conference tweeting etiquette

“Tiny birds in my hand..” by ~Ilse

Conference season, or at least the part of it that appeals to my area of librarianship, is starting soon.

Up first for me is Computers in Libraries in DC, where I won’t be attending, but instead vacationing nearby (since it is so close) and visiting with colleagues and friends who will be attending. I’d go, but I already have funding this year for three conferences, and it didn’t seem fair to ask for another.

Next,  I fly to Austin for the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference. From the venue to the content, this is becoming my favorite conference. I’ve had to actively introduce more diversity to the sessions I choose to attend, otherwise I would spend the whole conference geeking out about use data and spreadsheets and such.

Finally, I head to Buffalo for the conference that shaped me into the librarian I became: NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group). I like this one because I’ve known many of the attendees for the entirety of my relatively short career, and because it works very hard to not be just a librarian conference, but rather an industry-wide discussion of all things serial in libraryland.

It was in the context of thinking about these upcoming conferences that I read the latest Prof Hacker blog post from The Chronicle of Higher Education. Ryan Cordell writes about his experiences with conference tweeting and the recent revelations he has had regarding the impact this can have on the presenters, whether they are active participants on Twitter or not. Many things he wrote resonated with me, and reminded me that Twitter — as well as other popular social media platforms — is no longer the private back-channel of a few techie friends, but is a global platform that can have a broader impact than any of us may know.

I suggest reading the whole article, but I would like to quote here the Principles of Conference Tweeting that Cordell offers, as something for us all to keep in mind:

  1. I will post praise generously, sharing what I find interesting about presentations.
  2. Likewise, I will share pertinent links to people and projects, in order to bring attention to my colleagues’ work.
  3. When posting questions or critiques, I will include the panelist’s username (an @ mention) whenever possible.
  4. If the panelist does not have a username—or if I cannot find it—I will do my best to alert them when I post questions or critiques, rather than leaving them to discover those engagements independently.
  5. I will not post questions to Twitter that I would not ask in the panel Q&A.
  6. I will not use a tone on Twitter that I would not use when speaking to the scholar in person.
  7. I will avoid “crosstalk”—joking exchanges only tangentially related to the talk—unless the presenter is explicitly involved in the chatter.
  8. I will refuse to post or engage with posts that comment on the presenter’s person, rather than the presenter’s ideas.

ER&L 2010: Opening Keynote – Librarians in the Wild: Thinking About Security, Privacy, and Digital Information

Speaker: Lance Hayden, Assistant Instructor, School of Information – University of Texas

He spent six years with the CIA, after that he attended the UT iSchool, which was followed by working with Cisco Systems on computer security issues. The team he works with does “ethical hacking” – companies hire them to break into their systems to find the holes that need to be filled so that the real bad guys can’t get in.

Many of us are not scared enough. We do things online that we wouldn’t do in the real world. We should be more aware of our digital surroundings and security.

In computer security, “the wild” refers to things that happen in the real world (as opposed to the lab). In cyberspace, the wild and civilization are not separate – the are co-located. Civilization is confidentiality, integrity, and availability. We think that our online communities are entirely civilized, but we are too trusting.

The point is, if you’re not careful about keeping your virtual houses secure, then you’re leaving yourself open to anyone coming in through the windows or the basement door you never lock.

Large herds attract big predators. As more people are connected to a network or virtual house, the motivation to hit it goes up. Part of why Macs seem more secure than Windows machines is because there is a higher ROI for attacking Windows due to the higher number of users. Hacking has gone from kids leaving graffiti to organized crime exploiting users.

Structures decay quickly. The online houses we have built out of software that lives on real-world machines. There are people every day finding vulnerabilities they can exploit. Sometimes they tell the manufacturers/vendors, sometimes they don’t. We keep adding more things to the infrastructure that increases the possibility of exposing more. The software or systems that we use are not monolithic entities – they are constructed with millions of lines of code. Trying to find the mistake in the line of code is like trying to find a misplaced semicolon in War and Peace. It’s more complex than “XYZ program has a problem.”

Protective spells can backfire. Your protective programs and security systems need to be kept up to date or they can backfire. Make sure that your magic is tight. Online shopping isn’t any less safe, because the vulnerabilities are more about what the vendor has in their system (which can be hacked) than about the connection. Your physical vendor has the same information, often on computer systems that can be hacked.

Knowledge is the best survival trait (or, ignorance can get you eaten). Passwords have been the bane of security professionals since the invention of the computer. When every single person in an institution has a password that is a variation on a template, it’s easy to hack. [side note: The Help Desk manager at MPOW recommends using a personalized template and just increasing the number at the end every time they have the required password change. D’oh!] The nature of passwords is that you can’t pick one that is completely secure. What you’re trying to do is to have secure enough of a password to dissuade most people except the most persistent. Hayden suggests phrases and then replace characters with numbers, and make it longer because it increases the number of possible characters required to hack it.

Zuckerberg says that people don’t care about privacy anymore, so don’t blame Facebook, but to a certain extent, Facebook is responsible for changing those norms. Do companies like Google have any responsibility to protect your information? Hayden’s students think that because Google gives them things for free, they don’t care about the privacy of their information and in fact expect that Google will use it for whatever they want.