danah boyd myspace v. facebook article (and a BAWS example?)

Via jill/txt, I came across this entry from apophenia (Danah Boyd’s blog) called “viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace.” I think it’s interesting, though not necessarily because of the subject matter. Boyd (or, I guess I should say, boyd) more or less argues that there is a class difference between users of MySpace and Facebook– I’ve only skimmed the article, but most of her claims seem reasonable albeit sweeping. For example, she suggests that teens from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be on MySpace than Facebook. That might be true, though at EMU, I’m always surprised by the number of my juniors and seniors who have almost no experience with either of these services.

In any event, I’m not really that interested in boyd’s argument per se (though I think this link could be useful in a class like English 516 or English 444 in a discussion about social bookmarking software), mainly because I have a really hard time getting too excited about either one of these services. I realize this is a bad attitude because there are serious people out there– like boyd, for example– who do serious scholarly work on these Internet environments.

What I’m more interested in is how this figures into my Blogs as writerly spaces project– at least in my own head. boyd wrote this essay– I do not know if she was deadly serious about it or if it was just a toss-off piece– and posted it to her blog. Suddenly, she’s getting a ton of comments and even reflecting here on this unusual level of attention. Her reaction in some ways seems similar to my own reaction on my blog when I was getting an insane number of hits posting about the EMU faculty strike. But while I felt compelled to write even more as a result of this new-found audience, boyd seems to be not that thrilled with the attention. In fact, this post suggests a certain level of “stop bugging me about this already.”

Now, I’m just brainstorming here, and I don’t really know how much of this figures into what BAWS will look like ultimately. I mean, boyd is already something of an internet celebrity, so I presume she’s used to the attention. I am not sure this particular essay has much of an impact in terms of her motivations to write or not write on a blog, though I suppose it has created an unusual exigency from her point of view. It also occurs to me now that a lot of what we’re talking about here is what can only be described as a viral text– and I have no idea why I haven’t made that connection up to this point. In my C&W presentation, I talked about the role that search engines and such figure into the functioning of rhetorical situations, and I think it’s begining to gel more clearly in my head that it is something like this.

And that ain’t that clear, is it?

In any event, I’m going to be following danah’s blog for a while, and we’ll see where it goes with this idea….

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