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On The Media: Hyperlocal and Numbers [en]

On The Media: Hyperlocal and Numbers [en]

[fr] Trois sujets à écouter sur On The Media: un sur le journalisme hyperlocal (qui me fait penser au Bondy Blog -- d'ailleurs, pourquoi a-t-on le Lausanne Bondy Blog et non le Renens Bondy Blog? mystère...), et deux sur l'abus de chiffres dans les médias et le chiffre magique 50'000.

I’ve started catching up with my On The Media backlog. Here are two pieces I suggest you listen to.

Is Hyperlocal the Future of News?

This reminds me of Bondy Blog. Started by a bunch of Swiss journalists covering civil unrest around Paris in 2005 from the Paris suburbs themselves, it has since then been handed over to young local reporters. Bondy Blogs have sprouted since then in various cities, including Lausanne and Vernier — though I remain convinced that the Lausanne Bondy Blog should be the Lausanne Bondy Blog at all, but the Renens Bondy Blog. Isn’t it about putting the local spotlight on the underpriviledged suburbs?

Are Bondy Blogs hyperlocal?

Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts followed by Prime Number

You probably know my distaste for numbers and our obsession with metrics (including in the media, which is the topic of these two pieces). Refresher: my rant about un-scientific Twitter metrics, fan-quoting Seth Godin, and Suw‘s heartily recommended “Metrics” series: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. (I’m not dead against analytics, though. Just cautious.)

Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict is a book, and it’s now in my Amazon shopping basket.

Enjoy!

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Lancement du blog de voyage ebookers.ch [fr]

Lancement du blog de voyage ebookers.ch [fr]

J’en ai déjà parlé ici, mais aujourd’hui est le grand jour du lever de rideau: le blog de voyage d’ebookers.ch est ouvert au public. Je reproduis ici un extrait de l’article de bienvenue que j’y ai écrit:

Depuis fin 2007, ebookers Suisse a un blog de voyage en allemand. Début 2009, nous avons le grand plaisir de vous annoncer le lancement d’un blog de voyage en français, qui sera animé par une équipe d’auteurs dynamiques.

Vous y trouverez des articles sur l’actualité de diverses destinations, des tuyaux pour voyageurs, des exclusivités ebookers, des reportages, ainsi que des critiques de publications (sur internet ou ailleurs) touchant au monde du voyage.

[…]

Le blog de voyage est éditorialement assez indépendant d’ebookers: ce sont la plupart du temps les auteurs qui proposent des sujets, au gré de leurs envies, de leurs intérêts, et de leurs expériences. Bien entendu, nous prenons soin d’inclure dans notre sélection les destinations les plus prisées, et de vous communiquer les informations importantes et promotions ebookers.ch.

Blog de voyage ebookers.ch

C’est un projet qui me plaît beaucoup, j’avoue. Nous avons une grande liberté rédactionnelle: il s’agit de parler de tout ce qui touche au voyage (destinations, tuyaux pratiques, littérature). Nous publions bien sûr aussi des articles touchant plus directement à l’offre ebookers, clairement marqués comme tels dans une catégorie séparée.

Mon rôle là-dedans? Rédactrice en chef du blog. Cela veut dire que je gère une équipe de blogueurs-auteurs (Michelle Carrupt, Marco Castroni, Raphaël Chabloz, Nathalie Hamidi, Mirko Humbert, Stéphanie Klebetsanis, Mélissa Monaco), que je supervise et valide le contenu, assure la liaison avec le client quand c’est nécessaire, m’occupe des commentaires&

Ce que je trouve intéressant avec ce mandat, c’est que pour une fois, ce n’est pas moi qui en suis l’instigatrice. C’est l’entreprise Blogwerk, qui s’occupe déjà du blog en allemand d’ebookers, qui a été mandatée par l’agence de voyage en ligne pour mettre sur pied un blog similaire en français. La formule existait donc déjà, mais c’était le premier mandat de Blogwerk en francophonie.

Pour l’avoir croisé à diverses reprises à des conférences, je connais Peter Hogenkamp, le patron de Blogwerk. Il m’a approchée au sujet de ce blog, nous avons discuté un peu, et le résultat& vous l’avez sous les yeux.

On a déjà publié une série d’articles. Je ne peux pas les mentionner tous ici, mais vous y trouverez des idées pour échapper au brouillard (bains thermaux ou Jura), des informations sur l’année de la BD à Bruxelles, une incitation à partir à Ténérife en famille ou à tester les nouveaux trains grande vitesse en Italie, une idée de bon plan (shopping à Londres pour profiter de la chute de la livre sterling) et même, dans le genre exotique, une promenade dans les jardins de Suzhou en Chine, et une petite envie d’Inde&

On espère que commentaires, liens, et feedback suivront. Je suis pour ma part très intéressée de savoir ce que vous pensez (a) de ce type de publication en général et (b) de notre travail sur ce blog de voyage en particulier.

Bonne lecture!

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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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/02/daily-mail-shocked-by-teen-cleavage/) 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](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/02_04_08_ofcom.pdf) and prompted this new wave of [“think of the children” media coverage](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/07/26/think_of_the_children_yes_but_also_think_about_the_journalism.php). The Daily Mail is at it today again, with the stunning and alarming news that [teenagers are meeting “strangers” from the internet offline](http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=557349&in_page_id=1770) (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
friends.
> 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](http://www.google.com/search?q=%22stranger+danger%22) 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](http://www.parentkidsright.com/pt-strangerdanger2.html) and the harmful effects of “stranger danger”. Another nice find was this [Families for Freedom Child Safety Bulletin](http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/families_for_freedom.htm), 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](http://commetrics.com/?p=29). 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
with.

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
authorities.

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

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Désinformation en 20 secondes: Google Reader [fr]

Désinformation en 20 secondes: Google Reader [fr]

[en] A brief note about the Google Reader Shared Items problem in a local free newspaper gives the impression that Google is sharing all subscribed feeds with our chat buddies. I can't stand by and watch this kind of stuff without reacting.

