Thursday, May 6, 2010

danah boyd keynote @ WWW2010/Futureweb

One of the reasons I was interested in attending Futureweb in the first place was because danah boyd (and yes that is in all lowercase like e.e. cummings) would be one of the main speakers. The majority of my thesis was based on her research in social networking systems, her work constitutes one of the seminal works on defining what a SNS is and how it can be researched. Lets just say I'm a fan. Her talk at WWW2010 however, was about Publicity and Privacy in the Context of Big Data

But, what I felt she really talked about was the mixed-methods approach to research. She was trying to convince this very quantitative world that deals with large data sets, that quantifiable data doesn't answer all of our questions, that quant data has issues and is incomplete, and to remember that all data connects to a human being. That data analysis can have an impact on the samples themselves.

Her points on privacy, and the evolution of privacy concerns in the digital age are spot on. "We rely on security through obscurity" and our culture has changed to a "public by default, private through effort." That we have no problem sharing our Personally Identifiable Information (PII) but are incredibly worried about sharing our Personally Embarrassing Information (PEI).

The talk of Facebook at this conference alone has made me want to close my account. I feel like I have a good handle on what information I post and consciously don't post on FB, but the privacy changes and the way the company uses my information, my data, makes me cringe.

Overall, this was one of the better keynotes I have ever seen. Not only is danah boyd an excellent speaker, but her slides were like a Presentation Zen gold mine (and I'd like to note she and I use at least 2 of the same pictures in our presentation repertoire). Futureweb has posted some of the video clips from the talk, and danah herself has posted the entire text.

Can I be like her when I grow up, wait if we're the same age can I still do that?

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