aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, March 30, 2007
Hacking John McCain
John McCain’s campaign recently used Newsvine founder Mike Davidson’s template for a campaign MySpace page without giving credit - even though the template explicitly requested it. Bad enough but when Davidson discovered they were pulling images from his server, “I figured it was time to play a little prank on Johnny Mac.”
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
“Crossover Day” bad news for Genarlow
“The General Assembly shall meet in regular session on the second Monday in January of each year, or otherwise as provided by law, and may continue in session for a period of no longer than 40 days in the aggregate each year....”
- Article III, Georgia Constitution
Day 30 in the 2007 General Assembly passed Tuesday with hardly a whimper. Day 30, or “Crossover Day” in each legislative session, is important. If legislation hasn’t passed either the House or Senate, it’s dead until next year, and a lot of bills, some controversial, some not, will have to wait until Jan. 8, 2008 for further deliberation. [...]
A bill that should be passed in the Senate but is a long shot is SB 37. It would allow judges to revisit 1,100 teenage sex offenders, specifically Genarlow Wilson, who is serving a 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old when he was 17. The Legislature made such crimes misdemeanors in 2006.
Juanessa Bennett, spent most of her day Tuesday at the state capitol pushing for a change in the law that might lead to the release of her son.
“I hope to accomplish something today so that everything is near an end, and Genarlow and a lot of other kids will have a shot at a bright future,” Bennett told 11Alive’s Jerry Carnes.
UPDATE, real bad news:
[T]he Senate adjourned before taking up Wilson’s bill.
His attorney, B.J. Bernstein, was furious.
“The entire country has been looking at Georgia, and what we’re doing, and how we approach our teens,” Berstein said. “And what do they do? They don’t even vote on it, they just drop it.”
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
What does OpenID mean?
If social networks are sprouting on the Internet these days like wild mushrooms, will we be expected to enter our information over and over when we join new online communities? Not if those pushing a standard called OpenID have their way. OpenID enables a single identity - username, photo, profile - that works across all sites.
WordPress made it available to everyone who has a WordPress.com blog yesterday, joining Digg, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, LiveJournal, MediaWiki, and others. Read/Write Web notes Google is the only one of the Big 3 not to have jumped onto the OpenID bandwagon. Yet.
A couple weeks back commoncraft looked at what OpenID means for communities:
So, lets jump into the future and assume OpenID becomes a standard. What does it mean for membership-based online communities? Here are some possibilities… maybe you have more?
- More Lurker Conversion? On a lot of community sites, registration is a barrier to participation. Lurkers are often unregistered. There will always be a high proportion of lurkers, but OpenID could lower the registration barrier enough to bring new people into the fray.
- Less Loyalty? With lowered barriers of entry to community sites, people may explore more, registering with a higher number of sites and spreading themselves more thinly across more sites.
- More Incentives for Good Behavior? Reputation is a big deal online, either implicit (name recognition) or explicit (ebay rating). If OpenID increases the portability of reputation, people may be motivated (and rewarded) to build a positive reputation across sites.
- Quicker Community Start-up? If people are able to join a community with an existing identity, some of the process of trust building and personal connections could be hastened. A community could start with members who bring with them a public track record of valuable participation.
- More Community Sites? Member management and building registration systems is not a lot of fun. If Open ID can make this easier, more people may be likely to give a community-oriented site a try.
OpenID, or more specifically the goal of an open, single sign-in system, is a good thing for the Internet. It does more than make life easier for people who have 6 different passwords, it removes artificial barriers of personal membership management.
Ning & the next generation of Social Networking sites
Social networks are sprouting on the Internet these days like wild mushrooms. In the last few months, organizations as dissimilar as the Portland Trailblazers, the University of South Carolina and Nike have gotten their own social Web sites up and running, with the help of companies that specialize in building social networks. Last month, Senator Barack Obama unveiled My.BarackObama.com, a social network created for his presidential campaign by the political consulting firm Blue State Digital.