Lundi 31 décembre 2007. Je suis dans le bus. Comme souvent lorsque je suis dans le bus, je feuillette le journal gratuit 20 minutes. J’arrive à la page multimédia, que je lis généralement avec intérêt, car elle me donne un point de repère : qu’est-ce qui est « mainstream », qu’est-ce qui ne l’est pas ? Soudain, mes yeux tombent sur la dépêche suivante, qui me fait littéralement bondir :

> **Google encore épinglé**

> Le moteur de recherche a mis en place une fonctionnalité intrustive qui partage automatiquement les listes de flux RSS de Google Reader avec les contacts Google Talk d’un membre. Malgré les protestations, Google refuse pour l’heure de modifier le système.

Très clairement, la personne qui a rédigé cette dépêche n’a pas pris plus de 20 secondes pour vérifier ce qu’elle était en train de raconter. Difficile de faire mieux en matière de désinformation primaire.

Des explications ? Mais bien sûr. [Je l’ai même déjà fait ici](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/26/granular-privacy-control-gpc/) (c’est un article en anglais, mais il y a un résumé en français assez complet).

À en croire 20 minutes, ce que fait Google Reader, c’est de partager sans autre forme de procès toute la liste des flux RSS auxquels vous est abonnés avec vos partenaires de chat. Ça, ce serait effectivement scandaleux !

En réalité, Google ne met à disposition de vos partenaires de chat **que** les articles, parmi tous ceux que vous recevez via vos flux RSS, que vous avez **expressément** choisi de partager via vos [“Shared Items”](http://www.google.com/help/reader/sharing.html). En pratique, cela ressemble à ça. Si vous voyez un article qui vous plaît, vous cliquez simplement sur “Share”:

Google Reader Shared Items

Pas tout à fait la même chose !

Il reste bien entendu le problème que cette « page publique » est accessible via une adresse compliquée, et donc pas si privée que ça… Mais c’est [un autre problème](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/26/granular-privacy-control-gpc/).

Un cactus pour 20 minutes, donc, pour avoir contribué à la désinformation ambiante au sujet des technologies du Web.

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Opérations médiatiques: marre [fr]

Opérations médiatiques: marre [fr]

[en] Sick and tired of being asked to do stuff for free particularly when it's a media stunt. I rant about two recent situations where I've been contacted for "unpaid work" which is obviously going to benefit "the client" more than me.

Deux opérations médiatiques auxquelles j’ai été conviée de participer me laissent songeuse — et un peu inconfortable. Laissez-moi d’abord vous en dire quelques mots, puis on verra où part ce billet (j’avoue ne pas très bien le savoir moi-même).

**La première, “Tapis rouge pour les APEMS”**, a eu lieu pour moi hier (il y a aussi un [vernissage de l’expo ce soir](http://www.lausanne.ch/UploadedASP/21155/34/F/Event.asp?DocId=21155&numEvent=4004) à Lausanne, mais vu mon état, je n’y serai pas). D’après ce que j’ai compris, il s’agit d’un événement monté par [l’agence Plates-Bandes](http://plates-bandes.ch/) pour faire mieux connaître [les APEMS](http://www.gauchebdo.ch/article.php3?id_article=433). Les APEMS sont une structure d’accueil lausannoise pour les enfants de première à quatrième primaire, avant et après l’école ainsi que durant la pause de midi. L’événement comporte deux volets: une exposition à l’hôtel de ville (un APEMS éphémère y est recréé) et la visite de personnalités de la région dans les différents APEMS durant la journée, sous forme “d’invités suprise” pour les enfants (“Devine qui vient aujourd’hui?”).

Voici l’essentiel de l’invitation que j’ai reçue par e-mail il y a quelques mois:

> “Devine qui vient aujourd’hui” invitent 20 personnalités de la région à venir
passer un moment (soit le petit déjeuner, soit le repas de midi, soit le
temps de jouer ou les quatre heures), avec les enfants, dans un des 20 APEMS
de Lausanne. Cette action sera fortement médiatisée.

> Votre nom est ressorti dans les invités souhaités par les enfants ou les
professionnels des APEMS et nous aurions grand plaisir à vous associer à
cette journée.

Hier midi, je suis donc allée dîner à l’APEMS de Pierrefleur. C’était une expérience assez perplexante. J’avoue que je ne savais pas trop ce que je faisais là (les indications que j’avais reçues disaient simplement qu’il suffisait que je m’y rende, l’idée étant que je passe un moment là-bas avec les enfants) — et pour tout dire, le personnel de l’APEMS ne semblait pas avoir reçu beaucoup plus d’informations que moi à ce sujet.

Dans un premier temps, j’ai eu une conversation tout à fait sympathique avec la responsable de l’APEMS (après avoir été chaleureusement accueillie). Nous avons parlé de nos parcours respectifs, du fonctionnement de l’APEMS, de [ce que je faisais professionnellement](http://stephanie-booth.com “Le site n’est plus trop à jour, mais c’est un début.”).

Au fur et à mesure que les enfants arrivaient et que le temps passait, mes doutes quant au choix de ma petite personne comme “invitée surprise” pour ces enfants grandissaient. Ils n’ont jamais entendu parler de moi, et c’est bien normal. Je ne travaille pas avec leur tranche d’âge (ils ne chattent pas, ne bloguent pas, vont peut-être sur Internet, mais franchement, ce que j’ai à leur raconter à ce sujet ne les intéresse sans doute guère). Les trois garçons de quatrième année avec qui j’ai partagé une table de repas ont parlé entre eux des jeux vidéos et films qu’ils appréciaient (“Le silence des agneaux”, à neuf ans, avec bénédiction parentale?!). J’avoue que cette partie de l’expérience avait pour moi un désagréable goût de flash-back, me renvoyant à quelques traumatismes scolaires de cette époque (mais bon, ça, c’est mes histoires, hein).

D’une opération annoncée comme “fortement médiatisée”, on est passé à “la presse a été prévenue, peut-être qu’ils viendront” et finalement à “ben non, sont pas venus”.

Je ne suis pas certaine de saisir les tenants et aboutissants de cette opération médiatique, mais j’avoue qu’elle me laisse avec la relativement désagréable impression d’être allée faire acte de présence (et un peu tapisserie) dans une APEMS afin que mon nom puisse figurer sur une liste transmise aux médias pour un coup de pub, accompagnée d’autres noms plus ou moins connus de la région.

