DOASKDOTELL BOOK REVIEWs of The Weblog Handbook , Kline/Burstein Blog, AMA/Flynn Blog Rules, Tom Drugan: Not Just Your Space, Andrew Keen: The Cult of the Amateur; Chris Hansen: To Catch a Predator; Audacia Ray: Naked on the Internet ; Solove: The Future of Reputation; Understanding Privacy; Magid and Collier: MySpace Unraveled; Kelsey: Generation MySpace; Willard: Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens; Willard: Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats;  Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies; Espejo, Roman: Should Myspace and other social networking sites be banned?; Zittrain: The Future of the Internet, and How to Stop It; Zittrain et al: Access Denied; Greenspan, Aaron: Authoritas; Mezrich, Ben: The Accidental Billionaires; Livingston: Now Is Gone; Palfrey and Gasser: Born Digital; Doctorow: Content; Wolf: Give Me Liberty; Boyle: The Public Domain; Auletta: Googled; Lanier: You Are Not a Gadget; Mayer-Schonberger: Delete; Carr: The Shallows; Kirkpatrick: The Facebook Effect; Beal, Strauss: Radically Transparent

 

Author : Rebecca Blood 

Title: The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Weblog

Fiction? Anthology?  

Publisher:  Perseus

Date: 2002

ISBN:  0-7382-0756-X

Series Name:

Physical description: soft, 195 pgs with index

Relevance to HPPUB:  blogging, free speech

Review:

First, her definition:

“A weblog is a coffeehouse conversation in text, with references as required.”

The associated term, used loosely, is blogging. In general, this concept refers to the maintenance of comments about any particular issue or area of experience, often in reverse chronological order, and preferably with links to bibliographic source. Often weblog software, to sequence the entries and give them a nice appearance, is used. Some columnists provide them and actually can sell advertising space. Variations of this concept including my own sites, or sites that summarize soap opera plots.  For example visit the weblog “The Daily Dish” by Andrew Sullivan, or the running account of soap operas like Days of our Lives.

The author provides basic technical advice on how to build and maintain the weblog, as well as the dos and don’t with respect to ethics. She does provide many websites as references with technical how-to information. Much of the ethical discussion is common sense. Be careful about presenting personal information, unless it is relevant to the ideas you are discussing. Be especially careful about others. Don’t present personal stories only for their own sakes, only if they are relevant to issues. Talk about the problem, rather than the person. Provide links and documentation. I would present more concerns about conflict-of-interest with employment.

David Kline and Dan Burstein (with Arne J. de Keijzer and Paul Berger, editors): Blog! How the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture. New York: CDS/Squibnocket Partners, 2005, ISBN 1-59315-141-1 402 pgs. Hardbound) pretty well hammers home the point that the Web (along with the search engine) has put a lot of power to connect and drive political debate into the hands of ordinary people when they do it well enough, regardless of capital or financial results. The book has essays by the authors and many interviews with others, and is divided into three sections (1) “Politics & Policy” (2) “Business & Economics” (3) “Media & Culture”.  Actually, the intention behind blogging can be so diverse that it is dangerous to draw too many conclusions. Some blogging actually does facilitate conventional business transactions. But one is still left with the idea that what many bloggers may intend is to create a stir, draw attention to causes (or sometimes to the wrongdoings of specific politicians) in such a way that no one can get away with covering something up or taking things lightly. In such a world, hecklers cannot get their way.

Even so, as I have noted elsewhere, when people with visible public or judgmental responsibilities in their jobs blog and are discovered by stakeholders, there can be serious consequences.  No one wants employers to censor employee personal blogs, but we have to consider the idea that some jobs require a low profile and that it is better that people in those jobs not blog at all. And there will be people who will want to differentiate between conventional free speech and self-promotion, or who will resent the idea that some people will show off their knowledge when they don’t seem to have any emotional commitment to others. But it is all in appearances.

---

Nancy Flynn. Blog Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policy, Public Relations, and Legal Issues. New York: Amacom/American Management Association, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8144-7355-9. Paper, 226 pgs.  Also sold by the Society for Human Resource Management at this link.

 

Finally, we have a well written handbook that discusses with some candor both the benefits and risks to businesses from blogging, mainly within the workplace, but also when done personally from employees at home. The author calls the issues raised by blogging unprecedented, and they are. In a few places, her tone is alarmist, but as a whole it is balanced. Blogging can, in many industries, be an effective (if irascible) tool to strengthen a corporate brand. The whole business of public relations is turned inside out by this new process.

