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The Internet United States

American Class Divisions Through Facebook and MySpace 373

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
Jamie found this paper earlier about American Class Divisions and Facebook and MySpace. The paper talks about the history of the two sites, what groups tend to use what site. They also talk about what proponents of each site think of the other. It's actually an interesting read and worth your time.
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American Class Divisions Through Facebook and MySpace

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  • College educated people tend toward Facebook since up until recently it barred people who didnt have a major corporate job, or where in higher ed right?

    And Myspace contained all the rest right?

    That wasn't too hard was it.

  • by Applekid (993327) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13AM (#19636145)
    I don't quite agree with the premise of class divisions through web sites. The difference between signing up for either is whose registration forms one uses. Socio-economic class divisions are most certainly harder to jump across than just using a web site. And, on the internet, what's to stop someone from being a member of both Myspace and Facebook?

    IANAS (I Am Not A Sociologist), but I think the might mean cultural divisions. Posts to, say, /. differ from Something Awful which differ from Newgrounds which differ from Myspace and so on and so on.

    Is it because the community that forms around the site, which was ultimately created targeted at a demographic?
  • Re:Care2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13AM (#19636149) Journal
    Neither MySpace or Facebook really have much "purpose" to them (well, MySpace users may claim that it caters to bands, but the connection to me is pretty shallow). Facebook doesn't really have any "purpose" either.

    They've got plenty of purpose when you're young and virtually all of your friends use the sites along with you, which I'd imagine is what matters most to most users.
  • by EricWright (16803) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:15AM (#19636179) Journal
    If the author wants anyone to take her work seriously, she REALLY needs to avoid sentences like "It's so not that easy."

    After reading that nugget, my interest in the topic waned almost instantly.
  • Hmm. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mockylock (1087585) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:16AM (#19636201) Homepage
    "MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. Teens who are really into music or in a band are on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers."

    I think this is indicative of those who were "tech savvy" as much as having social issues. Myspace was a runoff of all the rating sites, minus the ratings. When the "misfits" found something to not be judged by, it became very popular.
  • by galorin (837773) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#19636211)
    I tried to RTFA, it reads like a High School student's English essay. I want my ten minutes back.
  • Some valid points. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#19636217)
    Most teens who exclusively use Facebook are familiar with and have an opinion about MySpace. These teens are very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and "so middle school." They prefer the "clean" look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is "so lame."

    I never understood the whole appeal of MySpace, other than it's a free blogging site. I also have the same feeling. I had an account once, but if felt more like a place for kids to have fun, than an adult. It was more geared toward "Would you ever kiss X, Y, Z" rather than topics more adult oriented like politics, technology, etc.

    They both seem to fit a niche, so more power to them both. Just not my cup of tea.

  • by garcia (6573) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:19AM (#19636265) Homepage
    It's actually an interesting read and worth your time.

    Only if you're into Social Networking sites. If you're like me and you aren't, the article is just as worthless as the SNSs themselves.

    But because I did take your advice and read the article, here's one little bit that summed it all up for me:

    A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there's a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook. Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it's not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace.

    If Facebook is "extremely popular" then it would be used by the "grunts" and not just the officers as the author claims is how it really works in the military. While I personally believe that anyone who uses MySpace is generally a fucking retard that doesn't mean that the "unwashed masses" use only MySpace. I know plenty of intellectuals that love hiding their dirty little MySpace secret.

    Don't bother believing the blurb that it's worth a read. It really isn't. This "article" is nothing more than an attempt to push their political slant/POV. They seriously could have left out the non-sense about the Walmart Nation, etc as it has absolutely nothing to do w/the rest of the article.

    -1 Political Troll
  • Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:21AM (#19636279) Homepage
    Up until recently Facebook only allowed people with .edu emails to sign up. Then, they added corporations. Only relatively recently did they add the ability for anyone to sign up, and use geographical "networks", etc.

