Putting Yourself on the Web: Paranoid Musings
I don’t know how much this has to do with gender, but it certainly has to do with technology as well as the idea promoted in this class of making your words public. So, I just spent some considerable time not doing my math test and instead having fun with image modification in the python programming language using the Image module (free and availabe for download at the Python Imaging Library (PIL)). So I have an image, all ready to put up in my profile showing my face in interesting colors: a fun mixture of technology and my (gendered) self (this kind of reminds me of Maddie’s discussion of the magazine pictures of women, modified by technology — cyborgs and creating technology and being (re)created by technology). But I’m really pretty scared to do this. I read Gravatar’s policy, and it sounds OK, it sounds like they and their third party associates are only using your information to help personalize to your interests.
But who knows? Who knows what happens when you put your photo, linked to your name, on the web? It’s probably out there already (fact check: there are indeed some photos later on in Google image of my name that do show me). Jeez it’s weird enough putting my pseudonym name up on this blog and writing my opinions up for the world to see. I’m probably just being paranoid, but what if some crazy person who hates something I say and hates me for it sees what I’ve written? What if the government turns crazy and starts infringing our right to privacy (can’t say it hasn’t happened before)?
As a CS major, these things are certainly on my mind. I bet they’re on other people’s minds too. But I was just talking with a professor the other day about face recognition algorithms (which are awesome, if not a little scary, too). The technology/CS of face recognition is constantly improving, and somebody could probably use such algorithms to find me or you and all the ideas we put up on the web. It’s one thing when you’re completely anonymous, another when you have a pseudonym and not your whole name, but when you start linking your name to your picture and your picture to your words…. I can see some ugly issues there. There’s a lot of love in this world, but there’s also some anger and misunderstanding too.
Now, I’ll probably, possibly calm down and put up that lovely profile pic. But I just wanted to talk about it. What do you guys feel about this whole putting yourself on the web? Any place where the issue of privacy in web technology intersects with gender (eg is a guy more likely than a woman to feel safe on the web? or vice versa?)?