 

Many of the legal issues, such as protecting copyright, trademark, trade secrets, and customer and employee confidentiality are well known, and have always existed. The compliance issues associated with laws like Sarbannes-Oxley (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have come about more recently, as have various strict SEC rules for how publicly traded companies release information to investors, much of this because of accounting scandals but also because of increasing concerns for stakeholder security. Of course, if it is illegal to disclose a trade secret in a hardcopy letter, it is illegal on a blog. It is the incredible efficiency of blogs that present the new problems in practice.

 

This problem lends itself to functional decomposition. What distinguishes blogs and makes them a “problem”? There are several components for the concerns.

 

(1) Blogs normally live in a public space, easily accessible with anyone on the planet with an Internet connection, and often easily indexed by robots and search engines (most notably Google). The viewer could be a rival company, or a terrorist 8000 miles away.

 

(2) A hardcopy book or magazine is also in the public space, but in practice it takes a typical visitor much more time and cost to find the item of possibly compromising information.

 

(3) An email (or posting on a closed corporate Intranet or virtual office network) with illegal information is not in the public space, and probably will not reach widely beyond a specific community of visitors, although in business this also typically present issues, which are normally covered by more conventional employee computer and information usage policies.

 

(4) A blog is a specific format, where entries are made and presented in reverse chronological order, usually with publishing software that makes the technical part of publishing easy for the novice. However, the legal issues presented in this book would apply to any website (corporate or personal), whether an independent domain or a subdomain (such as on AOL’s Personal Publisher), or, particularly, a profile on a social networking site (if open to the public). Likewise all of the legal concerns for corporate and business blogs would have applied to corporate websites in general. Many companies have long published non-financial information for potential customers in a public space, as well as their financial information. Her book makes the point that companies must be diligent in determining their web presence, but in fact some presence would help them defend trademark claims (as some companies that were slow to use the web in the 1990s found out). 

 

Her book is in six sections, and the early portions deal with legal requirements in some detail. She does dismiss many common misconceptions. She advises companies to keep detailed business records of their corporate blogs (this applies even to small businesses), as with e-mail. I do recall around 2001 (before Enron’s public collapse) that companies were encouraging the deletion of emails as soon as possible so they could no longer be subpoenaed. Apparently, with the new SEC rules especially, this is no longer acceptable. The record keeping requirements can be complicated by the existence and persistence of search engine caches and Internet archives, as well as the simple capacity for visitors to save content privately.

 

As for record keeping, it is important to note that blog publishing software and in general website maintenance software (Microsoft Front Page) allow the author to edit and change text at will without an audit trail of what was changed. More sophisticated content management and change control systems maintain these audit logs (at various levels of test, quality assurance, and promotion).  These systems are similar to those for programming language source code in business financial systems (Endeavor, Librarian, Changeman, Harvest), and indeed financial institutions and various other businesses must meet certain legal and security requirements (load module v. source integrity) in how they deploy source management. These are nearly always required in financial businesses, but I am not aware of any requirement to keep them in personal weblogs or in privately held businesses (although there are always some kind of formal record keeping requirements for the IRS, private placement investors, and other common business needs).

 

Gradually, she migrates to the testy issue of personal blogging. She ratifies the idea that employers need to publish blogging policies, although some states have laws that apparently could hinder rules having to do with personal blogging. She gives several detailed examples, and they are worded, carefully, to prohibit disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets, defamation, copyright infringement, information that endangers security, or personal harassment of any stakeholder, including, of course, sexual harassment or raising of hostile workplace concerns, as well as pornography. The policies would have to apply both to permanent employees and to temporary contractors (who are often employees of personnel staffing companies). These policies need to apply to personal weblogs, when they reach the Public Space, as well as communications done on corporate systems. She insists that employees use their real names and not use pseudonyms or speak anonymously. (Would this imply that employees may not take out domain names not based on their real names, in order to avoid deceptive self-representation?) Even on personal websites and weblogs, employees must include conspicuous disclaimers stating that the views expressed have nothing to do with their employment.

