** APPLICATION DEADLINE: JANUARY 30, 2013 **
Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for PhD interns to join the social media collective for Summer 2013. For these positions, we are looking primarily for social science PhD students (including communication, sociology, anthropology, media studies, information studies, etc.). The Social Media Collective is a collection of scholars at MSRNE who focus on socio-technical questions, primarily from a social science perspective. We are not an applied program; rather, we work on critical research questions that are important to the future of social science scholarship.
MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship.
PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. The goal of the internship is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a publication outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate with full-time researchers and visitors, give short presentations, and contribute to the life of the community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians. There are also opportunities to engage with product groups at Microsoft, although this is not a requirement.
We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following eights areas:
- Big data, the politics of algorithms, and/or computational culture
- Entertainment and news industries and audiences
- Digital inequalities
- Mobile media and social movement/civic engagement
- Affective, immaterial, and other theoretical frameworks related to digital labor
- Urban informatics and critical geography
- Personal relationships and digital media
- Critical accounts of crisis informatics and disasters
Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship. (Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time.) While this internship opportunity is not strictly limited to social scientists, preference will be given to social scientists and humanists making socio-technical inquiries. (Note: While other branches of Microsoft Research focus primarily on traditional computer science research, this group does no development-driven research and is not looking for people who are focused solely on building systems. We welcome social scientists with technical skills and strongly encourage social scientists to collaborate with computer scientists at MSRNE.) Preference will be given to intern candidates who work to make public and/or policy interventions with their research. Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE.
Applicants from universities outside of the United States are welcome to apply.
PEOPLE AT MSRNE SOCIAL MEDIA COLLECTIVE
The Social Media Collective is comprised of researchers, postdocs, and visitors. This includes:
- Principal Researcher Nancy Baym (http://www.nancybaym.com/)
- Senior Researcher danah boyd (http://www.danah.org)
- Principal Researcher Kate Crawford (http://www.katecrawford.net/)
- Senior Researcher Mary L. Gray (http://marylgray.org/)
- Postdoctoral Researcher Megan Finn (http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~megfinn/)
Previous interns in the collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessica Lingel (Rutgers, library & info science), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), and Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI).
If you are curious to know more about MSRNE, I suspect that many former interns would be happy to tell you about their experiences here. Previous interns are especially knowledgeable about how this process works.
For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog: http://socialmediacollective.org/
To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:
1. Fill out the online application form: https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/intern.aspx Make sure to indicate that you prefer Microsoft Research New England and “social media” or “social computing.” You will need to list two recommenders through this form. Make sure your recommenders respond to the request for letters so that their letters are also submitted by the deadline.
2. Send an email to msrnejob -at- microsoft-dot-com with the subject “SMC PhD Intern Application: ” that includes the following four things:
- A brief description of your dissertation project.
- An academic article you have written (published or unpublished) that shows your writing skills.
- A copy of your CV.
- A pointer to your website or other online presence (if available).
- A short description of 1-2 projects that you propose to do while an intern at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. This project must be distinct from the research for your dissertation.
We will begin considering internship applications on January 30 and will not consider late applications.
PREVIOUS INTERN TESTIMONIALS
“The internship at Microsoft Research was all of the things I wanted it to be – personally productive, intellectually rich, quiet enough to focus, noisy enough to avoid complete hermit-like cave dwelling behavior, and full of opportunities to begin ongoing professional relationships with other scholars who I might not have run into elsewhere.”
– Laura Noren, Sociology, New York University
“If I could design my own graduate school experience, it would feel a lot like my summer at Microsoft Research. I had the chance to undertake a project that I’d wanted to do for a long time, surrounded by really supportive and engaging thinkers who could provide guidance on things to read and concepts to consider, but who could also provoke interesting questions on the ethics of ethnographic work or the complexities of building an identity as a social sciences researcher. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.”
