the culture and values of social media

Fall Speaking Events

Posted: September 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Conferences, Talks | No Comments »

Here’s where I’m talking this semester:

October 15th, 2014
Wellesley College (my alma mater!), Wellesley, MA
Newhouse Center for the Humanities Faculty Working Group “Investigating the Socio-Technical”

October 21-24, 2014
Association of Internet Researchers annual meeting 15.0, Daegu, Korea
Show Me Your Selfies pre-conference workshop, showing off the work we’ve been doing with the Selfie Research Network.
Panel on 10 Years of Facebook with Brady Robards, Sian Lincoln, Ben Light and Neha Kumar

November 10, 2014
Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan
Talking about Networked Privacy in social media

November 19, 2014
Privacy Research Group, New York University
Talking about popular conceptions of ethics around the celebrity nudes hacking scandal


New talk: Big Data, Data-Mining, and the Social Web

Posted: October 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: marketing, privacy, Talks | Tags: , | No Comments »

Today I gave a talk at the Power, Privacy & the Internet event hosted by the New York Review of Books. I was on a heavy-hitting panel with the wonderful James Bamford, who has been writing books taking the NSA to task since I was playing with Barbies– and as a result, knows more about where the NSA came from and where it is going than anyone else I’ve ever met. Rounding out the panel was Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, who has been
pressuring the Obama administration to reform the NSA and has met personally with the three out of five members of Obama’s new NSA review board. Phew.

My talk, in contrast, was about the corporate collecting of personal data. I had just seen a fantastic presentation at AOIR by Dave Parry on the Obama campaign’s use of data-mining techniques, and was well-prepared as a result (thanks Dave!).

Here’s the first paragraph of the talk:

While recent revelations regarding the NSA’s role in the collection and mining of the personal information and digital activities of millions of people across the world have garnered immense media attention and public outcry, there are equally troubling and equally opaque systems run by advertising, marketing and data-mining firms which have not attracted as much attention. Using techniques ranging from supermarket loyalty cards to targeted Facebook advertising, private companies systematically collect very personal information, from who you are, to what you do, to what you buy. Data about your online and offline behavior is combined, analyzed, and sold to marketers, corporations, governments, and even criminals. The scope of this collection, aggregation, and brokering of information is similar to, if not larger than, that of the NSA, yet it is almost entirely unregulated and many of the activities of data-mining and digital marketing firms creep under the radar.

You can download a PDF of the entire talk here. Thanks much to #aoircamp for the time and space in which to write it up.


Social Media Syllabus

Posted: August 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: academia, social media | Tags: , | No Comments »

I’m teaching a new class at Fordham called “Social Media.” I spent a ton of time trying to figure out what was most important to cover, and ultimately I could probably teach a 2-year class on the subject. Here’s what I came up with (with class policies, grading rubics, etc. snipped):

Social Media | COMM 3307

Class blog: http://socialmedia3307.tumblr.com/

Course Description

This class examines the relationship between society and the current crop of computer-mediated communication technologies known as “social media,” including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. These technologies are often regarded with fear or awe; the purpose of this class is to break down the mythologies of social media and develop methods of analysis and critical understanding. To do this, we will draw from a broad range of social theory including science and technology studies (STS), communication theory, linguistics, cultural studies, and media anthropology to critically evaluate the impact of social media on relationships, activism, branding, politics, news media, and identity. We will focus on the “sociotechnical,” or the relationship between the technical affordances of a website/technology and the social norms of a user community, and how to use this to understand emerging technologies (and social media that doesn’t exist yet!). Students will also gain basic practical social media skills: understanding the landscape, learning “best practices,” and using different social media technologies throughout the class to create and propagate content.

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES, READINGS, AND ASSIGNMENTS
Classes are subject to change based on the interests of class and direction in which class proceeds. Please make yourself aware of all changes to the schedule. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to learn of any changes.
Readings and other assignments are due on the date listed.

