My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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good ole danah logic

I’m not good at being ill. After much internal struggle and because of my confidence in Christopher Allen, i responsibly stayed at home last night; Christopher took my place at the CMU event. This morning, though, i operated via danah logic… that’s the kind of bass-ackwards logic that gets me into trouble. I figured that i needed to go to the doctor, the doctor was in Berkeley, BlogOn was in Berkeley… If i went to BlogOn, i would definitely go to the doctor. If i didn’t go, i probably wouldn’t visit the doctor. I knew that i needed to visit the doctor, so obviously it made complete sense to give my talk at BlogOn, right? Besides, i was no longer contagious so why the hell not?

In many ways, i’m glad i went. I had fun sharing my reflections on the linguistic connotations of my blog panel title – the dark side. I told the audience that i had asked people what came to mind when they heard the term ‘the dark side.’ Everyone kept saying Darth Vader… Star Wars… evil. I was annoyed. I was being asked to talk about people and their practices – is that really the evil side of social media? Conference organizers told me i was being pessimistic. Another conceptualization of the dark side kept coming up – Pink Floyd. When you think about the dark side of the moon, you think about the side upon which the sun has yet to shine. Perhaps my role at BlogOn was to share the perspective that people and their practices have yet to be considered. This was my way of providing optimism. I don’t know if anyone got anything out of the panel, but it was interesting to me.

The sad part was that i didn’t really get to stick around for BlogOn. Immediately after my panel, i went to the doc’s because i was having a really hard time breathing. There, i got to breathe foul tasting stuff for 5 minutes and that opened up my lungs – thank goodness. The doctor was nice (for once), although it was a bit eerie to realize that he was my age and looked like a friend of mine. I love doctors at universities because they draw pictures and explain what’s going on. Of course, i found myself wondering if this doctor blogged his experiences at the urgent care like the guy who writes Gross Anatomy. 2 hours of BlogOn did seep in.

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14 comments to good ole danah logic

  • joe

    Being an astrophysicist by training, I can’t help but extend the Dark Side of the Moon metaphor.

    That is, many people don’t realize, there is not “A dark side of the Moon.” Let me explain: the time it takes the Moon to spin once and the time it takes the Moon to go around the Earth are equal; that’s a lunar month (roughly 28 days). What is the result? The same face of the Moon always faces the Earth. Further, all sides of the Moon receive sunlight during a lunar month (thus the moon can go from full to new and back again). So no side of the Moon is perpetually dark. It all sees light in the course of a lunar month (except for some deep craters at the poles).

    So, back to blogs… maybe it’s not the Dark Side but the Far Side. That is, there is a Far Side of the Moon that never points at the Earth. That side was not well known until we actually sent a spacecraft there or, better yet, went there.

    So maybe, to probe the Far Side of blogging — people and their practices… the side that we only know about through ourselves and immediate blogging community — we need to 1) go there… that is, blogging researchers (as you’ve pointed out) need to blog and know blogging and bloggers and journalers and all -ers and 2) think up new ways to probe the Far Side… qualitative, deep, ethnographic studies combined with quantitative data can pull out a lot…

    miss you… Joe

  • Just so you know that what you are doing reaches people, I have been reading your blog for sometime now and am fascinated by the topics you present and study. I have recently just posted my own first topic on wikis and well um…everything that led me to them. My post I am afraid is full of more emotion that fact. Keep up the fascinating work…even those of us not (yet?) enwrapped (is that a word?) in this world are reading about it. Cheers!

  • tony

    Dark side? Well,maybe everyone is too similiar. If 70% of the world doesn’t own a telephone,how much of the world is left out of the blogging world? This media is youth-oriented,and youth brains are different from older brains(not worse-different). How much are we losing by not enabling eldery folks to express themselves and their knowledge? Experience counts.

    Groupthink is a scary force to reckon with.
    Do bloggers become “politicians”-not venturing too far from a centralist viewpoint(not just in politics nor do i mean “middle america,silent majority” types)because they don’t want to alienate their readers?

    Bland begets bland. Bland meaning another kid explicitly complaining about their love life,friends,family or re-inforcing many of us to become exhibitionists(as if that equates fame,success). It’s an addictive but empty existence.

