Monthly Archives: June 2014

Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy and Confidentiality, by Tim McCallum
Time required: ~30 minutes
Number of tasks: 2
Number of quizzes: 2


Privacy and confidentiality is a space of great controversy, in fact I would be hard pressed to write a fiction novel nearly as exciting as the real events which have transpired, in this space, over the last few years.

“In 2013 Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified American National Security Agency documents, sparking a global conversation about citizens’ rights to privacy on the Internet.” (Snowden, 2014)

Earlier this year, Snowden, in exile, gave a TED Talk from a remote location in Russia, via a telepresence robot, which he controlled from his Laptop. During the interview Edward was told “Some people are furious with you. Dick Cheney, for instance, described Julian Assange [1] as a fleabite, and said you are the lion that bit the head off the dog.” (Snowden, 2014)

[1] Julian Assange – best known as the editor-in-chief of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks


Tim Berners-Lee (Inventor of the World Wide Web) with Edward Snowden  at TED. Image taken by Steve Jurvetson CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.



During his Ted talk Snowden said “The biggest thing that an Internet company in America can do today, right now, without consulting with lawyers, to protect the rights of users worldwide, is to enable SSL web encryption on every page you visit” (Snowden, 2014)

We will look at SSL as well as a recent worldwide initiative to implement SSL called “Reset The Net” shortly.

Part 1


“The state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs: the right to privacy; There is so much information about us online that personal privacy may be a thing of the past” (, 2014)


“Having another’s trust or confidence; entrusted with secrets or private affairs”  (, 2014)


In the context of privacy, metadata relates to information about connections; instances of contact between different parties using technologies such as email, voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) and online messenger applications.


Content is the information in the body of the communication. Examples of content include voice, text, data files, videos and images.

Images are particularly interesting as they are now searchable and discoverable on the web.






This image was originally posted to Flickr by Paul Fraser Bird at It was reviewed on 4 February 2013 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.



It is a good idea to check the privacy settings on images which you post to social media sites such as Facebook.

Facebook photo privacy

Facebook provides information about editing privacy settings for photo albums

Facebook video privacy

Facebook also provides information about  video privacy

Part 2 – SSL

Earlier in the introduction we mentioned SSL, let’s take a closer look at it.


Watch the following videos (time required ~ 4 minutes)

Khan Academy video “intro to cryptography encryption” (1:31)

GlobalSign Inc video “What is SSL” (2:15)

[slickquiz id=4]

Reset The Net

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Derek Slater – Google’s Global Policy Manager which gave me a new perspective on privacy, copyright and emerging technologies. I was recently introduced to “Reset The Net” after following a link in an email from Derek.

I have since learned that “Google is upping its efforts … in the wake of last year’s widespread government surveillance revelations by adding encryption to its search engine … Chinese users are already benefitting from the privacy technology … searching for terms in China like … “Tiananmen Square” will no longer attract the attention of the strict government censors monitoring the internet … A recent report from the Washington Post revealed that Google will in future encrypt all searches by default, meaning intelligence agencies like the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) will be met with indecipherable code when monitoring the search engine.” (Cuthbertson, 2014)

Protect Yourself – “The Reset The Net” initiative

Reset The Net has provided a pack which contains information and products for Mac, Windows, GNU/Linux and Phone platforms

The Reset The Net pack also provides information about securing your passwords and adding a second layer of protection using 2-factor authentication. I believe that Google was one of the first companies to introduce 2 factor authentication, the advanced sign in security post on Google’s official blog explains this concept well. Other companies currently using 2 factor authentication include Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Dropbox.

Take a good look at the Reset The Net  – Protect Youself Pack and have a go at the following Quiz

[slickquiz id=3]


Google has begun removing some search results to comply with a European Union ruling. This is a new process and Google processes each request individually. The court set out broad criteria for Google to remove links to information saying that a balance had to be struck between privacy and the public interest when it came to public figures. (ABC News, 2014)

In closing, it is a good idea not to post anything to the internet that you don’t wish to make public. There is the potential for anything on-line to become public. All impressive hacking and espionage aside, issues may arise from something as simple as a close friend (who is able to see your facebook images) innocently downloading and posting your image elsewhere on the web. You never know when you will need your privacy.

