social capital

Nouvelles d’ANAMIA : conférences, vidéos et outils de visualisation de données

Je suis actuellement à Québec (plus précisément sur le campus de l’Université Laval) où j’ai été invité à présenter ANAMIA, notre projet ANR sur les communautés anorexiques et boulimiques du Web, dans le cadre du méga-congrès francophone canadien ACFAS. Que Georges Canguilhem ne m’en veuille pas trop, l’intitulé de ma présentation est Le normal et le parfait. Rapport au médical et émergence de normes corporelles au sein des communautés anorexiques du Web (lundi 6, 15h30, salle 3850 du Pavillon Alexandre-Vachon, colloque du CELAT, session “Corps et médias : énonciation, négociation, contestation et réaffirmation, présidée par Madeleine Pastinelli).

Par ailleurs, avec les autres membres du projet, nous venons de lancer en ligne la série de Conférences ANAMIA : des vidéos et des slides de présentations de membres de notre équipe de recherche et de spécialistes français apportant un éclairage sociologique, historique, psychologique sur les Web des troubles alimentaires et sur le phénomène pro-ana. La première vidéo est celle de La minceur, obsession ou danger, conférence de l’historien Georges Vigarello (directeur d’études à l’EHESS et auteur, entre autres, de La silhouette, 2012 ; Les métamorphoses du gras, 2010 ; Histoire de la beauté, 2004). Le montage a été réalisé par Argyro Paouri, de la cellule audiovisuelle du CEM IIAC CNRS/EHESS.

VigarelloANAMIA[Conférence ANAMIA] Georges Vigarello « La minceur n’est pas une obsession exclusivement moderne »

Pour terminer, un teaser de quelque chose sur laquelle nous avons travaillé ces derniers mois avec le très talentueux designer Quentin Bréant : un tools de visualisation des données collectées dans le cadre de nos enquêtes sur les utilisateurs de sites Web liés aux troubles alimentaires en France et au Royaume. Nous allons faire une présentation live sur le site Web du projet ANAMIA prochainement. Entre temps (et sans autre explication) voilà une petite galerie… question de vous donner un avant-goût.

Visualisations des données de l’enquête ANAMIA en France et au Royaume-Uni

Slides du séminaire EHESS d'Antonio Casilli “Contre l’hypothèse de la fin de la vie privée” (20 nov. 2012)

La première séance de mon séminaire EHESS Étudier les cultures du numérique : approches théoriques et empiriques pour cette année universitaire a eu lieu le mardi 20 novembre 2012 à l’EHESS. Merci à tou(te)s les participant(e)s pour leur présence, leurs commentaires et leur enthousiasme. Voilà les slides de ma présentation.

TITRE : “Contre l’hypothèse de la ‘fin de la vie privée’ sur les médias sociaux : négociabilité et cyclicité de la privacy”

RESUME : “Au sein de la communauté internationale plusieurs voix se lèvent pour dénoncer l’érosion inexorable de la vie privée dans le  contexte des usages actuels du Web social. En s’adonnant à une surveillance mutuelle et participative, les internautes renoncent-ils volontairement à la protection de leurs données personnelles ? Cette intervention adopte une approche ethno-computationnelle des controverses relatives aux politiques de négociation des paramètres de confidentialité en ligne pour montrer que la vie privée a encore de beaux jours devant elle. Sous certaines conditions, des « cycles de privacy » se mettent en place. Au travers du travail des associations d’usagers et des organismes préposés à la défense de leurs droits, ces conditions peuvent être remplies.”

Lectures :

Susan B. Barnes (2006) A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States, First Monday, 11 (9)

danah boyd (2008) Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence, Convergence, 14 (1): 13-20

danah boyd & Eszter Hargittai (2010) Facebook privacy settings: Who cares?, First Monday, 15 (8)

Anders Albrechtslund (2008) Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance, First Monday, 13 (3)


The academic, the wikipedian, the vandal [Full version, updated 05.11.2012]

The French translation of this essay is available on OWNI (part 1 and part 2), as installments of my column Addicted To Bad Ideas.

With the new academic year kicking in, my colleagues and I have decided to add a little wiki twist to a couple of courses we teach at Telecom ParisTech. I started a Wikispace for my digital culture class, and with Isabelle Garron and Valérie Beaudouin we’ve made compulsory for first year students to try and edit and discuss at least one Wikipedia page, as part of their initiation to online writing.

Sure, Wikipedia has been used as teaching tool in academia for some years now, to say nothing about its increasing popularity as a research topic. But the main rationale for using it in the classroom is that it has become the one-stop-shop for bibliographical research and fact-checking.

