Infovore

Infovore

A friend once described me as an “Eater of Books” in the rate at which I consumed them… Mitch Joel has the right of it when talking about Infovores,  which is another way I’d describe myself The good Personally, I have a hard time watching a dance competition on TV knowing full-well that iTunes U is stuffed to the digital rafters with audio and video Podcasts from some of the leading universities and given by the best professors… and that’s just one, small channel. And the less good The other side of the challenge is that there is simply not enough time to follow, consume and deeply ingest everything. You will never be able to read every e-newsletter, Blog post, tweet or listen/watch every Podcast or interesting YouTube video. As an Infovore, I’ve become quite comfortable with a diet that consists of both grazing and then taking the time to really enjoy a full and hearty meal (I tried to read one book every week). The mightiest of Infovore’s embrace the “mark all as read” button and take refuge in knowing that it’s not about consuming everything....
Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

I received the following reply to my email complaint in relation to the Primary Online Database (POD). Link takes you to the full letter. The fundamental questions still remain unanswered. My comments are interspaced with text from the Ministers  letter On retention of data The current retention policy for Primary Online Database (POD) data is for records to be maintained for the longer of either the period up to the pupil’s 30th Birthday or for a period of ten years since the student was last enrolled in a primary school The Department’s retention policy is for audit and accounting purposes as pupil’s data is used in the allocation of teaching posts and funding to schools. The policy also serves to trace retention trends in the education system, is important for longitudinal research and policy formation, as well as being an important statistical indicator nationally and internationally. Aggregate and not individual data is used for the majority of these purposes This reads to me as “we’ll hold data until the kids are 30 even though we only need aggregate information for statistical purposes.” There is a clear conflict  in need between aggregate information, information for allocation of resources while children are in school and holding detailed information until the children are 30 (or possibly longer given we don’t know what processes will be in place to remove the information in 18 years time). On the racist nature of the cultural/ethnic categories We are committed to reviewing the questions asked in POD. As part of this we have reviewed our question in POD on the collection of information on Ethnic or Cultural Background. We feel that the question used...
Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

What is the Department of Education up to with the Primary Online Database. Simon McGarr has a hypothesis Why is the Department of Education so determined the #POD database be established that it will threaten to defund children's education? — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 I'd have said it was blind institutional inertia. But then I read the papers on the site the Dept refers schools to re DP from the #POD site — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Though it is always impossible to know the motivation of a gov Dept, my new theory fits all the available facts and explains #POD mysteries. — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept of Ed plans to keep a database of sensitive personal data on school children goes back to at least 2008, per DPC http://t.co/euMEJTO5vO — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 2008 was the year Louise O'Keeffe lost her Supreme Court case to find the Dept liable for child abuse in school. Appealed to ECHR #POD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Some extracts from the Data Protection for Schools site written in consultation with the Dept and which they link to pic.twitter.com/Uz3wqw8dfv — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 That site advocates grossly excessive "indefinite" retention periods for sensitive data, obvs. pic.twitter.com/tuVnEfTjLW http://t.co/SWlu9LrPvu — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept is also seeking to hold children's data indefinitely, per this circular. The 30yo piece is a smokescreen. #POD pic.twitter.com/9OCK8vxsOD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 They're explicit: why hold kids records indefinitely? It is to use against them to defend abuse claims in...
How do you categorise your children?

How do you categorise your children?

The Primary Online Database is one of the worst ideas I’ve come across.  Dave Molloy wrote a good piece about how easy abuse of the system could be. I want to pick at one of the little threads. The ethnic or cultural background categorisation Its useful when looking at a system to take apart the assumptions underlying it . There is a much longer piece to be written about categorisation and we’ll take one element here.  This is a list of drop down choices for one of the pieces of information for the Primary Online Database. Ethnic or cultural background (drop-down list) White Irish Irish Traveller Roma Any other White Background Black African Any other Black Background Chinese Any other Asian background Other (inc. mixed background) No consent The comment I used on Twitter when I first saw this list  “The word you’d use to describe the list of ethnic/cultural choices in the Dept of Eduction planned Primary Schools Database is WRONG.” Categories are artificial ways of slicing up the world.  Dave Snowden wrote an interesting post on Categories recently. In it he quoted a passage from Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ which is worth quoting again here. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to...