Many of these new online communities cater to niche interests. Shelfari, a Seattle-based start-up, recently began a service to let book lovers share their opinions. This week it received an investment from Amazon.com.
Mr. Andreessen’s Ning, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is fashioning itself as a one-stop shop catering to this growing interest in social networks. Anyone can visit the site and set up a community on any topic, from the television show “Battlestar Galactica” to microbrew beers. Ning users choose the features they want to include, like videos, photos, discussion forums or blogs. Their sites can appear like MySpace, YouTube or the photo sharing site Flickr - or something singular.
Those setting up Ning communities can pay $20 a month if they want the site free of text advertisements delivered by Google. They also have the option of delivering their own advertising, as CBS does on Ning-based social networks for its shows “CSI” and “The Class.”
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Fear not, MTV fans. Episodes of “Laguna BeachÃ¢â‚¬Â� and “The Real World” will soon be back on the Internet, free of charge. But this time, viewing is on Viacom’s terms.
Viacom, the parent of networks like MTV and Comedy Central, which produce the types of programs that are ideal for watching on the Web, said yesterday that it had reached a deal with the Silicon Valley start-up Joost to distribute video online.
The agreement came a little more than two weeks after Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 clips of its programming.
The Joost partnership gives Viacom something it pressed with YouTube but never received: a share of advertising revenue. Neither company disclosed the terms of the agreement, but media experts said a 65-35 split in Viacom’s favor would be reasonable.
Programs will have commercial breaks, but the number of commercials in each episode will be fewer than on regular network television.
The Joost deal also provides a level of control for Viacom that it lacked with YouTube. Joost will not allow users to upload any of their own content.
Exactly the kind of deal media giants like: they get the lion’s share of the ad money, they can clutter up their content with as many ads as they want, and the environment is not sullied by any of that user created content. Fine with me. Let them set up their space; the more they limit the availability of their content (whether through technical limits or ad clutter that makes a viewing experience all that much less appealing) the more room they leave in the media space for you and me to get ours seen.
SEE ALSO: YouTube’s media relationships going south fast.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
YouTube lowers the censorship bar
So says Nick Gisburne. His account was pulled by YouTube, triggering Xooglers - “a gathering spot for ex-Googlers to reminisce and comment on the latest developments in search” - to post a plug for free speech Friday:
(Since Google acquired YouTube I figure that makes this fair game for Xooglers.)
...His account was deleted for posting another video that was nothing but a slide show of quotations from the Quran. (That video has since been reposted by at least a dozen other people so it’s easy to find.)
This really bothers me for four reasons. First, to deem quotations from a holy text to be “inappropriate content” is outrageous on its face. Second, Gisburne was given no warning. Third, YouTube didn’t just delete the video in question, they deleted Gisburne’s entire account. And fourth, this makes a mockery of Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan. There can be no possible reason for this action other than caving to intimidation, and sanctimonious cowardice in the face of oppression is a particularly pernicious breed of evil.
Via John Battelle, “This is a bad precedent.”
DOPA Jr. has arrived
While i was off getting my eyes zapped, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced a new bill into the Senate called “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act” (S49). It has all of DOPA in it and then some. This time, it’s squashed between some small changes to child porn legislation (upping the fines namely) and restrictions on the sale of children’s personal information for marketing purposes. It’s just as infuriating and i can’t stomach the idea of going through these discussions again.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Sex Crime vs Crime
These are state registries, and depending on the state you’re in, you’re a “sex offender” under Megan’s Law if you get caught urinating in public, mooning, skinny dipping, or if you get busted having consensual sex in public. Think of how lopsided these charges must be in homophobic states. Also, it’s a lesson in what sites like MySpace can and will do with personal information.
I have at times wondered whether we need to specify when a crime is a “sexual” offense. Are laws around assault, harassment, exploitation, violence not enough? Do we have to add a whole ‘nother category if genitals are involved?
