What we talk about when we talk about "Internet addiction"

danah boyd nails it: "We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place." Read the rest

danah boyd explains student privacy bills

"The conversation is constructed as being about student privacy, but it’s really about who has the right to monitor which youth". Read the rest

Do Not Track: revolutionary mashup documentary about Web privacy

Brett "Remix Manifesto" Gaylor tells the story of his new project: a revolutionary "mashup documentary" about privacy and the Web.

Teens' use of social media is significantly shaped by race, class, geography, cultural background

danah boyd responds to A Teenager’s View on Social Media (written by an actual teen), pointing out that what white, affluent boys do with social media is not a full account of "how teens use the Internet. Read the rest

Not selling out: Teens live in commercial online spaces because that's their only option

danah boyd points out that when kids conduct their social lives in commercial spaces, it's not because they don't care about selling out; it's because they have no other option: "In a world where they have limited physical mobility and few places to go, they’re deeply appreciative of any space that will accept them." Read the rest

You Are Not a Digital Native: on the publication of the Homeland paperback, a letter to kids

The US paperback of my novel Homeland comes out today, and I've written an open letter to teenagers for Tor.com to celebrate it: You Are Not a Digital Native. I used the opportunity to draw a connection between kids being told that as "digital natives," everything they do embodies some mystical truth about what the Internet is for, and the way that surveillance companies like Facebook suck up their personal data by the truckload and excuse themselves by saying "digital natives" have demonstrated that privacy is dead.

As researchers like danah boyd have pointed out, a much more plausible explanation for teens' privacy disclosures is that they're making mistakes, because they're teenagers, and teenagers learn to be adults by making (and learning from) mistakes. I finish the piece with a list of tools that teens can use to have a more private, more fulfilling online social life.

They say that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II ordered a group of children to be raised without any human interaction so that he could observe their “natural” behavior, untainted by human culture, and find out the true, deep nature of the human animal.

If you were born around the turn of the 21st century, you’ve probably had to endure someone calling you a “digital native” at least once. At first, this kind of sounds like a good thing to be—raised without the taint of the offline world, and so imbued with a kind of mystic sixth sense about how the Internet should be.

Read the rest

Everything you know about teenage brains is bullshit

Kathryn Mills reports that discussion has become dominated by unconvincing 'experts' and scaremongering. The evidence is not in.

This Day in Blogging History: Rob Ford smokes crack; danah boyd on kids' net usage; Scalzi's advice to LGBT newlyweds

One year ago today Gawker reporter claims to have seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack: Gawker's John Cook was contacted by a tipster who offered to sell him a video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack for more than $40K.

Five years ago today How kids use the net now, from danah boyd: They don't use Twitter. When asked, teens always say that they'll use their preferred social network site (or social media service) FOREVER as a sign of their passion for it now. If they expect that they'll "grow out of it", it's a sign that the service is waning among that group at this very moment. So they're not a good predictor of their own future usage.

Ten years ago today Advice to newlyweds: John Scalzi, a very talented humour writer and novelist (I like to think of him as the "edgy Dave Barry"), has written a bunch of notes for the newly married gays and lesbians of Massachusetts. Read the rest

Kids are mostly sexually solicited online by classmates, peers, teens

The respected Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that one in seven children is sexually exploited online. This figure is both credible and alarming. But the context is vital: as danah boyd writes, the average predator isn't a twisted older man trawling for kids; rather, "most children are sexually solicited by their classmates, peers, or young adults just a few years older than they are."

Now, it's absolutely possible for a child to sexually exploit another child, so this isn't to minimize the potential harm to kids. But for so long as we model the threat to kids as being weird, strange grownups, rather than the young people they know and see every day, we will fail to prepare them to comport themselves wisely and safely. Read the rest

EFF on the White House's Big Data report: what about privacy and surveillance?

Last week, I wrote about danah boyd's analysis of the White House's Big Data report [PDF]. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has added its analysis to the discussion. EFF finds much to like about the report, but raises two very important points:

* The report assumes that you won't be able to opt out of leaving behind personal information and implicitly dismisses the value of privacy tools like ad blockers, Do Not Track, Tor, etc

* The report is strangely silent on the relationship between Big Data and mass surveillance, except to the extent that it equates whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden with the Fort Hood shooter, lumping them all in as "internal threats" Read the rest

Big Data analysis from the White House: understanding the debate

Danah boyd, founder of the critical Big Data think/do tank Data and Society, writes about the work she did with the White House on Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values [PDF]. Boyd and her team convened a conference called The Social, Cultural & Ethical Dimensions of "Big Data" (read the proceedings here), and fed the conclusions from that event back to the White House for its report.