Déformation professionnelle oblige: m’est avis qu’un bon site web, bien référencé et vivant, présentant les APEMS et leurs activités (il existe peut-être mais j’ai été [incapable de le trouver](http://www.google.com/search?q=apems+lausanne)) serait déjà un bon moyen de rendre cette structure d’accueil plus visible. (Là, je parie, ça va faire le coup classique, comme d’habitude: cet article va se retrouver sur la première page de Google pour le mot-clé “APEMS” d’ici peu.)

Voilà donc pour ma première “opération médiatique”.

**La seconde, c’est “Le Temps des femmes”.** Le journal [Le Temps](http://letemps.ch/) fête ses 10 ans en début d’année prochaine, et s’offre (et offre à ses lecteurs) un numéro spécial entièrement rédigé par des femmes influentes dans divers domaines en Suisse Romande. Idée fort sympathique, même si je doute que ce genre d’opération fait vraiment avancer la cause des femmes (je ne peux m’empêcher de penser qu’on donne ainsi un jour de congé aux hommes en offrant aux femmes le “privilège” de venir travailler). Il me semble que c’est tout bénéfice pour le journal — rien dans l’invitation n’indique que les bénéfices de ce numéro spécial seront reversés à une organisation faisant avancer la cause des femmes, par exemple (et on pourrait encore bien sûr débattre de l’utilité d’une telle action).

Mais là n’est pas vraiment la question. Mon malaise est ailleurs. Voyez-vous, le ton de l’e-mail (et de l’invitation Word à imprimer et renvoyer par fax!) est assez clair: je suis *invitée* à participer à cette journée de rédaction du numéro spécial, ainsi qu’au débat qui aura lieu le lendemain, et on espère que la proposition m’aura “séduite”. Après un rapide e-mail pour plus d’informations, je comprends que ce qu’on me propose de faire, c’est le “making-of” de la journée, en la bloguant. Du live-blogging d’événement, en somme.

Vous voyez où je veux en venir? Je me demande si Le Temps réalise qu’en m’invitant ainsi, ils sont en train de me demander de venir travailler pour eux une journée? Car oui, c’est du travail. Mettre au service d’une entreprise (ou de tout autre organisme) mon expertise dans le domaine des blogs, c’est ce que je fais pour gagner ma croûte. Bloguer, ce n’est pas juste “écrire dans un outil de blog” — je caresse l’espoir qu’un jour le monde comprenne que c’est [une compétence spécialisée qui s’apprend](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/11/26/video-necessite-dune-formation-blogs/).

En m’invitant à venir couvrir leur événement online, Le Temps s’assure les services d’une blogueuse qui sait vraiment ce qu’elle fait (en d’autres mots, on appelle ça une “professionnelle”). Mettez aux commandes de la couverture live une personne qui sait écrire mais qui ne connaît pas aussi bien le média “blog”, et vous n’aurez pas quelque chose d’aussi bon. Ça ne viendrait à l’idée de personne de penser que “journaliste” est un métier ou une compétence qui s’improvise, alors que sans cesse, on imagine que “blogueur” est un boulot à la portée de n’importe qui. Oui, ça l’est — d’un point de vue technique. Tout comme n’importe qui peut utiliser Word ou PageMaker pour publier un journal. Comme partout, il y a des gens qui sont capables d’apprendre “sur le tas” et qui d’amateurs autodidactes, deviennent des pros. Mais ça n’est pas donné à tout le monde — et ça prend du temps. Des blogueurs francophones qui font ça depuis bientôt huit ans, vous en connaissez beaucoup?

**Je m’emporte, hein. Ben voilà, on vire au coup de gueule.** J’avoue que ces temps-ci j’en ai un peu ma claque. Ma claque qu’on sous-value mes compétences et ce qu’elles peuvent apporter, ma claque d’avoir de la peine à me “vendre” et de trouver si difficile le côté “business” de mon activité professionnelle, et ma claque aussi de ces tentatives répétées de venir me faire travailler gratuitement, sous prétexte qu’on a pas de budget (ce qui peut être vrai, mais c’est pas à moi de me serrer la ceinture à cause de ça), sous prétexte (et c’est pire) que “ça m’apportera de la visibilité” et donc que j’y gagne. Oui, messieurs-dames, la plupart de mes activités professionnelles sont “visibles”, et c’est pour cette raison que je peux me permettre de ne pas facturer le double afin de financer mon budget marketing/pub. (Je sais, je suis en train de râler, mais qu’est-ce que ça fait du bien, de temps en temps!)

Donc, bref, me voilà une nième fois devant le même problème: comment expliquer à quelqu’un qui me contacte pour une participation bénévole (que ce soit une stratégie un peu puante pour obtenir les gens à bon marché ou le résultat d’un manque de conscience honnête et peut-être pardonnable n’y change pas grand chose) que oui, volontiers, mais il faudra ramener les pépettes? Parce que je l’avoue, c’est pas une position très agréable: “ah oui, sympa votre invitation et votre projet, je participe volontiers mais faudra me payer!” Ça me rappelle furieusement cette grosse entreprise européenne qui a invité mon amie [Suw Charman](http://www.suw.org.uk/) à donner une conférence chez eux… et qui ne s’attendait pas à la payer! Elle [en parle brièvement](http://www.viddler.com/explore/SuwC/videos/5/1371.666/) dans notre podcast [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net).

Oui, j’ai conscience qu’en bloguant cette histoire Le Temps risque de lire ce billet et de laisser un commentaire qui me sauvera la vie, genre “oh mais bien sûr qu’on va vous payer, combien coûte une journée de votre temps?” — et je me rends compte que si je me sens assez libre de m’exprimer ainsi sur ma petite tribune ouverte (ce blog), les relations “clients-fournisseurs” restent très codifiées et je me verrais mal déverser ce lot d’explications dans un mail. Ce ne serait pas vraiment approprié. Je m’en tiendrai probablement à un “je viens volontiers passer une journée dans vos locaux à couvrir la journée en bloguant, cependant ceci fait partie des prestations que je facture. Qu’aviez-vous prévu de ce côté-là?” assez convenu et un peu plus léché. (Oui, ça m’emmerde vraiment que ces négociations pécuniaires soient si compliquées — je suis en plein dedans ces jours avec au moins deux autres clients.)

