Pas capté Twitter? [fr]

[en] A round-up of the common arguments raised against Twitter: "the whole world doesn't find your breakfasting habits fascinating, you know," "what do you care that your friends are watching a football match" (totally missing what human relationships are about, and ambient intimacy), "it just inflates your ego" (hey! talking about oneself has nothing to do with the moralistic concept of "ego"), and even, "it's lame!"

Je crois que je vais commencer à recenser les “arguments” avancés par ceux qui ne “captent” pas Twitter (filez lire mon ancien billet si vous voulez [des explications sur Twitter](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/15/twitter-cest-quoi-explications/)):

#### 1- C’est pas intéressant! Ça vole pas haut! On s’en fout!

> Vous vous trouvez sur un yacht à Minorque? (c’est en Espagne, pas à Malte) Vous pensez que ca peut intéresser le monde entier?

*[Etienne Maujean](http://e-maujean.net/?p=30)*

> Parce que je ne vois pas l’intérêt pour l’ensemble du monde de savoir que :

> “Houla…chui fatigué !”

*[Thomas Bonnin](http://www.toile-filante.com/2007/03/18/la-vague-twitter-pour-ou-contre/)*

“les gens envoient des messages débiles pensant que ça intéresse le monde entier” — euh, non, je vous rassure, je ne crois pas que mon grapefruit au p’tit déj intéresse le monde entier; par contre, mettre cette info publiquement à disposition est le moyen le plus simple de m’assurer que les personnes que ça intéresse effectivement y ont accès (*pull* vs. *push*, vous vous souvenez?)

Au risque de me répéter (parce que c’est valable pour les blogs, et plutôt trois fois qu’une): **ce n’est pas parce qu’on publie quelque chose sur internet et que le monde entier *peut* le voir qu’on pense nécessairement que *ça va intéresser tout le monde*.**

#### 2- Savoir ce que font ses amis, ça avance à rien!

> Bon, les fans (un exemple ici) disent que ce service donne un aperçu de la journée type de vos proches. “Ah Jean-Marc regarde le match de foot? Moi aussi c’est rigolo!” Ca va loin.

*[Etienne Maujean](http://e-maujean.net/?p=30)*

Un seul exemple parce que j’ai la flemme de chercher plus loin, mais cet argument est régulièrement avancé par ceux qui visiblement n’ont pas pris le temps (vu ce qui précède, je ne vais pas jeter la pierre) de comprendre comment fonctionnent les relations humaines et l’intimité en particulier. Ce sont “les petites choses de la vie” qui font les gens proches. Et [l’intimité ambiante](http://www.disambiguity.com/ambient-intimacy/ “Article à lire impérativement.”) qu’apporte Twitter peut aider à garder vivants ou même renforcer les liens distendus par la distance (c’est moche ou poétique, à vous de choisir). Certains l’ont compris:

> Après d’immense réflexion (il n’a que les cons qui ne change pas d’avis) j’ai peut-être trouvé une utilité à Twitter : J’habite à quelques milliers de kilomètres de ma famille et amis et Twitter pourrait me permettre d’être un peu plus en contact avec eux.

*[Thomas Bonnin](http://www.toile-filante.com/2007/03/18/la-vague-twitter-pour-ou-contre/)*

Ou mieux (il a parfaitement pigé):

> Il est par contre indéniable que ce qui est présent est du contenu personnel. Je le vois surtout comme une sorte de construction permanente d’un background, une certaine manière de continuer à oxygéner l’atmosphère qui nous entoure entre deux absences.

*[Tam Kien Duong](http://cendres.net/websomathic/2007/03/23/33-twitter-la-diffeacuterence-entre-la-technique-et-lusage)*

#### 3- Parler de soi, c’est lustrer le poil de son ego.

Un splendide exemple de cette façon de penser chez Frédéric (que j’apprécie au passage, même s’il ne peut pas saquer Twitter):

> On aura beau dire, même si la principale fonction du web 2.0 semble être d’exacerber l’ego par ailleurs démesuré de ceux qui s’y affichent, certains services à première vue gadgets ont fini grâce aux mashups à trouver une certaine utilité. Jusqu’à l’arrivée de Twitter.

*[Frédéric de Villamil](http://fredericdevillamil.com/twitter-la-branlette-2-0)*

Attends… parler de soi, c’est de l’*ego*? Navrée, mais ça sent les grands relents de moralisme genre “les autres d’abord, et se mettre en avant c’est mal”. On a besoin de se raconter. C’est comme ça qu’on se construit, et qu’on construit *avec* autrui. Ce n’est pas de *l’ego*. Alors oui, Twitter c’est parler de soi — tout comme on parle de soi quand on va boire un pot avec un ami (enfin j’espère un peu quand même) ou quand on rédige une opinion personnelle sur son blog.

Donc merci, mon ego se porte très bien (et on sait d’ailleurs que toute cette histoire d’*ego* n’est qu’un faux problème, car ceux qui semblent en avoir le plus sont en fait ceux qui ont le plus de problèmes d’estime de soi — un peu de sympathie pour son prochain donc) et si raconter à ceux qui veulent l’entendre que [je cherche mon chat](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/52760052), que j’ai [trouvé un acheteur](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/60028912) pour ma voiture, ou que [je mange du grapefruit](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/25578041) pour le petit déjeuner, qu’est-ce que ça peut bien vous faire?

Version courte: c’est pas parce qu’on parle de soi qu’on a la tête qui passe plus les portes. Grumph.

D’ailleurs, on en revient, la preuve:

> La première fois que j’ai entendu parler de twitter j’ai trouvé ça simplement ridicule, comme une autre façon de se tripoter le nombril l’air de rien […] La morale de l’histoire : Ne jamais juger définitivement un outils avant de l’avoir utiliser et observer comment les autres s’en servent concrètement. Les objets ne sont seulement pas que ce qu’ils sont mais aussi ce qu’on en fait (et pas seulement non plus ce qu’on devrait en faire) !

*[Tam Kien Duong](http://cendres.net/websomathic/2007/03/23/33-twitter-la-diffeacuterence-entre-la-technique-et-lusage)*

#### 4- C’est nul! C’est naze!

Il y a aussi ceux qui n’essaient même pas vraiment d’argumenter, se contentant de clamer l’évidence que c’est vraiment trop nul, comme service:

> Tout le monde ne parle plus que de Twitter, “The service web 2.0″ à la mode… Mais c’est vraiment naze!

> J’ai testé l’application il y a quelques jours et j’ai vraiment mis du temps pour comprendre à quoi cela servait. De ce que j’en ai capté vous pouvez informer le monde et éventuellement vos amis (puisque c’est un réseau social) de ce que vous faite à l’instant T grâce à des phrases courtes (très courte même), sans image, sans liens. Le problème est que cela ne vole vraiment pas haut dans le genre “ah je suis fatigué” ou “je vais aller me coucher”, très intéressant donc.

*[Henri Labarre](http://www.2803.com/2007/03/16/twitter-un-service-tendance-vraiment-naze/)*

(Bon, on devine quand même un semblant de “ça intéresse pas le monde entier, vos conneries” et “savoir que ses amis vont se coucher ça n’apporte rien”. Je suis peut-être un peu dure en disant que c’est complètement dénué d’argumentation.)

#### Liens

Pour les râleurs, voyez:

– [Touiteur!](http://e-maujean.net/?p=30)
– [Twitter, la branlette 2.0](http://fredericdevillamil.com/twitter-la-branlette-2-0)
– [La vague Twitter, pour ou contre?](http://www.toile-filante.com/2007/03/18/la-vague-twitter-pour-ou-contre/)
– [Twitter un service “tendance” vraiment naze](http://www.2803.com/2007/03/16/twitter-un-service-tendance-vraiment-naze/) (certains [commentaires](http://www.2803.com/2007/03/16/twitter-un-service-tendance-vraiment-naze/#comments) valent aussi le détour)

Pour une critique constructive:

– [Is Twitter TOO good?](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/is_twitter_too_.html)

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Death Threats in the Blogosphere [en]

[fr] Kathy Sierra, blogueuse réputée, fait l'objet de menaces de mort (et d'autres menaces à caractères sexuel) laissées sur son blog et sur un ou deux autres blogs gérés par d'autres personnalités connues de la blogosphère anglo-saxonne.

A bout, elle a annulé ses conférences prévues aujourd'hui à ETech et est enfermée chez elle. Une enquête de police est en cours.