Date Topic (reading due by class date)

Friday 8/31 Introductions & Course Overview
Syllabus
Class objectives
What is social media?

Tuesday 9/4 Key Concepts
Nancy Baym “New Forms of Personal Connection” Chapter 1
Terms: interactivity, temporal structure, social cues, storage, replicability, reach, mobility

Blog Assignment: Set up Tumblr account. Post an example for one of the key terms. Include a photo, video or audio file, and a link.

Friday 9/7 Social Media in Context
Tom Standage, “Codes, Hackers and Cheats” and “Love over the Wires” (from The Victorian Internet)
Hafner & Lyon, “Email” (from When Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet)
What’s similar about these previous forms of media? What’s different?

Blog Assignment: Pick a pre-web technology and compare it to one of your favorite websites, apps, or games (e.g. record player vs. Spotify). Hint: What’s the difference between the internet and the web?

Tuesday 9/11 History of Social Media
Baron, “Language Online: The Basics” (from Always On)
Boyd & Ellison, “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship”
Terms: Asynchronous, synchronous, one-to-one, one-to-many, bi-directional, uni-directional. Take note of the different technologies mentioned in these chapters; you will be seeing them again.

Friday 9/14 Introducing Theory
Gillespie, “The Stories Digital Tools Tell”
Baym Chapter 2, “Making New Media Make Sense”
Terms: Technological Determinism, social construction of technology, social Shaping, utopian, dystopian, interface

How are new technologies represented in the media?
Blog assignment: Pick a news story about social media and post it. Analyze whether you think the claims and evidence presented in the story are correct.
Examples: NYT, Washington Post

Tuesday 9/18 Computer-Mediated Communication
Baym, Chapter 3, “Communication in Digital Spaces”
Baron, Chapter 4, “Are Instant Messages Speech?”
Terms: reduced social cues, social presence theory, media richness theory, flaming, immediacy cues, mixed modality, intonation unit, conversational scaffolding, utterance break

Blog Assignment: Pick a politician’s Twitter account. Analyze his or her speech. What features of CMC does he/she show, or not? Compare this with the account of a musician or celebrity like @kimkardashian or @rihanna.

Tip: Find your hometown Senator or Representative: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Friday 9/21 Affordances
Norman “The Psychopathy of Everyday Things”
Latour, “Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts”
Terms: Affordance, delegation, anthropomorphism, re-inscription

What is an affordance?
How does this play into social construction or technological determinism?

Blog post: Go back to your politician’s Twitter account. What affordances does Twitter have? How does the politician use them (or not)?

Note: In order to vote in the Presidential election in NYC, you must be registered 25 days before the election. This weekend is a great time to sign up! Register in NY (if you choose to vote in your home state, check http://www.longdistancevoter.org to find out how to cast an absentee ballot, and http://www.countmore.org to decide whether to vote there or in NYC. Many states have registration deadlines for the beginning of October).

Tuesday 9/25 Online Communities
Baym, Chapter 4, “Communities and Networks”
Ellison, N. Steinfield, C. & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook ‘friends’: Exploring the relationship between college students’ use of online social networks and social capital.
Terms: community, speech community, norms, social capital, bonding capital, bridging capital, maintained capital, network support, emotional support, esteem support, informational support, networked individualism

Blog Assignment: Pick an online site that you participate in (something smaller than “Facebook” or “Twitter,” e.g. a particular Facebook community, or a fan forum for a sports team). Do you consider it a “community”? Why or why not?

Friday 9/28 Norms
Garfinkel, “Studies of the Routine Grounds of Everyday Activities” (warning: This is a difficult piece. Concentrate on the experiments and how Garfinkel’s students responded to them.)
Marwick & Ellison, “There Isn’t Wifi in Heaven!” Negotiating Visibility on Facebook Memorial Pages
Sandvig, “Social Media Breaching Experiments”
Terms: social norms, context collapse, impression management, persistence, scalability, searchability

Blog Assignment: Return to the online site you participate in. What are its norms? Talk about one or two in a short post.

