Jiva Technology

limiting access to meaning

I won’t bother adding a link, because (annoyingly) unless you have a subscription to the FT Online, it won’t be of any use to you. However, reading the old fashioned paper version of the FT at the weekend, I was amused to see a review of three books all relating to the same subject: the power struggle between parents and adolescents over privacy. All three books were adequately reviewed, but one, “It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens” by media scholar Danah Boyd stood out from crowd simply because it’s based on sound research as opposed to subjection.

I originally started reading the article because I thought there’d be some interesting insights, which there were, but one phrase really struck a chord. Boyd suggest that, “limiting access to meaning can be a much more powerful tool for achieving privacy than trying to limit access to the content itself”. In this instance she’s talking about the use of text speak to exclude parents from the conversation, but it occurs to me that it’s a weapon of power that we all use. “Inside talk” excludes those not in the know. Doctors use it, policemen use it, Planet Geek uses it; it’s a weapon of power. If we limit access to meaning through the use of uncommon phrases, words or uncommon use of words, we exclude others.

We are not being exact, we are being exclusive.


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