Bon, ben voilà, comme on dit. Essayons de finir sur une note constructive: si vous contactez un blogueur (ou une blogueuse) pour participer à un événement, ou bloguer pour vous, par exemple, gardez à l’esprit qu’il s’agit peut-être d’un service pour lequel il (ou elle) s’attend à être payé(e). Et de grâce, approchez les choses ainsi. Si vous n’êtes pas familier avec le milieu (et même si vous l’êtes un peu) il est possible que vous sous-estimiez complètement (a) le travail nécessaire à acquérir les compétences auxquelles vous faites appel et (b) ce que vous allez en retirer comme valeur en fin de compte.

Similar Posts:

Seesmic Doubts [en]

Seesmic Doubts [en]

[fr] Le texte et la vidéo sont fondamentalement différents. Je ne pense pas qu'il soit possible de "recréer" un dynamique comme celle de Twitter avec du contenu vidéo.

So, now that I’ve discovered what [Loïc](http://www.loiclemeur.com/)’s startup, [Seesmic](http://www.seesmic.com/), is about (thanks to [Ben](http://benmetcalfe.com/) [twittering his tests](http://twitter.com/dotben)), here is my initial reaction to [reading about it on Techcrunch](http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/08/loic-le-meurs-new-startup-launches-seesmic/).

> I’m not certain a “video-based Twitter” is a viable concept: the huge difference between video and text is that the latter is scannable, and that’s precisely what allows the presence/flow dimension in Twitter. You can “keep an eye” on a stream of text, but can you “keep an eye” on a stream of videos? Also, it takes much less time to keep up with a stream of text than with a stream of videos.

Me, commenting on Techcrunch

Now, not to say that Seesmic is doomed (that would be a bit pretentious of me) — and I haven’t checked it out directly — but I do want to go on record saying that the dynamics created by Twitter and other flow/presence apps with text cannot simply be transferred to other media.

If it turns out I’m right, I’ll be able to say “I told you so” — and if I’m wrong, nobody will care. 🙂

Similar Posts:

MySpace supprime les profils de 29'000 "délinquants sexuels" [en]

MySpace supprime les profils de 29'000 "délinquants sexuels" [en]

Il y a quelques jours, on a attiré mon attention sur [cet article de la BBC](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6914870.stm), qui rapporte que le site [MySpace](http://myspace.com) (une sorte de super-[Skyblog](http://skyblog.com) d’origine américaine) a supprimé de son site les profils de 29’000 “délinquants sexuels” (“sex offenders”).

J’ai écrit deux billets à ce sujet en anglais, qui ont reçu pas mal de couverture dans la blogosphère anglophone. J’ai aussi été interviewée par la radio BBC World suite à mon message leur signalant ma réaction.

– [MySpace Banning Sex Offenders: Online Predator Paranoia](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/myspace-banning-sex-offenders-online-predator-paranoia/) (liens vers ce billet chez d’autres blogueurs: [cosmos Technorati](http://technorati.com/search/http%3A//climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/myspace-banning-sex-offenders-online-predator-paranoia/))
– [Parents, Teenagers, Internet, Predators, Fear…](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/parents-teenagers-internet-predators-fear/) (liens vers ce billet chez d’autres blogueurs: [cosmos Technorati](http://technorati.com/search/http%3A//climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/parents-teenagers-internet-predators-fear/))
– [interview BBC World](http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/networks/wservice/aod.shtml?wservice/world_hys_wed) (je parle à la minute 34, le sujet commence à 29:30)

Ces deux billets comportent un résumé bref en français que je reproduis ici pour plus de commodité.

> MySpace exclut de son site 29’000 “sex offenders” (des gens qui ont été accusés de crimes sexuels) enregistrés. C’est problématique d’une part car suivant l’Etat dans lequel elles ont été condamnées, ces personnes enregistrées peuvent être coupables de choses aussi anodines que: relations homosexuelles, nudisme, uriner dans un lieu public, faire l’amour dans un lieu public, etc. D’autre part, je rappelle les chiffres provenant d’une récente étude sur les crimes sexuels impliquant des minteurs, qui vont à l’encontre de l’idée qu’on se fait habituellement de ce genre de cas. En agissant ainsi, possiblement poussés par la paranoïa ambiante, MySpace contribue à cette paranoïa. Je regrette que la presse joue systématiquement le jeu de la peur et ne se fasse pas l’avocate d’une attitude moins paniquée face à la question des prédateurs sexuels en ligne. (En résumé: les enfants courent plus de risques hors ligne qu’en ligne, et probablement bien plus à chaque fois qu’ils montent dans une voiture ou traversent la route…)

Stephanie Booth, MySpace Banning Sex Offenders: Online Predator Paranoia

Conseils aux parents (après mon interview à la BBC ce soir au sujet des “sex offenders” bannis de MySpace):

  • pas de panique, les prédateurs sexuels tels que nous les présentent les médias ne sont pas légion, votre enfant ne court pas des risques immodérés en étant sur internet;
  • dialoguez avec votre enfant; intéressez-vous à ce qu’il fait en ligne;
  • souvenez-vous que fournir des informations personnelles n’est pas un très grand risque; par contre, s’engager dans des relations de séduction avec des inconnus ou des amis adultes en ligne l’est.

J’ai écrit relativement peu en anglais à ce sujet jusqu’à maintenant. En français, lisez Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins, De la “prévention internet”, les billets en rapport avec mon projet de livre sur les adolescents et internet, et la documentation à l’attention des ados que j’ai rédigée pour ciao.ch.

