Rebirth of the Book Project [en]

If you were reading my blog or hanging out with me in 2006 and 2007, you may remember that I was planning to write a book around teenagers and the internet. It took me some time to realize this was not a money-earning project, that it would be hard for me to find a publisher, and that earning a living was higher on the priority list than writing a book.

A few weeks/months ago (time is a blur) I was approached by a publishing house who wants to publish a book on the “internet and family” topic. The editors thought of me, not knowing about my existing (dormant) book project. We met last week and though this is still very early stages (nothing signed, etc.) we’re both interested in pursuing.

As we were talking about process and next steps, I raised the issue of licencing. Though they have never published anything under a Creative Commons license, the editor had heard of it and said it was worth opening a discussion on the topic with the publisher. This got me thinking (and talking) about various concerns I have about an author contract:

  • what happens if they publish one run of the book and stop there? can I self-publish it on Lulu or Blurb afterwards, or take it to another publisher?
  • can I blog the work-in-progress as I write?
  • what about making an electronic edition available? (the publishing house only does paper so far)
  • can I publish it under a CC licence?
  • what the heck, how about making it available for free on the web?
  • what happens if somebody approaches me saying they want to translate my book? can they self-publish a translation?

Lots of questions, as you can see, that need to be clarified upfront with the publisher and included in the contract — and here is where I’d like your input. I know that many of you reading this blog have experience with writing, publishers, licenses, and all. What would you recommend doing and not doing? What should I pay attention to?

Having a rather progressive stance on certain IP/copyright issues, it would make sense if the terms of my contract and endeavour in the land of dead trees reflected that to some extent. Of course, I’m aware everything might not be possible, but there seems to be an opening to talk about these things with the publisher, so it would be a pity not to take it. Before that, I need to make my mind up about what I’d want — in an ideal world.

I welcome all feedback!

LeWeb'09: danah boyd [en]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. College admissions

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

2. Parental access

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

3. Violence

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

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

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

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

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

When should we be creating eyes on the street?

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

Lots of kids crying out for help online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lire: recherche académique sur les risques courus par les adolescents sur internet [fr]

Un des avantages déjà perceptibles de mes efforts pour passer de “penser mes journées” à “penser mes semaines” est que je recommence à donner un peu plus de priorité à mes travaux d’écriture et de recherche. Je suis ainsi en train de gentiment avancer dans la lecture de l’annexe C du rapport Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, paru il y a déjà un an (!) et co-dirigé par mon amie danah boyd.

Toute personne qui prétend parler des risques que courent les enfants et adolescents sur internet devrait lire ce rapport. L’annexe C, par laquelle je commence mon exploration, est une méta-étude qui tente de rassembler toutes les recherches académiques publiés au sujet des adolescents et internet.

La lecture du livre Bad Science il y a quelques mois m’avait déjà sensibilisée à l’importance de ce genre de démarche, mais plutôt dans le domaine médical: plutôt que de se baser sur une seule étude, on fait le point sur toutes les études cliniques qui ont été faites pour tester un médicament (par exemple), les examinant pour des problèmes méthodologiques et compilant/comparant leurs résultats lorsque c’est pertinent. C’est comme ça qu’on survit aux études “contradictoires” (l’une montre que oui, l’autre montre que non — on les confronte).

On est donc ici bien loin des titres racoleurs d’articles dont le contenu sent bon la soupe de restes (on prend les mêmes et on recommence: “ne mettez pas en ligne ce que vous n’êtes pas prêt à assumer davant tout le monde, futur patron y compris, et Facebook n’est pas une exception”). Se plonger dans la littérature académique est d’autant plus important que la question de la sécurité en ligne de la jeune génération souffre douloureusement de la prépondérance des anecdotes sur les statistiques dans la construction de notre compréhension du monde. Dans l’édito du numéro 45 d’Allez Savoir!, le rédacteur en chef Jocelyn Rochat entre ainsi en matière:

C’est dur à accepter pour un intellectuel, pour un homme du chiffre et de l’écrit, mais c’est une réalité. Il est quasi impossible de trouver des mots ou des statistiques qui soient capables d’effacer une photo choc. Surtout quand l’image est géniale, et qu’elle pèse de tout son poids dans l’imaginaire collectif.

