My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and 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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gay marriage in Massachusetts

Last week, Massachusetts’ highest court declared the state’s ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional and demanded that the state change its laws. The CNN article on the topic is fascinating, revealing the underlying tensions.

- Is marriage about children?
- Do the courts have the responsibility to protect marginalized populations?
- Why are men far more afraid of gay culture than women?

Why do people in power feel so motivated by inequality that they are determined to make a constitutional amendment to protect their way of life? I’m fascinated by the fears that this issue strikes in straight folks… what on earth is the big deal? It’s funny because we live in a country that likes to preach certain rhetoric but not really defend it.

Equality for all! (When could women vote? What about blacks?) Tolerance! Separation of church and state!

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Continue reading gay marriage in Massachusetts

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I was exchanging ideas with a friend today and he asked if i knew of the concept “wabi-sabi.” I did not and he sent me on a google chase while briefly noting that it explained the Japanese aesthetic. Wiki upon wiki referenced the same thought:

It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.

Needless to say, this aligns quite well with Zen, but it also hold great power in the context of the conversation. We were discussing why people bother to know one another, what creates draw. I was noting that the most interesting people for me are those that i don’t understand, those that challenge my constructs, the differences. Everything is changing; everyone is evolving and it is that process that is so beautiful to me, far more than some completed picture. I’ve never believed in a universal and thus this concept really sits well with me.

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not broken, just sprained

OK, my toe isn’t broken, but it is really badly sprained. It’s purple and i can’t put any weight on it. They have me on crutches which i can’t use because of my carpal tunnel. Thus, i feel even more useless; i totally forget that i wouldn’t be able to use crutches. Berkeley is *not* easy to get around normally, let alone when all banged up. It has tons of hills, no parking (even if you have the handicapped permit) and no services to help you navigate the campus. Plus, South Hall is *smack* in the middle of the campus. I’d been wishing for a tram before, but oh dear do i beg for one now.

I scored a $50 parking ticket this morning trying to deal with this process (not helping the unnecessary spending rule) and i couldn’t even make it to my second class because i couldn’t penetrate campus to get to it (after about 2 minutes on crutches, my hands go numb).

Not sure what to do. But my roommates are right: this is one of life’s exercises in slowing down. And of course it’s my birthday week. Have i ever not been sick on my birthday? I always attributed it to my body being run-down before Thanksgiving and me just breaking, but perhaps it’s just karma.

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my Ani site used for liner notes !?!?!

So, a few months back, i learned that Righteous Babe was using my lyrics site to print lyrics for deaf patrons of Ani concerts. Today, a fan pointed me to this article in The Mercury News. Apparently, RBR is using lyrics sites to generate liner notes for Ani’s albums. Oh dear me.

They do note that there are tons of errors in whatever fan site they are using. I have to say that if it’s mine, i certainly know it. I also know that way too many other fan sites copy my lyrics for their sites, replicating the errors.

So, if you’re from RBR and you’re reading this, would you mind sending me the fixes that you do for liner notes? I’d love to fix up my version… it’s only screwy because it’s the version that i got from transcriptions of Ani’s recordings.

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familiar strangers

On Many-to-Many, i was surprised to find an article discussing Eric Paulos and Elizabeth Goodman’s Familiar Stranger work in relation to my own contemplations. Anyone who knows me knows that i adore Milgram’s work and have always had a deep appreciation for his four page piece on The Familiar Stranger. I think that the familiar stranger is such a strong concept that is rarely discussed, and yet so relevant.

That said, i should tease out my use of Milgram’s ideas from what Intel is doing. Intel is truly looking at the physical space, how we relate to familiar strangers offline. A large part of what i’m curious about is how we use the digital space as a secondary context for relating to strangers. Do we become more curious to know who they are when we see them online and recognize them as an offline familiar stranger? What role do these people play in our social network? How do we negotiate their physical presence once we have observed them online?

That said, if you’re a researcher, you must read Milgram’s work on The Familiar Stranger (it’s all of four pages, one of which is a large picture).

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removing my blogroll

Blogrolls are a very interesting and key part of blogs. They create the connections between people, allow for an articulated presentation of one’s social networks. They allow for people to navigate from blog to blog to find one another. They allow other sites that track the “value” of a given blog to see who connects to who. Really, they are great for anyone interested in fashion and blogs.

But they also cause other problems. First, i had a hard time creating a blogroll. I read a lot of blogs, many of which are private or Live Journals, Diary Lands or otherwise. I also read a lot of professional blogs or the personal blogs of my professional connections. My readership is quite odd – friends, colleagues, Ani DiFranco fans, people that i don’t even know.

When i was creating my blogroll, i didn’t want to list my friends’ blogs out of respect – they aren’t asking the world to read them. Those who did participate in listing culture were public, professional. Thus, my blogroll quickly became odd – it was a collection of the professional blogs that i read and those that i felt as though i should be reading more often. Plus, there were people who asked to be on my blogroll and then there were those who were upset because they weren’t listed (even though i read their blog daily). It became weird, outdated and nowhere near representative of me.

Seeing as this is the most personal of my public blogs, i decided that there is no need to list off some strange aspect of my identity in order to feel socially appropriate. I appreciate my readers; i really do. But i’ll also be honest that i’ve been quite weirded out by how many more people read this than i imagined would. But it is public, and i have met some amazing new folks through the blog world. So very strange….

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broken toe

To make matters worse, i think that i broke a toe while rushing around trying to get data off of my Mac. It’s swollen and i can’t stand on it. Thank goodness for ice and Aleve.

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broken mac is bad

When Macs break, they break. OMG. Mine fell last nite. Apparently, destroyed the backlight and the power supply. $1600 to fix; $1800 to replace. Not really coping with this right now. This was sooo not a planned expense.

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crazy week on the business side

It’s been a crazy week on the business side of the social networks space.

- Evite joined in.

- Patents are being thrown into the mix.

- Emode changed its name to Tickle and bought Ringo.

- Everyone’s getting money.

- Esther Dyson and the Always On folks had a little discussion (good blog entry by the Spoke folks.

- And, of course, it all got slashdotted

The Social Software Weblog has a lot of the business news so read there if you’re interested in those bits.

Personally, i think it’s great that there is this much interest in the space, but i also find it a bit terrifying. With big players putting their products into the ring and money flowing like it’s 1999, folks are starting to get far more secretive and their plottings feel far less user-centric. Competition is becoming more of a factor that creating cool technology meant to help people. I worry what this will mean long term.

Meanwhile, i think that i will go back to where i started with all of this and focus far more on the users’ understanding of social networks, identity play and articulation.

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iTunes as fashion marker

iTunes Undermines Social Security is a great article on the fashion statement that one makes with one’s collections. For those interested in collections and fashion, make certain to read Fernanda Viegas’ master’s thesis.

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