Stephanie Booth, Parents, Teenagers, Internet, Predators, Fear…

Donc, en faisant ma tournée sur [technorati, pour voir qui a mentionné dans son blog l’article de la BBC](http://technorati.com/search/http%3A//news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6914870.stm), je suis tombée sur [un billet en français qui se réjouissait de la nouvelle](http://etjesigne.free.fr/blog/?p=57). Mon long commentaire à ce billet devenant trop long, j’ai décidé de le faire ici, sur mon blog, et du coup, de parler un peu de cette histoire pour mes lecteurs francophones:

> Bonne nouvelle signée MySpace qui vient de supprimer 29.000 profils de délinquants sexuels américains errants sur son espace qui compte 80 millions internautes. La suppression a été effectuée grâce à son partenariat avec le bureau de vérification Sentinel Tech Holding Crop qui développe une base de données nationale de délinquants sexuels. La législation américaine facilite cette tâche car elle permet de consulter librement les fiches de ces déliquants sur le site du ministère de la justice…

M/S, MySpace a les yeux sur les délinquants sexuels

Comme je l’explique donc dans [ma réaction à l’article de la BBC](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/myspace-banning-sex-offenders-online-predator-paranoia/) **ce n’est pas une si bonne nouvelle que ça**. Ce sont les états qui définissent ce qu’est un “délinquant sexuel”, et suivant où, on peut être sur une de ces listes pour avoir montré ses fesses en public. De plus, les profils supprimés seraient ceux où l’adresse e-mail fournie correspond à celle qui se trouve dans le dossier des délinquants sexuels. Vous pensez vraiment qu’un “pervers à la recherche de victimes” (et encore, voir plus bas pour ma réfutation de la forme qu’on donne au problème) serait aussi bête?

Aussi, la problématique des prédateurs sexuels sur internet est dramatisée et déformée par les médias. Tout d’abord, on perd de vue que la grande majorité des crimes sexuels sur mineurs impliquent la famille ou des amis proches de la famille (et non des inconnus ou “connaissances” provenant d’internet). Les cas faisant intervenir internet sont une minorité, et sont plus de l’ordre “relation de séduction d’ados” que “duperie et enlèvement d’enfants”. On peut légitimement se demander si une telle action de la part de MySpace est vraiment utile (il s’agit en fait plus de sauvegarder leur image), et si on n’est pas en train de se donner bonne conscience tout en évitant de faire de la prévention utile, mais quelque peu plus complexe (puisqu’il s’agit d’aller plonger dans la façon dont les adolescents vivent l’éveil de leur sexualité et de leurs premières relations amoureuses). Voir à ce sujet [De la “prévention internet”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/17/de-la-prevention-internet/), billet qui, au milieu de mes grands questionnements, aborde cette question.

Mon ami [Kevin Anderson](http://strange.corante.com), journaliste américain vivant à Londres, a écrit un excellent billet au sujet de toute cette histoire suite à un interview assez frustrant qu’il a donné à la BBC: [‘Think of the children’. Yes, but also think about the journalism](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/07/26/think_of_the_children_yes_but_also_think_about_the_journalism.php). Entre autres, il en appelle à la presse, qui couvre systématiquement ce genre d’événement selon l’angle “mon Dieu, ça grouille de pédophiles sur internet, enfin on fait quelque chose, mais est-ce suffisant?”

> I am taking an issue with the format and the journalistic assumptions made. Yes, there is a problem here, but it’s not the one that is being shouted in the headlines. The facts don’t support the sensationalist story of a predator lurking behind every MySpace profile or blog post. As Steph points out in her posts, the threat to youth isn’t in them having blogs or being on social networks. The problem is one of emotionally vulnerable teens being preyed upon by opportunistic adults. It’s more complicated and less emotive than saying: Keep the paedos off of MySpace.

Kevin Anderson, ‘Think of the children’. Yes, but also think about the journalism

Après mon interview à la BBC il y a deux jours, j’ai envoyé à quelques (3-4) journalistes romands de ma connaissance un e-mail contenant un appel à une couverture plus “réaliste” que “sensationnelle” de cette histoire. Voici à quelques variations près le message que j’ai envoyé:

> Vous avez peut-être entendu parler du fait que MySpace a “viré” de son
site 29’000 personnes se trouvant sur les listes de délinquants
sexuels tenues par les Etats aux USA. J’ai écrit une assez longue
réaction à ce sujet (en anglais) et me suis également faite
interviewer par la BBC.

> En deux mots:

> – la définition de “sex offender” est problématique (dans certains
états, on peut finir sur ces listes pour avoir montré ses fesses ou eu
des relations homosexuelles)
– une telle action de la part de MySpace (pour sauver leur image,
principalement) est problématique d’une part car elle renforce la peur
(peu justifiée) ambiante autour des prédateurs sexuels en ligne, et
d’autre part car c’est une mesure peu utile car elle est déconnectée
de la réalité des “problèmes/agressions à caractère sexuel” que
rencontrent les ados en ligne.

> [liens vers mes deux articles]

> Je ne sais pas si c’est votre rayon ou non et si ça vous intéresse,
mais si vous connaissez quelqu’un qui serait susceptible de couvrir
cette histoire sous cet angle (un angle qui manque cruellement dans
les médias “traditionnels”) n’hésitez pas à leur dire de prendre
contact avec moi (+41 78 625 44 74).

Deux réponses intéressées à ce jour (une personne en vacances qui a retransmis le mail, et un quotidien local pour qui ce n’est peut-être pas évident de couvrir un tel sujet international). Je réitère donc ici mon appel: y’a-t-il une publication romande qui veuille relever le défi?

Similar Posts:

Parents, Teenagers, Internet, Predators, Fear… [en]

Parents, Teenagers, Internet, Predators, Fear… [en]

[fr] Conseils aux parents (après mon interview à la BBC ce soir au sujet des "sex offenders" bannis de MySpace):

  • pas de panique, les prédateurs sexuels tels que nous les présentent les médias ne sont pas légion, votre enfant ne court pas des risques immodérés en étant sur internet;
  • dialoguez avec votre enfant; intéressez-vous à ce qu'il fait en ligne;
  • souvenez-vous que fournir des informations personnelles n'est pas un très grand risque; par contre, s'engager dans des relations de séduction avec des inconnus ou des amis adultes en ligne l'est.

J'ai écrit relativement peu en anglais à ce sujet jusqu'à maintenant. En français, lisez Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins, De la “prévention internet”, les billets en rapport avec mon projet de livre sur les adolescents et internet, et la documentation à l'attention des ados que j'ai rédigée pour ciao.ch.

**Update:** [radio stream is up](http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/networks/wservice/aod.shtml?wservice/world_hys_wed) and will be so until next Wednesday. MySpace piece starts at 29:30, and I start talking shortly after 34:00. Use the right-facing arrow at the top of the player to move forwards. Sorry you can’t go backwards.