[Kathy Sierra](http://headrush.typepad.com/) is somebody whose blog posts I never miss, because they’re always really really good material, and very though-provoking. I was about to head to bed when I saw a new one of her pop up in Google Reader. Just a quick nice read before I go to bed, I thought.

[Not so.](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/13216861)

In her latest post, Kathy Sierra [reports that she has been receiving increasingly disturbing threats](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html) (death threats, and of sexual nature), to the point that she has cancelled her appearance at ETech and has locked herself up at home.

Many, many years ago, during my first year of discovering the internet, I received an e-mail containing quite graphicly described rape threats. I received two e-mails in total. The e-mails were anonymous, but it seemed clear from the wording that the person sending them knew at least something about who I was. They were for me, not a random send.

I started suspecting all my online friends, wondering which one of them was the nasty e-mail sender. I wasn’t too worried as I had been very secretive about my name and exact location at the time, but still — it was *not a nice feeling at all*. A few days, later, through an abuse complaint to Hotmail and a little sleuthing on my part, I managed to find out who it was. I played dead, nothing else happened, I left it at that and life went on, with no particularly averse consequences for me.

In this case, the threats Kathy has been getting have been left in the comments of her blog, or even published on other blogs managed by known names in the blogosphere.

> For the last four weeks, I’ve been getting death threat comments on this blog. But that’s not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs… blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers. People you’ve probably heard of.

Kathy, being her smart self, perfectly understands how threats like those she received do their damage.

> Most of all, I now fully understand the impact of death threats. It really doesn’t make much difference whether the person intends to act on the threat… it’s the threat itself that inflicts the damage. It’s the threat that makes you question whether that “anonymous” person is as disturbed as their comments and pictures suggest.

> It’s the threat that causes fear.

> It’s the threat that leads you to a psychiatrist and tranquilizers just so you can sleep without repeating the endless loop of your death by:

> * throat slitting
> * hanging
> * suffocation
> and don’t forget the sexual part…

> I have cancelled all speaking engagements.

> I am afraid to leave my yard.

> I will never feel the same. I will never be the same.

Unfortunately, understanding how it works is not helping her alleviate the damaging effects of those horrible threats.

Was all this intentional? Was this somebody (or a group-effect) taking “play” too far without realising they had crossed a line into (a) illegal and (b) really damaging behaviour?

I don’t know the people involved here — neither directly, nor really indirectly. I’m not sure who sides with who, who hates or despises who, or what the history is. Reading Kathy’s post gives some ideas, but no real answers. I sincerely hope the person/people behind this are found out. What’s going on here is utterly unacceptable.

And Kathy, hang in there. We want to see you back amongst us.

Selected posts on the topic (updated as comes):

– [Way Way Over the Edge](http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2007/03/26/Kathy-Sierra) by Tim Bray
– [What is Wrong with Internet People? (or: Kathy Sierra vs. the Internet Creeps)](http://accordionguy.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/26/2837202.html) (and also [The Downside of Having a Web Presence (or: Kathy Sierra vs. the Anonymous Web Thugs)](http://globalnerdy.com/?p=497)) by Joey deVilla
– [Death Threats Against Bloggers](http://maryamie.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!9592F3DEF41537A3!3314.entry) by Maryam Scoble
– [This is Unacceptable](http://www.crunchnotes.com/?p=377) by Michael Arrington
– [Thank you Kathy Sierra, and Best Wishes!](http://geekularity.com/2007/03/26/thank-you-kathy-sierra-and-best-wishes/) by Sean Osteen
– [Taking the Week Off](http://scobleizer.com/2007/03/26/taking-the-week-off/) by Robert Scoble (how much of this is a knee-jerk reaction? I personally don’t think it’s a good idea) **Update: check out [How Awful](http://www.docuverse.com/blog/donpark/2007/03/27/how-awful).**
– [Kathy Sierra Death Threats](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/kathy_sierra_de.html) by Stowe Boyd (with some insider info)
– [Kathy Sierra Getting Death Threats, Internet Reaches New Low](http://www.tinyscreenfuls.com/2007/03/kathy-sierra-getting-death-threats-internet-reaches-new-low/) by Josh Bancroft
– [Patriarchy exists and we’re kicking its ass](http://liz-henry.blogspot.com/2007/03/patriarchy-exists-and-we-kicking-its.html) by Liz Henry
– [Disappointed](http://burningbird.net/connecting/disappointed/) by Shelley Powers (**context here!** *Yes, Shelley, some of us would really like more of this context thing…*)
– [Creating Passionate Users: Death threats against bloggers are NOT](http://student.johnpdaigle.com/blog/?p=55) by John P. Daigle
– [Blogger Gets Death Threats](http://www.lastpodcast.net/2007/03/26/blogger-gets-death-threats-2/) by Frederic (comment on blogohysteria, the [blogmob I’m just noticing now](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/13328601))
– [Misogyny and anonymity](http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/03/misogyny_and_an.html) by Seth Godin
– [Death and rape threats are criminal](http://epeus.blogspot.com/2007/03/death-and-rape-threats-are-criminal.html) by Kevin Marks (more background information here)
– [Mere Anarchy](http://listics.com/20070326984) by Frank Paynter (background on unclebob and meankids from one who set them up)
– “Joey” comments on Kathy’s blog: [one](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64459820), [two](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64463926), [three](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64466218), [four](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64468260), [five](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64468722); does this shed light on some horrible misunderstanding, or are they just [lies](http://listics.com/20070326984#comment-22231)? See also [Brent’s response to the first comment](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64460850).
– [Safe havens for hate speech are irresponsible](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/03/26/safe_havens_for.html) by danah boyd
– [It’s Awful. Yes.](http://www.minjungkim.com/2007/03/26/it%e2%80%99s-awful-yes/) by MJ (about harassment)
– [re Kathy Sierra’s allegations](http://www.rageboy.com/2007/03/re-kathy-sierras-allegations.html), by Chris Locke (his side of the story)
– [Mind Killer](http://loud.anotherquietday.com/post/375846) by Baldur
– [Memo to Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke: Shut Up](http://www.enterpriseweb2.com/?p=222) by Jerry Bowles
– [Women as targets of violence online](http://cravingideas.blogs.com/backinskinnyjeans/2007/03/one_of_my_favor.html) by Stephanie Quilao
– [The threats of death and sexual assualt](http://www.ericrice.com/blog/?p=471) by Eric Rice
– [The Unsinkable Kathy Sierra](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/03/27/the-unsinkable-kathy-sierra/) by Tara Hunt who has first-hand information
– [In defense of Chris Locke](http://valleywag.com/tech/take-two/in-defense-of-chris-locke-247414.php) by Nick Denton (a bit ironic IMHO as the first VW post contributed to putting Locke’s role forward)
– [Was Kathy Sierra’s Life Threatened?](http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/2007/03/was_kathy_sierr.html) by Lewis Green
– [Anonymity, Interpellation, Truth, Ignorance, and the Stakes](http://akma.disseminary.org/archives/2007/03/anonymity_inter.html) by AKMA
– [Are Scoble & Sierra Wrong To Stop Blogging?](http://www.psfk.com/2007/03/are_scoble_sier.html) by Piers Fawkes
– [A message to the techblogging elite](http://michellemalkin.com/archives/007191.htm) by Michelle Malkin
– [Getting past the bottom of What Went Wrong](http://doc.weblogs.com/2007/03/27#gettingPastTheBottomOfWhatWentWrong) by Doc Searls
– [I had Death Threats in High School](http://chris.pirillo.com/2007/03/26/i-had-death-threats-in-high-school/) by Chris Pirillo
– [Alan Herrell on The Meankids Mess](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/alan_herrell_on.html) by Stowe Boyd (Alan Herrell reports being victim of identity theft)
– [Kathy Sierra interview in MacWorld](http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/03/28/deaththreats/)
– [The Sierra Saga Part 1: Dissecting the Creation of the Kathy Sierra Blog Storm](http://www.onebyonemedia.com/the-sierra-saga-part-1-dissecting-the-creation-of-the-kathy-sierra-blog-storm-4/) and [The Sierra Saga Part 2: Big Bad Bob and the Lull Before the Kathy Sierra Blog Storm](http://www.onebyonemedia.com/the-sierra-saga-part-2-big-bad-bob-and-the-lull-before-the-kathy-sierra-blog-storm/) by Jim Turner (good account of the facts so far, exact as far as I can say)
– [Intention, pain and webs](http://interimtom.blogspot.com/2007/03/intention-pain-and-webs.html) by Tom Matrullo (background info on meankids.org by a contributor)
– actually, [head off to Google Blogsearch](http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=%22kathy+sierra%22) or [Technorati](http://technorati.com/search/%22kathy%20sierra%22) for the latest.

