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Outrage Management and Precaution Advocacy [en]

Outrage Management and Precaution Advocacy [en]

[fr] Interview très intéressant concernant la communication des risques. Un risque c'est un danger objectif, et aussi une réaction subjective, "outrage". Les deux ne sont pas liés. On voit des réactions très émotionnelles à des risques très bas, et des risques hauts qui n'inquiètent pas du tout les gens. Il s'agit donc de trouver des techniques pour "calmer" l'inquiétude excessive pour des dangers mineurs (= "outrage management") et augmenter le sentiment de danger pour les dangers qui n'inquiètent pas assez (= "precaution advocacy"). Fascinant.

Listening to an old episode of On The Media, I came upon this super interesting segment about risk communication (titled Terrorists vs. Bathtubs — listen to the piece, it’s just over 10 minutes, or read the transcript).

Brooke interviews Peter Sandman, expert in the field. He presents risk as a combination of outrage and hazard. Hazard is the real danger and outrage is how upsetting it is. There is no correlation between the two, and that is what makes risk communication tricky.

When I was studying chemistry I had a class on risk management. It was one of my most interesting classes, and had I stayed in chemistry, I might have delved deeper into the subject. What I learned (and it changed the way I view the world) is that a risk is a product of a probability (that something will happen) and of the amount of damage if it happens. Peter Sandman adds another dimension to the equation: the human reaction.

Outrage management is what you do when you’re faced with people who are excessively angry or frightened about something that is not that dangerous. Precaution advocacy is what you do to make people more worried/scared about something they are not concerned about enough.

Trust and control play a big role on how much outrage a risk will generate. If I trust you and you say it’s no big deal, I’ll calm down. If I control the risk I’ll be less outraged than when I don’t (quoting from the interview transcript):

Trust is a biggie. If I trust you, I’m going to find the risk that you are exposing me to much more acceptable than if I don’t trust you. If you trust the government to tell you that surveillance is no big deal and they’re gonna do it responsibly, you’re gonna have a different response than if you think the government is not to be trusted. So trust is one.

Control is one. If it’s under my control I’m going to be less upset than if it’s under your control. Memorability goes in the other direction. If you can remember awful things happening or you can imagine awful things happening, that makes the risk more memorable, that makes it more a source of outrage. But what’s key here is that outrage has a much higher correlation with perceived hazard than hazard has with perceived hazard.

Peter gives an example of how to manage outrage:

Let’s take a situation that most of your listeners are going to think is genuinely low hazard, like vaccination. But if you’re the CDC or you’re some public health department and you’re dealing with a parent who’s anxious, it’s not mostly telling the parent that it’s foolish to worry about vaccine. It’s much more listening to the parent’s concerns. It’s partly acknowledging that there is some truth to those concerns. The strongest argument in the toolkit of opponents of vaccination is the dishonesty of vaccination proponents about the very small risk that’s real. If you’re 98 percent right and pretending to be 100 percent right, then the advocates of that two percent nail you!

And here’s an example of the opposite, precaution advocacy, when you actually try and increase outrage to encourage people into safer behaviours:

One of the things that demonstrably works well with seatbelts and well generally in precaution advocacy is scaring people. So those scary drivers at movies that, you know, they make teenagers watch actually do a lot of good. Role models work.

One of the most effective things in persuading people to get vaccinated against the swine flu pandemic a couple of years ago was when President Obama got his children vaccinated. One  example of a strategy that’s very powerful is if you can get people to do a behavior that doesn’t necessarily make sense to them, because they don’t have the attitude to support that behavior, once they have done the behavior, they begin to wonder why they did it. This is called cognitive dissonance. And, and cognitive dissonance is a very strong motivator for learning things that you wouldn’t otherwise want to learn.

A nice example of this is most people who have ever tried to ask people to sign petitions notice that more people sign your petition and then read your literature than read your literature and then signed your petition. They sign the petition to be courteous, and then the act of signing the petition makes them wonder, what did I do, what did I sign? Then they read the literature, in order to teach themselves that what they did made sense and, and to develop an attitude that supports the behavior.

The conversation goes on to talk about the NSA and surveillance and terrorism (this is not long after the Snowden leaks), as well as the narrative around fracking, which Peter has since written about on his website. (His website is full of good stuff, by the way, including musings on his legacy, as he’s pretty much semi-retired.)

What I was really interested in though was this concept of outrage, and how trying to calm outraged people down with facts doesn’t really work.

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Reading the Ofcon Report on Social Networking: Stats, Stranger Danger, Perceived Risk [en]

Reading the Ofcon Report on Social Networking: Stats, Stranger Danger, Perceived Risk [en]

[fr] Le Daily Mail remet ça aujourd'hui, abasourdi de découvrir que les adolescents rencontrent "offline" des étrangers d'internet. Il va donc falloir que j'écrive le fameux billet auquel j'ai fait allusion dernièrement, mais avant cela, je suis en train de lire le rapport sur lequel se basent ces articles alarmés et bien-pensants.

Ce billet contient quelques commentaires sur la situation en général, ainsi que mes notes de lecture -- citations et commentaires -- du début de ce rapport de l'Ofcon.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to writing about the [teen cleavage scare]( before the story goes completely cold, but in my endeavour to offer a balanced criticism of what’s going on here, I’m currently reading the [Ofcon Social Networking Report which was released on April 2]( and prompted this new wave of [“think of the children” media coverage]( The Daily Mail is at it today again, with the stunning and alarming news that [teenagers are meeting “strangers” from the internet offline]( (big surprise). I find it heartening, though, that the five reader comments to this article as of writing are completely sensible in playing down the “dangers” regularly touted by the press and the authorities.

Here are the running notes of my reading of this report. I might as well publish them as I’m reading. Clearly, the report seems way more balanced than the Daily Mail coverage (are we surprised?) which contains lots of figures taken out of context. However, there is still stuff that bothers me — less the actual results of the research (which are facts, so they’re good) than the way some of them are presented and the interpretations a superficial look at them might lead one to make (like, sorry to say, much of the mainstream press).

Here we go.

> Social networking sites also have
some potential pitfalls to negotiate, such as the unintended consequences of publicly posting
sensitive personal information, confusion over privacy settings, and contact with people one
doesn’t know.

Ofcon SN Report, page 1

Good start, I think that the issues raise here make sense. However, I would put “contact with people one doesn’t know” in “potential pitfalls”. (More about this lower down.)