– Jessica Lingel, Library and Information Science, Rutgers University
“Spending the summer as an intern at MSR was an extremely rewarding learning experience. Having the opportunity to develop and work on your own projects as well as collaborate and workshop ideas with prestigious and extremely talented researchers was invaluable. It was amazing how all of the members of the Social Media Collective came together to create this motivating environment that was open, supportive, and collaborative. Being able to observe how renowned researchers streamline ideas, develop projects, conduct research, and manage the writing process was a uniquely helpful experience – and not only being able to observe and ask questions, but to contribute to some of these stages was amazing and unexpected.”
– Germaine Halegoua, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“The summer I spent at Microsoft Research was one of the highlights of my time in grad school. It helped me expand my research in new directions and connect with world-class scholars. As someone with a technical bent, this internship was an amazing opportunity to meet and learn from really smart humanities and social science researchers. Finally, Microsoft Research as an organization has the best of both worlds: the academic freedom and intellectual stimulation of a university with the perks of industry.”
– Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Media, Arts and Sciences, MIT
FUSE Labs at Microsoft Research is looking for interns for 2013. For these positions, we are looking primarily for graduate students from Computer Science, Information Science, Design, and other multidisciplinary fields with a focus on social computing and social media.
FUSE Labs is a research and development lab at Microsoft Research focused on the design, study, and development of socio-technical systems. We are interested in building systems and studying them critically. Our goals are to contribute to the academic community as well as to invent the next generation of social technologies. Some of the topics that are currently of interest for FUSE Labs are communities of interest, civic media, social computing, hyperlocal media, information visualization, big data, and machine learning applied to social data. That said, we are open to a diversity of methodologies.
Next year, we are planning to have a cohort of interns working collaboratively on a civic media project. The goal of the project is to have meaningful societal impact by developing new tools to empower citizens, such as tools to visualize, aggregate, and enable collaboration among citizens locally and around the world.
The internships are 12-week paid internships in Redmond, Washington. The expected outcome of the internship is a prototype and a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference such as CHI, CSCW, ICWSM, WWW, and USIT. Interns are expected to collaborate with researchers, interns, and other members of the lab, give short presentations, and contribute to the life of the community. The goals of the internship are to help the intern advance their own career, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and contribute to FUSE Labs’ research efforts. There are also opportunities to engage with product groups at Microsoft.
Preference will be given to intern candidates who are interested in public-facing research and have a track record of academic publishing and/or systems building. Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other interns and researchers.
Applicants from universities inside and outside of the United States are welcome to apply.
- Fill out the online application form. Make sure to indicate that you prefer FUSE Labs and “social media” or “social computing.” You will need to list two recommenders through this form. Make sure your recommenders respond to the request for letters.
- Send us an email with the subject “Intern Application” that includes the following four things:
- A brief description of your dissertation project.
- An article you have written (published or unpublished) that shows your writing skills and interest in this area.
- A copy of your CV
- A pointer to your website, portfolio, or other online presence (if available).
- A short description of 1-3 projects that you might imagine doing as an intern at FUSE Labs.
We will begin considering internship applications on January 10 and consider applications until all internship positions are filled.
Previous Intern Testimonials
“My internship at Microsoft Research surpassed all of my expectations in the best way possible. I spent 12 weeks surrounded by motivated and curious students and researchers who were not only interested in helping me develop an interesting research project, but also interested in helping me develop as a researcher. Everyone I engaged with, from my mentor to team members to our group manager, spent time getting to know me and made me feel like a valued member of the MSR family. At FUSE Labs, I was able to contribute to a number of projects beyond my own intern project, all of which gave me valuable experience working with different types of groups within MSR (design, development). I left my internship with a deep respect for the research and researchers at Microsoft Research, as well as a number of new friends.” Behzod Sirjani, PhD student at the School of Communication at Northwestern University
“The summer I spent at Microsoft Research was one of the best grad school experiences I have undertaken: fun, challenging and rewarding. As someone with a computer science background with interests in big data and social media, this internship gave me an opportunity to explore the vast data sources that Microsoft Research maintains. More importantly, the experience with MSR helped me build connections with word-class scholars and fellow interns with different backgrounds. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.” Yuheng Hu, PhD student of Computer Science at Arizona State University
FUSE Labs is an excellent place to experience the intersection of design, research, and social computing. I had the great opportunity to collaborate with a talented team who not only supported me in the development and refinement of my process and skills, but also willingly debated with me on the correct pronunciation of the word ‘gif.’ A Microsoft Research internship is the perfect balance: extremely beneficial and valuable with just a touch of nerdy!”
