the culture and values of social media

Status Update on CBC: Bonus Contest!

Posted: November 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: | No Comments »

I appeared on CBC Radio’s wonderful tech show The Spark with Nora Young this week. to talk about the book. This is my second time being interviewed by Nora- she’s a fantastic host and very thoughtful.

Bonus: Win a copy of the book by commenting on the show! Details at the link.

Status Update is out! Upcoming events!

Posted: October 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | No Comments »

So Status Update is shipping! Peep this photo from my brother:


This month I’m giving a series of talks, strangely few of which have anything to do with the book. Here’s the full list:

October 30, New York, NY
Power, Privacy and the Internet, sponsored by the New York Review of Books
I’m speaking on the first panel, discussing how personal information is collected by marketers and corporations, and how voluntary data collection like that of the Quantified Self movement (which I discuss in my Lifestreaming chapter of Status Update) fits into all of it.

November 1-2nd, New York, NY
Celebrities and Publics in the Internet Era, sponsored by Public Culture
I’m presenting a new paper called “Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” on Instagram fame, natch. The fabulous Laura Portwood-Stacer is my respondent.

November 11, Los Angeles, CA
Annenberg Research Seminar, USC
Networked Privacy and Social Surveillance
This talk examines the contradictions between traditional, individualistic models of privacy and the affordances of social technologies, which enable people to widely share information about others without consent. The shift to networked privacy is analyzed by examining both how populations manage privacy in networked publics and how networked data challenges how privacy operates.

November 20, Kingston, Ottawa, Canada
Surveillance Studies Center Seminar Series
Networked Privacy and Social Surveillance
Traditional models of privacy are individualistic, but networked data challenges how privacy operates. Social technologies enable people to widely share information about others without consent, and investigate what others are doing. This talk examines the relationship between social media, the shift to networked privacy, and the prevalence of social surveillance.

And yes, then I’m going to collapse :)

Right now I’m at the wonderful Association of Internet Researchers Annual Meeting (#ir14) where I mentored at the amazing Doctoral Colloquium, gave a paper called “There’s no justice like angry mob justice: Regulating Hateful Speech through Internet Vigilantism”, and am on a fishbowl about internet identity, a roundtable about haters (with Kate Miltner), and a roundtable celebrating the new book Twitter and Society, where I have a chapter on Qualitative Research on Twitter.

If you’d like me to give a talk about my actual book, please email me!

“They’re Really Profound Women, They’re Entrepreneurs”: Conceptions of Authenticity in Fashion Blogging

Posted: July 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I presented this paper at ICWSM this week. It got a great response– I enjoyed the feedback from computer scientists on my qualitative, critical paper about fashion, of all things!

I had chosen to exclude it from the conference proceedings because it’s been sent to a journal [computer scientists publish through conferences, social scientists through journal articles], but I’ve gotten many requests and decided to put it online:

“They’re Really Profound Women, They’re Entrepreneurs”: Conceptions of Authenticity in Fashion Blogging. [PDF]


Marwick, A. (2013). ““They’re Really Profound Women, They’re Entrepreneurs”: Conceptions of Authenticity in Fashion Blogging.” Presented at the 7th International AIII Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), July 8, Cambridge, MA.


Fashion blogging is an international subculture comprised primarily of young women who post photographs of themselves and their possessions, comment on clothes and fashion, and use self-branding techniques to promote themselves and their blogs. Drawing from ethnographic interviews with 30 participants, I examine how fashion bloggers use “authenticity” as an organizing principle to differentiate “good” fashion blogs from “bad” fashion blogs. “Authenticity” is positioned as an invaluable, yet ineffable quality which differentiates fashion blogging from its mainstream media counterparts, like fashion magazines and runway shows, in two ways. First, authenticity describes a set of affective relations between bloggers and their readers. Second, despite previous studies which have positioned “authenticity” as antithetical to branding and commodification, fashion bloggers see authenticity and commercial interests as potentially, but not necessarily, consistent. This study adds to the growing literature on online self-presentation techniques which finds that the entrepreneurial self-concept encouraged in professional blogging communities is intimately linked to a larger shift in cultural labor to capitalist business practice.

