Gender Equalization in LIS Courses

One of the things I have noticed in my LIS courses so far, is the fact that the topics I have learned that have impacted me the most have been areas I would consider weak points for me; These areas are also traditionally masculine topics like finance and computer science.

I told my brother that I had learned about database management, my favourite class from last semester. The tone of his response was blasé: ‘You didn’t know that?’ No, I was never taught that. In fact, though I have some vague memory of computer science classes in junior high, the content was Microsoft office suite products—not computer networks, the internet, nor databases.

In Business and Industry Information, we had a guest lecture from a financial adviser yesterday. This lecture was a fantastic financial literacy learning opportunity. I have to say that I learned quite a bit about all the different types of investments. Equity, bonds, and GIC’s were all things I have no memory of ever learning about. Yet, personally, this is incredibly important for my future. It seems clear to me that financial literacy is something info professionals need to know both for themselves, and to assist patrons with.

I heard a talk from Lesley Scorgie a few years ago and still think about the idea she presented that little girls are very rarely taught about finances, but little boys are. I may have had a piggy bank, but no one ever sat down with me and explained how banks and investments work. Recently I asked my father about electronics and he was explaining to me a bit about how electronics work. I have come vague memory of learning how a simple circuit worked in science in elementary school, but my father never sat down with me and shared his own electrical knowledge.

            As a result of how much I have enjoyed breaking out of my comfort zone and learning about these previously unknown areas, it occurred to me that these classes are a sort of gender equalization for the female-majority masters students. Several female students had a basis in these topics, so I do not want to overgeneralize, but I can say anecdotally that comments in classes about finance and computer science are male dominated in a predominantly female program. I do not think this is coincidental.

            Although there is a requirement to take at least one technology class for this program, in light of my experience, I would advocate that it is incredibly important for LIS students to take courses outside of their comfort zones to widen their literacy in all areas.


Americans will never have the right to be forgotten

Americans will never have the right to be forgotten

Europe advancing towards more privacy rights for individuals. North America? Not so much. I’m surprised about this ruling and hope that, despite the criticism, this will have positive effects on digital privacy.

Favorite quote from this article: “Google spent $15.8 million on D.C. lobbying in 2013, more than Exxon Mobil.”

Also glad to see Pew’s survey results that 68% of American internet users think there needs to be better internet privacy laws.

Terms and Conditions May Apply

Just watched the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply. Very interesting stuff about privacy and Google, Facebook, and social media. Here are the highlights that have resonated with me:

  • Google makes roughly $500 a year from each person who uses it’s services.
  • Google’s original user agreement in 2001 featured a line that it would not share data with third parties. Their official website does not acknowledge this original user agreement to make it seem like it never existed as it no longer correlates with their business model.
  • In Europe, companies are required to provide all the data stored on them. In Canada, FOIP
  • Google search records data is never really anonymized.
  • More government regulation is need in Canada and the US which stresses protecting privacy of individuals instead of the ability of the government to access your data.

I love the title of this article by HuffPost on this documentary – Terms and Conditions May Apply Documentary: A Must See Horror Film. Privacy issues are something that definitely appears to be a bit terrifying to me, particularly the fact that people don’t realize how valuable their privacy is. Someone pointed out to me the following quote from the video game Deus Ex “Some people just don’t understand the dangers of indiscriminate surveillance.”

I also think the idea represented in this clip that humans enjoy being watched, and that’s why they don’t mind having big brother surveillance as oddly compelling. We live in a society where people want to be famous.

I highly recommend watching this documentary for anyone interested in privacy and surveillance. Western offers a course on Privacy on Surveillance but unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will be offered again in the next two semesters. Nevertheless, I don’t need to take a course to do research into a topic and learn more.