Tuesday 10/2 Online Identity
Baym Chapter 5, “New Relationships, New Selves”
Mendelson and Papacharissi, “Look at Us: Collective Narcissism in College Student Facebook Photo Galleries”
Terms: Disembodied identities, identity cues, self-presentation

Assignment #1 due: Social Media Breaching Experiments

Friday 10/5 Aspects of Identity
Marwick, “Gender, Sexuality and Social Media”
Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet”

Optional:
Manjoo, “How Black People Use Twitter”
Carter, “A Response to Farheed Manjoo’s “How Black People Use Twitter”
Nakamura, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game: The Racialization of Labor in World of Warcraft”

Terms: disembodiment hypothesis, cyborg feminism, oversharing, otherness, identity tourism, passing

Last day for designating a course Pass/Fail

Blog Assignment: Find a news article on a popular site like CNN.com or HuffingtonPost.com that deals with gender, race, sexuality, class, nationality, religion, or another aspect of identity. Read and analyze the comments—what views are expressed? How do commenters respond to each other? Do you think this is different from face-to-face conversations? Why?

Tuesday 10/9 Relationships
Baym, Chapter 6, “Digital Media in Relational Development and Maintenance”
Gershon, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” (from Breakup 2.0)
Terms: early idealization, relational development, relational maintenance, “friending,” idioms of practice, media ideologies, second-order information

Find/form midterm study groups (no blog assignment)

Friday 10/12 Midterm

Tuesday 10/16 Creativity and Culture
Shirky, “Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus” (from Cognitive Surplus)
Davidson, “The Language of Internet Memes”
Schifman, “Anatomy of a YouTube Meme”

Blog assignment: Peruse knowyourmeme.com’s Meme Database for a half hour or so. Pick a meme (either one you found there or one you were previously familiar with) and write a quick analysis of what the meme involves.

Friday 10/19 NO CLASS – ALICE AT CONFERENCE
Watch We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner, 2009) 90 mins. This movie is available on Netflix (DVD only, not Instant), Hulu Plus, Amazon Video On-Demand ($3.99) and on reserve at Walsh library. I highly encourage using the blog to coordinate viewing parties. (Fun!!!) Note that having technical difficulties is NOT an excuse for not seeing it, so don’t wait until Sunday night to try accessing the movie.

Blog assignment: Movie review (feel free to give a grade or a star rating). (due Monday 10/22 at 5pm)

Activism, Politics & News

Tuesday 10/23 What was the role of Twitter in the Arab Spring?

Grossman, “Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement”
Morozov, “The Google Doctrine” (from The Net Delusion)
Doctorow, “We Need a Serious Critique of Net Activism”
Stepanova, “The Role of Information Communication Technologies in the Arab Spring”

Blog Assignment: What’s your perspective? How do the theories of technology we discussed earlier in the semester (technological determinism, social shaping of technology, utopian/dystopian, etc.) play into these accounts?

Friday 10/26 How has social media changed online news?

Rosen, J. “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”
Starr, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)”
Braun & Gillespie, “Hosting the public discourse, hosting the public: When online news and social media converge.”

Guest Speaker: Joe Weisenthal, Editor, BusinessInsider.com
Peruse BusinessInsider.com and write a list of questions for Joe. Bring them to class. More about Mr. Weisenthal: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/joe-weisenthal-vs-the-24-hour-news-cycle.html?pagewanted=all

Tuesday 10/30 What impact has social media had on civic engagement?

Knight Foundation, “What are the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy?”
Johnson et. al, “United We Stand? Online Social Network Sites & Civic Engagement”
Claire Cain Miller, “How Obama’s Internet Campaign Changed Politics”

Friday 11/2 Branding
Clemons, “The complex problem of monetizing virtual electronic social networks.”
Ivey, “Domino’s Pizza Case Study.”
Dash, “How to Fix Popchips’ Racist Ad Campaign”

How can companies engage well on social media?
Blog assignment: Post an example of a company you think is doing it “right” or “wrong.” Why or why not?