I was just interviewed by [BBC World Have Your Say](http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/) (radio, links will come) about the [MySpace banning sex offenders](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/myspace-banning-sex-offenders-online-predator-paranoia/) story. (They didn’t find me, though, I sent them a note pointing to my blog post through the form on their site.) Here’s a bit of follow-up information for people who might just have arrived here around this issue.

First, I’m often asked what advice I give to parents regarding the safety of their children online (the BBC asked this question but I didn’t get to answer). So here’s my basic advice, and a few things to keep in mind:

– don’t panic — the media make the whole online sexual predator issue sound much worse than it is; (they might even be more at risk offline than online if they’re “normal” kids who do not generally engage in risky behaviour, given that most perpetrators of sex crimes against minors are family members or ‘known people’)
– **talk** with your kids about what they do online; **dialog is essential, as in many educational situations;** show interest, it’s part of their lives, and it might be an important one; start early, by introducing them to the internet yourself, rather than letting them loose on it to fend for themselves from day one;
– keep in mind that sharing personal information is not the greater risk: engaging in talk of a sexual nature with strangers/adult friends is, however <insert something about proper sexual education here>;

I regularly give talks in schools, and I speak to students, teachers, and parents — all three if possible, but not at the same time, because the message is not the same, of course. When I talk to parents, I see a lot of very scared/concerned parents who understand very little about the *living internet* their kids spend so much time in. But they read the mainstream media, and they’ve heard how the internet is this horrible place teeming with sexual predators, lurking in chatrooms and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, on the look-out for their next victim.

I may be dramatizing a little, but this is basically the state of mind I find parents in. I’ll jump on this occasion to introduce a piece by [Anastasia Goodstein](http://www.ypulse.com/): [Dangers Overblown for Teens Using Social Media](http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2007/06/fear_factordangers_overblown_f.html). I’m quite ashamed to say I only discovered Anastasia and her work about a month ago — we seem to cover similar ground, and I’m really impressed by what I see of her online (for example, she’s actually [published a book about teens online](http://www.amazon.com/Totally-Wired-Tweens-Really-Online/dp/0312360126) whereas I’m stuck-stalled in the process of trying to get started writing mine — in French). She also [reacted to the MySpace Sex Offender Saga](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anastasia-goodstein/the-myspace-sex-offender-_b_57793.html).

Anyway, my job when I’m talking to parents is usually:

– **play “tourist guide”** to introduce them to this strange internet culture (my background in Indian culture clearly helps me manage the cross-cultural internet/offline dialogue) — I encourage them to try chatting (find a friend who chats and can help you sign up to MSN to chat with her/him) and blogging (head off to [WordPress.com](http://wordpress.com) and write about random stuff you’re interested in for a couple of months)
– **de-dramatize** the whole “internet predator” thing so they’re not as tense when it comes to having their kids online, or being online themselves, and put forward the positive aspects of having an online life too.

What am I concerned about, when it comes to teens online? A bunch of things, but not really sick old men in raincoats posing as little girls in chatrooms or MySpace profiles.

– their blissful unawareness of how permanent digital media is; photos, videos, text etc. are all out of your control once they’ve left your hands; easy to multiply and distribute, they could very well be there for ever; they also don’t realize that all their digital interactions (particularly webcam stuff) is recordable, and that nothing is *really* private;
– their perception of the online world as “uncharted territories” where all is allowed, where there are no rules, no laws, no adult presence; for that, I blame adults who do not accompany their young children online at first, who do not show any interest in what’s going on online for their kids, and who do not *go online* to be there too; teens need adult presence online to help them learn to become responsible internet citizens, just as they do offline; our fear of predators is resulting in teenager-only spaces which I’m not sure are really that great;
– their certainty that one can evade rules/law/morals by being anonymous online and hiding; we’ve told them so much to stay hidden (from predators), and that one can be anonymous online (like predators) that they think they can hide (from parents, guardians, teachers);
– their idea that what is online is up for grabs (I’m not going to stand up against what the record companies call “piracy” — that’s for another blog post — but I do feel very strongly about crediting people for their work, and respecting terms individuals or small businesses set for their work).

There are other things which are important, but discussed so little, because “online predators” is such a scary issue that it makes everything else seem unimportant: the “chat effect” (why is it easy to “fall in love over chat”?), findability of online stuff (yeah, by parents, teachers, future bosses), what to say and what not to say online (“what am I comfortable with?”), gaming environments like WoW…

One thing we need to remember is that kids/teens are not passive victims. Some teens are actively seeking certain types of relationships online, and when they do, chances are they’ll find them (proof the “catch a predator” operations in which “normal people” or policemen pose as lusty/consenting teens to trap dirty predators… sure it works, but most teens aren’t like that!)

I remember getting in touch with a kid who had an account on Xanga. He had lifted some HTML code from my site, and visits to his page were showing up in my stats. I asked him to remove it (“hey, lifting code like that isn’t cool!”) and he didn’t react. I found his ICQ number and messaged him, and he was outright obnoxious. A few days later, he started messaging me vulgar messages out of the blue (“I want to f*** you, b****!”). We finally trapped him, a friend of mine posing as a Xanga official who scared him a bit so he’d remove the code from his site, and who actually had a long, long talk with him. He was 9 years old.

If you came here via the BBC, leave a comment to let me know what you think about these issues, or what your experience is!

Similar Posts:

MySpace Banning Sex Offenders: Online Predator Paranoia [en]

MySpace Banning Sex Offenders: Online Predator Paranoia [en]

**Update:** If you’re a parent looking for advice, you’ll probably find [my next post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/25/parents-teenagers-internet-predators-fear/) more interesting.

[MySpace has removed profiles of 29’000 registered sex offenders](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6914870.stm) from their site.

> In a statement, MySpace said: “We’re pleased that we’ve successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead.”

BBC News, MySpace bars 29,000 sex offenders, July 2007

Sounds like a good move, doesn’t it?

Maybe not so.

First, what is a sex offender? A sex offender is somebody on the state registry of people who have been convicted of sex crimes. A sex offender is not necessarily a pedophile. And in some states… a sex offender might not have done anything really offensive.

