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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Videos, Videos! And Kittens! [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode vidéo de Fresh Lime Soda, le podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman. On y parle de ce qu'on fait dans la vie, et surtout, de comment on le définit (mal!)

Aussi, vidéos de la Gay Pride ici à San Francisco, et de chatons. Oui, des chatons. Tout mimis.

Although [there is just one week left for me here](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/151809632), I’m still [in San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600394601924/). When [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com) was here a few weeks ago, we seized the occasion to record another (video!) episode of [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). Our conversation takes [the episode I mention in my “What do you care about?” post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) and goes on from there, to examine how we define ourselves in our professional field, and a bunch of other things. Read [the shownotes on the original post](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/07/16/fresh-lime-soda-episode-7-in-san-francisco/) and enjoy the video!

(If the feed/RSS reader doesn’t take care of it for you, you can [download the video from Viddler.com directly](http://www.viddler.com/show_movie!orgFile.action?movieToken=5bc3aa08).)

While we’re on the subject of videos, I’ve uploaded quite a few to [my Viddler account](http://viddler.com/steph) recently. (Oh, and yes, I still have a post in my drafts somewhere… a review of viddler, which I really like despite its bugs and greenness.) There are videos of [the Gay Pride](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/sfpride) (and photos of the [Dyke March](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/) and [Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/) of course!), the [iPhone Launch here in SF](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/iphonelaunch), but most importantly, [really cute kittens playing](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/blukittens). If you like kittens, you’ll enjoy the 5 minutes you’ll spend watching the videos. There are obviously [kitten photographs too](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600783421840/):

Blu's Kittens 7

Blu's Kittens 29

Blu's Kittens 24

And for those who missed the update, [the post announcing my talk at Google (on languages and the internet)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/) now contains a link to [the video of my talk](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5004419583730327409&hl=en-GB), the (http://www.slideshare.net/sbooth/waiting-for-the-babel-fish), and my [handwritten presentation notes](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/801234849/) (not that they’ll help you much…). All that!

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Multilingual Interviews [en]

[fr] Deux interviews que j'ai donnés récemment au sujet de la conférence que je donne à Copenhague sur le multilinguisme sur internet la semaine prochaine.

I was interviewed twice during the last week about the [multilingual stuff](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/) I’m going to be [talking about this week at reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html):

– by [Suw Charman](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/) for [Conversation Hub](http://conversationhub.com/): [The Multilingual Web](http://conversationhub.com/2007/05/22/the-multilingual-web/) (video)
– by [Nicole Simon](http://crueltobekind.org/) as part of her [reboot9 pre-conference series](http://bloxpert.com/Kickoff-of-the-reboot-9-interview-series-81): [Reboot 9: Stephanie Booth](http://crueltobekind.org/archive/2007-05-24/reboot_9_stephanie_booth) (audio)

Enjoy, and hope to see you at reboot!

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Fresh Lime Soda Episode 5: Multitasking and Dragon [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode du podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman, Fresh Lime Soda. En anglais.

Finally, Suw and I have got [episode 5 of Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/05/18/fresh-lime-soda-episode-5-dragon-multitasking/) ready for public consumption. We talk about a bunch of things, including (but not limited to): Dragon NaturallySpeaking, multitasking, writing and blogging, tinnitus, guilt, and shitty first drafts. As you’ll understand if you listen to it, everything is related. If you don’t want to [download the 12Mb MP3](http://climbtothestars.org/files/20070425-freshlimesoda-5.mp3), you can listen to it [on the Fresh Lime Soda site with the embedded player](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/05/18/fresh-lime-soda-episode-5-dragon-multitasking/).

As I was in London, we shot another video episode (wayyy more informative than [the first, episode 4](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/04/07/fresh-lime-soda-episode-4-goofing-about-on-video/)), which should be up… shortly. 🙂

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Blogging 4 Business Conference [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence Blogging4Business à laquelle j'assiste en ce moment à Londres.

So, unless some miracle happens, I’ll be blogging this day offline and posting it tonight when I get back at Suw’s. There seems to be no wifi provided for conference attendees unless you are willing to shell out £25 for a daily pass. (Actually, it seems there were a certain number of passes available.)