> Ofcom research shows that just over one fifth (22%) of adult internet users aged 16+ and
almost half (49%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on
a social networking site. For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among
16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

This is to show that SNs are more popular amongst younger age groups. It makes sense to say that half of 8-17 year olds have a profile on SN site to compare it with the 22% of 16+ internet users or the 54% of 16-24 year olds. Bear in mind that these are *percentages of internet users* — they do not include those who do not go online.

However, saying “OMG one out of two 8-17 year olds has a profile on a SN site” in the context of “being at risk from paedophiles” is really not very interesting. Behaviour of 8 year olds and 17 year olds online cannot be compared at all in that respect. You can imagine a 16 year old voluntarily meeting up to have sex with an older love interest met on the internet. Not an 8 year old. In most statistics, however, both fall into the category of “paedophilia” when the law gets involved.

> 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I’d like to draw you attention on the fact that this is 27% of 8-11 year olds **who are aware of social networking sites**.

> Unless otherwise stated, this report uses the term ‘children’ to include all young people aged 8-17.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I don’t like this at all, because as stated above, particularly when it comes to concerns about safety one *cannot* simply lump that agegroup into a practical “children”, which plays well with “child abuse”. In the US, cases of “statutory rape” which might very well have been consensual end up inflating the statistics on “children falling victim to sexual predators online”.

> Although contact lists on sites talk about ’friends’, social networking sites stretch the
traditional meaning of ‘friends’ to mean anyone with whom a user has an online connection.
Therefore the term can include people who the user has never actually met or spoken to.
Unlike offline (or ‘real world’) friendship, online friendships and connections are also
displayed in a public and visible way via friend lists.
> The public display of friend lists means that users often share their personal details online
with people they may not know at all well. These details include religion, political views,
sexuality and date of birth that in the offline world a person might only share only with close
> While communication with known contacts was the most popular social
networking activity, 17 % of adults used their profile to communicate with
people they do not know. This increases among younger adults.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Right. This is problematic too. And it’s not just the report’s fault. The use of “friend” to signify contact contributes to making the whole issue of “online friendship” totally inpenetrable to those who are not immersed in online culture. The use of “know” is also very problematic, as it tends to be understood that you can only “know” somebody offline. Let’s try to clarify.

First, it’s possible to build relationships and friendships (even loves!) online. Just like in pre-internet days you could develop a friendship with a pen-pal, or kindle a nascent romance through letters, you can get to know somebody through text messages, IM, blog postings, presence streams, Skype chats and calls, or even mailing-list and newsgroup postings. I hope that it will soon be obvious to everybody that it is possible to “know” somebody without actually having met them offline.

So, there is a difference between “friends” that “you know” and “SN friends aka contacts” which you might in truth not really know. But you can see how the vocabulary can be misleading here.

I’d like to take the occasion to point out one other thing that bothers me here: the idea that contact with “strangers” or “people one does not know” is a thing worth pointing out. So, OK, 17% of adults in the survey, communicated with people they “didn’t know”. I imagine that this is “didn’t know” in the “offline person”‘s worldview, meaning somebody that had never been met physically (maybe the study gives more details about that). But even if it is “didn’t know” as in “complete stranger” — still, why does it have to be pointed out? Do we have statistics on how many “strangers” we communicate with offline each week?

It seems to me that *because this is on the internet*, strangers are perceived as a potential threat, in comparison to people we already know. As far as abuse goes, in the huge, overwhelming, undisputed majority of cases, the abuser was known (and even well known) to the victim. Most child sexual abuse is commited by people in the family or very close social circle.

I had hoped that in support of what I’m writing just now, I would be able to state that “stranger danger” was behind us. Sadly, a quick [search on Google]( shows that I’m wrong — it’s still very much present. I did, however, find [this column which offers a very critical view of how much danger strangers actually do represent for kids]( and the harmful effects of “stranger danger”. Another nice find was this [Families for Freedom Child Safety Bulletin](, by a group who seems to share the same concerns I do over the general scaremongering around children.

> Among those who reported talking to people they didn’t know, there were significant
variations in age, but those who talked to people they didn’t know were significantly more
likely to be aged 16-24 (22% of those with a social networking page or profile) than 25-34
(7% of those with a profile). In our qualitative sample, several people reported using sites in
this way to look for romantic interests.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Meeting “online people” offline is more common amongst the younger age group, which is honestly not a surprise. At 34, I sometimes feel kind of like a dinosaur when it comes to internet use, in the sense that many of my offline friends (younger than me) would never dream of meeting somebody from “The Internets”. 16-24s are clearly digital natives, and as such, I would expect them to be living in a world where “online” and “offline” are distinctions which do not mean much anymore (as they do not mean much to me and many of the other “online people” of my generation or older).

> The majority of comments in our qualitative sample were positive about social networking. A
few users did mention negative aspects to social networking, and these included annoyance
at others using sites for self-promotion, parties organised online getting out of hand, and
online bullying.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

This is interesting! Real life experience from real people with social networks. Spam, party-crashing and bullying (I’ll have much more to say about this last point later on, but in summary, address the bullying problem at the source and offline, and don’t blame the tool) are mentioned as problems. Unwanted sexual sollicitations or roaming sexual predators do not seem to be part of the online experience of the people interviewed in this study. Strangely, this fits with my experience of the internet, and that of almost everybody I know. (Just like major annoyances in life for most people, thankfully, are not sexual harrassment — though it might be for some, and that really sucks.)

> The people who use social networking sites see them as a fun and easy leisure activity.
Although the subject of much discussion in the media, in Ofcom’s qualitative research
privacy and safety issues on social networking sites did not emerge as ‘top of mind’ for most
users. In discussion, and after prompting, some users in the qualitative study did think of
some privacy and safety issues, although on the whole they were unconcerned about them.
> In addition, our qualitative study found that all users, even those who were confident with
ICT found the settings on most of the major social networking sites difficult to understand
and manipulate.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7-8

This is really interesting too. But how do you understand it? I read: “It’s not that dangerous, actually, if those people use SN sites regularly without being too concerned, and the media are making a lot of fuss for nothing.” (Ask people about what comes to mind about driving a car — one of our regular dangerous activities — and I bet you more people than in that study will come up with safety issues; chances are we’ve all been involved in a car crash at some point, or know somebody who has.) Another way of reading it could be “OMG, even with all the effort the media are putting into raising awareness about these problems, people are still as naive and ignorant! They are in danger!”. What will the media choose to understand?

The study points out the fact that privacy settings are hard to understand and manipulate, and I find this very true. In doubt or ignorance, most people will “not touch” the defaults, which are generally too open. I say “too open” with respect to privacy in the wide sense, not in the “keep us safe from creeps” sense.