Enjoy! Please email me with questions or comments. Or comment here!

Magic Mike and the Myth of Entrepreneurialism

Posted: July 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | 1 Comment »

Last night my friend Grace and I went to see Magic Mike. It’s been hovering in the high 90s this week in NYC and the air conditioning sounded fantastic, I’m a big early Soderbergh fan, and, fine, I wanted to see Channing Tatum and Joe Mangionello (Alcide!) prancing around shirtless.

I have no problem with strippers. I do think the dynamics of male strippers vs. female strippers are revealing. About a decade ago I went to Vegas for a wedding. A big mixed-gender group of us went to a strip club that had female strippers on the first floor and male strippers on the second. The female strippers performed on small, round tables with about six guys drinking and staring intently at them, a stack of dollar bills by each one’s side. Lap dances took place in shady corners and the entire atmosphere was surprisingly intense. Upstairs, the packed audience was hooting and hollering as the gigantically buff male strippers dragged bachelorettes and 21st-birthday girls up on stage where they proceeded to humiliate them (blindfolds, spanking, etc. – all very campy) for the amusement of their drunk friends. Yes, male strippers are objectified, but the group dynamic and the embarrassment of the voyeur aspect are almost entirely absent from female strip clubs.

Magic Mike didn’t say anything about this. Like most of Soderberg’s movies, it’s not a feel-good flick; it’s a slow depressing meditation on relationships. Mike (Channing Tatum) is in his 30s, a very successful stripper with a nice apartment, a giant truck (which he keeps in pristine condition for future reselling) and $13K in cash savings in a safe. He also runs three businesses and is always on the hustle; one business is a non-union roofing crew, another a mobile auto detailing business, and of course, stripping. Roofing and stripping are both corporeal professions in which the young guys have the advantage and any injury can end your career forever; all three businesses deal exclusively in cash; and of course, none of them offer health benefits, 401Ks or training. Mike doesn’t have much education (he asks his grad student fuckbuddy if she’s studying “social studies”) and no interest in working a 9-5. He claims that his dream job is making ugly custom furniture, but we never see him doing it. Instead, he continuously falls back on his charm and looks to get what he wants.

Magic Mike says a lot about the state of the “American Dream” and the current wisdom about achieving it. Mike is relentlessly optimistic and refers to himself as an entrepreneur. One of his stripper colleagues earnestly advocates the financial self-help book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Dallas, the skeevy club owner, dangles equity in a Miami club as long-term financial stability for the team. These are fantasies of success and wealth that do not rely on the drudgery of minimum-wage McJobs or under-the-table construction work. People like Tim Ferris and Gary Vaynerchuk advocate living your passion, but none of the passions of the strippers have any possibility of creating financial stability, and Mike’s furniture business seems an unrealistic pipe dream. He has a passion because he’s supposed to have one, because a thousand magazine articles and movies have shown us the person who gets rich quick from their cupcake shop or dog-walking business, but when he tries to get a small-business loan he’s jettisoned by his lousy credit score. The only person with a 9-5 job is the (very boring and miscast) love interest, who processes Medicare claims at a doctor’s office. She lives in a drab apartment and seems resigned to her lower-middle-class lifestyle.

The characters in Magic Mike aspire to wealth, but lack the education or stable jobs that would allow them to build up savings or retire comfortably. They’re falling through the cracks, and buy self-help propaganda in lieu of union jobs, training, or structural safety nets. Notably, the film is set in Florida, which has been hit hard by the financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage meltdown. Entrepreneurialism is a fantasy which they want to buy into but which has little potential to benefit them.

The success of tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and the constant stream of self-help books promoting self-promotion has created a climate in which the path to wealth is the hustle. But that’s simply not true. The tech millionaires who get funded are part of a closely-knit network of founders and venture capitalists. The capital needed to launch successful companies is simply not available. And the failure rates for small business are astronomical. Magic Mike shows the other side of the myth of the American entrepreneur, and how it fails the people with the most to lose in our current era of neoliberal capitalism.