I would honestly have expected an event titled “**Blogging** 4 Business” to be “blog-aware” enough to realise that providing free wifi to connected people will encourage blogging of the event. Granted, most of the people I see in the room are taking paper notes (not that there is anything wrong with that) — this doesn’t seem to be an audience of bloggers. But wouldn’t it be an intelligent move to encourage the blogging public to “do their thing” at such an event?

I missed most of the first keynote and panel, spending time in the lobby chatting with Lee and Livio of [Headshift](http://headshift.com) (my kind hosts today), and [Adam](http://onemanandhisblog.com).

**Panel 1** incomplete and possibly inaccurate notes (they’re more snippets than a real account of what was said, partly because I don’t understand everything — audio and accents)

How do you respond to crisis online? (cf. Kryptonite)

Ged Carroll: In the 90s, faulty lock was broadcast on consumer TV. Mistake: didn’t tell the blogs that they were monitoring what was being said in that space, and that they were working on a solution (they *were* in fact acknowledging the problem, but hadn’t communicated that state of things to the public).

Moderator (Paul Munford?): how do you prevent something like that from being so predominently visible (search etc.)?

Darren Strange: owns his name. Same if you type “Microsoft Office”, his blog comes up pretty quickly too. Blogs attract links, good for search engine ranking.

Question: brands need ambassadors, OK, but where’s the ongoing material to blog about Budweiser?

Tamara Littleton: brand involvement in the site keeps things alive and happening. Reward ambassadors with merchandise.

*steph-note: on my way to London, I was reading the Cluetrain Manifesto (yeah, I’m a bit late on that train) and was particularly inspired by the part about how most of traditional marketing is trying to get people to hear a “message” for which there is actually no “audience” (nobody really wants to hear it), and so ends up coming up with ways to shove it into people’s faces and make them listen. This idea is kind of trotting in the back of my mind these days, and it’s colouring what I’m getting out of this event too.*

Question: transparency is a big thing… “creating ambassadors” (*steph-note: one “creates” ambassadors?!)… where is the space for disclosure?

Tamara Littleton: it’s about creating an environment, not saying “if you do this you’ll get that reward”. Rewards could be access to information about the product. Invite people to take part in something.

Ged Carroll: two types of rewards: merchandise etc, and also reputation-ego. Doesn’t have to be tangible.

Darren Strange: trying to have non-techie people try new releases of Vista, etc. Installed everything on a laptop, shipped it to the people’s house, and gave it to them. “Take the laptop, use it, blog if you want to, write good or bad things, or send it back to us, or give it to charity, or keep it, we don’t really care.” Huge debate about this. Professional journalists will be used to this kind of “approach”, but bloggers are kind of amateurs at this, they don’t know how to react. Disclosure: just state when you received something. *steph-note: and if you’re uncomfortable, say it too!*

**Panel: Lee Bryant, Adam Tinworth, David ??, Olivier Creiche**

*steph-note: got wifi, will publish*

Blogging 4 Business

Lee presenting first. Headshift have quite a bunch of nice products in the social software department. “It aint what you do it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results.” (Bananarama)

Concrete business use cases.

Olivier talking now. “To blog or not to blog?” Simple answer: blog. Serious Eats. Citrix: a lot of knowledge disappeared when people left the company — a lot of knowledge out there that is only waiting to be gathered out of people’s e-mail boxes. Used Movable Type for that.

Another case study: AEP, also wanted to prevent e-mails from being the central repository of company knowledge (e-mails are not shared spaces!) Start small, experimental. Need to find the right people to start with. Another one: Arcelor/Mittal merger. Decided to communicate publicly about the lot of stuff. Video channel. Wanted to be very open about what they were doing and how, and answer questions. Good results, good press coverage.

David: allowing lawyers to share their knowledge and expertise, not just in their offices. Blogs, RSS, wikis allows time-critical sharing of information. *steph-note: like I’ll be publishing this as soon as the panel is over…* Catch things on the fly and make them available over a very short period of time.

Adam: starting to roll out business blogs just to allow communication. Bringing about profound change. *steph-note: very bad account of what Adam said, sorry — audio issues.* Other problems: educational issues. Best to not force people to use this or that tool, but open up. Share. Get people inside the teams to show their collegues what they’re using.

