Plan Your Content


If you’re considering adding a blog to your site, you’ll want to have a plan beforehand. Planning your blog will help your subject matter remain consistent over time. It’ll also help you determine whether or not there’s enough material to maintain a steady stream of posts.

One pitfall many new bloggers run into is starting a blog that isn’t posted to frequently enough. A shortage of recent posts can give your visitors a bad impression of your business. One may think “I wonder if they’re still in business” or “they may want to hire a writer.”

A blog, like any other customer facing aspect of your business, communicates your brand. If it isn’t maintained and given proper attention, people will notice. Post regularly and keep your content fresh. Give your audience a reason to visit often.

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Pages vs. Posts


If you’re new to WordPress you may be wondering what’s the big deal behind Pages and Posts. At first glance they appear to be one and the same: if you were to create either a new page or a new post you’d be presented with nearly identical interfaces and in many cases the public appearance of pages and posts will look the same.

Don’t let this fool you. There’s a very fundamental difference between the two and that difference is what makes CMSs, like WordPress, great platforms for integrating blogs with traditional websites.


Think about the kind of pages that make up a typical website. Most often you’ll see pages like “Home”, “About Us”, “Services”, “Contact Us”, etc. Within WordPress these are often treated as Pages; documents that have no particular regard for the time they were posted.

For example, when you visit the “About Us” page of your favorite company’s website you don’t expect the content to be very different from what was available there a week ago.

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Categories and Tags


If you write about a variety of subjects, categories can help your readers find the posts that are most relevant to them. For instance, if you run a consulting business, you may want some of your posts to reflect work you’ve done with previous clients, while having other posts act as informational resources. In this particular case, you can set up 2 categories: one labeled Projects and another labeled Resources. You’d then place your posts in their respective categories.

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During an AVNation Special, Tim Albright started listing some of the things I do to promote Diversity. I have been asked repeatedly, “Why [are you doing this]?” Allow me to answer that.

Let me be clear, I am sharing my actions to encourage others to follow suit. It is not “virtue signaling”. It is leading by example and sharing some of the actions people can do. Thank you to Alesia Hendley for clarifying the intent during AVWeek Episode 559. To use a quote attributed to Sally Ride, “If you don’t see it, you can’t be it.”Not everything I do to improve the world is public, nor should it be.

Changing employers in 2018 resulted in me being part of a much more diverse workplace. Many of my coworkers were not middle age white men.  I am surprised at how much of an impact that change has had. While getting to know people I was impressed by people’s backgrounds. People had multiple advanced degrees. People that are across the gender and sexuality spectrums. People of different races. People of different nationalities. Talking with people I became much more aware of the challenges and roadblocks nonwhite straight males have.

Becoming more aware of the challenges people face, I started to notice discrepancies more often. A few events and conversations were very impactful. It is impossible for me to list everyone and everything. I do want to mention two people, Clarisse (Vamos) Falls and Amy Shira Teitel. they shared experiences that illustrated the situations very well. I asked before I shared their names. The illustrations are amalgams of multiple people’s experiences.

Being a space and science aficionado, I read Amy’s book “Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA” and enjoyed it. When her next book “Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight” was released I added it to my queue. I was already aware of some of the problems. Seeing a more complete picture made me realize how much I did not know or did not notice. While reading Amy’s book, I was amazed at the number of barriers women faced. I learned how widespread and institutionalized the exclusion of women was. When Wally Funk went to space as part of Blue Origin’s first crewed flight news organizations were getting history wrong. They were saying she was part of a NASA program. The study that Wally Funk took part in was not a NASA initiative at all, it was not First Lady Astronaut Training (FLAT). It was a private study heavily subsidized by Jackie Cochrane, a main person in Amy’s book. Women were not part of the astronaut program until January 1978

Within the “diverse” workplaces there is still a lack of action. I understand that the terms guys and dude are widely considered non-gendered. When someone has said repeatedly that they do not appreciate the term and a manager continues to use it, it shows the attitude toward making a change. This hesitancy can also be seen in upper management typically. At many places the ratio of women to men is not even close to even. When women bring it up, they are dismissed as being aggressive or a “bitch”. That is an outright insult. Women are 50%, okay 49.6%, of the population but are not represented at that same level in many fields.