Contact information change

Posted: July 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | No Comments »

My wonderful postdoc at the social media collective at Microsoft Research has ended, and in the fall I’ll be a freshly-minted Assistant Professor at Fordham University’s Department of Communication and Media Studies.

As a result, my email no longer works! You can reach me at amarwick at fordham dot edu. My gmail and NYU addresses will always work.

Big revamping!

Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | 2 Comments »

So I finally went ahead and updated for the first time since 2008. It was sort of embarrassing. Now it has a shiny new look– aka “All the HTML I remember from my last job hand-coding HTML which was in 2003” — and several new pages.

Info about my dissertation is, surprisingly, on the dissertation page.

Updated papers (including works in progress) and PDFs can be found on the papers page. (note: I need to fix the link at the top of the blog pages, which currently points to an out-of-date location.)

And I updated the Press section and added a link to my bio and headshot because I’m conceited like that.

FINALLY, I am very pleased to announce that my group’s research blog, the Social Media Collective, has launched. This is my baby, and I’m very proud of it. Learn more about danah boyd’s group at Microsoft Research, what we’re working on, what we’re interested in, what we’re reading and where we’re speaking.

As you can all probably tell, I’m procrastinating from working on my book. (My officemate claims it’s not procrastinating if you’re being productive, but I know better at this point. Writing a dissertation makes you an expert on procrastinating.)

How Teens Understand Privacy

Posted: May 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Danah and I just released a new article draft. Here’s danah’s introduction to it:

In the fall, danah boyd and Alice Marwick went into the field to understand teens’ privacy attitudes and practices. We’ve blogged some of our thinking since then but we’re currently working on turning our thinking into a full-length article. We are lucky enough to be able to workshop our ideas at an upcoming scholarly meeting (PLSC), but we also wanted to share our work-in-progress with the public since we both know that there are all sorts of folks out there who have a lot of knowledge about this domain but with whom we don’t have the privilege of regularly interacting.

“Social Privacy in Networked Publics: Teens’ Attitudes, Practices, and Strategies”
by danah boyd and Alice Marwick

Please understand that this is an unfinished work-in-progress article, complete with all sorts of bugs that we will need to address before we submit it for publication. But… we would certainly love feedback, critiques, and suggestions for how to improve it. Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of this kind of research, it’s also quite likely that we’re missing out on all sorts of prior work that was done in this space so we’d love to also hear about any articles that we should’ve read by now. Or any thoughts you might have that might advance/complicate our thinking.

Hacked again

Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

I’m trying real hard not to be a biznatch about this, but for the second time in two years, Dreamhost got hacked and now I have to comb through my WordPress install and figure out where this “Canadian pharmacy” spam that shows up in my Google results comes from. It’s going to take me a few days, and of course Dreamhost has been no help at all. I’ve been using them for more than a decade and I think I’m going to have to move to a different host. Rant rant. I hope to have this fixed within the next week.

2011 Spring/Summer Conference Schedule

Posted: February 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: | No Comments »

Believe it or not, I do stuff besides talk to the press. This year I think I’m attending a record number of conferences! Some I’m presenting dissertation work, and some on my new fashion blogger project. I hope to see lots of new friends and colleagues this spring and summer.

February 16-20: Privacy and Security in Victoria, BC, moderating the social media panel.

March 3-5: Digital Media and Learning in Long Beach, CA. I’m on a panel about activism and agency, where I’ll be talking about my fashion blogger project, and another one on networked public life where I’m presenting some dissertation/book work.

March 9-10: TechFest, Redmond, WA: Internet Famous: Status and Attention in Web 2.0
This is a Microsoft-only event, but if you are an MS FTE, I’d love to see you here! It’s at 3:30 at the Conference Center.

