SXSWORLD February 2013


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More recently, boyd has been helping the Macarthur Foundation and Lady Gaga launch the Born This Way Foundation, which boyd says is dedicated to helping youth "be safe, have skills, and have opportunities." 2013 is already shaping up to be a busy year for boyd. First of all, she says that she is hoping to "finish this darn book," referring to It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, which she expects to be published in January 2014 by Yale University Press. She is also beginning a research project with MSR with grave real-world significance. "The goal of this project is to examine the intersection of technology and human trafficking," boyd says. Because technology is being used in illicit activities, including the commercial exploitation of children, boyd says there is pressure by law enforcement to shut down sites where sex trafficking is occurring, such as Craigslist. The project will gather data about how often these sites are being used for sex trafficking and in what ways, as well as how technology can be employed to identify criminal activities and help victims of human trafficking. "The goal," says boyd. "is to get an empirical basis for different aspects of the issue and interrogate the ways in which technology can be employed as an intervention tool." "Just because technology makes something bad more visible doesn't mean that we should go after the technology in the hopes of making the bad thing go away," she continues. "More often than not, we should leverage the visibility to get at the root issue." Describing herself as both an ethnographer and an activist, boyd argues that the two are not mutually exclusive. "It's dangerous to drive cultural change if you're basing it on misunderstandings," she says. "As an activist, my responsibility is to push in the right direction. As a researcher it's to make sure information is accurate. They're part and parcel of the same thing." Boyd's schedule doesn't allow for much off time. "Off time. That's funny," she deadpans. But when she does manage to eke out some vacation time, boyd likes to hike all over the world. Trips in recent years have taken her to Patagonia, Easter Island, India, Iceland and Costa Rica. She is also known for taking "email sabbaticals" while away from her work, bouncing all of her mail so she comes home to an empty inbox. "It's not really a vacation if you have to come home and answer all the email that's piled up while you were away," she says. So how are the big social media giants faring with respect to user privacy since boyd gave her 2010 keynote? "It's not cleanly good or bad," she says and points out that Google had a much better launch with Google+ than the debacle that was the Google Buzz launch. "But they stepped in the mud with the pseudonymity issue," she says. Facebook, on the other hand, has trust issues. "People love Facebook because it connects them with their friends, but user trust is abysmally low," says boyd. "People enjoy the service, but they don't respect the company." Boyd also points out that Facebook's trust problem comes as the social media giant has more or less capped its user base, making growth difficult: "It's a tricky moment for them unless a lot more people suddenly get online." As far as being inducted into the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame, boyd says that she is honored. "I've been involved with South By for the better part of the last decade," she says, and recalls meeting with SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest early on and strategizing about how to make it a more impactful event. "SXSW used to be so intimate. I'm honored to have been able to help make it so big." ■ danah boyd will be inducted into the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame at the SXSW Interactive Awards Ceremony on Tuesday evening, March 12, in the Austin Grand Ballroom on the 6th floor of the Hilton Austin Downtown. For more information, go to 512.947. IDE Ride with us in style. Choose from our full fleet of luxury vehicles and experience exceptional service! NOW OFFERING AIRPORT VAN SERVICE FOR SXSW SXSWORLD / FEBRUARY 2013 31

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