Question (moderator): a lot of evangelising going on in terms of blogs. Do blogs/wikis etc deliver on the promise of breaking down barriers, etc, when it comes to internal communication.

Lee: not a simple black/white situation. It comes down to people. Big problem: people bear a high cost to interact with communication systems and get no feedback. But with social tools (lightweight), we get immediate feedback. Integration with existing corporate systems.

Question: is social media the end of communications as we know it.

Lee: every generation of technology sees itself as a ground-breaker. But they’re all layered on top of each other. We have technology that delivers on the initial promise of the web (equal publication, sharing, etc) *(steph-note: yay! I keep saying that!)*

*steph-note: more northern English please ;-)*

David: now, using the web to create communities of practice, getting lawyers to communicate with people unthought of before.

Question: how do you deal with outdated material.

Lee: with mature social software implementations, any piece of information gathers its own context. So what is relevant to this time tends to come to the surface, so out-dated material sinks down. More about information surfacing when it’s time than getting out-dated stuff out of the way.

David: social tools make it very easy to keep your content up-to-date (which was a big problem with static sites).

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Dannie Jost — Blogging is not about blogging [en]

[fr] Bloguer, c'est une histoire d'expression personnelle. Une discussion lors de la rencontre BlogCamp à Zürich.

*Notes from blogcamp.ch presentation. May be inaccurate.*

*(steph-note: it’s a discussion, so a bit hard for me to blog — particularly as I’m participating.)*

Dannie Jost -- Blogging is not about blogging

Why do people blog? Different reasons. Asking the audience. [Blogging isn’t about blogging](http://uncondition.blogspot.com/2007/03/tomorrow-barcampswitzerland.html), it’s about expressing yourself. It’s about personal expression.

Blogging is about communication.

It’s a evolution (from a communication point of view, the biggest since the printing press): **instantaneous** access to a **global** readership. Being *heard* is a different bag of beans.

Another element of revolution: community. A single blogger with hot news means nothing and achieves nothing, before the network comes into play to make the news float to the top.

Blogging: technology (easy!!) and culture (more complicated) *steph-note: exactly what I try to explain to my clients…*

Shift of power. For Dannie, it hasn’t really happened yet, except some small cases. cf. phase transformations in chem/physics. My comment: the shift has already started happening, it’s not because it hasn’t impacted events the mainstream press reports on much that it doesn’t mean it’s having much impact.

Ideas//crystals.

Self-organisation.

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Introducing Fresh Lime Soda with Episode 3 of the Suw+Steph Podcast [en]

[fr] Notre podcast anglophone (à Suw Charman et moi-même) a maintenant son propre nom de domaine (histoire de fêter son baptême et l'épisode 3): Fresh Lime Soda.

As [twittered yesterday](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/10631221), [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/) and I are very proud to announce the christening of our previously unnamed podcast: [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). As you can see, it has a domain and blog of its own (hosted by [WordPress.com](http://wordpress.com)), on which you can read the shownotes and of course listen to (or download) the podcast itself:

– [episode 1: Cities, geeks, security and risk](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/01/19/fresh-lime-soda-episode-1-cities-geeks-security-and-risk/)
– [episode 2: Conferences, note taking, Wedding 2.0 and new tools](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/02/15/fresh-lime-soda-episode-2-conferences-note-taking-wedding-20-and-new-tools/)
– and — yay! — the new [episode 3: Fresh lime soda, Twitter, bad marketing, you can’t beat being there](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/03/21/fresh-lime-soda-episode-3-fresh-lime-soda-twitter-bad-marketing-you-cant-beat-being-there/).

You’ll certainly want to [subscribe using the RSS/atom (FeedBurner) feed](http://feeds.feedburner.com/FLS), possibly [subscribe in iTunes directly](itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/FLS) so that you never miss an episode!

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Twitter, c'est quoi? Explications… [fr]

Cet après-midi, je ramasse 20minutes dans le bus, et je vois qu'[on y parle de Twitter](http://www.20min.ch/ro/multimedia/stories/story/10730138). Bon sang, il est grand temps que j’écrive le fichu billet en français que je mijote depuis des semaines au sujet de ce service [que j’adore](http://twitter.com/stephtara “Ma page Twitter.”) (après l’avoir [mentionné en anglais](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/12/you-should-twitter/) il y a plusieurs mois). Allons-y, donc: une explication de [Twitter](http://twitter.com), pour vous qui n’avez pas la moindre idée de ce que c’est — et à quoi ça sert.