 

Employees have been fired (or "dooced" -- and these incidents also include many pressured off-the-table resignations) for what they say on personal weblogs, and she gives a number of examples, which now mount into the hundreds around the country. The most common offense is blatant criticism of the company or of other stakeholders. Other offenses have included photographs of company property or dress in corporate uniforms. Less frequently, bloggers have been sued, since a public weblog is (in theory) subject to the same intellectual property law (copyright, trademark, libel, invasion of property, right of publicity, maybe even unfair competition) as any other media. The main risk here might be confrontation by the blogger with a particularly litigious celebrity, company or organization, along with the reality that many bloggers (unlike whole media companies and television networks) do not have personal deep pockets to defend themselves against frivolous suits (such as SLAPP) which, fortunately, is still rather rare. In a situation where many people know that a particular person works for a particular employer and has unusual access to some body of sensitive information (as about a fraternal or suspect class of consumers), there could occur situations were ordinarily innocuous material indirectly suggests a breach of confidentiality. 

 

A more subtle problem occurs with the fact that many employers have been pre-screening job applicants with Google searches or profiles on social networking sites. I have many concerns about this practice, as I have documented elsewhere on this site. For one thing, they could screen the wrong person. More important is the risk that such screening could become a litmus test for social conformity or for the ability to fit into a business hierarchy. Common sense tells us that this ought to depend on the kind of job an applicant would have. Employers use multiple-choice personality tests and exclude applicants with these, so using voluntary Internet content might seem fair game (after all, it is in a public space). To me, this makes more sense for some jobs, especially those with high public visibility or involving aggressive sales skills, than for individual contributor jobs.

 

The most ethical practice would be for employers to publish their blogging policies with their job applications (especially on line) and make a sincere attempt to tailor the policies to specific job duties. This could be tricky to do, though, given the laws in some states.

 

Elsewhere on this site, I have suggested that employer blogging policies should discourage employees with certain publicly sensitive duties from unsupervised personal blogging or web posting at all.  Such a policy would not be intrusive (employers would not regularly “check”) but could discipline or terminate employees (at will) who caused complaints or confusion. Why? I think that if one speaks in a public space about sensitive matters, one wants to be candid, and not face censorship. In some situations, it would be difficult to discuss these things with enough candor without involving the employer. So with certain kinds of jobs, one accepts a “low profile,” or the reality that the employer will be allowed to manage the associate’s presence in any public space. There are consulting firms coming into being to do just this.

 

The complexity of some issues does present an ethical and moral conundrum. Many people, for example, with respect to certain issues (like GLBT issues), do not feel free to speak on their own and have to let organizations do this for them. We all know that lobbying organizations tend to simplify the issues to benefit their constituencies, and this does not add to the complete understanding of the complexity of the issue. This is well known especially in the military, with the issue of homosexuals in the military, which is the issue that drew me into “public life” and debate starting around 1992. (Under “don’t ask don’t tell” military personnel have been discharged for “admitting” homosexuality in personal online profiles and blogs.) But this subsumes an even bigger question. Many people post some of their personal experiences on the web in order to argue their political points. I do that. Personal experience can add much depth and originality to an argument, by encouraging inductive reasoning. But in many cases this can be “dangerous,” and cause risks or distractions in the workplace, or sometimes in the family. When should “the opinions of others” (to go back to an Ayn Rand peeve in The Fountainhead) interfere with objectivity and a fair political process or result? Some of the answer has to do with the commitments one voluntarily makes in life, as in a career, as I noted above. Sometimes it seems imposed in an unreasonable way. Statements in a public space, while objectively legitimate, can cause visitors to draw unjustified conclusions about an individual and others associated with the individual. Even something innocent can cause problems. For example, if I list Edge of 17 as a favorite movie, that could imply an unhealthful interest in minors, even though the film itself is well done (and presents a very likeable “gay role model” protagonist).  I can also point out an aside from my own domain. From examining the Urchin stats on my domain and looking at the search arguments, I can tell how visitors react to the content and how they are likely to feel when they find it, regardless of its objective merit. I review a lot of movies, and I can tell that many visitors are “interested” in body image issues as they apply to both male and female actors, compared to themselves. I have no pornography, but I can tell that I have material that does tweak some psychic nerve endings. It is a good thing that I have “retired” and I hope that I can be sufficiently choosy about my second career.   

