A “pay it back tax” on data brokers: a modest (and also politically untenable and impossibly naïve) policy proposal

I've just returned from the "Social, Cultural, and Ethical Dimensions of Big Data" event, held by the Data & Society Initiative (led by danah boyd), and spurred by the efforts of the White House Office of Technology and Policy to develop a comprehensive report on issues of privacy, discrimination, and rights around big data. And …

Continue reading A “pay it back tax” on data brokers: a modest (and also politically untenable and impossibly naïve) policy proposal

New anthology on media technologies, bringing together STS and Communication perspectives

I'm thrilled to announce that our anthology, Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, edited by myself with Pablo Boczkowski and Kirsten Foot, is now officially available from MIT Press. Contributors include Geoffrey Bowker, Finn Brunton, Gabriella Coleman, Gregory Downey, Steven Jackson, Christopher Kelty, Leah Lievrouw, Sonia Livingstone, Ignacio Siles, Jonathan Sterne, Lucy Suchman, and Fred Turner. We’ve secured permission to share the …

Continue reading New anthology on media technologies, bringing together STS and Communication perspectives

Tumblr, NSFW porn blogging, and the challenge of checkpoints

After Yahoo's high-profile purchase of Tumblr, when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said that she would "promise not to screw it up," this is probably not what she had in mind. Devoted users of Tumblr have been watching closely, worried that the cool, web 2.0 image blogging tool would be tamed by the nearly two-decade-old search giant. One population of Tumblr …

Continue reading Tumblr, NSFW porn blogging, and the challenge of checkpoints

Is Twitter us or them? #twitterfail and living somewhere between public commitment and private investment

This is about the fourth Olympics that's been trumpeted as the first one to embrace social media and the Internet -- just as, depending on how you figure it, it's about the fourth U.S. election in a row that's the first to go digital. It may be in the nature of new technologies that we …

Continue reading Is Twitter us or them? #twitterfail and living somewhere between public commitment and private investment

The dirty job of keeping Facebook clean

Last week, Gawker received a curious document. Turned over by an aggrieved worker from the online freelance employment site oDesk, the document iterated, over the course of several pages and in unsettling detail, exactly what kinds of content should be deleted from the social networking site that had outsourced its content moderation to oDesk's team. …

Continue reading The dirty job of keeping Facebook clean

SOPA and the strategy of forced invisibility

Since I supported the blacking out of the MSR Social Media Collective blog to which I sometimes contribute, and the blacking out of Culture Digitally, which I co-organize, in order to join the SOPA protest led by the "Stop American Censorship" effort, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reddit, and Wikipedia, I though I should weigh in …

Continue reading SOPA and the strategy of forced invisibility

Can an algorithm be wrong? Twitter Trends, the specter of censorship, and our faith in the algorithms around us

The interesting question is not whether Twitter is censoring its Trends list. The interesting question is, what do we think the Trends list is, what it represents and how it works, that we can presume to hold it accountable when we think it is "wrong?" What are these algorithms, and what do we want them to be? …

Continue reading Can an algorithm be wrong? Twitter Trends, the specter of censorship, and our faith in the algorithms around us