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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's about the privacy, stupid

Google Reader Privacy Settings On my first fix of Google Reader today, I got the pop-up opposite, which leads to the revised Google Reader Sharing FAQ. This is of interest to me for two reasons.

First, Google, no longer locked in a battle to the death with Microsoft (remember them?), is now locked in a battle to the death with Facebook, and is trying to make Facebook look bad by stealing a march on the forthcoming Facebook privacy control changes after the Buzz launch privacy disaster.

But second, we need to make decisions what tools use use with undergraduates on our PLE module next year. Currently, we promote delicious and Google Reader (among other tools), which get a mixed response from the students. Google Reader shared items has always been a pain to administer, and it's not clear that these changes will make it any easier. The pain is self-inflicted due to the fact that we assess student's use of Reader. Students like sharing links via Friendfeed, but they just don't get these other social tools. So it seems to me the options are:
  1. Carry on as before, trying to enforce the use of social tools through assessment.
  2. Present students with the tools but don't try to assess usage, accepting that 95% of them won't use them because "It's not science". (Raising questions of "Why are you doing this to me?")
  3. Roll out Friendfeed in Term 1, encourage sharing and take the risk that it turns into a social rather than a professional/personal development exercise. Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and admit that social networks have won the attention battle?
Vote now!