 

Weblogs confront us with a social reality and "perfect storm." That is, a set of innocent facts or observations can be compiled and manipulated to put oneself and others associated with oneself (especially at work) in an unfavorable public light.  The fact that one would present some body of controversial but objectively legitimate material in a public space can affect how others perceive the writer (relative to competitive position and the fulfillment of social obligations) and others associated with the writer. (The associated intellectual property law concept is called "false light").  There is a dichotomy with "free entry" publishing that involves viewing the material both as literature and as personal conversation in public. Yet, the satisfaction of "fighting back" and, as one person, challenging prejudicial and corrupt social systems and "appearance values" and associated familial and institutional practices drives a lot of blogging. Many people believe that individuals should not asset themselves in a public place on their own until they prove that they can function in gender or familial roles and in a competitive business hierarchy--yet it is that belief, however not legally driven, that drives a lot of blogging. The world is indeed non-Euclidean. Bloggers will find that the whole is often more than the sum of its parts.  

 

Tom Drugan: Not Just Your Space -- A College Student's Guide to Managing Online Reputation (e-book, 17 pages, available at this link in PDF format), 2006, published by Naymz.com, Chicago. This is a thorough examination of the issues posed for most people in practical job markets (or other markets like social and political) by their presence on the web, particularly with search engines. "Clean your Space" and "Wash Your Face." He does give detailed technical instructions in how to follow references to oneself on-line, especially with mistaken identities and synonyms. He even recommends keeping track with RSS xml feeds. There is a conceptual issue about what "reputation" means, and how subjective it is, and how it is a changing value. The practical reality is that in our culture there is a divide or schism as to when "truth" is importance or when appearances are to manipulated. Celebrities, of course, pay public relations companies big bucks to mold their images, and now companies are appearing that purport to allow ordinary individuals to do the same. True, much of the problem seems to be an obsession with some employers in catching certain kinds of indiscretions, like photos of underage drinking. But it has to be bigger than that. Google any person's name (of someone like me "Bill Boushka" who has been active on the Web for a number of years) and you do get an impression of the person's values (even through mostly bibliographic, rather than personal, references). They may be OK morally, but you wouldn't want someone like me to be hired to "protect your family" -- because I don't see social relationships that way. There is a question about how much "invasive" information is legally defamatory (libelous or invading privacy) in the traditional meaning of the law. Furthermore, older issues, well known in book publishing law, deal with the possibility that a person can be defamed if recognized without his or her name actually being given. The author's self-photo on the last page is interesting and perhaps ironic. My blog entry on this issue is here. The other company recently publicized in this business is ReputationDefender.com

 

It's important to note the different kinds of objection that can exist about content posted by a third party about a person or entity. Libel and invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement (to name a few problems) are legal concepts that can be backed up by litigation (or even prosecution). There have always been ways to have such content removed. A posting because one person does not like being perceived as "associated" with another entity because that entity referred that person does not sound like a legitimate cause for action. More troublesome is the idea that correct and generally legitimate information can become irrelevant with the passage of time and cause the person to be perceived poorly. The best discussion of this problem that I know of occurs in Goldfard/Ross "The Writer's Lawyer", Times Books, 1989, p. 133 in the chapter on invasion of privacy.

Chris Hansen. To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids from Online Enemies Already in Your Home. New York: Dutton, 2007. ISBN 978-0-525-95009-7, 243 pages, hardbound.

This book supplements the now famous (or notorious) NBC Dateline "To Catch a Predator" series wherein Internet predators talk to decoys of a vigilante group called "Perverted Justice" (PJ, or Peej) trying to arrange sexual liaisons with minors. In most of the settings, the police or sheriffs are outside the door ready to arrest them immediately.

Hansen wrote this book really to establish the social significance of the whole problem. He does summarize all of the stings, in chapters sandwiched around more important (to him) discussions about such matters as the wives and families of those men caught in stings or convicted and forced to register lifetime as sex offenders. One of the social things then, is that the effect of sex crimes is subtle, that it affects the perpetrators' families: their wives and kids (and most of the men caught seem to be married with kids, not necessarily what was expected), and conceivably in some cases on involuntary family members like siblings. He also has a long chapter about treatment, with interviews with a Dr. Berlin, and there is recognition that some of the underlying causes can be biological was well as "moral."

The more critical point, though, is what effect does the establishment and growth of the Internet have. There are several points where cyberspace drives the new instantiation of the problem. Social networking sites like Myspace (one of the chapter names of the book) have become, for many teens, an indispensable tool for making friends, overcoming appearance disadvantages, and the Web in general is good for more mature teens academically. Chat rooms have become an irresistible lure for both teens and for predators to look for them.

