[Air-L] With Friends Like Facebook ....

Charles Ess charles.ess at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 15:39:08 PST 2008

While a little stale now...
Kathleen commented,

> Which is to say that your profile remains on the network even if you
> pull it -- shambling on in a zombie-like state, perhaps, accruing but
> failing to respond to pokes and wall posts, but still there,
> nonetheless....
Well, in my case, this pretty well describes my current "active" profile ...
(smile - sorry, couldn't resist the joke)

More seriously, Kathleen wrote:
> there's a real technological overdetermination that hasn't yet
> been fully explored
agreed - one more form, it seems, of digital immortality whether we will
(ala Ray Kurzweil) or no ...
along with copyright and property issues (while the Facebook Terms of
Service acknowledge an automatic - but non-exclusive - copyright on the part
of profile "owners" to whatever they post, FB further claims a right into
perpetuity to use everything posted there)
-- some of which may be peculiar to Facebook, and others more generic ...

And just to make it all more complicated ...
Ray Land notes:
> There is a delicate ethical issue too for formal programmes that are studying
> these social technologies and which therefore more or less oblige their
> students to participate in them. However a counter-argument would be that if
> you don't kow what's going inside such environments you won't be in an
> informed position to critique them.
Exactly - 
An additional, perhaps even more fuzzy and ambiguous area: I find being able
to explore my students' FB profiles to be a very helpful technique / trick
in establishing rapport, etc.  It would be a pity to lose that capability, I

There is also the utility - at least on rare occasion - of people
discovering and forestalling Bad Things - e.g., a school shooting - by
poking around on FB and MS profiles ...

Finally, I was actually crafting an apology, worrying that my expressed
disagreement with neoconservative / technolibertarian viewpoints might have
sent the wrong message about diversity of opinion on the list, etc - when
Jacob Kramer-Duffield spoke up, nicely disagreeing ...

So, if anyone is still reading this far ...
> Really, this is all a bit silly. Did you stop using Microsoft products
> because Bill Gates is a big-time Republican? No, you stopped using
> Microsoft products (or, I suppose didn't) because of their utility or
> lack thereof. It's even more true for Facebook, as a website (albeit a
> social hub of a website) rather than an OS or core program.
Well, I take your point - but FWIW, I'm a little happier using MS products
(when nothing else OS will do) knowing that ol' Bill is now busy giving a
lot of his/our money away for ostensibly worthy things.

I also appreciated and agreed with a number of your further comments - but,
like  Ray and Peter, I don't agree with the final point:
>> Should we be thinking about pulling our profiles?
> Only if you don't like being there, or aren't getting what you want or
> need out of it.
As they have also expressed - I do think there are ethical lines (usually
very broad and fuzzy, but there it is) to be drawn regarding what we buy,
consume, and thereby support.  "Don't buy books from crooks" was the phrase
in the 1960s, referring to all the Watergate scoundrels (if not traitors)
who started to make a killing selling their memoirs.  By the same token,
these days I don't think we should buy chocolate made with slave / child
labor, for (an easy) example.
For a harder example: I am genuinely torn between wanting to withdraw from
FB immediately, and knowing that doing so (a) will  cut off an important
channel of communication with my students (and a nice one with many
colleagues and friends) and (b) at least raise some issues regarding the
work and research of a whole lotta folk on this that/whom I really respect
and admire. (Ex.: a good friend and colleague invited me to a new game on
FB, in part because the discussion boards are featuring important _ethical_
discussions about cheating, etc.  GREAT STUFF!!!  Someone really ought to be
looking at it!)
- charles ess

More information about the Air-L mailing list