I worked with a man who was an admitted misogynist. He told people, but more importantly his actions in the workplace reflected it. When issues became widespread and noticed human resources had to get involved. The person was suspended for one week. As one of the people who reported incidents, I am still amazed but not surprised that nothing more substantive happened. I feel that if I had not reported the issues, the problems would have been dismissed by HR as “women being too sensitive and needing to get used to it.” Why should women need to accommodate people being mean to them? Why should anyone?

I have watched women told that they would be taken more seriously if their hair looked different. There are times during meetings, people have leaned over and made downright lewd comments about coworkers. I have seen women who have more experience and more knowledge been mansplained to. I almost choked when a man started explaining to a woman about her area of expertise.

At tradeshows I have seen too many women addressed as “Cupcake, Sweetheart, Honey … etc.” At too many shows I have seen women used as eye candy. I have seen women dismissed as not being knowledgeable about a product that they manage. I watched as a man told a woman, a polyglot, she was pronouncing a French word wrong; she is fluent in French.

I could continue with examples for much longer. Think what would happens if someone said to a man, I would take you more seriously if your hair wasn’t brown. Imagine having someone, unrequested, explain your area of expertise to you. I am highlighting problems I often did not notice. I will admit I have done some of these things.

Some would say I am “woke”. I prefer to say I am more aware and observant. I have always known things like this are wrong. I just did not always notice the problems as they are so common it has become normal. 

I previously posted on social media, “The week of Jan 6 has been tumultuous. There are opinions & feelings at hot levels; mine included. There are companies/people that I will no longer do business with as a result of their actions or comments. I understand it will happen to me as well. I am okay with that. #BeKind” I want to clarify a few things and expand on the post, both here on the company website as well as on social media sites.

It is important to live one’s values as they see fit. What works for me may not work for others. That is fine and understandable. However, there are certain lines that need to be respected and adhered to. Many of us know these as societal norms. Some refer to the essay by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things Some use The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, The Talmud, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, The US Constitution… etc. They all have some basic guideposts on how to live.

Those who know me have heard me talk about my beliefs and rules of living as well. I have shared them and had them on my personal website for well over a decade. The week of January 6, 2021 was the first time I felt that they were incomplete. I could not apply them cleanly to the situation. As a business owner I firmly believe that I have the right to refuse service to people, if they are not being discriminated against as a protected class. I put those beliefs on the website and even printed it on the back of our first piece of marketing material, a calendar.

The key item I keep coming back to as I wonder how to implement these beliefs at Advisist is the idea of, “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” In that section I call out various scenarios that would result in Advisist refusing to work with someone. I kept coming back to, “We believe in free speech, but that does not mean that there won’t be repercussions. We do not work with hate or extremist groups.” That is the line I set forth when I formed the company; that is the litmus test we will continue to use.

President Donald Trump, through his words and actions since losing the 2020 presidential election, entered into the realm of being an extremist. Mr. Trump’s action and words on January 6 and since then have become hateful and extreme.

What does that mean? If you are Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Independent, or anywhere else on the political spectrum, that is fine; I am happy to work with you. If you still support Mr. Trump after January 6, 2021 I request that you look elsewhere for the services we provide. If you do not believe that the election was a proper election and the outcome accurate, I ask that you look elsewhere for services.

I understand that I may lose business and friends as a result of this approach, however I need to do what I believe is right. I believe in Free Speech and your right to your opinions; I will defend your right to have them. It does not mean that there are not repercussions.

This post was originally written in 2011. I removed this post as I was an employee of Universal Parks & Resorts Creative, a subsidiary of Comcast from March 5, 2018 until November 6, 2020. This issue still remained an issue as I left the office.

November 6, 2020

As my faithful Twitter reader knows, I have been having some issues with my computer attaching to the network at the office. It has been Outlook locking me out, Windows Domain Server locking me out, IT (Information Technology) changing the network configuration, entire system going down… etc. Some of these issues were due to the configuration changes that IT is making, some were unforeseen, some were just plain dumb luck.

Something that surprises me though is that for how much we like to cast aspersion on IT; sometimes we are our own worst enemy. By we, I mean the users. Not just at my company but pretty much everywhere IT has a love hate relationship with the users, the users love to hate IT. I am not saying that IT is beyond reproach, but some of the decisions we make, often times it makes it worse for everyone.

One of the most common complaints I am hearing is about the speed of the Internet. The next common complaint is the fact that many IT departments limit the streaming or some of the social network options. These concerns and complaints are all interrelated and is a case of size.