    Anyways, its fairly obvious comparing the two sites that one is oriented towards people who are more mature. The site is, for the most part, very structured. There are profile fields, and unless you get into the seedy underbelly of groups, its hard to get any kind of ridiculous "self expression" on Facebook. MySpace, on the other hand, is highl customizable and lends itself much easier to stupid "rebel conforming non-conformist" teenagers and others who never really grew up.

    Its not some evil class division or whatever. duh.

  • I quit reading when she used the slang "kinda"
  • Uhm? I don't understand. Did you use html-tags to illustrate something, because in that case (for someone that is part of the slashdot crowd and knows the difference between html and plaintext), you should use html entities. No, really, they are very nifty to actually display greater than and lower than signs. Try this the following time &gt; for >, and &lt; for <

    And as for the "modded naked PC", there is weird [gizmodo.com] stuff [engadget.com] out there [cside.com]...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:34AM (#19636457)
    Dude this is america.

    If you drive a BMW and live in an exclusive neighborhood - you are rich.

    If you drive a sensible car and live in sane housing you are poor.

    The guy in the BMW is in debt up to his eyeballs and if him or his wife lose their jobs they will be forclosed on in moments. Some will lose their house if they lose their overtime.

    The guy that drives a car that does the job for him and lives in a place that is safe, nice and meets needs can afford to lose 1/2 the household income and has almost no debt (Under $12,000 unsecured and not mortgage)

    America standas for looking like you are rich, sanity stands for being debt free and not being incredibly retarted spending money on things like diamonds for your wife, giant new home, imported luxury cars, new boats, etc...

    Problem is most of america is retarted.
  • by Ynsats (922697) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:36AM (#19636475)
    That paper does nothing, as others have already said, but tell us there there are social classes among people. It's a typical high school social experiment with the different cliques. The paper does nothing of any value beyond giving a short and over-simplifying explanation/history of MySpace and Facebook.

    For real social commentary and study, I would have been more interested to see a multi-year study that showed a group of high school students from all social cliques that tracked usage and content of the personal sites over say 6-8 years to see how far in to life those social cliques extend.

    All this article has done is reinforce the fact that people congregate with other people with like interests. So naturally, if I'm a "freak/geek" and all of my friends are "freaks" and "geeks" and they hang out on MySpace then why would I want to hang out on Facebook with a bunch of "jocks" who have dissimilar interests and little in common with me? This is common sense, not a ground breaking social study.

    Furthermore, the author continues on to use this "disparity" in common use between several sites to show demographic trends which really don't correlate at all. Especially since the author is trying to use the information and "collected data" to show how different social classes use different websites. This is not really shown at all. There is no basis of evidence that the "freaks and geeks" that use MySpace are in a lower societal class. Nor do they show that Facebook has provided a higher earning and networking potential for uses to validate the claim that they are from a higher social class. The author is using inference falsely to show a class separation with no factual support other than essentially "The people on MySpace are weird and not as "beautiful" as the people on Facebook so they must be poor." It's an asinine argument and if that paper was written for course credit, I hope they didn't get a decent grade. If it was written as a professional document for a publication then "ethnographic research " is either a joke science or someone needs to read articles submitted for publication more carefully.

    I feel dumber for wading through that article and I honestly want those 10 minutes of my life back.
  • by kebes (861706) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:37AM (#19636489) Journal
    Yeah, I have to agree with you. The topic seems interesting, but I can't take any of the conclusions too seriously, because ultimately this person is just using random anecdotes to make a case. This sentence sums up the article in my mind:

    I don't have the data to confirm whether or not a statistically significant shift has occurred but it was one of those things that just made me think.
    At least the author acknowledges that there isn't sufficient data to say anything truly authoritative on the subject. I think the article is sufficiently interesting that it bears further (statistically significant!) analysis. Yet until such an analysis is done, this article is only an opinion piece. The different between discussing anecdotes and doing actual scientific studies is that when you recount anecdotes you will tend to recount those that support your preconceptions. So the content of the article could be more a reflection of the author's subconscious expectations about how class division relates to the websites in question. Ideally, a scientific study removes biases and exposes data more meaningfully.

