Monday, September 8, 2008

Privacy And Controversy

Privacy or (The World Wide Web Is not Benevolent)

These are some reasons why I haven't plastered my name all over my blog.

I am very careful about privacy with blogs. Blogs from the beginning when they were first coming out were viewed as a recruiting tool by many companies. I know this because I was a sourcer for a short while seeking people out for recruiters. This is a rather controversial position to be in.

Librarians in human resources positions are rare, but very present. Recruitment research (sourcing) is a unique skill. I got to see many things about finding information on people on the web. Companies do look at what people write on the web. Letting it all hang out is a very bad idea in some cases. A blog is often structured very similarly to a resume.

In some ways, it is more complete because it describes the personality of the writer of the blog. It also often includes content like race, ethnicity, and religion which are not legally acceptable reasons for selecting people in the United States. People don't put this on their resume.

I am not an I disclose person. Darren Rowse who writes Problogger talks about this in his recent book. He acknowledges that he will not talk about his family or private life over the world wide web. This is a very good idea for many people.

It is not just protecting my family which I think is important, but also watching my own identity. Limiting personal information on the world wide web is important. Not putting out credit card information, home addresses, and similar things protects you from identity theft. It also limits recruiter contact if you don't want to be contacted by recruiting agencies. When the recruiter tells you their name is Elvis and won't tell you who they are calling for, it is a good sign to stop being polite.

Also anything which you put on a website is subject to scrutiny or copying. It is very easy to extract information from websites using fairly simple software like websuckers which search out emails, phone numbers, and names. Webmole Targeted Contact Finder 4.1 is an example of this.

There are more advanced tools for extracting information like site rippers which copy a whole site from the internet then break it into pieces where pictures, documents, and various filetypes can be broken down and mapped out. Black Widow Siteripper is a good example of this.

This is one of the reasons spam is so ubiquitous. It is very easy to collect emails by subject on the internet. There is also the constant presence of spyware which is mainly commercial. You may not think of yourself as a valuable commodity, but you are. Your information sells products. I don't like solicitors and I don't like spam. Putting a lot of personal information on blogs invites them in. I have very few spam comments here.

If you leave loose files on the internet, including resumes, excel files, pdfs, and similar things if a searcher knows how to look they will find it. It is important to be tight with some of your information.

The internet is a permanent record in some ways. There are tools like The Wayback Machine which can go fairly far back in the webs history to look at websites.

Being a librarian with sourcing experience is fairly controversial. It was interesting while I did it, but not something which I would care to repeat. I find searching for books and buying books more interesting than searching for people. It taught me some interesting if obscure skills that have to do with internet searching.

Also, being a librarian with minor bookstore experience is quite controversial as well. Visiting bookstores and studying the history of publishing is a hobby for me. For example in our library, no librarian where I am currently working is allowed to work with the booksale. There is a retired librarian who works with the friends on the booksale, but she is retired. It is viewed as a conflict of interest between the Friends of the Library and the actual library.

There is a strong underlying ideal of separation between bookstores and libraries that is taught. This is a blog post from Library Juice from a library student. The ideal is freshly imprinted. . My views about the relationship between bookstores, libraries, and publishing are sometimes controversial.

There are numerous librarians who have experience with bookstores. Many have started their own stores. But, they usually separate completely from the library before they attempt to start a store. Or, they work part-time in a bookstore after they are retired.

It is very easy to claim that someone is stealing from the library if they are selling books. I am not selling books right now. This is true in almost every library I have been in. Theft is a real problem in public libraries.

Oddly, one of the most coveted positions in the library, is the acquisitions position. It is the position which interacts the most with publishers and bookstores. It is a great thing to visit bookstores if you are a librarian; just not to work there.

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