This brings me to a comment I left earlier on [an article on ComMetrics about what makes campaigns against online pedophiles fail]( It’s an interesting article, but as I explain in the comment, I think it misses an important point:

>There is a bigger issue here — which I try to explain each time I get a chance, to the point I’m starting to feel hoarse.

>Maybe the message is not the right one? The campaign, as well as your article, takes as a starting point that “adults posing as kids” are the threat that chatrooms pose to our children.

>Research shows that this is not a widespread risk. It also shows that there is no correlation between handing out personal information online and the risk of falling victim to a sexual predator. Yet our campaigns continue to be built on the false assumptions that not handing out personal information will keep a kid “safe”, and that there is danger in the shape of people lying about their identity, in the first place.

>There is a disconnect between the language the campaigns speak and what they advocate (you point that out well in your article, I think), and the experience kids and teenagers have of life online (“they talk to strangers all the time, and nothing bad happens; they meet people from online, and they are exactly who they said they were; hence, all this “safety” information is BS”). But there is also a larger disconnect, which is that the danger these campaigns claim to address is not well understood. Check out the 5th quote in the long article I wrote on the subject at the time of the MySpace PR stunt about deleting “sex offenders'” profiles.

>I will blog more about this, but wanted to point this out here first.

Yes, I will blog more about this. I think this post of notes and thoughts is long enough, and it’s time for me to think about sleeping or putting a new bandage on my scraped knee. Before I see you in a few days for the next bout of Ofcon Report reading and commentating, however, I’ll leave you with the quote I reference in the comment above (it can’t hurt to publish it again):

Now, on the case of internet sex crimes against kids, I’m concerned
that we’re already off to a bad start here. The public and the
professional impression about what’s going on in these kinds of
crimes is not in sync with the reality, at least so far as we can
ascertain it on the basis of research that we’ve done. And this
research has really been based on some large national studies of
cases coming to the attention of law enforcement as well as to large
national surveys of youth.

If you think about what the public impression is about this crime,
it’s really that we have these internet pedophiles who’ve moved
from the playground into your living room through the internet
connection, who are targeting young children by pretending to be
other children who are lying about their ages and their identities and
their motives, who are tricking kids into disclosing personal
information about themselves or harvesting that information from
blogs or websites or social networking sites. Then armed with this
information, these criminals stalk children. They abduct them.
They rape them, or even worse.

But actually, the research in the cases that we’ve gleaned from
actual law enforcement files, for example, suggests a different
reality for these crimes. So first fact is that the predominant online
sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers.
There’s almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a
representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the
child under the age of 13.

In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn’t involve violence,
stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up
an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually
involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It’s
also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor.
Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were
adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about
their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating

So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal
seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage
vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of
conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance,
adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to
encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who
are considerably older than themselves.

So for example, Jenna – this is a pretty typical case – 13-year-old
girl from a divorced family, frequented sex-oriented chat rooms, had
the screen name “Evil Girl.” There she met a guy who, after a
number of conversations, admitted he was 45. He flattered her, gave
– sent her gifts, jewelry. They talked about intimate things. And
eventually, he drove across several states to meet her for sex on
several occasions in motel rooms. When he was arrested in her
company, she was reluctant to cooperate with the law enforcement

David Finkelhor, in panel Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths, May 2007

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Informations et prévention: adolescents et internet [fr]

Informations et prévention: adolescents et internet [fr]

[en] An overview of the different talks and trainings I can do regarding teenagers on the internet. I can do them in English too, but most of my clients here are French-speaking. If you'd like more information about this in English, please leave a comment or drop me a line.

Alors qu’un ami me raconte un épisode désastreux de conférence consacrée aux “dangers d’internet”, je me dis qu’il est temps que je récrive à la directrice d'[Action Innocence](, avec qui j’ai eu une discussion tout à fait sympathique et intéressante il y a quelques semaines.

“Déçue en bien”, comme on dit par ici. Si [nos avis]( [divergent]( quant au risque réel que courent les enfants et adolescents d’être victimes de pédophiles à cause de leurs activités en ligne (chat, diffusions d’informations personnelles) nous sommes assez sur la même longueur d’onde pour le reste, ce qui me réjouit, vu l’important travail de prévention que fait Action Innocence dans les écoles de la région. (Après, on peut discuter des détails. Je n’aime personnellement pas trop leur matériel, par exemple, que je trouve alarmiste, mais dans le fond, on cherche la même chose: informer et prévenir sans diaboliser internet.)

Le mail que j’ai envoyé contient des informations sur le travail que j’accomplis dans le domaine “adolescents et internet”. Comme c’est une assez bonne synthèse et que [mon site professionnel]( n’est plus trop à jour (quand je dis que [la meilleure formule de site professionnel c’est le blog](, je ne rigole pas!), je vais reproduire-adapter tout ça ici.

Donc, voici quelques informations sur les services que je fournis dans le contexte “éducatif” ou “adolescents et internet”, et mes tarifs. Je suis toujours ouverte à d’autres propositions — je n’ai pas de “liste de prestations” fixe dont je ne dévie pas.

#### Conférences

Généralement dans des écoles/associations. Approche information-prévention. Contenu adapté aux besoins du client (général, accent sur les blogs, accent sur le chat, la permanence des contenus numériques), et même si nécessaire en réaction spécifique à des “problèmes” concrets qui ont été rencontrés.

**Parents**: visite guidée de l’internet social, discussion des risques et difficultés rencontrés par les ados en ligne (environ 1h30)

**Enseignants, Educateurs**: présentation des différents outils de l’internet social, utilisation par les adolescents (+risques), ouvertures pédagogiques (45-90 minutes)

**Adolescents, Elèves (dès la 5ème)**: adapté à la tranche d’âge, en groupes de 2-3 classes max. (environ 50 élèves), sensibilisation aux différents enjeux d’une présence active en ligne, prévention contre les risques qu’ils peuvent y rencontrer (45-75 minutes)

#### Formations

Diverses formations sont possibles, contenu précis à négocier au cas par cas. Exemples:

– formation plus spécifique de responsables informatique, médiateurs, animateurs santé aux enjeux liés à la socialisation sur internet
– formation d’intervenants “prévention/information” (générale ou spécifique, théorique ou pratique)
– comprendre les mondes virtuels (Second Life) et les dynamiques relationnelles dans les relations “online”
– technique: ouvrir un blog et l’alimenter
– applications pédagogiques du blog, du wiki, et des outils associés
– accompagnement lors de projets pédagogiques utilisant internet

#### Tarifs

Mes tarifs évoluent, mais au jour d’aujourd’hui, ils sont les suivants pour les écoles et autres clients “éducatifs-non-lucratifs”: dès CHF 500 par demi-journée, minimum une demi-journée (+ frais).