    I also feel like the author's persistent struggles with how to "define class" in the US would evaporate if a proper study were performed. Because, in a scientific study you don't have to "define class"--rather you simply report what variables correlate with website choice, and what variables don't. You can then divide the population into groups (if the data supports such a division) and see whether the group divisions correlate to income, education, ethnicity, etc. (without ever having to artificially apply class labels).

    Food for thought, but unfortunately nothing meaningfully conclusive.
  • Re:Care2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Techguy666 (759128) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:37AM (#19636491)

    Neither MySpace or Facebook really have much "purpose" to them (well, MySpace users may claim that it caters to bands, but the connection to me is pretty shallow). Facebook doesn't really have any "purpose" either.


    Facebook really does have a purpose and that's probably what TFA was driving at without realizing. Facebook is really for college friends (and high school friends) to "hang out" online. It's the social networking of friends and peers and your friends' and peers' friends and peers - people of similar mindedness. Myspace is the bar-scene of the web; you go there to meet anyone and everyone, people sincerely looking for friends and pick-up artists alike.

    TFA seems to think there's a socio-economic divide between Facebook and Myspace and there probably is. But not because poorer, less educated people all decided, hey, let's all hang out on Myspace. Think about your high school experiences. If you don't have friends you liked from high school, you're less likely to use Facebook. If you have high school or college buds that you hang out with exclusively, Facebook is all you need, with the added bonus of seeing the ideas of your friends' friends. Compounding this is the initial seeding of Facebook. If you never went to university or college, the likelihood of you using Facebook plummeted because they originally required you to have an e-mail address at that organization!

    The original article was interesting but probably read a little too much into the organization of socio-economic and educational differences and probably didn't look sufficiently at the "why" or purpose of the SNSes, which is probably more benign than some plot by the Man to hold us down as was hinted.

    As for Care2, it does look interesting and I may sign up. If I'm feeling particularly sociable, I may troll the "bar" that is Myspace; if I just want to hang out with friends, you'll find me on the "pub" that is Facebook; Care2 sounds kinda neat, like when my friends and I want to do activities together, Care2 may be the online "soupkitchen".
  • by GammaKitsune (826576) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:37AM (#19636497)
    Jocks and Princesses go to Facebook. Criminals and Basketcases go to MySpace. Brains go meh.

    On a serious note, though, as one of the more flagrantly uncool kids in high school, I've still noticed that the majority of my uncool friends have gone on to college and are now on Facebook. I joined up mostly because everyone else was, and I didn't want to get bugged about it later on down the road. I don't use Facebook all that much, and I've never used MySpace.
  • by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:38AM (#19636509)
    So presentation matters to you more than content?
  • by EricWright (16803) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:47AM (#19636657) Journal
    In a serious scientific discussion, yes.

    * Dude, like Facebook is waaay more bitchin' than Myspace if ur in college
    * Among popular social networking sites, Facebook is far more accepted by college students than Myspace

    They both make the same point, right? Which do you think might have a chance of getting serious attention from the scientific community? Which do you think has a chance of getting published in a respected journal? Which one sounds like serious research?

    I don't care how insightful somebody's work may be. If it is too painful to read, it isn't worth it. Come back when you can present your ideas in a coherent, professional manner.
  • Er. What now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:55AM (#19636775) Homepage Journal
    This is a whole bunch of speculation and personal value divisions presented as if it were a research paper. The problem is, there's no actual research. No data, no information, just a bunch of semi-large words used semi-correctly. The author makes a quick handwaving about how difficult it is to discuss class in America, but actual academics don't have nearly the problem with it that the author does; perhaps the reason the author finds it so difficult to use their data in an academic fashion is not so much about the difficulty of the topic as because the data was never taken in the first place .

    This paper basically says "white rich kids who want to get into college go to FaceBook because they heard MySpace was dangerous, that FaceBook's college social networking was valuable and because they're tired of the gaudy graphics in use there." I'll wait for the book - maybe there'll be something other than guesswork and one writer's nasty stereotypes there. Y'know, like actual evidence.
  • by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:00PM (#19636849)
    How can any report of more than a certain lenght possibly NOT display anyone's political slant? Even a robot would be programmed by someone with a slant and would display an indirect slant of its own. How can a HUMAN possibly report on something without slant? The very choosing of the topic of the report itself is indicative of a slant (i.e. populists are very interested in issues of class divides, elitists are not).

