Trust and Privacy

One of the DH projects I admire was on today’s reading: Mukurtu. The project, as they state, is based in respect and trust. Trust strikes me the most, especially when we begin to read the privacy policies of some of our favored or widely used tools. I am a fan of social annotation and have been using for close to ten years. I have used it for personal and class readings both as an instructor and as a student. I learned last semester that it does not follow FERPA requirements. Although that did not deter me, it did make me rethink using it for my students. Now, as I read their privacy policy, I see that AWS is their cloud host. Now, I understand more of why they cannot follow FERPA. Last semester, I also learned about Perusall, but as a student, I found it suffocating because of the monitoring features available to the instructor and as presently stated in their policy, they do collect most data that passes their service. So, although Perusall follows FERPA requirements, it is a for profit company that will use the data as they say “in good faith”. I know there is a trade off, and that is something we are here to discuss and delineate, but at this moment, I am unsure I want to know more about  the privacy policy of another of my open source readers  and social annotation platform, Manifold. (Although, Manifold is a web-based publishing platform and its privacy policy may depend on the associated university press)

I also want to note that although I agree with Fitzpatrick’s claim about and support the work they are doing at the MLA Commons, I believe ,for some odd reason, people feel safer when they pay for a service. Returning to trust–many have a false sense that if they pay for a service they can trust them with their information.( I wonder about the cultural and political influences that encourage people to believe this). Secondly, in universities outside of the US, a service such as is the only service available to scholars to publish their work to an international audience. This brings me to my suggestion for the syllabus: How does the DH world outside of the US work around power, precarity, and care? Here I am thinking of DHSI and the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, or other DH leading universities abroad. I wonder if we can find a project or paper on the international DH plane that speaks to our topic.

4 thoughts on “Trust and Privacy

  1. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Tuka, your comment about DH outside the US — and specifically in relation to the University of Victoria — made me think about a project at UVic that Bridget Whearty wrote about in her recent book Digital Codicology: Medieval Books and Modern Labor ( The project involved digitization by students of the manuscript Fall of Princes; this was initially a student project (I think is some version of the original site?). The library itself then took on care for this project because it was such an ambitious student project. You can view the library’s record for this at Links at the bottom of that record go to both student work (under “Transcription” and “Experimental Student Projects”) and then all the images hosted by UVic Digital Collections. I feel like it’s not often that institutions use their power to care for student-made projects to this extent, and this one presents a really interesting scenario.

  2. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    Hi Tuka, your comments about the trade-offs and compromises are spot-on. How do regulations meant to protect privacy sometimes damage it instead? What kinds of double-binds are we in when trying to navigate the balance of effectiveness/privacy/usability/cost?

    And I love that you want to bring in a consideration of global approaches to the questions we’re addressing. Looking forward to talking further.

  3. Sean Patrick Palmer

    I agree with your analysis of Academia dot edu.

    I also think that the institutions we work for prefer the paid models. Look at publishing. I know of people who have published in more open/free publications and some of them have had to fight to have that recognized as a valid publication.

    Academia dot edu is established and well-known in ways that other sites are not. That matters.

  4. Brieanna Scolaro (They)

    I appreciate your comment about how other countries manage DH, power, precarity and care. What are the differences, similarities, and differential challenges? How do the unique geopolitical and historical developments of a given region influence science + tech + society.

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