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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towards a diagram of mark lombardi

If you haven’t seen these hand-drawn visualizations of social networks, you absolutely must – they are gorgeous.

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i am a dork

i am a dork; we all know that… thus, i’m a wiki. ::sigh:: Of course, i will admit that i’ve been fleshing out the anthropologists section at Wikipedia lately.

what kind of social software are you?

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friendster musings

Here’s a neat blog entry weighing in on why friendster is lame & rad.

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I realized that i never posted about Wallop because the entry that i wrote got destroyed in a network snafu. Oops.

So, if you don’t know already, you should know about Wallop, a research project underway by Lili Cheng and gang. (If you don’t know about the Social Computing Group at MSR, you should – amazing people, fantastic research.)

So… Wallop. Currently, there are a lot of rumors and secrets going around about what it is. Read Wired for a debunking of some of those rumors (and a discussion of what is known). Other press curiosity comes from eWeek.

I’m not going to speculate on what they’re doing, but i will say a few things about MSR. First, they have brilliant researchers who are on top of their shit, know the theories, know the technology and have a hell of a lot of potential. Lili Cheng is no small designer. That said, MSR is not the same as Microsoft. What they create is rarely the end product that Microsoft ships. They operate based on good ideas, not necessarily good product strategies. They study people & their use, not consumer trends. Deploying a MSR research project is very different than MS deploying a new technology. Thus, it will be really interesting to see how this evolves. But also very exciting.

Also, it’s important to realize their market… think about who uses IM (and particularly MSN IM). This is a *very* different market than Friendster/Tribe/SocialText etc. is going after (and also very different than the AIM market, as they learned the hard way from their research on 3 Degrees). New markets, new lessons, new uses of social software and social networks…

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shifts in life

I decided that i needed to breathe this weekend so i chose to break some habits for the weekend and spend time offline, doing physical activities, rearranging my room to better suit my personality, engaging in board games and attending a talk on the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

When i pulled my meditation card yesterday for my moving meditation, i was stunned to find a new one. I pulled the New Vision card. Doing so allowed me to process some of the confusion that i’ve been feeling lately.

My blog is a site of some of that confusion. When i began blogging in 1996, it was for a handful of people. It was password protected, it was personal. When i shifted to LiveJournal, i started layering entries; some were personal, some were open to whomever. When i switched to MT, i became a public blogger, but not one that was read or really desired to be read. I kept up interesting links, mostly for me and my friends. Some people would stumble in and i’d find new research buddies. In the last 6 months, my research has shifted from being the out-of-place-too-theoretical-mumbo-jumbo at the Media Lab to something that folks find useful. People read my half baked ideas, late night ramblings and musings and rather than joke with me about them at the next friend gathering, i get to feel the pressures and wrath of being some public digital presence.

I feel pressure to blog, pressure to be helpful to businesses and people’s careers and have self-induced so much bloody guilt for failing to meet everyone’s expectations. I truly want to be helpful… it’s in my blood. But i’m exhausted, feeling the pressure of little income, no sleep and a non-existent social life. I snap at the people that i love, have no patience for people’s self-motivated questions and feel like i’m less of a help and more of a caricature of an academic. I haven’t been able to focus on my academic work in a way that i’m proud of and i feel like i’ve been on conversation repeat for months now. It’s funny but i enjoy talking to the press these days far more than the tech creators, because the press’ naivity is still curious and fascinating, while i’m tired of the how can this make money conversation. (And besides, the press are always nice on the phone and i don’t take their misinterpretations personally.)

I’ve reached a new level of koyaanisqatsi, one that i’ve never felt before. And on Friday, i broke into a new realization, one that the card encouraged me to meditate on. I must take a step back, figure out how to be valuable not only to others, but to me. I must learn the word no (because i prefer no to learning how to flake). I must realize that time == money (thank you Ronen). I need to own my time a bit better and choose how to help wisely so that i can stop doing focus groups for cash and feeling guilty about joining friends for fancy dinners.

A friend once told me that i should think of myself as a product. If i give myself out too much, i will be seen as a valueless product. If i don’t work on evolving my knowledge, reinvigorating my skills, i will be seen as an outdated product. If i don’t work on selling myself, i will be a bankrupt product.

::sigh:: I hate having to learn anything involving balance… i’m so not good at it. But i’m so tired of feeling so out of balance, useless and spread way too thin. This week, i will focus on applying Goffman.

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tribe party was a success

Last night, held an open house party and it was great fun. Hundreds of folks showed up to give Tribe their support, meet the people they had been speaking with online and meet the creators. I was honestly stunned by how many people came (including those who flew across the country on their own dime). It was great to see the kinds online communities bleed into offline communities and people kept commenting about how reminiscent it was of the 1980s/1990s communities parties (like the Well). How invigorating!

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a test

One of my classmates sent me the funniest little test this evening. Try it out.

Read this question, come up with an answer and then click to the extended entry for the result. This is not a trick question. It is as it reads.

A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met this guy whom she did not know. She thought this guy was amazing, so much her dream guy she believed him to be just that! She fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and could not find him.

A few days later she killed her sister.

Question: What is her motive in killing her sister? (Give this some thought before you answer)

Continue reading a test

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popular mechanics

Popular Mechanics is a NYTimes article that addresses sociometry (think numerical analysis approach to social behavior… uber quant-sociology). A large part of this discussion is on social networks. Since social networks has been the recent star child of sociology, it shouldn’t be surprising that sociometrics is also interested in approaching it. Milgram did do the first numerical study of networks.

Continue reading popular mechanics

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halloween costume: friendster profile

One of my readers kindly pointed me to this collection of Halloween photos. On the fourth picture down, you’ll see that someone chose to go to a Halloween party as his Friendster profile. That’s a riot!

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Everyone keeps asking me about Huminity, since it just got some funding.

Unfortunately, i only know what i can see on the site since i am a Mac person. So, if you have experiences with Huminity, please let me know…

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