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Ethics Week 6: The Road So Far

It’s midterms, and you know what that means. Time to review!

… my work so far this term, that is. I’ve already taken my exams.

I did a little inventory of my past blog posts, as well as some behind-the-scenes stuff, so today I’m going to be talking about what I said I’d do versus what I actually did, and whether there’s room to pick back up.

What I Planned

It’s actually pretty easy to see what I meant to do this term, because I wrote a blog post about it. It sums up a couple of the themes I was hoping to touch on and a couple of projects I was hoping to do.

The executive summary of it all is thus. I had four major projects:

  1. look into different ways of organizing work, especially digital vs. analog systems
  2. study open source software communities for the Digital Scholarship Interns’ winter project
  3. investigate data security laws and how they affect college software
  4. develop my Ruby coding skills

Did I do these things? Sort of!

What I Did

It’s a little hard to look back through my work the past couple weeks, because some of my blog posts are password-locked and I don’t write about everything I work on (it’s important to have focused, informative posts).

That said, I have followed through on these plans in different ways throughout the term so far.

First: Organizing Systems

This is very solidly a behind-the-scenes thing. I’ve experimented a little with Google Keep, comparing it to my past experience with to-do lists in the Notes app and Wunderlist, plus bullet journals. No conclusive results yet, but this investigation is ongoing. Expect a recommendation report sometime in the future!

Second: the Digital Scholarship Interns project

My part of the project has been reshaped a couple times to better fit with what we’re doing. Our project is a revamp of the DSI blog (you may have noticed it’s a little snazzier than it used to be). But, since we’re focusing on blogging at Carleton, open source software didn’t really fit.

Instead, I’m going to be doing an investigation of Carleton social media culture, comparing the Carleton Livejournal community (still up online, though not very active these days) to Facebook and how people at Carleton use it. This way, we can get a good idea of the common questions Carleton users ask, and what they look for in a platform.

Third: Investigate Data Security Laws

This has been a way bigger part of my term than previously anticipated. When I wrote my initial blog post, setting out my goals for the term, I thought digital systems of organization and the intern project would be my two major priorities, with some legalese on the side and a little Ruby to fill in the cracks.

In reality, my term has focused a lot on rights management and data security. Week three had me looking into some new data privacy laws in the United States (this post was password locked, for internal use only); week four saw me thinking about what it means to safely store your work with different digital entities; and week five was all about reflecting on technology in the Iowa caucuses.

And it’s going to keep going from there! The more digging around I do, the more stuff I find. Next week looks like it’ll see me looking through the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of some scholastic software companies, to think about what control we have over our work at Carleton. Can’t wait!

Of course, since I’ve been spending a lot more time than expected on this, that means…

Fourth: Ruby Coding

My Ruby plan for the term has shifted a bit, from coding up projects to investigating its uses. Ruby’s been used in some interesting archival projects, and one of my goals is to understand its affordances in that area.

That said, because it has less practical ramifications in the here-and-now than understanding how we organize our work, investigating Carleton’s social media footprint, or unpacking the new laws around data privacy, this project’s been temporarily shelved.

And frankly, I’m okay with that. One of the important lessons this term has been solid prioritizing.

Where To Next?

Honestly, keeping up what I’ve been doing. There are next steps for everything: writing up the different organization systems, putting together my content for the intern project, and decoding the mysteries of Terms of Service.

I also have some new projects coming down the pipeline! They’re a secret for now, but might make an appearance in future blog posts.

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