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What do you tell others about yourself- purposefully or not- via your online persona? How can we ensure that our communication remains “honest enough to function?” How will what we protect about our identities online and how we do it change over the decades to come? In this conversation, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed Judith Donath to talk about how technology affects the social world, along with her new book, The Social Machine.

1. Share a question (or more!) that arose in your mind sparked by Roberts’s and Donath’s conversation. 2. In their discussion of online community building, Donath stresses that the robust examples that exist are in private spaces, whereas what we tend to see are public spaces, such as this very one. At the same time, Roberts bemoans our own attempts to build community. So what do you think…Could we build a vibrant EconTalk community in a private online space? What would that be like?

3. What does Donath mean when she says that in the near future, “our whole notion of what is a stranger will really kind of disappear?” What do you consider a “stranger” to be, and how has your own definition changed with the advent of the digital age?

4. The latter part of the conversation is concerned primarily with issues of privacy. Donath is more worried about personal information in the hands of corporations, while Roberts is more concerned about manipulation by government. Which worries you more, and why?