A few days ago, I quoted Wendy Seltzer in a entry about building norms together with the technologies.

I wondered at first if privacy tensions would ease as more people became more technically sophisticated, but I'm inclined to think that gaps in understanding will just move with the tech, and social norms will follow still further behind.
danah responds with an interesting point.
I think it is quite dangerous to believe that social norms are "falling behind." Social norms aren't behind; they're baffled at the direction in which things are going. They're pushing for a different direction and they aren't being heard. People are using technology to meet their needs, but they are not prepared for how the architecture is pulling them in a different direction.

Arguing that social norms can fall behind suggests that there is a hierarchy to the four points of regulation. Those points are valuable in discussion because they provide tensions. Social norms pull in different directions than the market, the law or the technology. This does not mean that it is behind. Quite often, social norms leapfrog everyone else. For example, social norms pushed Napster into creating an architecture that challenged the market and the law. It wasn't that the market was behind, but that it was pulling in a different direction and with a new tension, things need to be worked out.

Thus, rather than thinking about how social norms are behind, i truly believe that we should be understanding why social norms are pulling in a different direction. What does this say about the population being served by the technology?

This is a good point. A agree with danah that it is probably not a hierarchy. Sometimes there is a tension and sometimes norms drive technology.

I am reminded of the days when pagers were really popular among the youth in Japan. Back in the day, the pagers only sent numerical codes so kids came up with special codes to mean a variety of things such as "I love you" or "see you at 6pm". There were eventually code books published with a variety of numerical codes for phrases. You would see kids touch typing with two fingers encoded messages on public phone REALLY FAST. This was a technology being pushed beyond the limits of the designers by a need in society and a whole social norm built around a pretty skimpy architecture. These pagers eventually became alpha-numeric and when text messaging became available on cell phones, kids switched to cell phones. It is this pager culture from which the text messaging culture emerged and it was this youth culture that the carriers were tracking and designing their products for.

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Question: Is it possible—through the thoughtful application of technology—to willfully alter social norms for the greater (common) good? Example: Imagine a (not too distant) future in which all wireless-enabled devices act as re-transmission nodes. Now up the ante by envisioning EVERYTHING as a node, your car, jacket, sunglasses, iPod, shoes, name it. For this ‘cloud’ to work (and by ‘work’ I mean possess massive redundancy, alternate routes, etc.) each node must be always on and relatively dumb in terms of packet passing. Would you act as walking always on node in exchange for free (or cheap) seamless wireless access to the digital universe? What were talking about here is the mother of all quid pro quos. Me? I’m in.

I'd like to also point out that *most* people in the American government (and a great number in foriegn governments who were educated in American colleges) believe with all their being that the market encompasses social norms because (theoretically - though many believe it to be fact) the market changes itself as social norms change. In their minds, the progression from numeric pagers to alpha numeric pagers to cell phones was not a function of social norms, it was a function of the market. They feel that the market is a superior explanation for why the technology changed because it includes factors which affect both demand/consumers/the public and supply/the producers/the stock market. They would argue that the progression from numeric pagers, to alpha numeric pagers, to cell phones had to be beneficial to both sides of the market for it to happen. If the supply side had been unable to supply cell phone technology at a profit to them, then it would have never happened.

I agree with them for the most part in the short-run, but in the long-run, I would argue that the idea of "markets" is actually a socially embedded norm and the individualistic profit motive, which makes them tick so well in the US/England, has to be taught very fervently to the citizens of the regions where markets are going to be implemented. Moreover, markets have to be held up by very strong regulatory/legal systems, things which we failed to produce in the former USSR even though the profit motive was there as evidenced by the profit oriented crimes being committed now.

anyway that's just what I saw in the post.

ps. this is my second post here. i forgot to say hi before so hi! are introductions required to start posting here or any other matters like that? I'm new on the blogging scene (don't really have one of my own yet), and I came here from reading seth godin's books which led me to his blog which linked me a month or so ago to a fast company article where he wrote about joi's blog.

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Regulatory Slippage from Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags
December 30, 2003 10:04 AM

Thanks to danah boyd for challenging my claim that social norms are "behind" technology. Social norms aren't behind; they're baffled at the direction in which things are going. They're pushing for a different direction and they aren't being heard. I th... Read More

Regulatory Slippage from Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags
December 31, 2003 5:11 AM

Thanks to danah boyd for challenging my claim that social norms are "behind" technology. Social norms aren't behind; they're baffled at the direction in which things are going. They're pushing for a different direction and they aren't being heard. I th... Read More

Though I've been spending less time online lately, I couldn't help but notice that Joi Ito and danah boyd (in... Read More

Though I've been spending less time online lately, I couldn't help but notice that Joi Ito and danah boyd (in... Read More

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