Jocelyn Rochat parle de deux sujets abordés dans le magazine: les Gaulois, que l’on croit connaître via Astérix (bien moins historiquement correct qu’on voudrait le croire), et le grand requin blanc, proclamé tueur d’hommes assoiffé de sang par le film Les dents de la mer. Réalise-t-il que nous sommes dans exactement la même situation avec le thème des “pièges d’internet” pour les jeunes, sujet d’un article en page 44 du même numéro. Là aussi, d’ailleurs, Allez Savoir! fait un assez bon travail de remise à l’heure des pendules, même si l’on pourrait à mon avis encore appuyer un peu plus fort.

Tout ça pour vous dire que maintenant, fin 2009, contrairement à il y a quelques années quand j’ai commencé à donner des conférences sur le sujet dans les écoles de Vaud et d’ailleurs, il commence à y avoir un sacré paquet de recherche académique sur le sujet. Grâce à internet, elle est à porté de souris et d’écran — il suffit de s’y plonger. Si l’on veut prendre des décisions fondées et faire de la prévention efficace, il est indispensable de comprendre correctement comment les jeunes utilisent internet et quels sont les risques réels qu’ils courent (pas juste ceux de nos fantasmes, colportés par les médias grand public à coups d’anecdotes frappantes mais… anecdotiques).

Quelques points de départ, donc (et oui, désolée, faut se taper l’anglais, pour la recherche académique — et la plupart des liens vont télécharger des PDF):

Quant à moi, je vais me remettre à ma lecture!

Stephanie's October Conference Tour: SHiFT [en]

[fr] La conférence SHiFT a lieu du 15 au 17 octobre à Lisbonne. J'y parlerai des conférences que je donne depuis bientôt quatre ans dans les écoles. Il est encore possible de s'inscrire pour assister à la conférence, faites vite!

Well, here we are. I should have blogged about this long ago, but without getting into the details of these past weeks, it’s been kinda… busy here lately.

October is conference month in Stephanie-land. I leave on Tuesday. Let’s see what we have in store. First conference:

SHiFT, 15-17 October 2008, Lisbon

SHiFT - Social and Human Ideas For Technology I was present at the first edition of SHiFT in 2006, and really liked this Reboot– and LIFT-inspired event. Smaller scale than both of them, SHiFT is set in beautiful Lisbon and has a very nice atmosphere. I heard some great talks and met some incredible people in 2006, and I’m looking forward to more this year.

I’m really excited that I’ve been invited to speak, and will for the first time cover and comment on the work I’ve been doing in schools for nearly four years in schools, raising awareness about digital media issues with teenagers, teachers, and parents, in “What do teenagers, teachers, and parents need to understand“.

Even if you don’t work with teenagers or in a school setting, and don’t have any teenage children, I think you’ll find my talk interesting. I would really like to encourage you to attend. I’m saying this because I’ll be talking about what feels to me like my most meaningful work, and I want to share it. The thinking and issues behind it go way beyond educational settings, as I explain in my recent comments following a radio show about Facebook in Swiss companies, and the complete ignorance of what may seem basic digital media awareness in those environments — both on the part of employees and company management.

I’m not danah or Anastasia and my book project is on hold ;-), but I’ve learnt over the years that though it may not have seemed extraordinary to me at first, I have acquired some valuable insights about online behaviours of both adults and teenagers, and I’m really happy to have a chance to share them with my digitally clued-in peers.

If you hadn’t planned to attend SHiFT, hurry up and register. It’s last-minute but it’s still possible. EasyJet and TAP flights will take you to Lisbon from most places in Europe.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Ressources for Parents and Teachers (ISL Talks on Social Networking) [en]

[fr] Quelques liens, points de départ pour mes deux conférences plus tard dans la journée (parents et enseignants, au sujet des adolescents et des réseaux sociaux comme Facebook).

I’m giving two talks today at the ISL, one for teachers and another for parents, about teenagers and social networking (that the request was specifically for “social networking” makes me happy, because we’re finally moving away from the whole “blog” thing). I think we’re moving away further and further from the “internet as library” metaphor, and the “internet as city/village” image is the one that most people are starting to have.

I have already gathered many links with useful information all over the place, but I think it’s a good thing to collect some of them here for easier access. If you’re reading this not long after I posted it, you’ll find a whole series of quotes in my Tumblr, too.

