Category Archives: ideas

Privacy and Self-boundaries

As part of the Social Media Committee, I was behind the scenes for Dr. Ethan Bernstein’s interview at the Academy of Management for his Outstanding Publication in OB award*.


One thing he said that got me thinking was:

“Privacy [in communication] is how far we want ourselves to go, set where the boundary is.”

I realize that my self-boundary is very wide and includes pretty much everyone while those of others are very restricted, which makes us come into conflict at times because we define our privacy and self-boundary differently. This issue has implications for information sharing: I tend to share most if not all information about myself or what I heard others say as it becomes part of myself and my experiences (unless it’s a confidential issue obviously).

However, others do not like to share information especially about themselves because they are “private.”

So the issue here is not about “privacy” per se but more where the boundary is.

Here’s another example of where the privacy definition breaks apart. A friend of mine feels uncomfortable showing pictures of herself in a bikini on Instagram and Facebook because her family and close friends are on it. But she’s ok with walking around in a public beach in the bikini. I would think if anyone had an issue it would’ve been the opposite! Here, it’s not just where her boundary is, but who she includes as part of the sphere for the boundary to be in the first place (i.e., strangers are not part of her sphere at all, so they don’t count in the privacy issue).

Moreover, there could be a belief (for those with restricted boundaries) that the information will be used in a malicious way. In this case, it also comes down to trust: how much do you trust random strangers?

I am a proponent of Couchsurfing and Airbnb, which pretty much bring strangers into your personal space and vice versa. Those using these services probably have a high level of trust in general although there are plenty of skeptics (don’t get me wrong there are cases of CS and Airbnb gone wrong, too. High trust doesn’t mean lack of safety sense).

Next time you come into conflict with someone about privacy and information sharing, it would help to learn about the other’s self-boundary before you get upset with the person.

*Bernstein, E. S. (2013). The transparency paradox: A role for privacy in organizational learning and operational control. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57, 181-216.


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Getting far in life

I was helping my landlord put up a border in one of their rental rooms today, and one of the other rooms was empty so we walked in to check it out. The tenant has left for the summer and is subletting it so all his stuff was gone…

Except for 3 curious items.

1) Half a bottle of white wine –> I guess he’s leaving it for the sub-letter? Apparently they are good friends.

2) Two strips of condom packs! –> with a note, “Use at will.” ROTFL

3) This is the most interesting item: A piece of paper stuck above his desk that had his goals on it.

This paper was entitled, “Get into Berkeley, A.I. PhD Program” (For those that dunno, A.I. = artificial intelligence). Below this was a table with 3 rows. The top row were the co-op/school terms for the rest of his undergrad. The second row were his goals for each term, for example, “Get a 90% average” and “Get an excellent review for the co-op term” etc. The bottom row were what he had to do to achieve each goals, for example, “Memorize the course syllabus” (I kid you not*) and “Work at least 10 hours a day.”

When I saw that, it made me realize how the hardcores get to where they are in life. How many undergraduate students you know have this!? I was impressed and thought that I will copy it.

This brings me back to the condoms. Perhaps he has so many left over because he’s so hardcore with school…

And did I mention this kid is Korean? Makes so much sense doesn’t it? (The hardcore with school part, not the lack of condom usage part.)

*..but how does that help with getting a 90%? That cognitive space could’ve been spared for other things and he can just look at the syllabus!

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Overdue Ignite Waterloo Post

I had the opportunity to attend Ignite Waterloo, and I’ve already “discussed” my issue with the event’s twitter feed projection but I haven’t commented on the speakers! Here are some of the highlights for me.

Renjie Butalid‘s Welcome to UAE – It was very interesting for me to hear someone talk about the Middle East to help dispel its myth. But I thought the phrase “greening the desert” (referring to the UAE) was an oxymoron. To me, building a bunch of skyscrapers in the middle of the desert is not the same as “greening” it. Unless they are including tons of parks in their city planning, I don’t buy it.

