Monthly Archives: October 2003

privacy & friendster

The Wall Street Journal published an article today entitled “Having Lots of Online Friends Could Mean Privacy Trouble.” The article articulates some of the institutional privacy concerns that some users do have and suggests that more users should have.

Now, i do believe in privacy concerns and i’m genuinely worried about institutional misuses of private data, but i’m not the average consumers. As we all know, consumers will happily sell their privacy. They don’t understand the implications of this. And thus, there’s no incentive for corporations to not try to collect it and make money off of it. This is where the government should step in. But since the government is controlled by corporations….

Anyhow, i won’t follow that rant.

The big thing to realize is that most consumers are far more concerned with local privacy, or intimacy concerns. They’re worried about their friends taking their information out of context, about their mom seeing something intended for their friends, of a future boss seeing a drunken picture. Consumers are far more concerned with those who have limited local authority over them than institutional authority. [Yes, here’s an opportunity for a study…]

Continue reading

first, admitting suckage

second, admitting that i made up the word suckage, except that it seems to be common vernacular. Or at least results in 19,200 Google finds. As if that defines common… well….

*ANYHOW* So, i’ve been a bad blogger. Ack. (But i’m not a blogger…. more on that in a moment.) I’ve been dreadfully busy, overworked, stretched thin and otherwise feeling like my brain has been split into a million pieces, isn’t operating efficiently, critically or otherwise providing useful thoughts. Lately, i’ve been “blogging” in my notebook because i can’t deal with the issues of presenting things publicly. (More on that in a moment too…)

Anyhow, i’ve decided that it’s time to pour my rambles into my blog. But this means that i’m going to be a bad citizen and confuse your RSS feeds. Because i’m going to put things up in the date range that they belong in. But, you can feel free to ignore them. Most of them are danah rambles anyhow.

Institute for the Future

Today, i spoke on a panel at the Institute for the Future’s gathering of its sponsors. It was odd to be there because it had a flavor of Media Lab sponsor events, only i was an invited speaker not a slave doing demos who had been up for weeks on end. The Institute is a great resource for thought on technology – where it’s headed, what people are doing with it, why… Basically, it’s a collection of really really smart people who get to think through tough problems. [Needless to say, it sounds like an ideal job for a researcher.]

The whole event was around the ideas of cybernomads… how is mobility changing the way we operate?

For the panel, i had the great opportunity to ask questions of Schuyler Earle. He’s been working on this project called noCat Wireless which is a community of people in Sebastapol working on gaining wireless. It’s fascinating because we always talk about technology letting us remove geography from the equation, but this project allows us to connect to people in a given region. It’s also built a “community” through a traditional form… diverse collections of people gathering for a shared need.

The other fun thing about the panel was that i actually had the opportunity to speak with Howard Rheingold (who was on my panel). I very much enjoy Howard’s synthesis of ideas so having the opportunity to get face time was just fantastic.

Anyhow, it was great to spend the last two days thinking about the future, critiquing conceptual models. I felt like i was back at Intel. I forgot how much fun that was.

understanding an audience

In questioning if i was a blogger, i started wondering about conceptions of audience in blogging.

Somewhere i once read that there are two types of bloggers. The first produces material in a journalist-esque fashion. They see their audience as public and are always a bit surprised when those close to them read their stuff. The second produces material in a journal fashion. They see their audience as private and are always a bit startled when the world reads them.

I’m definitely in both camps, or neither. My audience is primarily me. Even my best friend doesn’t read my blog. In fact, most of the people that i truly think of as only friends (and not also colleagues) never read my blog. I’m always absolutely surprised to go to a party and be told about my blog. I’m also surprised to hear from strangers about my blog.

What is an audience? So, while i say that my audience is me, that’s not really true. Most of the tone of this blog is veiled. It’s pretty non-controversial. It’s fairly boring. I don’t write about my adventures, my sinful engagements or my emotional trials. Sure, folks make guesses about me as a person based on my content, but that’s often misleading. For example, the reasons that i pay attention to drug and sex and teenager culture have quite rich explanations, but it’s easy to make assumptions. I allow that slippage though because i don’t want to appear so wholesome. Thus, the i know that the constructed identity is biased and i often encourage that bias

Audience is *so* essential. There is no way to present information without understanding who is reading it, what their biases/experiences are, and how you are being read. We write in a void, unlcear of how people are reading us. We write to the ether, yet i take for granted so many assumptions about my audience. I assume that i’m speaking to educated, conscientious people with like minds… i assume i’m preaching to the choir (but all readers of misbehaving will know that i’m learning this lesson the hard way).

In order to blog, we need to either define our audiences on our site (locally controlled context creation), be totally low self-monitors, or be really consciously uncontroversial. Usually, i tend towards the latter. I’m a complete high self-monitor and security through obscurity isn’t working… somehow, i stopped being obscure.

I worry about this aspect of blogging. Will bloggers just be the low self-monitors and those of us who don’t put our vulnerabilities forward? What’s the impact of putting your vulnerabilities forward. Have others gotten hurt?