Live Bloggin’ on a Sugar High (Gaps Due to Short Attention Span)


On Today’s Episode of Web Difference: Danah Boyd. Professor Weinberger warned us all by email that this class would “involve deep and squishy beliefs about the nature of the self.” (UPDATE: Professor Weinberger was talking about Monday in that email. My Bad. Still, I insist that we nonetheless) Bring on the squish.

1:04 pm
Professor Palfrey bridges the “fairly abstract metaphysical discussion” on Monday (yesterday) to the more “law school concepts” of today (Tuesday). We’ll be discussing whether age contributes to the Web Difference and taking a closer look at data.

Question: What, if anything, do we think we should do about this difference from a law/policy perspective?

Class Reactions to the reading and yesterday’s class:

-Student: I shaved down my Facebook profile. I took down my Fan app, and was reassured about leaving my “interests” section blank.

-Student: Some people think of Facebook as a utility, rather than a place for serious social interaction.

Danah Boyd is the leading scholar on social networking sites with scholarly work on (I didn’t get even half of the intro here because it moved so quickly) Xanga, Myspace, and whether or not we should regulate Social Networks (significant advocacy work surrounding the suburbanite-friendly, freedom-hating Deleting Online Predators Act [hypenated adjectives added]). She’s wearing a really cool t-shirt that says “wearing my twitter t-shirt.”

1:10 pm
Danah gives us a basic overview of the history of Social Networking Sites.


+Started as a community for “Geeks [Geek Culture Buffs], Freaks [Burning Man types], and Queers [Gay Men living in NY].” Brackets Added
+Friendster “Testimonials”
+”Fakester Genocide”-Friendster kills off all non-dating profiles and “jumps” to Asia.

1:17 pm
-Myspace/Facebook (sorry to clump them together, I can’t type that fast)
+Hosts members who Friendster rejected (Freaks roll over to
+Side note: IM is used by middle school kids, and usually drops off by high school (high school kids like to use text messages—they can delete them before their teachers search through their phones without any regard for their dignity, privacy, or natural rights. Oh, teachers.

+Myspace becomes an informal place to hang out. “Kind of like a cocktail party”
+”Friends” are not your closest and dearest.

1:24 pm
Professor Palfrey surveys the class. 100% are on Facebook, most of us do it every day. Not that many of us are on Myspace.

Professor Palfrey puts his facebook profile on the projector. I wonder if he’s Facebook friends with Lawrence Lessig. Or Barack Obama. (His friend is “Voting for Barack Obama in the Rhode Island Primary on March 4th!”). Andrew Sullivan called Lessig an “Obamacrat” yesterday. I know, I know, I’m obsessed and I need to stop. It’s an addiction.

Professor Palfrey goes back to the student who said he adjusted his facebook profile. He asked whether this had to do with a shift in the perception about the audience of his profile. Student responds that he instead was trying to “get as much out of facebook while putting as little into facebook”

1:33 pm

There’s a psychological effect on our hesitation to divulge info on Facebook, now that it’s been opened up to the public (actually, it’s been open like this for two years). But Facebook is much less private that MySpace.

1:39 pm

I’m back. Danah indirectly convinced me to remove virtually all of my facebook apps.

1:41 pm

Man I’m not very good at Live Blogging because I keep looking up all this interesting stuff that Danah’s talking about.

Danah: Big Difference between the Digital and the Physical

In the physical, where there are collisions of multiple contexts, there are major social rules. For example, in a wedding, you give all of the actors specific rules of how to operate.

In the digital, we’re not so used to coping with these collisions. There are multiple audiences with different social contexts with no physical walls.

1:46 pm

We check out Professor Palfrey’s profile on Danah points out that people don’t rate when they’re happy, they rate when they’re P.O.’d.

If something is written online, in what cases should it be legal to use it to make a hiring decision?


A loss of control of how you are presented to the world (on certain topics…no one knows you’re a dog [or a white man who’s 6 foot] on the internet). [BUT is the lack of control bad? Couldn’t it push forward the threshold for what’s socially acceptable?]

Mistaken Identity (“Push Back”->But is that really a Web Difference?)

Effects of persistence-ability to respond

Searchability and Findability



Norms v. “Sturking”

Youth Rights Groups

Norms about what to put online

Notice about privacy

Keep parents out of some networks publics;jsessionid=JIFB4EPRDWVX0AKRGWCB5VQBKE0YOISW?id=R0706A&referral=2341

2:10 pm

Question: Are the Youth Rights? Basic Answer: Haha, yeah right.


The Web is changing our understanding of what a “public” is. Youths don’t have access to a large number of publics. (E.g., “the Pit” in Cambridge). There are all sorts of reasons that publics are developing online. Teenagers are rebuilding the kinds of public spaces that they would hope to have in online places.

2:30 Your Live Blogger shamelessly plugs a few of his favorite websites:

Despite Professor Weinberger’s warnings (UPDATE: See above, but still,) there wasn’t as much squish as I was prepared for. For the record, I (UPDATE: continue to) love saying squish.





1 Comment

  1. dweinberger

    February 19, 2008 @ 7:54 pm


    Thanks, Conor. (Or, as I like to call you, Justin.) But I meant my class on Monday was going to be squishy, not danah’s. And I believe I delivered on my commitment.