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.

Relevant links:


google archiving IRC?

After a bot belonging to a Google IP address kept appearing in various IRC channels, folks started blogging about it.

No one knows for certain if Google is archiving IRC interactions or otherwise tracking behavior, but it does continue to raise the question if Google realizes that taking information out of context might be more a disservice than a useful enterprise.

Even if Google was not inside the IRC channel, many people log these things (just as they did Usenet, in which Google was also not inside). Yet, just as people’s notion of “public” in Usenet did not include persistent & searchable, i’m guessing that most IRC folks are also not really constructing each message as though it will go down on their permanent records.

Print Friendly

wired article on Friendster/Tribe

Today’s Wired article discussing Friendster vs. Tribe is quite interesting.

The basic critique against Friendster is:
1) They lack a sense of humor
2) They treat people as individuals rather than parts of communities or groups
3) Service is slow; there is no consumer service
4) They use heavy-handed politics and their dictator tendencies are not winning them fans

Yet, compared to Tribe, it has succeeded because it is so dating-focused and because:

“I like Friendster because it is more people-oriented,” she says. “Tribe is more geared towards selling used blenders and looking for a job. I don’t need to be reminded how many jobless people there are, or what awful things people will do for a buck…. What I want is the fantasy that we are all rock stars, that everyone’s ass looks great in leather, that everyone is sexy.”

Anyhow, read the article!

Print Friendly

let water become fire

It has been a very peculiar week and i’m still scratching my head. Life has its balances though. Pay the consequences for foolish actions, repent and be selfless for a moment and get repaid in intriguing ways.

People always talk about living in historical moments. They’re talking about historical on a more monumental scale. I’m always stunned when i’m living through a period that i know that i’ll never forget much of the absurdity of it. Normally, it’s my own doing… normally, i create my own adventures. But this week… this week has been an act of gravity, force, fate and synchronicity.

So strange. Ah yes, Scorpio is transforming into Sagittarius. Let water become fire!

Print Friendly

emanuel goldberg

I can’t help but slip into story time whenever i listen to an older male with a British accent, particularly professors; it just reminds me so strongly of my grandfather. Thus, i absolutely love listening to Professor Buckland talk about his ideas; i just sit there in a trance, completely incapable of thinking critically, but in love with everything presented. He convinced me to love him on my first visit to SIMS, explaining how SIMS is not interdisciplinary, but methodologically diverse while focused on one body of knowledge (i.e. departments vs. schools, methodology vs. target body of knowledge).

Well, this week, Professor Buckland told us stories about Vannevar Bush and Emanuel Goldberg.

I spent my formative years under the guidance of Andy van Dam. As such, i was indoctrinated with the philosophy that Vannevar Bush is god.

Thus, when Buckland started telling us the story of Emanuel Goldberg, i was floored. A new book will be coming out shortly, but the simple answer is that Goldberg had pattened and CREATED the memex before Bush, long before Bush. Emanuel Goldberg appears to be a brilliant man who history has ignored (and Buckland is going to right that historical wrong).

Print Friendly

perception and abstract representation

One of my professors presented this New Yorker cartoon in his lecture. It’s *brilliant*. What does it mean to present an abstract representation of an idea and have others “read” that idea? When does conveying something work and when does it not? What are the implications of such?

Print Friendly

rape in bosnia… a must read

After many years of working for V-Day, i can never forget the look on Eve’s face back in 1998 when she told us about her visits to Bosnian refuge camps. There were six of us, all students, all determined to carry on the V-Day spirit and the second-hand look of incomprehension, horror and loss still sticks in my head, particularly since it came from one of the most vibrant and passionate women i’ve ever met.

This morning, through the blog world, i was given a pointer to “a cradle of inhumanity”. It’s a heartbreaking feature story, echoing the pain that i always saw in second-hand form from Eve. The struggle of women who give birth to children after having been raped. The inequalities of being raped as a systematic tactic of war… not being recognized as a victim, not being given any level of economic or social support. The inequalities, the pain.

It’s hard to hear about this level of pain second-hand. I cannot imagine having a child that way. I cannot imagine the horrors that these women go through. But i can read, i can listen and i can try to make it never happen again.

I ask you to do the same.

Print Friendly

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!

[Read the full report]

Continue reading gay marriage in Massachusetts

Print Friendly


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.

Print Friendly

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.

Print Friendly

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.

Print Friendly