Facebook/MySpace And Class Divisions

Danah Boyd recently posted the article “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and Myspace“. Boyd provides an interesting, and in my opinion accurate, description of the apparent social class divisions present in these two popular social network tools.

The following two paragraphs make up an important part of Boyd’s argument:

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other “good” kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we’d call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, “burnouts,” “alternative kids,” “art fags,” punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn’t go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

Certainly the division isn’t totally cut-and-dry. Yet, I have seen evidence of this in my personal use of both tools, and in my online friendships (particularly) with both white and First Nations youth (generally, former students of mine).

Boyd also presents and interesting point around design and class:

Most teens who exclusively use Facebook are familiar with and have an opinion about MySpace. These teens are very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and “so middle school.” They prefer the “clean” look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is “so lame.” What hegemonic teens call gaudy can also be labeled as “glitzy” or “bling” or “fly” (or what my generation would call “phat”) by subaltern teens. Terms like “bling” come out of hip-hop culture where showy, sparkly, brash visual displays are acceptable and valued. The look and feel of MySpace resonates far better with subaltern communities than it does with the upwardly mobile hegemonic teens. This is even clear in the blogosphere where people talk about how gauche MySpace is while commending Facebook on its aesthetics. I’m sure that a visual analyst would be able to explain how classed aesthetics are, but aesthetics are more than simply the “eye of the beholder” – they are culturally narrated and replicated. That “clean” or “modern” look of Facebook is akin to West Elm or Pottery Barn or any poshy Scandinavian design house (that I admit I’m drawn to) while the more flashy look of MySpace resembles the Las Vegas imagery that attracts millions every year.

The author makes it clear at the beginning of this piece that this is not to be seen as an academic article. Yet, there are some very interesting and important observations. This is a topic that really should be studied, and it has given me some excellent ideas for my next publication.

Six Degrees of Aunt Jackie

Some of the most powerful demonstrations of how democratic media influence culture can be found on Youtube. The most recent example is evident in the Aunt Jackie beautifully described in this Slate article.

About six months ago, a Harlem-based record producer and rapper, Jason Fox, uploaded a video for a song called “Aunt Jackie” to his MySpace page. It’s a terrifically catchy track, with stabbing synthesizer crescendos and the sort of click-clacking drum machine beat scientifically proved to induce an early-’80s nostalgia trip….

As the months have passed and the YouTube views have piled up, it’s become clear that the “Aunt Jackie” phenomenon is only peripherally about “Aunt Jackie” the song. It’s really about “Aunt Jackie” the dance….

Tap the words “Aunt Jackie” into the search field on YouTube and you can see dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of young dancers, strutting their moves for the camera.

Original: (language warning)

Find many remakes here.

What I Learned From My Honesty Box

I’ve been liking Facebook quite a bit, and really like many of the apps that have been released for this social network. A couple of days ago, I installed the Honesty Box application. It allows people in your network to leave you anonymous comments. I was kind of nervous setting it up, and wasn’t sure what to expect.

Then, this comment came in:

“Yes the honesty box is dangerous! It gives cowardly people the chance to say hurtful things that they wouldn’t normally say to your face, and then it breeds mistrust among “friends”. You’d like to think that people wouldn’t be mean, but with anonymity, one’s morals, kindness, etc. tend to go out the window. You are very brave for getting an honesty box; I hope no mean/ hurtful words come your way. Then again, when someone says nice things, it is a shame they need an honesty box to do it, and they can’t just tell you to your face :-)”

This makes me think. Is a service like this more likely to get you negative comments that it would positive? Is this just a complaints box? I’m really interested to find out.

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Apartheid Starts Here


Originally uploaded by greekmaninsask

I admire social activism, and it’s a wonderful thing to see an example of it in this city.

This sign which reads “Apartheid Starts Here” was placed on the train overpass at Saskatchewan Drive on the way to North Central Regina. The location is significant as the entrance to inner city Regina. Obviously, the sign is to make more apparent the functional and economic apartheid in our city. This is especially timely as National Aboriginal Day was yesterday and the National Day of Action is coming up June 29, 2007.

I wonder how long this will stay up. Please, spread the word.

See location of sign on Google Maps.

Starting Over In Google Reader

One of the things I mention when I present at conferences or to university students is that one of the first things I do in the morning is read my RSS feeds. At times, I’ve had over 1000 feeds in my Google Reader although I’ve whittled this number down significantly. I don’t know, lately, I’ve just found things just are too repetitive, boring, mundane, written for the sake of writing, etc. In other words, I’ve become a bit disinterested in many of the feeds I am reading.

People often ask, “How do you keep up with so many blogs, etc.”. I’ve said in response that I’ve made it a big part of what I do, that I check my RSS before my email, or before diving into those (often) boring academic articles. However, I think something inside my needs a big change. So, today I’ve made the decision to dump all my feeds, and start over.



It’s a bit drastic, but I’m going to start filling up my reader with all of the sources that I can think of from the top of my head, friends and colleagues who I enjoy reading, and who inspire me. From there, as before, I’ll add others that interest me. However, this time, I’ll be much more particular as I really want to be able to interact with those I read. I’m making a commitment. If I read you, I want to also be able to give back.

So my list may be embarrassingly small for the time being. However, change is good, and sometimes drastic change is the best.

For those edubloggers out there, inspiring us all do a better job as educators and as leaders … I’ll find you again.

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