  • by Tipa (881911) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:13PM (#19637015) Homepage
    The paper makes dozens of claims with absolutely no data substantiating them. No studies, no population surveys, no facts on how people choose to use a networking site, and tries to make a "MySpace is for artistic people, Facebook is for boring people" division case based purely on, apparently, how she classifies her friends.
  • Re:Care2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wicko (977078) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:16PM (#19637075)

    Doesn't have any purpose!?

    Facebook has one major use for me: It's not instant communication. Ever get tired of people asking for your MSN address? Or having people message you constantly when you're in the middle of something? There are alternatives, you can ignore these people, or politely refuse to give them your address, OR you can tell them that you don't really use MSN anymore and that you would rather add them to facebook? This way, you don't have to instantly respond to someone's message, you can keep track of friends more easily if you want, and you don't have to feel guilty about ignoring people on MSN! I have many good friends on MSN that I just don't talk to, not because I don't want to talk to them, but because I don't want to use MSN to talk to them. MSN takes up way too much time to say what you want to say. I have better things to do. I'd rather see these people in person.

    Maybe some people don't care as much, and the site wouldn't be useful for them. But I know I feel particularly guilty when I haven't talked to people in months. So I just drop them a message on facebook and I don't expect an instant reply. Simple!

  • Re:Purpose? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khopesh (112447) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:43PM (#19637447) Homepage Journal

    I've yet to see this so-called purpose defined, outside of some abstract "all my friends use it" comment. Use it for what? Out of all the "friends" I've had that have pointed me to their myspace, etc. page, none of them have had a defined "purpose". The one's I've visited have left me with a who-cares attitude (and a vague deja-vu experience relating to geocities hosted websites from the 90s).

    Social networking is one of the more powerful concepts in life, both online and in the real world. It's how adults get jobs (ask any professional over 30 and you'll see that the resume process isn't so blind -- it's all about who you know). Myspace and Facebook are starting to redefine social networking ... little is known about how this will impact the more traditional social networking world, but rest assured that it will.

    As to their uses today, this is more clear. Facebook is giving evite a run for its money within the under-30 crowd. Its stalker-esque features allow people to research others (I use it to look at potential employees), which often leads to a real-world friendship. Its groups allow people to be politically active -- you can bet Facebook and its peers will be quite important in the 2008 election (hopefully more of an impact than Howard Dean's campaign turned out to be). It even brings some order to YouTube and similar video sites with its "sharing" system (also has more sensible comments rather than the drivel comments on YouTube [xkcd.com]).

  • by giminy (94188) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:45PM (#19637463) Homepage Journal
    Pretty much. I should have stopped when I read the sentence, "Which go where gets kinda sticky."

    The paper lacks citations, makes broad-sweeping overgeneralizations, and doesn't bother with talking to anybody on either facebook nor on myspace to back up its claims. The postscript states that numerous interviews were done, but no numbers are revealed from these interviews. Indeed, there are no quotations from anyone that was the interviewed -- the only instances of quotations marks are around words like "good," and "middle class," and naturally a quote from a completely unrelated book. The only claim that this paper successfully backs is that determining a person's class in America is hard. I wrote better papers when I was in the sixth grade.

    I think it can be summed up with a sentence mid-way through: "I don't have the data to confirm whether or not a statistically significant shift has occurred but it was one of those things that just made me think." If the author doesn't have data, then why are they bothering with making a claim?

    I'm putting slashdot back on my dns blackhole so that the temptation to read is destroyed...
  • Re:Care2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kiracatgirl (791797) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:46PM (#19637497)
    I would guess you don't actually have any experience with Facebook. I do, and maybe a few people use Facebook the way your saying, but no one I know does. No one that the people I know happen to know does either. It's a lot harder to find random people to add to your "friends" on Facebook (if that's what you want to do) than on MySpace. Not to mention that you can't even see people's profiles unless you're already on their friend list, in which case you obviously aren't going to be adding people because you like their profile. It's not exactly like MySpace, despite your obvious desire to believe so.