The chat rooms seem to have tempted a huge population of men, of all ages but especially middle aged professional men, who have never been in trouble with the law before, such as a cancer researcher from San Francisco.  Although the chat logs often provide convincing evidence (to police, prosecutors and judges) that the men would have carried out actual sex acts with minors, the men often maintain "I haven't done anything" and that they were simply playing out a fantasy on a computer, rather like masturbating in bed (when the spouse is away). In particular, they claim that they could reasonably believe that the person on the other end really was 18 or older and was just game playing like they were. The justice system hasn't bought this, partly because of the graphic nature of the chats and the accoutrements often found with the men in their cars. Bill Kamal made this argument when he was busted in Florida in 2004 (before this series) and by his own account, it could have some credibility. Rabbi David Kaye also tried to make this claim, and his case is particularly disturbing, not only because of the way his own "demons" evolved in his own life, but because of the long delay until federal prosecutors acted when Virginia did not. (Kaye actually tried to talk NBC out of putting his appearance on the air, and he at first seemed to have the mistaken idea that "privacy" could cover him legally.) Another point is that the PJ "volunteer" (sometimes employee, sometimes paid by NBC) calls the mark. That sets a precedent for the possibility that all kinds of other provocative Internet content now legal (not including child pornography as defined in the law) could eventually be viewed by prosecutors in some states as "enticement."

Hansen's last chapter is an Internet safety guide for parents, and for the most part his recommendations sound reasonable. He documents the efforts of some (Parry Aftab) to make the Internet safer. Parents need to be quite involved in monitoring their kids' online activities, and should locate the computer in a "public" area of the home, not in the kids' room, although one wonders how well that goes over when the kids use Internet for legitimate schoolwork. Are teachers not supposed to assign it because of the possibility of abuse?

One item of concern is how easily kids can give away family information, even innocuously, to the whole planet (Google, remember) and endanger not only themselves (to sexual predators) but other family members, perhaps for robbery, home invasions, or even kidnapping or (in Europe at least, if Bruce Bawer is read) terrorism. Underneath this whole problem is the moral rubric about free expression. It's true, the web gives anyone the ability to pinpoint and narrowly tailor views on any topic without giving in, and become well known for doing so -- a very important capacity from my end. But it raises legitimate questions about the ability to fit in to the live of others (especially the family) first.   

For a brief blogger entry, visit this (March 17).

Andrew Keen; The Cult of the Amateur, How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture

2007  Community / Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-52080-5, 228 pages, hardcover, indexed

Blogger entry here. The democratizing of speech and then media certainly can bust up older notions of social and familial hierarchy and unearned privilege, but, as he writes (p 15)

 

"....democratization, despite its lofty idealization, is undermining truth, souring civic discourse, and belittling expertise, experience and talent."

 

Is this just turf protection, or is it a question of real professionalism and an appropriate balance between self-expression and fitting in to family and community? At the end, on p 204, he writes,

 

"Instead of developing technology, I believe that our real moral responsibility is to protect mainstream media against the cult of the amateur."

He goes on right there to state his fear that the well-paid (and unionized) media will be dismantled and destroyed. Not too many pages before the end, he characterizes our largest search engine company as a "parasite." In retrospect, the tone seems authoritarian, if properly concerned. Still, his theories do have a moral implication: how legitimate is it to craft and publicize one's own views of the world before taking on the interpersonal challenges to competing to take care of a family? It's a life-defining question.

Audacia Ray. Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads and Cashing In on Internet Sexploitation.  San Francisco: Seal, 2007. ISBN 1-58005-209-6, 321 pages, paper with URLs, glossary, and notes. Website is http://www.wakingvixen.com/  This book surveys the way women use the Internet and how the Internet has affected women's lives, especially in social and intimate areas. The early part of the book gives a lot of interesting history of the Internet and shows people were using it earlier than most of us realize (back in the 80s), but as the book progresses it gives increasing attention to the way it affects the way women seek out sexual partners and the way the sex industry seeks out customers. She also discusses sexual health websites, and mentions at least one of the COPA plaintiffs. In quoting one of the operators of a fetish website, she writes

 "The more society tries to censor and limit our freedom of speech, the more it makes me do whatever I want to do." (p 159).