General starting-points

Fear of sexual predators

This is by large the most important fear linked to teenagers and the internet. Thankfully, it is much exaggerated and no more of concern than fear of predators offline. Three starting-points:

The real issues

You’ll see that these are much less “newsworthy” than sexual predators.

  • privacy (in the sense of revealing too much about yourself or in an inappropriate context, which leads to embarrassement or social problems) — a look at Facebook privacy settings
  • permanence of online media
  • weakness of anonymity
  • misunderstanding of how online interactions affect communication and relationships (“chat effect”, flame wars…)
  • slide-show of a presentation I gave about the kind of mischief teenagers get upto on blogs (what I managed to lay my hands on, with screenshots — no fear, it’s pretty mild)
  • intellectual property (copyright)
  • necessary to move away from a model of “education through control” as everything is available at a click of a mouse (age-restricted content like porn, shopping, gambling)
  • rumors, hoaxes and urban legends (use to debunk them)
  • bullying and many other unpleasant online phenomenons are also offline phenomenons, but sometimes less visible to adults; the core issue does not change — if these problems are addressed properly offline, then they will also be online
  • cyberaddiction is not common at all, despite what some articles might want to have you believe — unhealthy usage of the computer usually is not the problem in itself, but an element of a larger problem which needs to be addressed
  • the jury is still out on gaming — though it’s clearly not healthy to be spending too much time immersed in interactive virtual worlds when you’re learning to get to grips with reality, it seems that participating in multi-player online games can have a significant positive impact on ability to work in teams and solve problems creatively

Other links or comments

I will probably add to this article later on, following the requests made during the talks. If you want to suggest a topic or ask a question, feel free to do so in the comments.

LIFT'08: David Brown Workshop — Teenagers and Generation Y [en]

[fr] Notes prises lors de LIFT'08. Workshop sous forme de table ronde avec 4 ados de 16-17 ans, étudiants à l'école internationale de Founex.

*I took these notes at LIFT’08 in February, and am only publishing them now, I’m afraid!*

*Workshop notes with real live teenagers! No guarantee as to how exact
my notes are… etc.*

Panel with real teenagers LIFT08

Four teenagers from the International School of Founex

Trying to formalize things. A bunch of themes/apps to approach this session:

Social networks, IM, Music, Video/Films, E-mail, Blogs, Niche Web2.0,
Location based, Connectivity (what hardware?), Phone SMS, Own tools,
Wow and virtual worlds… Real world.

Friends/social circle, buying/e-commerce/for free,
advertising/marketing/messages, geographical distance, homework,
privacy security personal data, organising, fragmentation

Going round the room to see who is who and what their interest in
teenagers and the net is.

*steph-note: worried that the approach here might be a little too

Teens (seem like a highly educated, very literate bunch, critical;
international school!):

Chloe: Facebook to communicate with teachers, a lot for school. Not a
gamer, more of a social/pictures person. Maths homework via internet
(Mathletics). 2h a night.

Luisa (?): 16 — Facebook to communicate with each other, organise
meetings, not a gamer.

Elliot: not much of a computer-user, heavy mobile phone user
(text/calling), would play games (was denied electronics until he was
12). Facebook: good way of archiving who your friends are and what
they look like — good way to communicate by replying in your own

Liam: typical: video games, music (not a hardcore gamer though),
Facebook to keep track of friends (social circle online and offline
overlap). Wikipedia saves your life for homework.

Elliot: FB = great way of controlling the photos of you other people
are posting on the internet.

Liam: used to use MySpace but now really identified with Emos… so.

Chloe: used to have a skyblog, had lots of french-speaking friends. In
the international world, more Facebook. Was one of the first in her
school to have FB, as one of her best friends moved to the US and they
had it there.

ELuisa: FB really helps you keep up-to-date with people you’ve met
over the summer. With e-mail, your friendship wears out.

Liam: regular e-mail is good for attachments.

Luisa: it’s weird to have your teacher as your friend. *steph-note:
they don’t want to know too much about their teachers lives*

Chloe: concerned about providing stalker material (cleaned up and
deleted many people she didn’t really know). Didn’t realise that
everybody in the Switzerland network could see all her info — changed
the setting, and is spreading the word around her, even to her

My parents use the internet to work/communicate (use FB e.g.) so quite
open-minded. Used to ask for her e-mail password in case anything
happened, but Chloe doesn’t really think it’s necessary.

