Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Technology tail wagging the policy dog?


Jason Kottke picks up Cory Doctorow’s recent insightful comment on the need for more focus on policy than technology and Kevin Werbach’s response: Which came first, the technology or the policy?UPDATE
In response to Cory’s plea, Danah Boyd says

…in fleshing out Cory’s call to technologists, i’d ask all technologists to consider not only what problems a technology solves, but what new ones could emerge. Start thinking like a writer or an abuser of technology. Imagine how people could misuse a technology to hurt others. Consider who gains and loses power from such technology. It’s a fascinating exercise and far more fulfilling than just thinking about who benefits from something. And besides, then you won’t always be thinking “but the users shouldn’t do THAT with this technology.”

This prompts Joi Ito to think about ways in which the *uses* of technology can produce social effects that are perhaps unexpected from the developer’s point of view, and he goes on to link this with the phenomenon of people inadvertently collapsing context because of a lack of understanding of the technology. A good example of this is the widespread misunderstanding that exists about what is private and what is public in online dialogue
In reply, Danah agrees that this is common problem (“Over and over again, i run into people who are outright shocked that their material is on Google”) but feels strongly that we should not blame users for these types of misconception

“As technologists, we have a tendency to mock this population, arguing that it’s their own fault for being stupid. Well, this is foolish. The technology is not being devised by them or for them. They are getting swept away by decisions in many ways propagated by the A-List blogger-esque community that WANTS to be public, seen and heard. Furthermore, when they do realize things are public, they often don’t care so long as it doesn’t affect them locally. This is not because they are stupid but because the mass populous does not fear Big Brother and that is their conception of why they should care about privacy. In many ways, us technologists do a disservice to the population when we ask them to rebel against these technologies because of how institutions might treat them. They WANT to sell their data for the chance of winning a Porsche. They WANT the Easy Pass because they don’t think that the government cares; they’re law-abiding, right? People care about local vulnerability… things that will affect them personally. That’s what Garfinkel and others have noticed that people perk up when their identity is stolen or when their boss finds out about their digital behavior. People don’t think about how the technology is evolving because it’s not evolving in a direction that meets their needs. Thus, it is unfathomable.”

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