[Air-L] snide, cute, ignorant, surprising

Nancy Baym nbaym at ku.edu
Sun Dec 16 14:07:56 PST 2007

The article author's notion that we are in disciplinary camps, 
divided, and eager to get to the Land of Social Networking, put up 
our disciplinary flag, and claim it for our own before the others do 
does not reflect what I see in AoIR, which is much more attention to 
learning from each other than competing with each other.

I also have to say that going for the danah angle was lazy. I love 
danah, I cite and teach her work, she's got a piece in a book Annette 
Markham and I just finished editing, and I admire her success as a 
public intellectual, but the "danah boyd invents social networking 
research" story has been written many times (Hesse even nabs a 
moniker directly from one of those articles) and, as danah will be 
the first to say, it's still silly. There are considerably more 
interesting tales to be told about the study of social network sites 
in academia.

But as my father likes to say: "whenever journalists write about 
other people's fields they get it exactly right, but whenever they 
write about your own field, they get it exactly wrong."


>The tone of Monica Hesse's Washington Post story is somewhat snide.
>Although I did enjoy some of her word-play: "celebrademic" danah
>"uncapping" herself (altho note that the Post copyeditor re-capped her at
>the start of a para.) Frankly, "danah" uncapped has made proofreading
>PITAs for me for years.
>What is ignorant is Ms Hesse being surprised that small circles cite each
>other. This is true in many fields. There is a whole area of bibliometrics
>devoted to this. Check out the work of Howard White or Loet Leyesdorff,
>for example. Or, as usual, I have co-authored a paper on the subject --
>its on my website.
>"Does Citation Reflect Social Structure? Longitudinal Evidence from the
>'Globenet' Interdisciplinary Reserach Group" JASIST, 1/04.
>What is surprising is that I was interviewed and quoted by Ms Hesse and
>it was a much straighter piece of reporting:
>"An Unmanageable Circle of Friends: Social-Network Sites Inundate Us with
>Connections, and that can be Alienating." Washington Post, August 26,
>2007, p. M10.
>  Barry Wellman
>  _______________________________________________________________________
>   S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC              NetLab Director
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>   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman            fax:+1-416-978-7162
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