I explore media in transition. My research encompasses film, video, print, digital arts, and the web. I'm interested in what artists and writers are doing and in what critics and scholars are saying.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

“Googled! Will the Internet Come Back to Haunt You?”

Yesterday afternoon on the KCRW/PRI radio program To the Point host Warren Olney moderated an interesting discussion called “Googled! Will the Internet Come Back to Haunt You?” Participants included Elizabeth Spiers, freelance journalist, editor-in-chief of, and former editor of the blog; Pam Dixon, writer, executive director and founder of the World Privacy Forum, and technology editor for ClearChannel Newstalk (1460 KION); Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), professor of information privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center, and chair of the ABA Committee on Privacy and Information Protection; and Danah Boyd, PhD student in the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at UC Berkeley, researcher at Yahoo! Research Labs-Berkeley, and specialist in articulated social networks (e.g., Friendster), blogging, and other social software, particularly in relation to youth. The discussion addressed privacy issues raised both by the practices of popular search engines, such as Google, which track users’ activities online, and by individuals who post personal information about themselves (and others) in blogs and elsewhere on the Net.

As the participants made clear, notions of private and public continue to shift in cyberspace, often leading to a range of hurtful and helpful consequences in real life. Regarding the sociological aspects of Net users who openly disclose personal details about their lives, I found Boyd’s comments on adolescents and teens especially insightful. To learn more about her research, I visited, where she blogs, and discovered additional background as well as information that broadened the scope of the debate initiated on To the Point and introduced new concerns.

While reading some recent posts—including an entry about the radio interview—I became aware of the BlogHer Conference ’05, which took place in Santa Clara, California, on July 30th. (See entries in Boyd’s blog on July 30th and 31st.) The day-long conference was sponsored by BlogHer, “a network for women bloggers to draw on for exposure, education, and community.” The BlogHer site covers many issues concerning women online. So does, another site that Boyd’s blog led me to. Devoted to women and technology, this weblog, for which Boyd writes, celebrates women’s contributions to computing and identifies opportunities and challenges for women in the field.

To learn more about Yahoo! Research Labs-Berkeley, which Boyd mentioned, I visited the project’s Web site. There I learned that the partnership between Yahoo! Inc. and UC Berkeley is designed “to explore and invent social media and mobile media technology and applications that will enable people to create, describe, find, share, and remix media on the web.” Marc Davis, the founding director of the corporate-academic collaboration, is currently on leave from SIMS (the graduate program at UC Berkeley that Boyd attends), where he directs Garage Cinema Research, a research group “focused on creating the technology and applications that will enable daily media consumers to become daily media producers” and thus bring about “a ‘Garage Cinema’ revolution in which people use computational media to communicate with each other every day.”

Following more links and losing myself in cyberspace, I also learned about CNM: Center for New Media, at UC Berkeley, which strives “to understand the full philosophical, aesthetic, practical and historical significance of the information-age transformations in which we are now immersed and to place our institution of liberal education at the center of this cultural and technological revolution so we can inform and help direct the design of future media.” CNM is one of the sponsors of the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium, a multidisciplinary lecture series that discusses “contemporary issues at the intersection of digital media, emerging technologies, and aesthetic expression.”

UC Berkeley has been on my mind, since I plan to spend time there next week. I guess it’s not surprising, then, that my free-associative linking has led to the virtual counterpart of where I’ll soon be in real life.

P.S. The radio program “Googled! Will the Internet Come Back to Haunt You?” is archived online; it is also podcast.

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