Posted by: | October 7, 2019

BIG DATA, little privacy?

For my adventure, I decided to explore the hyperlinked academic library. One of the articles I read that really got me thinking was Barbara Fister’s (2017) The Boundaries of ‘Information’ in Information Literacy. In her piece, Fister reminds us that there is a dark underbelly to the information landscape. Specifically, she discusses how internet tracking and surveillance, aggregated data, and big data are the dominant business models of the internet. And, she reminds us that these default settings are quietly eroding our privacy. In her article, Fister notes that these are not topics that academic libraries normally address when they teach information literacy. She asks the reader to consider whether they should be.

I will admit for my own part that although I have been somewhat aware of these issues, I do not tend to think about them as much as I should. My desire to use the internet, free apps, Wi-Fi, Google, Facebook, etc., makes me an complicit in a way. I’m sure others find themselves in that situation too.

However, as Fister points out, surveillance may be the default setting but there are actions we can take. In addition to the libguide at Gustavus Adolphus College, Wayne State also has a good libguide on the subject, and ALA has an interesting blog with lots of articles on this subject.

The point is not to become afraid but to become informed, then make the right decisions for you.

Fister, B. (2017). Boundaries of ‘information’ in information literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from


  1. I am in the same boat!I do not think about the issues as much as I should and I reply on the various privacy settings I have put in place. This speaks volumes IMHO:

    The point is not to become afraid but to become informed, then make the right decisions for you.

  2. Hi Christine,

    I remember reading articles and watching videos on internet security and videos on ‘who is watching you’ similar to the ideas you brought up in your post. The internet is like a ocean in a way with many layers. It always surprises you as you delve in deeper and it’s always possible to encounter the dark side. But I think that yes it can be frightening but it’s good to consider being proactive, getting the education on these matters, and make an informed decision.

    This is incredibly profound. I do appreciate that there is a libguide created on this subject and that ALA shares blogs and other sorts of resources related to this topic because I think it’s important.

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