danah boyd wrote a humdinger (viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace) last night and now is surprised that she got more attention for her writings, which she says were NOT up to her standard well-thought-out, well-written analysis.
Here’s why I was interested in her paper last night where some of her other, more “researched” writings just leaves me cold.
1. It clearly defined a conflict. And a big one at that between two classes of people.
2. It fit my already pre-defined stereotypes. My brother, Ben, for instance, is on MySpace. He’s a blue collar kind of guy. His MySpace page? For the bar, Benny’s Tavern, he owns in Virginia. Actually, I’m partially responsible for the belief that college students dislike MySpace. When I gave a speech to a class at San Jose State University the entire class said they switched from MySpace to Facebook since leaving high school. Of course these kids totally fit into danah’s post last night.
3. Most of danah’s posts are written for an academic audience. Put a little simpler: they are information dense and hard to get through. The one last night had a breezy, conversational feel to it. It was more approachable than her usual writings. I think that in our RSS “J, J, J, J” fast track world we just give up on posts that are too academic and not interesting to us as humans.
Oh danah, do you forget that we live in a world that pays 1,000,000 times more attention to Paris Hilton in jail than we do to whatever our President is doing? And you wonder why your article yesterday got so much attention? You hit the same nerve that Paris Hilton does.
One other thing, though. Danah’s previous work made her an authority on the topic (yeah, we do pay attention to her denser, more academic work, and even if we don’t word gets around that danah is doing the deepest thinking on social media and culture out there). That’s another reason why this got pushed around so many conversations today. It was danah’s perfect media storm.