Luisa: keeping up on FB gives you something to talk about when you go
back — you’re up-to-date.

Never considered using Skyblog as public, and parents uncomfortable.
FB: more control and privacy, feels comfortable with it.

Elliot: couple of friends of mine rejected from universities based on
their FB page.

Chloe: Rumors?

Elliot: heard that some employers now demand access to your FB page
(but could be untrue). FB information is rather light-hearted, likes
and dislikes, etc — not really the business of the school or the

My question:

– how much of a threat do sexual predators online seem to you?
– do you feel that holding back personal information keeps you safer?

Chloe: not that concerned (from what I understand), doesn’t think that
holding back information keeps her safer — weirdos can get that info
anyway. *steph-note: good for her!* Weird IM people: blocks them.

Luisa: less concerned than she feels she should.

Elliot: more concerned about internet fraud. (E-bay.)

Question: buying online?

Answer: not much (trust, likes going into shops and talking to people)

Chloe: doesn’t like the idea of paying by credit card.

Luisa: amazon++ that’s ok.

Q: concert tickets

Elliot: yeah, tickets often available only online — got semi-scammed once.

(The panel seems divided on online shopping.)

Luisa: convenience vs. safety (giving your credit card number)

Elliot: quite wary of using the credit cards he has, because he knows
he’s being tracked quite closely.

Comment: the teenagers here have little “positive” experience of using
their credit cards to counter-balance the media scare about issues
like fraud or identity theft — which can explain their general

Chloe: her dad and her do grocery shopping online on, and
she’s comfortable with that. Useful.

Luisa, Liam: really weird to go shopping for clothes and food on the internet.

Elliot: gets information in the store and order it online.

Our panel doesn’t seem that familiar with the “go in town, take
photos, post them on facebook, get feedback, buy online” method.

Luisa: more “funny” pictures from changing rooms, but wouldn’t really
put them on FB.

girls: ask opinion about shopping for clothes to offline friends with
them, but wouldn’t do it via the internet. So much more fun to do it
offline. No fun to do it over the internet.

My question: plagiarism in homework

Answer: systems in place in school to detect it, don’t do it — know
people who have gotten away with it, but this is more something the
younger grades do. Doesn’t make much sense because you can’t fake oral

Elliot: wikipedia not regarded as a good source.

Liam: because anybody can write what they want on it.

Got to be careful with what you find in wikipedia. Experimented with
putting BS into pages just to see they could.

Music creation and writing on the computer. Picture editing.

Consensus: online doesn’t beat the real world.

Luisa: a good photographer is not somebody who’s skilled in photoshop,
it’s somebody who takes a good picture.

Some consensus here that digital art is “less” than using classical
techniques. Don’t feel “creative” in front of a computer.

Comment: you guys actually look down to things that are easy.
*steph-note: spot on*

*steph-note: interesting how fascinated we adults are to have a chance
to actually talk with teenagers!*

*steph-note: conversation is interesting but going off-topic as far as
I’m concerned (about being critical in general, having role-models).*

Elliot: technology makes it easier to be critical and determine if
what is said in a lecture is a widespread view or not, etc.

Question: do you have any role-models? *steph-note: imho badly
phrased… need to be more concrete: who do you look upto? admire?*

Discussion about music downloading. Awareness that they have the means
to buy the music they like (wealthy enough).

Luisa: “the internet isn’t the only way of spreading…(the word?)”.
Doing things for real (building a schoolroom in tanzania) has more
impact on me than buying a cow through the internet.

Not much webcam use (just Chloe, friends in the states).

*steph-note: sorry, tuning out — could have done with a break but
didn’t push for it.*

Discussion about creative commons and copyright. No perception that
photographs you find in Google are not free of rights. Seems to be a
lot of confusion about copyright regarding images/photographs.
Contrast with discourse about music downloading.

Blogs: a fashion that has gone past. *steph-note: confirms what I
thought, and also why I’m not asked in for talks in schools as much as
before. I think FB and social networking in general are “replacing”
blogs for teenagers. In francophonia though, I guess FB hasn’t taken
off, so it will still be Skyrock. But it’s called Skyrock now, and not

Less use of MSN, but Skype and Facebook.

Elliot: in the UK, Blackberry

This bunch are the student council, go on humanitarian trips, etc. Not
the most tech-savvy necessarily, but talkative!