Listen to [Regina Lynn](http://www.reginalynn.com/wordpress/), author of the popular [Wired column Sex Drive](http://www.wired.com/commentary/sexdrive) and the book [The Sexual Revolution 2.0](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1569754772):

> Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ll end up on the sex offender registry. Not because I have any intention of harming anyone, but because it has recently come to my attention that in a flurry of joie de vivre I might have broken a sex law.

> You see, I keep hearing these stories of mild infractions that led to listing on the sex-offender registry alongside child molesters, rapists and abusive spouses. There’s the girl who bared her ass out a bus window in college and pled guilty to indecent exposure — and then couldn’t become an elementary school teacher because of her sex offense. Then there’s the guy who peed on a bush in a park and was convicted of public lewdness, a sex offender because he couldn’t find a bathroom.

> […]

> But sometimes I do skirt the edge of the law when it comes to sex. And if you’ve ever ducked into the bushes for a little al fresco fondling, so have you.

> Unfortunately, even in California, it’s not technically legal to make discreet love in public spaces, even in your truck, even if it has a camper shell with dark windows and Liberator furniture, even if no one can see you without pressing his nose to the glass or hoisting her children up over her head.

> And if a passerby does intrude on your personal moment, it’s no longer a matter of “OK kids, pack it up and get out of here.” A witness’s cell-phone video could be on the internet within five minutes. A busybody might even feel justified in calling the police.

> “If someone saw something that offended them and they wanted to sign a citizen’s arrest, the officer is obliged to take the citizen’s arrest,” says Inspector Poelstra of the Sexual Offender Unit of the San Francisco Police Department, who spoke with me by phone.

Regina Lynn, Could You End Up on a Sex Offender Registry?, April 2007

[Critics of Megan’s Law](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan’s_Law#Criticism), which requires convicted sex offenders to register with the state, have also put forward that the registries include people it would be rather far-fetched to consider a threat to our children’s safety.

> But the laws have unexpected implications. Consider California, whose 1996 Megan’s Law requires creating a CD-ROM database of convicted sex offenders, available to the public. (The state has had a registry of sex offenders since 1944.) The Los Angeles Times reports that this new database is turning up many ancient cases of men arrested for consensual gay sex in public or semi-public places, some of them youthful experiments of men who went on to long married lives. One man, arrested in 1944 for touching the knee of another man in a parked car, was surprised when his wife collected the mail containing an envelope, stamped “sex crime” in red ink, telling him he needed to register as a sex offender. Many of these men are going through humiliating confrontations with long-forgotten aspects of their past, and complicated and expensive legal maneuverings to get themselves off the list. “It’s a real concern,” says Suzanne Goldberg of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, which works on legal issues involving gays. “These laws have the potential to sweep in more people than they should. Laws requiring registration of people engaging in consensual sex are far beyond the pale. Those requirements can have devastating effects on people’s lives.”

Brian Doherty, Megan’s Flaws?, June 1997

These concerns about indiscriminate lumping together of “sex offenders” in the light of the online predator paranoia were already raised in January when MySpace handed over a database containing information about sex offenders to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, on [Violet Blue::Open Source Sex](http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2007/01/myspace_and_the_sex_offenders.html) and [Sex Drive Daily](http://blog.wired.com/sex/2007/01/myspace_hands_o.html). *(As an aside, I now find myself wondering if this post is going to get me blacklisted by internet security filters left and right… How ironic that would be.)*

> These are state registries, and depending on the state you’re in, you’re a “sex offender” under Megan’s Law if you get caught urinating in public, mooning, skinny dipping, or if you get busted having consensual sex in public. Think of how lopsided these charges must be in homophobic states. Also, it’s a lesson in what sites like MySpace can and will do with personal information. I’m definitely an advocate for speeding up natural selection when it comes to rapists and pedophiles, but I worry about what could happen to individuals and personal privacy when a questionably informed company casts a wide net, and turns it over to anyone who asks.

Violet Blue, MySpace and the Sex Offenders, Jan. 2007

In addition to that, we need to totally rethink the views we have on how sexual predators act online. The old pervert lurking in chatrooms is more a media construct and a product of [the culture of fear](http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Fear-Americans-Afraid-Things/dp/0465014909) we live in than a reality our kids are likely to bump into, [as I said recently in an interview on BBC News](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/05/21/video-bbc-interview-teenagers-facebook/ “Watch the short video.”). Remember kids are way more likely to be abused by a person they know (family, friends) than by a random stranger. I’ll assume you don’t have the time to read through [the whole 34-page transcript](http://www.netcaucus.org/events/2007/youth/20070503transcript.pdf) of the [panel danah boyd participated in](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/05/11/just_the_facts.html) a few months ago, so here are the most significant excerpt about this issue (yes, I’m excerpting a lot in this post, but this is an important issue and I know people read better if they don’t need to click away). Here is what Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against
Children Research Center and the codirector of the Family Research
Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, has to say:

> 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
with.

> 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
authorities.

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

Let me summarize the important facts and figures from this excerpt and the next few pages. The numbers are based on a sample of law enforcement cases which Finkelhor et al. performed research upon:

– most victims of “online predators” are teenagers, not young children
– only 5% of cases involved violence
– only 3% involved abduction
– deception does not seem to be a major factor
– 5% of offenders concealed the fact they were adults from their victimes
– 80% of offenders were quite explicit about their sexual intentions
– these crimes are “criminal seductions”, sexual relationships between teenagers and older adults
– 73% of cases include multiple sexual encounters
– in half the cases, victims are described as being in love with the offender or feeling close friendship
– in a quarter of the cases, victims had actually ran away from home to be with the person they met online
– only 7% of arrests for statutory rape in 2000 were internet-initiated

I find these figures very sobering. Basically, our kids are more at risk offline than online. No reason to panic! About this last figure, listen to Dr. Michele Ybarra, president of Internet
Solutions for Kids:

> One victimization is
one too many. We watch the television, however, and it makes it
seem as if the internet is so unsafe that it’s impossible for young
people to engage on the internet without being victimized. Yet
based upon data compiled by Dr. Finkelhor’s group, of all the arrests
made in 2000 for statutory rape, it appears that seven percent were
internet initiated. So that means that the overwhelming majority are
still initiated offline.