    Just a thought of mine.

  • stef

    carl blesius just finished med school in germany and now is up at havard. check his blog out in terms of doc blogs.

    i left some stuff posted at mamamusing (liz got mad at me as well for over posting my welcome) about developing ideas and p2p stuff that sort of intersects with the Capitalization stuff. that is, manipulating signals to deal with network flow problems in wireless p2p systems.

    i really work on being a rude doc: why be nice?

    just kidding.

    my personal sousavaillence project is becomming a magazine. i wish to develop some sort of article on bloging and transparency in an artistic, can’t get into hippa trouble, kind of way.

    if you are interested in submitting a poem that expresses some stuff that is not for academia, let me know:

    we got a submission from David Brin: so its gotten off to a great start. our editors are into linguistics and semantic shifts: so a linguistic representation of what you are doing that is poetic would be great.

    stef

  • stef

    ps, i hope you feel better

  • stef

    Tony

    i see and understand your ideas: i have similar reservations;

    i will try to set up my own blog: if you know of any one who is elderly and want to blog, let me know so we can cross link them

    one has to really take a look at this system of communication: i got into trouble with Liz over at mamamusing as well as with /danah here for being overzealous: there is alot of miscommunication that can happen with blogs and chat rooms ect.

    I like to speak: its part of greek culture to kind of be argumentative and its considered rude when one does not counter an argument: but thats greek culture: Joi ito just did not understand me as well.

    if any of these bloggers met me in person, the metacommunication of body language, tone of voice, eye contact, would make the two persons understand what it means to be philosophic in the socratic.

    that we are kind of detached from one another now it is true.

    i trying to figure out how to alineate but not anger away my audience when i do get one.

    so do they edit me out? no not yet. but i haven’t really done anything wrong either. so its freedom of speech: but if one is off topic, people get annoyed just like when one is in a group, one speaks out of turn or changes the topic real quickly.

    it depends on the tempo and intellegence of the persons communicating and the maturity of being a communicator.

  • i think the pink floyd association indicates that there is clearly a serious need for some more rock and roll aesthetic in blog research. you gotta shake yer booty and participate, not just sip your beer on the sidelines, if you want to know what blogging is all about. (does everyone dance while they blog, or is that just me?)

    relatedly – stef – go set up an entirely free, no strings attached blog at http://blogger.com/start, and speak away. alienate, engage, communicate, the whole nine yards. good luck.

  • Stef – you need to understand that i don’t see this blog as a conversation and i don’t want it to be one. It is my opportunity to express what i’m thinking for myself and anyone who is curious. Your posts make it clear that you have the same desire, but this is not a forum that i created for you; this is why you should be creating your own forum. Anyone who knows me knows that i have a backlog of thousands of emails of people that i’d love to engage in conversation with but simply don’t have time. There is nothing pleasant about having someone sit on my blog constantly demanding my attention and then getting grumpy because he doesn’t get enough of it. It’s insulting, disrespectful and degrades the value of this forum for me.

  • Barb – i’m all in favor of booty shaking blogging. In many ways, this is why i love the LJ/Xanga feature of ‘now playing’ and love that i can broadcast what i’m playing through iChat. One of my subjects said magical things about the importance of knowing what music was in the background when she posted something. It lets her understand her state of mind so much better than the text itself. It is an ideal second axis.

  • stef

    i still don’t get this blog thing.

    to me it seems like a conversation: its very odd to me. I do not mean disrepect nor to degrade.

    i do not think my comments have been demanding: its just odd leaving a message with accepting no response. i find this strange and objectivly speaking, it feels unnatural to leave a comment and to expect no comment.

    yes i am setting up my own blog and hope you forgive an overzealous commenter.

    I am here to learn from you: i’ll restrict comments.

    its perplexing to me how both you and liz got mad at me. i did not do anything expept brainstorm and extend some of the ideas presented to link it back to a theory not complete yet.

    what did i say that is grumpy? i thought i was only being honest:

    us doctors get conditioned to return each and every message. this blog is a different pace.

    you are an academic: and some of people stick to one thing for a while until they learn the whole thing: so i read your work, follow your comments, and go from there.

