Social web applications and privacy

"Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What?

Abstract by Danah Boyd

Social network sites (SNSes) like MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo are ubiquitous and today's youth are spending a great deal of time using these sites to access public life. How is public life shaped by social technology? How are the properties of mediated publics, like social network sites, different from unmediated publics? This article seeks to explore the social dynamics of mediated public life in order to help educators understand their role in socialising today's youth.

The Challenge

It is difficult to define public or private without referring to the other. Often, especially in tech circles, these terms are seen as two peas in a binary pod. More flexible definitions allow the two terms to sit at opposite ends of an axis, giving us the ability to judge just how public or how private a particular event or place is. Unfortunately, even this scale is ill equipped to handle the disruption of mediating technology. What it means to be public or private is quickly changing before our eyes and we lack the language, social norms, and structures to handle it." [my emphasis]

...and JP Rangaswami from his blog, confused in calcutta, expands on danah's ideas to the enterprise with, "While musing about social networks and privacy "

JP writes, " I find some of the enterprise push backs on social networks mildly amusing. Even without the existence of social networks, there has been a gradual move towards openness and transparency in most regulated industries, with the consequent requirement to record and make retrievable all kinds of conversations. Many firms spend large amounts of money doing just that. So why not consider implementing something that looks remarkably like a social networking application within the enterprise?"

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