aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tooth Tunes has me remembering when… My best friend then was roommates with the construction worker…
Educators, Social Networks and “Mediated Publics”
danah boyd has posted an essay titled Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What? It’s a wonderfully concise encapsulation of much of her thinking on teens and social networking sites. Here she discusses the distinguishing characteristics of these mediated publics:
Social network sites are the latest generation of ‘mediated publics’ - environments where people can gather publicly through mediating technology. In some senses, mediated publics are similar to the unmediated publics with which most people are familiar - parks, malls, parking lots, cafes, etc. Teens show up to connect with their friends...while mediated and unmediated publics play similar roles in people’s lives, the mediated publics have four properties that are quite unique to them.
1. Persistence. What you say sticks around. This is great for asynchronous communication, but it also means that what you said at 15 is still accessible when you are 30 and have purportedly outgrown those childish days.
2. Searchability. My mother would’ve loved the ability to scream “Find!” into the ether and determine where I was hanging out with my friends. She couldn’t, and I’m thankful. Today’s teens’ parents have found their hangouts with the flick of a few keystrokes.
3. Replicability. Digital bits are copyable; this means that you can copy a conversation from one place and paste it into another place. It also means that it’s difficult to determine if the content was doctored.
4. Invisible audiences. While it is common to face strangers in public life, our eyes provide a good sense of who can overhear our expressions. In mediated publics, not only are lurkers invisible, but persistence, searchability, and replicability introduce audiences that were never present at the time when the expression was created.
The last section, An Educator’s Role, is particularly valuable. In it she advocates education through conversation and engagement, finds that group settings are ideal and shares questions she’s asked to help young people examine their relationship with social technologies and mediated publics. Her four practical steps are an invaluable guide:
1) Create a profile on whatever sites are popular in your school. Learn the system and make a profile that represents you. Use your own profile and your own experiences to introduce conversations in the classroom - this way they will know that you are online and that you too find it weird figuring out what’s appropriate.
2) Keep your profile public and responsible, but not lame. Add your favourite song; add photos of your cat playing; write about your hobbies. Put blog entries up about these issues and your own experiences in handling them. Write them as personal reflections rather than lectures. Not all students are going to read your manifestos, but you will be setting a standard.
3) Do not go surfing for your students, but if they invite you to be Friends, say yes. This is a sign that they respect you. Write a kind comment back to them if appropriate and make certain to respond to comments that you receive. If something concerns you, privately ask why they chose to put a particular item up on their page, rather than criticise their profiles. Ask about their lives; don’t demand that they behave as you’d wish. Show that you care, not that you dictate.
4) The more present you are, the more opportunity you have to influence the norms. Social network sites are not classrooms and they should not be treated as such. The goal in being present on these sites is not to enforce rules, but to provide responsible models and simply be ‘eyes on the street’ (Jacobs 1961).
Mediated publics are here to stay; yet they are complicating many aspects of daily life. The role of an educator is not to condemn or dismiss youth practices, but to help youth understand how their practices fit into a broader societal context. These are exciting times; embracing societal change and influencing the norms can only help everyone involved.
I’ll be forwarding the document (available in MP3, Word, PDF or blog formats) to the local high school principal - with whom I’ve spoken about Social Networks at some length - and updating my Facebook profile.
Tooth Tunes: YMCA
Doug says he’s going to get one to take along on his study abroad trip to Germany next month:
Rock your teeth clean - and encourage better brushing habits! - with this exciting toothbrush that lets you hear one of your favorite songs while you brush! Sound vibrations stream from the bristles through your teeth - so you can actually hear music inside your head! To increase the volume, simply increase your brushing pressure! If you brush well, you get great sound and you’ll actually hear two full minutes of “YMCA” by the Village People!
Only $9.99 (Brush head not replaceable & 3 “AAA” batteries included).
Profit Guarantee Trade
Writing in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki explains how the US has been using free-trade agreements to force countries around the world to accept and adopt US definitions of I.P. (Intellectual Property):
The U.S., in its negotiations, insists on a one-size-fits-all approach: stronger rules are better. But accepting a diverse range of I.P. rules makes more sense, especially in light of the different economic challenges that developing and developed countries face. [Harvard Business School Josh] Lerner’s study found that the benefits of stronger patent laws were reduced in less developed countries. And developing countries, being poorer, obviously have more to gain from shorter patent terms for foreign innovations, since that facilitates the spread of new technology and the diffusion of ideas. Tellingly, this is the approach the U.S. takes when it comes to labor standards, arguing that we shouldn’t impose developed-country standards on developing countries. But in the case of intellectual property the government’s position is exactly the opposite. The only difference, it seems, is whose interests are at stake.
The great irony is that the U.S. economy in its early years was built in large part on a lax attitude toward intellectual-property rights and enforcement. As the historian Doron Ben-Atar shows in his book “Trade Secrets,” the Founders believed that a strict attitude toward patents and copyright would limit domestic innovation and make it harder for the U.S. to expand its industrial base. American law did not protect the rights of foreign inventors or writers, and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, in his famous “Report on Manufactures,” of 1791, actively advocated the theft of technology and the luring of skilled workers from foreign countries. Among the beneficiaries of this was the American textile industry, which flourished thanks to pirated technology. Free-trade agreements that export our own restrictive I.P. laws may make the world safe for Pfizer, Microsoft, and Disney, but they don’t deserve the name free trade.
Culpable adolescent brains & the Supermax
More from Frontline’s When Kids Get Life:
The clip above describes a Colorado parole hearing that “does not permit participation of private counsel” and in which testimony is confidential and “shall not be revealed to the offender at any time.” Georgia has similar parole practices.
Kinsley on Hitch on God
Hitchens is an old-fashioned village atheist, standing in the square trying to pick arguments with the good citizens on their way to church. The book is full of logical flourishes and conundrums, many of them entertaining to the nonbeliever. How could Christ have died for our sins, when supposedly he also did not die at all? Did the Jews not know that murder and adultery were wrong before they received the Ten Commandments, and if they did know, why was this such a wonderful gift? On a more somber note, how can the “argument from design” (that only some kind of “intelligence” could have designed anything as perfect as a human being) be reconciled with the religious practice of female genital mutilation, which posits that women, at least, as nature creates them, are not so perfect after all? Whether sallies like these give pause to the believer is a question I can’t answer.
The Book Review will be out from behind the firewall Saturday; available now from Salon, God Grief, a review by Giles Harvey, “Like a greedy man at the buffet overfilling his plate, Hitchens spends ‘God Is Not Great’ heaping iniquity after iniquity on the three central monotheistic faiths for the role they have played in history”
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
But my question here is where is our moral outrage, where are the pundits and plaudits and legal scholars, and where is the organizational equivalent of an NRA in defense of the Eighth Amendment?