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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woah…. omg. reflections on mega-viewership

Wow. ::jaw on floor:: When I posted my article last night, I sent it to some friends and academic lists figuring that it would stir a conversation. I figured that some usual suspects would read it and offer valuable critiques. I was not expected Slashdot, Digg, Metafilter, del.icio.us/popular, Reddit, and other aggregators to pick it up.

Meme flow on the web intrigues me. When I post a well-thought out, well-written analysis, I get a few thousands hits and maybe a BoingBoing mention. So far, I’ve received 90K hits for this latest piece, the most problematic of essays I’ve ever shared publicly. Figures.

I know that there are problems in that essay (and I tried to caveat and caveat away till I annoyed myself). So I am not surprised that folks are up in arms about all sorts of things. Still, the response is fascinating. I guess there’s nothing like something problematic to get a conversation started, eh?

I can’t decide if the response is good or bad. I’m clearly getting raked through the coals by lots of folks from lots of different perspectives. I actually find this quite constructive and helpful. I’m getting a lot of feedback from teens, parents, teachers, youth ministers, and other non-tech audiences which is extremely thought provoking. The feedback varies tremendously in tone and content. Some folks are saying I’m completely right; some are telling me I’m dead wrong. The latter clearly gives me an opportunity to follow up with folks that I’m not representing well and I hope that it’ll be a chance to learn what I’m missing.

I think some folks misinterpreted this piece as an academic article. No doubt this is based on my observations from the field, but this is by no means an academic article. I did add some methodological footnotes in the piece so that folks would at least know where the data was coming from. But I didn’t situate or theorize or contextualize this at all. It’s more like publicizing field observations. There’s much work to be done before this can be anything resembling an academic article. The “citation” note at the top of my pieces also confuses this. That was meant for when people picked it up and stole it whole from my page or when people got to it indirectly. I put that as a standard for my blog essays a while back because of this issue. I guess I see my blog as a space to work out half-formed ideas. I just didn’t expect 90K people to read it. Blog essays to me are thoughts in progress, blog entries that are too long to be blog entries. But I can see where there’s confusion.

I also clearly pissed off the academics by inappropriately appropriating academic terms in an attempt to demarcate groups. I intentionally picked two that have a political valence meant to hit at some of the crunchiness; I went back and forth with terms and decided to repurpose academic ones since they work as better metaphors than most everyday terms that I could think of. For example, I hate how poorer populations or marginalized populations are always framed as powerless so I appropriated an academic term (“subaltern”) that comes from post-colonial studies when work was done to give power to the voices of subaltern soldiers in India. Still, I want better terms and am hoping someone has suggestions.

I’m still wading through the responses. I’m still floored by the responses. I’ve been in the air and offline all day so I haven’t had a chance to go through everything. But in the next few days I will and I will respond. And I *really* appreciate the feedback and critique. I think some good can come out of this unbelievable feedback.

I also need to get my head around the fact that sharing something problematic has sparked more of a conversation and reflection than being precise. In some senses, this bothers me. At the same time, inciting people to think is exactly what I want. So I am feeling very bewildered. Is the way to make change to present something problematic so that people have to engage by disagreeing? Hmm..

More soon…

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65 comments to woah…. omg. reflections on mega-viewership

  • Lisa

    “Some” problems? You need to write the whole effing paper, girl. You’re all over the news… please stop spreading misinformation.

  • Dan

    I agree. You should send out a statement of apology to the latinos and immigrants you insulted. Next time do your research before you start talking s*** about people.

  • Donald G.

    There is no problem. However, the ONLY thing problematic is YOUR RACIST COMMENTS.

  • I think it’s terrific that you’ve kick started this discussion.

    However, a lot of folks are discussing your piece as if it was a scientifically compiled report and are citing it.

    You’ve made BBC. And a number of blogs that trend social software are saying your paper points to the doom of MySpace. The BBC, in particular, was surprising sloppy and reckless. It made it sound like your work was the definitive report you are still working through.