Sarah Hallacher, student at the Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU
Cross-posted at: http://fuse.microsoft.com/research/internships/
In the weeks since Sandy, it’s been interesting to see different approaches to recovery work. A lot of attention has been given to Occupy Sandy and the extent to which some of the organization tools that were able to mobilize people for actions, protests and general assemblies have been useful in coordinating recovery efforts. At the same time, I’ve been interested in how some of the more longstanding institutions for coordinating community involvement have responded to local disaster recovery efforts.
Take, for example, libraries. In the week immediately following Sandy, it was interesting to see how three different library organizations positioned their responses to their local communities. On November 5, the NYPL sent out an email to its patron list:
“Since the storm hit, our Facilities team has worked around the clock to clear debris, battle power outages, and repair minor damages to get our branches up and running. By November 1, we had 55 branches open. By November 5, all but four are open, and it is our priority to get those four branches safely opened as soon as possible”.
NYPL went on to say: “In the last week, as our branches have reopened, they have been packed with patrons using our free Internet, charging their phones, reading books, enjoying free programming, or just talking to their neighbors. Library staff — many of whom were redeployed because their own branches were closed — provided increased programming for kids and teens who were out of school, and the system extended the due dates for 390,000 items.”
The NYPL administers branch and research libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, one of the city’s most hard-hit areas. Brooklyn and Queens each have their own administering bodies; regarding the former, the BPL’s web page had been updated with the following message to its patrons:
“Our hearts go out to all of those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. As part of the Brooklyn community, we are working to help. Our staff, many of whom have been affected themselves, are working hard to bring help to those who need it.”
In addition, the BPL listed the services it had initiated in wake of the storm, including bookmobiles to impacted neighborhoods and shelters, pop up libraries, coordinating FEMA information sessions, supply drives and a hurricane bibliography.
In comparing how these to institutions publicized their responses to Sandy, the NYPL emphasized having its branches open as quickly as possible, providing a place for people to go and being a site of resources like information, electricity, online access and entertainment. The BPL’s messaging focuses less on libraries as institutions and more on services, particularly services that were specific to the storm. So rather than emphasizing the library as a place that had reopened as quickly as possible to provide resources, the BPL focused on storm-specific services, including bookmobiles, supply drives and bibliographies (I noticed that the first day my BPL branch library was open, it had its temporary display case full of hurricane-related texts).
I’m most interested in the NJLA’s email updates to its members, which emphasized documentation of experiences with Sandy. In contrast to the NYPL and BPL messages to patrons, it’s important to note that the NJLA message was sent to its members, who are mostly librarians. As Executive Director Pat Tumulty explained in an email:
Across these institutional reactions, there’s an emphasis on some of my favorite elements of what libraries do as social institutions – reflecting community ethics, acting as a site of DIY education and as a staging ground for local needs or interests. I’m not interested in setting up a hierarchy of which library organization had the best or most useful response to disasters. But I *am* interested in using the differences between these responses to think about 1) how libraries position themselves as having responsibilities to their communities, and how those responsibilities can play out in different ways 2) how activists can leverage those commitments to local communities in order to form better, more precise actions. These actions could be in response to disasters specifically, but maybe also community needs more generally. As social sciences research on disasters continues to grow, particularly in the realm of social media, I think it’s important (from an academic as well as an activist perspective) to look at how existing institutions are already responding to community needs, and partnering with them to expand our understanding of outreach, localized ethics and on-the-ground information.
The Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for a social media postdoctoral researcher (start date: 1 July, 2013). This position is an ideal opportunity for a scholar whose work draws on anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, and/or science and technology studies to bring empirical and critical perspectives to complex socio-technical issues.
Application deadline: Monday 19 November, 2012.
