danah boyd articulates the move from private to public in online spaces about as well as anyone, I think:
Social media has prompted a radical shift. We’ve moved from a world that is “private-by-default, public-through-effort” to one that is “public-by-default, private-with-effort.” Most of our conversations in a face-to-face setting are too mundane for anyone to bother recording and publicizing. They stay relatively private simply because there’s no need or desire to make them public. Online, social technologies encourage broad sharing and thus, participating on sites like Facebook or Twitter means sharing to large audiences. When people interact casually online, they share the mundane. They aren’t publicizing; they’re socializing. While socializing, people have no interest in going through the efforts required by digital technologies to make their pithy conversations more private. When things truly matter, they leverage complex social and technical strategies to maintain privacy. [Emphasis mine.]
And this is more than just knowing how to “leverage complex social and technical strategies to maintain privacy,” something that in and of itself should be a required literacy for anyone using social media. (Are we teaching this?) It’s also about how we consume and share what others make public.
We had this discussion during a Leading Edge session yesterday, and I was struck by how little I had really thought about that piece of it. That it’s not just about making good decisions when we publish, but it’s also about making good decisions when we consume what others publish as well. Not so much in terms of what’s good content and what’s not so good content. But in terms of what responsibility each one of us has as gatekeeper for the other.
Are we teaching that, too?
All of which leads me back to why, I think, we have to help move educators into these public spaces online. There are levels of complexity here that can only be understood by participating, and while I realize there are risks, we have to find ways to mitigate them for the sake of teaching our kids those network literacies that will allow them to flourish.