Tuesday 11/6 ELECTION DAY – NO CLASS. GO VOTE!!!
Assignment #2 DUE by 5pm 11/5 over email or Blackboard. How has (candidate of your choice) used social media in this election?

Friday 11/9 Legal Aspects of Social Media
Lessig, “Property” (from Free Culture)
Zittrain, “Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement” (from The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It)

Talk about final paper assignment

Tuesday 11/13 Privacy
Cashmore, Facebook Founder on Privacy: Public Is the New “Social Norm” (watch video too)
Kirkpatrick, “Why Facebook is Wrong About Privacy”
Boyd & Hargittai, Facebook Privacy Settings: Who Cares?

Blog Assignment: Given what we learned about norms and affordances earlier in the semester, do you agree with Zuckerberg, Kirkpatrick, or neither?

Optional: How are your Facebook privacy settings set? Why? Log out and try to view your profile. Were you correct about how you had set your settings?

Friday 11/16 Alice out of town – class cancelled
Thesis statement & outline of paper due over email at 5pm!

Tuesday 11/20 Transgression and Deception
Coleman, “Freaks, Hackers and Trolls: The Politics of Transgression and Spectacle”
Donath, “Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community”

Blog assignment TBD

Alice returns thesis/outlines with comments

Friday 11/23 THANKSGIVING – SCHOOL CLOSED

Tuesday 11/27 Limiting Internet Speech?
Benkler, “A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate” (LONG article)
Bosker, “Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity online has to go away”
boyd, “Real Name Policies are an Abuse of Power”

Blog Assignment: What has the US government’s response been to Wikileaks? Do you think it’s reasonable or not? Should there be limits on internet free speech?

Friday 11/30 Opting Out & Non-Participation
Portwood-Stacer, “Media refusal and conspicuous non-consumption: The performative and political dimensions of Facebook abstention.”
Marwick, “If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Use It. It’s That Simple. ORLY?”

Alice out of town – Dr. Laura Portwood-Stacer (NYU) substitute professor
Very rough draft (not graded) due at 5pm

Tuesday 12/4 Who Benefits from Social Media?
Hargittai, Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses among Members of the “Net Generation”
Gray, “Online Profiles: Remediating the Coming Out Story.” (from Out in the Country)
Marwick, “Status, Social Media, and the Tech Scene” (from Status Update)

Blog Assignment: Choose a social media technology we’ve never discussed in class. Post a brief analysis of its affordances and norms, and how it may impact social or political issues. (The point of this assignment is to show that you can use the tools developed in this class to discuss technologies that we can’t even imagine yet!)

Friday 12/7 Last Day of Class: Wrap-Up
Baym, Conclusion
Class objectives: achieved?
Paper Q&A

Blog assignment: What worked in this class? What didn’t work? What would you alter and change if YOU were teaching the class?

Alice returns rough drafts w/ comments
Sign up for one on one paper review slot
Student Evaluations

PAPERS DUE 12/20 AT 5PM EST OVER EMAIL OR BLACKBOARD
NO EXCEPTIONS!


CSST 2012

Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Conferences | No Comments »

I just got back from a fantastic four days spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Consortium for Socio-Technical Systems summer institute (CSST). Along with 10 mentors and 30 other grad students and junior faculty, we did yoga, went hiking, and spent many hours hashing out the particulars of our socio-technical projects.

Picture of Mountain, Sky and Clouds on the Road to Santa Fe

I highly support the concept of academic retreats. Not only did none of us get cell phone reception (one lousy bar, and usually just on the Edge network), the wireless at Bishop’s Lodge was deplorable. So we were basically off the grid for half a week, which for obsessive academics who study technology was challenging. Well, I was challenged. Everyone else seemed fine.

