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Podcast: Nora Young talks about her book The Virtual Self and how our digital lives can reground us in the physical realm.

UPDATE: After much hullabaloo, Facebook filed its paperwork for an initial public offering, the week of its eighth birthday. The company will begin trading late May 2012. Read more at Mashable. They also have a nice video to explain what this all means, in particular the increase of mobile-Facebooking.

I went back to Nora Young to ask her thoughts. What does this mean in terms of data? OUR data? Here they be:

At the most basic level, Facebook's IPO is a good example of the fact that our data has value. In fact, it's interesting just to consider for a moment that the stock price is — and will be — driven by the loyalty of users and the data they choose to contribute, more than the platform itself, which in the absence of user data really has little intrinsic value.

Does that data have as much value as today's trading suggests, though? In advance of the IPO, I found it interesting to read speculation on what FB might need to do in order to generate the revenue that "Wall Street" might expect. See for instance, this New York Times article. It points out another feature of these platforms: that exactly what use will be made of our data, is something of a moving target. We are really at a fluid period in thinking about what value personal data actually has.

At more of a cultural level, the borderline hysterical coverage leading up to FB's IPO suggests that we are really drunk on data. It's a story with an odd sex appeal to it, since as users we are in some sense 'involved' in the …

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Roughing It In the Books, or Everybody Dies in the End: Guest Post by Melanie Masterson

Roughing It In The Books is obviously a play on Roughing It In The Bush by Susanna Moodie which is often the first book people think of when they think of Canadian Literature. It shouldn't be, of course, but it is. Canadians are a self-deprecating lot so we tend to make fun of ourselves and our work even though there is much to be celebrated, and Roughing It In The Books is a little bit making fun and a little bit celebration. When I tell people what I'm doing they kind of roll their eyes at me but laugh at the same time and a conversation always ensues--even if it is only to tell me how much they loved or hated reading A Handmaid's Tale in high school. I can only imagine how many times Margaret Atwood has to listen to that. In case she is reading this I fall firmly in the 'loved it' category.

Book Cover Barometer Rising

I first had the idea to start Roughing It In the Books in 2008 when I was spending all my time nursing my oldest daughter. I had been collecting the 1970s abstract art paperback editions of McClelland & Stewart's New Canadian Library for years and my husband was always asking me if I was ever going to actually read them. (The point being that if I wasn't reading them I wasn't allowed to buy anymore). I'm not a big shopper but I have a real soft spot for these books and when …

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