Alice Marwick Dissertation Format

Since I began my project on status in Web 2.0, people have been asking me two questions:

1) Are you done yet?
2) Can I read it?

I am happy to announce that the answer to both of those questions is YES. Today I have put my dissertation online. Please click below to download it in PDF form:

Alice Marwick: “Status Update, Celebrity, Publicity, and Self-Branding in Web 2.0” [PDF].

The citation is:

Marwick, A. (2010). Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Self-Branding in Web 2.0. Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication.

I chose to Creative Commons license the dissertation and make it widely available online for several reasons. First, I want all my informants, and everyone who helped me with the project, to read my results, because without all the help I received on this project, it could not have been completed. Many people do not have access to ProQuest or other databases which will index this. Second, I want the widest possible audience for my work, because in many ways, this project is an intervention into the idea of Web 2.0 as egalitarian, democratic, and so on. I’m proud of this, and I want to share it, and hear what people think. Third, I’ll be shopping this around as a book — well, a very very revised version of this, to be written in the next year or so– and it’s in my best interest as a scholar to keep my professional profile up while I do that. Fourth, this work– especially the chapters on micro-celebrity, life-streaming, and self-branding– can, I think, be useful to other internet and media scholars, and I want to make a contribution to the discipline.

But because this is an ethnography, I am writing about people’s lives. I stand behind my interviews, my methods, and my perceptions, but inevitably I am turning people into characters and writing about them subjectively. I don’t want to upset anyone, to hurt any feelings, or to step on any toes, but it is inevitable when doing this sort of ethnographic work. But this is why disseminating this project is so nerve-wracking for me. I carefully thought through the choices I made while writing; I hope that comes through in the document itself. And I hope my informants will let me know if they feel that they have been misrepresented, and know that it was not intentional.

I hope people enjoy this dissertation and find it useful. Please mail me if you have comments or questions, blog about it, or leave a comment here.


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.

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