The range of explicit activities is quite large. Some women started making continuous webcams of their lives in the mid 1990s (Chapter 3 is called "A Day in the Life of My Vagina: The Politics of Sex Blogging"). The issue of anonymity comes up, and it seems that a lot of time women are not able to remain as anonymous (even from work) as they had thought. She talks a lot about the business models in the sex industry, including the way "clients" are screened and even black-listed ("bad date lists") (as for not being "safe") by certain industry websites. It does seem that johns run the risk that supposedly confidential personal information that they must give call services can leak out and be discovered by their bosses or maybe even district attorneys.  (Look at what happened to conservative Republican Senator David Vitter, on the call list of the D.C. Madam.) She also talks about the sex toy business ("teledidonics" or "cyberdidonics").

There is a more general discussion on blogger, here.

Daniel J. Solove. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. 248 pages, hardcover. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-300-12498-9.   Introduction and 8 Chapters.  

Dr. Solove is an associate professor of law at George Washington University. One sentence in the Introduction, on p. 4, may summarize his point. "Information that was once scattered, forgettable and localized is becoming permanent and searchable."  Actually, in comparison to some other recent treatises on the exploding issue of Internet reputation, this law professor's tone and recommendations are calm and sensible.

He does discuss the concept of public shaming (from pre-print times), as to how the concept has changed as people became more mobile (Hawthorne's famous novel The Scarlet Letter is viewed as a paradigm that needs to be updated), and how easily shaming on the Internet can become permanent but unjustified according to normal standards of common sense. 

Technology has transformed the topology of communication, and given people "tools" whose ramifications that don't fully understand, and the accountability of which they probably aren't prepared to accept. The law has obviously not caught up with all this. Solove does advocate a middle ground, moderate (maybe even "Clintonian") approach. Damage to reputation is subtle, practically permanent, and can ambush someone. Takedown procedures similar to those for copyright infringement should be designed, and mediation or informal procedures with ISPs (or by contacting the bloggers / speakers, possibly with the help of intermediary companies like Reputation Defender) should be tried before formal lawsuits are filed. Third party liability (for ISPs and for blogger hosts) should be strictly limited. However, what he calls our "binary notion of privacy" should be modified to give more expectation of "pseudo-privacy" in public places. He starts his book with an example in South Korea where a picture of dog pooh with the owner on a train winds up on the Internet, forever. That sort of thing shouldn't happen, because it is not of real public importance.

He does take up the problems that can occur when people talk about their own lives in public (in blogs, websites, and social networking profiles), and he acknowledges that these can inadvertently affect others, but he believes that the legal system should provide a lot of cover for the speaker if there is any public importance in the events of the person's life at all. He does cite some important cases with this problem.

He considers the recent flap over Facebook's mining of information for advertisers (and Facebook's voluntary reversal) a good example of the problems we face. 

He makes a good point about the practice of employers googling applicants and employees, and suggests that employers ought to be expected (or even required) to follow the same care that they must follow when pulling credit reports or getting FICO scores. 

There is more blogger discussion here.

Daniel J. Solove. Understanding Privacy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-674-02772-8, 258 pages, hardcover.  Dr. Solove maintains that no one understands the concept of privacy, and we have always mistakenly tried to characterize it with a "common denominator" approach. Instead, Solove proposes that we use a concept by philosopher Louis Wittgenstein and build a model based on sets of similarities. Solove goes deeper, getting into the history of our concept of individualism and personal sovereignty as a concept enabled by technology. Earlier societies were much more "socialized" because they had to be, and tended to regard privacy as antithetical to the common good.  Blogger discussion

Larry Magid and Anne Collier. MySpace Unraveled: A Parent's Guide to Teen Social Networking. Berkeley: Peachpit Press, 2007. ISBN 0-321-48018-X. 184 pages, paper, indexed.  The authors also run BlogSafety.com (forums link) which the authors say they are converting to Connect Safely. This book reads like a practical handbook, and has many illustrations that reproduce the actual steps in working with Myspace.com, to walk through parents what they need to know to supervise their kids.  They talk about some of the arcane points, such as how Myspace mail works.  The safety issues are taken up in the later part of the book. The authors point out that instances of much older men predating on young girls (or boys) on social networking sites are relatively rare, and that most instances of harassment (including cyberbullying) are likely to come from other kids. (Nevertheless, the reports from other news media, especially NBC Dateline, on the vulnerability of kids are quite disturbing.) The authors take up more advanced tips, such as the dangers of "hotlinking" to images on others' sites (this has been done with photos on this site, and I do not give permission for it; I do encourage normal links).  They also give practical discussions (without a lot of philosophy) about the concerns of employers and current and future schools and colleges.  The represent Myspace as reasonably proactive in prohibiting inappropriate content (including nudity) and as having recently (as of 2006) increased privacy options for those over 16 as well as under 16.  In some ways, the authors say, the open Net may be more dangerous for kids than a reasonably well supervised Myspace account.  They give a very brief and general discussion of the failure of COPA (Child Online Protection Act).   

