Recently, I’ve picked up a lot of new readers/links/friends/stalkers/tails/parasites&symbionts/alien monitors. I hope it is because people find some of what I am posting to be of interest, as well as the usual infestation of spambots and imaginary beings (about 80% of my followers, I reckon). It is probably time to once again lay out a little about my online presence to help make things clearer to all of you bots (and to help me keep it straight). As it is, you may see multiple versions of me online and question your sanity, instead of spending your time wisely questioning my sanity. So think of this as a service, to you.
First, About Me
Yes, I am that Spaf, assuming you have heard something about me before. By day, I am a moderately well-known scientist, professor, and commentator, with a focus on issues of cyber security, privacy, ethics, and national policy, often with a somewhat off-kilter point of view. You can visit my about.me page for links, or see my (incomplete) Wikipedia page.
The rest of the time (well, all of the time) I alternate between philosophy and humor, with an emphasis on the humor. Oh, and a certain amount of snark and political commentary. During election years I tend to be particularly active politically as I am usually appalled with at least one party that is promoting stupidity and bigotry. Still, I try to point that out with humor, when I can.
And yes, I wear bow ties. That has been one of my signature items for over 25 years. And the beard has been there for over 40 years.
A quick summary of many of my social media sites and background is available at about.me/spaf.
About My Postings
First, I try to maintain three distinct, segregated streams of material in my social media. (You can skip to the links if you don’t want to read the details.)
One stream is more or less related to my “day job” as a professor at Purdue University. There, I post in a blog on an irregular basis. I also maintain a Tumblr blog where I repost links from various on-line media about security, privacy, espionage, cybercrime, and related topics. That blog is gated into a Twitter feed to which I sometimes add related tweets. Along with all of that, I also sometimes put things into a Facebook group page and a LinkedIn group, both of which are for people interested in CERIAS at Purdue University.
I have a LinkedIn account that I use to maintain professional contact with others. I have profiles at ResearchGate and Academia.edu that I don’t do a good job of maintaining, but may be of value. All of this tends to be serious and professional. Oh, and what have I done in security? You can see a partial list of my more noteworthy accomplishments here.
A second stream is more fun oriented, but sometimes serious. In my WordPress blog I post items of a personal nature — sometimes intended to be funny (such as my New Year’s resolutions) or quirky (such as my history of my branch of the Spafford family) or serious (my 2009 reflections on 9/11).
I maintain an active Twitter account as myself, and a Facebook account. In both there will be a range of the bizarre and the unusual that make me laugh or shake my head: basically, things that I think are worth seeing. Readers will also pick out some of my thoughts on politics, posers, organized religion, equal rights, and annoying celebrities (among others); I’m not too reserved about some of my views. The Twitter and Facebook feeds have some cross-connect, but the feed-across is sporadic — if you are constructing a psych profile on me, you should probably follow both. I also post answers to Quora from time to time, and images to Pinterest. I maintain a legacy mailing list named web-heads that gates into a Tumblr blog, that then dumps into my Twitter feed with the tag #webheads; anything with that hashtag in my Twitter or Facebook feeds thus may have been posted by someone else on the list who is similarly demented.
None of my posts in any of these outlets should be construed as having any official endorsement or connection with official positions or activities of my employer or organizations with which I work! Stated differently, these are my own peculiar views only and I am the only person to blame (well, maybe my family and “The Voices” influenced me). NB: some of these posts may well include items of an adult nature, so beware if you are easily offended.
My third collection is not quite out in the open as an independent stream. I am a long-time member and immediate past chair of the US Public Policy Council of ACM, and a member of the ACM Council. I am involved in activities related to ACM, IEEE, ISSA, AAAS and other professional organizations. You may see posts in some places from me related to those. In particular, there is a shared USACM Twitter feed to which I sometimes contribute. Those outlets shouldn’t be viewed as related to either of the first two streams.
