GoogleTranslate Service

Hey Dude – where’s my (community) Data?

December 17th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Last year the Bazaar project held a seminar called Hey Dude – Where’s my Data. The title, somewhat ironically was coined by Dave Tosh. In the run up to the seminar we posed the following issues and questions:

“With Web 2.0, more and more people have their documents, products, personal details and photos stashed all over the internet – what issues does this raise for education?

The rise of commercial services:

With the use of free, commercial, centrally hosted, social software services rising in education some important issues arise; Who controls this data? Do users care that commercial services are mining their usage patterns and selling this to marketing companies? Is the nature of these ‘free’ services understood – yes users can come in and use the base system for free but often, in return, they are bombarded with advertising and their details/usage habits sold. However, does anyone really care? Perhaps convenience of service outweighs the perceived downsides.

As Bill Fitzgerald points out: “This type of commercial activity is sneaky – it is not apparently obvious to the user what is happening to their data and usage patterns, so often they will not thing about this.”

Is it wise to build up learning environments around these free-to-use tools? While it is unlikely some of the bigger services, such as Flickr, will shutdown – the terms of usage could certainly change, what happens if learners suddenly have to pay to access their content?

As Graham Atwell points out: “Yes Web 2 is great for allowing mash ups and integrating services to produce rich and interactive web sites. But the reliance on external services from mostly commercial companies does raise a whole series of issues. Can we trust these people with our data? will we still have access to this data in the future.? What is to stop them data mining for their own purposes?”

Is there an alternative?

Open Standards

Surely the way to approach this is to build educational tools based on open standards, not specific, commercial, services? This will remove any reliance on services like flickr or Then again, who would be responsible for building and maintaining these tools? Should institutions and perhaps government be responsible?

Open Source

The same issues arise – who is responsible for building, maintaining and paying for the service?

Where to store my data:

With the rise in popularity of ePortfolios many have asked what happens to an ePortfolio after the student has left the institution? What happens to this content – where are learners supposed to store it? Can they still access it?

At least one UK university is considering charging alumni for continued access to their ePortfolio – is this the correct approach?

Starting Points
To get you started here are some rough questions:

  • Data mining on commercial services, is this a problem?
  • Should institutions using commercial services worry about the user data being sold to advertising and marketing companies?
  • Is it not a risky strategy to rely on commercial services keeping their services ‘free’?
  • Does anyone really care? Some of these services are excellent so perhaps we should accept that their might be some downsides and instead concentrate on the pedagogical benefit they can offer?
  • Who would pay for something if it was not commercial service providers – the government? Would we trust that more? Would the services actually be as good?
  • What role should governments play, if any at all?
  • What is the role of institutions?
  • Security issues?
  • Ownership issues?”

The position papers and discussions from the seminar can be found on the project wiki. But whilst we saw the answers largeluy in individual ownership of data with backups etc and interoperability standards we missed teh issue of community. Individuals can transfer their data from Eduspaces with its impending closure. But at a technical level it is tricky to back up and restore comments. Moreover links to individual posts will be lost – as will the community context of the discussion. In other words communities may be more than a blog and whilst back ups and interoperability and standards may allow us to safeguard our individual data it does little for communities.

3 Responses to “Hey Dude – where’s my (community) Data?”

  1. The link to my blog post on elgg gives a dead page —

    When I wrote that piece, I cross-posted it to my personal blog at

    Your question about community (which is really a question about preserving context) is a great one.



  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Thanks Bill – have updated the link.


  1. […] Dude, where’s my data? Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu December 18, 2007 [原文链接] [Tags: Open Source] […]

  • Search

    News Bites

    Innovation is male dominated?

    Times Higher Education reports that in the UK only one in 10 university spin-out companies has a female founder, analysis suggests. And these companies are much less likely to attract investment too, raising concerns that innovation is becoming too male-dominated.

    Open Educational Resources

    BYU researcher John Hilton has published a new study on OER, student efficacy, and user perceptions – a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Looking at sixteen efficacy and twenty perception studies involving over 120,000 students or faculty, the study’s results suggest that students achieve the same or better learning outcomes when using OER while saving a significant amount of money, and that the majority of faculty and students who’ve used OER had a positive experience and would do so again.

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

  • Sounds of the Bazaar AudioBoo

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Upcoming Events

      There are no events.
  • Categories