**Update:** a little information about the [background to meankids and unclebob](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html#c64438992) can be found on the blog linked to in this comment (look through the February archive too).

**Update, 28 March 2007:** please read my second post on this topic too — [Disturbed About Reactions to Kathy Sierra’s Post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/27/disturbed-about-reactions-to-kathy-sierras-post/).

**Update, 30 March 2007:** for various reasons, I need to take a little distance from this whole sad affair (reasons like: not letting issues that do not concern me directly eat me up — and don’t make me say what I haven’t said with this, thanks). If I do bump into interesting links, I’ll keep adding them here, but please don’t expect this to be a complete list. It never was intended to. And it’s going to get spottier.

– (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=business&id=5165663)
– [Kathy Sierra—When Blogs Attack](http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/3/30/04025/8283) — with a poll
– [Not looking for sympathy or anything](http://www.scripting.com/stories/2007/03/29/notLookingForSympathyOrAny.html) by Dave Winer: Everyone played a role in this, the people who stopped blogging, the people who threatened their friends, the people who called it a gang rape, and yes indeed, the mean kids. But they’ve paid enough. It’s time to welcome them back into the blogging world, and in a few weeks, ask them to reflect on what they learned. These are all intelligent and creative people, who have acted badly. But they didn’t deserve what they got.
– [In the Matter of Kathy Sierra](http://ronnibennett.typepad.com/weblog/2007/03/the_matter_of_k.html) by Ronni Bennett
– [It’s all about Control](http://burningbird.net/ethics/its-all-about-control/) by Shelley Powers
– [I Own my Own Words, indeed](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/03/31/i-own-my-own-words-indeed/) by Tara Hunt (apology re [here](http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/28/BUG0MOSR8R1.DTL))
– [Kathy Sierra, Meet Chris Locke. This is CNN.](http://accordionguy.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/31/2848594.html) by Joey deVilla (Monday 6-9 Eastern)
– [Just a Few Words](http://allied.blogspot.com/2007/03/just-few-words.html) by Jeneane Sessum
– [Coordinated Statements on the Recent Events](http://www.rageboy.com/statements-sierra-locke.html) by Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke: Kathy Sierra and I (Chris Locke) agreed to publish these statements in advance of the story which will appear tomorrow (Monday 2 April 2007) on CNN, sometime between 6 and 9am on “CNN American Morning.” As used in the somewhat Victorian title slug, above, “coordinated” is meant to signal our joint effort to get this stuff online, not that we co-wrote the material you see here, or had any hand in prompting or editing each other’s words. We hope something new comes through in these statements, and that they will perhaps suggest more creative ways of approaching the kind of debate that has been generated around “the recent events” they relate to.

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Getting Things Done: It's Just About Stress [en]

[fr] Getting Things Done: non pas un moyen d'accomplir plus de choses, mais un moyen de passer moins de temps sur ce qu'on a décidé qu'on devait accomplir. Moins de stress. Plus de liberté. Plus de temps à soi.

Anne seems to have struck a chord with [thing #8 she hates about web 2.0](http://annezelenka.com/2007/03/ten-things-i-hate-about-you-web-20):

> Getting Things Done. The productivity virus so many of us have been infected with in 2006 and 2007. Let’s move on. Getting lots of stuff done is not the way to achieve something important. You could be so busy planning next actions that you miss out on what your real contribution should be.

[Stowe](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/anne_zelenka_on_1.html), [Shelley](http://burningbird.net/linkers/linkers/) and [Ken](http://ipadventures.com/?p=1653) approve.

It’s funny, but reading their posts makes GTD sound like “a way to do an even more insane number of things.”

Huh?

That’s not at all the impression I got when I read and started using GTD. To me, GTD is “a solution to finally be able to enjoy free time without feeling bogged down by a constant feeling of guilt over everything I should already have done.”

Maybe not everyone has issues doing things. If you don’t have trouble getting stuff out of the way, then throw GTD out of the window and continue enjoying life. You don’t need it.

But for many people, procrastination, administrivia piling up, not-enough-time-for-stuff-I-enjoy-doing and commitments you know you’re not going to be able to honour are a reality, and a reality that is a source of stress. I, for one, can totally relate to:

> Most people have been in some version of this mental stress state so consistently, for so long, that they don’t even know they’re in it. Like gravity, it’s ever-present–so much so that those who experience it usually aren’t even aware of the pressure. The only time most of them will realize how much tension they’ve been under is when they get rid of it and notice how different it feels.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

GTD, as I understand it, isn’t about cramming more on your plate. It’s about freeing yourself of what’s already on it, doing the dishes straight after the meal and spending your whole afternoon walking by the lake with a friend without this nagging feeling that you should rather be at home dealing with the paperwork, but you just don’t want to face it.

Here are the very few sentences of “Welcome to *Getting Things Done*”, the forward to GTD (and yeah, there’s a bit of an upbeat, magical-recipe tone to it, but bear with me):

> Welcome to a gold mine of insights into strategies for how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort. If you’re like me, you like getting things done and doing them well, and yet you also want to savor life in ways that seem increasingly elusive if not downright impossible if you’re working too hard.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

And a bit further down the page:

> And *whatever* you’re doing, you’d probably like to be more relaxed, confident that whatever you’re doing at the moment is just what you need to be doing–that having a beer with your staff after hours, gazing at your sleeping child in his or her crib at midnight, answering the e-mail in front of you, or spending a few informal minutes with the potential new client after the meeting is exactly what you *ought* to be doing, as you’re doing it.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

I don’t hear anything in there about “doing more things is better” or “you should be doing things all the time”. The whole point of GTD is to get **rid** of stuff so that it’s done and you can then go off to follow your heart’s desire. It’s about deciding not to do stuff way before you reach the point where it’s been on your to-do list stressing you for six months, and you finally decide to write that e-mail and say “sorry, can’t”.

That frees your mind and your calendar for what is really important in your life (be it twittering your long-distance friends, taking photographs of cats, spending time with people you love or working on your change-the-world project).

You’ll notice that I didn’t use the word “productivity” in this post a single time. “Productivity” is a word businesses like. If people are “productive”, it means you get to squeeze more out of them for the same price. That isn’t an idea I like. But being “productive” can also simply be understood to mean that it takes you less time to do the things that you’ve decided you needed to do. In that way, yes, GTD is a productivity method. But I think that calling it that does it disservice, because people hear “squeezing more out of ya for the same $$$” and go “eek, more stress”.

Bottom line? (I like ending posts with bottom lines.) If you see GTD as something that takes away your freedom and free time, turns you into an even worse workaholic, and encourages you to become indiscriminate about interests you pursue and tasks you take on because you “can do everything”, think again — and re-read the book. If you spend your whole time fiddling with your GTD system, shopping around for another cool app to keep your next action lists in, and worrying about how to make it even more efficient, you’re missing the point. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

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English Only: Barrier to Adoption [en]

*Foreword: this turned into a rather longer post than I had expected. The importance of language and localization online is one of my pet topics (I’ve just decided that it would be what I’d [talk about at BlogCamp](http://barcamp.ch/BlogCampSwitzerland#unAgenda), rather than teenagers and stuff), so I do tend to get carried away a little.*

I was surprised last night to realise that this wasn’t necessarily obvious — so I think it’s probably worth a blog post.

**The fact a service is in English only is a showstopper for many non-native speakers, hence a barrier to wider adoption in Europe.**

But doesn’t everybody speak English, more or less? Isn’t it the *lingua franca* of today that **everybody** speaks? It isn’t. At least not in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’m certain there are many other places in Europe where the situation is similar.

Come and spend a little time in Lausanne, for example, and try communicating in English with the man on the street. Even if many people have done a couple of years of English at school, most have never had any use for it after that and have promptly forgotten it. German is a way more important “foreign language” around here, as it is the linguistic majority in Switzerland, and most administrative centers of big companies (and the government) are in the German-speaking part of the country (which doesn’t mean that everybody speaks German, either).

The people who are reasonably comfortable with English around here will most often be those who have taken up higher academic studies, particularly in scientific subjects (“soft” and “hard” science alike).

