I’m taking over @WeRPhotography on twitter for a week

Weekly Photographer

As some of you may know I go by @scuba_suzy on twitter. I tweet mainly about photography and scuba related things with my 140 characters. This week from midnight tonight I’ll be taking over the curated account @WeRPhotography.

@scuba_suzy

So what is a curated account then? Well, essentially its an account that is run by different people. In the case of @WeRPhotography it features a different photographer /photography enthusiast each week to tweet about themselves, their work, their interests, basically anything they like. There are a few guidelines though. My fave of which is tweeting to ask Leonard Nimoy to take over for a week, yes Mr Spock is a photographer of naked ladies – who knew?! Here’s the introduction to the @WeRPhotography account project, brainchild of @JustJimWillDo which explains the whole thing in more detail. And the reason why I’m involved? Well as part of the process of taking over for a week Jim does a little interview with you and on week 6, Rebecca Jackrel recommended me as one of the people she’d like to see take part. So thanks Rebecca, thanks Jim, this looks like its going to be fun :)

Are you an accidental over-sharer?

OK, this is a little off topic for me but the subject came up at work so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about internet privacy and all the little ways you might be letting your details slip out without even realising it.

padlock

Why do you care?

“Well who cares if people see a bit of personal info, what are they going to do?”  Most people arn’t famous or interesting enough for a stalker so what harm does it do to share? Well I can think of one major reason why the average person should be cautious: MONEY!

If I was a burglar I’d totally be tuned into the net and it looks as though they really do. Think about it, if you know someone’s home will be empty for two weeks while they are away you’ve much less chance of getting busted, they can even case the joint with google street view. And how many of us photographers getting excited about our trip either tweet or blog about it while we’re away? The guys from pleaserobme.com knew that when they created their website to highlight this very issue. If you are really unlucky your insurance premiums might go up. The only saving grace for us photographers is – we don’t travel light… we take most of our expensive gear on holiday with us! Laptops, cameras etc.

Also, bank theft. How safe is your money? Think about it, what security questions does your bank put on your account and just how easy is it to google for those answers now? Mother’s maiden name? Birthday? Address? First pet? If you have telephone banking for example and forget your 27bazillion digit code (as everyone does) what questions do they ask to verify its you? You should try googling yourself to see if you can find the answers to your security questions.

How can you stop?

So where are we all allegedly sharing all this personal information? Any of these sites sound familiar?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr/Twitpic/other image sites
  • Blogs
  • Your own website?

A lot has been written about facebook privacy settings over the recent months (years?) so I wont go into that too much, but if you are interested check out the scary trend of the default privacy settings in facebook to allow your private data to be public with this chart… http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/ And definitely make a point of checking your privacy settings regularly . Facebook has got to be the first point of call for any information harvester just for the sheer volume of personal information that people share. Email addresses, other sites you belong to (to further harvest for info), likes and dislikes (which make great guessing information for passwords), where you went to school, what you do for a job. Don’t get me wrong, I like facebook, I’ve reconnected with loads of old friends and can easily keep in touch with new ones however even though I have adjusted my security settings to a level I’m happy with, stories like these don’t inspire confidence that any data on there could be kept private for long: http://www.metro.co.uk/tech/824782-facebook-chat-taken-down-over-major-security-flaw

Edit: after writing this post I saw this article about the more recent failings of facebook privacy… http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-rogue lots of things I didn’t know in there – very scary stuff! And this… about facebook integrating across the web: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/voices/2010/05/facebook-across-the-web-how-creepy.html

Twitter is such a simple premise. Everything is public (apart from DMs but it only takes one security hole to happen). Just remember that and be careful what you tweet. Its easy to get sucked into a conversation and believe that no one else is listening. Now that google searching twitter too you never know whos watching.

Flickr & twitpic / other image hosting sites are great but remember, if you take a snap of your front room what else is in the photo? In the background are you showing everyone what is in your house? Also, many images are now geo-tagged automagically by your camera or phone (this means all the exact location information is stored inside the picture and can be picked out by websites such as google maps). So if you use your iphone to photo everything then upload to the net immediately, you are essentially telling everyone where you are and what you are looking at right now! I think that feature can be turned off though.

Your own website/blog is completely in your control right? You have a contact form rather than an email address to keep you safe from the evil spammers? Well what about the whois information from your website domain? Whats that? Well, you can potentially get the name, address, phone number and email address of the owner just by looking up the whois on the website. Go on do it now…. http://www.whois.net/ lookup your domain and see what info it gives you.  With .co.uk sites you can almost always opt out of whois within your domian settings (meaning it displays the details of the company who you bought your web domain from).  For .coms only some web hosters provide that opt out service (and some charge for it), it’s worth transferring your domain to someone who’ll protect your privacy for you (I use nameguard.co.uk).

For an interesting article on location based privacy (and some scary questions for the future) check this link out: http://www.eff.org/wp/locational-privacy

“Locational privacy is also about knowing when other people know things about you, and being able to tell when they are making decisions based on those facts.”

The conclusion?

Batten down the hatches of your privacy leaks (that I mention above) and ask these three questions when writing anything online.

1. Will my mother read this?

2. Will my current or a future employer read this?

3. Am I writing because I have something to say or do I just have too much time on my hands? And blog after the fact to update the world of your doings…

Stay safe…

Suzy

Blog Renovation?