    I would be honored, not disrespected by my zeolousness; but we have different educational standards here in the US compared to Asia, Canada, or Europe. Its not cool to just learn everything a professor has ever written and read all of there books prior to taking a class.

    sorry for being a nerd

    stef

  • i have to say that i sympathize with danah about time being a critical factor in the type of conversation a blog can or cannot become. it’s virtually impossible to respond atomically to everybody’s (often multiple) ideas in even a single post. then more voices chime in, the discussion gets multi-threaded… i find it so difficult to carry on heated discussions via email for a similar reason – they have a tendency to spiral out of control and get so many levels deep because i *want* to follow all the threads but alas, there comes a critical point where you sort of have to scrap the whole thing and start fresh, or pick a smaller subset of ideas with which to continue the conversation. blogging is like that, but amplified because there are many more people involved in the discussion than the 2 people in an email conversation. it’s unwieldy. we are busy people. we can only do so much.

    there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you have a lot to say. but this is not the proper forum for that to transpire. there are guidelines for etiquette in any social sphere such that if you seek to impose your own rules in someone else’s space – you are wearing out your welcome. certainly you can’t expect that each and every post deserves reciprocation from the blog author – it is often just not possible. danah’s work is useful stuff, but you can’t learn what blogging is all about simply by reading it. you say you want to understand what blogging is… you have to blog! no mystery. easy solution. if only everything in life could be so clearcut. 🙂

  • stef

    but the conversations do become restrictive: i am troubled by this.

    Rules? social ettiquette?

    its a completely new communication paradigm: fame and popularity brings on rules. its part of what happens in a world with multiple groups and special interests. what we are witnessing is the herd mentality. the masses develop rules towards an end.

    how does this work with health care? well, i could go on and on to delineate who milgram and foucault connect with the media and how it all comes back to neurology.

    but that would take 5 pages to outline.

    this is not the place for such discussion: i guess that is why many bloggers are becoming academic; cause the blog is just a starting place for an idea. it leaves a certain emptiness in ones cognitive structure.

    i think this is why Joi ito is going back to school: he needs to say what he wants with a book and get a PhD. I understand this very deeply.

    educators sould understand this as well; there are many persons who for whatever reason, never had oppportunity to get an education. now we have academic blogs to find out tiblets of what an educated person is like.

    i am not imposing any rules doctor paradox; i am simply learning as many others should do; education should be open and free. Not restricted to a few groups. The US went through a civil rights movement in the 50’s. What i am witnessing now is a changing attitude towards restricting a few from getting access when the access hs become so ubiquitous.

    just an honest opinion.

    so when i say “i do not know what blogging is,” i am being rhetorical for those who wish to learn about this disagreement.

    rudeness comes from assuming all readers know; but do they. George Washington wrote an interesting treaty on how to be polite in public. I guess there where many persons with new found freedom who did not know how to be a polite citizen.

    i hope this puts it into context; probably not.

    stef

  • i’m not talking rules and restrictions. i am all about doing away with rules. if people were more adept at picking up on implicit cues and clues in social behavior we wouldn’t have such a need for those rules.

    education should be open and free – i could not agree with you more. but you can’t demand that someone else educate you or share time with you. free speech – i am all for it. but if you go down to the local commons and start pontificating at the top of your lungs, you will have few takers interested in going the distance with you on your ideas. even more pointedly – if you show up at someone’s house who you don’t even know, and demand that they engage you in conversation, you are more likely to have a door slammed in your face than to achieve the discussion you seek (unless you luck upon some jehovah’s witnesses, perhaps!).

    context is everything. this is danah’s house. you have to be respectful of that.

  • but the conversations do become restrictive: i am troubled by this. Rules? social ettiquette?
    its a completely new communication paradigm: fame and popularity brings on rules. its part of what happens in a world with multiple groups and special interests. what we are witnessing is the herd mentality. the masses develop rules towards an end.

    Often, with online discusssions, whoever has the most spare time gets to make all the points. They can post as much as they want, make all the fine distinctions they want, offer up multiple levels of nuance if they wish. The other person, whom they are theoretically conversing with, may have far more intelligent insights to offer, but no time, and therefore the person with the free time ends up owning the conversation, and sounding smarter.