a feminist technology blog

Category: Press

On online misogyny and sexism

I was on Al-Jazeera English’s social media show, the Stream, yesterday talking about online sexism and backlash against women.

This was my television debut and I was very nervous. TV isn’t like any other form of commentary. You can’t edit what you say, you have to be able to think on your feet and have your talking points down cold. I think I did a good job, but there are a few places where I’d have loved to just be able to write out a big ol’ blog essay instead. The folks at Al-Jazeera were really welcoming and nice and I had a great time. It was also fantastic getting to have a real discussion rather than just a few 10-second soundbites.

Notably, the comments on YouTube are mostly about how there’s no such thing as sexism and feminism is a plot against men. Perfectly proving our point!

CNN on “the end of privacy”

John Sutter from CNN interviewed me for this story that provides a broad overview of information-sharing concerns. I think it’s fairly balanced, and I’m also happy that this quote made it in:

“The teenagers and 20-somethings we talk to — a huge aspect of their social life goes on online,” Marwick said. “Not participating in online life is like not having a phone or not going to parties — it’s choosing to opt out of an important part of their social community. It’s not really a choice for many young people.”

You’ll notice that I relay an anecdote that danah blogged about: a pair of girls we interviewed who used the “super logoff” and “whitewashing” methods. “Super logoff” is deleting your account upon exiting Facebook; “whitewashing” is deleting comments, pictures, and Wall posts after they’ve been up for a few hours. While we’ve only interviewed a few teens who’ve exhibited these behaviors, they’re part of a continuum of creative privacy-protection strategies that includes maintaining multiple profiles, “social steganography,” or posting coded messages that are meant only for a select group, switching from Facebook to SMS when appropriate, deleting one’s Facebook account, and a host of other permutations and possibilities. I’m glad that people are beginning to understand that participating in online social life doesn’t– at all– mean the participants “don’t care about privacy.”

This is the first of a series, and I’m very curious to see where CNN goes with it.

The Kindle

A short piece I wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education on the Kindle.

When you pay for a Kindle book, you’re purchasing a license to read content on a single Kindle for as long as Amazon or the publisher allows. Some authors make their books available through free licenses on Creative Commons, but they are a small minority. Sure, you can find books to download in the public domain, but thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, those are restricted to books published by authors who died more than 70 years ago. Anything more recent, you pay for. You can’t transfer a purchase, copy it, print it out, or do anything else without violating at least the Kindle terms of service and at worst the copyright act. Naturally, there is a thriving trade in pirated e-books, as well as in software that converts files so that they can be read on the Kindle. That is all highly illegal.

Right after this was published, I left my Kindle in the seat pocket of an airplane and it was promptly stolen. Thanks, Delta.

I’ve gotten some push-back from my assertions that you can’t annotate documents on the Kindle. You can. Here’s how. I personally would not do this, because it’s not the way I read or annotate articles. I do them with pen and highlighter. But I do recognize that this works for other people, which is great for them. I still maintain that the Kindle is not designed to be a note-taking device, but an e-reader, and I think there are significant issues with how it handles the ownership of books.

Still, the editors deleted much of my positive commentary on the Kindle, which I absolutely loved. I miss mine and look forward to buying a new one once I have a real job.

Interview at the Free Culture Conference

Jacob Caggiano tracked me down at the Berkeley Free Culture summit and asked me some questions about Free Culture. In reviewing the video, it’s clear that I did not answer the journalism question (how do you make money off citizen journalism?). But that’s probably good, because I don’t know the answer to that — if I did, lots of people would be very very curious, considering the terrible state of journalism, news media, and traditional publishing. Still, if you want to see me chatting away, here’s the vid:

Alice Marwick – NYU Dept. of Culture & Communication – at Free Culture 2008 Conference from Jacob Caggiano on Vimeo.

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