Irwin Altman defines privacy as “the selective control of access to the self” (1977:67). To maintain privacy is not, necessarily, to avoid disclosure, but to exhibit autonomy and choice over that which is, and it not, exposed. A privacy violation is that which unduly inhibits this control.
What counts as a privacy violation is far from straight forward, and always situation specific. Nissenbaum’s contextual integrity framework delineates the relationship between situational expectations and relative control over access to the self. Specifically, Nissenbuam argues that each context contains its own set of privacy norms, or expectations about how much of the self will be accessible. From this perspective, a privacy violation is that which violates privacy norms. Or in other words, privacy is violated when the self is more accessible than one has agreed to. Ostensibly, one could then avoid those contexts in which the self is highly accessible, and cry “violation!” when the self is unduly accessed. (more…)
The Internet is officially abuzz about Facebook Inc.’s newly expanded gender categories. Here’s the story in brief: Facebook now allows users to select from over 50 gender identifications, such as genderqueer, cisgender, agender etc. (here is a glossary of the options). The move has drawn the expected responses from all of the usual suspects. The deep conservatives are annoyed, the liberals are elated, and the critical progressives appreciate the gesture, realize its significance, but remain dissatisfied with any form of identification confined to a box. I’m of the critical progressive camp, and happy to defer you readers to all of the smart things written by other people.
Meanwhile, I want to focus on another piece of the gender-identity expansion, a piece of great significance which has nonetheless snuck by in light of the jubilation, fighting, and intellectualism surrounding our new opportunity to bend the gender binary. Namely, I want to talk about privacy, and Facebook’s shifting discourse about identity and power. (more…)
As a professional sociologist, I maintain membership in several listservs and social networking site groups centered around my areas of study. Every now and then, someone will post a request for a particular academic article to which they do not have access at their home university. Quickly, another member of the group provides the article, and we all go about our business.
Not having access to one article, for a connected professional, is no big deal. But imagine if that same professional never had access to academic articles unless they were willing to pay—exorbitantly—to get beyond publishers’ paywalls. Were that the case, it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for that professional to conduct research. (more…)
Like many Americans, I spent Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl. This entailed tasty snacks, a comfy couch, and lots of head shaking because, well, the Denver Broncos. It also involved Facebook and Twitter. The day of, day before, and day after were full of commentary, predictions, snarkiness, and declarations of various sorts. Indeed, Sunday’s Super Bowl, like all media events, incorporated multiple media. One item, within one piece of this media ecology, keenly sparked my interest: The Twitter feed of @YesYoureRacist. (more…)
So I’ve been thinking a lot about curation and its role in contemporary social life. I’ve had such thoughts before, and have since expanded upon them. Here’s where I am…
Curation is the act of picking and choosing, marginalizing and highlighting, adding, deleting, lumping, and splitting. Social life in itself is highly curatorial, as social actors necessarily filter infinite masses of stimuli, selecting and preening in intricate ways while sculpting performances out of the broad slabs that constitute affect, body, and demeanor. In what follows, I argue that new technologies—and social media in particular—amplify curation, facilitating its operation as a key organizing principle of augmented sociality.
Specifically, I briefly outline a three-pronged theory of curation, in which social actors curate their own performances, curate what they see, and are always subject to curatorial practices of others—both human and machine. I refer to curated performance as outgoing curation, curated viewing as incoming curation, and curation at the hands of others as third-party curation. (more…)
This is the first post in a new Cyborgology series we call #review. #review Features links to, summaries of, and discussions around academic journal articles and books. This week, I’m reviewing:
Goodings, Lewis and Ian Tucker. 2014. “Social Media and the Co-Production of Bodies Online: Bergson, Serres, and Facebook’s Timeline.” Media Culture & Society 36(1):37-51. [paywalled PDF]
Goodings and Tucker work to understand the difficulties of embodiment in light of pervasive technological mediation, and in particular, Facebook’s Timeline. They do so using data from 8 focus groups, with a total of 25 participants.
The authors refer to technologically mediated embodiment as that embodiment which exists in light of, and conjunction with, pervasive electronic and digital media. Through the work, the authors identify two key problems or difficulties of technologically mediated embodiment. First, technologically mediated embodiment troubles communicative boundaries, as multiple networks, with varying expectations, converge together in shared social spaces. Second, technologically mediated embodiment stifles the fluid nature of personal biography, cementing the past in ways which inhibit future re-interpretations of the self. (more…)
When my phone rings, it’s almost always my mom, or her mom, or my partner’s mom. It’s always somebody’s mom. For everyone else, the notification is a buzz, a ding, a quick vibration. For all of the not-moms in my life, we communication via text message, Facebook, Twitter, email, chat, or Skype. We connect regularly, but rarely through voice calls. When I do pick up the phone, I last about 30 minutes max. Then, my ear feels hot, my shoulders tense, and I refuse to ask “were you talking to me, or to Dad?”” one more time.
This is indicative of a wider trend. The telephone, as a medium of voice-talk, is in massive decline—at least amongst the texting public. A widely cited 2012 CDC study shows that over half of all American homes rely predominately on mobile devices, with almost 40% living in landline-free homes. And we all know, the cellphone is far better at just about everything than voice-to-voice communication. With smartphones, the talk function seems almost like an afterthought, available in case of emergency. (more…)
The Quantified Self is defined—in the tagline of the movement’s website—as self -knowledge through numbers. With the example of the Tikker “Happiness Watch” (also known as the Death Watch) I argue for the primacy of self-knowledge within the movement, and the subservient role of numbers. (more…)
For those of us eagerly awaiting the Winter Olympics this February, we got an Olympics of a different kind to tide us over. Last weekend, the “Robot Olympics” took place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in south Florida. Schaft Inc., a Google-owned Japanese company, took first place at The Games, officially called the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). The events in which competitors compete, and the criteria by which they are evaluated, are nicely illustrative of Earnst Schraube’s technology as materialized action approach, and present an opportunity to push the theory further. (more…)
So, Elsevier pulled kind of a jerk move. And probably a move that’s not great for PR.
As it turns out, publishing giant Elsevier is taking down copyrighted papers from Academia.edu. Here’s a bit of background. For-profit publishing companies (like Elsevier, Sage, Taylor & Francis etc.) make authors sign a copyright agreement when they publish in the journals run by these companies. This gives distribution rights to the publisher, and takes them away from the author. However, many authors (like myself) sign said agreement, and then immediately post content on Academia.edu, ResearchGate, or other academic-based social networking sites.
Technically, posting our work on these sites is illegal. However, the publishers’ policies, which create false scarcity, exploit intellectual labor, and restrict knowledge sharing, are in a word, preposterous. Here’s why: (more…)
We live in a cyborg society. Technology has infiltrated the most fundamental aspects of our lives: social organization, the body, even our self-concepts. This blog chronicles our new, augmented reality.