Data usage: this is Switzerland! Data is horrendously expensive, and
it’s not in the culture to use it.

Daily Mail Shocked by Teen Cleavage [en]

[fr] Encore une panique au sujet des photos d'ados sur les réseaux sociaux. Gardez la tête froide. Vais bloguer si j'ai le temps ces prochains jours.

Kevin Marks tweets:

Daily Mail is shocked, shocked to find teenage cleavage on Bebo; reprints it in the paper, beside their bikini stories

The article in question, available online, is Millions of girls using Facebook, Bebo and Myspace ‘at risk’ from paedophiles and bullies.

No time to read it in full now, or blog about it as I should, but a couple of reminders:

And if you were wondering, yes, I give talks on the subject in schools (in French or English). List of past talks. More information on that in French.

I was interviewed a bit less than a year ago by the BBC around fear parents were feeling about Facebook:

If I have time, I’ll try to blog about this tomorrow, but the stack of things to do right now is quite high, and I’m not sure I’ll get around to doing it before this is cold.

LIFT08: Pierre Bellanger (Skyrock) [en]

[fr] Conférence de Pierre Bellanger, patron de Skyrock (skyblog), à la conférence LIFT08.

*Note: live notes, probably incomplete, possibly misunderstood. Intro: SkyBlog is the biggest blogging platform in Europe / SkyRock radio.*

LIFT08 022

Is going to speak about the future. Founder and CEO of — will speak about their vision of social networking, and why it’s the future.

Skyrock started as a pirate radio station. Became a national radio network after a few years. 13-24 year olds.

Blogging platform. Very basic, easy to use. Profiles. 2nd French site in page views. 1st French-speaking social network in the world.

Started the SN in 2002. Thinking about the next stages. Numbers:

LIFT08 025 Skyrock Numbers (Pierre Bellanger)

Goal: be the world teenager social network. For that, need to change constantly. Netamorphosis. Where do we go from now?

Understand what we are better. Need to go back to what we were, e-mail — the mother of all social networks. E-mail and the web gave birth to meta information. Search and social network.

SN is to mail what search is to the web. A new level of metadata, information about people.

Teenagers are extremely productive. Lots of contacts. The blog is a revolution, because it becomes your new e-mail address, your new digital identity. The centre of electronic exchanges. The social network is the future of telecommunications.

The value is shifting from bandwidth to programming code. Changing internet providers is much easier than changing your e-mail client. Same with social networks. Skyrock wants the social network to be at the core of all exchanges.

For that, important to think mobile. Go for IM rather than trying to stick poor web pages on that tiny screen. Merge the SN and the IM.

Social operating system.

*steph-note: snipping a bunch of technical stuff — too stressed by my upcoming Open Stage speech!*

First Draft of Book Presentation [en]

[fr] Un premier jet de ce que pourrait être une présentation de mon projet de livre, en anglais.

// Here’s a first draft of what a short presentation of my book project would be. Comments and nitpicking welcome. Is this convincing? Does it sound solid?

A Book About Teenagers and the Internet

Teenagers are very active internet users. Parents and educators, however, less so. There is often quite a bit of confusion over what teenagers are doing online and how risky their online occupations are. Attitudes range from complete lack of interest (probably fuelled by fear of technological incompetence) to outright panic (particularly about sexual predators, with complicity of the media).

Adults who are not particularly internet-savvy (and even those who are familiar with it) need a sane guide to precisely what all this “online stuff” is about. What is beneficial? What is harmless? Where are the real dangers? How does being “totally wired” (in Anastasia Goodstein’s terms) influence relationships and social life?

This book will be is a guide to understanding today’s online world, aimed at parents, teachers, and educators. It will helps them make informed educational decisions about teenagers’ use of the internet. The focus will be is on de-dramatizing a lot of the “risks” the mainstream media have been very vocal about (sexual predators, for instance) and on promoting a deep understanding of how online and offline are integrated in teens’ lives. This brings about new issues with are maybe not dramatic, but which can be challenging for our youth, and which they should not have to face without the support of the adults they love or trust in their lives.

Part “tourist guide to the online world”, part essay, this book should be is a precious ally for those living or working with teenagers, and who sometimes feel at loss with what the internet is all about;, as well as contributing it also contributes to a more general understanding of how the internet is changing our lives.

