A Personal Transfer: From Shell International to Bits of Freedom

Bits of Freedom
Bits of Freedom

About 4.5 years ago I wrote about me going to work for Shell. Now I am changing employer again. Starting today I will be the director of Bits of Freedom, a Dutch organization focusing on privacy and freedom of communication in the digital age.

I’ve had a wonderful time at Shell: a steep learning curve, many opportunities for doing interesting projects in the learning technology and disruptive innovation fields, smart colleagues and enough scale and budget to try out big things. I wasn’t looking to leave, but couldn’t let this chance pass by.

If you know me even a little, then you will understand that going to work for Bits of Freedom is very much a passionate choice. As somebody who understands and appreciates the positive potential of technology, I am deeply worried about the technology-mediated future we are currently creating for ourselves. I want to make an impact and change that for the better. I can’t imagine a place in the Netherlands that is more at the forefront on issues like surveillance, the EU privacy directive or net neutrality than Bits of Freedom. I am honoured that I get to work there for the next few years.

This will likely also mean a change in course for this blog. Future digital rights related posts will go up in Dutch on the Bits of Freedom blog (Creative Commons-licensed naturally). I will have less time to focus on the world of learning, but will put some thinking into privacy of learners, data ownership and learning analytics in the next few months. Let’s see what gets posted here going forward…

Digital Civil Rights: a Guest Lecture

Today I had the pleasure of doing a guest lecture for Bits of Freedom at the University of Leiden in a course titled Anthropology of Information Society. I used many examples to try and drive home two points:

  1. Technology is not just a tool, it is not “neutral”
  2. You can help change technology for the better

One thing the students did, was write their own personal data policies (kind of like a reverse terms of service for using a webservice). This is something that I intend to explore further in this blog pretty soon.

[slideshare id=9790836&doc=111020digitalcivilrights-111020081332-phpapp02]

You can also download the presentation as a 12MB PDF file.

Looking forward to any comments that you might have.