In boyd's view, the White House team did good work in teasing out the hard questions about public benefit and personal costs of Big Data initiatives, and made solid recommendations for future privacy-oriented protections. Boyd points to this Alistair Croll quote as getting at the heart of one of Big Data's least-understood problems:

Perhaps the biggest threat that a data-driven world presents is an ethical one. Our social safety net is woven on uncertainty. We have welfare, insurance, and other institutions precisely because we can’t tell what’s going to happen — so we amortize that risk across shared resources. The better we are at predicting the future, the less we’ll be willing to share our fates with others.

Read the rest

Free download of danah boyd's must-read book "It's Complicated"

danah boyd has posted a free PDF of the full text of her must-read book It's Complicated, the best book about young people and the Internet I've read to date. boyd hopes you'll enjoy the book and then support her and her publisher by buying a copy, sending a signal "that this book is important, that the message in the book is valuable." Read the rest

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (must, MUST read)

Sociologist danah boyd's long-awaited first book, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, hits shelves today. boyd is one of the preeminent scholars of the way young people -- especially marginalized young people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds, as well as diverse gender and sexual orientation -- use the Internet, and her work has been cited here regularly for her sharp observations and her overwhelming empathy for her subjects.

It's Complicated is a passionate, scholarly, and vividly described account of the reality of young peoples' use of networked technologies in America today. Painstakingly researched through interviews and close study for more than a decade, boyd's book is the most important analysis of networked culture I've yet to read. Read the rest

NYC think-tank devoted to critical analysis of Big Data seeks fellows

Outstanding social scientist danah boyd has founded a new thinktank (or "think/do-tank") called The Data & Society Research Institute, based in New York City, and devoted to critical analysis of big data, and "social, technical, ethical, legal, and policy issues that are emerging because of data-centric technological development." It's well-funded, with an exciting mission, and they're hiring. Read the rest

Social steganography: how teens smuggle meaning past the authority figures in their lives

Danah boyd has a great summary of the new Pew report on Teens, Social Media, and Privacy. The whole thing is worth a read -- especially her thoughts on race and social media use -- but the most interesting stuff was about "social steganography" -- smuggling meaning past grown-ups through the clever use of in-jokes and obscure references (this is also something that Chinese net-users do to get past their national censors):

My favorite finding of Pew’s is that 58% of teens cloak their messages either through inside jokes or other obscure references, with more older teens (62%) engaging in this practice than younger teens (46%). This is the practice that I’ve seen significantly rise since I first started doing work on teens’ engagement with social media. It’s the source of what Alice Marwick and I describe as “social steganography” in our paper on teen privacy practices.

While adults are often anxious about shared data that might be used by government agencies, advertisers, or evil older men, teens are much more attentive to those who hold immediate power over them – parents, teachers, college admissions officers, army recruiters, etc. To adults, services like Facebook that may seem “private” because you can use privacy tools, but they don’t feel that way to youth who feel like their privacy is invaded on a daily basis. (This, btw, is part of why teens feel like Twitter is more intimate than Facebook. And why you see data like Pew’s that show that teens on Facebook have, on average 300 friends while, on Twitter, they have 79 friends.) Most teens aren’t worried about strangers; their worried about getting into trouble.

Read the rest

Technology design for addressing human trafficking

danah boyd sez, "Researchers who focus on technology's role in human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of minors teamed up to create a short primer for technologists who are trying to do the right thing. This high-level overview is intended to shed light on some of the most salient misconceptions about human trafficking and provide some key insights that will be useful for anyone who is trying to build tools to intervene. This document is to help those who are trying to create innovative solutions recognize pitfalls that they can address in the design of their systems."

Curbing commercial sexual exploitation of children and promoting the rights and safety of children should be a top priority for all members of society. Yet, all too often, myths and public misunderstandings – particularly about technology’s role in CSEC – and a lack of empirical data about the scope of the problem drive political and legal agendas, however well intentioned. These same myths and misunderstandings have the potential to inadvertently affect how technologists approach the problem. As researchers, we feel it’s important to take an evidence based and data-driven approach toward technological interventions so that they are effective, efficient, and limit the additional harm done to victims. With this goal in mind, we offer a series of key findings that should be a part of any serious discussion about using technology to address CSEC in a networked world. We hope that this information is useful for technologists seeking to build innovative solutions. We would be happy to offer more detailed information and data to any technologist seeking to learn more.

Read the rest

Declaration of Internet Freedom

I've signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a short, to-to-point manifesto for a free and open Internet. It's attracted some very august signatories, including Amnesty International, Hackers and Founders, Global Voices, Mozilla, the NY Tech Meetup, Personal Democracy, Fight for the Future, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Aaron Swartz and Jonathan Zittrain. You can sign it too, and talk about it here or on Reddit.

We stand for a free and open Internet.

We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:

* Expression: Don't censor the Internet.

* Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.

* Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.

* Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users' actions.

* Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

Declaration of Internet Freedom Read the rest

Next page