  • Lisa

    It’s not terrific at all. It’s horrible. A perfect example of amateur writing spread all over the web like crap on toilet paper. A horrible essay written by an unintelligent little girl. I can’t believe the media was all over this! Ridiculous. I hope there’s a lawsuit against this elitist Paris Hilton-type girl.

  • J

    I loved it. I hope you polish it up, and continue your research in that area.

  • Shannon

    The vitriol with which people respond to work on the Web continues to surprise me, but I enjoyed your thoughts. Thanks for this, and I thought you clearly labeled it as material in progress.

  • great piece, well written and thought out.

    seems it’s a touchy subject, but others need to note that talking about class does not imply racism. i say this as a non-american raised in one the most mixed societies in the world and very much a liberal. talking about the properties of your outlook and/or presentation and linking them to profiles of racial heritage isn’t racism, it’s empiricism.

    being blind to colour is not a virtue. if you think that by doing so you are renouncing racism then I suggest you rethink. many of us are proud of our heritage and are happy to be recognised for our ethnicity, which we in fact take great pride in. trying to assimilate me into your hegemonic outlook is not appreciated 🙂

    great article by the author, my congratulations on finding a voice to what it is a very thorny subject matter.

  • Wow, I am really shocked at the negative reactions! I think your paper was fascinating and fair, you were very clear that it was simply your observations.

    It’s unfortunate that some folks who probably have a lot of insights into this are clouding their input with ignorance and hate instead of adding their useful knowledge.

    Just like others, this storm will blow over. Enjoy the ride, danah!

  • Jake Lockley

    No wonder, Mashable’s headline for your essay:

    Case Study Report Indicates Class Division Between MySpace & Facebook

    Someone should fire their editors for promoting your essay as a case study.

  • thought it was a good blog post– you make some interesting points, but where are all these moes coming from saying that you said anything racist? I must be missing it. how did she insult latinos and immigrants? Were you all reading a different essay by a different author? wtf?

  • I wonder how many of the commenters even read the article, even less read it carefully, even less looked around and read some of the past danah’s work? I bet 99.99% of them only read the *titles* in the media or Metafilter or some such place and felt obliged to come here and voice their *opinions*. They find “code-words” everywhere, use them to infer what is in the article, then lash out.

    The responses in the academic, science and techie blogospheres were much more positive because people actually read the piece and thought about it. Heck, I found the need to link to it twice in two days so far!

    danah, I’ll be in SF in July – we have to meet. I need to pick your brain on some of the issues that only you know how to think about and I need for my new job. I’ll e-mail you later.

  • R.

    Dear danah,

    I am surprised at the vitriol people send your way. I have always been fascinated by the topics you research (although I haven’t done any research on it myself). I have looked both at yours and Fred Stutzman’s work and I find them thought-provoking. I am sorry to hear that people will try to destroy your reputation and confidence. Cyber-bullying, anyone?

    One thing is true, that the media may have misrepresented your work. But that’s THEIR problem, not yours. As you mentioned, you added as many caveats as possible without boring readers to death. It is also important that people follow your work more closely. You have defined yourself as a qualitative researcher (or at least so I have read, correct me if I am mistaken). People want to see statistics (and those can also be misrepresented).

    At any rate, good job. Don’t be discouraged.

  • Heya,

    I first read part of your essay on digg and was a little mad… I now know I took it out of context.

    I did like the essay, although not agreeing 100% with it, you did spark my brain and I really thank you for writing it.

    Keep on writing!!!!!

    -Ryan

  • Kickass on pissing-off the academics!! No wonder you’re one of the few who so many of us that actually create digital media, listento/worship/follow.

    Ok- that’s a bit kissass’y, and of course we all have room to grow. The reach that your work has had into the livingrooms and PTA sessions and therapy offices and design-studios and corporate brainstorming sessions… far beyond the piles of to-be-read dissertations, I think speaks quite louder than the praise of any one individual.

    Yes my grammar sucks and so does my spelling- but I don’t write, I just design things. (thank you, danah!)

