My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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i started crying at work today. not out of frustration for coding or anything that would be normal. no, it was not that simple. for a “field trip”, we went to the street of dreams in portland. it’s this fancy schmantzy housing exhibit to show you the american dream version of a house. sure, they use a lot of cultural imperialism (an entire house decorated in buddhist religious art, including rock gardens, and rivers and whatnot). and there were a lot of other assumptions. boys rooms had computers; girls rooms did not. and sure, these were multi-million dollar houses with 5 showerheads in each shower and 2 floor closets in the master bedroom. and all decorated for show, complete with entertainment rooms with two floor (balcony) movie setups. and tvs in every room and whatnot.

but it wasn’t the ritziness that broke me. no, it was the way people were talking about the houses. there were two types of people – the oh wow’s and the buyers. the buyers, rich by nature, didn’t think this was that big of a deal and so they critiqued the practicalities of a room (this isn’t big enough, or the jacuzzi only fits 3 and we have 4 people or..). the wowsers were looking to be told what the american dream is and how what they should strive to consume like. oh and that was so painful, so very painful. i mean, it costs $12 a head to see this display of absurdity and people paid it in order to buy into the american dream. and i just cried.

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