And if I’m the person who comes to your mind when you think “Swiss”, think again — my father is British, I was born in England, went to an English medium school and spoke English at home until I was 8, conversed regularly with English-speaking grandparents during my growing years, and never stopped reading in English: all that gave me enough of a headstart that even though my English had become very rusty at the end of my teens, I dove into the English-speaking internet with a passion, and spent an anglophone [year in India](/logbook/). So, no. I’m not your average Lausanne-living French-speaker. I’m a strange bilingual beast.

Imagine somebody whose native language is not English, even though they may theoretically know enough English to get around if you parachuted them into London. (Let’s forget about the man on the street who barely understands you when you ask where the station is.) I like to think of [my (step-)sister](http://isablog.wordpress.com/) as a good test-case (not that I want to insist on the “step-“, but it explains why she isn’t bilingual). She took up the “modern languages” path at school, which means she did German, English, and Italian during her teenage years, and ended up being quite proficient in all three (she’s pretty good with languages). She went to university after that and used some English during her studies. But since then, she honestly hasn’t had much use for the language. She’ll read my blog in English, can converse reasonably comfortably, but will tend to watch the TV series I lend her in the dubbed French version.

I’m telling you this to help paint a picture of somebody which you might (legitimately) classify as “speaks English”, but for whom it represents an extra effort. And again, I’d like to insist, my sister would be very representative of most people around here who “speak English but don’t use it regularly at work”. That is already not representative of the general population, who “did a bit of English at school but forgot it all” and can barely communicate with the lost English-speaking tourist. Oh, and forget about the teenagers: they start English at school when they’re 13, and by the time they’re 15-16 they *might* (if they are lucky) have enough knowledge of it to converse on everyday topics (again: learning German starts a few years before that, and is more important in the business world). This is the state of “speaking English” around here.

A service or tool which is not available in French faces a barrier to adoption in the *Suisse Romande* on two levels:

– first of all, there are people who simply don’t know enough English to understand what’s written on the sign-up page;
– second, there are people who would understand most of what’s on the sign-up page, but for whom it represents and extra effort.

Let’s concentrate on the second batch. An *extra effort”?! Lazy people! Think of it. All this talk about making applications more usable, about optimizing the sign-up process to make it so painless that people can do it with their eyes closed? Well, throw a page in a foreign language at most normal people and they’ll perceive it as an extra difficulty. And it may very well be the one that just makes them navigate away from the page and never come back. Same goes for using the service or application once they have signed up: it makes everything more complicated, and people anticipate that.

Let’s look at some examples.

The first example isn’t exactly about a web service or application, but it shows how important language is for the adoption of new ideas (this isn’t anything groundbreaking if you look at human history, but sometimes the web seems to forget that the world hasn’t changed that much…). Thanks for bearing with me while I ramble on.

In February 2001, I briefly mentioned [the WaSP Browser Push](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/16/to-hell-with-bad-browsers/) and realised that the French-speaking web was really [“behind” on design and web standards ressources](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/13/poor-french-web/). I also realised that although [there was interest for web standards](http://mammouthland.free.fr/weblog/2001/fevrier_01.php3), many French-speaking people couldn’t read the original English material. This encouraged me to [blog in French about it](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/24/tableaux-ou-non/), [translate Zeldman’s article](http://pompage.net/pompe/paitre/), [launching](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/03/21/faire-part/) the translation site [pompage.net](http://pompage.net/) in the process. Pompage.net, and the [associated mailing-list](http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/pompeurs/), followed a year or so later by [OpenWeb](http://openweb.eu.org/), eventually became a hub for the budding francophone web standards community, which is still very active to this day.

([What happened with the Swiss Blog Awards](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/04/30/about-the-swiss-blog-awards-sbaw/) is in my opinion another example of how important language issues are.)

Back to web applications proper. [Flickr](http://flickr.com) is an application I love, but I have a hard time getting people to sign up and use it, even when I’ve walked them through the lengthy Yahoo-ID process. [WordPress.com](http://fr.wordpress.com), on the other hand, exists in French, and I can now easily persuade my friends and clients to open blogs there. There is a strong [French-speaking WordPress community](http://wordpress-fr.net/) too. A few years ago, when the translation and support were not what they are now, a very nice little blogging tool named [DotClear](http://www.dotclear.net/) became hugely popular amongst francophone bloggers (and it still is!) in part because it was in French when other major blogging solutions were insufficient in that respect.

Regarding WordPress, I’d like to point out the [community-driven translation effort](http://translate.wordpress.com/) to which everybody can contribute. Such an open way of doing things has its pitfalls (like dreadful, dreadful translations which linger on the home page until somebody comes along to correct them) but overall, I think the benefits outweigh the risks. In almost no time, dozens of localized versions can be made available, maintained by those who know the language best.

Let’s look at teenagers. When [MySpace](http://myspace.com) was all that was being talked about in the US, French-speaking teenagers were going wild on [skyblog](http://skyblog.com). MySpace is catching up a bit now because it [also exists in French](http://fr.myspace.com/). [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/)? In English, nobody here has heard of it. [Live Messenger aka MSN](http://www.windowslive.fr/messenger/default.asp)? Very much in French, [unlike ICQ](http://icq.com/), which is only used here by anglophile early adopters.

[Skype](http://skype.com/intl/fr/) and [GMail](http://gmail.com)/[GTalk](http://www.google.com/talk/intl/fr/) are really taking off here now that they are available in French.

Learning to use a new service, or just trying out the latest toy, can be challenging enough an experience for the average user without adding the extra hurdle of having to struggle with an unfamiliar language. Even though a non-localized service like Flickr may be the home to [various linguistic groups](http://www.flickr.com/groups/topic/69039/), it’s important to keep in mind that their members will tend to be the more “anglophone” of this language group, and are not representative.

**The bottom line is that even with a lot of encouragement, most local people around here are not going to use a service which doesn’t talk to them in their language.**

***9:52 Afterthought credit:***

I just realised that this article on [why startups condense in America](http://www.paulgraham.com/america.html) was the little seed planted a few days ago which finally brought me to writing this post. I haven’t read all the article, but this little part of it struck me and has been working in the background ever since:

> What sustains a startup in the beginning is the prospect of getting their initial product out. The successful ones therefore make the first version as simple as possible. In the US they usually begin by making something just for the local market.

> This works in America, because the local market is 300 million people. It wouldn’t work so well in Sweden. In a small country, a startup has a harder task: they have to sell internationally from the start.

> The EU was designed partly to simulate a single, large domestic market. The problem is that the inhabitants still speak many different languages. So a software startup in Sweden is still at a disadvantage relative to one in the US, because they have to deal with internationalization from the beginning. It’s significant that the most famous recent startup in Europe, Skype, worked on a problem that was intrinsically international.

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The Shadow IT Department (and Shadow HR) [en]

[fr] Un article qui montre du doigt un nécessaire changement de mentalité dans les départements IT: nombre des outils que les employés utilisent pour améliorer leur productivité ont en fait été introduits de façon "sauvage". Vouloir tout contrôler à tout prix n'est pas la meilleure solution.

Here’s a very interesting piece I picked up in [Bruno’s links](http://www.lunchoverip.com/2007/02/links_for_20070_8.html): [Users Who Know Too Much (And the CIOs Who Fear Them)](http://www.cio.com/archive/021507/fea_user_mgmt.html?action=print). It talks about the chasm between what technology IT departments make available, and what tools employees install and use behind the IT department’s back to be more productive at work.

> And that disconnect is fundamental. Users want IT to be responsive to their individual needs and to make them more productive. CIOs want IT to be reliable, secure, scalable and compliant with an ever increasing number of government regulations. Consequently, when corporate IT designs and provides an IT system, manageability usually comes first, the user’s experience second. But the shadow IT department doesn’t give a hoot about manageability and provides its users with ways to end-run corporate IT when the interests of the two groups do not coincide.

> “Employees are looking to enhance their efficiency,” says André Gold, director of information security at Continental Airlines. “People are saying, ‘I need this to do my job.’” But for all the reasons listed above, he says, corporate IT usually ends up saying no to what they want or, at best, promising to get to it…eventually. In the interim, users turn to the shadow IT department.

