live on NPR

Well, i spoke live on NPR for the first time today – To The Point (KCRW). The show was called “Google Googled” and it was about privacy online. I was there to talk from youths’ point of view, to talk about why people put material about themselves online.

The thing is that i’m totally terrified of radio and talking outloud over the phone. And i find it so hard to follow what’s going on via phone. But hopefully i didn’t sound stupid. (And if i did, don’t tell me please.) Anyhow, i figured i’d tell you in case you did want to listen cause it was a very interesting show. I’m under the impression that you can get a podcast version from KCRW’s website (but i’m scared to actually listen to it).

In any case, i do think that the topic is important and there’s a real tension. Who holds the responsibilty for what is online? What laws need to be in place? How do certain actions violate our social contract and what are the consequences of this? What does it mean that engines can aggregate public material and make it more accessible? (Are there degrees of publicness?) What are the generational issues as young people want to explore their identity and thus find the publicness super helpful while older folks engage in a sort of protectionism that can border on paranoia?

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7 thoughts on “live on NPR

  1. Tommie Jones

    Just heard you on NPR. Your interests are similar to mine. So I think I’ll follow your blog.

    Your pretty much right on the money with the internet privacy issues. Once something is public it should stay public. Eventually we will learn how to seperate the chaff from the wheat.

    One other interesting consequence is that my kids, grandkids and great grand kids will be able to find what I write. I still find stuff on newsgroups from my days back at NC State back in the early 90s. I think it is important for the kids to know what a dumbass I really was back then. (and not just take my wife’s word for it.)

  2. Mel

    This is an interesting program not so much in terms of what it reveals about the amount of information that is available online (for me, anyway) but for what it reveals about the thinking and frames with which people are evaluating that information and the kinds of standards that are being applied – the question is… whose morality, whose professionalism and whose value systems are being applied to the inf the nature of private identity beyond one’s professional life we can no longer – as a society – maintain some of the fictions (to be, essentially, non-people – suits and ties) that we have always asked of professionals when it comes to who they are as people.

    While I do believe that some sort of regulations should be in place in terms of harmful information I also believe that we’re not thinking about search engines – as a culture – in very sophisticated ways. Maybe it’s time we started facing ourselves and the realities of real human experience as opposed to being judged according to a small-minded, sexist, racists, classist, homophobic conservative status quo.

    I like what you said about teenage identity and their priorities (and how those priorities are very different from ours). I also liked what you said about the idea of a politician having to lead a perfect, squeeky clean life in order for us to take them seriously (isn’t the same coming true for all of us now that citizens are living as public figures) … THAT is the problem. We need to adjust our ideas of “normal” rather than holding people up to these totally oppressive standards of behaviour and identity. That’s what needs to shift. People also need to approach search engines and the information that is available on them with far more sophistication.

    While there are certainly people who hold power positions making HR decisions based on first search results I would argue that they’re not performing their job with very much professionalism if they aren’t actively questioning the results or even thinking about context. Granted, it’s an investment of time that most of these people aren’t willing to make (i.e., the first search for job applicant “A” was his Mr Leatherman 2002 title from Gay Pride 2002 a conservative or homophobic HR person will obviously bypass this candidate according to their own bias – are we even speaking to THAT?).

    We need to revise “normal”. I believe blogs are helping to shift this paradigm. Privacy and reputation are certainly critical but so are oppressive social norms that people are being judged against when it comes to how we use and think about the information we’re reading about each other online.

  3. Sarah

    Congratulations! You did really well and I loved listening to this interesting radio show.

    It has been very nice to be able to hear your voice for the first time…

    I have obviously been googled by at least two people that actually thought the quite personal poem – printed in a little literature brochure for students four years ago – was about them and started acting in strange ways beacuse of that and there were some awkward situations. It had only been meant for people at my university interested in literature four years ago. They ended up putting all the texts on the internet… I asked the webmaster to do what he could but it is still one of the first hits on Google…

    Using Gmail as my current email address I am getting more and more concerned about it.

    Regards from Zurich (Switzerland),


  4. Rutger

    You mention some interesting observations. Especially the notion that young people do not so much care about on-line reputation as much as adults do.

    I consider myself an adult and I am concerned about people’s identity and reputation becoming one and the same thing. Even the reputation I garner in communities (for example on eBay) is not my own. I cannot take it, it’s not mine. While I think it’s mine, unfortunateley is a closed system. It is a system of closed silos that hold your ‘identity’.

    So you have this part of your digital identity that you can control and a part which you cannot control (reputation). It surprises me that young people do not care so much about this second part; it’s not a part of their culture.

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