LeWeb'09: danah boyd [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

What you see online is not what others see online. It’s mediated through your friends.

How do we get a sense of our norms? Not through our audience, but through the people we follow. What we see gives us our sense of going on, rather than who sees us.

We’re not on the same internet as the average teen.

We have the ability to look in on people’s lives, a very powerful thing about the web. But lots of people don’t look.

Funny things that danah does is searching Twitter for “the” or random words to see what comes up. Even better in another language. => different kinds of environments.

Three case studies about visibility and what we see. Assumptions about what people see/do online that need questioning.

1. College admissions

MySpace, early on, college admissions officer calls danah about this young man who wrote a beautiful essay about wanting to leave the gang world, but his MySpace seemed to tell a different story. Interesting question: why do they lie to college admissions officers, and put the truth online? They’re not lying, just different ways of describing oneself in different parts of our lives to survive. Gang profile on MySpace to survive. Interesting: admissions officer assumes he is lying! Two different context, neither the kid or the officer knows how to deal with it.

2. Parental access

MySpace girl invited her dad to be her friend, but dad saw she took a test “what drug are you?” — cocaine. He did the good thing, talked to her. Asked her. “Dad, just one of these quizzes!” Having the conversation, opening up. Dad made the decision not to make assumptions based on what he saw, but to start conversations.

3. Violence

Young woman in Colorado murders her mother. American press: “girl with MySpace kills mother”. On her profile, detailed descriptions of how her mother abused her. It was documented but nobody did anything. Heartbreaking.

Just because it’s visible doesn’t mean people will see it or do anything about it.

We can be very visible, but nobody is looking. What does it mean to be public? Who is looking, and why are they looking?

Those who are looking are those who hold power over those observed. “If it’s public, I’m allowed to look!” => great conversations around privacy. Surveillance.

Flip it around: when should we be looking when we are not? Should we be looking to see a world different than ours? Jane Jacobs (?): “Eyes on the street.” Look at what is going on. One of the best ways to keep the community safe. Somebody is aware of what’s going on when a kid falls off his bicycle.

When should we be creating eyes on the street?

Privacy is used often to justify why we aren’t looking at things. Last 3 years: shift about how we think about domestic violence. 60s: didn’t exist. Can do what you want at home. Now: right to safety in private space. We use privacy to deal with when people are hurt in public spaces.

Lots of kids crying out for help online.

Transparency, visibility: the best and the worst is made available.

Bullying: lots of parents are afraid of technology because they fear it creates new dangers or situations. Data shows that bullying is not more present today than before, but it is much more visible.

Challenge: we can see when kids are hurt. Parents who don’t understand the technology blame the technology, when the technology is just making the problem visible. Call to action.

People move to gated communities to get away from different people and not have to deal with them but the internet is bringing all these people together. We might not want to be in such a mixed space.

BET: on Twitter, all the trending topics were black icons in America. And then also, critique of black culture, it’s full of black topics in Twitter. Reaction. How do we deal with this?

TV news often takes power by making us uncomfortable, showing us what we don’t like. But recently, showing us more what we want to see. And now, what happens when we’re forced to see what we don’t want?

Looking at the darker side of youth-generated content. But there is nobody to turn to. Legal? Easy to get the police involved, but not about social services, etc?

We’re making all sorts of parts of society visible, parts we like and others we don’t. Ramifications of doing this. How do we deal with this visibility of hurtful and harmful things? It doesn’t have to be illegal…

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Working For Fame Or For Cash [en]

[fr] En organisant la journée de conférences Going Solo, je me trouve directement aux prises avec mes difficultés face à l'économie du peer. J'organise un événement qui dégagera je l'espère assez de bénéfice pour que je puisse me payer, ainsi que mes partenaires. En même temps, j'espère trouver des personnes prêtes à donner de leur temps en échange de la visibilité que leur apportera leur association avec Going Solo. Mais je ne sais pas trop comment m'y prendre. Je trouve difficile de rendre les choses claires.