Par exemple, si je viens à midi, que je fais deux conférences pour des élèves l’après-midi, et une pour les parents le soir, on arrive à deux demi-journées = CHF 1000

Une conférence isolée compte comme demi-journée, donc CHF 500. Mais si je fais une conférence + une réunion dans la même demi-journée, c’est le même prix.

Pour les mandats plus complexes ou longs (formation, accompagnement de projet), les tarifs sont à discuter et fixer pour le mandat dans sa globalité.

#### A mon propos

– une [collection de “bios”]( si jamais c’est nécessaire
– [mes coordonnées](
– [page d’infos “conférences”]( (a besoin d’une mise à jour, mais ça donne une idée)
– le [matériel “thème internet”]( rédigé pour
– la liste (d’une longueur effrayante) de [mes interventions dans la presse]( (pas toutes au sujet des ados et internet)

J’approche internet comme une culture étrangère avec laquelle il faut se familiariser, afin de la connaître et de la comprendre. Je suis immergée dans cette culture depuis maintenant bientôt dix ans, et je la comprends en profondeur aussi bien de l’intérieur que de l’extérieur, avec le recul que me donne ma formation universitaire en sciences humaines.

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De la "prévention internet" [en]

De la "prévention internet" [en]

[fr] Thursday evening, I went to listen to a conference given by a local high-ranking police officer who has specialised in tracking down pedophiles on the internet. His presentation was titled "Dangers of the Internet", and I was expecting to hear warnings about excessive pornography consumption and predators lurking in chatrooms.

That's exactly what I heard.

Before going, I had intended to blog viciously about the conference. I changed my mind. I changed my mind because first of all, I spoke up a few times during the conference to ask for numbers, give information I had gathered from other sources, or simply state my discomfort with some of the "official" messages targeted at kids to "keep them safe".

Then, after the talk, I went to have a chat with the speaker. I realised that we agreed on quite a few things, actually. Our angle is different when presenting, of course, and more importantly, his job is to hunt down pedophiles, not talk about the internet and teenagers to the public (which, in a way, is mine).

To cut a long story short, I had a few interesting conversations during that evening, which left me more motivated than ever to get on with my book project on the subject of teenagers and the internet. Problems are complex, solutions aren't simple. And around here, there is little money available to run awareness operations correctly.

Jeudi soir, je suis allée assister à une conférence sur les dangers d’internet, donnée par Arnold Poot, Inspecteur principal adjoint à la police cantonale vaudoise, spécialisé dans la traque au matériel pédophile sur internet. J’y suis allée prête à me retrouver devant le “discours attendu” au sujet des prédateurs sexuels sur internet. Je n’ai pas été déçue. Pour être brutalement honnête, j’avais aussi la ferme intention de bloguer tout ça, de prendre des notes, et de montrer méchamment du doigt les insuffisances d’une telle approche.

J’ai changé d’avis. Pas sur le fond, non. Je pense toujours qu’on exagère grandement le problème des prédateurs sexuels sur internet, et qu’à force de placer des miroirs déformants entre la réalité et nos discours, on finit par ne plus s’y retrouver. Par contre, je n’ai plus envie de démonter point par point la présentation qui nous a été faite.

Ceci n’est donc pas le billet que j’avais l’intention d’écrire. Attendez-vous donc à quelques ruminations personnelles et questionnements pas toujours faciles dans le long billet que vous avez commencé à lire.

Qu’est-ce qui a amené ce changement d’état d’esprit? C’est simple: une conversation. Au lieu de fulminer dans mon coin et de cracher du venin ensuite sur mon blog (mon projet initial — pas très reluisant, je l’admets), je suis à intervenue à quelques reprises durant la présentation pour apporter des informations qui m’amènent à avoir un autre regard sur certaines choses dites, et même pour exprimer mon désaccord face à une certaine conception de la prévention internet (“ne pas donner son nom ni d’informations personnelles”).

Il y a des semaines que je désire écrire un billet (toujours pas fait, donc) en français qui rend compte de [la table ronde sur la victimisation des mineurs]( à laquelle [a participé]( mon amie [danah boyd](, chercheuse travaillant sur la façon dont les jeunes construisent leur identité dans les espaces numériques. A cette table ronde, trois autres chercheurs actifs dans le domaine des crimes commis à l’encontre de mineurs. Je rentrerai dans les détails plus tard, mais si vous comprenez un peu d’anglais, je vous encourage vivement à lire ce que dit le Dr. David Finkelhor, directeur du *Crimes against Children Research Center*, en pages 3 à 6 de la [retranscription PDF de cette discussion]( (Le reste est fascinant aussi, je n’ai d’ailleurs pas fini de lire les 34 pages de la retranscription, mais l’essentiel pour comprendre ma prise de position ici se trouve dans ces trois-quatre pages.)

Mais ce n’est pas tout. Après la conférence, je suis allée discuter avec l’intervenant. Pour m’excuser de lui être ainsi rentré dans le cadre durant sa présentation, d’une part, mais aussi pour partager mon malaise face à certains messages véhiculés de façon générale autour de la question des pédophiles sur internet. Et j’ai été surprise.

Parce qu’en fin de compte, on était d’accord sur de nombreux points. Parce que son discours, comme il le dit, c’est celui “d’un flic qui arrête des pédophiles” — et pas autre chose. Son métier, c’est d’être policier, j’ai réalisé. Il nous a fait une présentation sur les dangers d’internet tels qu’ils apparaissent dans son quotidien de professionnel — ce qui n’est pas forcément la même chose que “rendre compte de la situation sur internet dans sa globalité” ou même “faire de la prévention”.

J’ai discuté longuement avec lui, puis avec deux enseignantes (dont une avait assisté à ma rapide présentation de l’internet social à la HEP en début d’année scolaire) qui font de la prévention internet dans les classes du primaire. Discussions intéressantes et sympathiques, mais où encore une fois, je n’ai pu que constater à quel point nous manquons de moyens (en fin de compte, cela reviendra toujours à une question d’argent) pour faire de la prévention “correctement”.

Je voudrais pouvoir former des gens à faire le genre d’intervention que je fais dans les écoles — et pas juste en leur donnant un survol de la situation durant 45 minutes. Mais qui, comment, avec quel argent? De plus, je réalise de plus en plus que pour faire de la prévention intelligente, d’une part il faut avoir identifié le problème (les dangers) correctement — ce qui est à mon avis souvent [pas le cas lorsqu’il s’agit d’internet]( — et d’autre part, on retombe inévitablement sur des problèmes éducatifs de base (la relation parents-enfants, le dialogue) qui renvoient à un contexte de société encore plus général.

