Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Facebook, good; MySpace, bad.

Social network researcher danah boyd has published an essay on class division on the Internet. She writes that Facebook and MySpace attract different demographics and each caters to its particular niche. Boyd believes that this is reflective of the class differences that exist in America. Differences which are based more on cultural values, lifestyle choices, and race than on income level. She struggles to find appropriate language to discuss this offering various alternatives including the tongue in cheek "good kids" for Facebook users and "bad kids" for MySpace. (Though she claims that good and bad is the dominant language that teens use to discuss who uses which site.) Boyd also suggest that if Facebook is more like Pottery Barn with its clean upper class look then MySpace has the glitzy, edgy appeal of Las Vegas.

This essay is a helpful reminder for the way that the Internet can connect but also reinforce divisions that already exist in society. Also how the choices we make in the medium and aesthetic of our communication effect how it might be received by others. A helpful reminder if we are to take seriously are call to minister to those on the margins of society.

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  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Cindee said…

    It's interesting, but I'm still a little leery of people who insist that only teens (whether high school or college) use MySpace or Facebook -- I know too many adults who have accounts with either or both. Recently, fiction authors (in several genres) have created MySpace networks to use as advertising tools, and while they might not be opposed to teens reading their books, the target demographic is older.

    I think usage of both is spreading beyond teens for other reasons as well, including older siblings/friends of those teens who create their own accounts, then invite their (older) friends to join.

    Still, the divisions she sees are interesting and I don't doubt they're there. The question is how long that will be true. Class divisions usually reinforce themselves but as she notes, many teens have accounts in both systems, one to keep track of high school friends, one to keep track of college friends. That would seem to suggest the lines aren't quite as rigid as class lines normally are.

    And, according to my niece (a student at the IU School of Nursing) some college kids keep only their MS accounts, viewing the college emphasis on FB as a form of snobbery, a tendency not noted in the essay at all.


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