The Blog Safety forums have a disturbing story from the May 21, 2008 Chicago Tribune about a 17 year old teen in La Crosse WI arrested on child pornography charges for posting a nude photo of his 16 year old girl friend on Myspace, link here.    

Candice M. Kelsey. Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence: How social networking is changing everything about friendship, gossip, sex, drugs, and our kids' values. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2007. 322 pages, paper. The author, a middle school and high school teacher, discusses the psychological and even moral issues underneath the controversy over teen Internet use, while still giving parents a detailed guide. In her introduction, she talks about "TV-turnoff" week in schools, migrating to include Internet turnoff, with the kids' growing tendency to brag about cheating on it. She goes on to criticize kids' involvement with Myspace (which they perceive as equivalent to "The Internet" and it's not) as short-circuiting the more subtle and accommodating personal values needed in real life and real-world relationships. The problem for kids, however, as minors (and the control that their parents or have over them as minors) makes the discussion different than it would for established adults --or would it?

Nancy E. Willard. Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People to Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly. Jossey-Bass, 2007.  ISBN 978-0-7879-9417-4, 324 pages, indexed, paper.    This guide book is comprehensive and topical, yet somewhat high level, and focuses on going through all the concepts that old-school parents need to understand to help guide their teens into safe use of online resources. It is not as focused on MySpace alone as a potential "problem."  There are many discussions of how parents should explain their level of supervision to their kids, with gradual increase in freedom, just as with driving a car. Willard notes that our society, ever since television, has made a bargain to offer a lot of free information to be paid for by advertisers, a bargain that poses certain inherent risks to kids. She gives some space to cyberbullying toward the end, and walks through all the major issues in copyright law thoroughly, including discussion of Creative Commons.

The previous three books are discussed on blogger here.

Nancy E. Willard. Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the challenge of online social aggression, threats, and distress. Paper, 9x11, Research Press, 308 pages. A very detailed legal guide for parents and particularly school administrators about this growing serious problem. For blogger, see link above.

Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies. New York: Aladdin, 2008. 172 pages, hardcover. With Introduction by Phil McGraw, illustrations by Steve Bjorkman. Authored by the son of Dr. Phil, himself a psychologist. This book is written at a reading level appropriate for middle schoolers.  Blogger.  

Roman Espejo. Should Social Networking Sites Be Banned. Greenhaven / Gale Cengage. 18 essays, many contributors. One essay by Lindsay Edelstein, "Employers Are Monitoring Social Networking Sites," and gives a very mixed view, but some people in some jobs should not have personal social networking pages or sites at all.  ISBN 978-0-7377-4059-2, paper, 106 pages. Contributors: Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Bart Stupak, American Library Association, Christopher Harris, Domenick Maglio, Gary Stager, John Carlin, Information Week, Julia Angwin, Brian Steinberg; Duff, White & Turner, LLC; Maggie Thompson, Jan Farrington, Erika Morphy, Todd Garvin, Christian Science Monitor, Alexandra Marks, Lindsay Edelstein, Gloria Goodale. A few of the articles appear to be periodical editorials.   Blogger discussion.  

Jonathan Zittrain. The Future of the Internet, and How to Stop It. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-12487-3, hardcover, 342 pages, heavily indexed, 3 Parts, 9 Chapters. The author traces the history of a concept that he calls "generativity" and defines carefully as a kind of plug-in, plug-out facility of the Internet as our major global topology of communication. The sees security and business threats of various natures as encouraging companies to go into a new round of "tethering" users by various kinds of surveillances and copy protection systems (like DMCA) and views these as a threat to the Internet and the promise to the average user in the long run. He takes up the potential gravity of possible security meltdowns, but believes the practical threats to users are more insidious and subtle (rather than the liklihood of a cyber 9/11); he talks about the "turf" problem in publishing in the same sense that I do, and he takes up reputation defense briefly.  Blogger discussion.

Jonathan Zittrain, Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski. Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. Cambridge, MIT Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-262-04245-1. 449 pages, paper. 6 Chapters, with regional overviews and country summaries. The book analyzes the techniques and motives for Internet filtering in different kinds of countries. Blogger discussion.