Lisa Farlow‘s Staying Sincere Online – It’s great that she founded 20 Something Bloggers, and I’m glad she’s from this region, but I felt that she misused the Ignite platform. According to the Ignite website:

What is Ignite?

Fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking, social, local, global—Ignite is all of these and more. It’s a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. Run by local volunteers who are connected through the global Ignite network, Ignite is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in each city. And, via streaming and archived videos of local talks, local Ignites share all that knowledge and passion with the world.

Now, she did share her passion, but all I could hear was her promoting her site. Perhaps it was a problem of framing; she could have framed her talk in such a way that promotes the bigger ideas behind her site such as self-expression and connections of like-minded individuals. But she came across as selling her network for the entire five minutes. I kept thinking, “Ok, in the next slide, she’s going to make her point about why this is a good thing,” but Lisa didn’t deliver. It was pretty much an adult version of a show and tell, where I left with a) knowing about the network and b) pissed off that all she did was promote it but gave me no “take home message” or thought provoking ideas. It would be great if she can also “[raise] the collective IQ.”

Alex Matan‘s How to Solve an Accordion in 45 Seconds – was brilliant. I’ve never had a desire to pick up an accordion until that day. The energy was good, and I was amazed at how much I learned about an accordion in 5 minutes (45 seconds?) Thanks, Alex!

Jeff Henry‘s How to Convince a Politician to Change His or Her Mind – Jeff was my Student Leadership Program facilitator, and I was surprised to see him here. However, I thought his timing was spot on, and he made a very interesting point. It makes people like me who doesn’t like politics to think about politics in a different light. I think he should do more of his talk to others to get more experts involved with politics!

Peter Huang‘s Geek Music – The best description of a House DJ ever, “musicians who look like they’re checking email all night” ROTFL! I already appreciate House music, but now I appreciate the artists even more!

Ramy Nassar‘s A Reverse History of Pranks – This talk made me quite nostalgic because I went to UBC. I dated/met/know a few engineers from UBC, but I didn’t know how infamous they were with their pranks! Another great speaker.

Erica Waugh
‘s In a Roundabout Way – I’ve already read about the benefits of roundabouts in Tom Vanderbilt’s book Traffic, which I highly recommend (to the more nerdy types like me who’ll read heavily researched book in an easy-to-read form.) It was cool to see someone so passionate about things commuters take for granted! (From Erica’s talk; Did you know that some roundabouts are designed to be driven over by large vehicles? Awesome!)

Brendan Lowther‘s Geocaching – Best Improvisation and Most Entertaining award goes to Brendan for sure. For some reason, almost none of his pictures showed up on the slides so he did the talk “blind.” But he had such a good humor about it that the audience laughed along with him, and we all ended up having a great time. I’ve done geocaching so this wasn’t new to me, so too bad he couldn’t connect with more people because of the technical difficulties. Nice work though!

Would I go to the next one? Of course! My new goal in life is to do an Ignite talk myself!

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I’ve been trying to come up with something no one has done before for so long, and I’ve finally hit the jackpot

No, that website does not exist yet, but I will have to buy that domain asap so I can develop it.

I was watching a documentary on CNN today about shark finning. I’ve always been passionate about sharks, and I am quite anti-shark fin soups and restaurants that serve it.

Watching the show got me remember a time when I went out with a friend to a really good Chinese restaurant for dimsum…only to discover that they have shark fins on the menu. We will never go back again.

So the idea is to start a community where people can report which restaurants serve shark fin soup, so other consumers can make informed decisions as to whether to support that restaurant or not. I can also create a map for each region showing where all these places are.

Also, to take it farther and follow in the footsteps of The Shark Safe Project, I will encourage people to contact those restaurants to voice their concerns about shark fins and to take that item off their menu.

Finally, an idea that will give back to the world!

Photo credit: Blue Planet Society

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