Que faire? Allez toquer chez Mme Lyon? Peut-être. Mais honnêtement, je n’aime pas “démarcher les gens à froid”, et je n’ai pas l’énergie pour ça. (Peut-être que je devrais le faire plus, mais pour le moment, c’est comme ça que je fonctionne.) Il y a assez de travail à faire avec les gens motivés, à moitié convaincus, ou au moins curieux, qui me contactent d’eux-mêmes. Oui, on critiquera peut-être, mais j’attends qu’on vienne me chercher. Ça changera peut-être un jour, mais je n’en suis honnêtement pas certaine.

Donc, que faire? Du coup, je retrouve un bon coup de pêche (pas que je l’avais perdue) pour mon projet de livre. Je crois que le public le plus important à toucher, c’est les parents, en l’occurrence. Et les gens “en charge de la prévention”. Peut-être qu’un livre serait utile.

J’ai fait plusieurs lectures ces derniers temps qui m’ont marquée. Tout d’abord, “[Blink](” et “[The Tipping Point](” de [Malcolm Gladwell]( Le premier s’intéresse à l’intuition, d’un point de vue scientifique. J’y ai retrouvé, exposées de façon bien plus précises, fouillées et argumentées, de nombreuses idées que j’avais fini par me faire, au cours des années, sur la question. Le deuxième examine ce qui fait “basculer” certains phénomènes: qu’est-ce qui fait qu’une idée ou une tendance à du succès? Il y parle de la propagation des idées, des différents types de personnalité qui y jouent un rôle clé, et donne aussi quelques exemples d’application des ces principes à… des problématiques de prévention.

Ensuite, livre dans lequel je suis plongée en ce moment: “[The Culture of Fear](” (Barry Glassner) — une critique sans complaisance de la façon dont la peur est promue par les médias et les gouvernements pour, entre autres, encourager à la consommation. C’est américain, oui. manchettes-peur Mais on est en plein dedans ici aussi: les chiens dangereux, le loup, l’ours maintenant, les étrangers bien sûr, les jeunes, la technologie… et les pédophiles tapis dans les chats sur internet, prêts à se jeter sur nos enfants sans défense. Ce n’est pas pour rien que [le premier obstacle au bonheur est la télévision](, où l’on nous rappelle sans cesse et si bien de quoi avoir peur et à quel point notre monde va mal.

Mes réflexions ces temps ont pour toile de fond ces lectures. Il y a aussi, dans la catégorie “billets jamais écrits”, “The Cluetrain Manifesto”. [Achetez ce livre.]( Lisez-le. Ou si vous ne voulez pas l’acheter, [lisez-le gratuitement sur le site]( Ne vous arrêtez pas aux [95 thèses traduites en français]( que vous pouvez trouver sur internet. Le livre est bien moins obscur et va bien plus loin.

Bref, preuve en est ce billet destructuré, écrit petit bout par petit bout dans les transports publics de la région lausannoise, ça bouillonne dans mon cerveau. Et je me dis que la meilleure chose à faire, juste là maintenant, c’est de formaliser tout ça, par écrit. J’en parle, j’en parle, mais je réalise que je blogue très peu à ce sujet, parce qu’il y a trop à dire et que je ne sais pas très bien par où commencer. Quand j’ai décidé de partir cinq semaines aux Etats-Unis, je me suis dit que si rien ne se présentait côté “travail payé” (ce qui est le cas pour le moment, même si ça peut tout à fait changer une fois que je serai là-bas) ce serait une excellente occasion de me plonger sérieusement dans la rédaction de mon livre. Et là, je me sens plus motivée que jamais à le faire — même si au fond, je n’ai aucune idée comment on fait pour écrire un livre.

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Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins [fr]

Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins [fr]

[en] Citations and some French comments/paraphrasing of danah boyd and Henry Jenkins's interview "MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)". Must-read if your life has anything to do with teenagers.

Je viens de finir de lire ce fascinant interview de [danah boyd]( et [Henry Jenkins]( au sujet des [adolescents et d’Internet](, intitulé “MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA).” Si vous travaillez de près ou de loin avec des adolescents, ou si vous êtes parent d’adolescent, prenez vingt minutes pour le lire. ([PDF pour imprimer.]( Voici les passages qui me parlent le plus, avec quelques commentaires. La mise en évidence est de moi. (Avertissement: tartine ahead.)

Cela fait bientôt deux ans que je fais régulièrement des [conférences dans des écoles](, pour faire de la “prévention blogs” ou “prévention Internet” en général. Ce qui me dérange depuis longtemps, c’est cette idée reçue qu’Internet grouille de pédophiles et est par définition un espace dangereux.

J’ai beaucoup apprécié de retrouver dans les paroles de ces deux chercheurs des choses que je pense ou dis, sans avoir fait autant d’études formelles à ce propos. Jolie confirmation de mon intuition et de ce que j’ai pu déduire de mes expériences directes.

J’essaie souvent, un peu maladroitement, de mettre en avant le rôle de construction sociale que jouent ces espaces sur internet. Voici ce qu’en dit danah:

> These sites play a key role in youth culture because they give youth a space to hang out amongst friends and peers, share cultural artifacts (like links to funny websites, comments about TV shows) and work out an image of how they see themselves.


Une autre thèse que je défends et que ce ne sont pas ces espaces qui créent les comportements “déviants” des adolescents, mais qu’internet nous donne simplement accès, en tant qu’adultes, à des choses qui étaient auparavant cachées. A noter qu’une bonne partie de ces comportements font partie intégrante des processus de socialisation des adolescents, même s’ils ne sont pas plaisants.

> While integrating into cultural life is a critical process that takes place during these years, the actual process is not always smooth or pleasant. Bullying, sexual teasing, and other peer-to-peer harassment are rampant amongst teenagers, as these are frequently the tools through which youth learn to make meaning of popularity, social status, roles, and cultural norms. MySpace did not create teenage bullying but it has made it more visible to many adults, although it is not clear that the embarrassment online is any more damaging to the young victims than offline. […] No one of any age enjoys being the target of public tormenting, but new media is not to blame for peer-to-peer harassment simply because it makes it more visible to outsiders. In fact, in many ways, this visibility provides a window through which teen mentors can help combat this issue.


Le vrai problème, ensuite, est la réaction que vont avoir les adultes face à ces comportements auxquels ils sont confrontés, et qu’ils ne peuvent plus nier.