I remember that when I used to work at Orange, many of my most useful tools were things I “wasn’t allowed” to have on my computer. I also remember that when [I got really bad RSI](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/10/20/hiatus-repetitive-strain-injury/) and [using dictation software](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/10/31/trying-dictation-software/) was the only way to get me back to work, the IT department flat-out refused our request for [Dragon](http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/). (Somebody actually said that if I couldn’t type anymore, they should just get rid of me.) My boss had to have a chat with somebody else’s boss to finally have the program installed on my computer.

The bit that actually prompted me to write this post is the comparison with the way HR organises the company:

> For example, a similar dynamic has long played out in HR. A company’s employees have titles and reporting relationships that give their work a formal structure. But at the same time every company has an informal structure determined by expertise, interpersonal relationships, work ethic, overall effectiveness and so on. Companies suffer when HR is out of phase with the informal structure. Employees are demoralized when the formal architecture elevates someone at the bottom of the informal architecture, and people who occupy the top spots in the informal architecture leave when they aren’t recognized by the formal one. Good HR departments know where employees stand in both the formal and informal architectures and balance the two.

A few months ago, I was giving a talk on blogs (etc.) to a bunch of Internal Communications people, and one of my points was that there *is* an informal structure inside the company (the value of which is in fact recognized by the companies, who will invest in “teambuilding” or “recreation” activities to encourage transversal communication), and that use of tools like blogs can help make this structure more visible and efficient. (Think [Cluetrain, these 50](http://www.cluetrain.com/book/95-theses.html).)

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Biofrais: ça suffit! [en]

09.01.2007: Le responsable de Biofrais a partagé avec moi son inquiétude quant aux répercussions négatives que cet article pouvait avoir sur son commerce. Je voudrais préciser que le mécontentement que j’exprime ici concerne uniquement la politique éditoriale du site internet. Je ne me prononce aucunement sur les produits vendus ou la qualité de l’entreprise en tant que telle, que je ne connais pas. Je n’ai pas non plus de griefs personnels à l’encontre du responsable de cette entreprise, outre l’épisode relaté ici.

Il y a quelque jours, je tombe sur [cet article](http://biofrais.com/Second-Life-est-un-monde-virtuel-_a1838.html) qui reprenait sans autre forme de procès [mon billet d’introduction à Second Life](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/12/second-life-cest-quoi/). Oui, je publie mes articles sous un [contrat Creative Commons](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/fr/), mais en l’occurence l’article en question ne citait pas nom nom et se contentait d’un vague lien vers la page principale de mon site.

J’ai laissé le commentaire suivant:

>J’apprécie l’intérêt que vous portez à mon article.

>Cependant, je vous demanderais de bien vouloir indiquer que le texte que vous
reproduisez ici est une citation. Je ne suis pas une contributrice à votre
site. Ce serait aussi sympa d’indiquer la source précise de l’article:

>http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/12/second-life-cest-quoi/

>De plus, selon les termes de la licence CC-by-sa-nd sous laquelle est mis à
disposition mon contenu, je vous demanderais de bien vouloir indiquer
clairement (en utilisant mon nom) que je suis l’auteur de ce texte.

>Merci d’avance!

J’ai également posté [dans le forum](http://biofrais.com/index.php?action=forum&subaction=message&id_chambre=2398&id_sujet=26476) un message expliquant que ce n’était pas moi qui avais contribué l’article en question (effacé depuis).

Suite à mon commentaire, je reçois une réponse de l’administrateur du site Biofrais:

> c est fait steph a+;)

Je vais vérifier: en gros, mon prénom a remplacé l’URL de mon site (“Rédigé par Stephanie”) et un lien (cassé) vers mon article a été rajouté. Mon commentaire a été supprimé.

J’ai envoyé à l’administrateur le message suivant par e-mail, que j’ai aussi republié en commentaire et dans le forum:

> Merci d’avoir réagi!

>Cependant, je reste un peu mal à l’aise avec ce procédé. Pourquoi
reproduire du contenu (en le sabrant, puisque sans la photo une partie
du texte perd son sens) plutôt que de faire un lien vers ce contenu?

>Je préférerais nettement que la personne qui a contribué l’article
écrive un bref texte d’introduction, cite une partie de mon article,
et fasse un lien. (D’ailleurs, votre lien vers mon article est cassé
— il y a un http:// de trop)

>Je ne connais pas votre site, je n’ai aucune idée de ce que vous
faites, et je suis également un peu mal à l’aise de me retrouver citée
comme “rédactrice” chez vous alors que je ne vous connais ni d’Eve ni
d’Adam 😉

>Je serais nettement plus comfortable si vous citiez une partie de mon
article (clairement indiqué comme citation) avec un bref texte
d’introduction et un lien. Je suis ouverte à d’autres propositions
bien entendu.

> (Dommage d’avoir enlevé mon premier commentaire, il permettait quand même de
donner un peu de contexte, et du coup les lecteurs arrivant en cours de route
et ne lisant que celui-ci vont être un peu perdus… Voyez le forum, si
jamais.)

Suite à ce message, le lendemain, l’article a été raccourci et le lien vers mon billet réparé. J’ai reçu un autre message de l’administrateur de Biofrais:

> c etait juste une facon de faire connaitre a mon reseau le second life pas de m approprier le texte ni l article je m en oocupe de suite 🙂 bonne fête

Suivi quelques minutes plus tard d’un deuxième message:

> D ailleur second life j y ai rien compris tout est en anglais j ai un pote qui m en a parler
ca me semble compliquer en plus qu elle avenir pensez vous a ce sujet
si vous aviez une video ou vous expliquiez le fonctionnement je pourrais l herberger et faire une redirection vers vous car j ai essayer d ouvrir un compte sur second life c est payant et je comprend pas vraiment pas le but de ce truc en plus le fn et reuters si trouve j ai un pote qui ma dit qu il vendais de la biere virtuel qu elle idée …

Mon deuxième commentaire a bien entendu été supprimé. En allant dans le forum, je constate que mes deux articles ont été supprimés également. Je laisse un message exprimant mon étonnement face à la disparition systématique de mes “contributions” au site.

En retournant plus tard au forum, je me trouve face à un pop-up me disant que mon quota d’accès journalier est dépassé. Une fois la page chargée, un message m’indique que mon adresse IP a été bannie. Problème avec le site? Je vous laisse juge, on ne peut que faire des suppositions.

Mon dernier message sur le forum a été tronqué pour ne laisser que la phrase introductive “je vous remercie encore de votre intérêt”.

Inutile de dire que je trouve cette façon de faire déplaisante au plus haut point. En regardant le site de Biofrais, on a l’impression que j’ai contribué un article, et que je remercie ensuite gentiment le monde de l’intérêt qu’on lui porte. Ce n’est pas vrai. Tous les commentaires que j’ai laissés sur [l’article](http://biofrais.com/Second-Life-est-un-monde-virtuel-_a1838.html) ou le [forum](http://biofrais.com/index.php?action=forum&subaction=message&id_chambre=2398&id_sujet=26476) ont été systématiquement effacés, voire pire — édités pour en changer le sens.

Heureusement, je peux quelque peu rectifier le tir ici pour mes lecteurs. Par contre, je doute qu’il me soit possible de mettre un lien vers cet article sur le site de Biofrais.

**Edit:** étant bannie du forum, j’ai voulu publier le commentaire suivant sur l’article. Je suis visiblement bannie là-bas aussi. Je viens donc d’envoyer le commentaire par e-mail à l’administrateur en lui demandant de le rajouter à son site, et lui signalant que sa politique éditoriale est franchement déplaisante. (Oui, je peux être méchamment revendicatrice dans des situations comme celle-ci.)

> Je n’apprécie pas du tout la façon dont vous censurez systématiquement mes propos sur votre site — ou pire, les éditez afin d’en changer le sens (comme le commentaire tronqué qui demeure dans votre forum). Je ne sais pas si suis bannie de publier dans votre forum par erreur ou si c’est volontaire de votre part, mais dans l’impossibilité de publier là-bas, je vais laisser mon commentaire ici. Je vous prie de vous abstenir de l’effacer.

>Voici [les commentaires effacés et ma réaction à vos pratiques](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/28/biofrais-ca-suffit/).

**Edit, 10h05:** réaction à mon e-mail…

> Bonjour stephanie,
> je fais la promotion de second life et de voàtre site et vous vous servez de mon site pour casser du sucre sur moi bon comme c est comme ca merci d eviter mon site et dailleur l article sera detruit .

> Merci

Nous noterons tout de même que pour ce qui est de la promotion de mon site, l’article en question compte 165 lectures à ce jour (dont une bonne vingtaine de moi-même, probablement).

