incantations for muggles

Using the idea of magic to explain the use and capability of technology is quite fascinating and definitely interesting for a Harry Potter fan like myself, but I have to admit danah boyd’s Incantations for Muggles: The Role of Ubiquitous Web 2.0 Technologies in Everyday Life had me itching for sources. I’ll blame it on the academic in me. (She makes all great points but as a psychology major who has written plenty of research papers, I really wanted her points to be backed up so they could seem more real, more honest. I especially felt sources would have been appropriate when she was discussing the stereotypes of each life stage).

I disagreed a bit with the ordering of values she assigned to life stage #2, which looked like this: Sex, Friends, Money, Play/Leisure, and Labor. She doesn’t consider education a priority for the age group I fall under but I believe it is a large part of the average 20-something year old’s life. Personally, I would order the values like this: Friends, Money, Sex, Education, Play/Leisure. I believe this order is more correct based upon experiences I have observed amongst my college aged peers.

I agree with the fact that technology is more focused on the younger crowds and barely pays attention to the older folks. My grandma often asks me how to search for certain things on the internet and gives me magazine clippings to save because she “doesn’t know how to find them online”. Plus there are so many different forms of technology that it’s so overwhelming to think of which one to use in order to gain information that she prefers to leave it all alone, considering it “confusing.” Yet, most people younger than her consider technology the most accessible form of gaining information.

I also agree with her that social media allows us “to see society from a new lens” and brings us together based on interests and commonality. I have the Facebook friends that I have only because I have something in common with them whether that be the same favorite movie or we’ve taken the same class together. With every status update and photo album they upload, I am able to get to know my Facebook friends a bit better and am even able see the beauty in things from their perspective every now and then whether it be through a song or an image.

Lastly, I agree with boyd that “technology has taken TMI (To Much Information) to an artform” since it tends to give out more information about ourselves than we want given out to the public or even more than we wish to receive about others. The worst part of this is that it’s only getting worse. Boyd points out, “This is only going to get more complex as we go mobile, if we ever manage to go mobile,” and go mobile we have.

There are applications like Sonar that shows the connections you share with anyone who has a social media site and is located nearby, including that creepy guy who always insists on sitting next to you on the bus. Highlight is another app that allows people to learn more information about you, and there is the Banjo app that lets you view people’s social network profiles based on their location. Each application can be easily accessed through a smartphone and plenty of people already use them. TMI to the max, huh?

Overall, like boyd, I see the spell technology has over society and that we should learn to separate ourselves from technology (freeing ourselves from possible negativity) and worry about humanity instead.

here is a speech Boyd gave at SXSW about Privacy and Publicity

Do you have any of these mobile applications? Does it allow you to access a large amount of information on strangers?

What about social media, does it allow you to see society through a new lens?

How about the publicity and privacy of social media, what you prefer better privacy settings?


About MegMia
journalism major who brings a little optimism to a world full of pessimism.

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