Friday, December 26, 2008

Remember that fall down drunk picture you posted of yourself on the internet years ago? Well .....

Where Everybody Knows Your Teenaged Musings - The first generation that grew up with the Web finds having adolescent dramas posted online is not cool, especially in a job hunt
Digital Tattoo: "I was hoping to gloss over that little episode of my life, and there it is on the internet!
Globe and Mail
December 23, 2008
Seth Tee got his first Hotmail account in Grade 4. By high school he was posting content on the Web. Now, at the sober age of 22, the University of British Columbia student realizes his teenage musings are just “a Google search away” for the rest of the world, and there is not much he can do to take them back.
“I used to think it would be fun to write things and put them online and I could look back five years down the line, 10 years down the line and see what I was thinking,” he says. “Now I realize it's not just me that is looking back at this time capsule.”
He's far from alone. The generation that is now entering adulthood is the first to document its adolescent ups and downs on the Web, the kind of content that used to be confined to the back of yearbooks and dust-covered journals hidden under the bed. Now high-school dramas that once were chronicled on bathroom walls are finding their way onto websites and into Facebook groups where they can last decades longer than any cutting comment scrawled with a felt-tipped pen.
The outcome is not always ideal, especially when it comes time to begin a career.

UBC student Elizabeth Walker and Sheryl Adam of the Koerner Library at UBC December 3, 2008.
A new UBC initiative is trying to drive that message home, warning students that what they say and post online will stay with them for years to come. The project, called “digital tattoo,” centres on an interactive website by the same name – – that provides a practical guide for protecting privacy online.
“Stopping and thinking is not big with this demographic,” says Sheryl Adam, a UBC reference librarian and one of the creators of the project. “I think the students think they will move on and it will disappear, and of course it doesn't.”
Increasingly, Ms. Adam says, employers and even universities themselves are scanning the Internet to get the lowdown on individuals. The pictures, statements and videos they find there can have a life of their own.
Elizabeth Walker, a UBC graduate student who also worked on the project, knows exactly what that feels like. A five-minute search on a digital archive turned up a review she had written for a student paper that caused some embarrassment at the time. “I was hoping to gloss over that little episode of my life, and there it is on the Internet,” she said. “Stuff like that is remarkably easy to find.”
Ms. Walker, who worked as a primary-school teacher before going to graduate school, says she has always been cautious about the content she puts on the Web, but at 28 she figures her desire to protect her privacy also has something to do with age. “When you are 15, you know, what is going to hurt you?”
That attitude is something the UBC project is trying to address. Ms. Adam says past attempts to educate students about Internet privacy with workshops received little interest. The group behind digital tattoo developed the website to give students information that wouldn't sound like a lecture on bad behaviour. Students, including Ms. Walker, researched and developed the content, and Mr. Tee created the graphics and did the programming as part of a co-op placement.
Student Liana Popa, who also worked on the site, said the experience actually led her to increase her presence on the Web to give employers an idea of what she had accomplished.
“You might as well use it to your advantage,” she said. “If you think employers are going to use it for research – put something out there for them to see.”
Ms. Adam said the approach taken by the digital tattoo site is especially important in reaching a university audience. “We never say you should do this. We say, you should know this,” she explains. “‘Required' will get you nowhere fast.”
Mr. Tee figures the fact that he and his peers grew up using technology might be part of the problem.
“This generation that we think is so tech savvy and so competent with this material, we might actually be the most susceptible because we trust it so much,” he ventures.
Since working on the website, he says he has changed his behaviour and taken steps to better guard his privacy. “I really hadn't thought about it before,” he said.


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