The information revolution changes adolescence

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

[ this post was originally published on a weblog called What Is Liberalism ]

Icarus Diving looks at the most common “how to” searches on Google and jokingly suggests that Google is replacing mothers as the source for information on girl stuff (his post is quite funny and worth reading):

I might, slightly more seriously, suggest that if people are looking to Google to learn about tampons, condoms, marijuna and music players, then Google is replacing both parents and peers. I recall early adolescence as a time when everyone was competing to show that they knew about “adult” stuff like drugs and sex. These are subjects people used to learn about from slightly older peers, but now perhaps young people are seeking out the information more directly.

Danah Boyd worries about the ethical implications of Google allowing us to see this information and argues that this is really a form of eavesdropping. I’d prefer to think in terms of transparency rather than eavesdropping (why should Google keep this info to itself? What’s does society gain from that?). I don’t see this as being very different from a political poll, which would, like this, tell me what my fellow Americans find interesting (or in Google’s case, what English-speakers throughout the world find interesting). Even if we do think of this as eavesdropping, I’d argue that eavesdropping always produces social good, so long as the people being overhead can retain their anonymity, and remain immune to punishment, and the information gained is shared freely with everyone else (which is what happens with a political poll).

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