Danah is PhD student from iSchool, UC Berkeley – her overview of the social divide between MySpace and Facebook is a fascinating read, even though she’s extremely humble about her academic vigor (you don’t really need to – this essay as itself is very informative as it is). Some insights on social divide on American soldiers in Iraq:
MySpace is the primary way that young soldiers communicate with their peers. When I first started tracking soldiers’ MySpace profiles, I had to take a long deep breath. Many of them were extremely pro-war, pro-guns, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, pro-killing, and xenophobic as hell. Over the last year, I’ve watched more and more profiles emerge from soldiers who aren’t quite sure what they are doing in Iraq. I don’t have the data to confirm whether or not a significant shift has occurred but it was one of those observations that just made me think. And then the ban happened. I can’t help but wonder if part of the goal is to cut off communication between current soldiers and the group that the military hopes to recruit.
Yes, for those who choose to be on facebook instead of MySpace, we tend to be more fitting into the ‘hegemonic’ class (‘white’ upper middle class, well educated, went to good school, and prefer Sauvignon Blanc over Pinot Grigio), plus i found that almost 80% of my ‘friends’ have at least one gradschool degree, as opposed to ‘subaltern’ class on MySpace. Does opening up between the two networking sites mean that users ‘suffer’ less from the social divide? That itself, solicits research which will yield huge implications on future ICTs policies, as well as, just how generational divides can so aggravated by the intense social networking phenomenon.
It’s really scary to think about how the internet can bring about social capital to those who are already having a headstart in their career, like linkedIn, facebook, blogs… how important online visibility is to one’s career prospect? Should we devote resources to educate students on how to ‘market’ yourself on the internet as opposed to Chemistry and Biology? As we are at a point of which you can get disadvantaged for not having personal presence on the Internet, are we sacrificing privacy for publicity? Where to draw to the balance? And in ten, twenty years time, will the Gen Z, AA, BB whatever, still care about the ‘boring’, ‘paranoid’ notion of privacy on the Internet?
Last but not least, apparently in China there is a trend of giving your children ‘special’ names so that they are more cacheable by search engines. Hm… this is indeed interesting.
One more note, on the side, is, I’m very curious about how the Beijing Olympics’ ‘nests’ and ‘twisted donuts’ are going to unfold in less than 300 days!