their money from having people buy the volume because they're included in it.

November 8, 2007 at 5:15 PM
Maggie said...

I second kermit's assessment.

And! Your labels make me laugh.

November 8, 2007 at 5:32 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

As a quick side note, here's an article from the New York Times about Who's Who. And here's another about using it for identity theft. Good times.

Kermit - welcome aboard. I'm a big fan of your work (I tried to get you a gig in a previous post but no one bit).

Maggie (why do I always want to call you "Mags"?") - glad the labels are doing their job.

November 8, 2007 at 5:48 PM
Samantha said...

So, what happens when a friend becomes your student?

November 8, 2007 at 8:16 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I haven't had a situation where a friend has become my student, so I can't answer that.

It sounds like a dangerous idea to me. On one hand, there's obvious question of whether it will get in the way of the instructor being able to give honest feedback. On the other hand, not all friendships are capable of handling the level of honest feedback that often goes with critical/educational evaluation.

November 8, 2007 at 11:18 PM
kermitthefrog said...

Speaking of identity theft, I don't think I can claim to speak for the addressee of the earlier post in all things. But I try to maintain similar standards of integrity and silliness.

November 9, 2007 at 12:48 AM
Maggie said...

I don't think that's actually two hands you're dealing with there. It sounds like the same hand to me. Or is that intentional?

I have heard (but have not actually tried it yet) that you can adjust your privacy settings on facebook so that students can't see some info? But then again, maybe your friends can see everything...hrmm. A dilemma. Do I really want my students to throw sheep at me?

November 9, 2007 at 7:52 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'm going to stick with it being a two handed debate, in part because I'm reading the question as something distinct from the Facebook dilemma. The first hand focuses on how the instructor will deal, the second hand is about how the "friend-then-student" will cope.

As for Facebook, there are controls to help limit what's seen by who, and I've largely locked my profile down. You can see a picture of my dog but not what my "friends" are writing on my wall.

November 9, 2007 at 1:33 PM
Professor Zero said...

Who's Who: no. It's tacky.

Facebook: fear not. I got on it *so that* I could communicate with the students. University e-mail does not always work well, the server goes down, etc., but Facebook mail always works. And since members can subscribe to groups, you can communicate with your classes. This is good when WebCT is down.

The students ask anyone they know to be their friend. Some have 1,000 friends. So the invitation to be a friend is not a request for serious engagement.

Other topic: I like your blog.

November 10, 2007 at 2:17 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Prof Zero - thanks for the tips, and glad you're enjoying yourself. I'd say I aim to please, but mostly I aim to grumble around these parts. The rest comes at no extra cost though.

November 10, 2007 at 12:10 PM
Professor Zero said...

Oooh, do I sound like I am enjoying myself? I am pleased. I am generally dissatisfied and I am on a campaign to have more fun, regardless. Maybe it is working?

November 10, 2007 at 2:19 PM
Notorious Ph.D. said...

What Kermit said: they don't charge you to be in it, but they expect that contributors and their families will buy up copies. It's a very successful play on either the vanity or insecurity that plagues 90% of the human population. Don't fall for it.

November 11, 2007 at 9:46 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

What's really intriguing - aside from whether Doc Zero is having fun or not (and I have really debated this today) - is that doing searches for the Who's Who turns up tons of moments where the New York Times and other fairly reputable sorts of sources do rely on it.

Seems like an odd schism to me. And, of course, I'm curious who through my name in the ring (if indeed someone did).

November 11, 2007 at 10:26 PM