meatspace vs. myspace...


Every so often I wonder why I am working full-time when I should be pursuing life as an academic. I think... shouldn't I be completing my masters or PhD by now? Then I look at my assorted bills and other such financial responsibilities and I remember that I am trying to avoid life as a starving student facing life in a debtor's prison (instead I'm a slightly chubby photographer/non-profit employee facing life desperately attempting to improve my money pit through feng shui furniture arrangement). Nevertheless, I am no less interested in the topics related to my past academic pursuits.

This morning I read a rather interesting blog post about the benefits and limitations of walled gardens (online communities like myspace). The author, Dana Boyd, a PhD student in the School of Information at Berkeley and a fellow at USC Annenberg Center poses some compelling questions about the value of walls within the public space of the internet. The whole post is worth a read but the author summarizes her three main points quite nicely. (However, in order for her points to have any relevance you must read her post in it's entirety... don't worry, it's really not that long).

    • If walls have value in meatspace, why are they inherently bad in mediated environments? I would argue that walls provide context and allow us to have some control over the distribution of our expressions. Walls should be appreciated, even if they are near impossible to construct.
    • If robots can run around grabbing the content of supposed walled gardens, are they really walled? It seems to me that the tizzy around walled gardens fails to recognize that those most interested in caching the data (::cough:: Google) can do precisely that. And those most interested does not seem to include the content producers.
    • If the walls come crashing down, what are we actually losing? Walls provide context, context is critical for individuals to properly express themselves in a socially appropriate way. I fear that our loss of walls is resulting in a very confused public space with far more visibility than anyone can actually handle.
    (Dana Boyd, about those walled gardens, 02/05/2007)

    This gave me much to ponder over yesterday morning. But I wasn't able to finish posting any of my thoughts - and what fleeting bit of insight I might have had yesterday has left me. Instead I am in eagerly anticipating the end of the work day. Tonight I go see the Barenaked Ladies in concert... I have been told repeatedly that they put on a really good show so I am quite excited. Apparently cameras are welcome so hopefully I will get some good shots (we'll be sitting in the 15th row).