Microsoft Research provides a vibrant multidisciplinary research environment with an open publications policy and close links to top academic institutions around the world. Postdoc researcher positions provide emerging scholars, (PhDs received in 2012 or to be conferred by July 2013), an opportunity to develop their research career and to interact with some of the top minds in the research community. The position also offers the potential to have research realized in products and services that will be used world-wide. Postdoc researchers are invited to define their own research agenda and demonstrate their ability to drive forward an effective program of research. Successful candidates will have a well-established research track record as demonstrated by journal publications and conference papers, as well as participation on program committees, editorial boards, and advisory panels.
Postdoc researchers receive a competitive salary and benefits package, and are eligible for relocation expenses. Postdoc researchers are hired for a two-year term appointment following the academic calendar, starting in July 2013. Applicants must have completed the requirements for a PhD, including submission of their dissertation, prior to joining Microsoft Research. We do accept applicants with tenure-track job offers from other institutions so long as they are able to negotiate deferring their start date to accept our position.
While each of the seven Microsoft Research labs has openings in a variety of different disciplines, the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England (located in Cambridge, MA) is especially interested in identifying social science candidates with critical humanistic approaches to their topics. Qualifications include a strong academic record in anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or related fields. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines, but should have a strong methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation in humanistic approaches to the social sciences, be interested in questions related to technology or the internet and society or culture, and be interested in working across disciplines and with computer scientists.
The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, PhD interns, and research assistants. Current projects include:
- How does social media use affect relationships between artists and audiences in the creative industries? (Nancy Baym)
- How do youth make sense of networked publics? (danah boyd)
- How do we listen to each other in networked environments, and what are the implications for intimacy, privacy and social change? (Kate Crawford)
- How does information infrastructure shape event epistemology? (Megan Finn)
- How do people with minimal internet access use mobile media to negotiate marginalization and social immobility? (Mary L. Gray)
To apply for a postdoc position at MSRNE:
- Submit an online application at: https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/fulltime.aspx
Indicate that your research area of interest is “Anthropology, Communication, Media Studies, and Sociology” and that your location preference is “New England, U.S.”
In addition to the CV and names of three referees (including your dissertation advisor) that the online application will require you to include, upload the following 3 attachments with your online application:
- two journal articles, book chapters, or equivalent writing samples (uploaded as 2 separate attachments);
- a single research statement (four page maximum length) that addresses the following: outlines the questions and methodologies central to your research agenda (~two page maximum length); provides an abstract and chapter outline of your dissertation (~one page maximum length); offers a description of how your research agenda relates to research conducted by the social media collective (~one page maximum length)
- After you submit your application, send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) alerting us that you have uploaded your application. If an applicant meets the requirements above, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees on your behalf. ALL LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE IN ORDER FOR AN APPLICATION TO BE CONSIDERED. Please make sure to check back with your referees or us if you have any questions about the status of your requested letters of recommendation.
For more information, see: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/jobs/fulltime/postdoc.aspx
To learn more about the Social Media Collective, check out our blog: http://www.socialmediacollective.org
Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer
On Tuesday, Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy was arrested for “criminal mischief” – or “the willful damaging of property” – when she responded to disturbingly racist ads that were posted in the New York City subway system with spray paint. Her act of political resistance went beyond spray paint however. In some ways, it was intentionally designed to get the attention of the internet. When she encountered resistance from a person defending the ads – who clearly knew Mona and kept responding to her by name – Eltahawy chose to create a challenge over her right to engage in what she called “freedom of expression.” This altercation escalates as the two argue on camera over whether or not Eltahawy is violating free speech or “making an expression on free speech.” (The video can be seen here.) As this encounter unfolds, Eltahawy regularly turns to the video and speaks to “the internet,” indicating that she knew full well that this video would be made available online. In constructing her audience, Eltahawy also switches between talking to Americans (“see this America”) and to a broader international public, presumably of people who are angry at the perceived hypocrisy of how America constructs free speech in light of the video mocking Islam’s prophet that sparked riots around the globe.
As I watch this video and try to untangle the dynamics going on, I can’t help but reflect on the cultural collision course underway as the notion of “free speech” gets decontextualized in light of heightened visibility. But before I get there, I need to offer some more context.