I’d like to introduce this reflection by quoting [Tara Hunt](http://horsepigcow.com/), who writes the following in a post titled [Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/12/21/please-stop-crowdsourcing-me/):

> I came and I thought, hey, this is kind of neat-o and it empowered me at first. I thought, “Awesome! They want my opinion! They listen!” and I offered it and the feedback was, “Great idea!” and I watched as you implemented it, then benefitted from it and I felt good. I was great at first, but then after a while, I started to feel a little dirty…a little used…a little like cheap labor, replacing people you probably laid off or decided to save money on not hiring because you were getting so much great value out of my time. Maybe it was because it seemed that you believed you could ‘tap’ my well of ideas or ‘pick my brain’ endlessly? Maybe it was because my generosity goes so far and you overstepped your bounds? Maybe it was because you had a chance to reward my efforts, but dropped me like a wet rag as soon as I asked?

Tara Hunt, Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me

I just came upon her article a few minutes ago as I was aimlessly clicking around in my newsreader. It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking of this post I wanted to write for a few days now, and it’s right on the same topic.

I’ve already [felt uneasy about the “Peer Economy”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/09/donnant-donnant/) (if I may call it like that before). About the fact that certain businesses actually get a lot of stuff for free from their enthusiastic users — stuff they would have to pay for, otherwise. The point I understood about a year ago is that the fact that people contribute voluntarily to help improve services like WordPress, GMail, Twitter, and countless others is what allows us (the community) to benefit from great tools like these free of cost or way cheaper than what they’re worth. I’m comfortable with that.

However, I agree with Tara, there is a fine line to tread. As a company, you don’t want people to feel used. And like Tara, I’ve had more of my share of people/companies who want me to “take a look” at their stuff and “tell them what I think” — picking my brain for free. And I don’t like it. If I’m [passionate](http://headrush.typepad.com/) about your product, then yes — I’ll give you feedback. You probably won’t even have to ask me. I’ll blog about it. If you’re smart, you’ll point out what I wrote, give me credit and link-love, thank me publicly. But I didn’t do it for that. I did it because I liked your product, or because talking about your product fulfilled one of my agenda, in a way. I’ve given products/companies like [WordPress](http://wordpress.org), [Dopplr](http://dopplr.com), [Twitter](http://twitter.com), [coComment](http://cocomment.com), [Seesmic](http://seesmic.com) and a bunch of others valuable feedback *because I wanted to*, because I loved their stuff.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll do it for any product or service that crosses my path. If you’re one of the lucky ones, well, good for you. If you’re not, you’ll have to pay cash ([experiential marketing](http://climbtothestars.org/focus/experiential-marketing/) is one of the ways a company can use cash to make up for lack of immediate passion on the part of this particular human being). Just like I’ll help my friends out for free and open blogs for them just because I love them, some companies out there benefit from “free intelligence”. Others need to pay for a similar service.

You get the idea, I think.

Now, here’s what I really wanted to bring up with this post.

As you know, I’m putting together an event for the month of May, [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net). (If you’re a freelancer or a small business owner, you should plan to come, by the way ;-).) This is my first event. I’m not going to be doing it alone. Thing is, I realised I’m a bit shy about asking my friends to help me out, because on the one hand, I want to keep the event expenses to a minimum, and on the other hand, I don’t want people to get the impression I’m trying to “crowdsource them” — as Tara expresses above.

This is made worse (and way more uncomfortable for me) by the fact that this is not a non-profit venture. I’m going to be investing quite a lot of time in this adventure, and I hope to be able to pay myself enough to have made it worthwhile. Ditto for my sales and logistics partners. So, yes, we’re hoping the event will make a profit (against all odds, it seems — everybody tells me that if you’re first event breaks even, you’re very lucky).

So, I know that part of the difficulty I’m facing here is my own inner workings. Despite what some people on IRC may think 😉 I’m somebody who doesn’t find it easy to ask for help/stuff. I always feel I owe people (except when I feel I’m owed, in a kind of weird back-swing dynamic).

There are certain things that I need for the conference, where I’m hoping I’ll manage to find somebody who is willing to “work for fame”. Taking care of the website is one. Design is another. Similarly, I’m hoping to strike up a partnership for the WiFi and bandwidth we need for the event.

In fact, there is some similarity between “working for fame” and being a sponsor/partner. You provide stuff for free (or almost), and in return you get visibility. So maybe I need to switch mindsets. Instead of looking for “people to help me”, I’m looking for “individual partners” for the event.