By separating it out as a different category of crime—and I know we do it with the best of intentions—do we create the additional overhead of shame on the survivor’s part?
If we treated violence as violence, regardless of whether or how genitalia is involved, would we be able to take some of the humiliation out of it for the assaulted? Or would we “encourage” sexual aspects to violent crime, because the consequences would be the same?
The writer & the (great?) unwashed masses
Terrific thoughtful piece on the impact of massive online feedback on journalists and writers by Gary Kamiya, the executive editor of Salon.
Ideas and perspectives that never found an outlet before are now shouted from every corner that has a phone line and a computer. This has rocked the journalistic world. The violent uprising of the previously voiceless plebeians has disturbed the perfumed slumber of media gatekeepers, forcing journalists to immediately correct glaring mistakes or abandon insupportable positions....
And, of course, there has been an explosion of expertise. The information revolution has set off a million car bombs of random knowledge at once, spraying info fragments through the marketplace of ideas. Sometimes it feels as if the Internet has turned the whole country, indeed the whole world, into a virtual New York City, a dense, antimatter-like place where within any four-block grid there are hundreds of people who know more about Miles Davis or Linux or Giorgio de Chirico or the Ruy Lopez opening or Peyton Manning’s attack on the two-deep zone than you do. (As a starry-eyed provincial, I like to think of New York this way, even though it’s probably an illusion.) [...]
For a writer, this huge, suddenly vocal audience has some significant advantages. For one thing, it serves as an enormous fact-checker. If you make a mistake in a piece, some eagle-eyed reader will let you know, often within minutes. But a far more important effect of the reader revolution is that it has forced writers to immediately deal with substantive arguments and critique. Like most writers who publish a lot online, I’ve written pieces that a letter writer has sliced up so surgically, with such superior logic and style, that I began searching furtively for a “do over” button on my computer. And the sheer quantity of even less sophisticated arguments, like water poured onto a leaky roof, reveal a piece’s weak points. Many writers have told me about extraordinary e-mail exchanges with readers that sometimes develop into ongoing relationships.
First, and most obviously, is the reality that the newly vocal masses contain not only thoughtful and respectful readers but also large numbers of fools, knaves, blowhards and nuts. Moreover—and this is a crucial point—the percentage of letter writers who are fools, knaves, blowhards and nuts has exponentially increased. In the old stamped-letter days, the difficulty of writing in weeded out more of these types; letters tended to be somewhat more thoughtful, and letter writers usually adhered to certain conventions of etiquette and decorum governing communications between reader and writer. Not forelock-tugging subservience to their betters, but simple courtesy. There was a tacit acknowledgment of the implicit contract between writer and reader, one characterized by at least a modicum of idealization and respect on both sides. I don’t want to exaggerate this—certainly there were plenty of ad hominem and intemperate letters back then. But having edited several magazines in the print-only era, I can say that there were far, far fewer. Perhaps the unseen presence of an editor, the slightly formal nature of writing a “letter to the editor,” led readers to be on their better behavior. [...]
The problem is, it’s very hard for writers, who want to be read and want to know what readers are saying about them, to ignore letters or blogs about themselves. “Practically every writer I know has gone through the mill with this,” says Salon senior writer Laura Miller. “Blogs, often written by idiots, are bad-mouthing you. You go through this cycle where you get interested, then you get angry, then you just stop reading them.” But as Miller points out, even nasty comments are addictive. “There’s a great Trollope quote from ‘Phineas Finn’: ‘But who is there that abstains from reading that which is printed in abuse of himself?’”
Miller, who says the tendency of discussion threads to degenerate is an example of ”the tragedy of the commons,” believes that the worst online abuse is directed at writers who make themselves vulnerable by revealing intimate things about their lives. “I don’t think people who write stuff like that should read their letters,” Miller says. “If you write something revealing, people mob up and become predatory.” Miller attributes this to a rampant cultural self-righteousness: “It’s like a virus in society—the policing of norms.” As every online editor knows, pieces about child-rearing, sexual mores and the like provoke remarkably virulent outbursts of reader self-righteousness.