> Adults are confronting images of underage drinking or sex, discussions of drug use, and signs of bullying and other abusive behavior. […] In many cases, schools are being forced to respond to real world problems which only came to their attention because this information was so publicly accessible on the web. […] Much of the controversy has come not as a result of anything new that MySpace and the other social software sites contribute to teen culture but simply from the fact that adults can no longer hide their eyes to aspects of youth culture in America that have been there all along.


Pour le moment, malheureusement, la réaction la plus répandue semble être une forme de panique morale (“internet c’est dangereux”, “les adolescents ont des comportements criminels sur leurs blogs”). Je me réjouis de lire les conclusions de danah concernant les causes du vent de panique gravitant autour des modes de socialisation de notre jeunesse. Je pense personellement qu’il y a également une autre piste à explorer, et qui tourne autour de ce qu’on pourrait appeler la “culture de la peur”.

> Understanding why moral panics emerge when youth socialize is central to my research.


Les outils de l’internet social sont de plus en plus utilisés dans le monde professionnel. Même si à mon sens c’est plus un problème dans le monde Anglo-Saxon qu’en Suisse (quoique… ça nous pend au nez), les écoles devraient apprendre aux enfants à exploiter le potentiel de ces outils et gérer les risques que peut comporter leur utilisation, plutôt que de les interdire ou les ignorer comme étant “des jeux d’enfants”.

> Social networking services are more and more being deployed as professional tools, extending the sets of contacts that people can tap in their work lives. It is thus not surprising that such tools are also part of the social lives of our teens. Just as youth in a hunting society play with bows and arrows, youth in an information society play with information and social networks. Our schools so far do a rather poor job of helping teens acquire the skills they need in order to participate within that information society. For starters, most adult jobs today involve a high degree of collaboration, yet we still focus our schools on training autonomous learners. Rather than shutting kids off from social network tools, we should be teaching them how to exploit their potentials and mitigate their risks.


De même, si effectivement ces espaces numériques sont terriblement dangereux, il est important que l’école enseigne aux adolescents comment gérer leur présence en ligne, plutôt que de les encourager à l’éviter. La citation qui suit est une allusion directe à la volonté de certaines instances aux Etats-Unis (et ailleurs) de bloquer l’accès aux sites de “réseautage en ligne”, comme MySpace, depuis les écoles.

> Suppose, for the sake of argument, that MySpace critics are correct and that MySpace is, in fact, exposing large numbers of teens to high-risk situations, then shouldn’t the role of educational institutions be to help those teens understand those risks and develop strategies for dealing with them? Wouldn’t we be better off having teens engage with MySpace in the context of supervision from knowledgeable and informed adults? Historically, we taught children what to do when a stranger telephoned them when their parents are away; surely, we should be helping to teach them how to manage the presentation of their selves in digital spaces. The proposed federal legislation does nothing to help kids confront the challenges of interacting with online social communities; rather, it allows teachers and librarians to abdicate their responsibility to educate young people about what is becoming a significant aspect of their everyday lives.


Je vous cite maintenant un long passage dans lequel danah parle de la question des prédateurs sexuels sur MySpace, de la couverture médiatique de ce phénomène (qui contribue à créer un climat d’alarme déconnecté de la réalité), et des chiffres sur lesquels on se base aux Etats-Unis pour justifier l’inquiétude ambiante à ce sujet.

Il y a quelque temps, j’avais moi-même été à la recherche de matière première (chiffres, enquêtes, etc) concernant les prédateurs sexuels sur internet. Depuis des années que je baigne dans la cyberculture, je n’avais en effet jamais rencontré ni entendu parler d’une seule histoire du genre, ce qui me paraissait en décalage avec la frénésie médiatique et les opérations de prévention à grande échelle dont j’étais témoin.

Sans grande surprise, je n’ai pu mettre la main que sur une seule étude (celle-là même dont parle danah) qui fournissait des chiffres alarmants. Mais en regardant de près l’analyse des résultats fournis, j’avais été quelque peu sidérée de voir des choses comme “une fille de 13 ans à qui on a demandé sa taille de soutien-gorge” rentrer dans la catégorie “unwanted sexual sollicitation”, sans précision de l’âge ou du sexe de la personne posant la question. De plus, j’aurais apprécié une étude comparative de la quantité de “sollicitations sexuelles non désirées” dont sont victimes les ados à l’école, dans la rue, ou dans leur club de sports. Dans le troisième paragraphe que je cite, danah fait le même genre de critique.

Elle nous rappelle également que la grande majorité des enlèvements aux Etats-Unis sont l’oeuvre de personnes connues de l’enfant. D’un point de vue statistique, les enfants courent plus de risques en allant aux scouts ou à une sortie de catéchisme qu’en traînant sur MySpace. De plus, elle nous rappelle que la peur des prédateurs, régulièrement utilisée pour priver les jeunes d’espaces publiques (numériques ou physiques), sert aussi à détourner notre attention d’abuseurs statistiquement plus significatifs. Les jeunes courent plus de risques d’être victimes d’abus à leur domicile ou à celui de leurs amis que dans les espaces publics.

Voilà, grossièrement résumé, les arguments principaux de danah boyd dans les paragraphes suivants.

> The media coverage of predators on MySpace implies that 1) all youth are at risk of being stalked and molested because of MySpace; 2) prohibiting youth from participating on MySpace will stop predators from attacking kids. Both are misleading; neither is true.

> Unfortunately, predators lurk wherever youth hang out. Since youth are on MySpace, there are bound to be predators on MySpace. Yet, predators do not use online information to abduct children; children face a much higher risk of abduction or molestation from people they already know – members of their own family or friends of the family. Statistically speaking, kids are more at risk at a church picnic or a boy scout outing than they are when they go on MySpace. Less than .01% of all youth abductions nationwide are stranger abductions and as far as we know, no stranger abduction has occurred because of social network services. The goal of a predator is to get a child to consent to sexual activities. Predators contact teens (online and offline) to start a conversation. Just as most teens know to say no to strange men who approach them on the street, most know to ignore strange men who approach them online. When teenagers receive solicitations from adults on MySpace, most report deleting them without question. Those who report responding often talk about looking for attention or seeking a risk. Of those who begin conversations, few report meeting these strangers.

> The media often reference a [Crimes Against Children report]( that states one in five children receive a sexual solicitation online. A careful reading of this report shows that 76% of the unwanted solicitations came from fellow children. This includes unwanted date requests and sexual taunts from fellow teens. Of the adult solicitations, 96% are from people 18-25; wanted and unwanted solicitations are both included. In other words, if an 18 year old asks out a 17 year old and both consent, this would still be seen as a sexual solicitation. Only 10% of the solicitations included a request for a physical encounter; most sexual solicitations are for cybersex. While the report shows that a large percentage of youth are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences online, there is no discussion of how many are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences at school, in the local shopping mall or through other mediated channels like telephone.