“Twitter” signifie “gazouillis” en anglais. Ce nom reflète bien le contenu relativement anodin qu’il se propose de véhiculer: **des réponses à la question “que faites-vous?”**.

Ça n’a pas l’air fascinant, a première vue, un service dont l’objet est d’étaler sur internet les réponses somme toute souvent très banales à cette question. “Est-ce que ça intéresse le monde entier, le fait que je sois [confortablement installée dans mon canapé](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/8276161)?” Certes non. Par contre, **cela intéresse peut-être mes amis**.

Oh, très clairement pas dans le sens “tiens, je me demandais justement ce que Stephanie était en train de faire maintenant, ça tombe à pic!” Mais plutôt **dans un état d’esprit “radar”**: avoir une vague idée du genre de journée que mène son entourage. En fait, ce mode “radar” est tellement omniprésent dans nos vies qu’on ne le remarque même plus, et qu’on n’a pas conscience de son importance.

Pensez aux gens que vous fréquentez régulièrement, ou à vos proches. Une partie de vos intéractions consiste en échanges de cet ordre: “je t’appelle après la danse”, “je dois rentrer, là, parce qu’on a des invités”, “je suis crevé, j’ai mal dormi” ou encore “tu vas regarder le match, ce soir?”

Sans y faire vraiment attention, on se retrouve ainsi au courant de **certaines “petites choses” de la vie de l’autre** — et cela vient nourrir la relation. Plus on est proche, en général, plus on est en contact avec le quotidien de l’autre. Et corrolairement, **être en contact avec le quotidien d’autrui nous en rapproche**. (Vivre ensemble, que cela soit pour quelques jours ou à long terme, ce n’est pour cette raison pas anodin.)

On a tous fait l’expérience qu’il est plus difficile de garder vivante une relation lorque nos occupations respectives ne nous amènent pas à nous fréquenter régulièrement. Combien d’ex-collègues dont on était finalement devenus assez proches, mais que l’on a pas revus depuis qu’on a changé de travail? Combien de cousins, de neveux ou même de parents et d’enfants qu’on adore mais qu’on ne voit qu’une fois par an aux réunions familiales? Combien d’amis perdus de vue suite à un déménagement, ou simplement parce qu’il a fallu annuler la dernière rencontre et que personne n’a rappelé l’autre? Et à l’heure d’internet et des vols low-cost, combien de ces rencontres fortes mais qui se dissipent dès que la distance y remet ses pieds?

C’est ici qu’intervient Twitter.

**Twitter me permet de diffuser auprès de mon entourage ces petites parcelles de vie si anodines mais au final si importantes pour les liens que l’on crée** — et de recevoir de la part des gens qui comptent pour moi les mêmes petites bribes de quotidien. Cela permet de rester en contact, et même de renforcer des liens.

Ceux d’entre vous qui chattez le savez: échanger quelques banalités de temps en temps, ça garde la relation en vie, et on a ainsi plus de chances de prévoir de s’appeler ou de se voir que si on avait zéro contact. Les chatteurs savent aussi que les fameux “statuts” (“parti manger”, “disponible”, “ne pas déranger”) jouent un rôle non négligeable dans la communication avec autrui. C’est d’ailleurs en partie inspiré par ces statuts que [Jack](http://twitter.com/jack) a eu l’idée [qui est un jour devenue Twitter](http://evhead.com/2006/07/twttr-is-alive.asp). (Un autre ingrédient important était la page des “amis” sur [Livejournal](http://livejournal.com).)

Une des qualités majeures de Twitter et que **ce service n’est pas limité à internet**. En fait, à la base, il est prévu pour fonctionner par SMS. On peut donc envoyer (et recevoir!) les messages via le web, via un service de messagerie instantanée ([Google Talk](http://www.google.com/talk/)), ou par SMS — selon ses préférences du moment.