I feel like this is a thought in progress. I’m not exactly sure what I think, or what to do, or what is “right”. I’m particularly embarrassed when I start talking with friends or contacts about this or that they could do for the event, because it’s not clear from the start if we’re talking about a partnership (work for fame) or Real Work (work for cash).

Any insights appreciated. I feel like I need to step out of my mind a bit to find a way out, and you can help me out with that by sharing your thoughts.

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Musique: bénéfices d'une bonne stratégie internet [fr]

[en] This is a description of the benefits a musician or singer can find in implementing a sound internet ("web2.0-ish") strategy (blogs, social software, online presence...). It's lifted from a project proposal I sent a client recently, but it's in my opinion general enough to be of interest to other people. Oh, and check out SellABand.

Pour une personne faisant carrière dans le monde de la musique, avoir une bonne stratégie internet apporte un certain nombre de bénéfices non-négligeables. J’entends ici par “bonne stratégie internet” le fait de s’ouvrir à la dimension sociale et participative de l’internet vivant (blog, outils de social networking, sites communautaires, etc.) et de se “mouiller” dans cette culture. Expliquer ce genre de chose fait partie de mon travail de [consultante en blogs ou spécialiste(!) de la culture en ligne](http://stephanie-booth.com) (je cherche encore et toujours un moyen concis et efficace de décrire ce que je fais…)

Ce qui suit est une description des bénéfices auxquels pourrait s’attendre un chanteur ou un musicien s’il décide d’investir dans ce média intelligemment. En fait, cet argumentaire est repris presque tel quel d’une [proposition de projet](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/martin-roell-getting-started-in-consulting-lift07/) que j’ai envoyée récemment à un client. Je le reproduis ici car il est assez général et peut à mon avis intéresser autrui.

#### Un site web facile à mettre à jour et bien référencé

Aujourd’hui, il est indispensable d’avoir un site web qui soit bien référencé et facile à garder à jour. Les outils de blog comme WordPress sont des systèmes de gestion de contenu légers et techniquement relativement faciles à manipuler.

Ils permettent à une personne n’ayant pas de compétences techniques particulières de publier et d’organiser le contenu du site et de le faire croître au fur et à mesure. Le site ainsi construit contient donc aussi bien une partie “blog” (organisée chronologiquement, qui donne en tous temps et un coup d’oeil les informations les plus fraîches) et une partie “classique” organisée hiérarchiquement (pages “contact”, “bio”, “discographie” etc.). Quelques sites construits sur ce modèle: [le blog du CRAB](http://crablog.net), [Groupe Vocal Café-Café](http://cafecafe.ch) et [Vibrations Music](http://vibrationsmusic.com).

De plus, ces outils séparent complètement le design du contenu du site: il est donc très aisé de changer la ligne graphique du site sans avoir besoin de toucher au contenu lui-même. La structure des pages est également telle qu’elle encourage un bon référencement par les moteurs de recherche (accessibilité, balisage sémantique), sans avoir recours à des techniques de SEO (“Search Engine Optimisation”) parfois douteuses.

En deux mots, gérer un site internet avec un outil de blog permet de le mettre à jour soi-même très facilement et garantit un bon placement dans les moteurs de recherche, en fonction du contenu du site bien entendu.

#### Tirer profit de la dimension sociale d’internet pour la promotion

Internet n’est pas juste une plate-forme de publication, à la différence d’un média traditionnel. C’est un lieu de vie, d’échanges, de relations, de bouche-à-oreille et de conversations. Cette dimension d’internet est souvent encore mal comprise et son importance sous-estimée. Avoir un site permettant les commentaires du public en regard des publications (une des caractéristiques du blog) est un premier pas. Il existe des également des dizaines de services, centrés ou non autour de la musique, qui permettent d’avoir un pied-à-terre virtuel dans diverses communautés en ligne. En comprenant les dynamiques sociales en jeu, on peut augmenter encore sa visibilité sur internet et lui donner une dimension plus humaine et personnelle.

Rassembler une communauté sur internet autour de soi ou de son travail ajoute un double bénéfice: la communauté est visible, ce qui peut attirer l’attention de personnes extérieures (médias traditionnels ou organisateurs d’événements) et encourager autrui à la rejoindre; d’autre part, les membres de la communauté sont eux-mêmes au centre de leur “réseau personnel”, leur propre communauté, dans laquelle ils jouent un rôle d’influenceur. Cette dynamique existe hors internet bien évidemment, mais elle est décuplée sur internet par l’absence d’obstacles géographiques et la facilité avec laquelle on peut faire circuler des informations dans le monde numérique.