In the mid-2000s, journalists and businesspeople heralded “Web 2.0” technologies such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook as signs of a new participatory era that would democratize journalism, entertainment, and politics. By the decade’s end, this idealism had been replaced by a gold-rush mentality focusing on status and promotion. While the rhetoric of Web 2.0 as democratic and revolutionary persists, I will contend that a primary use of social media is to boost user status and popularity, maintaining hierarchy rather than diminishing it. This talk focuses on three status-seeking techniques that emerged with social media: micro-celebrity, self-branding, and life-streaming. I look at two communities of practice—fashion bloggers and San Francisco Web 2.0 workers—and how they mark status and visibility using technology. I examine interactions between social media and social life to show that Web 2.0 has become a key aspect of social hierarchy in technologically mediated communities.

March 11-15, South by Southwest Interactive, Austin, TX
Unfortunately, my panel on academic research was canceled, so I’m now appearing with Anastasia Goodstein on a panel called Can the Internet Make Us Happy?. Spoiler: I’m voting YES.

April 20-24: Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference. I’m presenting a neat paper called “The Drama! Teens, Gossip, and Celebrity” which is brand-new work. Here’s the abstract:

“His girlfriend, Brittany, cheated on him and she went and partied really hard and got drunk and cheated. And then it was all over Formspring. A lot of people are like, “You can do better than that slut” and stuff. And people would write on hers, “You’re such a cheating whore” and blah, blah, blah. And so, that was like drama and stuff. And like, I know Brittany Martinez. If I saw her, I’d be like, “Hey, what’s up?” But I don’t know her personally. And so, I wouldn’t go talk to her about it. But I read that and I could know about it. So it was kind of just like drama I could [see] and stuff.”
– Victoria, 15, Nashville

While teenage gossip is nothing new, for many American teens today, gossip plays out through social media like Formspring, Twitter and Facebook. The resulting arguments and conflicts, and their digital traces, are colloquially known as “drama.” In this paper, we trace the similarities between today’s teen “drama” and discourses of celebrity, particularly in relation to reality television and soap operas. Shows like The Hills are predicated on relatively mundane interpersonal conflict; for teens, sites like Facebook allow for similar performances of gossip in front of engaged audiences. We frame drama as a form of publicity. While many teens profess to hate drama, others enjoy or even encourage it. We use recent ethnographic fieldwork to examine what drama means to teenagers and its relationship to visibility and privacy.

May 12-15: Cyber-surveillance in Everyday Life workshop in Toronto. The full paper is due in April, and I have a LOT to do to get it ready for workshopping! It’s called “The Public Domain: Lifestreaming and Social Digitization as a Way of Life” and will be based on my life-streaming dissertation chapter.

May 26-30, International Communications Association Conference, Boston, MA: “Information-Sharing, Communication, and Interaction on Social Media: Emergent Practices and Evolving Theory” with the fabulous Nicole Ellison, Cliff Lampe, Bernie Hogan, Jessica Vitak, danah (of course) and Nancy Baym.

Twitter & Privacy: Kids Learning How to Manage Life in Public

Posted: February 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , | No Comments »

Danah and I have an editorial in the Guardian today titled “Tweeting teens can handle public life”. Here’s an exerpt:

…Not all teens use Twitter, and those who do don’t all use it in the same way. The sense of what’s appropriate on Twitter varies wildly by social group and locale – is it OK to break up with someone on Twitter? To tweet a hundred times a day? Similarly, young people use Twitter in different ways. Some primarily follow celebrities, enjoying the glimpses into their lives, sending @replies to their favourites in the hope of a response and chatting with other fans. Others like getting coupons and freebies from Twitter-savvy brands. Still other teens use Twitter to play hashtag games, like #lessambitiousmovies (think “The Devil Wears Payless” and “The Above Average Four”), where their bon mots can be retweeted or commented on by thousands they may not know. There are also countless teens who use Twitter primarily to engage with people they know from school, summer camp or after-school activities. Who teens imagine reading their tweets very much shapes their style of participation.

We turned this piece around in a weekend, and I think it’s a breezy, yet nuanced, view of the topic.