I do not use Google+ regularly for any of these! I don’t like their original policies of tying everything to that account, and I don’t like the interface and difficulty of connection to other social media. In particular, I use some scripts and services to post items across services and at metered “doses” and those don’t work well with Google+. (And yes, I am not overly fond of Facebook’s privacy policies, either, but it is the only mechanism for keeping my semi-sporadic contact with some of my friends.)
BTW, I have a bunch of other accounts that you aren’t likely to see active any time soon — Flickr, YouTube, BuzzFeed, Instagram, and even MySpace, among others. I set those up simply so there wouldn’t be anyone else sending stuff out as spaf. Unfortunately, I got to a few too late, plus a few require that usernames be more than 6 characters long. Thus, Twitter and others have names such as TheRealSpaf as identities.
You may be wondering where I find the time to post all of this stuff. The answer is “in parts.” First, I actually am physically limited much of the time: I have some medical issues that sometimes limit my ability to work online. I thus have less productivity than many of my peers, especially because it becomes more difficult to hit deadlines. Short posts and mouse clicks are much easier for me, so I use Twitter as an outlet. Second, I have chronic insomnia, so a lot gets shared with a few mouse clicks when I should be asleep (or sedated). And third, I use several bots and scheduled jobs to meter out material over time rather than the bursty schedule at which I actually use the services. This is basically a trick from Mother Nature — I use fluff and timing to make myself appear bigger to potential predators, er, the orderlies. Note that there are likely to be quiet periods where you don’t see much from me: I’m either busy, I’m traveling, or I’ve been abducted by a UFO. Again.
If you have questions or comments on anything I post, please let me know. If you want to repost any of the items be sure to use the appropriate mechanism. In particular, if you want to use material from my blogs then either quote excerpts with appropriate credit, or provide a link back to the original. That is polite, professional, and legal.
Linking to Others
If I don’t know you and have not interacted with you in some significant way, don’t bother to ask that I “friend” you on Facebook. As it is, I perhaps need to trim the ones that I have, especially the imaginary ones. However, you can “follow” my posts if you want to see them — almost all are public.
If you can prove who you are and that there is a reason I should connect with you on LinkedIn, I may. The threshold is lower there than Facebook, but still non-trivial. You can ask someone I have as a trusted contact to vouch for you, and that is usually enough if you have a good reason for connecting. Because of my professional work, I get trolled a lot, so I am cautious.
If you try to send me spam, I will report it and block you. Same general response with things that are intended to insult me, or are full of bigotry or vitriol towards any group not itself devoted to bigotry and/or vitriol. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with me on everything. I have many friends and corresponding links where we cannot have a conversation about politics or religion without getting a little spirited. I value reasoned differences, but don’t expect me to keep quiet with my opinions — and don’t expect me to continue to link to you if you are rude, stupid and/or obnoxious.
- My postings in the CERIAS blog: https://www.cerias.purdue.edu/site/blog/author/spaf
- My security/privacy Tumblr blog: http://blog.spaf.us
- Twitter feed of the security/privacy tumblr: http://www.twitter.com/RobotSpaf
- My LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/in/spafford/
- My home pages: http://spaf.cerias.purdue.edu
- CERIAS friends Facebook page: Friends of CERIAS (“like” it to follow)
- LinkedIn CERIAS group: CERIAS Alumni, Staff and Friends
- My Academia.edu page: http://purdue.academia.edu/EugeneHSpafford
- My ResearchGate account: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eugene_Spafford
- My About.me page to find all this stuff quickly: http://about.me/spaf
- My WordPress blog: https://spaf.wordpress.com
- My Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/TheRealSpaf
- My Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpaf
- My Pinterest account: http://www.pinterest.com/therealspaf
- My Quora feed: http://www.quora.com/Gene-Spafford
- The Web-Heads Tumblr: http://web-heads.tumblr.com
- USACM Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/USACM
- USACM Web site: http://usacm.acm.org
- CERIAS Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/cerias
If you are interested in miscellany about me, you can check out:
- My oral history transcript at the Babbage Institute (described here).
- A listing of a few of the moderately well-known things I’ve said
- Some other random items about and/or by me
- The Wikipedia page about me (I didn’t write it — honest!).