As time is precious, I have tried to keep this lesson under the 30 minute mark. If you would like to know more, please ask as many questions as you like in the comments section below.


Snowden, E. (2014). Edward Snowden | Speaker | [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].
Snowden, E. (2014). Here’s how we take back the Internet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014]., (2014). the definition of privacy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2014], (2014). the definition of confidentiality. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2014]
Cuthbertson, A. (2014). Google Begins Encrypting Search in Reaction to Government Surveillance. [online] International Business Times UK. Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].
ABC News, (2014). Google begins removing outdated person search results. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].



Facebook is your Friend, by Tegan Darnell, Librarian


“facebook like thumb” is an image of simple geometry is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship.


Why Facebook?

Love it or hate it, facebook is a fact of life. It is the largest social networking platform in the world with over 1 billion active users and 70 languages supported.

According to Statistic Brain , over 28% of people aged 18-34 check facebook before they even get out of bed in the morning. I admit, I am one of them…

How can I possibly use it professionally?

Facebook is designed for socialising, but it has a number of features which make it ideal for use for professional purposes such as:

1. Professional networking

I am a member of a number of groups on my ‘professional’ facebook account that I would never otherwise get to join in a formal capacity. Via facebook I have access to, and gain an  intimate insight into: ALA (American Library Association) Think Tank, Library Aware Lab, Facebook for Educators

2. Keeping track of blogs, news, and organisations

Among the pages I follow are WIRED, ADFI, CSIRO, Creative Commons, and the University of Southern Queensland. That’s before I even start to mention the University Libraries from around Australia and the world.

3. Groups

Facebook gives you the ability to easily create and manage groups, with a variety of security and privacy settings.

Groups allow you to share documents and files among members, survey members, create group events, and discuss specific topics and issues. They function smoothly for teaching or as discussion forums.

You can set groups as Open (Anyone can see the group, who’s in it, and what members post), Closed (Anyone can see the group and who’s in it. Only members see posts.) and Secret (Only members see the group, who’s in it, and what members post.) as well as separately setting how people can join the group or who can approve members.

4. Create your own Pages

You can set up a professional page, with CV like details, or a page for a service, division or business.

For demonstration purposes only, I have set up my own page here

Some other awesome examples of pages are: University of Queensland Library, USQ Early Childhood Education Lecturer Alice Brown and Edutech Australia

What do I do this week?

1. Set up a facebook account

Many people will already have a facebook account, but if you don’t, or would like to create a new one for the purposes of 23 Things (make sure you are logged out), facebook make it really easy on their homepage:

click on "sign up"

click on “sign up”





You will be asked for your details, and will have to create a password.

signup info








If you are setting up a second, or third, facebook account, you just need to sign up with an email address you have not previously used. Technically, you can have as many facebook identities as you have email addresses.

2. Make Friends!

Friend me, and some of the other 23 Things participants. You can search for people in facebook by entering a name in the search box in the top ribbon of any facebook page:

Search FB



3. Join a group

There is a USQ 23 Things pilot group, which is moderated, so will need to request membership.  Have a play and see if you can find any other groups which appeal to you on a professional level.

If you have already done all three of these things… try and create a group or a page, or experiment with your profile settings.

4. Read the article

You will have to join the 23 Things group for the link…

If you write about your experiences on your blog, you can share your blog post on Facebook or Twitter. Also, you are encouraged to comment and share your Facebook url below.


 Joining the Twitterati, by Carmel O’Sullivan, Librarian

twitter buttons in nest

Twitter Buttons at OSCON by Garrett Heath (CC BY 2.0)





What is Twitter?

Uses of Twitter in the working world

Why should USQ academics use Twitter?