> Although the media has covered the potential risk extensively, few actual cases have emerged. While youth are at minimal risk, predators are regularly being lured out by law enforcement patrolling the site. Most notably, a deputy in the Department of Homeland Security was arrested for seeking sex with a minor.

> The fear of predators has regularly been touted as a reason to restrict youth from both physical and digital publics. Yet, as Barry Glassner notes in [The Culture of Fear](, predators help distract us from more statistically significant molesters. Youth are at far greater risk of abuse in their homes and in the homes of their friends than they ever are in digital or physical publics.


Henry Jenkins nous rappelle que le décalage entre générations de parents et d’enfants pour ce qui est de l’adoption de nouvelles technologies n’est rien de nouveau. Les parents et enseignants sont souvent effrayés par le fait qu’ils ne comprennent pas ce que les jeunes font avec les technologies de communication d’aujourd’hui, et qu’ils ne sont donc pas en mesure de protéger ou superviser les enfants lorsqu’ils les utilisent.

> History shows us a recurring pattern surrounding the adaptation of any new communications technology. Young people are often early adopters: they are more open to new ideas and experiences; they are looking for ways to leave their mark on the world and they are seeking places where they can socially interact with minimal adult interference. Parents and teachers are often frightened by these new kinds of communication technologies which were not part of the world of their childhood: they don’t really understand what their young people are doing with them and they don’t know how to protect or supervise their children while they are engaged in these activities. The situation is thus ripe for moral panic.


Henry continue sur les conséquences désastreuses d’une limitation de l’accès internet dans les écoles et bibliothèques. Cela handicaperait les enfants qui n’ont pas un bon accès internet à la maison et qui n’auraient donc pas l’occasion d’apprendre à utiliser ces outils sociaux s’ils ne sont pas accessibles depuis l’école.

Il ne faut plus maintenant parler de fossé numérique, mais de “participation gap” (décalage participatif — il y a sans doute une traduction meilleure). Les jeunes sont en train d’acquérir d’importantes compétences en réseautage et collaboration qui auront une conséquence sur leur futur professionnel. Ceux qui n’ont accès qu’à un internet filtré n’auront pas cette chance et s’en trouveront prétérités.

> What a kid can do at home with unlimited access is very different from what a kid can do in a public library with ten or fifteen minutes of access at a time and with no capacity to store and upload information to the web. We further handicap these children by placing filters on the Internet which restrict their access to information which is readily available to their more affluent classmates. And now this legislation would restrict their ability to participate in social networks or to belong to online communities. The result will be to further isolate children from poorer economic backgrounds, to cut kids at risk from support systems which exist within their peer culture, and to limit the social and cultural experiences of kids who are already behind in acquiring important networking skills that will shape their professional futures. All of this will compound what we are now calling the participation gap. The early discussion of the digital divide assumed that the most important concern was insuring access to information as if the web were simply a data bank. Its power comes through participation within its social networks. The authors of the law are reading MySpace and other social software exclusively in terms of their risks; they are not focusing on the opportunities they offer for education and personal growth. In protecting children from those risks, they would cut them off from those educational benefits.


Il y a des parallèles à faire entre les activités de socialisation de la génération “parents” dans leur jeunesse, et ce que font les ados d’aujourd’hui. Les activités sont déplacées en ligne, mais au fond, c’est assez similaire. D’après Henry, une des conséquences est la diminution des occasions qu’ont les jeunes d’être entre eux hors du contrôle des adultes. Là, je pose une question: si c’est vrai pour les Etats-Unis, qu’en est-il de l’Europe? J’ai le sentiment que cette problématique est peut-être différente.

> As I suggested above, most parents understand their children’s experiences in the context of their memories of their own early years. For the baby boom generation, those defining experiences involved playing in backyards and vacant lots within suburban neighborhoods, socializing with their friends at the local teen hangout, and participating within a social realm which was constrained by the people who went to your local school. All of that is changing. Contemporary children and youth enjoy far less physical mobility, have less time outside of adult control, and have fewer physical places to hang out with their friends.

> Much of this activity is being brought online. What teens are doing online is no better and no worse than what previous generations of teens did when their parents weren’t looking. The difference is that as these activities are being digitized, they are also being brought into public view. Video games bring the fantasy lives of young boys into the family room and parents are shocked by what they are seeing. Social networks give adults a way to access their teens’ social and romantic lives and they are startled by their desire to break free from restraints or act older than their age.


Il est réjouissant d’entendre que grâce en particulier à la téléphonie mobile, les jeunes sont plus régulièrement en communication avec les membres de leur famille et leurs pairs qu’autrefois.

> Because of mobile phones, current college students report greater ongoing communication with their parents than in previous generations. As Misa Matsuda has argued, networked technologies are allowing today’s youth to maintain “full-time intimate communities.” While the socialization that takes place in digital publics is equivalent to that which occurs in physical publics, new media is allowing youth to be more deeply connected to their peers and their family members, providing a powerful open channel for communication and sharing.


En ce moment, MySpace et les autres outils de réseautage en ligne sont perçus comme des menaces à l’ordre public, dit Henry. Mais on peut regarder les choses différemment et les voir comme un terrain d’entraînement pour nos futurs citoyens et dirigeants politiques. Il mentionne que les jeunes d’aujourd’hui prennent des rôles publics de plus en plus tôt.

Note intéressante: la recherche actuelle démontrerait que les joueurs de jeux multijoueurs en réseau ont des aptitudes importantes pour le travail en équipe, une meilleure compréhension de quand prendre des risques et lesquels, de traiter des sources d’information complexes, etc. J’avoue que ça m’interpelle particulièrement, puisque j’ai personnellement plutôt des inquiétudes concernant les conséquences néfastes que pourrait avoir sur des jeunes en développement le fait de faire une partie de leurs expériences de vie dans un monde dont les règles ne sont pas celles de la réalité. A creuser, donc.

De nouveau, Henry relève que les jeunes n’ont personne vers qui se tourner lorsqu’ils ont besoin de conseils concernant les choix et problèmes éthiques auxquels ils sont confrontés dans ces environnements. Une partie du travail fait pour la Fondation MacArthur consistera à proposer aux jeunes, parents, et enseignants des lignes de conduite éthiques qui les aidera à prendre des décisions informées et sensées au sujet de leur vie en ligne. C’est clairement plus constructif que de mettre des filtres sur tous les ordinateurs publics et de laisser les jeunes se débrouiller seuls avec ces questions.