Free Speech in the United States
In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This is the foundation of the “free speech” clause that is one of the most unique aspects of American political life. It means that people have the right to speak their mind, even if their speech is unpopular, blasphemous, or critical.
Over the last 200+ years, there have been interesting cases that pit free speech against other issues that result in what may be perceived to be special carve-outs. For example, “hate speech” is not protected under civil rights clauses when it constitutes a form of harassment. Child pornography is not considered free speech but, rather, photographic evidence of a crime against a child. And speech that incites violence is not considered free speech if it serves to create an imminent threat of violence. (Of course, the edge cases on this are often dicey.) But content that depicts many things that are deemed offensive – including grotesque imagery, obscene pornography, and extreme violence – is often protected by free speech, even if public display of it is limited.
Of course, what taketh also giveth. Many European countries have begun banning women from wearing the hijab, seeing it as an oppressive dress. In the United States, the same first amendment that permits racist and blasphemous content also protects Muslim women in their choice of clothing. Even when people are racist shits, Muslims have a tremendous amount of freedom afforded to them because of US laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of religion. Does that make it easy to be Muslim in the US? No. But being Muslim in the US is a hell of a lot more protected than being Jewish in any Arab state.
As offensive (and, frankly, dreadfully awful) as the pseudo-pornographic film “Innocence of Muslims” is, it’s protected under free speech in the United States. This is not the first film to depict religious figures in problematic ways, nor will it be the last. As The Onion satirically reminds us, there are plenty of sexualized images out there depicting religious figures in all sorts of upsetting ways.
Yet, this video spread far beyond the walls of the United States, into other regions where the very notion of “free speech” is absent. Many Muslims were outraged at the idea that their prophet might be depicted in such an offensive manner and some took to the streets in anger. Some interpreted the video as hateful and couldn’t understand why such content would ever be allowed. Meanwhile, many Americans failed to understand why such a video would be uniquely provocative in Muslim communities. On more than one occasion, I heard Americans ask questions like: Why should it be illegal to represent a religious figure in a negative light when it’s so common in Muslim societies to be so hateful to people of other religions? Or to be hateful towards women or LGBT people? Or to depict women in negative ways? Needless to say, all of this rests on a fundamental moral disconnect around what values can and should shape a society.
Meanwhile, in the United States, a lawsuit was moving through the courts concerning a deeply racist advertisement that “The American Freedom Defense Initiative” wanted to pay to have displayed by New York City’s subway system (MTA). The MTA went to the courts in an effort to block the advertisement which implicitly linked Muslims to savages. The MTA lost their court battle when a judge argued that this racist ad was protected speech, thereby forcing the MTA to accept and post the advertisements. Begrudgingly, they did. And this is where we get to Mona.
While posting racist images is covered under free speech law, not just any act is covered under the freedom of expression. When Eltahawy chose to express her dissent by spray painting the ads, she did commit a crime, just as anyone who graffitis any public property is committing a crime. Freedom of speech does not permit anyone to damage property and, as horrid as those ads are, they were the property of the MTA. Unfortunately for Eltahawy, her act is also not non-violent protest because she committed a crime. [Update: Eltahawy uses non-violent protest as her justification to the police officers for why she should not be arrested. I'm not suggesting that her act was violent, but rather, that she can't claim that she's simply engaged in non-violent protest and assume that this overrides the illegal nature of her actions. If she knows her actions are illegal, she can claim she's engaged in civil disobedience, but civil disobedience and non-violent protest are not synonymous.] Had she chosen to stand in front of the ad and said whatever was on her mind, she would’ve been fully within her rights (provided that it did not escalate to “disturbing the peace”). Now, we might not like that vandalism is a crime – and we might recognize that most graffiti these days goes unpunished – but the fact is that spray painting public property is unquestionably illegal.
Of course, the whole thing reaches a new level of disgusting today when Pamela Hall – the anti-Islam activist behind “Stop the Islamization of America” – sues Eltahawy for damage to _her_ property. While I don’t believe that Eltahawy was in the right when she vandalized MTA property, the video makes it very clear that Hall actively provokes Eltahawy and because of Hall’s aggressions, Hall’s property is damaged. I hope that the courts throw this one out entirely.
