Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Monday, January 22, 2007
From last Friday's Professorjournal.com:
The article reports on the proliferation of new websites dedicated to condemning public offenses ranging from bad parking (Caughtya.org) and leering (HollaBackNYC.com) to littering (LitterButt.com) and general bad behavior (RudePeople.com). "Helping drive the exposes are a crop of entrepreneurs who hope to sell advertising and subscriptions. One site that lets people identify bad drivers is about to offer a $5 monthly service, for people to register several of their own plate numbers and receive notices if they are cited by other drivers. But the traffic and commercial prospects for many of the sites are so limited that clearly there is something else at work. The embrace of the Web to expose trivial transgressions in part represents a return to shame as a check on social behavior, says Henry Jenkins, director of the comparative media studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some academics believe shame became less powerful as a control over everyday interactions with strangers in all but very small neighborhoods or social groups, as people moved to big cities or impersonal suburbs where they existed more anonymously."
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