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Kevin tweets

I may have to break my “No Twitter” zone just to read Kevin Marks. Yesterday he came up with, It’s an ad feminam attack which, frankly, I will make use of in the future. Then today:

Yes, it’s web 2.0 misanthropy week. Who else is sounding like Scrooge?

Well, me in a way. I’m tired and it shows. I’m heading into my weblog’s seven year anniversary, but my shelf life feels like six. I also reacted to one person, who I should have ignored. Then I used that person to tar and feather the rest of weblogging, which, though isn’t necessarily undeserving, isn’t particularly useful in the long term.

Who is wrong?

Everyone. They’re all bastards.

Oh. Well I guess we don’t have a starting point for improvement, do we?

But, you know, the snow has been pretty. My cat is cute. I have friends, virtual and otherwise. And we’re not being blasted to death by radiation from a nearby black hole. We’re ahead.

Social Media

If the lynching crowd

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Could be persuaded to put down their tar, feathers, pitchforks, and torches, perhaps they might listen to the details coming out about Megan Meiers and the Drews and might want to consider that they acted thoughtlessly, recklessly, and without all the facts.

For six weeks, Josh and Megan traded “innocuous” messages, Banas said, with no sexual suggestion and no “demeaning or disrespectful” language sent by either.

On Oct. 15, 2006, the day before Megan committed suicide, a friend of Drew’s daughter was given the password to the Josh Evans account. The friend sent Megan a message as Josh saying he had heard Megan was mean to her friends.

The next day, the messages flew back and forth and became heated, Banas said. Other kids, who may not have known Josh was fake, began writing. They called each other names.

Josh said the world would be better off without Megan.

In the aftermath, bloggers, neighbors and leaders blamed the Drews for Megan’s death.

But on Monday, Banas said it’s unclear who created the fake MySpace profile.

Grills told lawyers that Drew wanted her to set up a fake profile.

Drew, however, said her daughter and Grills came to her with the idea. Drew agreed but told the girls they should only speak to Megan “in polite terms and not say anything disrespectful,” Banas said.

Drew told the FBI she let her daughter write Megan when she was present — only once or twice.

There is no evidence that Drew wrote a single message, Banas said.

On the day Megan hanged herself, it was Grills who wrote the final message, Banas said.

Until now, the story told was that Grills told a lawyer representing Megan’s parents that Drew was present and that she was telling Drew what she was typing.

But according to an FBI report, Drew said she wasn’t even home when the “heated exchange” between Josh and Megan took place, Banas said.

And that same report shows that Grills had changed her story: It wasn’t Lori Drew at home, but her husband, Curt Drew.

Curt Drew said he was home, Banas said, but unaware.

Grills, Banas said, was later hospitalized for psychiatric care as a result of the case. She threatened to harm herself, he said.

“That young lady and most of these people had no idea that this would happen to a young girl the way it did,” Banas said.

The account was set up because Drews daughter believe Megan was saying stuff about her, and wanted to find out what she was saying. It was childish, and Lori Drew should not have agreed, but there was no intent to callously push this child into suicide. It was only later, when in typical MySpace fashion, a pile on had occurred and brought in people totally unrelated to any of the people that things got ugly.

Lori Drew was guilty of nothing more than making a mistake in judgment. A bad mistake in judgment, but not unlike mistakes all parents make. Now, her daughter has been forced to drop out of school, her business has been destroyed, her husband has been fired from his job, and they’re being forced from their home and their neighborhood. The same people going after Lori Drew have now started going after Grills. Trying for two suicides, eh?

These are two families and a local tragedy, made global. These are two families, both with parents who did not have the sense to keep their kids away from MySpace. This was a tragic event made even more ugly via the same ‘social networking’ that led to the tragedy in the first place.

As for whether Lori Drew created this Blogger weblog think rationally: do you really believe this weblog was created by Lori Drew? When the grief counselor came to our school last year and spoke to us… Seriously?

I have to wonder at all of those people, sitting in the comfort of their homes, making their value judgments and issuing their own form of vigilante justice–at what point in time, do facts start mattering to you when it comes to your search for justice?

However, I gather that most webloggers don’t consider that they need facts. Facts are for other people. Not webloggers.

Here is a perfect example, though, of putting adult tools into the hands of children (age notwithstanding). Kids can be cruel, but in the past, such cruelty was limited to neighborhood and school. Now, cruelty’s scope is worldwide, and rather than adults acting to balance the cruelty with calm and consideration, they join in.


I am astonished–absolutely astonished–that danah boyd would believe the “Megan had it coming” weblog was written by Lori Drew. And then to perform some form of analysis based on this belief. Absolutely astonished.

While there is no lack of criticism in the weblogging world, there certainly seems to be a lack of critical thinking.

Social Media

Cyberstalking of free speech

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

This state has gone nuts since the release of the Megan Meier story. If you hadn’t heard of it, Megan was a young girl, 13 going on 14, who killed herself after receiving cruel taunts on her MySpace account. It later came out that the ‘person’ who participated in sending the taunts was fictitious, a persona created by the mother of a former friend of Megan’s.

The weblogging environment, being what it was, ‘outed’ the mother who generated the account, as well as calling for her punishment. Some have called for her death–though, as usual, those demanding such an accounting write anonymously. Others are attempting to destroy the family’s business.