Challenging the Academic Mindframe

Think about your own online information habits. What do you do when you don’t know the first thing about a given topic? You probably google it, and the first occurrence is most likely a page from Jimbo Wales’s brainchild. You do it, we do it, our students do it. So we have to incorporate Wikipedia in our academic activity, not because it’s a cool gadget, but because otherwise it will create a dangerous blind spot.

[Don’t panic… Ok, panic]

And yet, admitting to this without panicking is not simple. At least here in continental Europe, ill informed judgments about the allegedly poor quality of Wikipedia articles are still commonplace in higher education. Some – like the French high-school teacher Loys Bonod, who had his 15 minutes of fame earlier this year – go as far as to add false and misleading information to Wikipedia, just to demonstrate to their students that it… contains false and misleading information.

Such paradoxical reactions are a case in point. Wikipedia is just as accurate and insightful as its contributions. Hence, the need to encourage its users to relinquish their passive stance and participate, by writing about and discussing relevant topics. Of course, one might say, when it comes to Wikipedia the Internet iron law of 90–9–1 participation applies: for 90 simple readers of any article, there will be only 9 who will make the effort to click on the “modify” tab to actually write something in it, and maybe just 1 motivated enough to click on the “discussion” tab and start a dialogue with other wikipedians.

Social scientists can come up with many explanations for this situation. The claims about the dawn of online participatory culture might have been largely exaggerated. Or maybe the encyclopaedic form tends to recreate cultural dynamics that are more coherent with an “author vs. reader” dichotomy than with many-to-many communication. Or maybe Wikipedia editors tend to intimidate other users in an effort to increase their own social status by implementing specific barriers to entry.

Try starting a new article. In all probability, its relevance will be challenged by some editor. Try starting the biography of a living public figure. Chances are that a discussion will ensue, focussing not on the public figure in question, but on the private qualities of the biographer. Is the author just an IP-based anonymous, or a legit logged-in user with a recognized contribution track record?


Et in Athenis ego: update on ongoing research on the body + riots

I know I should be in Lyon for the www12 conference with all the Internet big shots, but instead I’m taking a plane and heading to Greece. The opportunity came via an invitation to deliver a speech at the New Sensorium, an international symposium that will take place on April 20-21 at the BIOS, in Athens. If you are around, you should definitely attend! The conference deals with some of my main research foci (digital technologies, media and the body) and it is the outcome of a collaboration between the Department of Communication, Media and Culture of Panteion University and the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto (I was their guest a few months ago).

The New Sensorium symposium – BIOS, Athens (20-21 April 2012)

Just so you know my speech carries the somewhat cryptic title The Virus and the Avatar. Ways of socializing the sensible in computer culture – and if you don’t have a clue of what it’s about, here are two texts in Greek and in English that might be of help.

But this Athens trip will also be the chance to do more than a bit of field research for our ongoing ICCU (Internet Censorship and Civil Unrest) project. You might remember the project was kickstarted by this blog post about last year’s UK riots.

Our research received a lot of attention and eventually became a working paper, then an article coming up in the Bulletin of Sociological Methodology and started a number of prospective spin-offs in other nations. The Athens one is based on the idea of studying media and internet use during the Greek 2010-12 protests (and the way they are linked with the 2008 riots). Won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil the party. But, if I manage to grasp a little wifi, I might be blogging a postcard or two from my Athenian fieldwork.

Banning pro-ana websites? Not a good idea, as Web censorship might have a 'toothpaste tube effect'

[Update 05.04.13: A longer version of this post, with revised results, has evolved into a full-fledged article published by the UK Royal Society. To cite the article: A. A. Casilli, F. Pailler, P. Tubaro (2013). Online networks of eating disorder websites: why censoring pro ana might be a bad idea, Perspectives in Public Health , vol. 133, n.2, p. 94 95. As part of our research project ANAMIA (Ana-mia Sociability: an Online/Offline Social Networks Approach to Eating Disorders), the post has been featured in a number of media venues, including The Economist, Libération, Le Monde, Boing Boing, The Huffingtonpost, CBC Radio Canada, DRadio Wissen, Voice of Russia.]

Tumblr, Pinterest and the toothpaste tube

On February 23rd, 2012 Tumblr announced its decision to turn the screw on self-harm blogs: suicide, mutilation and most prominently thinspiration – i.e. the ritualized exchange of images and quotes meant to inspire readers to be thin. This cultural practice is distinctive of the pro-ana (anorexia nervosa), pro-mia (bulimia) and pro-ED (eating disorders) groups online: blogs, forums, and communities created by people suffering from eating-related conditions, who display a proactive stance and critically abide by medical advice.

