GOR 2008: Early Booking discount and abstract

The „General Online Research“ (GOR) Conference is only 2 months away, and a preliminary version of the programme has been published a couple of days ago. You can access it via the conference tool (follow the link on this site). There is also an early-booking-discount if you register for the conference until Jan. 15h.

I’m very much looking forward to the GOR – not the least since it will take place in Hamburg this time… :) I’m also happy that the two proposals I’ve submitted have been accepted. I’m co-authoring a presentation on „The ‚BILDblog’ audience. Empirical findings from a user survey at Germany’s biggest watchblog“; my Bamberg-based colleague Florian L. Mayer is the main author here. In addition, I will be presenting on „Privacy Management and the Social Web“, here’s the abstract:

One of the most striking characteristics of the Social Web or Web 2.0 is the increasing importance of „personal publics“. Through Blogs, podcasts, videocasts and social networking sites, a growing number of users present themselves, their opinions, experiences and expertise on the Internet and engage in relationship management. While only some of these personal publics actually reach larger audiences, and only a few are comparable with traditional mass-mediated publics, their emergence still raises an important issues: How do our notion of privacy and the ways of managing the borders between „public“ and „private“ change if people make personal information accessible for a potentially unlimited audience both in terms of actual size and temporal persistence?

The proposed paper contributes to this question by systematizing current developments in online-based privacy management, using blogs and social network sites (such as Facebook or XING) as empirical examples. It employs a perspective based on the notion of „usage practises“ which sees individual usage as being framed by three structural dimensions which afford or inhibit certain actions. (1) Rules refer to shared expectations and routines about which actions are adequate to obtain certain communicative gratifications. They include, for example, social norms which regulate the disclosure of personal or intimate information about oneself or other people. Rules are shared within, but also shape (2) relations , that is the hypertextual and social networks that are articulated or built by using certain applications. E.g. culture-, age- or gender-specific communities may regard different ways of managing privacy appropriate, which in turn might lead to more open or more closed networks. Finally, (3) the code of a given application/service and the architecture of the Social Web in general influences privacy management, e.g. by allowing content or data to be visible only for selected members of one’s network.

Given this structural context for actual use of Social Web applications, the paper argues that technical innovations in software code are neither determining the consequences for privacy (most often perceived as negative), nor are they sufficient for controlling one’s public appearance. Rather, a new understanding of „socio-technically mediated privacy“ will have to emerge, outlines of which will be sketched at the end of the paper.

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