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Social media technologies such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook promised a new participatory online culture. Yet, technology insider Alice Marwick contends in this insightful book, "Web 2.0" only encouraged a preoccupation with status and attention. Her original research- which includes conversations with entrepreneurs, Internet celebrities, and Silicon Valley journalists- explores the culture and ideology of San Francisco's tech community in the period between the dot com boom and the App store, when the city was the world's center of social media development. Marwick argues that early revolutionary goals have failed to materialize: while many continue to view social media as democratic, these technologies instead turn users into marketers and self-promoters, and leave technology companies poised to violate privacy and to prioritize profits over participation. Marwick analyzes status-building techniques- such as self-branding, micro-celebrity, and life-streaming- to show that Web 2.0 did not provide a cultural revolution, but only furthered inequality and reinforced traditional social stratification, demarcated by race, class, and gender.

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Now out in paperback!

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See full list of reviews

"The author brilliantly equates tech-world ideals with the incremental undermining of women's advancement in the field. A self-admitted technological enthusiast, Marwick is a lively, vivacious instructor... Skillful spadework on the underpinnings of a thriving Internet community." - Kirkus Reviews

"Marwick makes a compelling case that the rhetoric does not always match the reality, particularly when it comes to social media." - Ravi Mattu, Financial Times

"[Marwick is] a keen ethnographer of Silicon Valley." - Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books

"A must-read for anyone interested in the culture of the tech world and in the techniques of status-building in contemporary digital society." - Finola Kerrigan, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Status Update provides a useful critique of a youthful, male culture of celebrity that pervades the social media scene." - Bill Dutton, Science

"If Marwick is both seduced and repelled by the tech scene, this tension gives her more traction in her critique. Because she loves this world, she is sensitive to its contradictions. She is respectful but clear-eyed in her takedowns - authenticity, egalitarianism, and entrepreneurial success are among her targets - and her greatest insights lie in this ambivalence." - Melissa Aronczyk, Public Books


"Marwick brilliantly gets beneath the shiny exterior of the Web 2.0 startup scene to uncover the ways in which geeks, entrepreneurs, and technologists use their creations to jockey for status and seek attention. This book is critical for all who care about or use social media." - danah boyd, Microsoft Research

"In an industry thick with mouth-breathing fans, Marwick is a long-trusted observer of the Silicon Valley "scene." Readers are sure to love and loathe the details she provides of America's newest version of a rock star: the twenty-something social media entrepreneur, and they will appreciate her trenchant critique of "Web 2.0": a term that Marwick argues marks both a moment that has passed, and a discourse that continues to structure what and how we think about social media use." - Terri Senft, author of Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks

"Status Update is a deft and graceful guide to the topsy-turvy digital world of free labor, self-branding and micro-celebrity. If you're still wondering why you sent that last Tweet- and whether it will really help you get a job, a reputation, or a new kind of life - read this book." - Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

"With thoughtfulness and rigor, Marwick explains the importance of major social networks from cultural, economic, and human standpoints. Status Update offers a true understanding of what it means to share ourselves online, with a healthy skepticism about Silicon Valley's utopian promises." - Anil Dash, ThinkUp

"Marwick masterfully weaves together what motivates us as humans and what defines identity online. If you want to understand the future of social media, this book is required reading." - Dennis Crowley, co-founder Foursquare

"Marwick's lively, sophisticated book shows how deeply intertwined our lives are with the whims and biases of a handful of coders. An essential read for anyone who is curious about how social media work." - Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything - and Why We Should Worry

"From the Gold Rush to the Summer of Love, San Francisco and environs have long been the home of American dreaming. In the fascinating Status Update, Marwick interrogates Silicon Valley's recent dream: Web 2.0 and the tools and behaviors it spawned." - Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus

Table of Contents

0. Introduction
1. A Cultural History of Web 2.0
2. Leaders and Followers: Status in the Tech Scene
3. The Fabulous Lives of Micro-Celebrities
4. Self-Branding: The (Safe for Work) Self
5. Lifestreaming: We Live in Public (read excerpt at Medium.com)
6. Designed in California: Entrepreneurship and the Myths of Web 2.0 (read excerpt at Wired.com)

This book is based on fieldwork in SF from 2006-2010 and features interviews with more than 40 SF tech insiders, including Ev Williams (Twitter), Kevin Rose (Digg), Kevin Kelly (Wired), Scott Beale (Laughing Squid), Veronica Belmont (Tekzilla), Garrett Camp (Stumbleupon), Jeremy Stoppleman (Yelp), Ben Horowitz (Andreesson-Horowitz), Caterina Fake (Flickr, Hunch), Sarah Lacy (Pandodaily), Laura Fitton (Pistachio), Owen Thomas (Valleywag), Julia Allison (TMI Weekly), and many more.

Using This Book in the Classroom

Since I teach undergrad classes in digital media and technology, I wanted to write something that smart undergrads would enjoy while still maintaining a critical framework. This book is appropriate for classes in Communication, Media Studies, Anthropology, Information Studies, and the digital humanities.

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