**Edit, 10h40**

Vous noterez que l’article original a bien été effacé et [remplacé](http://biofrais.com/C-est-quoi-second-life-_a1838.html) par [un autre “pompage”](http://secondlife.com/whatis/) (avec photo cette fois). Voici [l’article tel qu’il était ce matin](http://climbtothestars.org/files/biofrais-sl.png).

**Edit, 10h46**

Oh, puis pendant qu’on y est, voici une [saisie d’écran du fil dans le forum](http://climbtothestars.org/files/forum-biofrais.png).

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

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

Je viens de finir de lire ce fascinant interview de [danah boyd](http://www.danah.org/) et [Henry Jenkins](http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/) au sujet des [adolescents et d’Internet](http://www.danah.org/papers/MySpaceDOPA.html), intitulé “MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA).” Si vous travaillez de près ou de loin avec des adolescents, ou si vous êtes parent d’adolescent, prenez vingt minutes pour le lire. ([PDF pour imprimer.](http://www.danah.org/papers/MySpaceDOPA.pdf)) Voici les passages qui me parlent le plus, avec quelques commentaires. La mise en évidence est de moi. (Avertissement: tartine ahead.)

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

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

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

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

(danah)

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

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

(danah)

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

(danah)

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> The media often reference a [Crimes Against Children report](http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/jvq/CV38.pdf) that states one in five children receive a sexual solicitation online. A careful reading of this report shows that 76% of the unwanted solicitations came from fellow children. This includes unwanted date requests and sexual taunts from fellow teens. Of the adult solicitations, 96% are from people 18-25; wanted and unwanted solicitations are both included. In other words, if an 18 year old asks out a 17 year old and both consent, this would still be seen as a sexual solicitation. Only 10% of the solicitations included a request for a physical encounter; most sexual solicitations are for cybersex. While the report shows that a large percentage of youth are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences online, there is no discussion of how many are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences at school, in the local shopping mall or through other mediated channels like telephone.

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

> The fear of predators has regularly been touted as a reason to restrict youth from both physical and digital publics. Yet, as Barry Glassner notes in [The Culture of Fear](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465014909/apophenia-20), predators help distract us from more statistically significant molesters. Youth are at far greater risk of abuse in their homes and in the homes of their friends than they ever are in digital or physical publics.

(danah)

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

(danah)

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

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

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

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

(Henry)

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

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

> […]

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

Voilà. J’ai fait un peu plus de traduction libre que ce que j’avais prévu, et peut-être un peu moins de commentaire — mais la plupart des citations parlent d’elles-mêmes. J’espère que vous aurez trouvé intéressant ce que disent ces deux chercheurs, [danah boyd](http://www.danah.org/) et [Henry Jenkins](http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/). A nouveau, je ne peux que vous encourager à [lire l’interview en entier](http://www.danah.org/papers/MySpaceDOPA.html) si vous travaillez avec des adolescents. Si l’anglais est un obstacle infranchissable pour vous, la [traduction Google](http://google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.danah.org%2Fpapers%2FMySpaceDOPA.html&langpair=en%7Cfr&hl=en&ie=UTF8) peut vous aider.

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De l'inutilité des blogs [fr]

[en] A local editor/journalist wrote an article in which he basically says blogs are useless noise. My reactions to some of the (IMHO) unfair attacks he makes towards blogs.

Dans son article [Bloghorrée saisonnière](http://www.commentaires.com/articles-290.html “Lire l’article de Philippe Barraud.”), [Philippe Barraud](http://www.commentaires.com/editeur.html “Présentation de notre éditeur.”) lance un certain nombre d’attaques à  mon sens injustifiées contre les blogs. Impossible de rester de marbre, je sors mon clavier et réagis. Je n’ai pas la prétention de convaincre M. Barraud de quoi que ce soit, mais le processus produira peut-être un billet intéressant pour mes lecteurs.

Ce n’est en tout cas pas un journal intime, puisque par définition il n’est pas intime, mais mis à  la disposition de la planète entière. Enfin, théoriquement. Pauvre planète, qui devrait subir chaque jour les états d’âme ou les soucis intestinaux de 50 millions de blogueurs!

L’auteur ne fait ici pas bien mieux que la presse romande dont il critique plus haut la lenteur et les grosses ficelles. Si un blog n’est pas intime, c’est uniquement parce qu’il est exposé sur internet? Ça ne pourrait pas être (grands dieux non!) parce que les blogueurs ne parlent justement pas de leurs états d’ame ou soucis intestinaux?

[MEL](http://www.michel-edouard-leclerc.com/content/xml/fr_home.xml “Le blog du patron de Leclerc”), [LLM](http://loiclemeur.com/france/ “Le blog de Loïc, qu’on ne présente plus.”), [Giussani](http://giussani.typepad.com/ “Bruno Giussani.”), [Scoble](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com “Robert Scoble, blogueur officiel de Microsoft.”), ils nous parlent de leurs troubles digestifs? [Raph](http://www.bonpourtonpoil.ch/ “Le blog bon pour ton poil. Humour caustique, régulièrement.”), [Eolas](http://maitre.eolas.free.fr/ “Journal d’un avocat.”), [Marc-O](http://marc-o.net/ “Le blog de Marc-Olivier Peyer.”), ou encore [Random Acts of Reality](http://randomreality.blogware.com/ “Journal d’un ambulancier londonien.”), ce n’est rien d’autre que des états d’âme?

Certes, je mentionne ici des blogs “populaires”, avec des lecteurs, et tout. Alors deux choses:

– il y a des blogs moins lus, moins connus, qui parlent d’autre chose que leur nombril;
– ce n’est pas parce qu’il sont moins lus qu’ils ont nécessairement moins d’influence: comme le disent Robert Scoble et Shel Israel dans [Naked Conversations](http://www.amazon.fr/exec/obidos/ASIN/047174719X “Un livre sur les blogs et le business qu’il faut lire absolument.”), [si mon blog politique n’a que trois lecteurs](http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2006/02/doc_searls_and_.html “Le livre a été écrit en ligne, voir le passage initial ici.”), et que ce sont les dirigeants des Etats-Unis, de la Russie, et de la Chine, ai-je vraiment besoin d’autre chose?

On ne va pas le nier, la plus grande partie de la blogosphère francophone, c’est [Skyblog](http://skyblog.com/ “Etats d’âme à  la pelle.”). Mais là , on regarde les nombres, pas l’influence. Si j’ai bien compris Philippe Barraud, la blogosphère “personnelle”, celle qui me tient à  coeur parce qu’elle me permet de rester en contact avec mes amis par-delà  les océans, ça ne l’intéresse pas. C’est son droit. On va donc se concentrer sur les blogs “qui comptent”, comme on dit. Ce n’est pas sur Skyblog qu’on va les trouver. Il faut aller explorer le monde, un peu.

La supercherie, c’est qu’on tend à  nous faire croire que tout cela est lu, que chacun peut prendre la parole, que le débat démocratique renaît, […]. D’abord, et c’est un obstacle colossal, personne ne saura que votre blog existe.

Pardon? Ne savez-vous pas que pour peu qu’on utilise une plateforme de blogs pas trop “underground”, chaque billet alerte [Technorati](http://technorati.com “Un moteur de recherche consacré aux blogs.”) de la mise à  jour. Le blog est listé sur leur site, et si on utilise [des tags et des catégories](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/11/tags-and-categories-are-not-the-same/ “En anglais: explication de la différence entre tags et catégories.”), il se retrouve également sur les pages de tags. Les gens peuvent trouver le blog, et Google peut trouver le blog. Après, si il a des choses à  dire qui sont intéressantes pour d’autres personnes (pas forcément le monde entier!) le blogueur va gentiment se faire une place dans la niche où se trouve son public.

Là , franchement, erreur factuelle. Dès sa mise en existence, un blog est publicisé.

Etre lu, ou pas. Voilà  la question. Comme je dis plus haut, ce ne sont pas les nombres qui comptent, c’est qui lit un blog qui est important. Certaines personnes chez Microsoft ne pensent pas que ce que fait [Robert Scoble](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com) est important pour la boîte, parce qu’il n’a que (!) 20’000 lecteurs quotidiens. Pour un blog, c’est énorme, mais pour une grosse entreprise habituée aux chiffres marketing, c’est un pet de lapin. Robert dit très justement que ces personnes n’ont pas saisi qu’internet est un réseau, et à  quelle vitesse les informations peuvent s’y propager. Même si l’on n’a que cinq lecteurs, on peut théoriquement voir une idée géniale publiée sur son blog faire le tour de la blogosphère en quelques heures. Bien sûr, avec plus de lecteurs, on facilite le phénomène, mais ce n’est pas requis — de loin pas.