I see that behavior as a crowd dynamic. It’s the flip side of The Wisdom of Crowds; much of the chatter around which has tended to overlook that there are significant warnings about the deleterious impacts of crowd behavior - neatly summed up by Surowieki’s observation that human beings are not ants.
We tend to believe that our individual action is independent of the crowd; we’ll learn. And grow.
[Edited for clarity and spelling.]
Monday, January 29, 2007
Bugged by “photolurking”
Since the popularity of photo-sharing sites exploded, the lives of snap-happy citizen journalists have been there for the lurking. And like the experience of Robin Williams’ tragic photo developer in One Hour Photo, happy family photos offer the perfect escapism from an unpleasant reality. [...]
Researchers at Lancaster University uncovered this strange breed of web addicts while analysing the habits of photo sharing site users.
Their report said: “People do this for emotional kicks. Curiosity, loneliness, even jealousy are just some of the reasons people look at these images.” Wedding photos are extremely popular, and at the time of writing, on sites like Flickr there were 3,868,832 images tagged ‘wedding’.
Clickthrough the strange breed accusation for (little) more:
“Not only are people interested in looking at the photographs of people they know, but also the photographs of complete strangers....” said Haliyana Khalid, a Phd student in Lancaster University’s Computing Department. “...They also like to talk about them with their friends. It can become quite obsession for some people. It isn’t uncommon to find people who go onto one of these sites every day.”
This is a diagnosis in search of a disorder; there is no there there. Just exactly what did they find that justifies these conclusions of loneliness, jealousy and emotional kicks? And how is it that visits to an online photo gallery earned the ominous “lurker” label?
Label me suspicious. I see a newspaper industry threatened by new media realities taking advantage of old media dynamics by associating an obscure PhD thesis topic with a bad scary movie through a sensationalist headline to, voilÃƒÂ , achieve a circulation boost. I’ve even been known to try such tactics from time to time myself.
Somebody show me the qualitative difference between 1950s browsing of Life Magazine, or 1990s flipping through People or Us or picking up any Fleet Street rag - or its American cousin, the supermarket tabloid - today, and our innocent Flickr browsing for wedding photos. Then maybe I’ll find something unpleasant about the new reality.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
RouteSlip.com calls for developer assistance
Doug’s creating a bike route in DÃƒÂ¼sseldorf right now.
He’s sitting on the couch using RouteSlip.com. It lets you build a ride log, map out your bike routes in Google maps, calculate distances and - for those of you who, like me, grow concerned at the thought of steep hills - it will automatically create an elevation profile for each route.
Doug says, “This is such a great application. I just love it. I’m putting in the route that I used to ride all the time...to my swimming hole. It’s so easy.”
As much as it pains me to say it, RouteSlip’s gone beyond what I can support right now, and I feel I owe it to the community that has been so supportive and encouraging during the initial development of the site to not abandon it.
I’m only one person, and am stretched way too thin right now without even considering RouteSlip development.
Neither Doug nor I knows Java or PHP. If you do, please help!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Hillary & Yahoo Answers
Hillary Clinton has turned to Yahoo Answers, the social media driven Q&A experience from Yahoo, to look for some ideas on how normal Americans would improve health care in the United States.
I find this quite interesting as not only a campaigning tool but also in choice of media.
Senator Clinton asked her question 22 hours ago and already has over 24,000 responses (with 12 days of Answering remaining). I cannot think of another form of media which would allow the same kind of user interaction AND approachability that Yahoo Answers brings to the table.
You won’t find that on CNN, radio, townhall meetings or 99.9% of the Internet.
