[Air-L] Graduate programs for "internet studies"?

danah boyd aoir.z3z at danah.org
Thu Sep 30 12:58:51 PDT 2010

There is no doubt that I've been extremely fortunate and I regularly thank my lucky stars for all of the amazing opportunities that I've had, especially coming from the background that I came from.  I'm currently doing fieldwork in Tennessee and am reminded every day of how lucky I have been.  But please don't take this as me saying that it's only about the top schools.  When I went to Berkeley, the iSchool was brand new.  No one knew how it was going to play out or if the people coming out of it would get jobs.  I went there because of Peter who I drove to California to meet because my undergrad advisor recommended that I do so after I dropped out of my first grad school program. Yes, it was Berkeley and there's no doubt that's an amazing school.  But there were also many things that weren't ideal, starting with the fact that I couldn't take the core sociology or anthropology courses because I wasn't one of their elite students.  If I could do it again, I would've loved to have gone to a program where I could've taken the core series in soc or anthro.  But what mattered most - and the reason that I have zero regrets - is having a supportive advisor.  And I say this having lost my advisor to brain cancer part way through my degree.

Grad school can be a painful process and it's complete hell if you and your advisor don't get along.  Yes, going to a good school helps but I've also watched friends graduate from top schools only to have their advisors write them negative letters when they go onto the market.  Talk about the kiss of death.  But a good advisor will look out for you, will push you to think deeply, will call up colleagues to help open doors for you, will make sure that you have the support you need to finish.  Sometimes, that good advisor is at a top tier school. And sometimes not.  But that person is critical for both your sanity and your success.  Besides, this is internet studies.  The internet may not be a great equalizer, but it's a fantastic platform for you to make your voice heard loud and proud.  

Keep in mind that I say this as someone who knows she has enemies in academia, folks who disapprove of my path and my approach to research.  I know there are folks who are critical of my blogging and even more critical of my quirks.  I know that there are scholars who refuse to let their students cite my work and others who have written me off for choosing a non-traditional path post-PhD.  What you may need may look very different than what i decided to do.  I've had great opportunities because of the Internet, but I've also had to read detailed descriptions of how I should be raped.  No matter what, you have to choose a path that makes sense for you and realize that different paths have different costs and benefits.  But above all, choose a path that will make you happy.  Cuz academia just ain't worth it if you're miserable. 


On Sep 30, 2010, at 1:23 AM, live wrote:

> Yes, well, we don't all have the good fortune to get into schools such as Berkeley after having chats with the advisors, eh? ;)

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