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.

Relevant links:

Archive

disclosure statement

Somehow, i saw David Weinberger’s Disclosure Statement this week. He’s had this up for a while but somehow, i never noticed. Anyhow, i think it (and he) is brilliant and i decided to copy him so that it is very clear who i work for, how i make money and what other biases affect my blog. So, cribbed heavily from David, here’s My Disclosure Statement.

Print Friendly

6 comments to disclosure statement

  • danah.. What you’ve done is a very good idea. This is the kind of thing that builds up trust and credibility, even among the skeptical crowd.

    Nice work.

    – Paul

  • This really is great. I’m glad you’ve adopted David’s format; maybe the two of you could promulgate it as a standard among bloggers.

    Way to blaze a trail for responsible blogging practices.

  • Steve

    danah,

    I wonder if your policy of not studying places you work for has introduced a conceptual bias into your work. I’m referring to Yahoo. You may have missed my comment about why Yahoo deserves to be included an a study of “Social Network Sites”, even though it technically fails to meet a critical element of your definition, which is that the friend links should be visible. (I’m excluding the MySpace wanabee feature “Yahoo 360” and my comments refer only to the classic Yahoo.) I made that original comment in a thread that was already old, and you may have missed it. But I will say now as I said then that no study of the history and development of online social networks can be complete if it ignores Yahoo. Yahoo is simply huge in that respect. But, and I don’t recall if I saw it here or in some biographical info published elsewhere, you consult for Yahoo. So, would you permit yourself to study them – if it became clear that Yahoo was a necessary part of the story? Or would your policy of not studying sites you consult for restrict that?

    -Steve

  • I don’t think Yahoo is part of the story of my dissertation. At the same time, one of the primary motivators for me to leave was that i wanted to make it very clear that what i was doing for my dissertation was not part of any company. People were confusing it even though i had a very strict separation.

    I don’t know the thread you are referring to but i definitely do not believe that Yahoo! is a social network site. It permits social networking, it supports community development, it provides 1-1 and 1-many communication platforms. But it is not a social network site. There are components of it that are networked publics (Groups is a good example) but at the same time, it’s not a youth space at all.

    There were public rumors that Yahoo was going to buy Facebook. This was never substantiated in the company but had they purchased Facebook, i would’ve immediately quit. I made that position very clear to my boss.

  • Steve

    danah,

    Thanks for responding.

    The thread I commented on originally was one where you had asked for info on the history of SNS. I was surprised that nobody had included developments within Yahoo as part of that history. Then I discovered an earlier post, where you gave your definition of SNS, and I noticed that the requirement that the networks be visible was part of your definition, and, of course, this is not a requirement met by Yahoo.

    In one sense, I can’t really argue with you conceptually, since you are free to define the subject of your study in any way that seems right to you. But I think my point would be that one cannot understand what MySpace means to teenagers if one doesn’t take into account the role Yahoo played in teen life prior to the rise of MySpace.

    What I actually know about this factually is small. It is simply my personal observation that most of the teens known to me personally who eventually adopted MySpace had already had Yahoo profiles.

    What I surmise without proof is that Yahoo Chat became one of the premier communication modes for online teens. (I suspect that AIM is probably roughly co-equal in this regard, but I know little about AIM so I can’t speak.) But you tell me – prior to the rise of MySpace, if a troubled teen was in online chat for several hours being talked out of suicide by a friend, what venue did this probably occur in? My entirely unscientific guess is Yahoo Chat and/or AIM. Tell me if you know or strongly believe that I’m wrong about this.

    And, I’m somewhat shocked by your statement that Yahoo is “not a youth space at all”. It would be accurate to state it is not *exclusively* a youth space. Yahoo, like AOL, marketed to all ages. But who were the early adopters of online culture? The young. I suspect, again unscientifically, that active users of Yahoo Chat were predominantly in the 12-24 age group.

    (And the interesting technical feature here is the interface between chat space and profile space. You can browse profiles, see if a user is online, and click to chat. Correspondingly, you can see somebody in a chatroom, and click to view their profile. And you can add friends in Messenger, although your friends are not made visible to others.)

    So, my question is this. If one today is in their early 20’s, and is a MySpace user, where did they probably get their first initiation into online society? Again, my guesses would be Yahoo and AOL.

    You are certainly free to decide that what happens on Yahoo, then or now, is not part of what you choose to study. But I would still suggest that the sites you *have* chosen to study are not fully understandable without a look at Yahoo – at least as “prehistory”.

    Cordially yours,
    -Steve

    P.S. Thinking further, I think maybe there is a deeper issue here. You seem to be saying, if I’ve understood what I’ve seen of your work, that the fact that SNS sites allow the user to display their network is an essential part, or even the central part, of their attraction and significance. I guess I really have trouble seeing that. To me, these sites (Well, MySpace and Xanga – I’m not really familiar with friendster or facebook) are about display of self much more than display of relationships. Sure, relationships are an important part of self. Part of identity is being able to say this is my clique, these are my peeps, my buds, whatever. I certainly wouldn’t argue that this was irrelevant. But I would argue that it’s secondary. I would put much more emphasis on the ability to customize one’s profile – to render your identity as an artistic multimedia display – to make your identity a production. And Yahoo certainly embodied the rudimentary beginnings of this trend.

    Well, let me know what you think, if you choose to. Always good to read your thoughts.

    P.P.S.
    And maybe we might both be right. The fact that I’m completely unfamiliar with friendster or facebook, whereas in your work they loom large, may be a clue to why we see things differently. A line of development that began with friendster and facebook and culminated in MySpace might suggest a different analytical emphasis than a line of development that began with Yahoo and AOL and proceeded to Xanga and Myspace. But both might be valid statements about the evolution of the phenomenon.

    All for now,
    -Steve

  • There is no doubt that you need to understand history to understand MySpace but my goal is not to document all of the history on that page. I’m always referencing back to Usenet (the first major networked public on the Internet). I often talk about how Usenet splintered into Onelist and eGroups (now called Yahoogroups). There’s a lot that’s relevant to the history that’s not about studying the current properties of these large companies.

    As for teens today, their primary introduction to true sociality seems to be AIM. I wouldn’t really call that AOL though. Yes, they typically had Hotmail or Yahoo email accounts before that, but email wasn’t really a large part of their life. They also used a lot of casual games. While chatrooms and BBSes were a key introductory space for my generation, that isn’t true of today’s teens, primarily because parents heard the fear mongering 6 years back about chatrooms. Chatrooms are perceived as being scary scary places and teens are told regularly to not use them. Often in my interviews, teens will tell me that they convinced their parents to let them have a MySpace precisely because it is not a chatroom and they are there with friends, not strangers.

    Profiles have existed for ages in lots of forms. What is new about SNS is that it adds the friends network on top of it. This is not to say that the identity performance is not significant, but it’s just not the quality that makes it unique.