Since I joined twitter I’ve been exposed to so many interesting links and articles from and about photography and ways a photographer can use social networking/blogging/twitter etc to an advantage. @photojack is a really good source for this type of information and through him and various others I have found a whole raft of new and wonderful photographer blogs to follow – I’ll blog about these later. The point of this post (which I’ll get around to eventually) is much of the information that’s been feeding into my brain has started me to question the roll of my blog and how I can make it better, more interesting and perhaps even more widely read?

This series of really useful and interesting posts from PixelatedImage blog on how/why/should photographers blog really hit home…

The Photographer and the Blog, Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3

I must admit, I do fall into the category of bloggers that have a difficulty with writing. I enjoy it, but it takes me a while. I like to read blogs which have lots of lovely interesting links (inspired by kultureflash updates). And being a photographer I feel bad if my blog post doesn’t have a photo in it (like today). So over the bank holiday (yay) weekend I will endeavor to come up with the list of things that will hopefully transform my blog into something more people will find interesting to read and come back to. If you have any ideas that you would like me to implement (more tutorials on underwater equipment I have? Or a random image a day or whatever) please leave me a comment below. They are moderated (for catching those pesky spammers) so they will show up when I see and approve them. Have a good weekend all!

Is Twitter grinding to a halt?

Now that its gone mainstream do you find that twitter is slower to respond and sometimes does not load the pages correct?

I took this screenshot  today while DMing someone – oh no!

in case you cant read it (darn jpg compression) it says

Twitter is over capacity.

Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again.

Twitter – some thoughts

I’ve been on twitter now for about a week (less if you count that I didnt tweet much during the workdays) and I’ve discovered two surprising things.

Firstly its harder to tweet than you might think. At first I thought it was basically just as inane as a facebook status (so much so I hooked mine up to facebook so I wouldn’t have to status twice). However I now remember the reason I got bored of updating my facebook status in the first place. Its dull. No one cares if I’m eating chips with my breakfast or travelling to see my grandma. I’m not famous so this minutiae on my life interests anyone (apart from perhaps my grandma).

Before I’d learnt how to use the search facility (an unassuming link at the bottom of your twitter home page) I was limited to searching for people whose names I knew or whose blogs I’d happened to come across. Don’t get me wrong. I love to follow my friends and colleagues and the odd comedian but I feel the real benefit from twitter comes when you branch out and follow people who have the same interests as you. I am interested in photography as you know from my blog here ;) so I’ve now found a bunch of photographers to follow who post interesting info, links and so forth.

While I’m still very much a newbie (does anyone still you this word?) I am very much enjoying finding out new things about this fascinating social media every time I use it. And this is where google (as usual) is my friend, I have been wondering for a day or so what RT at the start of some posts meant. Then someone used the full word. Retweet. I found this really interesting article on retweeting as a result

Another interesting concept is hash-tagging. Like keywords in flickr and blogs it seems #tags are used as a sort of grouping mechanism. I’ve not really got my head full around it yet but it may be just as simple as tagging your post so that others may search on the keyword? Recent tags I’ve seen are #togs #CSS Sprites #photog #breakingnews and #Flickr

Something else I’ve noticed is the different rate at which people tweet. Some people tweet 6 times a minute and it feels like you have been blasted with a tweet gun. Some hardly post (I guess these would be lurkers) and some carry on a conversation with the people they follow and who follow them.
This is an interesting article I found about this: Conversational Symmetry and Twitter

I’m not yet sure which approach I prefer. I like to hold a conversation occasionally but I feel its rude if you ask someone a question and they do not reply. On the downside anyone viewing you profile only sees your posts and therefore only half the conversation which is no fun for anyone. If you tweet too much are you unnecessarily blocking up peoples twitter windows so nobody can get a word in edgeways? However if you merely lurk you aren’t going to be very exciting to follow. Personally I do not understand how you can follow thousands of people and expect to really follow them I have trouble keeping up with a few. Maybe its just a status things like having hundreds of ‘friends’ on facebook most of whom you dont really know and possibly wouldn’t even smile at in the street. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

One thing I love that I have discovered through twitter is posterous.com. How cool that you can auto blog via email! All those offices that block social media (like mine) will be scuppered by this one as email is now an indispensible business tool. I can now twitter at work (should I want to) just by sending an email thats one in the face of the IT services lol.
I now have pretty much everything hooked up. My posterous site feeds my twitter which feeds my facebook status and a updates box on my blog. I do love RSS feeds! :)

Feel free to follow me or just to take a look:

twitter: http://twitter.com/scuba_suzy

posterous: http://suzywalker.posterous.com/

and hot off the ‘press’, just as I was finishing typing in this post someone tweeted this article which looks very intersting too: http://www.interactiveinsightsgroup.com/blog1/ultimate-how-to-grow-your-social-media-network/

Blog updates

Have hooked up Twitter and my most recently updated galleries list as widgets in my blog side bar.

Also, I found out my blog has been featured on the Seven Seas.net articles page along with illustrious names like Alex Mustard, Andrea & Antonella Ferrari, Michael Aw and Asian Diver magazine.

http://www.thesevenseas.net/articles.php