My favorite part of the institute was a mini-workshop on ethnography which I ran (pats self on back). We went around the table and talked about challenges we were having with our ethnographic work. I was amazed and totally stoked that people were doing such fascinating and diverse projects using ethnographic methods, from studying emergency room trauma teams to looking at solar energy projects in Morocco to examining large-scale infrastructure from the ground up in rural India. My co-participants were a truly impressive group and we had a great time hashing out solutions to our varied problems. I was one of the few doing internet ethnography, and I realized how much I have to learn from STS and HCI people studying other forms of technology using similar methods.

I highly recommend that grad students (& asst profs!) apply for next year! It’s all NSF funded and a great group of people.


Social Surveillance in Every Day Life

Posted: May 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Conferences, privacy, publications | Tags: | No Comments »

I’m lucky to be in Toronto this weekend, interacting with amazing colleagues like Chris Soghoian, Priscilla Regan, Leslie Regan Shade, Lee Tien, Finn Brunton, David Phillips, David Lyon, and too many others to mention. We’re all here for the Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday life workshop, sponsored by the Surveillance Studies Centre at the University of Toronto.

Today I presented a new paper draft, The Public Domain: Social Surveillance In Everyday Life. In this paper, I lay out a theoretical framework for looking at social surveillance, and present some places where it’s useful for analysis (namely, Facebook stalking, context collapse, and lifestreaming).

Marwick, Alice. (2011). “The Public Domain: Social Surveillance In Everyday Life”. Cyber-surveillance in Everyday Life, Toronto, May 12-15. [PDF]

Abstract: A profile on a social network site or a Twitter account is created and constructed against the background of an audience—as something to be looked at. This paper argues that the dual gaze of social surveillance—surveying content created by others and looking at one’s own content through other people’s eyes—is a normative part of constant ongoing social media use. Social surveillance is distinguished from “surveillance” along four axes: power, hierarchy, symmetry, and individuality. Based on ethnographic work in the San Francisco technology scene from 2008-2009 and amongst teenagers in the Southeastern United States in 2010, I look at this surveillance, how it is practiced, and its impact on people who engage in it. I use Foucault’s concept of capillaries of power to demonstrate that social surveillance assumes the power differentials evident in everyday interactions rather than the hierarchical power relationships assumed in much of the surveillance literature. Social media involves a collapse of social contexts and social roles, complicating boundary work but facilitating social surveillance. Individuals strategically reveal, disclose and conceal personal information to create connections with others and protect social boundaries. These processes are normal parts of day-to-day life in communities that are highly connected through social media.

We had a lively debate in the presentation about whether or not this model of “social surveillance” renders the term so widely as to be useless (which I obviously disagree with). In my dissertation, I began theorizing how widespread lifestreaming affects self-presentation and subjectivity, with regard to the internalization of the expectation that people are watching. I think the surveillance literature is a very useful place to continue this theory; I’d be interested to hear what others think.

This is a draft; I’ll be revising and submitting to Surveillance & Society post-haste.


Preview: To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter

Posted: September 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: internet fame, publications, Twitter | 4 Comments »

I’ve added a draft version of “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter,” a paper I wrote with danah boyd last summer which will be published in Convergence sometime next year.

Download draft [pdf file]

Abstract:

Social media technologies let people connect by creating and sharing content. We examine the use of Twitter by famous people to conceptualize celebrity as a practice. On Twitter, celebrity is practiced through the appearance and performance of ‘backstage’ access. Celebrity practitioners reveal what appears to be personal information to create a sense of intimacy between participant and follower, publically acknowledge fans, and use language and cultural references to create affiliations with followers. Interactions with other celebrity practitioners and personalities give the impression of candid, uncensored looks at the people behind the personas. But the indeterminate ‘authenticity’ of these performances appeals to some audiences, who enjoy the game playing intrinsic to gossip consumption. While celebrity practice is theoretically open to all, it is not an equalizer or democratizing discourse. Indeed, in order to successfully practice celebrity, fans must recognize the power differentials intrinsic to the relationship.

