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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s about that time: the time when the dorkiest Web 2.0 dorks in the dorkosphere all descend on Austin, TX for a week. This is my third SXSW Interactive, and as such I finally feel veteran enough to comment on the experience.
Tuesday, March 17, 3:30 – 4:30 PM. With Adam Fisk (LittleShoot, LimeWire), Ian Clarke (Uprizer Labs, Freenet, Revver), Wendy Seltzer (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, co-founder of Chilling Effects), Aaron Ray (The Collective, lots of film/music projects).
I’m so excited to be added to this panel, as it has some slam-dunk academics on it: my friend and future co-worker danah boyd (Microsoft Research) and my former advisor Siva Vaidhyanathan (UVA). Judith Donath rounds out the pack – her current work on signalling is amazingly interesting and I can’t wait to hear where this panel goes. I’m stepping in to sub for one of my terrific advisors, Helen Nissenbaum (NYU).
If you’re trying to decide between two or three things, pick the one with the most famous person. That way you can always say you saw them, even if the event is a bummer.
Do not use your laptop while you’re in a panel, because you won’t pay any attention to the actual panel. Did you go to Austin to hang out and meet people and learn stuff, or to obsessively check Twitter?
Get to parties about 30 minutes after they open. Earlier and you’ll be the first person there; later and you won’t be able to get through the door.
VIP party passes are your friends, beg, borrow, and steal whenever possible.
As a non-drinker, I avoid the worst curse of SXSW: being so hung over every day that the week becomes more like an endurance test than a fun experience.
SXSW Sched.org: this was the best app of last year. It’s been supplanted a little bit by SXSW’s own home-grown calendar solution, but it’s still really excellent, and updated daily.
The Geek’s Guide to SXSW Film. Every year I say “I’m going to a movie!” and I think I have exactly once, to see one of my friends’ short films. This year I am, at least, going to see the new Paul Rudd/Jason Siegel movie I Love You Man. I’m an Apatow sucker.
For the third year in a row, I am speaking at SXSW Interactive. Last year’s discussion about internet fame was a huge success, and I really enjoyed meeting and talking to everyone who came.
This year I am speaking on “P2P 2.0 and the Future of Digital Media,” a panel about the possibilities and futures of peer-to-peer content creation, distribution, and collaboration. This is a great panel put together by Adam Fisk (LittleShoot, Limewire) and also features Ian Clarke (FreeNet, Revver), Wendy Seltzer (EFF, Berkman Center), and Aaron Ray (the manager for Linkin Park). I’m really excited. As with any panel, I’m sure it will evolve and change as we get closer to the date, but I’m thinking about talking about commercial internet sites and their effects on content creators (copyright infringement claims, content ownership, advertising, selling of personal information, etc.).
So if you’re at SXSW drop by. I was also thinking about organizing an Academics at SXSW meetup- any interest?
Lately I’ve been paying close attention to just who I’m paying attention to when I go to a tech conference (academic or industry). Places like SXSW are pretty good about gender balance, but others will have panel after panel of white dudes, or at least four white dudes and a white woman.
A list of potential female tech speakers would be a very long list. But while I can think of several female startup heads (Mary Hodder, Dina Kaplan, Gina Bianchini, etc.), generally it’s the young male CEO/CTO/COO’s who land on panel after panel and demo after demo. A recent demo session I went to had 25 companies presenting and not a single woman.
The hand-wringing over “Women in Tech” isn’t the point: there are plenty of women in technology already, and there needs to be a more proactive effort to include them on lists, conferences, panels, et cetera. This is the opposite of tokenism; instead, it’s an attempt to replace the friend-of-friend attitude that has dudes organizing conferences and booking their dude friends on panels. The more visible women in technology, the more younger women will see technology as a space for them.
So: Do we need a list?
(Note that there’s something totally wackadoodle about this blog lately, technically; I’ve been meaning to devote an afternoon to un-gunking it and haven’t had the free time yet. I apologize for the continued broken comments, etc.)
You can see a sneak preview of part of the talk here:
I may or may not upload the deck – it’s enormous, most of the pictures aren’t credited (which isn’t very fair to the creators) and I think the talk stands fine alone, as the deck mostly just added humor for the audience. Enjoy!
I am here at ROFLCON and just got done with my big keynote on internet celebrity. I’ll post the notes if anyone wants them. More later, when I’m not still hopped up on adrenalin. Thanks everyone for coming!
Alice E. Marwick (alicetiara) is an Assistant Professor at Fordham University in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, where she teaches classes on social media and digital culture. Previously she was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, MA, where she worked closely with danah boyd studying social software. She received her PhD from the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU in 2010. Her new book, Status Update: Celebrity and Attention in Social Media (Yale University Press 2013), examines how people use social media to boost social status, focusing on life-streaming, micro-celebrity, and self-branding. This blog focuses on academic work, technology, pop culture, communication, and media studies. (I spend more time on Twitter than anywhere else.)