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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why I’m mostly offline

Y’know how when you’re really really tired and your eyes refuse to focus unless you force them to? And if you force them to, you’re inviting a searing headache? Much to my dismay, that’s been my reality since I returned from India. In a cruel twist of fate, my relaxing vacation relaxed my eyes a bit too much. And now they don’t want to play along.

I’m currently working with doctors to try to figure out why this is happening and what I can do to fix it. In the meantime, I’m trying to be a good patient. I’m currently spending very little time in front of the computer (although thank goodness for text-to-speech’s strange rendition of email), focused primarily on functional tasks and trying not to get distracted by Twitter or Quora or the collection of Betaworks projects that I desperately want to beta test. I’m learning to appreciate how my Kindle talks and, more importantly, LOVING authors who make real books-on-“tape” available (although “reading” Amy Chua’s controversial self-narrated book at double speed is rather intense).

The downside of all of this is that I need to stay put, both to see doctors and to attempt to maintain as consistent of a schedule as possible and focus on getting better. And, while Microsoft has the bestest health insurance ever, I’ve been advised that leaving the country would be a very stupid move right now. Boo to not being invincible.

Much to my chagrin, this means that I had to write Natasha at Webstock and tell her that I wouldn’t be able to join her this year. I can’t tell you how much this kills me. Webstock is this awesome conference in New Zealand organized by really smart design-tech-minded Kiwis, many of whom I met when I was in New Zealand a few years ago. I’ve been dying to go for years and I was really really really looking forward to attending this year. And now I can’t. Sad panda. So you should go for me. Cuz Natasha (and Webstock) are le awesome. Oh, and if you go, you should try to convince Tom Coates to do the talk on ballerinas that he originally proposed. He had even promised a performance!

Anyhow, I am not sure how long I’ll be slower than normal but I’m trying to take it easy and focus on my health. I’d much rather pretend to be a brain-on-a-stick but every once in a while, I’m forced to attend to my body. I’m not so good at being (a) patient but I’m trying. Please forgive me for being out of touch and not nearly as interactive as I pride myself on being. Hopefully I’ll be back with regularly scheduled entertainment in the near future.

{{hug}}

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26 comments to why I’m mostly offline

  • So sorry to learn of your health challenges. Here’s wishing you the best. Reading your thoughts online is one of the best parts of my Internet day and I hope you’re back sharing again soon.

  • Hope you get better soon. Miss your insights, but totally understand the situation. Take care, danah.

  • AJ

    Sorry to hear about your illness. I’ll pray you get better. I always enjoy your insights and lines of thought. You have the gift of being able to put my exact views into words while I can merely think them. Please rest up and get well soon 🙂

  • Joe

    The world will still be here later, dmb…

  • Fred

    Sending my best wishes!

  • I hope you get better soon. I miss your stream of clever tweets and intelligent blog posts.

  • Patrick Thornton

    @Danah,

    I’m not sure if the cause is the same, but I had an issue with my two eyes not focusing together when I was a kid. It made reading more difficult than it needed to be. I did eye therapy, and it corrected the problem. When my eyes get tired (from reading too much, particularly on a computer screen, I can issue too and taking breaks helps too). Maybe your eyes are rebelling a little bit from all of your hard work. 🙂

    Certain eye doctors specialize in treatment for this and are very helpful. Of course this depends on the genesis and the cause of your issue. Yours could be more medical, and I would see a primary care physician and an eye doctor.

    Best of luck.

  • Hamish

    Aw man, I was really looking forward to seeing you – which I feel really selfish for saying. Of course your health is the most important thing, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

  • Catherine Cronin

    Sending you warm wishes for a good recovery, danah. Hope to see you return to full health very soon.
    Take care…

  • Editer

    {{hugs back!}}

  • Donna

    Danah,

    It takes great patience to be a patient. It sounds like you’re doing a fairly good job at it.

    I wonder if your familiar with any of this. It might help. Perhaps someone will read it to you so you don’t have to strain tired eyes.

    Check out the Super Better project launched by Jane McGonigal. Here’s the blog where she explains its origins. http://blog.avantgame.com/2009/09/super-better-or-how-to-turn-recovery.html

    And here on more details on what she’s doing with it now:-
    http://blog.avantgame.com/2009/09/super-better-or-how-to-turn-recovery.html

  • mindctrl

    Sorry to hear about your problem, but it makes sense really. Staring at bright light all the time isn’t wise or natural. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.

  • Sorry to hear you won’t make it here to NZ for Webstock – you were one of the star attractions! – but good to know you know when to stop and take a breather. Look after yourself and I hope you make a full recovery!

  • G

    Hi Danah
    Sorry to hear your news and I hope you get well soon.

  • Vasanth

    Very sad. I wish you a speedy recovery

  • Hazel Edmunds

    Prayers for a speedy recovery are winging their way upwards as I type.

  • I hope you get better soon, take care, we will wait for you !

  • Laura

    Talk to your doctor about congenital fourth nerve palsy (if you haven’t already). It’s something that sometimes doesn’t manifest until adulthood. Best wishes.

  • Good luck. Have you already looked up words like “strabismus” and “exotropia”?

  • zeynep

    Sorry to hear that! I hope you feel better soon. Chronic conditions suck.

  • Alana

    Oh no! Get well soon.

  • Johnny Zircon

    Hi Dana

    Sympathise hugely with problem of being unwell – I value your work and you seem to work sooo hard. Your comment:

    “I’d much rather pretend to be a brain-on-a-stick but every once in a while, I’m forced to attend to my body.”

    struck a chord with me – I said something very similiar when I was much younger, and painfully I have learnt we are integrated bio-electro-chemical entities and that the mind-body dichotomy is a dangerous myth – I know I am not the first person to observe this 😉

    I know you are not lookimg for things to read but I found a great discussion of the history of the mind-body thing in Donald Favareau’s “Introduction: An Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics”

    A pdf source randomly googled up is:

    http://fredspdfs.posterous.com/favareau-2007-an-evolutionary-history-of-bios

    The site notesthat “The first 20 pages are particularly good in tracing the pre-Cartesian history of the notions of mind-independent reality and the notion of signification from the Greeks, through especially the Scholastics, only to founder with the twin pronged agendas emanating from Bacon and Descartes.”

    As someone that thinks about media/communications I also wonder if you are familiar with the field of biosemiotics – in my view it is basic to an understanding of the evolution of human communications and literacy. A fascinating field …

    Rest up, get well and look after yourself – all of your self!

  • Get better danah. Sounds like a horrible eye problem. We’re pulling for you over here. btw: i live in Colorado now.

  • It might be due to going “cold turkey” for a month and then back. Biological systems don’t simply go into stasis when they are not used, they remodel themselves to accommodate the ongoing work load. You might need to build back up to where you were.

    Don’t “push” things too hard, signals of pain and fatigue are signs that you are exceeding physiological limits. Your body may let you “push” through the pain and fatigue, but when you do that you may be doing actual damage. Staying within your physiological limits is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

    Stress responses happens to be an important part of my nitric oxide research. Migraines are definitely a sign of not enough nitric oxide. If you are getting migraines, you need to fix that. I have a way to raise nitric oxide levels. If you are interested I can give you too much information on it.

  • Blair

    Feel better. The nerds on the intertubes are all distraught without you. Get some rest. Eat some matzo ball soup. We’ll see you soon.