A righteous limitation of harmful contents or just another way to avoid liability by marginalizing a stigmatized subculture? Whatever your opinion, it might not come as a surprise that the disbanded pro-ana Tumblr bloggers are regrouping elsewhere. Of all places, they are surfacing on Pinterest, the up-and-coming photo-sharing site. Here’s how Sociology in Focus relates the news: (more…)

“Anamia” social networks and online privacy: our Sunbelt XXXII presentations (Redondo Beach, March 18, 2012)

[This is a joint post with Paola Tubaro’s Blog]

So, here we are in the (intermittently) sunny state of California for Sunbelt XXXII, the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) annual conference. This year the venue is Redondo Beach and the highlights are both old and new stars of social network analysis:  David Krackhardt, Tom Valente, Barry Wellman, Emmanuel Lazega, Anuška Ferligoj, Ron Burt, Bernie Hogan, Carter Butts, Christina Prell, etc.

Here are our presentations, both delivered on Sunday 18th, March 2012.


Taking liberties: why feeling closer on social media can lead to higher conflictuality

A short note on an apparent paradox highlighted by Ronald E. Anderson on the blog Compassionate Societies. While commenting on a recent PEW survey on the “tone of life” on social networking sites, the author points out two interesting facts :

1)  heavy social media users are prone to conflict (and, more generally, a lot of users experience negative interactions, physical fight and even end up breaking friendships because of online communication)…

2) ..yet overall people declare they feel closer to others, more compassionate and feeling good about themselves.

How can this contradiction be explained? According to the author “social networking is a mixed bag of good and bad”. I, for one, would like to suggest another way of interpreting these results: social media users are not hostile despite the fact they feel closer to one another. Rather, they are hostile because they feel closer. Closeness primarily comes to mean that users approach social media sites with higher expectations about friendship and togetherness. Social networking might thus imply adopting a social style characterized by a hypertrophied sense of intimacy, verging on liberty – like in the expression “taking liberties”: being too friendly in a way that shows a lack of respect to others.

Facebook “friending” rhetoric plays a part in this process, of course: by spreading an irenic vision of harmonious social life, any deviation from emotional proximity is perceived as a major break in the code of communication. In this sense, while interacting in the informal environment of social media, individuals not only fail to cultivate deference, but they even come to think of it as a transgression of an implicit social norm, as a manifestation of distance – or, worse, indifference – that compromises social cohesion and introduces an element of mistrust conducive to conflict. : distinction 2.0 ou inégalité en réseau ?

Au hasard de mes explorations en ligne, je découvre, service de réseautage pour “l’élite de la société russe”. Tout comme son homologue international, ce site créé en 2008 permet à des personnes aisées d’afficher leurs goûts et leurs styles de vie distinctifs dans un cadre valorisant. Sponsorisé par le milliardaire Mikhaïl Prokhorov, le réseau a été souvent présenté dans la presse internationale comme un repaire de nouveaux beaufs, symptôme de la décadence anthropologique de la Russie de Putin.

Mais il est surtout une mine d’or pour tout chercheur travaillant sur les pratiques de consommation actuelles, et surtout une occasion unique pour mettre à jour certaines notions sociologiques, de la consommation ostentatoire de Veblen à la distinction de Bourdieu, de l‘élite du pouvoir de C. Wright-Mills au rôle de la violence symbolique chez Michel Pinçon et Monique Pinçon-Charlot.


A century of McLuhan: understanding social media

I was among the invited speakers of the McLuhan centenary conference McLuhan100 Then Now Next at the University of Toronto. So I’m back from a full week of scientific research, art, concerts, and conversations with great contemporary media scholars such as Ian Bogost, Barry Wellman, Arthur Kroker, Jay Bolter, Derrick de Kerckhove, Peppino Ortoleva, Mike Wesch, Joshua Meyrowitz, Michaël Oustinoff, Hervé Fischer. But enough with the name dropping. Here’s my own presentation (slides+text), where I mix up McLuhan, Merton, Facebook and Teilhard de Chardin. Enjoy.

Text of the presentation: (more…)

Six interesting facts about social networking

A few interesting facts about Social Networking Services (mainly Facebook) taken from the recent report issued on June 16 2011 by PEW Internet and American Life. The report, whose title is Social networking sites and our lives is authored by Keith Hampton, Lauren Sessions Goulet, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell. Food for thought.

Fact #1: The average age of adult SNS users is now 38.

Sure, as user base increases, the gen Y is ‘caught up’ by gen X-ers, Baby Boomers and the like…

Fact #2: 26% of SNS members are now aged more than 50 (vs. 16% aged 18-22)

Definitely the ‘digital immigrants’ are catching up big time. But this was already clear from the 2009 Generations online Pew Report.