> Right now, MySpace and the other social network tools are being read as threats to the civic order, as encouraging anti-social behaviors. But we can easily turn this around and see them as the training ground for future citizens and political leaders. Young people are assuming public roles at earlier and earlier ages. They are interacting with larger communities of their peers and beginning to develop their own styles of leadership. Across a range of issues, young people are using social network software to identify and rally like-minded individualism, forming the basis for new forms of digital activism. Current research shows that teens who participate in massively multiplayer games develop a much stronger ability to work in teams, a greater understanding of how and when to take appropriate risks, an ability to rapidly process complex bodies of information, and so forth. At the same time, these teens are facing an array of ethical challenges which are badly understood by the adults around them. They have nowhere to turn for advice on how to confront some of the choices they make as participants within these communities. Part of the work we will be doing for the MacArthur Foundation involves the development of an ethics casebook which will help parents, teachers, and students work through some of these issues and make sensible decisions about how they conduct their online lives. We see this kind of pedagogical intervention as far more valuable than locking down all public computers and then sending kids out to deal with these issues on their own.


Voici, en très résumé, les conseils principaux que Henry propose aux parents. J’y retrouve le conseil que je répète un peu comme un disque rayé, de conférence en conférance: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

> Parents face serious challenges in helping their children negotiate through these new online environments. They receive very little advice about how to build a constructive relationship with media within their families or how to help their offspring make ethical choices as participants in these online worlds.

> […]

> 1. Communication with your daughter or son is key. Build a trusting relationship through dialogue. It is important to talk with them about your concerns; it is even more important to listen to what they have to say about their online experiences and why these sites are such an important part of their interactions with their peers. […]
2. Create an account to understand how the site works, but not to stalk your kids. […]
3. Ask your kids how they choose to represent themselves and why. […]
4. Talk about private/ public issues with your kids. Help them to understand the consequences of making certain information publicly accessible. Get them to think through all of the possible audiences who might come into contact with their online information. Teens often imagine MySpace as a youth-only world. It isn’t and they need to consider what the consequences would be if their grandparents, their teachers, admissions officers or a future employer read what they said about themselves. […]
5. Talk through what kids should do if they receive unwanted attention online or if they find themselves the victims of cyberbullying. […]

Voilà. J’ai fait un peu plus de traduction libre que ce que j’avais prévu, et peut-être un peu moins de commentaire — mais la plupart des citations parlent d’elles-mêmes. J’espère que vous aurez trouvé intéressant ce que disent ces deux chercheurs, [danah boyd]( et [Henry Jenkins]( A nouveau, je ne peux que vous encourager à [lire l’interview en entier]( si vous travaillez avec des adolescents. Si l’anglais est un obstacle infranchissable pour vous, la [traduction Google]( peut vous aider.

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Bloguer anonymement [fr]

Bloguer anonymement [fr]

[en] Two reasons, in my opinion, explain why people might want to blog anonymously: (a) to prevent people they know from reading what they write on their blog; (b) to prevent unknown people who read the blog from tracking them down. In both cases, there is a desire to create some kind of barrier between online and offline. In the first case, the aim is to prevent offline from penetrating online. In the second one, it is to prevent online from penetrating offline.

I think people who "go anonymous" for the first reason are those who are at risk of losing their jobs, falling out with family and friends, or at best, spend a few embarrassing moments if they are "outed". I personally think it's a pretty risky thing to do. On the other hand, I think the second reason can make sense, and even be a sensible choice in some cases -- for example, in the case of a lawyer who would not want to be contacted for professional reasons by people who know him through his weblog.

Lors de la première séance du “projet weblogs” avec les élèves (plus de détails prochainement, et un weblog séparé pour traiter de tout ça), nous avons discuté du fait que nous ne les laissons pas publier de manière “anonyme”. Bien sûr, leur nom de famille n’est pas révélé, mais leur véritable prénom l’est.

J’ai mis en avant ce que je considère depuis longtemps être les dangers du pseudonymat sur le web (je ne vais pas m’étaler, je l’ai fait bien assez déjà ): on risque de se permettre d’écrire des choses que l’on serait bien embarrasé d’assumer devant son employeur, ses grands-parents, ses copains ou la voisine du dessus.

En lisant Eolas, j’ai eu une soudaine illumination. En effet, je vois maintenant deux grandes familles de raisons pour lesquelles on pourrait vouloir ne pas révéler son identité sur son weblog:

  1. on ne désire pas que les gens qui nous connaissent puissent avoir accès à  ce que l’on écrit en ligne (on cache ce qu’on écrit)
  2. on ne désire pas que des inconnus puissent accéder à  son identité (on se cache).

La première est bien entendu celle qui peut nous valoir un jour ou l’autre de nous brouiller avec famille et amis, de perdre notre emploi, ou de subir encore d’autres conséquences désagreables.

La seconde raison est celle qu’invoque Eolas. Il est avocat, et ne désire certainement pas être contacté par le biais de son weblog pour des raisons professionnelles ou paraprofessionnelles. Je n’ai pas l’impression en le lisant, cependant, (qu’il me corrige si je me trompe, mais dans tous les cas, c’est un cas de figure que l’on pourrait imaginer) qu’il se retrouverait embarrassé d’une façon ou d’une autre si son entourage apprenait l’existence de ce weblog. Il serait même tout à  fait possible que les personnes qu’il connaît soient parfaitement au courant de ses écrits en ligne, sans que cela pose problème.

Si l’on choisit l’anonymat (ou le pseudonymat) pour son weblog, c’est qu’on est à  la recherche d’une certaine étanchéité entre sa vie d’auteur de weblog, et sa vie “tout court”. Dans le premier cas de figure, on cherche à  empêcher les gens faisant partie de notre vie hors-ligne de pénétrer dans la sphère du weblog; dans le deuxième cas, on cherche à  empêcher la sphère du weblog de déborder dans notre vie “tout court”.

Si je décourage fortement tout weblogueur de choisir l’anonymat pour la première raison évoquée ci-dessus (je pense, par exemple, que le “journal intime sur internet” que personne ne connaît est un leurre à  long terme), je suis nettement moins catégorique si les motivations sont de l’ordre de la seconde raison, et je pense que dans certains cas (celui d’Eolas par exemple), elle est même un choix raisonnable. Néanmoins, il faut garder à  l’esprit que l’anonymat ne dure que tant qu’il dure: que quelqu’un découvre l’identité d’Eolas et la mentionne ailleurs sur le web, et sa “couverture” s’en retrouvera affaiblie.

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