In January of this year, the UN's communication bureau noted that the number of internet users worldwide had reached the two billion mark. That is 2,000,000,000 individuals who are online, surfing the interwebs. I share that number with you, dear readers, because PK asked a question:
"I have often wondered with this openness if you ever worry about your students or their parents stumbling across it?"
I "get" the question, and I understand the concern. Obviously, this blog is not intended for those I teach or for their parents. It isn't meant for my co-workers or my boss. Should any of them find this blog, and identify me as the author, the consequences would be catastrophic. I'm sure there are plenty of other people who could make the same statement... Writing in this sort of public forum carries risks.
But here's the thing. I teach math. I deal in mathematical realities, and I work to help students understand the ways in which math can help us describe our world. As bloggers of a certain stripe, it makes sense for us to be aware of the risks of what we do, but it also seems reasonable to understand how big or small those risks really might be...
There are about 400 students at my small school. Most of them have at least one sibling, so figure a total of 800 students. Add on a couple of parents for each family, and we are looking at about 1600 people. Let's kick in a few extra just for the sake of an argument and make the math easier in the bargain -- so we'll assume the whole population of people from the school community who might "stumble on" this blog totals 2000 souls. That would mean that the SET of "my students and their parents" amounts to 0.0001% of all Internet users (that is one ten thousandth of one percent).
Now, this little corner of the cyber universe is a small place. I don't pull down big traffic numbers, and even if I did, I would still be one of an estimated 266,848,493 websites available to any given user (as of July of this year). Let's face it -- any one of us is competing with Justin Bieber fan sites and Twilight fan sights and Farmville on Facebook and Angry Birds websites and whatever it is that has "gone viral" on Youtube today. I've got dozens and dozens of sites linked to this blog, but the truth is that, on any given day, I'm doing well to squeeze in the time to actually visit a handful -- maybe 5 or 6. So, if we were to assume that the students that I work with have more time to spend surfing the web than I do (after finishing their homework, of course), then maybe they manage to wander around to 25 different places. That would mean that, in a year's time, each one of them could possibly "hit" 9125 different sites. Once again, if you do the calculation, that means that each person manages to visit .0034% of all the possible websites. Put that number together with the percentage of Internet users who actually know me as their teacher (or their kids' teacher), and the likelihood that we are ever going to run into each other at this blog goes to 3 chances in 10 million.
Could it happen? Absolutely. Am I going to lie awake at night worrying about it? I don't think so.