Yahoo Answers dominates not only the Q&A site market with a 96% market share, but also dominates social media in terms of community, 17.9 million users according to comScore, and its hodgepodge of lifestyles amongst such members.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I’m not fond of the term “user-generated content.” I like “peer-produced/production” but I don’t see it catching on. John Batelle proposes ”Conversational Media.” I like that.
I like, too, his harrumphing at the Times today:
The approach the NYT takes, editorially, to describing “user generated content” (what I prefer to call Conversational Media) is so dismissive, so backhanded, it makes me want to scream. Here’s how Richard Siklos defines it in today’s paper (the piece is entitled “Big Media’s Crush on Social Networking").
User-generated content is basically anything someone puts on the Web that is not created for overtly commercial purposes; it is often in response to something professionally created, or is derivative of it. So, it could be a blog, a message board, a homemade video on YouTube, or a customer’s book review on Amazon.com.
Richard and his editors so deeply want to believe that conversational media is dependent on “professionally created” media. But it’s not, any more than it’s “not created for overtly commercial purposes.”
Saturday, January 13, 2007
A new kind of awkward
You really must listen to this story; it’s beautifully done:
One night, NPR reporter David Kestenbaum was listening to music on iTunes. And he was bored with his playlist. Then he noticed something strange - a mysterious folder called “Anna’s Music” had popped up his screen. He’d never seen it before.
And the weird thing is, when he went to listen to the music, it was just like his. Everything he had, she had: Beck, the White Stripes, Beth Orton… It was as if he’d found his musical soulmate.
Who is Anna and how did her songs end up on Kestenbaum’s computer?
When he clicked on one of the songs, her e-mail address appeared. He sent her a note (making sure to emphasize that he was not a stalker). He issued an invitation to dinner. He made sure to mention that he was married. And then, with the aid of his wife, he set out to find Anna.
There was an awkward encounter - and a lesson about how the Internet can bring us closer to strangers but can also keep us apart.
I don’t think that’s the lesson. I think the lesson is that we all have to learn how to accept and negotiate online personas, and recognize that the kind of intimacy David presumes from the single cue he got - Anna’s playlist - is suspect.
We bring a set of assumptions built on social cues to our real encounters, too, but the one to one interactivity of the Internet helps us feel fervently that we truly connect and know the object of our attention in ways that we most definitely do not.
Celebrities have long had to deal with a variation of this - fans presume the celebrity to be the character they know. Now we’re all like celebrities. Everyone with a facebook or MySpace or Flickr or Blogger or even an iTunes playlist and a disabled firewall, all of us, have to come to grips with that same dynamic.
NOTE: This post’s title comes from an exchange in the piece between David and his wife. When David wants to blame the Internet for the awkwardness of his exchange with Anna, his wife asks, “Don’t you think awkward social situations have long predated the Internet?… It’s just a new kind of awkward.”
Saturday, December 09, 2006
McCain bill to require Web sites to remove sex offender profiles
Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law.
The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain and obtained by CNET News.com, would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders. [...]
Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain’s proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme--and even stiffer penalties--on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.
“This constitutionally dubious proposal is being made apparently mostly based on fear or political considerations rather than on the facts,” said Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The MySpace sex-offender purge
MySpace announced today it will begin searching its 100 million-plus user list for people listed in a national database of sex offenders. [...]
That leaves just one real disappointment in this announcement: How MySpace plans to use the data. With all that information at its disposal, and a “24-hour-a-day dedicated staff” using it, MySpace could seriously enhance its policing. Instead, the company is taking a sophisticated database and wielding it as a blunt instrument, simply banning everyone on the list from registering or keeping a MySpace account, regardless of who they are or what they did.
