Monday, May 10, 2010

danah boyd Q &A - WWW2010/Futureweb

danah boyd's afternoon Q&A brought up some great questions surrounding the ethical use of large data-sets put out by social media companies, and the growing concern over privacy issues. As in her morning keynote, this was an excellent discussion over research methods, and the importance of qualitative date. A few topics from the beginning of the session include:
  • When is big data a reflection on life?
  • Most misuse is unintentional
  • We mean well, but we need to think like a hacker. Think of the unintended possibilities when releasing data
  • How do you allow for context in your data?
  • IRBs are not asking the tough ethical questions (as someone who went through a horrendous IRB process I actually respect it a bit more)
  • We need to be OK with being forthright about what we CAN'T derive from our data
This then transitioned into more information about teenagers and their use of SNS (danah's main research topic currently). I really think that her research would fit so well into our educational/developmental psychology classes. So much of what she talks about, teachers understand the back end reasoning for, it is just now manifesting in different ways because of the Internet. Some of her points are:
  • Teenagers creating themselves into being
  • Come with ideas of social ideals
  • Want to be cool
  • Lamenting that they have no privacy
  • If it's publicly accessible parents feel they have the right to look
  • Adults think about what they have to lose
  • But teenagers think about what they have to gain with sns
This brings up an interesting discussion point of "friending" your parents and what is acceptable usage. danah contends that parents should be giving their teenagers space and not friending them. When I specifically asked her about teachers friending students, I agreed with her stance a bit more. Her recommendation was for teachers to have two facebook accounts. One for students/school usage. She does not recommend that you "friend" any of your students with this page, but leave it publically open and utilize it as a communication channel. An open door policy if you will. Then have a separate FB account for personal use that is completely locked down. I think most teachers have been doing the completely locked down part, but now I realize the importance of having FB as a communication venue. My brother for instance doesn't really check any e-mail - but he checks his FB mail, so I use that to communicate with him. It really just allows for another avenue, especially one that students can use to contact you.

I also thought it was interesting when I talked to her afterwards that she doesn't see Ning as a social network, but as a community network - that they are actually distinct and different entities. I'm going to have to think on that one a bit, and hope it doesn't negate my current research projects :)

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