Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Becoming a press expert

In a post in March, Placeism in the Global Network, I referred to an insightful talk by Danah Boyd about the popularity of MySpace as a social networking phenomenon. Since then, I've been following Danah's blog apophenia :: "making connections where none previously existed". Immediately after a short but sweet entry about the two gifts one gives one's children being roots and wings, she has quite a long posting about what it is like to become a press "expert" . I think this is a characteristically excellent post, and I highly recommend reading it. The article works on two levels: first it is a primer for people who end up dealing with the press, and what to expect -- how much effort and time you have to put in to get half a sentence quoted. Everything that Danah says about her experience rings true. I imagine if you are a scientist who is just about to publish the biggest paper of your career in Nature (oh, OK then, or Science), and the accompanying press release is going to result in 500 media enquiries, it would be very useful to have read this piece. The other aspect of the article is that it provides a telling account of how the press actually works -- how a story that one might read in a newspaper gets put together in terms of content and, dare I say it, quality. From what I know about the process (some), it seems spot on. Danah Boyd says about herself on apophenia: "My name is danah boyd and i'm a PhD student in SIMS at Berkeley and a social media researcher at Yahoo! Research Berkeley. Buzzwords in my world include: identity, context, social networks, youth culture, social software, performance, Friendster, MySpace. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever i'm thinking about." She's a woman to watch -- she is widely admired in the community in which she operates and beyond, and I am sure she's going far.