Many offices are connected with a T1 connection, which sounds “fast” but in reality it is not so much. The standard is that a T1 is 1.544 Mbps (megabits per second). The typical upper limit on residential DSL is 3 Mbps. Cable is much faster with an upper limit of 30 Mbps. Based on that it is easy to see why people often say, “The Internet is much faster at home.” Of course the first comment is why not just bring in something other than a T1? Yes, it is possible but for most business they are looking at uptimes and guaranteed bandwidth. Most contracts with a T1 or similar service state you will have a level of uptime or availability as well as guaranteed minimum speeds.

Most residential broadband services rate the speed as “up to 22Mbps” or something similar. They also typically do not have a guarantee on your uptime or availability. The Comcast Guarantee does not have a guarantee for availability or speed; the Residential Agreement also does not have a speed or availability commitment, the only credits occur after a 24 hour continuous outage. The business agreement has the same issue of lacking performance commitments.

So if I were running a business would I rely on a connection that might be non functioning for a day with no speed minimum, or would I rather have a higher availability and slower speed? I would take the one with a real service level agreement of what bandwidth and connectivity will be delivered.

The next item that impacts the speed is the amount of people using that connection to the Internet. At your house where you might have speeds up to ten times faster, you will typically have no more than four people using the connection at the same time. Now compare that to a business environment, forty people sharing a connection would not be unheard of would it? Not only is it less bandwidth but more people are using it

So if there are 40 people sharing a 1.544 Mbps or 1,554 kbps connection, let’s divide it equally. It is now each person getting 38.6 kbps. Remember dial up modems at 33.6 kbps? Now one user decides to stream a video, the typical bandwidth options are 300 kbps, 500 kbps, or 700kbps. If the user decides to stream the video at 700kbps they have effectively used half of the entire T1, okay it is only 45% but don’t forget the rest of the content on the page. So now because of one person everyone is experiencing delivered speed that can be slower than a dial up modem. Remember the bandwidth is shared for everyone.

Yes, the same thing happens in hotels, coffee houses, airport lounges … etc. bandwidth is shared.

So if I was responsible for productivity and availability of the Internet at a business, what is the first thing I would do? Turn off streaming. Why? It is a bandwidth hog and there are typically more important things to use the bandwidth on that will directly impact staying in business.

Yes, I still think that many IT departments make decisions that are not helpful to the end-users. Yes, I think that the help desk often doesn’t. I just want to point out that we as the users are sometimes the problem. Please, before you decide to fire up Pandora or Slacker, or surf YouTube think about if you are slowing down others? Don’t be a bandwidth hog.

My solution? I take lunch after most people and stay later than most. Why? Since everyone has left for lunch or for home, I get better bandwidth. I also listen to music using my iPod.

This post was originally written in 2011. I removed this post as I was an employee of Universal Parks & Resorts Creative, a subsidiary of Comcast from March 5, 2018 until November 6, 2020. As a result of moving in 2018 my provider options changed as well as the landscape of bandwidth overall. This issue is still just as important.

November 6, 2020

Over the past few weeks there has been talk about Net Neutrality, including the FCC making rulings. I will be the first to admit that me writing about the issue is a little late, as the decisions have already been made. The decisions are not final and with Joe Lieberman now wanting to be able to turn off the Internet it is time for us to get more involved with the issues.

The item I am concerned about is what happens when Internet access providers start favoring their services over the completion. Now some will say that there is the ability to change the provider of high speed Internet. This issue is not entirely true. Just as one cannot in the United States freely chose which cable television company to use, one cannot freely chose which high speed provider to use. The Internet providers are limited by both technological needs and government mandates. Yes, one can use satellite or wireless or other solutions but it is not always comparing equal delivery of services. Think about the issues AT&T had with traffic saturation and the iPhone.

Currently my options for high-speed Internet access at my home are:

  • Comcast Cable Modem (22Mbps down and 6Mbps up)
  • AT&T DSL (1.5Mbs down/384kbps up)
  • Earthlink or other Dial Up (0.0336Mbs down/33.6kbps up)
  • Hughes Net (2Mbps down300kbps up; capped at 400MB of data a month)
  • FiOs and UVerse are not available

So given these conditions I am pretty sure that all of us would chose Comcast. Also given the pricing structure, Comcast makes the most sense financially. Now Comcast has some programs in place to provide additional services through them for their customer’s use. Comcast offering Mozy is an example of extra services.