Quant à  prendre la parole… Allez réagir à  quelque chose qu’a écrit [DSK sur son blog](http://www.blogdsk.net/). Vous l’avez, la parole. Il suffit d’avoir quelque chose à  dire.

[…] ce mode de communication s’autodétruit, par son abondance même: qui a donc le temps d’aller explorer des millions de blogs, voire seulement une dizaine par jour?

Ça, c’est un problème général: la surcharge d’information. Solution? Il faut trier. J’y arrive tout de suite.

[…] pour un blog intelligent ou talentueux qui vous apporte quelque chose, il y en a 100’000 d’insignifiants.

Oui, il y a du bruit dans la blogosphère. Mais ce qui est du bruit pour moi n’est pas forcément du bruit pour vous. Des goûts et des couleurs, comme on dit. Allez, on dégaine son [aggrégateur RSS/atom](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2003/10/26/rss-feeddemon/ “Une petite explication si nécessaire, même si elle date un peu.”) et on s’abonne aux blogs qui nous intéressent. Même [Commentaires.com](http://www.commentaires.com/), qui n’est pas un blog, attention, surtout pas (puisque les blogs c’est inutile) a [son fil RSS](http://www.commentaires.com/rss.php “Lien direct vers le fil RSS. Je ne sais pas encore s’il marche, attention.”). Comment? Vous n’utilisez pas d’aggrégateur? On file direction [BlogLines](http://bloglines.com/), [iFeedYou](http://ifeedyou.com “Made in Switzerland”) ou [Gregarius](http://gregarius.net/ “Made in Switzerland aussi, à  installer sur son serveur.”).

Ce ne sont pas des blogs précis, mais des thèmes qui vous intéressent? Direction [PubSub](http://pubsub.com) ou [Technorati](http://technorati.com), on crée un compte, on crée des [watchlists](http://technorati.com/help/faq.html#watchlists “C’est quoi une watchlist? En anglais.”) auxquelles on s’abonne… Vous voulez la [Romandie](http://technorati.com/search/romandie “Des billets mentionnant la Romandie.”)? [Des recettes de cuisine](http://technorati.com/blogs/recettes “Des blogs dont le thème contient des recettes.”)?

Robert Scoble [garde ainsi un oeil sur plusieurs centaines de blogs](http://bloglines.com/public/scobleizer “Ses abonnements RSS.”) (7-800 aux dernières nouvelles). Est-il besoin de tout lire? Certes non. Mais surveiller une grand nombre de blogs, surtout quand c’est utile pour son métier? Bien sûr que c’est possible.

Ça prend du temps bien sûr. Si l’on pense que c’est du temps perdu, il vaut mieux s’abstenir — car il le sera effectivement.

Ce qui montre que tout travail d’écriture exige une discipline rigoureuse; et qu’à  l’inverse, l’écriture paresseuse du blog ne débouche neuf fois sur dix que sur des textes médiocres, bâclés et non indispensables.

Je sens ici un peu de snobisme d’écrivain. Faut-il être indispensable pour mériter l’honneur d’être rendu accessible au public? J’espère bien que mon blog n’est pas indispensable — mais j’espère aussi que de temps en temps il peut être utile à  quelqu’un.

Ai-je le droit de vivre si je ne suis pas indispensable?

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Power Laws, Popularity, Authority, A-Lists and the Rest… [en]

Things are colliding in my mind and slowly falling into place. A word of warning, however: contents may have settled while shipping. Here are the ingredients:

– [An “Interesting” Photograph](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/74221361/in/set-1292259/) — of mine… that’s what started it all, actually
– [Visibility is in Feedback Loops](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/05/visibility-is-in-feedback-loops/) — me
– [Technorati adds authority weighting](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/13/technorati-adds-authority-weighting/) — Robert Scoble
– [Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality](http://shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html) — Clay Shirky
– [The Science of Hit Songs](http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/060209_hit_songs.html) — Bjorn Carey
– [Tips for joining the A list](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/14/tips-for-joining-the-a-list/) — Robert Scoble
– [Scoble on Tips For Joining The A-List](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/02/scoble_on_tips_.html) — Stowe Boyd
– a paragraph in [Blogs to Riches](http://newyorkmetro.com/news/media/15967/index1.html) — Clive Thompson
– plus a few random posts and conversations… (thanks Kevin Marks)

**Popularity begets popularity**

Neige et lune 13When the photograph you see here suddenly ranked number twelve in Flickr “interestingness” for the day it was taken, I got a bunch of very appreciative comments about it. But something bothered me: it’s a nice photograph, but it’s certainly not the best photograph I’ve taken. However, it was attracting all the attention. And as it was attracting attention, it was becoming more and more “Flickr-interesting”.

Then I stayed stuck on the [Wordpress.com home page](http://wordpress.com) for a couple of days, and [watched my traffic soar up and come right back down again](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/05/visibility-is-in-feedback-loops/). I was getting visitors because I had been labeled as “fast-growing” or whatever, not because I had suddenly become brilliant. Proof being the decrease in traffic after the peak. What’s popular becomes more popular, or stays popular, because it’s popular. At some point, just being popular is enough.

And, as I was already hinting in [my previous post on the subject](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/05/visibility-is-in-feedback-loops/ “Same post as the one linked right above.”), it’s normal. That’s the way things go. I found confirmation of what I suspected in this article on [hit songs](http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/060209_hit_songs.html). They explain that we are more likely to say we like a song if we see that others have already said they like it. Yeah, it’s not a part of us we like looking at, but we’re influenceable. It’s human. They set up an experiment with two groups which have to rate songs. One group can see ratings of other group members, but the other cannot.

In the independent condition, participants chose which songs to listen to based solely on the names of the bands and their songs. While listening to the song, they were asked to rate it from one star (“I hate it”) to five stars (“I love it”). They were also given the option of downloading the song for keeps.

.[…]

In the social influence group, participants were provided with the same song list, but could also see how many times each song had been downloaded.

Researchers found that popular songs were popular and unpopular songs were unpopular, regardless of their quality established by the other group. They also found that as a particular songs’ popularity increased, participants selected it more often.

So, let’s say it so it’s said: it’s *normal* that the most “popular” blogs get the most visibility, links, and visitors. That happens because they’re popular. They don’t totally suck, of course, or they wouldn’t have got “popular enough” for the feedback loop to work in the first place, but they are helped in remaining popular by the fact they are popular. Which maybe puts pressure on some to keep the quality level up.

**Popularity or authority?**

Popular? Visited, linked, or some combination thereof. People hear about it, talk about it, go and see it. That’s popular. Popularity is pretty close to things you can measure, like how many visitors a site has (that’s the numbers you see in news articles), or how many incoming links it has (that’s what Technorati tracks).

But is that what we really want? People who blog clearly want recognition of some sort (otherwise, we wouldn’t take the trouble of writing in a public space), but is recognition in numbers really what we’re after? At LIFT’06, I heard Robert say that it wasn’t the *number* of readers of his blog that mattered, but *who* these people were. Is your readership going to come and leave without a word, or react, start conversations, influence the people around them? What matters is how your audience scales. But in some way, we’re still thinking about numbers, here: “how can I have the most influence?”

I think that what we’re really after isn’t recognition by numbers, because somewhere inside we know that numbers are fake. I can be hugely popular but still not feel recognized for who I am or what I’m worth or what I’m saying. I suspect that what we want to be recognized for is more along the lines of *authority* in a certain field (ie, what we write about). We want people to see that we have something valid to say. That we have ideas that are original or provocative or that help things move along. That we know what we’re talking about. That, for me, is authority. And that cannot be measured by incoming links, visitors, or even [conversational indexes](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/02/the_social_scal.html).

This is why I find it increasingly disturbing that [Technorati is calling (and has been calling “authority” something which is in fact much nearer to “popularity”](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/13/technorati-adds-authority-weighting/ “Read the comments.”). It gives us the impression it’s measuring what we want (authority) when in fact it’s measuring something which is maybe more superficial (linkedness-popularity) but more measurable. So we get all worked up by the A list popularity problem, and gatekeepers, and stuff like that — when in fact being in the A list probably isn’t really what most people want. It’s confusing something qualitative (authority) with something quantitative (number of links).