  • Be careful. Courting controversy is a one way trip to real fame 😉

  • Xdroot

    As a non-white, I found your article interesting. Though it wasn’t a scientific paper, I did agree to some aspects, since I have had similar thoughts. And as usual, any attempt at articulating a non-standard thought is met with disbelief and vitriolic comments. lol. Some people have no sense of perspective.

  • interesting that some people here chose to complain using sexist /gendered put downs … “little girl”

  • I was surprised at the BBC article and how sloppy it was. So much so i actually wrote to them and complained! I expect far more from them. But not reading your disclaimers and assessing your academic qualifications from this one document without apparently seeing what else you have done seems to be a common mistake amongst commenters.

    Meanwhile, i’d love to see if any British workers in this field have a corresponding set of thoughts when Bebo is thrown into the mix.

  • It sure is touchy to talk about social class, and you’re bound to offend people no matter how you go about it. I hope the angry voices, which feel to me like attempts to silence you, don’t get to you… too much, they’re bound to get to you a little. Keep on being real and telling about what you see.

  • Dan Swayze

    Wow. Be careful what you wish for, eh? I just Googled “class division Myspace Facebook “. 265,000 hits and the coveted top ten were all links to your essay through different sites. Wow.

    Without commenting on the essay, I wonder whether my reaction to all the attention was the same as your other readers. I’ve never replied to your blogs, but have followed them since discovering your work. There was no real communication until last week, when you so graciously replied to an email query.

    Today I too was shocked. I was flabbergasted and disappointed that some were treating the draft essay as a study. “That’s not what she meant” was my first thought at the coverage. As if I were defending your work.

    But I was more taken aback to learn that what I presumed to be a relatively small community following your musings was actually much larger than I ever imagined. It now feels a little less like a few like-minded folks gathering for a thoughtful dialog than it does a rock-concert with ten of thousands of drunken fans sitting behind us. You’re on a much bigger stage and carry much more responsibility than I ever imagined.

    As someone with an interest in online communities, I’m wondering if my reaction is unique?

    It will be interesting and revealing to see what you do from here. Fortunately from what I’ve read in the past, I think you’ll do fine. As always, thanks for sharing your thought-provoking pieces.

  • Anon

    Yeah the BBC was amusing.

  • I think that the reaction stems from the way that your piece was presented by people who linked to you.

    For example, my co-blogger at Future Majority wrote on our site and on MyDD’s breaking blue that this piece was “incredibly important for campaigns” that are looking to do outreach through social networking sites. And then I came here and discovered a piece that didn’t offer anything useful to me- no observations backed up by any data, sloppy definitions of what was even being looked at, sweeping generalizations about massive amounts of people (and groups of people).

    You state now that this wasn’t meant to be academic, and yet you wrote it as if it was academic (other than a few emoticons, but hey, it is a blog), which is why I assume that those with some social research in their background were so taken aback (as well as the “groups/identities” that you lumped together). I’ve worked in these spaces for a couple of years now, and I never have witnessed the trend you speak of, so for me the lack of data implies that this is just a bunch of musings from a disconnected mind. I know that you are studying this for a Phd, but it strikes me as total and complete hooey (in the technical sense of the term).

    But maybe that’s just because I’m not hegemonic enough. Or am I too hegemonic? I’ve been trying to become more of a Jewy-cyber-punk-art-fag, but all of my friends on facebook are telling me to stick with the blue blazer, so I’m torn, really.

    Congrats on the attention- hopefully next time it will be for something a little more note worthy.

  • I actually was at a panel in the NorthEast Action conference discussing online organizing and without having read your essay –but after having discussed this same topic with you in one of our meanderings– we ended up discussing exactly the topic of your paper!

    Honestly. It’s in the air.

    / liza

  • If researchers want to take Web 2.0 seriously, let them suck it up and take a good look at what Web 2.0 publishing really looks like: get it out early, get it out often, rake in the publicity while you can, and build a community around the ideas. I will bet that the feedback you get from pushing this out so early will outweigh the negatives (unless a future tenure committee bears a grudge against new publishing methods).

    g/l!