From the Comcast press release: “Comcast High-Speed Internet customers automatically receive 2 GB of storage included with their subscription. This amount allows for storage of up to hundreds of photos, music files, or thousands of documents. Comcast also offers a 50 GB storage plan for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annually, and a 200 GB storage plan for $9.99 monthly or $99.99 annually.” The webpage outlines the basic examples.

I knew that I needed more than 2GB of backup. I wanted offsite storage in addition to backup. The differences can be subtle between storage and backup, but that is another blog post. After looking at the options I decided to use JungleDisk, it is less expensive per month and has other features I want.

One can easily see how JungleDisk is competition to Mozy. They offer similar services and both require high-speed connectivity to work effectively. What happens if Comcast was to decide to put priority on the traffic to Mozy and degrade the traffic to JungleDisk?

The issue of how one selects a service becomes much more complex. If the bandwidth I am using to connect to JungleDisk is throttled back wouldn’t that change my experience and cause me to think about another solution. All of the sudden Mozy would be much more of an option as a result of being much faster for me as a Comcast user. Having a backup take an hour instead of two hours can be a very big deal – especially if one is trying to backup data before leaving on a trip.

Now you might say, under what guise would Comcast throttle traffic like that, “network management”. I easily see a situation where Comcast would decide that backups running at 2AM on everyone’s computer were causing congestion. The first solution any reasonable business is to make sure its customers and partners’ experience is optimized to keep the complaints to a minimum. The majority of the users might be using Mozy since it is included and I would be in the minority using JungleDisk. So the decision made to correct the problem for the majority by providing priority to Mozy would make sense from a customer satisfaction evaluation. I am glossing over the way that this management can be done, it is not just how data is transmitted to my location it is also how the traffic is transmitted across the interconnections of the Internet itself.

Due to the partnership between Mozy and Comcast and possible bandwidth management, Mozy might gain me as a customer while JungleDisk would lose me as a customer. Beyond that I would lose as a consumer as the choice I made would be compromised. I would have to look at the ability to use the service not just the price of the service.

This issue can be applied to many other products, virus protection software, website hosting, picture hosting, voice services. Yes, Vonage and Skype can be blocked and already have been blocked by Internet Service Providers. The same ones that offer phone service. The FCC did require the voice services to be unblocked.

To paint with a very wide and absurd brushstroke, it would be akin to the electric company also selling light bulbs. Of course their light bulbs work better for most users. They did not allow for people to tailor their light bulb choices as the power was optimized to work with the electric company’s bulb vendor. So to get effective lighting, the user is relegated to purchasing what the electric company is selling even if it isn’t the best solution for them.

Let me know if you want me to talk about Comcast now having NBC/Universal content. I am sorry why is Netflix or ABC or Fox or Hulu or …. streaming so slowly?

So when people talk about Net Neutrality, it is not just something for the technophiles. It can impact anyone who uses the Internet.

When I wrote this piece in November of 2017 for I was hoping it would not become evergreen. I have updated it to September 2020.
Bradford September 20, 2020

Note: I am not an attorney and this does not qualify as legal advice. I share these examples based on what I have learned from training I have taken.

I try to keep my blogs fairly light and as positive as possible. This post is not going to be that. I didn’t think it would need to be repeated. This post is about harassment, specifically sexual harassment. It has gotten more news coverage in the States in October of 2017 as a result of the New York Times’ investigation of Harvey Weinstein. Harassment needs to stop in all industries and locations. This problem is a global problem. It is not limited to just one industry. I have seen it first hand in the AV Industry. I am disappointed to say I saw it in 2020. Yes, racism and prejudice is a bigger issue. There are people much more eloquent than me authoring ideas and suggestions. I will wait until I find my word.

My belief is that we all have a responsibility of addressing this issue. My opinion is, “If you see harassment happening in the workplace and don’t take action, you are complicit.”

I have multiple times. If needed I will do it again It takes courage. It is scary. That is secondary to the importance of taking action and making sure people know it is not okay. It may even help the victim feel better as they will know they are not alone and have support. It is not your responsibility to solve the issue. Everyone being safe is the key item.

Whether intentional or not, no one has the right to make others feel attacked or harassed in the workplace. A person can cause harm unintentionally but it is still harm. During this pandemic, commenting that someone gained weight while staying home can be considered harassment. It can also be classified as harassment if someone else gets uncomfortable it even if not directed at them. Asking someone’s religion or sexual orientation can also be harassment if it makes the person uncomfortable. Yes, it is about knowing the situation. It is not draconian, but I understand if it feels like it. A few years back a coworker’s daughter had a baby. I saw him in the hallway and said, “Hi Grandpa” which he took as congratulations. I knew him, I knew the husband of his daughter. It was an appropriate term of congratulations in that situation. If I had used Grandpa as an insult about his age, that would have been an issue. It is situational awareness.