Frankly, I’m not sure I’m fond of the idea of a company “policing” but that’s neither here nor there. Once Kevin did his screen-scrape the writing was on the wall. A panicked public sure as hell won’t countenance nuance, even if he is right as rain:
This is bad because, obviously, banning sex offenders won’t keep them off MySpace: it’ll just give them a reason to lie about their name or location, even if they aren’t up to no good. (My survey found hundreds of past offenders, many with old or minor convictions, whose profiles reflected a seemingly normal life.) Now sex offenders who want to stay on MySpace will all be using false information from the start.
MySpace is essentially refusing an opportunity to detect and imprison active repeat offenders, by moving the entire superset of ex-offenders into the shadows. Does the convicted pedophile have lots of teenagers on his friendslist? MySpace won’t know, because he’ll be under same veil of anonymity as the flashers and peeping toms.
We know there are some ex-sex offenders who attempt to recidivate from accounts opened under their real names. If you believe they will now stay off MySpace, then the company’s policy is good for safety. But if you think they’ll simply start spelling their name a little different or lying about their ZIP code, then MySpace has lost the chance to take them off the streets.
MySpace is taking the easy way out. It may be good PR to be able to say that you don’t allow past sex offenders of any stripe on your website, but the company should keep its eye on the ball: the goal isn’t to keep a former flasher from blogging about his cat, it’s to keep current pedophiles from pursuing children. MySpace could tell the difference, if it wanted to. A smart policing effort would use the sex offender database as one of many data points in keeping the site safe. Sometimes zero-tolerance is really tolerance.
LATER: The Times reports on the development, “If registered sex offenders sign up but do not give their real names, physical attributes, locations or post their real picture, they could elude detection. Similarly, there is a chance that people who are not sex offenders might be flagged by the system.”
Monday, October 30, 2006
Revver and the Mentos star
By sharing advertising revenue with makers of popular clips, Revver has begun shaking things up in the burgeoning sector. The industry, where amateurs post homemade movies to the Web, is looking for the next rising star now that YouTube has gone corporate. An heir apparent has yet to emerge, but Josh Martin, an analyst with the Yankee Group, said that paying top video makers is “where the sector is headed.”
Indeed, Revver’s investment in video makers appears to be paying off. Only a month since the Web site moved out of beta, the company has begun to attract some of YouTube’s top clip producers, including the makers of “Lonelygirl15.”
“It’s exciting to see people who posted on YouTube are now cross-posting on both YouTube and Revver," said Miles Beckett, one of the cofounders of Lonelygirl15.[...]
Beckett declined to say how much his group has earned from Revver. But the duo that made the humorous and wildly popular video known as “The Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment,” received $35,000 from Revver last July. (Look for a sequel video launching on Monday.)
not up yet here.
RELATED: Metacafe has revenue sharing too. “Payments start at 20,000 views ($100) and go up from there - e.g. 2 million views is $10,000. Videos must also have a rating of 3.00 or higher (maximum is 5.00) to qualify for payment, of which Metacafe notes: ‘this tells us that the viewers like the video.’’
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Social Networks & the dynamics of popularity
The Financial Times has a long profile of danah boyd and social networks. Lots in it, more or less at random, I’ll quote this:
The millions of people on the networks also hold vast potential for experimentation. In 2004, Duncan Watts and two of his students in the sociology department at Columbia University put a sign on bolt.com, a social network site, and managed to corral 14,341 volunteers. He and his colleagues wanted to show how much people are influenced by other people’s choices - and came up with a result that challenged the notion of causation.
The academics divided the users into groups and asked them to rate a list of previously unknown pop songs by unknown bands, steadily increasing the amount of information the users had about what other people had chosen. “You might expect the same songs to become popular under all conditions,” Watts said. “In fact, as the level of information that people have about each other’s decisions increases, things become more unpredictable. Those that win are not necessarily the best - in fact there is not necessarily such a thing as ‘the best’. Things that are popular tend to become more popular still, so that small, possibly random, fluctuations early on can get ‘locked in’ and generate a large difference in popularity over time. The potential to learn how people behave and influence each other is really exciting.”