Concrètement, cela se passe ainsi: on [s’inscrit](http://twitter.com/account/create) et on donne à Twitter son [numéro de portable et/ou son identifiant GTalk](http://twitter.com/devices), ce qui nous permet déjà d’envoyer des messages. Ensuite, on [invite](http://twitter.com/invitations/invite) ses amis (ou bien on les ajoute depuis leur page s’ils sont déjà sur Twitter — voici [la mienne](http://twitter.com/stephtara)) afin de se construire un petit réseau social de personne que l’on “suivra”. Tous les messages de ces contacts sont rassemblés sur une page web (voici [la mienne](http://twitter.com/stephtara/with_friends)), et on peut choisir de les recevoir en plus par SMS ou par chat.

On peut envoyer des messages privés, bien entendu, et il y a toute une série de commandes qui permettent facilement d’ajouter ou d’enlever des contacts et de contrôler les alertes que l’on reçois — même si on est loin de son ordinateur. Un billet consacré à ces considérations plus techniques suivra.

Il faut aussi préciser que **recevoir les SMS de Twitter ne coûte rien** (enfin cela dépend de l’opérateur, mais en Suisse c’est gratuit), et qu’envoyer un message par SMS coûte simplement le prix d’un SMS envoyé à l’étranger (à ma connaissance, de nouveau, en Suisse cela revient au même prix qu’un SMS envoyé à un numéro suisse).

A venir, donc, un billet avec des informations techniques et pratiques sur l’utilisation de Twitter, et un autre qui poussera plus loin la réflexion sur le rôle d’un tel service, la façon dont les gens l’utilisent actuellement, et certaines critiques qui lui sont faites.

**Mise à jour 09.2007:** une [explication audio](http://capsule.rsr.ch/site/?p=345) avec la complicité de M. Pain.

**Mise à jour 03.2010:** depuis mi-2008, nous ne recevons plus de SMS Twitter en Europe. C’est nettement moins important aujourd’hui qu’à l’époque, vu l’explosion des iPhones et autres téléphones similaires.

**Mise à jour 04.2010:** à lire aussi, Comment démarrer avec Twitter, moins technique et plus stratégique.

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Technological Overload or Internet Addiction? [en]

[fr] Les vidéos du fameux débat sur la surcharge technologique à LIFT'07 est en ligne. Du coup, l'occasion de rappeler mes deux billets sur le sujet, et de rajouter quelques pensées suite à ma participation à la table ronde sur les cyberaddictions à Genève, entre autres sur la confusion entre dépendance et addiction parmi le grand public, et le fait qu'on perçoit souvent l'objet de l'addiction comme étant le problème (et donc à supprimer) et non le comportement addictif. Mes notes sont à disposition mais elles sont très rudimentaires.

For those of you who enjoyed my [Technological Overload Panel](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/09/technological-overload-panel/) and [Addicted to Technology](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/) posts, the (http://www.liftconference.com/videos/view/single/8) is now online.

Since I wrote them, I participated in a panel discussion about cyberaddictions (that’s what they’re called in French) in Geneva. It was very interesting, and I learnt a few things. The most important one is the difference between “addiction” and “dépendance” in French. “Dépendance” is physical. The cure to it is quitting whatever substance we are dependant to. Addiction, however, lies in the realm of our relationship to something. It has to do with *how we use a substance/tool*, what role it plays in our life and overall psychological balance. And it also has a component of **automation** to it. You don’t *think* before lighting up a cigarette, or compulsively checking your e-mail.

I think there is a lot of confusion between these two aspects amongst the general public, which leads to misconceptions like the [“cure” to alcoholism being complete abstinence](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/09/22/games-people-play-alcoholicaddict/). Sure, abstinence solves the substance abuse problem and is better for one’s health, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the *addiction* problem.

Addictions which are linked to otherwise useful tools are forcing us to look deeper (and that is actually what I’m trying to say in the [Addicted to Technology post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/). The problem is not the substance (ie, alcohol, or even the drug, or in this case, technology). The problem is in the way a person might use it. Hence I maintain that the solution lies not in the **removal of the tool/technology**, as the panel moderator suggests twice (first, by asking us to turn off our laptops, and second, by asking “how to unplug”), but in a careful and personalised evaluation of what one uses technology for (or what one uses technology to avoid).

