One thing that I???ve been thinking about recently is the space where digital distribution and publicly accessible sharing communities meet campus regulations in the age of the facebook and myspace. In particular I???m thinking about this in terms of party pictures.

During my time at RIT (back in the stone age of film) I was known to imbue the occasional adult beverage at printing social events. This was before RIT became a ???dry??? campus (though the ???wetness??? at the time didn???t really negate the fact that most of us were underage ??? sorry mom, it was bound to come out sooner or later). And there are definitely pictures of me doing so, along with other members of a certain professional group I was involved in. However, the circulation of those pictures (4×6 color glossies) was handled using quaint mano-to-mano technology. We???d pick them up from the developer and then pass them around at meetings, in labs, and, more often than not, at parties (while consuming more illicit adult beverages ??? oh the terrible cycle).

Fast forward a decade. Today???s students are more often than not equipped with digital cameras and sharing party pictures through various digital means. Among the possibilities for this circulation are social networking sites like afore mentioned facebook and myspace. Choosing these methods of distribution also means that those pictures are potentially available to a larger audience. And that audience may include not only peers but also administrators at the institutions that these students frequent.

So can students be busted for throwing a party after the fact if photographic evidence surfaces online? Existing precedent definitely suggest this is the case. There are currently investigations into LA nightclubs that allow underage stars to drink. And a star of the Harry Potter movies stirred up a bit of controversy when pictures of her apparently drinking a Corona surfaced online.

So while technology may facilitate rapid sharing of pictures from parties, social (or perhaps structural controls) enter into the equation.