  • You are great. I loved the article. Found out about it on Twitter. Hang in there 🙂

  • Nancy H

    a seemingly relevant quote from leader of the Green Party of Canada :

    “I gave a very long, nuanced answer and it was distorted by people over e-mail and websites and that�s just the way it is to be a politician. I believe that it�s important to address complex social problems without insisting there�s an easy answer.”

    if any fault at all, i think your blog-essay perhaps jumped at a simple/tidy conclusion. i assume in your mind, it isn’t a done deal, but in the article, there are lots of clips that read “class is the answer”.

    i learned a lot from reading the comments on your article as well. for the most part, people have useful feedback and additional information, which is what i love about the blog format. don’t take it personally and keep on thinking(and writing)!

  • I think a lot of the observations you make are well founded and are definitely observable in the real world. The article definitely lacks polish and citation of statistical figures, and you qualify that all throughout, so I honestly can’t see why people are up in arms about it (unless they truly didn’t read it and are just getting a cliffnotes version from someone). You do make broad generalizations, but you account for it, but there’s also a smattering of real investigation throughout.

    On that last point, I would highly encourage you to keep at it and develop this thesis more. The groundwork is there, now it just stands to articulate your points more, categorize better, and round up more stuff for statistical analysis. With all the attention that it’s receiving, it’s plainly obvious that you’ve struck a chord; people are now listening, whether or not they agree. And I do think it has something to do with the social distinctions you make – people in this country are inherently uncomfortable talking about class issues and socioeconomic separations (I know I am), and I think that’s the big point that people seem to be taking. The class rifts in this country are starting to rear their heads like a Hydra, and no matter how you tackle it, people will still be coming from all angles with criticism. I’m seeing many comments being made that you’re being racist, and I think that’s a bum rap, as well as a cop out (and perhaps a projection of their own personal inclinations that they fail to recognize) – you’re calling it as you see it, and you fully acknowledge that the data is incomplete, that broad generalizations are being made that you, at this time, cannot reconcile based on lack of research. It’s kind of like trying to discuss slavery in the years before the Civil War; most avoid it because they know that it’ll only cause people to get pissed off, but sooner or later we’re going to have to bring the discussion to the fore and talk about it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. I’m just rambling now, but you get the point – people are intrigued, angered, agreeable, and everything in between; you have their attention. Now all that’s left is to develop this idea.

  • Wow, a lot of vitriol, but it seems it comes from a lot of people who did not take the time to actually read the essay and instead got the cliff notes pre-chewed version.

    I found your essay interesting, and I did find your observations insightful and relevant. In fact, I see a lot of what you talk about in my work as an academic librarian. I work with students closely in a user education position. Politically correct or not (which seems to be what some of the vitriolic people seem to be upset about), I have observed that certain class of student gravitates to MySpace versus the few who make use of FB. In our campus (urban, open admissions), FB is rarely the network of choice. It’s FB, followed by one of the ethnic networks. Their choices can be quite revealing. I do hope you continue to expand on this research and bring it in shape for that academic essay/study.

    I have been a follower of your work, and Mr. Stutzman’s. You two have a way of explaining the significance of what goes on in online social networks that is thoughtful and yet very accessible.

    Best of luck and please continue your work.

    P.S. Would have used my name rather than my pseudonym, but I do happen to like my job.

  • Dances with Books

    Dang, you proofread and still mess up. Up above I meant to say that the choice in my campus is MySpace, not FB.

  • I echo the surprise at finding such negative responses to this article. The sheer meanness of people often shocks me.

    I was really glad to stumble upon your blog via MetrobloggingL.A.’s link to your article. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

  • I took your post as just that: a post. It wasn’t academic at all, even though you mentioned doing ethnographic studies, etc. It all seemed pretty anecdotal.

    I’d be incredibly interested to see an actual academic article come out of this, and see some statistics with it on who is using each major SNS.

