Email like someone is watching

You can’t help but read this message as a result of the US elections.  “The results were the way that they were because of Wikileaks and exposed email messages.”

How embarrassing, if true.

It brought back memories of at least a couple of other digital embarrassments.

The first one was with an individual who was really “in my face” just before a meeting was about to start.  He was adamant that “there was someone at the board office” who read everyone’s email.

What he didn’t realize at the time was that the email administrator was standing right behind him waiting for a chance to talk to me.

The second memory was of one of our first online meetings with Adobe Connect.  If you’ve ever used the software, you’ll know that there’s a chat window to have conversations while the meeting is ongoing.  The default is that all of the chats are public and I personally prefer that for discussions rather than having people interrupting each other as part of a fight for the microphone and everyone’s attention.  The chat also has a function where you can have a private discussion with another person in the meeting.  In this particular case, one individual was having a private discussion about the leader’s ability to run an effective meeting.  Little did she know that the person who runs the meeting can see all the discussions, even if you think it’s private.

Both were a couple of wake up calls.

How about us now?

First, as a child didn’t your parents tell you to keep your negative thoughts to yourself?  What’s the point of spreading them since there’s always a chance that the message will spread in the wrong direction.  After all, your friend today may not be your friend tomorrow.  Messages are easily forwarded to someone else or maybe you’ll be the victim of a Wikileaks deal.

In the classroom, we talk about digital citizenship.  How many times have we delivered the message “Don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see”?  I keep waiting for the response “but my grandmother is cool”.

But, maybe in the bigger scheme of things, we should take these messages personally and reflect on our own use of digital media.  Today it’s email which I think many people will agree is a dying tool.  I know that the bulk of my email is subscriptions to blogs and news services.  Oh, and spam.

What would have happened if the released emails were all about business?  Would it have made a difference?  What would have happened if the email was on an officially serviced server?  I suspect there would have been a bigger outrage against the hackers than the content of the email.

What about your own email and email use?  Does it cut the mustard in the year 2016?

Check out this interesting read “Donald Trump will control the NSA – what this means for your privacy“.  Admittedly, it’s posted to the Protonmail site which provides an encrypted email service in Switzerland.  The description about how the service works is interesting and would make for a great classroom discussion.  What I found most interesting in the article is the growth of new accounts immediately after the election.  It shows me that people are seriously thinking about their email services.  

Are you?

Lest this get too serious, check out this piece of advice from students about how to email your teacher.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

3 thoughts on “Email like someone is watching

  1. There are lots of great things to respond to here, Doug. What caught me first though was your comment that “email is dying.” I wonder if others would agree! The number of emails that I get at school is huge, and they’re emails about students, concerns, and informational items. Many require a response. I only have 3-4 friends that email me on my personal account, but in education, email is still big. I wonder if others find the same thing. Is it that another system hasn’t consistently come to education yet, or is it that email is still what people want?

    As for my own emails, it’s hard. On my school account, I’m always professional. But my personal email can vary. I always try to think that “someone else could read this,” but sometimes we need to vent, and sometimes, email becomes the option we use (for a variety of reasons). I’m not saying that my emails are Clinton-like, but when so much of our communication is in digital spaces, do we sometimes embrace the false belief of “true privacy?” I wonder …



  2. Interesting observations, Aviva. Thanks for sharing them. I’ve got to wonder if your board has rules about emailing “concerns about students”.

    In my little corner of the world, email seems to be a very last resource. People that want immediate answers typically text or use direct messages on social media. I’ve fallen into that domain myself – there’s a time lag between sending the message and the time that people actually get around to reading it. Other media, while still could have that lag, seem to get almost immediate results.

    Of course, you’d have to get a cell phone for the text part!


  3. I am told that lawyers at Microsoft like to say that the “e” in “email” stands for “evidence.” Probably a lot of truth to that. There are secure email systems and even secure phones. Friends of mine used to work on them at a company called Silent Circle. Expensive but then security usually is.

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