How to get started on Twitter

Task for this week

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a short messaging service showing real time updates (tweets) that are up to 140 characters long. It’s the home of hashtags, celebrity tweets, news, trends, Q&A commentary, and serious academic discussion. We’re most interested in the serious academic discussion.

For the uninitiated, this video from Common Craft explains how Twitter works – in particular the Twitter search facility.

Uses of Twitter in the working world

Twitter is becoming an essential journalist’s tool as it can track real time reactions to, or observations of, breaking news.

With more than 500 million Tweets sent every day in 35 languages, Twitter is also used for marketing and social research, as by to analyse consumer sentiment. Politicians, sporting clubs and celebrities use “town hall” style sessions where they answer questions from the public live via Twitter.

Why should USQ academics use Twitter?

Academics commonly use Twitter to engage in a conversation with colleagues and the general public about their research interests and more. Twitter is most useful as a two way conversation, rather than a place to just post your latest papers. @davidmpyle’s advice is to use Twitter for informed opinion, news, links to new content, and collegiality. Other advice from academic tweeters is to tweet frequently about your research projects and your life, to posts links, be willing to engage with other users, and not get too political/dramatic.

The point of academic tweeting is to be a generous member of an online community. Give to the community by sharing and commenting on current events and research. Show your own personality. By all means tweet references to your own work, but make sure it’s a small part of what you contribute on Twitter. By using Twitter well, you can build a network of potential collaborators, and perhaps even crowd-source information for your teaching or research.

@mrkempnz is a primary school teacher who is using Twitter in the classroom and taking advantage of his large personal learning network to enrich the classroom experience.

This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education outlines Ten “Commandments” of Twitter for academics.

How to get started on Twitter

Step 1 : Create a Twitter account

Go to to set up your account.

My key recommendations are –

  • Use your real name
  • Use a short, easy to spell twitter handle (the @something that shows up next to your tweets)
  • Add an informative biography mentioning your research interests and University
  • Upload a photo – don’t leave the egg head as your avatar!
  • Upload a header photo that represents you or your research. Make sure it’s copyright free.

Step 2 : Download a Twitter app to your mobile device

More than 70% of Twitter users access it via a mobile device. Twitter was made for mobile, and works well in that environment. You can also use Twitter from the web on your desktop. If you spend a lot of time chained to the desk this might be a good option for you. Try out both to see what works.

Step 3 : Create your network

The key to making good use of Twitter is to establish a PLN (Personal Learning Network) of people and bodies whose tweets will appear in your feed. If they also follow you back, your tweets will appear in their feeds.

First, follow some people.

  • Try following some of these people for starters (you can always unfollow them later). @usq23things, @ConversationEDU, @GuardianAUS, @GdnHigherEd, @digitalsci, @PLOS, @HarvardBiz, @mrkempnz , @USQNews, @USQVC, @KenUdas, @researchwhisper, @lolmythesis

Then check who they follow and follow the most interesting ones.

  • You do this by clicking on their name in Twitter to look at their profile, then clicking on the “Following (number)” link to see who they follow.

Next, follow anyone who follows you.

Repeat to build your network

Tip : Try for a balance – you don’t want lots of inane Huffington Post updates cluttering up your feed and making you miss an important research link.

Step 4 : Start interacting on Twitter

  • Read your twitter feed, and re-tweet those that pique your interest.

o    Tip – You’ll get most value from your re-tweets if you make a comment in the retweet. This stamps your personality and interests on the tweet.

o    Click on the double arrows under a tweet to “retweet”it.

  • Tweet from websites. Start looking for the Twitter or share link on articles, and use it to tweet links to them.
  • Respond to people who mention you in their Tweets – it’s only polite.