In the workplace you don’t have to intervene directly. You can reach out to Human Resources or see if your employer has a “hotline” for issues. If they are not helpful, the next place would be the Labor Board or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States. Do not worry about damaging someone’s job performance, status, or reputation. They are the one acting that way, not you or the victim. You can provide support with small acts, for example not leaving the victim alone with the harasser.

“If you see harassment happening in the workplace and don’t take action, you are complicit.”

Bradford Benn

Think about how being harassed might damage the victim’s job status or chance of advancement. I wonder how many people have left a job, or an industry, as a result of being uncomfortable. Management harassing people can have an impact on the company’s reputation. Taking action typically will not. Cards Against Humanity failed to act when a rape accusation against Max Temkin in August of 2014 and the brand did suffer. It was not addressed by the company and continued to fester until June of 2020 Mr. Temkin was ousted for sexual harassment. It has continued to impact their reputation and revenue. Compare that to Charlie Rose being fired the day credible accusations were lodged. It quickly went away as the public was seeing the company acting quickly and sternly.

Reporting details and facts does not mean harassment has taken place. Reporting an incident simply means you are concerned about another human, not a bad thing. A key action is to make contemporaneous notes. A fancy way of saying write things down as soon as possible or even as it happens. Document as many details as you can and think are appropriate. Be factual and as objective as possible. I have gone so far as to draw a table and indicate where people were seated. Documenting the incident when it happens will make sure details are not forgotten

I am not belittling what people of color or women go through. I am amazed and disgusted at the amount of issues that happen to minorities and women. It is important to be aware harassment happens in all sorts of situations, whether it be gender, sexual preferences, religion, politics, skin color, eye color, weight, vocabulary … etc.

These ideas do not just apply to the work place but to the world in general. It is much scarier when out and about. The first thing to consider is safety before getting involved. The idea of documenting things still applies, just in case things escalate. @itsmaeril has put together a guide about “What to do if you are witnessing Islamaphobic Harrasment. – A bystander’s guide to help the person who’s being targeted.” This guide applies in all situations not just Islamaphobia. Swing by her site to take a look. I have included a lower resolution version below.

During the start of working from home in March of 2020, issues were still happening. One salesman placed a photo of a buxom women in an audio sales presentation with a double entendre about racks as slang and as audio equipment. He show the presentation on a webcast while being recorded. He not only made himself look bad, he made the company look bad. (I know people at the company, the presentation was not reviewed or approved by the company.) The fact that the salesman thought it would be good to put that slide in shows that he did not think about others. He downplayed the importance of women in the AV industry. Yes, it might have been unintentional, but it still impacted his company and his reputation.

Why do I care so much about this issue?

  1. It sucks to be harassed.
  2. I don’t like that I worry about possible issues with asking a coworker for their phone number or e-mail address so we can stay in touch after we stop working together
  3. It sucks to be harassed.

Why should you care?

  1. It sucks to be harassed.
  2. Harassment hurts people
  3. Harassment leads to less collaboration, everywhere.
  4. It sucks to be harassed.

None of this is easy. I will not say that there won’t be reactions to your actions. I have seen changes in my “social circles”. I look at it as I don’t want to be friends with people who harass others. I don’t regret my actions at all.

I am still saddened that this conversation still needs to occur.

Remember, one is protected against retaliation from their employer by law (in the United States) as long as the complaint is submitted in good faith.
Please be nice to all, make the world a little better. If you need an ally, just ask; there are many of us around.
Thank you,

A poster to show how to be an ally.

This piece was originally published at September 7, 2017. I have updated it to reflect my personal opinions.
Bradford September 18, 2020

During the week of August 25, 2017 Dreamhost, a hosting company, was under a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The attack resulted in basically everything and my domains not working. In total I had about 45 domains and subdomains that were non functioning. I was also in China on a business trip.

The reasons for this attack has not been formally announced nor has anyone taken responsibility for the attack. There are two likely causes. Dreamhost had been in the news for two stories during that week; the first was telling the US Department of Justice that it would not supply IP addresses of who visited a site. The second reason was that “The Daily Stormer” used the automated registration process to start a new site, “Punished Stormer” after being denied hosting by other companies. For those that are not familiar, these sites are aimed toward spreading hate speech.

