This week I decided to do a little bit of detective work on finding out who started RateMyTeachers.com. Not as extensive as finding the whereabouts of Evan Ratliff of Wired Magazine, but I was curious to find what kind of information a non-techy person like me can find out about someone.
1. RateMyTeachers.com page.
The website doesn’t say anything about who founded the site. However, in FAQ section, I found the following:
Who are you and why do you have this site?
We are just common, ordinary people who believe that students are the CUSTOMERS of teachers/schools/administrators – and we believe they absolutely have a right to voice their opinions.
2. RateMyTeachers Facebook page.
RateMyTeachers has a Facebook page, so I went there next. Info page reveals that RateMyTeachers was founded in 2001 by Michael Hussey. Other than his name, there is not much information about him, and no photo.
3. Google Michael Hussey.
When I googled (is this now an official verb?) Michael Hussey, an Australian cricket player was the first search result. About the third choice on that search, I found the Michael Hussey I was looking for. He has a blog. He hasn’t written anything since July 2 (I am assuming it was this year, but who knows?), but posted a picture yesterday. There are 3 guys on the picture, and he is not identified there, but a little more search led me to what he looks like. I do hope it is the right guy. About Me page gave me a little more information about him. He is the founder and CEO of PeekYou.com, founder and owner of RateMyTeachers.com, and president at Sharper Communications Inc. He graduated from University of Maine in 2000, and is married to Kejda Gjermani (she hasn’t written on her blog since January 2011). He has a profile on PeekYou.com and that leads to YouTube videos of him interviewing and other stuff.
4. Wikipedia on Michale Hussey.
Again this led to the Australian cricket player , so I searched RateMyTeachers on Wikipedia. So far, Wikipedia looks like it gives me the most information, but the information is about the site, and not much about Michael Hussey.
5. I now know enough about Michael Hussey
By this time, I am getting tired of searching. The search itself doesn’t take more than 15 minutes, but writing about it takes much longer. I now have a choice about going further with my search or not, and that is exactly the point. As digital citizens, we have to make choices about what private information we dig out about someone.
6. How about my own privacy?
Since taking this course, I am googling myself frequently, and it is fascinating to see what comes up. The order of the search results slightly change every time, and today, for the first time, I saw the title of my master’s thesis! What a surprise. I barely remember the title myself, and have barely thought about it since writing it up 20 years ago. It doesn’t appear that the actual contents are available, but who put it there in the first place? Does the thesis belong to me, or to the university. Strange feeling to see something pop up on-line that’s so long gone from consciousness.
I’ll have to accept the fact that others have information about me, and they can do whatever they want with that information (for example, dorky pictures from college on Facebook). In order to protect myself, I have to make sure that I do nothing that is damaging on-line. I can express my opinion, but probably not say anything negative about anyone. Do I have to watch every word I say? The answer is “yes, I have to be extra careful on-line.”
7. How do we teach students about privacy?
Is it too simple to just teach students that nothing is private on-line? I will think about this in more detail at a later time.
*Picture from flicker by grahamc99