The New New Internet

Theorizing The Web: Data Serfs vs. Data Lords and Free Speech vs. Banning Reddit


National Day of Unplugging lasted from sunset on Friday, March 1 to sunset on Saturday, March 2. But judging from the smartphones, Macbooks, and tablets at the third annual Theorizing the Web conference, no attendees took them up on the challenge.

This past weekend was the first time the conference has been held in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center near Herald Square.

Gatherings of this sort are typically insular, academic affairs, but organizers Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey, both sociology grad students at the University of Maryland-College Park, have attempted to broaden the tent to include bloggers, writers, and journalists of all stripes. “We wanted to create the sort of conference we would want to attend,” said Mr. Rey. Read More

Meme Studies

A Meme is a Mirror, and When You Look Into It You See Yourself


“Are LOLCats Making Us Smarter?” asks a link-baity Atlantic headline that actually has nothing to do with the article it accompanies. The short answer: No, but that didn’t stop the Atlantic from writing a think piece about memes anyway.

As a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin school, where students design their own bizarre, mostly pretentious majors, this reporter is not really surprised that people are now writing dissertations about the cultural impact of LOLCats. After all, hasn’t social media researcher Danah Boyd essentially built an entire career around intellectualizing Internet topics otherwise deemed too 4chan-ish? Read More

Can I See Some ID

Be Who You Want to Be, On Google Plus

george eliot

Google+ caught some flak for its strict real-names policy when it launched. Users who tried to sign up under their hip web handles had their profiles shut down; when that caused an uproar, Google+ said it would give users four days of warning.  Locally, blogger-veterans Anil Dash and Scott Beale spoke out against the policy. Then Microsoft researcher and blogger Danah Boyd, who prefers to be referred to as danah boyd, or ‘zephoria,’ the name that got her into a tiff with Tumblr, wrote “Real Names’ Policies Are an Abuse of Power,” explaining how anonymity on the web protects important discourse from minorities, victims and those with other incentives not to speak. “Personally, I’m ecstatic to see this much outrage” over Google’s harsh real-name policy on Google+, she said at the time. Read More

What's In A Name?

Danah Boyd–‘Zephoria’–Latest Luminary to Stand Up for Pseudonyms

danah boyd

Microsoft researcher and blogger Danah Boyd, who prefers to be referred to as danah boyd, or ‘zephoria,’ the name that got her into a tiff with Tumblr, has stepped, as we knew she would, into the pseudonymity debate. “‘Real Names’ Policies Are an Abuse of Power,” she writes today, and have disastrous effects on vulnerable people. “Personally, I’m ecstatic to see this much outrage” over Google’s harsh real-name policy on Google+, she writes. Read More


Tumblr Apologizes to Danah Boyd, Restores Her Original Username

john maloney

Tumblr has restored Microsoft researcher and pundit Danah Boyd’s blog to its original location after a public spat.

Yesterday, Microsoft researcher of 43,900+ Twitter follower fame Danah Boyd discovered her Tumblr account,, had been changed to to make room for Zephoria Inc., a New York-based social media marketing agency. Ms. Boyd is an infrequent Tumblr user–her last entry was in January–but she was irritated that one, Tumblr would automatically give preference to a corporation, and two, she had no idea her blog was being moved until it happened. Read More


Tumblr Gave Danah Boyd’s Username to a Marketing Company

karp tumbeasts

Tumblr just messed with the wrong 43,913 Twitter follower-ed blogger. Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd just posted an open letter to Tumblr, which abruptly moved her blog to a new address and gave her old handle,, to a social media consulting company.

“Tumblr did not notify me. And while their ToS says that they will, it also says that Tumblr ‘reserves the right to remove any Subscriber Content from the Site, suspend or terminate Subscriber’s right to use the Services at any time,'” she wrote. It appears Ms. Boyd’s most recent post was in January. Read More