I indicated these reasons to AVNation and that I did not plan on changing hosting or DNS (Domain Name Server) services. There were practical reasons, but more importantly I support the decisions that Dreamhost made. I explained to AVNation that if the business risk was too high I would start changing once I got back to the United States. I would not be changing my personal hosting as I believe the issues causing the problems are important. Yes, there was no debate within AVNation that it was the right thing to do.

The first reason I decided that three years ago was a federal judge signed a search warrant against DreamHost. The Department of Justice (DoJ) was looking for information sought by federal prosecutors investigating the disturbances that occurred in Washington, D.C. during President Trump’s inauguration. The DoJ wanted the IP address of anyone who had visited the website If you looked at the website the government wanted to know. I liken the situation to looking at the cover of a book or magazine, not peruse or purchase, the government wanted to know that you looked at it. Librarians for years have been fighting this issue, The government knowing what you are reading is not appropriate in my opinion. Dreamhost’s account of the situation can be found here as well as EFF

The Daily Stormer being denied service by Dreamhost and others is not a 1st Amendment issue. The government did not make a law banning the Daily Stormer; multiple hosting companies, GoDaddy, Cloudflare, and Google to name a few, did not want to host them. The Daily Stormer had quietly registered the new domain, Punished Stormer, using an online signup form. IOnce Dreamhost became aware of the domain they terminated the website. “Unfortunately, determined internet vigilantes weren’t willing to wait for us to take that action,” DreamHost said in a statement to Ars Technica. “They instead launched a DDoS attack against all of DreamHost. We were ultimately able to declaw that attack, but the end result was that most of our customers experienced intermittent connectivity issues to their sites today.”

I believe that The Daily Stormer has the right to free speech as well. The government is not censoring them. The companies refusing to host or support a website under their terms of service is mostly legal. [Yes, discrimination is not legal.] If it becomes Hate Speech and inciting violence it is no longer free speech. [Yes, also a slippery slope.]

I am supporting my beliefs even if it means an occasional problem, not all financial decisions are made solely by dollars.

September 20, 2020

This post was originally written in May 2017 and posted at I am reposting this piece as I believe it is extremely important. It is more of an issue with the COVID pandemic and the amount of children learning at home.
Bradford – September 17, 2020

Many of you know, I am a proponent of online privacy. Recently I received an article about the implications of Educational Technology (EDTech) and the use of it and how it impacts privacy. While I don’t have children, I believe that their education is important. Part of that education is learning about privacy, what is appropriate for online, and that surveillance is not standard.

Much of this information is sourced from the report “EFF Releases Spying on Students Ed Tech Report” by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I found various things interesting, a child enrolled in Google Apps for Education (GAFE) much of the privacy decisions are taken away from the parent and given to the school system through the GAFE administrator. Under the agreement, Google makes with the school system many of the decisions are made for the student by the education department without checking with the parent. Some will say I am a cranky old person with this next phrase, “When I was in school, we needed a permission slip for a field trip. Now the school is deciding the online presence of their students – without any permission.”

The school system can create a Google account with personally identifiable information for a minor without the parental consent. If the parent (or guardian) asks for the information to be deleted, it is the decision of the school administrator whether or not it will be honored. Yes, the parents don’t get to chose. There are hundreds of pieces of education software or services in use. There are multiple terms of service and privacy to review for these services; I do not want to think about how long it would take to read these agreements. Some of these services are owned by Google and will share information with GAFE. Once again the majority of these services can be configured by the school system, not the parents.

The EFF has collected case studies to help illustrate the concerns and challenges. You can find them here

Right about now you are asking why I am talking about this topic. Many students are learning from home.. There are various software and technologies being used. Not many will think about how the privacy of students is considered. Asking a question such as, “Does this require signing up for an account?” or “Can one plug a USB storage device in or use a local network connection?” These simple questions can assist in the evaluation of the solutions.

Just as one would ask about security for a corporation or a government project, one should think about it for education and their home network. More often that it should occur, the technology provider is helping to educate the schools to understand the complex issues of using newer technology. Are you ready to ask questions?

Think about how you would feel if your child is being watched by Google without your permission. Not just teenagers, children just starting school.

Hat tip to EFF for their open source student privacy logo