  • Yeah. I think viewers need to know when to differentiate Media with a captial “M” and regular ol’ blog rants that are meant to simply brainstorm ideas no matter how insightful or problematic they come out to be. But clearly, you’ll hit a nerve with the whole Facebook vs MySpace analytic thing.

  • NAXAN

    Danah,

    In one respect you did ask for dialogue…but (though I don’t accept this piece 100%), this does reflect my feeling that we are at an informational crossroads. Before we feared of the Associated Press, now we have to be affraid of ourselves. When the BBC believes that a ‘Blog Post’ is ‘scientific fact’, ‘reserched academics’,
    I am more than a little worried, (this is probably another topic to write about at another time).

    I am sorry if this generates (and it will) mean and otherwise useless input, I hope you do follow this to the end, you have some very sound judgements, and just need the facts. Thanks as always for sharing your views.

  • Dara

    If you look at Boyd’s picture on the homepage, you can tell she hasn’t fully matured. She has a youthful, yet bratty countenance similar Lindsay Lohan. The fact that she does not capitalize her name — dana boyd — is also a sign of her immaturity. Would a professional writer allow her name to be in lowercase? No. Imagine if all the writers of the New Yorker did the same. They would look foolish.

    dana boyd is foolish.

    She’s one of those pretentious college graduates who, underneath the intellectual facade, is actually judgmental about people who are different from her. Sure, she claims to be one of those “different” people, but this essay is a clear indicator of her discriminatory tendencies toward minorities. The essay she wrote was immature — doesn’t matter if she wrote a disclaimer. It’s hard to believe that anyone reads her stuff at all.

    How’s that for “anecdotal”?

  • Valerie

    First thoughts: don’t be discouraged. Anything new is attacked, and using new methods to carry the info will *also* be attacked. You’re tapping into fears of both journalists and academics here by posting ‘raw’ data…it pushes buttons.

    However it’s valuable to know that speaking a basic yet fairly hidden truth – class in the USA!! OMG! – can act like a catalyst, in both good and bad ways. Knowledge is power, specifically, here, to direct attention in useful ways, *while you have their attention*. That’s a rare and temporary power, and i’m willing to bet you’re next going on TV with this as an ‘expert’ – since for sure they’ll invite you. So… i would suggest – be prepared. Since you’re already out in front of the ‘professional analysis’, just make that VERY clear, and steer people toward the big issues, and their interconnections, that are usually ignored. The kind of response you’re receiving says to me that perhaps we are in fact ready for this kind of discussion (clearly you touched a nerve!) and like it or not, you’ve set it off.

    A bit of advice for the media: shields up, always choose integrity, and ask people to question their basic assumptions 🙂 . You may be able to actually do some good if you are willing. Your points about the military especially, could be obviously beneficial at this time. And who knows, perhaps the American subconscious is ready to allow our class structure to come to light.

    Regardless, well done on posting this rather than burying it in a journal in a couple of years. We humans need all the relevant information we can get these days!

  • first of all: hang in there, danah. the media is thoughtless, lots of people who read the media are thoughtless, and you’re dealing with (as you know) topics – single simple *words*, even – that people are terrified of talking about in public.

    what’s really interesting to me about how this is unfolding, though, is the fascinating “class” (or whatever you want to call it – it’s somehow *related* to class, at any rate) dynamics playing out in comments both here on your blog and elsewhere online. this has mostly to do with people’s attitudes toward academics, or towards college education. i obviously know nothing about any of the people who’ve been leaving negative comments, but i’ve noticed that lots of them are using your academic credentials *against* you.