Some tips about tweeting

  • Hashtags are ways of organising tweets on the same topic. Conferences often display the conference hashtag so that delegates can tweet using that hashtag, making it easier to follow the conference. Similarly sporting, event, or disaster hashtags are frequently used. Public awareness campaigns such as the #YesAllWomen campaign, or the #knowtheline campaign also use hashtags to good effect.
  • Retweets use the prefix RT, followed by the original tweeter’s handle, and the original tweet. This acknowledges the original source of the information and is good Twitter etiquette. By clicking on the double arrows under the tweet you’d like to retweet, these features are automatically added for you.
  • Modified tweets can be preceded by MT to indicate that the content has been modified, though this is not necessarily a ubiquitous practice. Usually the source of the tweet is acknowledged at the end of the tweet with “via @usq23things”.
  • If your tweet starts with someone’s twitter handle (eg @usq23things) then only people who follow both of you can see that post.
  • Tweet pictures or videos – these are eye-catching and tend to be retweeted more.
  • DM, or Direct Messaging is a way of sending a private message to one of your followers. They need to be also following you for DM to work.

Step 5: Organise your incoming tweets

Tasks for this week

  1. Join Twitter if you don’t already have an account
  2. Follow some new people (see the list above of suggestions)
  3. Click on the button below to send a tweet with the #usq23things hashtag
  4. Find an interesting article and tweet a link to it.
  5. Comment on this post with your Twitter handle so that we can all follow you (and you can follow us back)
  6. Reflect in your own blog about this week’s activities.


Let’s get blogging! by Neil Martin, Learning Technologist

blog-224432_640Image credit: Image is in the Public Domain and is covered by a CC0 licence (

First up a disclaimer. There has been plenty written about blogging and some really detailed resources are out there. This article aims to give you a (relatively) quick overview and provide some context and examples. I will post some links to resources at the bottom, so skip to there if you are bit short for time and just want to get going!

What is a blog?

A weblog (or blog for short) is an online space to share your knowledge, expertise and ideas:

  • The author (blogger) writes blog posts to share their expertise in a topical way weaving in their own opinions and insights
  • Individual blog posts are sorted in reverse chronological order with the most recent posts on top
  • Content can be tagged so that readers can search on different key words and categories
  • In most cases posts can be commented on by others to provide contrasting opinions and nurture debate. This content can be moderated for approval before being published, but doesn’t have to depending on context.
  • Many blogs include tools to allow the post to be shared via email or social media and therefore potentially increase the audience and impact

Blogs have been around in various forms for 15 years. The early blogs were particularly popular for those interested in politics where they provided opportunities for political debate in a new medium. Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire blog, for example, was established in 1999 and is still influential today. Since then, the number of blogs has exploded and blogs exist for just about every topic imaginable.

Blogging platforms: Blogger and WordPress

Blogger was one of the first mainstream blogging platforms. As a small startup, it was acquired by Google in 2003 and quickly became the leading tool for writing blogs. It is a hosted service, which means that once you have set up your blog, all your content will be hosted on a dedicated server owned by Blogger.

Blogger is great for:

  • Beginners; a Blogger hosted blog is intuitive to set up and easy to get going
  • Having simple and focused design templates geared towards getting your content out there

The other major blogging platform is WordPress.

WordPress comes with beautiful and modern templates (called themes) as well as a range of plugins that can add richer functionality to your blog.

WordPress comes in two flavours… is a hosted solution on WordPress servers. It has much of the functionality of Blogger but with more freedom to customise. may also be more suitable for team blogs as you can set up multiple users.

A second version of WordPress is This is a freely available version of WordPress that can be downloaded and installed on your own server. This is a much more sophisticated set up that allows you to fully customise the user experience thanks to the range of plugins and themes available. This blog is as example of a self-hosted WordPress setup. is not necessarily recommended for beginners as the options available can be overwhelming. It also requires you to purchase hosting and a domain or utilise web hosting within your organisation. At USQ no formal service exists at present.
It’s probably worth keeping and self-hosting in mind for the future if your blog matures and you wish to have more control, but for starters Blogger or are excellent.

Writing a blog

Writing blog posts can at first seem quite daunting, but it is really a case of adapting writing skills that you already have.
In preparation for blog writing there are a number of questions that you should consider:

Why am I doing this?