#### Mettre de la musique à disposition en ligne et favoriser ainsi sa diffusion

Mettre à disposition sa musique en ligne favorise de façon générale sa diffusion, et donne l’occasion à des personnes qui ne l’auraient pas eue autrement de l’écouter et de l’apprécier. C’est la popularité d’un artiste auprès de son public qui va influencer les ventes de CD, et non le contraire. Il est donc intéressant d’une part d’utiliser internet comme véhicule ouvert de diffusion de la musique (afin d’augmenter visibilité et popularité), et également de permettre l’achat de CDs ou d’autres produits via internet, ce qui libère le public des contraintes géographiques. L’utilisation de licences adaptées ([Creative Commons](http://creativecommons.com)) permet de protéger les droits commerciaux tout en encourageant le partage et la diffusion de la musique.

Des sites comme YouTube, consacrés à la publication et au partage de vidéos, ou MySpace, ont déjà eu un impact considérable dans le lancement d’artistes, parfois avec des moyens extrêmement limités. La promotion du matériel ne coûte rien, elle est faite par le public qui lui trouve une valeur suffisante pour le partager avec son réseau.

#### Se former aux nouveaux médias afin d’être autonome et adéquat

Internet est un média (ou une collection de médias) dont une des caractéristiques principales est de contenir une dimension conversationnelle ou participative. Ces médias sont nouveaux et encore relativement mal maîtrisés en général, et ceci d’autant plus que l’on a pas eu l’occasion d’y être exposés passivement en grandissant. Ces nouveaux médias ont également comme caractéristique de remettre l’individu (avec sa personnalité propre) au centre, de favoriser le contact direct en libérant des intermédiaires, et de mettre en avant les valeurs de transparence, d’authenticité et d’honnêteté. Une formation sérieuse à l’utilisation adéquate de ces médias permettra d’en faire un usage efficace et autonome, et également d’éviter des faux-pas dûs à une méconnaissance de la culture en ligne.

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Visibility is in Feedback Loops [en]

[fr] Ce qui est populaire le reste, et devient plus populaire encore, justement parce que c'est populaire. De temps en temps un pic de visibilité se présente à  nous (comme le montre l'illustration ci-dessous). Est-ce que ceux qui sont les plus connus le sont simplement parce qu'ils proposent un menu qui convient à  la majorité, et qu'ils savent tirer avantage de ces pics pour rester la tête hors de l'eau? Est-ce vrai? Est-ce bien? Est-ce mal? Qu'en dites-vous?

Last month, I had a jump in my [Cheese Sandwich](http://steph.wordpress.com/) stats:

Traffic peak graph.

This was because the post [Get an iBook!](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/01/05/get-an-ibook/) had for some reason or another made it to the “Fastest growing weblogs” list which appears in every [Wordpress.com](http://wordpress.com/) dashboard. And it stayed stuck there. I think there was a bug or something and it got stuck there, but it might also have been a little feedback loop: what is popular becomes more popular because it is popular — I’ve discussed this briefly [regarding a photograph of mine which suddenly became ‘interesting’ in Flickr](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/12/18/split-identity-crisis/).

So, let’s first note one thing: this little peak of traffic finally had no long-term effects for me. My traffic is back down to what it was before. Sometimes a feedback loop can send you into another playground, but most times it doesn’t. So either you try to create another popularity burst, or you just keep plodding along your way.

My second thought is that popularity, visibility, fame, or whatever-you’ll-call-it mainly has to do with feedback loops. If something is very visible, you’re more likely to know about it. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I think I’m coming to accept it’s a rule of the game. But to stay in the limelight once the feedback loop has put you there, you need certain qualities. Which ones? Look at the [latest interesting photos on Flickr](http://flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/). What do they have in common?

I think you can have a great mind, great style, great many things, and still stay in the shadow if the right feedback loop doesn’t come along. Is being successful just a case of managing feedback loops and getting them to work for you? Is this bad?

I know nothing about feedback loops, actually, so what I’m saying here might very well be a lot of BS. I’ll let you decide. I’m feeling very conversational after [LIFT](http://technorati.com/search/lift06).

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