Friday, October 15, 2004 NewsFlash - Auburn University debates e-mail monitoring policy

Snagged from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, this article details a proposed policy at Auburn to monitor e-mail and the inevitable privacy concerns this brings up. The article mentions only employee email accounts: I wonder if there's a similar policy for students? And what of graduate students, who are often students and employees simultaneously, or undergrads who also work for the university (as RAs, for example, or in the libraries, or in other capacities via work-study programs)? Also, though not emphasized, the article also mentions the monitoring of "Internet access," a completely different, but equally concerning, bit of policy.

Here's a quote that sums up part of the concern with the policy:

However, the proposal immediately set off concerns regarding privacy and civil liberties. Some faculty thought it might give upper-level administrators the ability to monitor those on campus deemed malcontents or activists.

As a former academic union organizer, boy, do I understand this concern!!


As interim associate dean of libraries, Straiton said he was aware of provisions within post-9/11 legislation that require libraries to release a patron's records without their consent.

He said such legislation, along with the fact that AU computers are frequently serviced by workers who may view private information inadvertently, makes it impossible to guarantee privacy.

During my travels thorough three different large, public, land-grant institutions, I have known people who refused to use their school e-mail addresses for any communications not explicitly connected with work or school, and who refused to post any materials on campus servers or connect via a campus network, modem pool, etc. It's fears of policies like this that produce such reactions, and it's really sad that institutions of intellectual pursuit and supposed academic freedom inspire such reactions among their faculty, staff, and students (whether those reactions are justified or not). One of the AU administrators is quotes as saying that the policy isn't an attempt to play Big Brother, but it's easy to see why employees may interpret the policy as such.

- posted by laurie @ 10/15/2004 10:38:00 AM (0) comments

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blogging from Babyland

The little one turns two two weeks old today. It's kind of unbelievable that fifteen days ago I was still pregnant, dealing with contractions, and wondering if the baby would ever make an appearance. Now, I'm wondering if she'll ever sleep longer than three hours (we probably average two hours, but there was an almost four-hour stretch of sleep last night, made less cool by the fact that it followed a two-hour-long crying jag). But sleep deprivation aside, she's pretty spectacular. I'll have to post a picture or two here soon - have to resize them first!

Anyway, Eric and I have been hanging around the house for the last week and a half, enjoying some quality time together with the little one and adjusting to life as a little family, with a very new addition at the dead center of the arrangement. He goes back to work on Monday, which is a little sad, but then again, someone has to make money around here, and as a grad student, it certainly isn't me right now!! At least I'm feeling mostly human again: my body is, generally, much happeir than it was even a few days ago. And while pre-pregnancy clothes are still a long way off, I've managed to fit into a few things that I haven't been able to wear for several months - yay!

So, next week, we begin the new routine, with me staying home with baby during the day while teaching online and working on school, as well - though I have a feeling that much of that work will have to take place after Eric gets home!

Well, someone's fussy, so I'm going to end here for now!

- posted by laurie @ 10/14/2004 09:09:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 11, 2004

The BBC on Gender and Tech

Fresh from the BBC: Technology's gender balancing act: "But there is a fine line between making technologies appeal to wider audiences [women, in this article] and patronising that audience with devices that look pretty but do not do much."

Absolutely. Good article. There is discussion of the women-oriented gadgets rolling off production lines, but also discussion of what the gadget-makers think women want: shoe- and clothing-size converters for the "fasionista;" interchangeable laptop skins, lipstick memory sticks, etc.

There's a nice bit about how women maybe don't need "different" tech, but a different approach: women aren't marketed to in the same way that men are. The solution for some? Blogs by and for women, about tech and gadgets.

The article ends with a consideration of one of the most male-oriented technologies of all: the car. Designed predominantly by men for men, cars have traditionally not been women- or kid-friendly. Volvo, though, has taken a different approach with a recent concept car:

The YCC was designed by women and for people

Lena Ekelund, engineer and leader of the all-women team behind the YCC Volvo, Your Concept Car, says the technology industry needs to look beyond preconceptions.

"They are stereotyping in a way that is not necessarily accurate. They should be focusing on making user-friendly products, because that is what we did with the car. We had a look at what functionality would improve your life."

The YCC was not designed specifically for women, she stresses, but for "people".

The fact that it looks so different and has oodles of storage space for bags, mobiles, as well as removable, customisable seat covers has nothing to do with the fact it was designed by an all-woman team.

very interesting. makes me want to dig back into the gender and technology literature. And the car bit makes me think of Dale Spender's dicussion of interstate systems, the L.A. freeways as described in Barrio Logos, and the information superhighway metaphor in general. In any case, it's good to see gender and technology getting play in the media!

- posted by laurie @ 10/11/2004 07:57:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 04, 2004

. . . and finally, the news you've all been waiting for . . .

well, I was anxiously awaiting this news, anyway: the baby's here! After a nice, long wait, Our little one finally decided to make . . . her . . . arrival. Yes, it's a girl! She was born early in the morning on Thursday, after a nice, long period of making her mom quite miserable. But I'm trying to forget the lesser points of the whole labor-and-delivery process, and focus on the fact that I now have the most beautiful, precocious, bright-eyed daughter ever (yep, biased already).

She's healthy, has 10 little fingers and 10 perfect toes.

Thanks to you all for support and love throughout the pregnancy. And sorry for being snappy and whiny here as my due date got closer, and then passed . . . she was only three days late, but those three days were forever!

I'm zonked, and need to go take care of the little one. She's making "feed me" faces right now . . . Light posting ahead, as we all get our butts kicked by sleep deprivation and I get things back in gear school-wise.

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2004 12:58:00 PM (0) comments