**Quality and visibility**

Robert wrote a post giving [tips for joining the A list](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/14/tips-for-joining-the-a-list/), and [Stowe Boyd responded with tips of his own](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/02/scoble_on_tips_.html), saying Robert’s were a bit superficial.

Both posts have valid tips and insights, but they run along two different lines. Robert’s post is more about “how to be more visible/become more popular” and Stowe’s is more about “being a good blogger”. Both are important. You can be a good blogger, have a good blog, but stay in the shadows more than you deserve because you’re not visible enough. And you can make yourself visible all you want, all that agitation isn’t going to bring you recognition if you don’t have “good content” (in the wide sense).

**A list thoughts**

People often think that getting mentioned in some high-traffic blog will automatically bring visibility. Not true. Robert mentioned me twice in his blog during the last week (and he actually said [really nice things](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/04/going-skiing-today/) about me), but that just made a bump in my stats. Not a huge peak with server overload and comments pouring in and hundreds of other links. Just a little bump. (And it’s not like I already have 5’000 readers anyway.) On the same day, Robert talked about [coComment](http://cocomment.com), also saying [really nice things](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/04/track-your-comments-no-matter-where-you-make-them/) , and as a result, [all hell broke loose](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/02/05/what-did-we-do/) and in a matter of hours, coComment was [all over the blogosphere](http://technorati.com/search/cocomment “See what Technorati says.”). Well, that’s because coComment is a major advancement for the blogosphere, and I’m not. It’s not being linked which is important — it’s what you are. (So, if you’re a post or a blog, whether you’re an interesting post or blog.)

Another interesting thing about most of these so-called “A list blogs” is that I barely read them (OK, I barely read any blogs, but that’s another story). The only reason I drop by on [Boing Boing](http://boingboing.net/) every now and again is because it’s “blog number one” and people talk about it all the time. It’s not on *my* A list. (Which isn’t to say it’s bad — it isn’t — it’s just not a compelling read for me.) [Robert’s blog](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com) was exactly the same for me until recently. I’m reading it now, but that’s because I met him at LIFT’06 and discovered he’s a really sweet person. I read his blog because I appreciate him as a person, and I’m generally interested in reading what people I like are writing.

Maybe I’m a weird blogger who doesn’t know how to recognize a great blog and only reads blogs of people she knows. I see this trend in my reading habits, I’ll be honest about that. I think [Random Acts of Reality](http://randomreality.blogware.com/) is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. I remember when the “A list complaining” was about [Megnut](http://www.megnut.com/), [Evhead](http://www.evhead.com/), [Kottke](http://kottke.org/) and the like, in the good ol’ [Blogger](http://blogger.com) days. None of these blogs really attracted me as a reader, their popularity put aside.

**Wrap-up**

I’m not sure many of you will have had the patience to trudge through this long, rambling post, so I’ll try to summarize things for you:

– being popular helps you stay popular; it’s a normal thing, because we tend to like what other people like; nothing wrong with that, just be aware of it;
– popularity is not authority; popularity is easy to measure, it’s quantitative; authority is qualitative; maybe we think we want popularity, but what we really want is recognition for our authority;
– being a good blogger and being a visible blogger are not the same thing, though they can work together well; different tips apply;
– a link on an A list blog is not going to drive tons of traffic your way and put you in the limelight unless you really deserve it; A list blogs aren’t necessarily fascinating for all readers — remember part of their popularity comes from being popular, so don’t fret if you don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

As a final note, I’m pretty happy where I am:

– in the [Swiss French media](/about/presse “Press appearances.”), I have what amounts to “popularity which begets popularity”, and it’s not always all that great: I often feel I get called for interviews more because my name is all over the place than because the journalist has read stuff I wrote and wants to know more about what I have to say on this or that topic;
– I’m not certain I’d like to have 20’000 readers ready to tear apart every post I made;
– I don’t think I’d like people gravitating around me in the hope I’d “out” them and bring them their well-deserved popularity;
– and I certainly wouldn’t like having resident trolls!

Thanks for reading (or skimming), and feel free to react to what I say here. I’m aware some of it is probably a little clumsy or beside the point. Show me where.

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Tags and Categories are not the Same! [en]

[fr] Les tags et les catégories, ce n'est pas la même chose. En bref, les catégories forment une structure hiérarchique, prédéfinie, qui régit l'architecture de notre contenu et aide autrui à s'y retrouver. Les tags sont spontanés, ad hoc, de granularité variable, tournés vers le partage et la recherche d'information.

Update, Sept. 2007: when I saw Matt in San Francisco this winter, he told me he had finally “seen the light” (his words!) about tags and categories. Six months later, it’s a reality for WordPress users. Thanks for listening.

I got a bit heated up last night between [Matt’s comment that tags and categories function the same](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/02/09/give-us-real-tags-on-wordpresscom/#comment-182) and a discussion I was having with [Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com/) on IM at the same time, about the fact that [Technorati parses categories as tags](http://technorati.com/help/tags.html).

I went back to read two of my old posts: [Technorati Tagified](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/14/technorati-tagified/) and [Plugin Idea: Weighted Tags by Category](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/28/plugin-idea-weighted-tags-by-category/) which I wrote about a year ago. In both, it’s very clear that as a user, I don’t percieve tags to be the same thing as categories. Tags were something like “public keywords”. Is anybody here going to say that keywords and categories are the same thing? (There is a difference between keywords and tags, but this isn’t the topic here; keywords and tags are IMHO much closer in nature than tags and categories).

Here are, in my opinion, the main differences between tags and categories, from the “tagger” point of view.

– categories exist before the item I’m categorizing, whereas tags are created in reaction to the item, often in an ad hoc manner: I need to fit the item in a category, but I adapt tags to the item;
– categories should be few, tags many;
– categories are expected to have a pretty constant granularity, whereas tags can be very general like “[switzerland](http://technorati.com/tag/switzerland)” or very particular like “[bloggyfriday](http://technorati.com/tag/bloggyfriday)”;
– categories are planned, tags are spontanous, they have a brainstorm-like nature, as [Kevin explains very well](http://epeus.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_epeus_archive.html#113011082782089285): You look at the picture and type in the few words it makes you think of, move on to the next, and you’re done.
– relations between categories are tree-like, but those between tags are network-like;
– categories are something you choose, tags are generally something you gush out;
– categories help me classify what I’m talking about, and tags help me share or spread it;
– …

There’s nothing wrong with Technorati treating categories as tags. I’d say categories are a kind of tag. They are special tags you plan in advance to delimit zones of content, and that you display them on your blog to help your readers find their way through what you say or separate areas of interest (ie, my Grandma will be interested by my [Life and Ramblings](http://steph.wordpress.com/tag/life) category and subscribe to that if she has an RSS reader, but she knows she doesn’t care about anything in the [Geek](http://steph.wordpress.com/tag/geek/) category. (By the way, CTTS is not a good example of this, the categories are a real mess.)

So, let’s say categories are tags. I can agree with that. But tags are not categories! Tags help people going through a “search” process. Click on a tag to see related posts/photos. See things outside the world of this particular weblog which have the same label attached. Provide a handy label to [collect writings, photos, and stuff from a wide variety of people](http://technorati.com/tag/lift06 “The LIFT06 tag.”) without requiring them to change the architecture of their blog content (their categories). If you want to, yeah, you can drop categories and use only tags. It works on [http://del.icio.us/](del.icio.us). But have you noticed how most Flickr users have [http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/](sets) in addition to tagging their photos? Sets aren’t categories, but they can be close. They are a way of presenting and organizing things for human beings rather than machines, search engines, database queries.

To get back to [my complaint that WordPress.com does not provide real tags](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/02/09/give-us-real-tags-on-wordpresscom/), it’s mainly a question of user interface. I don’t care if from a software point of view, tags and categories are the same thing for WordPress. As a user, I need a field in which I can let my fingers gush out keyword-tags once I’ve finished writing my post. I also need someplace to define and structure category-tags. I need to be able to define how to display these two kids of tags (if you want to call them both that) on my blog, because they are ways of classifying or labeling information which I live very differently.

Am I a tag weirdo? Do you also perceive a difference between tags and categories? How would you express or define it? If categories and tags are the same, the new WP2.0 interface for categories should make [the Bunny Tags Plugin](http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/BunnysTechnoratiTags) obsolete — does it?

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