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Henry Jenkins and i co-authored an interview essay based on questions  
from the MIT News Office to address concerns related to the proposed  
American law Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA).  We recognize that  
parents and legislators are concerned, but we do not believe that  
DOPA is the best approach and we fear that, if implemented, it will  
cause more harm than good.  We conducted this interview in the hopes  
that it provides valuable information for parents, legislators and  
press who are interested in the issue.

I believe that this topic affects many of us who are researching  
social networks related to the Internet.  The proposed law concerns  
most Internet communities, including chatrooms, mailing lists, photo  
sharing sites, gaming environments and social network sites.  It is  
also a slippery slope legislative piece, working to give American  
legislators more control over who participates online, in what ways  
and where.  Collectively, we have a lot of knowledge about this  
terrain and how networks help people. This needs to be surfaced  
publicly in order to combat the culture of fear.  I know that most of  
you aren't obsessing about MySpace as much as i am, but i believe  
that what is happening with MySpace will affect many of us on this list.

Finally, as researchers, we're often faced with how press cover this  
terrain and we're often asked to speak out as experts.  For better or  
worse, i've become a press puppet on all things MySpace and i'm tired  
of seeing myself in print.  I also believe that there are other  
voices that need to be heard, other relevant academic knowledge that  
needs to be elevated.  I have to imagine that there are other  
academics who could join me in addressing the press and combatting  
the fears the public has over how people use technology.  If you are  
interested in speaking to the press about these issues, please let me  
know.  In particular, i'm especially looking for other researchers  
who have expertise in digital networks as social networks, digital  
youth, online/offline sociability, online dating, risk assessment,  
reputation costs, gaming, blogging and anything else you might be  
seeing the press cover right now under the fear category.  I know  
that public-facing academic engagement is controversial, but i'm  
definitely in the camp that says, "I am obliged to contribute.  
Silence is complicity" (Diane Bell, "Writing in the eye of a  
storm").  My hope is that others are interested in helping combat the  
fear-mongering with all of the knowledge that we have about this domain.


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"taken out of context i must seem so strange"

musings ::

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