Making Protests Visible
By circulating the video of Eltahawy getting arrested, activists are asking viewers to have sympathy with Eltahawy. In some ways, this isn’t hard. That poster is disgusting and I’m embarrassed by it. But her choice to consistently exclaim that she’s engaged in freedom of expression and non-violent protest is misleading and inaccurate. What she did, whether she knew it or not, was illegal and not within the dominion of either free speech or non-violent protest. Interestingly, her aggressive interlocutor accepts her frame and just keeps trying to negate it by saying that she’s “violating free speech.” This too is inaccurate. Free speech is not the issue at play in the altercation between Eltahawy and Hall or when Eltahawy vandalizes the poster. Free speech only matters in that that stupid poster was posted in the first place.
The legal details of this will get worked out in the court, but I’m bothered by the way in which the circulation of this video and the discussion around it polarizes the conversation without shedding light on the murky realities of how free speech operates of what is and is not free speech and of what is and is not illegal in the United States when it comes to protesting. Let me be clear: I think that we should all be protesting those racist ads. And I’m fully aware that some acts of protest can and must blur the lines between what is legal and illegal because law enforcement regularly suppresses protester’s rights and arrests people in oppressive ways that undermine important acts of resistance. And I also realize that one of the reasons that activists engage in acts that get them arrested because, when they do, news media covers it and bringing attention to an issue is often a desired end-goal by many activists. But what concerns me is that there’s a huge international disconnect brewing over American free speech and our failure to publicly untangle these issues undermines any effort to promote its value.
I’m deeply committed to the value of free speech. I understand its costs and I despise when it’s used as a tool to degrade and demean people or groups. I hate when it’s used to justify unhealthy behavior or reinforce norms that disgust me. But I tolerate these things because I believe that it’s one of the most critical tools of freedom. I firmly believe that censoring speech erodes a society more than allowing icky speech does. I also firmly believe that efforts to hamper free speech do a greater disservice to oppressed people than permitting disgusting speech. It’s a trade-off and it’s a trade-off that I accept. Yet, it’s also a trade-off that cannot be taken for granted, especially in a global society.
Through the internet, content spreads across boundaries and cultural contexts. It’s sooo easy to take things out of context or not understand the context in which they are produced or disseminated. Or why they are tolerated. Contexts collapse and people get upset because their local norms and rules don’t seem to apply when things slip over the borders and can’t be controlled. Thus, we see a serious battle brewing over who controls the internet. What norms? What laws? What cultural contexts? Settling this is really bloody hard because many of the issues at stake are so deeply conflicting as to appear to be irresolvable.
I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen to freedom of speech as we enter into a networked world, but I suspect it’s going to spark many more ugly confrontations. Rather, it’s not the freedom of speech itself that will, but the visibility of the resultant expressions, good, bad, and ugly. For this reason, I think that we need to start having a serious conversation about what freedom of speech means in a networked world where jurisdictions blur, norms collide, and contexts collapse. This isn’t going to be worked out by enacting global laws nor is it going to be easily solved through technology. This is, above all else, a social issue that has scaled to new levels, creating serious socio-cultural governance questions. How do we understand the boundaries and freedoms of expression in a networked world?
In the past few years, funny compilations of falls, glitches and fails from video games became popular even outside the gamer community. Acknowledged by their creators to be “random” and just “messing around”, the funny videos with goats floating up ladders, skateboarders falling through polygon walls and ridiculous car crashes in GTA have generated a lot of LOLs. Far from being just goofy and inconsequential, they can actually reveal a lot about our relationship with the newness and strangeness of virtual environments. What exactly do we find humorous about them? How do the affordances, limitations and glitches in software can be used for comical purposes and how do they allow us to experience the virtual bodies of our avatars?