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

I digress a little, but all this shows us that we need to go way beyond “don’t give out personal information, don’t chat with strangers” to keep teenagers safe from the small (but real, yes) number of sexual predators online:

> Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving
the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s
not giving out personal information that puts kid at risk. It’s not
having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts
kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with
strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web
like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there,
kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil.

> We think that in order to address these crimes and prevent them,
we’re gonna have to take on a lot more awkward and complicated
topics that start with an acceptance of the fact that some teens are
curious about sex and are looking for romance and adventure and
take risks when they do that. We have to talk to them about their
decision making if they are doing things like that.

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

So, bottom line — what do I think? I think that MySpace’s announcement is more of a PR stunt than anything. This kind of action is the result of the ambient paranoia around sexual predators online, but it also fuels it. If MySpace are doing that, it must mean that we are right to be afraid, doesn’t it? I think it is a great pity that the media systematically jump on the fear-mongering bandwagon. We need more sane voices in the mainstream press.

Here is a collection of links related to this issue. Some I have mentioned in the body of the post, some I have not.

MySpace bars 29,000 sex offenders
Could You End Up on a Sex Offender Registry?
MySpace and the Sex Offenders
Megan’s Flaws?
Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths ([see danah’s post for YouTube video](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/05/11/just_the_facts.html))
– [Video: BBC Interview (Teenagers, Facebook)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/05/21/video-bbc-interview-teenagers-facebook/)
– [Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/20/adolescents-myspace-internet-citations-de-danah-boyd-et-henry-jenkins/) (quotes are in English)
– [De la “prévention internet”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/17/de-la-prevention-internet/)

*note: comments are moderated for first-time commenters.*

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John C. Dvorak and Om Malik: Blogs vs. Journalism [en]

John C. Dvorak and Om Malik: Blogs vs. Journalism [en]

[fr] Conversation entre John C. Dvorak et Om Malik sur les similitudes et différences entre blogging et journalisme. Intéressant.

*These are my notes of [this session](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/blogs-vs-journalism/). They may be inaccurate. Check with people who actually said the words before jumping up and suing them. Thanks.*

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak, Om Malik, Matt Mullenweg

[John C. Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) thinks there is no difference whatsoever, and bloggers should be given credentials. The mainstream media are not taking bloggers seriously *yet*. *steph-note: I remember [Dvorak from 2002 and the kitty-heads](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/02/20/dvorakitty/).

[Om Malik](http://gigaom.com/): Shift… blogs have a different dynamic, do not replace mainstream journalism. Careful not to lump all bloggers in the same category.

*steph-note: arghl, going to sleep. Please, wake me up.*

JCD: bloggers cover crap stuff like Paris Hilton’s lost PDA or Tom Cruise doing something silly, just like the mainstream press. Problem. “Quote posts” amongst bloggers (quote, + “what is this guy thinking?”, and that’s your blog post). Driving mainstream media nuts. The blogging world will be rejected by the mainstream because they are an annoyance.

At one point, JCD had to fight to stick links to outside sites in his column (“OMG! if we link outside people will see how crap we are!”)

OM: comments can be good/bad. Important feature. You have to assume that your commentors care. They’ve spent time on your site. Respect that.

JCD: asking readers to fill in the blanks of your story *steph-note: like I’m doing for my 2002 Dvorak article* — very interesting, the whole of the information is in the post **plus** the comments.

OM: comments are what makes blogging different from mainstream media, tapping into the collective intelligence. Engage every single comment. Single most important lesson learned.

JCD: hey, you can moderate comments without killing the blog (JCD uses Spam Karma). Some comments don’t contribute much (“You suck!” doesn’t really add much to the conversation). Recommends moderating to make sure comments have value. Need critical mass of readers to have enough comments. Moderation should be the responsibility of the post author. In this new world, you make a post, these comments are part of your job as the writer.

OM: you set the tone. There are good bars, lousy bars. People choose. *steph-note: blog gardening is really important. what you accept or not will influence the way people act in the comments.*

WordCamp 2007 Om Malik

JCD: also need to relax. Not a national disaster if things go downhill in the comments. JCD has been called an idiot for 25 years, but he’s still up there ;-).

OM: you can rate comments.

JCD: doesn’t like rating comments, except restaurant reviews. *steph-note: I don’t like comment rating very much either.*

OM: One trick is to step away from what you wrote for 15 minutes before posting.

JCD: journalist trick: read out loud (really!) because your ears and eyes don’t work the same way. Catches a lot of errors.

OM: Actually, you can have your mac read it back to you.

Q [Ben Metcalfe](http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/): “no difference about bloggers and journalists” — could you explain more? Investigative journalism, holding government to account… More thoughts on the mainstream stuff.

JCD: Importance of layout. If it “looks too much like a blog”, you may lose credibility (people go “ah, it’s a *blog*”). Cf. [The Onion](http://www.theonion.com/content/index). NYT redesigned after the Onion (challenged!) Neo-blog style: credibility goes way higher, with same content. Same old templates, different flower, different pink, place for cat photo… Same old tired layouts.

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak

BM: Is it really just a question of layouts?

JCD: What I’m saying is valid for first impressions.

Q: ??

JCD: “Citizen Journalism”: artificial construct *steph-note: what is it with Dvorak and cats?*

OM: Bloggers should call people. Try to get information directly from people. At least you can say you tried to get in touch.

JCD: Maybe take one course in journalism so at least you have a clue how it works, and study libel law, that’s important (you can’t call people a “crook” for example, you can get sued into oblivion — “douchebag”, however, is OK!)

OM: Actually, “douchebag” might even have a greater effect in the post. The English language is wonderful, has many ways of describing the same thing.

JCD: You need to be careful, and I think bloggers haven’t had the lecture on libel law. You don’t want to get sued for a minor comment or something.

OM: blogging uptake directly related to broadband penetration *steph-note: not sure about that!!*

Ben Metcalfe: places blogging is catching on are places where there is not really much free press (e.g. Eastern Europe, Iran — not necessarily lots of blogging). Absence of free press more valid correlation than broadband.

OM: Lots of blogging in USA etc.

JCD: yeah, countries with a lousy free press. We don’t have a free press.

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