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Facebook is open
Sitting with a group of faculty and staff colleagues, we all agree with danah:
*Major* le sigh. I do not believe that social network sites are able to sustain lots of conflicting social contexts. Or, rather, i don’t believe that they can continue as a hang-out space. I know that Facebook will continue to grow but i believe that the core value of it will be lost for the sake of growth. MySpace is already struggling to cope with what happens when teens and parents/authorities are in the same place. At least most professors have had the curtesy to keep distance. Unfortunately, this opening will not simply allow college students without .edus and high schools students to join. It will also open the doors for every adult who is obsessed with youth - parents, authorities, pedophiles, commercial enterprises…
Monday, September 11, 2006
Open enrollment @ Facebook
They’ll let anyone in to Facebook these days.
Once the exclusive online stomping grounds of college students, social networking site Facebook.com is throwing open the doors to rest of the world. The site is slated to announce in coming weeks that anyone can gain access to the site, simply by affiliating themselves with a particular city or region.
I’m not sure I like it. But if i were going to do it, the way I’d do it is the way Google did GMail: parcel out invites (and keep refreshing the parcel) to current members. Especially in light of the recent ruckus.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
What members should learn from the Facebook trainwreck
While I agree with almost everything in danah boyd’s post wondering will Facebook learn from its mistake - I, too, hate when people try to configure their users - I’m more inclined to agree with Fred that this is the future and it is good.
It’s clear that Facebook blundered with the introduction of feeds, but I come away from danah’s full-length essay on Facebook’s privacy trainwreck with a different lesson. I begin with the analogy danah uses to illustrate how the Facebook architecture change leaves members feeling exposed:
Have you ever been screaming to be heard in a loud environment when suddenly the music stops and everyone hears the end of your sentence? And then they turn to stare? I’m guessing you turned beet red. (And if you didn’t, exposure is not one of your problems.)
When the music was still on, you were still speaking as loudly in a room full of people. Yet, you felt protected by the acoustics and you made a judgement about how loud you should speak based on the understanding of the architecture of the environment.
Where danah and I may disagree is on the member’s ”understanding of the architecture of the environment” part. It has been my contention that students have consistently misunderstood the Facebook architecture, and that the university community should participate in an exchange to facilitate a greater understanding of it.
That contention has gained no traction here - not with students, faculty or administrators - and, hey, I may well be wrong. Maybe the arrests and expulsions and embarrassments are the only learning process we need. But I agree most emphatically with Henry Jenkins when, in a discussion of DOPA with boyd, he observes that:
One of the biggest risks of these digital technologies is not the ways that they allow teens to escape adult control but rather the permanent traces left behind of their transgressive conduct. Teens used to worry about what teachers or administrators might put in their permanent records since this would impact how they were treated in the future. Yet, we are increasingly discovering that everything we do online becomes part of our public and permanent record, easily recoverable by anyone who knows how to Google, and that there is no longer any statute of limitations on our youthful indiscretions.
I don’t think students get that. I want them to. Facebook’s changes may be part of the process. My experience relative to boyd’s analogy above suggests they can.
Some months ago I went deaf in one ear. Now I never know how loud I’m talking, or if I’m interrupting and I struggle to pick out voices in a crowd. I have to learn all over again. It sounds to me like the Facebook community hears loud and clear that it has to learn all over again too.
I bring some other experience to this discussion as well. I ran a bbs in the early 90s first using tbbs and later FirstClass. Later still I was the producer of an online dating site. I understand architecture and believe we all must engage in the fight for an architecture of freedom.
We’re living in an era of information promiscuity; this era will pass as we negotiate and establish the norms of our technologically enhanced information environment. I’m not so pessimistic as danah. We’ll develop tools and learn how to use them. I see this latest privacy dustup as part of that process.
danah says gossip’s “too delicious to turn your back on.” Gossip is not too delicious for me. I tune it out and from here in rural Georgia tune danah in through my RSS feed. danah wishes they’d turn off the feeds. Me, I don’t want to turn back time. If not Facebook, it would be someone else. We need to learn to live in this world. We built it. We’ll make it better.
