Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity

danah boyd (no Caps) is a researcher at Microsoft, and her PhD dissertation is on “how American teenagers socialize in networked publics like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube.”

In her thoughtful keynote, Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity, she said:

ChatRoulette may be a fad, but the idea that publicity and privacy will get mashed up in new ways will not be. We will continue to see new tools emerge that complicate the boundaries between privacy and publicity, that challenge what we gain from privacy and offer new reasons to engage in public. Neither privacy nor publicity is dead, but technology will continue to make a mess of both…

..For starters, know that there’s no magical formula for understanding privacy and publicity. There’s no equation, no easy algorithm to implement. Privacy and publicity are living things, a stew of complexity that’s at the crux of humanity. They are fundamentally processes, grounded in needs, desires, and goals, situated in contexts and transformed by technology. Regardless of how you’re trying to engage in privacy and publicity, know that there’s no answer. What you’ll want today will be different than what you want tomorrow and what you want may be different than what your neighbor wants. This is what makes technological inflections so unbelievably messy.


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