Aaron Greenspan. Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era. Palo Alto: Think Press, 2008. ISBN 1-60699-000-0. hardcover, 335 pages. Aaron was one of the Harvard students involved in the creation of Facebook, as documented in the recent June 16, 2008 Rolling Stone article by Claire Hoffman, "The Battle for Facebook". Greenspan grew up in a Cleveland suburb with an austistic younger brother. His narrative mixes his emerging personal values (he talks about not liking physical competitiveness but does not give it moral significance) with the growth of technology, which had become quite rich even before the Internet was widely available. For example, in grade school he got into trouble over the issue of when you can copy software from diskettes. The subtitle of his book has a double meaning, perhaps. Greenspan offers a nuanced view of the controversies over the way people share personal information on social networking sites, and some paradoxes in the way various generations see this generation of the Web (pp 323-326).  Blogger discussion.  

Ben Mezrich: The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal”: New York, Doubleday 2009, 978-0-385-52937-2, 360 pages, hardcover). Blogger.

 

Geoff Livingston with Brian Solis: Now Is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executive and Entrepreneurs. Baltimore: Bartleby, 2007. ISBN 9780910155731, 194 pages, paper.  Blogger.

 

John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York: Basic, 2008. ISBN 978-0-465-00515-4. 375 pages, hardcover, indexed, endnotes; Introduction and 13 Chapters.  The newest generation of teens and young adults has grown up used to the new paradigms of identity and communication, and self-promotion enabled by the digital age. It's here to stay, but the law and business and social practice have a long way to go yet. Blogger discussion.

Cory Doctorow. Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future. San Francisco, Tachyon, 2008. ISBN 1-892391-81-3. 212 pages, paper, 25 essays, Foreword by John Perry Barlow. 

Barlow says "information is simultaneously a relationship, an action, an area of shared mind. What it isn't is a noun."

Doctorow's essays give witty but sobering accounts of the controversies surrounding digital rights management (DRM) and especially the Viacom v Youtube downstream liability case, that could put amateur self-publishing out of business some day. Blogger discussion.

Naomi Wolf. Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN 1-4165-9056-0. 368 pages, paper.  In 3 Parts with Part 3 in 8 sections.

Other contributors:  Cutis Ellis, Lisa Witter, Elizabeth Curtis, Will Coghlan, Marjorie Cohn, Heidi Boghosian, Trevor “Oyate”, Raymond D. Powell, Wende Jager-Hyman, Mary Jacksteit, Stephanie Burger, Mark Crispin Miller, Annette Warden Dickerson, Lauren Melodia, Diane Keefe, Curtis Ellis, Steven C. Bennett

 The author reviews our concept of liberty, as it evolved from colonial times, as the access to a process of self-correction, politically, with a gradual increase in responsible individualism. She provides a lot of detailed coverage on how to use new media (including blogging) for much more political effect. Blogger discussion.

James Boyle: The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-300-13740-8, 311 pages, hardcover, 10 chapters, indexed.  The arguments for copyright, patent and trademark law are compelling, but so are the arguments for a common space.  Blogger review.

Ken Auletta. Googled: The End of the World as We Know It. New York: Penguin, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59420-235-3, 384 pages, hardcover.  Blogger..

Jaron Lanier. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. New York: Knopf, 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-26964-5. 209 pages, hardcover.  Best quote: “You have to be somebody before you can share yourself.”  Lanier is also a music composer.  Blogger. Oh, no, not another rmanifesto!

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger.  "Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age"
Publication: 2010: Princeton University Press, ISNB 978-0-691-13861-9, 230 pages, hardcover.
Blogger.

Nicholas Carr: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. 010, W.W. Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-07222-8, 276 pages, 10 Chapters, Prologue, Epilogue, hardcover. Blogger.

David Kirkpatrick: The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that Is Connecting the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4391-0211-4, 372 pages, hardcover, Prologue and 17 chapters. Blogger.

Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strass. Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online.  Foreword by Robert Scoble. 2008, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-470-19082-1, 378 pages, paper, indexed, 3 parts, 15 chapters.   Blogger.

 

See also: Blogumentary film   Blogging controversies   Potential blogging policy  Blogging and professionalismLetter to The Washington Times on blogging (7/19/2006)   Review of Dateline series "To Catch a Predator"      Bruce Bawer: While Europe Slept   Elshtain: Sovereignty: God State and Self.

 

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Email me at Jboushka@aol.com