LATER: From the NYTimes, this member gets it:
“Because our generation has been so obsessed with putting themselves up on the Internet and obsessed with celebrity, we didn’t realize how much of our personal information we were putting out there,” said Tim Mullowney, a 22-year-old aspiring actor in Brooklyn and a Facebook user. “This really shows you how much is out there. You don’t see it until you get it served on a platter to you.”
Mr. Mullowney said the Facebook episode had opened his eyes to a surprising conclusion: “I don’t need to know every little detail of everyone’s life.”
Saturday, September 02, 2006
MySpace to let members sell music
The new Snocap-powered feature will enable bands to outfit their MySpace site with an interface through which computer users may browse the bands’ songs and buy them in the copy-protection free MP3 format, MySpace said.
The bands will be able to set the price for each track, with MySpace and Snocap taking a cut of the sale. And their fans or friends on MySpace will also be able to place the online music storefront on their pages, potentially widening exposure for the bands.
MySpace and Snocap officials declined to say what percentage of each transaction goes to the companies.
Emphasis mine. No mention of fans who sell music also getting a cut. But, then, the perfect is the enemy of the good.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Like driving a satellite
A photo ode to Google Earth at Slate:
One of those contested places is Iraq. It was recently photographed in high resolution and now functions as a diary, a memorial, and a place to make political statements. American soldiers mark where they were ambushed, where one of their friends was killed, or where they manned a checkpoint. A self-described former member of the Iraqi army annotated the boot camp where he trained to fight for Saddam, showing the escape route he used to sneak out at night.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
GOP kid bloggers
AS the leader of the Republican party in the US Senate and a possible presidential candidate, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee has a reputation for sober rectitude. The same cannot be said of his son Jonathan, a Vanderbilt University student who recently appeared on the internet wearing six cans of beer strapped to his belt.
Nor has Jonathan’s brother Bryan done much to help his father’s attempts to strike a reasonable note about US involvement in Iraq. “I was born an American by God’s amazing grace,” wrote Bryan Frist in an online profile. “Let’s bomb some people.” [...]
The popularity of teenage networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is proving a goldmine for political bloggers keen to compare the pious proclamations of candidates running for office with the blogs and picture-sharing websites maintained by their children.
No sooner had Congressman Louie Gohmert, a conservative Republican from Texas, unleashed a tirade against the moral inadequacies of Democrats opposed to the war in Iraq, than someone found internet pictures of his daughter Caroline dancing on a bartop and posing with a man in his underpants.[...]
Errant children have long been a fact of Washington political life, but have rarely caused any lasting scandal. Bush was untroubled by the underage drinking exploits of his twin daughters Jenna and Barbara. The president’s brother, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, was not seriously damaged when his daughter Noelle was arrested on drug charges. His son John was arrested for having sex in a car in a shopping centre car park.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
What DOPA means to education
There has been lots of discussion here and elsewhere about the potentially devastating effect of DOPA on the lives of young people—especially those for whom schools and public libraries represent their only point of access onto the digital world. I have made the argument that if supporters of DOPA really wanted to protect young people from online predators, they would teach social networking in the classroom, modeling safe and responsible practices, rather than lock it outside the school and thus beyond the supervision of informed librarians and caring teachers. The advocates of the law have implied that MySpace is at best a distraction from legitimate research activities, at worst a threat to childhood innocence.
But Ravi’s thesis suggests something more—we are closing off powerful technologies that could be used effectively to engage young people with authentic materials and real world cultural processes. Here, social networking functions not as a media literacy skill but as a tool for engaging with traditional school subjects in a fresh new way.
“Ravi” is Comparative Media Studies graduate student Ravi Purushotma. His thesis is here.