    there’s an ideology being articulated a couple of different ways here, either: (1) she is just another privileged academic who thinks they know everything, when really they know nothing about the real world; academics are useless and their “research” does no one any good. [see comments by Dara, Alex U-A, and even Nina above – i’m not sure how to interpret her comment other than that you’re a useful, provocative researcher in a sea of useless, complacent ones] OR (2) if she’s an academic, she should know better than to let the world see something that’s not up to academic standards, and it was her responsibility to have facts and statistics and proofreading in place before going public. [equals: we trust academics, but she let us down with her sloppiness…equals: academics are ones we look to to help us understand society…equals: nominally opposite sentiment of (1)]

    and there you have it, the double-edged sword of being a researcher/academic/ivorytowerresident. it *sucks* to see this so clearly coming out, and it sucks that it’s part of such hateful commentary spinning your way. i mean, your own self-positioning (referring to “the academics” as if you’re outside of them) is perhaps something to think about here, too. the way you wrote this particular essay, i guess you have to claim your credentials to establish some legitimacy (“i’ve been doing systematic ethnography; i’m a phd candidate!”), but you also have to temporarily suspend the standards that come along with that (“but these are just anecdotes; this comes from observation; my terms aren’t theoretical!”). so it’s sticky. i wonder how many of the negative interpretations are related to this positioning, though, more than the content of the essay.

    also, i’ve chosen not to capitalize just to piss off everyone who’s bitching about your name being uncapitalized, particularly those who don’t even spell your name correctly when chastising you for said uncapitalization 😉

  • Danah:

    I got turned on to your blog essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education. After reading it, and reading your blog posting from the 24th and from today, and then doing some further searching I was very interested to see how you have progressed from writing a blog essay (clearly identified as your observations) to having released preliminary findings of your six month research study! Others here have already commented on the ability of the media to run with information that is not accurate.

    I use both MySpace and Facebook to stay in touch with my students and stay connected with them. I’m actually using private groups in Facebook to run several of my independent study courses, so I have access to many Facebook profiles and a good number of MySpace profiles.

    The thought that there might a class/culture divide going on had not occured to me and I wonder if it is more about the fact that MySpace has been the wide open frontier and Facebook has been closed until recently. With the advent of the Facebook API release, and all the new applications, I wonder if in another 6 months your observations will still be following the same path. At the same time, if in a normal social situation individuals congregate and socialize with others who are “like” them — whether that is based on class, interest or need — why wouldn’t that same process play out online? That’s what I see my students doing — they have friends in both, many of whom are friends they see on campus. They use both sites as communication tools instead of email.

    Interesting observations that spark questions — hang on to your hat though…if people only read what they see on the BBC or other news sites, you are in for quite the ride. Just reading some of the comments from readers at some of the digital news sites shows that there is diverse reactions.

    Good luck.

    Elaine Young
    Associate Professor, Marketing and e-Business Management
    Champlain College

  • Dylan

    @Dara: A professional writer did not capitalize her name, her name is bell hooks and she is a highly respected academic theorist and writer.

  • Ryan

    @Dara: Perhaps you wish to read http://www.danah.org/name.html ?

  • Ironic that Dara’s criticism is itself hegemonic (“do as the New Yorker does or it’s immature or unprofessional”) and even more judgmental than she claims dana is, no?

  • Will Warner

    “Problematic” essays generally are the interesting ones that dare to think new thoughts and strike nerves, yeah? New ideas are messy.

    I think the response is good, although you’ll need a nice thick skin for it, and the understanding that there will always be fools complaining loudly about anything noteworthy. In the future, you may want to strike a bolder balance between being too much of a bloodless highbrow academic and too much of a dishonest lowbrow provocateur. If in doubt, I say keep it intellectually honest and don’t be afraid to admit a mistake, but aim low! America desperately needs more educated liberals willing to discuss class and race, and frankly also the seething anger of Americans from all backgrounds, instead of politely ignoring it.

    The citation for when someone turns your blog posts into delicious copypasta may be unnecessary, if your blog is indexed by google.

    Dan Swayze: I’m guessing the hordes will vanish as quickly as they arrived, like a stampede.

    Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg: Cute post, but I think you’re wrong about it being hooey. I guess more statistics and independent qualitative research could tell.

    Valerie: One commenter has already claimed that the military blocks facebook and myspace equally. (They should never have allowed either, or almost any other form of internet posting, but operations security is a topic for another time.) If that claim is true, I think it would be a mistake and a stretch to relate the facebook/myspace split to the military as well as class and race.

    lauren: Well said.

