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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please forward this…

I was thinking about the last two entries that i posted and about the common practice by some bloggers and LJ/Xanga folks to post personality tests. Remember when we all used to get forwards from friends with questions your friends answered and questions that you should pass on to all of your friends? It was part of the forwarding blitz. The goal was to get to know your friends better through funny meme-spreading questions. Y’know… the things that resulted in the post-AOL phrase “the September that never ended”? Remember those?

These practices play an interesting and similar social role. In both cases, you share something that you find fun and interesting while simultaneously sharing something about yourself. You create mini-memes and hope your friends will follow in suit because you want to hear their answers. Of course, the suits don’t play along because they think that these mediums are far more professional than that. But when your friends do engage in the pyramid scheme, you smile at the minutia that they offer that tells so much about them.

Also, of course, both are ways of shouting out at your friends when you have no real content to share, just something that will make them think about you and smile. It’s a digital presence indicator, a way of remotely ::nuzzling:: It’s sooo not the professional web, but so critical to the way that social ties are maintained.

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