danah has a good rant in response to Cory's thoughts on technologists that create technologies which cause awkward social situations.
I commented on her blog.danah boydSo, in fleshing out Cory's call to technologists, i'd ask all technologists to consider not only what problems a technology solves, but what new ones could emerge. Start thinking like a writer or an abuser of technology. Imagine how people could misuse a technology to hurt others. Consider who gains and loses power from such technology. It's a fascinating exercise and far more fulfilling than just thinking about who benefits from something. And besides, then you won't always be thinking "but the users shouldn't do THAT with this technology."
In response to my thoughts on people inadvertently collapsing context because of a lack of understanding of the technology, Wendy Seltzer blogs about Technology and Norms of Publicity.Joi ItoI agree with your point danah. On the other hand, a lot of the consequences of technology are not predictable and emerge as the technology develops and is adopted widely. I think that in addition to trying to have a vision about the negative effects of technology (which I agree is important) and trying to design around the issues, I think that identifying tensions as they arise and providing feedback to the toolbuilders is important. One of the problem of commercial enterprise is that technologists are often forced to sweep these tensions or problems under the carpet for the better good of profits or commercial interests. Also the cost of changing a design or an architecture often makes such change difficult. I think designing systems to assume they will need to be changed is important. This does get difficult as technologies mature. This is why I think the social software / blog space is interesting. We can still change a lot of the basic architecture of this space. So although I agree it is important to call our to technologists to think, I think that the dialog between technologists and people like you and Cory is more important.
When I am posting a photo album, I think about the situation, the people and decide whether to post a picture, ask permission or not even bother. I'm making a very deliberate decision based on my understanding of the technology and the social norms. The technology and the norms are evolving and the understanding of both is spotty. We WILL have tensions. I guess the key is to identify the critical irreversible risks and work just as hard in developing social norms as we are in developing technical solutions.Wendy SeltzerI 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.