A group of people actually picketed outside of the mother’s house, trying to drive the family out of the community.

Two smaller towns have passed ordinances against ‘cyberbullying’ so far, including the town where Megan lived. Thankfully, some calm is being urged before foolish laws are passed by foolish politicians.

Megan’s story is incredibly sad, but there’s a whole lot more to it than meets the eye. First, Megan was too young for a MySpace account and it was irresponsible of her mother for helping her to set it up. It was also irresponsible for her parents not to monitor it more closely, or to interject some caution when a boy named ‘Josh’ appears out of nowhere at a supposedly private MySpace account.

Secondly, it was an abysmally stupid thing to do for the mother of the former friend of Megan’s to set this account up. However, contrary to the stories going round, she didn’t do so to humiliate Megan, nor was she the one who wrote the taunts that finally pushed Megan to hang herself. It was young kids, the same age as Megan, who either had access to the account, or who were MySpace ‘friends’ of the fictitious boy who wrote the amazingly cruel statements–as kids, in a group, without supervision, are wont to do. Megan, herself, responded with taunts back, written more in hurt and a desperate rejection than anything else, but that subtlety does not translate across networks.

MySpace, also, has to be held responsible. The site should not be accessible by kids under 16, and it needs to provide a way to ensure that access is as restricted as it can be. No child under 16 is secure enough to put themselves into the banshee world of ‘social graphs’. Such networks can attract, equally, the callous and the caring. Adults can usually deal with this, younger teens cannot.

As for Missouri and the hot button item of cyberbullying:

In coming weeks, St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles, O’Fallon, Mo., and St. Charles County are expected to consider similar measures targeting online harassment.

But, those measures are weak and “100 percent symbolic,” said St. Louis attorney J. Bradley Young, an Internet and computer law expert.

“People are jumping on the bandwagon because it’s good politically,” Young said. “But I do see the Dardenne Prairie and the Florissant ordinances as instigators for state, and perhaps federal legislation.”

Legal experts warn against an emotionally-driven response to Megan’s death. Regulating rapidly-evolving technology is difficult, they say, and targeting communication over the Internet is especially troublesome.

“Harassment runs squarely into First Amendment rights, particularly over the Internet,” Young said. “Where does free speech end and where does harassment begin? That is an ill-defined concept.”

Social Media

Face about

I watched with some interest the fooflah about Facebook’s Beacon.

On the one hand, I think the application serves a useful purpose–it provides a dose of reality for those who have been extolling the virtues of the ‘social graph’ in all dewey eyed innocence. It’s hard to ignore that purchase of Depends showing up for all your friends to see. Hard for your friends to miss, too. Yes, it’s nice to actually see the snooping that’s happening without having to indulge in guesswork: am I, or am I not, a commodity. Now we know for sure: just stick us on the shelf between the sardines and the peanut butter.

On the other hand, how rude.

Now Facebook has come out with a new plan: the stores will still track you, still send your purchase information to Facebook, but you have to actively OK the first story for the site. This still means that the information is sent to Facebook. As proud as you are buying that new Nikon D300, how do you feel about information being sent to Facebook about the good deal on that…oh oh.

Users must click on “OK” in a new initial notification on their Facebook home page before the first Beacon story is published to their friends from each participating site. We recognize that users need to clearly understand Beacon before they first have a story published, and we will continue to refine this approach to give users choice.

(emph. mine)

Uh huh.

Of course, I expect those people who signed the petition and protested such an invasion of their privacy and trust to quit the service. Why else would people get so uptight but still continue? Unless, like the young lady quoted in the New York Times, they also feel they don’t have a right to privacy.


Am I quitting Facebook? Well, one doesn’t quit Facebook. One deactivates, leaves, never to return, and hopefully hunts down and eradicates every Facebook cookie stored on any and all machines, promising to never, ever, buy into the hype on Techmeme, ever again. It’s not quitting, per se, as much as throwing up barricades. After all, when I go shopping for … it’s none of your damn business.


Oh, look, the Manz R sayin de same thing. Well, that’s a relief. I wouldn’t want people to have to rely on the opinion of a girl.

Social Media


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I must seem like I’m filled with disdain for Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other jewels of social graphing, or whatever it’s called this week. However, I really don’t have anything against the tools, as much as I can’t stand the hyperbole.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using, and enjoying, Twitter, Facebook, GMail, or any other new darlings. But there’s a lemming like quality to the discussions surrounding these tools that brings out the Critic, the Cynic, and the Curmudgeon in me, almost as a counter balance to weigh down the mountains of fluff.

One would think that being a tech, I would be all over these new ‘forms’ of technology. However, as a tech, I recognize that there really isn’t anything particularly innovative about the technologies behind Twitter, Facebook, and the like. They’re more good examples of dealing with performance issues, and excellent marketing, more than something truly new in the field of technology. They enable social networking? We’ve had social networking through the internet for a half century forty years.

In the meantime, when something new, really new, does come along within the technology field, it’s lost in all of the fooflah about Facebook, Twitter, and so on. I worry, sometimes, that we’re at the end of innovation; that we’re caught up in a cycle of Silicon Valley marketspeak that will never allow anything exciting through.