My internship project investigates how tropes of physical humor are being played out in virtual environments. I am interested in how they are being performed, edited, framed and discussed. This tumblr blog, started with the help of my friend Andres Lombana from UT-Austin (who knows too much about animated slapstick) is, among other things, a chronicle of my journey to understand it and write a paper about it. It brings together both slapstick-like videos from virtual environments, other humorous content playing with the emergent nature of new media environments, quotes from literature and analytical observations. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts, comments and videos and contact me if you have any suggestions, questions or tips.
Xinru Page, Karen Tang, Fred Stutzman and I are organizing a two-day workshop on measuring networked social privacy at the CSCW 2013 conference next spring. We are inviting researchers from diverse backgrounds to come and work with us on what would it look like to “measure” networked social privacy in rigorous, productive ways. Please pass our CfP on to your networks, or even better, submit a position paper and join the endeavor!
Call for Participation
Social media plays an increasingly important role in interpersonal relationships and, consequently, raises privacy questions for end-users. However, there is little guidance or consensus for researchers on how to measure privacy in social media contexts, such as in social network sites like Facebook or Twitter. To this point, privacy measurement has focused more on data protection for end-users and used privacy scales like CFIP, IUIPC, and the Westin Segmentation Index. While these scales have been used for cross-study comparisons, they primarily emphasize informational privacy concerns and are less effective at capturing interpersonal and interactional privacy concerns.
Thus, there is a clear need to develop appropriate metrics and techniques for measuring privacy concerns in social media. Accomplishing such a goal requires knowledge of the current methods for measuring social privacy, as well as various existing interpersonal privacy frameworks. In this workshop, we will cultivate a common understanding of privacy frameworks, provide an overview of recent empirical work on privacy in social media, and encourage the development of consensus among the community on how to approach measuring social privacy for these networked, interpersonal settings. Our 2-day workshop will provide participants the opportunity to work more deeply on these issues, including opportunities to create and pilot new privacy measures, methods, and frameworks that will comprise a toolbox of techniques that can be used to study privacy concerns in social media.
We invite researchers from various domains to join this multidisciplinary workshop and address a number of key challenges in achieving this research vision. Some of these challenges include:
- “Measuring” privacy: How should privacy be measured? Many studies run into the “privacy paradox” which points to how privacy concerns are not correlated with actual behavior. How should studies ensure that they are capturing untainted privacy concerns? How do we connect concerns with behavior?
- Contextualizing privacy: How context-specific should privacy metrics be? How can we anticipate the types of social privacy concerns that will be most salient for different audiences? What types of situational context need to be captured in order to effectively capture interpersonal privacy concerns in social media?
- Cross-study comparisons: How can general privacy measures be useful across different studies? What ways can we measure whether one privacy design is more effective than another in addressing social privacy concerns? How should context be considered when comparing privacy concerns across studies?
- Integrating qualitative with quantitative: What is the role of various qualitative and quantitative methods in developing metrics? How can these methods complement each other? In which situations should a particular method, tool, and/or study design be used?
- Integrating frameworks and metrics: How can we draw from existing privacy frameworks to contribute to our understanding of privacy in social media? What aspects of social privacy do these frameworks do a good job of capturing? What aspects of social privacy do these frameworks neglect to capture? How can we translate these privacy frameworks into a tool for capturing privacy concerns?
Interested parties should submit a position paper (2-4 pages in the Extended Abstracts format) by November 16, 2012, 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time.
We welcome a range of work including (but not limited to): (1) addressing one of the challenges described above, (2) experiences and/or case studies about measuring privacy and/or developing novel privacy frameworks, (3) lessons learned of what works and what doesn’t work when capturing social privacy concerns, (4) challenges to established assumptions about measuring privacy, and (5) ideas on novel directions in creating new privacy metrics and frameworks.
All submissions should be made in English. Our program committee will peer-review submissions and evaluate participants based on their potential to contribute to the workshop goals and discussions. At least one author of each accepted paper must register for the workshop.
- Submission deadline – November 16, 2012
- Notification of acceptance – December 11, 2012
- Workshop at CSCW 2013 – February 23-24, 2013
In all issues related to the workshop, please contact us by e-mail at networkedprivacy(at)gmail.com