We have a novelty item at my house…its an internet connected beer fridge.
It belongs to my son who won it at the grand opening of the Willow Park Wine and Spirits in Regina. (…and I know what you are thinking…I really DON’T look old enough to have kids who can go into liquor stores without me!) The fridge itself really isn’t that advanced, and I can’t call it true web 3.0 device. The fridge basically counts the number of cans that are in it, and notifications are sent to his phone when a can is taken out, or to buy more when the count is less than two dozen. The L.E.D screen can display a message from his phone, and a really loud horn goes off when the N.H.L team of his choice, the Anaheim Ducks, score a goal. So while it isn’t a true 3.0 example, it is an example of how data is becoming and will continue to be an extremely powerful influence in our consumption based society.
Basically, the fridge “knows” when the number of beer is low, and it shares that data with him so that he will fill it with more. Simple concept. What if the fridge could share that data with other devices? What if it also counted the brand of beer in the fridge and could determine the most popular brand based on consumption and that data was shared with companies that sell beer? How would the beer companies use that data? I wouldn’t be surprised when targeted advertisement starts hitting the inbox and Twitter feed.
I tried to mention in last weeks presentation that the Google corporation rakes in over 66 Billion dollars annually in advertising revenue, all of it because they mine data provided by users like you! In fact, Google has acknowledged that it collects and data-mines for some commercial purposes a wide range of personal information on student users who log in through its popular Apps for Education service. Google has not indicated what the “commercial purposes” are, as they do not target students with advertising when they are logged into G.A.F.E., but one thing is for sure, if it isn’t potentially profitable, it wouldn’t be happening.
Philippe Modard points out in his Ted Talk that our privacy is going to be compromised in one way or another as our everyday devices start to communicate with each other using the internet. I don’t think can be understated. I once hit a facebook like for a company that sells razor blades online, and now it is common for me to get friends asking if I use the product, and whether I like them (I do). How did I become their uncompensated spokesperson? Why is that little bit of data, my opinion from three years ago, still being used to market their product as recently as last week? It used to be that nobody knew, or even cared about, what brand of anything I preferred. As we roll into this era of the internet of things and the web 3.0, our privacy will definitely be at risk as our personal preferences will be discovered and targeted in one way or another.
Jaymee Lee states in her blog that Web 3.0 allows us to individualize to meet the needs of each individual, allows them to learn about relevant information in an interactive, personalized, free manner. While I agree that individualized learning will be the ultimate goal, the power of web 3.0 is in the data. Who will decide how that data will be used? Will it be used for strength based education that directs students towards their areas of strengths and interests? Or will it be deficit based education that attempts to address student weaknesses? Will it be both? Does it have to be the same for everyone? There are so many questions that I can’t answer. I do know that teachers are going to have to be aware that student privacy is at risk. How scary is it that Google (and other companies) will know your sons and daughters greatest academic strengths as well as their biggest weaknesses?
I have no doubt that Web 3.0 will eventually be a big part of education, but before that happens, I hope teachers, administrators, parents, and the community at large will understand how all the parts are working together.