I had a talk after the panel with one of the people there, who told me of some rough numbers he got from a consultation in Paris which is rather cutting-edge when it comes to dealing with “internet addiction” amongst teenagers. I think that out of 250 referrals (or something), the breakdown was about the following: one third were parents freaking out with no objective reason to. Another third were parents freaking out with good reason, for the signs that brought them there were actually the first indicators of their child’s entry in schizophrenia. I can’t remember the exact details for the last third, but if I recall correctly the bottom line was that they had something like a dozen solid cases of “cyber addictions” in the end. (Please don’t quote me on these numbers because the details might be wrong — and if you *have* precise numbers, I’d be happy to have them.)

This confirms my impression that people are [a bit quick in shouting “internet addiction”](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/10/internet_addict.html “5-10% sounds like way too much.”) when faced with heavy users (just like people are a bit quick to shout “pedophiles!” and “sexual sollicitation!” whenever [teenagers and the internet](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/20/adolescents-myspace-internet-citations-de-danah-boyd-et-henry-jenkins/) are involved). I personally don’t think that the amount of time spent using technology is a good indicator.

I took [some very rough notes](http://climbtothestars.org/files/20070221-cyberaddiction-table-ronde-geneve-notes.txt) during the panel I participated in (half-French, half-English, half-secret-code) but you can have a peek if you wish.

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CASH Cards and Cellphone Train Tickets [en]

[fr] En Suisse, on a la carte CASH (avec laquelle je paie parcomètres, billets de bus, et parkings souterrains), le numéro court 222/999 pour recevoir les horaires de train par SMS, et maintenant les billets de train par MMS (pour certains trajets, commandables en ligne ou par téléphone).

Near the end of the [latest Cranky Geeks episode](http://www.crankygeeks.com/2007/02/cranky_geeks_episode_53_bittor.html) there is some talk about paying things through cellphones, general lack of quarters (change) in the world, and concert ticket barcodes sent by MMS.

Here are some of the things we already have in sometimes-backward Switzerland.

First, the [CASH Card](http://www.cashcard.ch/en/ca_home.htm). It’s basically a chip which is added to nearly all the current debit cards banks provide their customers (people here use debit — [Maestro](http://www.maestrocard.com/) — much more than credit). It’s specifically designed for the payment of small amounts. You “put cash” on your card at the ATM through your debit account (30-300CHF). Then, off you go, your pockets full of virtual change.

I use CASH to pay my bus fares, feed the parking meter, underground parking, payphones, and even small purchases in kiosks or the baker’s. It’s cheaper for the vendor than either debit or credit, and doesn’t require an authentification code. It’s fast.

Second, [train tickets on your mobile](http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/mobile-ticket). For certain trips, you can order the ticket online or by phone (I called them to make sure I’d understood things right, as the web page is a bit confusing), and receive the barcode for this ticket by MMS. This does require going through a [somewhat cumbersome sign-up process](https://www.sbb.ch/mct/wi/shop/b2c/register.do), but hey, you only need to do it once (and I did *manage* to follow through to the end).

One very useful thing the SBB/CFF have been doing for sometime now is they allow you to [query the train timetables by SMS](http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/sms.html). Send “Lausanne Geneva” (without quotes) to 222 or 999 (depends on carrier) and they’ll give you the timetable of the three next trains for that trip. It gets smarter, too: “Lausanne Geneva 1500” gives you the first three trains after 3pm, and “Lausanne Geneva 1800.ar” the three last trains to arrive before 6pm. If you want platform information, try “Lausanne Geneva 1700 g”. You can also ask for trains departing in 2 hours, for example: “Lausanne Morges 2”.

I’m waiting to see a merge between these two last services: ask for timetables via SMS, and then order the MMS ticket directly for that trip (when those will be available for all trips). But actually, it’s not too bad as it is: you can order your MMS ticket by calling the free number 0800222211. They answer fast and are friendly (I called them three times with nasty questions as I was writing this post).

[When I was in Lisbon](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/26/scattered-lisbon-travel-notes/), I was totally impressed by the little black box that my host had under his windscreen, and which let him in and out of paid parkings, sending him a bill at the end of the month. That would be fun and practical to have.

What useful mobile/card services does your country have?

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