    Dara was certainly aiming low, and being hegemonic and judgmental, but she was being sarcastic about it. It’s inarticulate as hell, but I think I understand what she was trying to say. There is a valid criticism buried in some of these flames: your article draws a rough, general, and unproven dichotomy between using facebook, minimalism, being rich, and being white, versus using myspace, flashy design, being poor, and being latino or black or white. Many latinos and blacks who read that will claim that you’re unfairly stereotyping them as poor, powerless, excluded, and prone to flashy design, especially if they use myspace, even when these correlations may be false for them and many people they know. Like I said, not an unreasonable complaint, but a few counterexamples certainly don’t disprove a general pattern, and danah only dared to suggest the general pattern after she’d done a hell of a lot of research. Can the critics say the same?

  • I suggest to think about a Social Network as a product/brand.

    MySpace,Facebook…they behave as brands, with its own packaging (interface), product attributes and perceived benefits to the consumer, core values, territory and of course, its own target (audience)…

  • Interesting how the flames are uniformly anonymous. God, I loathe cowardice.

    It was a great thought-piece – it made me think. So some of the conclusions are tentative and open to question – so what? Show a “conclusion” that isn’t tentative beyond the two immutables of birth and death.

    Danah, great, brave piece.

  • danah,

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights and PhD work online. I really appreciate your thoughts. I went and read the other essays you have on the front of your blog, and I’m really excited about your work. I’m also excited that you put academic musings online like this. I’ve been urging my school (Hampshire College) to give free blog space to all the fourth year thesis students so they can start to create communities around their work if they wish.

    I know it’s not within the boundaries of your paper, but how do other social networking programs fit in the class divisions? I’ve been on Livejournal for five years, having signed up in the middle of high school. My family’s socioeconomic background is middle class, and more importantly, our social network is science fiction fandom and computer geeks. There’s definitely an amount of elitism that I feel having an account on lj. And I haven’t touched more formal blogs except for recently, for academic purposes, because they’ve never been a social linking thing to me.

    Good luck with the multitudes! I look forward reading what you write next.

    -Jacob

  • Corey

    I have read your piece, and I think that you do a fantastic job of making clear [in the text] that you are trying to write about things we do not know how to name.

    I hope to use it in my freshman English course next year; its readability and respectfulness will, I think, spark conversation among my students, who are all familiar with both SNS. I look forward to it.

    Good luck with the many responders.

  • Dara, Have you ever actually MET danah?
    Everything you’ve said is not true in the least.

  • Eric

    Dan sez:

    Wow. Be careful what you wish for, eh? I just Googled “class division Myspace Facebook “. 265,000 hits and the coveted top ten were all links to your essay through different sites. Wow.

    But danah’s got 3 of the top ten for just the search myspace facebook without anything about class!

  • i have a few comments which are somewhat reiterative, but i’ll chime in nonetheless.

    re: “I also need to get my head around the fact that sharing something problematic has sparked more of a conversation and reflection than being precise.”

    i think this has more to do with the subject matter (race/class) than how well you polished it. it’s impossible to even mention race/class divisions, trends, attitudes, etc. without everyone in the world screaming “RACIST!”. i didn’t find your particular commentary to be racist, just about race. but what do i know? i’m white.

    secondly, i think the context of the piece is what has been misleading. if you would have posted it here, as a blog post, and not in what LOOKS like a white-paper format on your academic URL, the context of this blog would have made it much less threatening to most of the academic community.

    as for the the lack of capitalization = immaturity comment: how English-centric.

    p.s. have you seen this?: http://albumoftheday.com/facebook/

  • Noa Wotton

    Thank you for being fearless in sharing thoughts, and working through these issues.

    Personally, I thought your article was sensitive and humble around all of the issues that needed to be handled carefully… It’s impossible to offend nobody. And, if your thoughts are offensive to some – as long as you’re willing to listen to their reaction – then it’s better that you do engage in that dialogue.

    I am curious about how the various reactions to your article play out in terms of demographics…