Category: the digital human

Did Whites Flee the ‘Digital Ghetto’ of MySpac…

Did Whites Flee the ‘Digital Ghetto’ of MySpace?:

Danah Boyd, author of the chapter, stirred up controversy once before, in 2007, by noting that during the period beginning in 2006 when teens began to flock to Facebook, teens’ preference for either MySpace or Facebook appeared to fall along lines of race and class.

Subsequent statistical analyses of the characteristics of users of online social networks by researchers, marketers and bloggers, she notes in her latest work, backed up her claims that white and asian teens who belonged to higher socieconomic strata (and who aspired to college, with which Facebook at the time was associated) were attracted to Facebook, while latino, black and working-class teens tended to opt for MySpace. Boyd notes in her chapter:

Analysts at two unnamed marketing research firms contacted me to say that they witnessed similar patterns with youth at a national level but they were unable to publicly discuss or publish their finding, but scholars and bloggers were more willing to share their findings.

Boyd’s current work argues that MySpace took on many of the aspects of a “digital ghetto” in the minds of teens who used the site, leading to “white [and asian] flight” from the site, analogous to the white flight from the city to the suburbs that took place in the U.S. beginning in the 1960’s. Boyd continues:

Consider the parallels. In some senses, the first teens to move to the “suburbs” were those who bought into a Teen Dream of collegiate maturity, namely those who were expressly headed towards dorm-­‐based universities and colleges. They were the elite who were given land in the new suburbs before plots were broadly available. The suburbs of Facebook signaled more mature living, complete with digital fences to keep out strangers. The narrative that these digital suburbs were safer than the city enhanced its desirability, particularly for those who had no interest in interacting with people who were different.

Boyd argues that MySpace’s inability to deal with spammers added to the feeling of urban blight that overtook the site, leaving derelict profiles “covered in spam, a form of digital graffiti… As MySpace failed to address these issues, spammers took over like street gangs.”

Subsequent media coverage of the “death of MySpace” was a direct result of this flight, says Boyd. For example, she cites a 2009 New York Times article that was entitled “Do You Know Anyone Still on MySpace?” despite the fact that at the time Facebook and MySpace has roughly equal numbers of users.

“The New York Times staff was on Facebook and assumed their readers were too,” concludes Boyd.

Intriguingly, the comments under that news item support Boyd’s thesis:

“My impression is that Myspace is for the riffraff and Facebook is for the landed gentry.”

“Compared to Facebook, MySpace just seems like the other side of the tracks – I’ll go there for fun, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Boyd’s conclusion is that online environments are merely “a reflection of everyday life,” and that online communities are immune to the techno-optimist belief that the internet eliminates the deep divisions between people in real life. As Boyd notes in her own responses to earlier critiques of her work, this is either a controversial or an obvious thesis – what do you think?

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

How Silicon Valley helps spread the same steri…

How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world:

It’s easy to see how social media shapes our interactions on the internet, through web browsers, feeds, and apps. Yet technology is also shaping the physical world, influencing the places we go and how we behave in areas of our lives that didn’t heretofore seem so digital. Think of the traffic app Waze rerouting cars in Los Angeles and disrupting otherwise quiet neighborhoods; Airbnb parachuting groups of international tourists into residential communities; Instagram spreading IRL lifestyle memes; or Foursquare sending traveling businessmen to the same cafe over and over again.

We could call this strange geography created by technology “AirSpace.” It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.

It’s possible to travel all around the world and never leave AirSpace, and some people don’t. Well-off travelers like Kevin Lynch, an ad executive who lived in Hong Kong Airbnbs for three years, are abandoning permanent houses for digital nomadism. Itinerant entrepreneurs, floating on venture capital, might head to a Bali accelerator for six months as easily as going to the grocery store. AirSpace is their home.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

Has Second Life Been Fully Gentrified? Thought…

Has Second Life Been Fully Gentrified? Thoughts from My BBC Interview:

Wagner James Au was great to have on the show but a nightmare to cut since so much of the interview was fascinating.

Thankfully, his blog covers everything we couldn’t possibly fit into a 30 minute podcast so go check it out, as well as continuing his second life journalism he’s got really cool stuff on VR communities and the beauty of digital art 🙂


Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

Angry Aussie was a fun guy to interview on the…

Angry Aussie was a fun guy to interview on the show talking about how algorithms and money changed youtube. Check out the show 
Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification to hear him 🙂

Meanwhile this – for who, indeed, can resist the glory of Knickers the big cow?

There is NSFW language, so you know, headphones could be handy.

YouTubers In Australia Say The Site’s Advertis…

YouTubers In Australia Say The Site’s Advertising Policy Discriminates Against Them For “Speaking Like Australians”:

In a video on his channel last week Australian standup comedian and YouTuber Lewis Spears laid it all out: “Videos with ‘excessive swearing’ are considered ineligible for ads. However, swearing in Australia is not offensive. It’s just how we talk. It’s a part of our culture. And to take that away from us is discrimination at its finest.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

The Digital Human – Series 16 – The Second Lif…

The Digital Human – Series 16 – The Second Life Civil War – BBC Sounds:

Where were you in the great Second Life Civil War?

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

My secret life as a graffiti artist

My secret life as a graffiti artist:

How to Invent a Person Online

How to Invent a Person Online:

Before all the revelations revealed by Edward Snowden artist Curtis Wallen was already uneasy about the amount of tracking going on in the digital world. To escape it he invented the alter ego Aaron Brown and was reborn on the internet. 

For spies in disguise it’s all about being bor…

For spies in disguise it’s all about being boring:

Sarah Kelly traded in her security service trench coat for life in high fashion. Read more here. 

The Upsides of Being Average

The Upsides of Being Average:

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic talks about how being exceptional might not be all that great.