I am pleased to announce that selected papers from the “Identity and Identification in a Networked World” graduate student symposium held at New York University in September have been published in a special issue of First Monday. Here are titles and abstracts:
Identity and Identification in a Networked World
by Tim Schneider and Michael Zimmer
Summary of events and acknowledgments.
“Are you my friend? Yes or no?” This question, while fundamentally odd, is a key component of social network sites. Participants must select who on the system they deem to be ‘Friends.’ Their choice is publicly displayed for all to see and becomes the backbone for networked participation. By examining what different participants groups do on social network sites, this paper investigates what Friendship means and how Friendship affects the culture of the sites. I will argue that Friendship helps people write community into being in social network sites. Through these imagined egocentric communities, participants are able to express who they are and locate themselves culturally. In turn, this provides individuals with a contextual frame through which they can properly socialize with other participants. Friending is deeply affected by both social processes and technological affordances. I will argue that the established Friending norms evolved out of a need to resolve the social tensions that emerged due to technological limitations. At the same time, I will argue that Friending supports pre-existing social norms yet because the architecture of social network sites is fundamentally different than the architecture of unmediated social spaces, these sites introduce an environment that is quite unlike that with which we are accustomed.
With the increased reliance on technology in everyday life — including business, recreation, and culture — individuals leave traces of criminal activity on their computers, and now, online. As scholars address the U.S. Fourth Amendment and digital search and seizure issues, questions as to the admissibility of such acquired evidence begin to emerge. This paper explores the issues that both prosecutors and defense counsel face in determining whether digital evidence from Internet-based sources, primarily social networks, should be admitting under the Federal Rules of Evidence. Using an analysis of recent case law involving the admissibility of electronic evidence, the paper concludes with predictions on how these precedents would apply to social network Web sites like MySpace, Craigslist, personal blogs, and eBay.
On panopticism, criminal records and sex offender registries
by Verónica B. Piñero
Having explored Foucault’s notion of panopticism, the author highlights some socio-legal implications of criminal records in current Canadian society, such as access to employment, access to insurance, and international travel. She contends that there is a need to rethink the traditional notion of criminal records as a paper file, but as digitized criminal information that flows freely across national and international borders. Finally, she explores the use of sex offender criminal registries and their availability to general public in the Canadian context.
The media coverage and resultant discourse surrounding social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Friendster contain narratives of inevitability and technological determinism that require careful explication. Borrowing a tactic from the Russian Futurists, this paper attempts to make strange (that is, to defamiliarize) social network sites and their associated discourses by drawing upon an eclectic but interrelated set of metaphors and theoretical approaches, including: the digital enclosure, network sociality, socio-technical capital and Steven Jones’s recent examination of neo-Luddites. Whenever appropriate, this paper will integrate relevant magazine and newspaper journalism about social networking sites.