When I started my sabbatical back in June, my plans were to develop a new law school course on Privacy and Identity in Cyberspace. My idea was to spend the six months reading a pile of literature on issues of changing contemporary views of identity and privacy in the Web 2.0 world. I had a lot of instances that I hoped somehow to pull together: the surprising willingness of Gen Y to reveal personal information on Facebook and MySpace (and the apparent believe that “privacy” meant that parents and other adults would not read them); “debt blogging” as reported in the New York Times; gender play in online worlds like Second Life; even the ambiguous conception of identity revealed in the White House use of private email accounts which were meant to be both official (and hence privileged) and unofficial (and hence not subject to federal record keeping and disclosure laws). I also planned to produce at least one article from all of this. And I intended to blog my progress and the ideas I was developing.
However, the real world doesn’t always turn out according to plan. I’m still working on those ideas about online identity and privacy, but my field research took me in a slightly different direction. While exploring Second Life, I made a lot of new friends–most notably my new podcasting partner.
Monday I’ll be returning to work after a very fruitful sabbatical–rested and refreshed and brimming with ideas. Stay tuned!