About the Author

Stephanie Booth has been a very active and respected online citizen for close to ten years. After graduating in arts (Indian religions and culture, philosophy, French), she worked first as a project manager and then as a middle-school teacher. She left teaching in 2006 to devote herself exclusively to helping others understand internet culture and technology, and make good use of it.

An important part of her work has been giving lectures in French-speaking Switzerland about “the living internet” (blogging, instant messaging…) to teenagers, parents, and schoolteachers. Her extensive personal experience of “internet life” married to a strong academic background and her ability to explain tricky concepts to a variety of audiences in a down-to-earth and convincing fashion have led her to be recognized by both the media and school authorities as an expert on “teenagers and internet” issues.

She has been writing regularly on her blog Climb to the Stars for over seven years, both in English and in French. A lot of her thinking about the internet can be found there.


  • Kids online, parents offline: why is it a problem?
  • How teenagers use the internet: it’s a town, not a library
  • Where can it go wrong?
  • Core online publication issues: anonymity, permanence, findability
  • How afraid should we be of sexual predators?
  • How online communication affects relationships
  • What can parents do?
  • The bigger picture: media education

Comment j'en suis arrivée à m'intéresser aux blogs d'adolescents [fr]

[en] The story of how I took an interest in teenage blogging, and from there, teenagers and the internet. It involves a difficult first year of teaching and a naked bottom on one of my students' skyblogs.

// Entrée en matière possible pour mon livre, dans le genre “premier jet écrit dans le train”. Commentaires et suggestions bienvenus, comme toujours.

Au début des années 2000, je me souviens qu’on plaisantait entre blogueurs en se rappelant que d’après les quelques enquêtes disponibles sur le sujet, le “blogueur type” était une lycéenne québécoise de 15 ans. On était un peu consternés par la quantité d’adolescents blogueurs et la futilité (voire la bêtise) de leurs publications en ligne. “Complètement inintéressant, le blog est bien plus qu’un journal d’adolescente!” On continuait à bloguer dans notre coin, et les ados dans le leur.

// Voir si j’arrive à trouver des références à ça.

J’étais loin d’imaginer que cinq ans plus tard, les blogs d’adolescents m’auraient amené à changer de métier et à écrire un livre. Ce livre, vous l’avez entre les mains.

La genèse de mon intérêt pour la vie adolescente sur internet mérite d’être racontée. Elle permet de situer ma perspective. Mais, plus important, elle et illustre assez bien un des “problèmes” auxquels on peut se heurter si on fait l’économie de comprendre comment les adolescents vivent leurs activités sur internet.

Il y a quelques années de cela, j’ai quitté mon poste de chef de projet dans une grande entreprise suisse pour me tourner vers l’enseignement. Forte de mes respectables années d’expérience personnelle de la vie sur internet, je me suis lancée dans un projet de rédaction de blogs avec mes élèves.

Ce fut un désastre. Si j’étais bien une blogueuse adulte expérimentée, je me suis bien vite rendue compte que les “blogs” que je leur proposais avaient bien peu à voir avec ce dont ils avaient l’habitude dans leurs tribulations sur internet. Certains d’entre eux avaient des skyblogs (des blogs pour adolescents et jeunes, hébergés par le groupe Skyrock).

Munie de l’adresse d’un de ces skyblogs, j’ai commencé mes explorations du monde en ligne de mes élèves. Peut-être qu’en me familiarisant avec ce qu’ils faisaient déjà sur internet, je réussirais à mieux les comprendre, et trouverais ainsi des clés pour remettre sur pied un projet qui battait sérieusement de l’aile. Chaque skyblog arborait fièrement une liste de liens vers ceux des amis (“hors ligne” aussi bien que “en ligne”). Il suffisait de cliquer un peu pour faire le tour.

Sur ces skyblogs, comme je m’y attendais, rien de bien fascinant à mes yeux: beaucoup de photos (de soi-même, des copains et copines, du chien, du vélomoteur), du texte à l’orthographe approximative, voire carrément “SMS”, des appels aux commentaires (“lâchez vos coms!”) et, justement, des commentaires (souvent assez vides de contenu, mais qui jouaient clairement un rôle côté dynamique sociale).

Soudain, catastrophe: je me retrouve face à une paire de fesses, sur le skyblog d’un de mes élèves. Et pas juste des fesses d’affiche publicitaire pour sous-vêtements, non, les fesses d’un de ses camarades de classe, qui les expose visiblement tout à fait volontairement à la caméra.