Let’s be honest here, writing a blog is a commitment. It’s important early on to identify the purpose of your blog and to set some goals. The purpose may be as a space for personal reflection, or as a resource that reinforces your credentials as an expert on a particular subject. It’s absolutely vital that you understand the parameters of your blog and the type of content that is likely to go in to it.

Example blog: Melisa Terras’ Blog
Melisa Terras is a Professor of Digital Humanities at University College London. She has kept a personal blog (using Blogger) for 7 years and has posted over 300 articles. Her blog has a number of functions: It is a space to share information and reflect about her subject area. It draws attention to her research in an informal way, but also includes aspects of her personal life as she juggles academia and motherhood.

What should I write?

Blogs exist for just about every subject. Here are some of the qualities of a good blog.

  • Engaging
  • Relevant (and current)
  • Expert
  • Readable (and scannable)
  • Sharable
  • Personal

Writing for the web is a different medium to more traditional types. Users tend to first scan read before engaging with the content. Try to make your content scannable by using short paragraphs, headers and bullet points.
Consider adding engaging images and videos. Remember to check any rights first. I tend to use creative commons images as these have been shared for open use.

Example blog: Elearnspace
George Siemens’ Elearnspace blog is a regularly updated blog that shares his knowledge, ideas and opinions on MOOCs, connectivism and learning analytics. He offers opinions, commentary on other blog posts and updates on his own activities.

Who is my audience?

In order to focus your blog further, think about your audience and their expectations. Are they within your peer group or more generalised?
You may have multiple audiences. The Seattle Children’s Autism Blog, for example, is primarily aimed at parents with autistic children but is also aimed at health professionals and researchers.

How much time?

It’s worth questioning about how much time you have to dedicate to your blog. The likely answer is “very little” given the pressures of balancing existing life and work commitments. Commit to a realistic number of posts per month, perhaps one or two only. A content plan can help you with this. This can be as simple as planning out the posts you wish to write over a six-month period in a spread sheet indicating rough dates of publication and a few keywords.

What shouldn’t I write?

Hopefully I’m not stating the obvious, but don’t forget that anything you post online tends to stay online. Search engines index and archive content and any web page can link to another web page.
Content that could be deemed as defamatory, offensive or overtly political is best avoided. Remember also to let the readers know who you represent, and if necessary, that the views are your own and do not represent the organisation that you work for.
One technique that a lot of bloggers use is to share the content with a colleague, friend or family member for checking before publishing.

Should I write alone or as part of a team?

Writing as part of a team has a number of advantages. It means that posting can be shared around so the blog can be quite active but require less commitment e.g. a couple of posts a year for each member.
I work within the Australian Digital Futures Institute and we have been running a team blog for over three years with around 150 posts. The blog is used to communicate research activities and professional interests of members of the institute. A couple of things that have worked well for us is to a) have a blog roster and b) an editor who has final say on publication.

How can I measure the success of my blog?

Ultimately a successful blog needs to have readers. This doesn’t have to be a large amount if the community of readers are engaged. Last week, I was talking to a colleague who kept a blog on local issues in her community. Her blog had a small readership of around 40 people living in her community, but was successful because of the commentary and debate that was generated.


A number of tools are available help analyse engagement with your blog:

  • Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that allows you to better understand how many visitors you have, where they are from and to what extent they are engaging with your site.
  • Both and Blogger have in built administration tools that can give you statistics and real-time information on user activity. For self-hosted WordPress users there is a plugin called Jetpack that allows you to utilise the tools provided by the hosted
  • You may also want to consider how you can build you audience. Utilising social media and email subscription tools may help with this.

Let’s get blogging!

Hopefully you’ve had a useful overview of blogging, what it is and some tips. The next thing to do is to set up your blog and get going. Below are some useful links that will help you along the way:

Blogging platforms

Blogging tips

Take a look at:

Activity: Create your own blog and post the url of your blog to the comments below!