Please note that this is not the final version. But it is very close to it– we didn’t have too many edits with our peer reviewers– and hopefully it will be useful for those of you studying celebrity and/or Twitter.

This paper was a lot of fun to work on, and it inspired a great deal of the work on micro-celebrity that appeared in my dissertation. My case studies are Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, and Perez Hilton. Miley was an especially hilarious person to study as she often dragged her various Disney starlet friends and family members into her Twitter arguments. I was quite sad when she retired from Twitter via YouTube video.

Citation:

Marwick, A. and boyd, danah (Forthcoming, in final review). “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence.


I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience

Posted: July 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: publications | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

The first paper that danah boyd and I wrote together based on our research at MSR last summer has been published!

Social media technologies collapse multiple audiences into single contexts, making it difficult for people to use the same techniques online that they do to handle multiplicity in face-to-face conversation. This article investigates how content producers navigate ‘imagined audiences’ on Twitter. We talked with participants who have different types of followings to understand their techniques, including targeting different audiences, concealing subjects, and maintaining authenticity. Some techniques of audience management resemble the practices of ‘micro-celebrity’ and personal branding, both strategic self-commodification. Our model of the networked audience assumes a many-to-many communication through which individuals conceptualize an imagined audience evoked through their tweets.

If you have access to a university journal subscription, you can access it here. If not, you can download it here [PDF].

I am very proud of this paper and would love to hear feedback on it.


Job Announcement: Microsoft Research New England postdoc

Posted: April 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: academia | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

It has been a LONG time since I posted anything in this blog– I used to be so conscientious! But I have some very exciting news. In September 2010, I will be joining Microsoft Research New England as a postdoc, working with danah boyd for the next two years. I will be finishing my dissertation this summer and moving to Boston in late August.

Danah has been an enormously significant mentor and friend during my academic career. I interned with her last summer, and we wrote two terrific papers, both of which have been accepted for publication, one in New Media and Society and one in Convergence (more about that in a future post). She is serving on my committee as an outside reader, and we have appeared on many panels together. I have learned an enormous amount from danah, not only about technology, but about professionalization, ethnography, method, and ethics. She is a superlative scholar and I am super lucky to be working with her.

I have worked with Microsoft many times before, starting as an intern on Windows CE 1.0 in 1997! Microsoft Research could not be a better place to work – the researchers are fantastic, the resources are unbelievable and I will have a great deal of freedom to design my own wacky research projects (last summer, as an intern, I studied celebrity and micro-celebrity on Twitter). Danah and I plan to do a lot of fieldwork and continue to write together, and I will be pursuing my own research agenda as well (I am so caught up in finishing the diss that I am not entirely sure what that will be).

In summary: yay! I need to thank my committee, Marita Sturken, Helen Nissenbaum, and Biella Coleman, for being tremendously helpful, and my partner, Harry Heymann, for helping me figure everything out (and serving as a beta reader for my dissertation). And of course all my other colleagues, mentors, and friends. I am confident that MSR will be a great place for me to begin my post-PhD career and I look forward to what the future will bring.


In Lieu of Writing a Real Post, I Post a Video

Posted: May 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Conferences, Dissertation, Status | Tags: | No Comments »

Here’s the @100interviews video of me from SXSW. Note I look exhausted. That’s because it’s halfway through South by and I was exhausted. Good basic overview of my dissertation.

Alice Marwick 100 Interviews


ROFLCON Talk from last April

Posted: April 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Conferences | Tags: , , | 50 Comments »

So my ROFLCON keynote on internet celebrity is finally online in its entirety at the Internet Archive. It took me this long to find it because it’s tagged as “Alex Marwick.” Oh well, we all need to start somewhere! It’s about a half hour long and touches on many of the things about internet celebrity that I’ve written/talked about elsewhere, but I wrote it to be funnier than a typical academic talk. I’ll upload it to YouTube eventually and post it here when it’s done.