Que faire? Intervenir, ou non? Ils ont beau être mes élèves, alimenter leurs skyblogs fait partie de leurs activités privées (par opposition à “scolaires”) et je suis tombée sur cette image un peu par hasard (ce n’est pas comme si un élève m’avait donné directement l’adresse pour que j’aille la regarder).

En même temps, puis-je ne pas réagir? Si cette photo était découverte plus tard et qu’elle soulevait un scandale, et qu’on apprenait que j’étais au courant mais que je n’avais rien dit… Je me doute bien qu’il y a derrière cette photo un peu de provocation et pas mal d’inconscience, plus que de malice.

// Retrouver les dates d’expulsion des lycéens français — est-ce avant ou après ça?

Jeune enseignante inexpérimentée, je me tourne vers mes supérieurs pour conseil. On discute un peu. On ne va pas en faire un fromage, mais on va demander au propriétaire du skyblog de retirer cette photo inconvenante — ce que je fais. Il accepte sans discuter, un peu surpris peut-être.

// “Pour conseil” c’est français, ou c’est un anglicisme?

// Un autre élément qui est rentré en ligne de compte est que les photos avaient été prises (visiblement) dans les vestiaires de l’école. Pas certain que ce ne soit pas durant des activités extra-scolaires, cependant. Est-ce un détail utile?

Une semaine plus tard, la photo est toujours en place. Je suis un peu étonnée, et je réitère ma demande auprès de l’élève blogueur. “Oui, mais Jean, il est d’accord que je laisse cette photo sur mon blog, ça le dérange pas, hein.” J’explique que là n’est pas la question, que c’est une demande qui émane de la direction, et que d’accord ou pas, “ça se fait pas” pour les élèves de notre établissement d’exposer leurs fesses au public sur internet.

// J’ai l’impression que je traîne un peu en longueur, là. On s’ennuie? Les détails sont-ils utiles? Faut-il raccourcir?

Le lendemain matin, je me retrouve littéralement avec une révolte sur les bras:

  • “Pourquoi vous avez demandé à Jules de retirer la photo de son skyblog?”
  • “Ça vous regarde pas! L’école n’a pas à s’en mêler!”
  • “Vous aviez pas le droit d’en parler au directeur, c’est sa vie privée!”
  • “Et qu’est-ce que vous faisiez sur son skyblog, d’abord?”
  • “C’est son blog, il peut faire ce qu’il veut dessus! Et la liberté d’expression?”

Je suis sidérée par la violence des réactions. Certes, ma relation avec ces élèves n’est pas exactement idéale (c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire), mais là, ils sont complètement à côté de la plaque. Si l’élève en question avait affiché la photo de ses fesses dans le centre commercial du village, auraient-ils réagi aussi fortement si l’école (représentée par moi-même, en l’occurrence) avait demandé leur retrait?

// Comment on dit “challenging” en français? (Pour décrire les élèves sans utiliser l’affreux “difficile”.)

*// Le temps de narration change durant ce récit, vérifier si c’est “utile” ou si c’est “une erreur”.

Visiblement, ils considéraient ce qu’ils publiaient sur internet comme étant “privé” et semblaient ne pas avoir réellement pris conscience du caractère public de leurs skyblogs, ou du droit de quiconque d’y accéder et d’y réagir. Et pourtant, j’avais passé plusieurs heures avec ces mêmes élèves à préparer une charte pour la publication de leurs weblogs scolaires. Nous avions abordé ces points. Ils “savaient” qu’internet était un lieu public et que tout n’y était pas permis. Qu’est-ce qui s’était donc passé?

Cet incident particulier s’est terminé par une intervention énergique du directeur qui a remis quelques points sur quelques “i”. Restaient cependant deux problèmes de taille, que cette histoire avait rendus apparents:

  • l’école a-t-elle un “devoir d’ingérence” lors d’événements impliquant les élèves mais sortant de son cadre strict — et si oui, où s’arrête-t-il?
  • que pouvons-nous faire pour aider nos enfants et adolescents à devenir des “citoyens d’internet” informés et responsables?

La première question est du ressort des autorités scolaires, directions, enseignants — et je ne prétends pas apporter grand chose à ce débat ici.

La deuxième question, par contre, est l’objet de cet ouvrage.