    As for your friend, people can spread stories and lies just as successfully by sending out emails and telling their friends by phone or in person as by using Facebook. That was a problem with him, not with the site. It's not like these social networking sites have some sort of magical honesty button.
  • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:06PM (#19637773)

    The guy that drives a car that does the job for him and lives in a place that is safe, nice and meets needs can afford to lose 1/2 the household income and has almost no debt (Under $12,000 unsecured and not mortgage)
    I think it's sad that we consider someone who has $12,000 in unsecured debt to have "almost no debt".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:07PM (#19637781)
    Nah. If people on Myspace would write at a High School level, it wouldn't be all that bad.
  • by HoldenCaulfield (25660) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:12PM (#19637839) Journal
    Context matters too. danah [danah.org] published this as a self proclaimed "blog essay." She's actually done lots of interesting research into social networks and youth, and has many published articles [danah.org]. Having read some of her other work, she can "play the game" and write with an academic voice, following standard formats, and citing as appropriate. Mainly since I've read that she's been an Intel fellow at MIT, interened for Google/Blogger, worked for V-Day, doing her PhD at Berkley after being heavily recruited/encouraged, etc [danah.org], I'll bear with the fact that it's a blog essay, and not a "professional" paper.

    She's also got some interesting view points - there's reasons why she doesn't capitalize i and her name [danah.org]. Some what socialistic, but it's a well reasoned decision, and it's a personal one she's chosen to make, and she seems intelligent enough to deal with the consequences (she'll keep her name in lowercase even for publication, where I'd imagine many may see her as pretentious for doing so, or imitating e.e. cummings or something else). She's even got it legally changed to lowercase.

    Anyway, back to my original point - context matters, and in this case, this is a blog essay. Reading it, it seems apparent to me that she's clearly just exploring the ideas (constantly pointing out her bias), and hoping for some feedback. She knows this isn't going to be published in Nature or Science, and arguably some of the attitudes expressed throughout this thread could be extensions of her ideas about "class" and social networks (or in this case forums).

    In any case, I understand your viewpoint, and respect your decision - but I appreciate the fact she's willing to write up her thoughts and ideas, so that others can read and ponder. Not everything I read has to be a scientific paper or suitable for publication in the NY Times, and blogs and similar venues provide a great tool to make information accessible to the masses. I think the other appeal to me is that a significant amount of "coherent, professional" work is highly filtered and processed - essays like the one being discussed work at the point when the idea hasn't been refined, when it's not ready for print publication, but is still something you want to think about . . .
  • by Glog (303500) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:55PM (#19638391)

    I don't care how insightful somebody's work may be. If it is too painful to read, it isn't worth it. Come back when you can present your ideas in a coherent, professional manner.
    Not to burst your academic bubble but the majority of scientific papers are already too painful to read. And, yes, I've read a few in my lifetime. At the same time, I agree with your argument that academia gets a boner from reading sesquipedalian lingo and 1/3-page sentences.
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:56PM (#19638397) Homepage Journal

    How can anyone with any appreciation for coding -- or, for that matter, aesthetics in general, at all -- go near MySpace?
    Maybe it's the same way an architect might to to a corner pub or a local coffee house. They go for the socializing, not for the great architecture.
  • Re:Care2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pcardno (450934) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:35PM (#19638949) Homepage
    "Who has more than 5-10 close friends?"

    I think that's kind of the point. I have maybe 10-15 close friends that I see and catch up with on a weekly basis, but my extended network I don't get to see as often are exactly the kind of people I keep up with via Facebook.
  • by prgrmr (568806) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:07PM (#19639409) Journal
    what is the name of the logical flaw in which you make an argument which destroys the point which is assumed?

    Isn't that just being the Devil's Advocate?
  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by businessnerd (1009815) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:07PM (#19640137)
    I think that sums it up. As funny as it may sound, or as offensive it may sound (i guess to MySpacers), you just saved everyone who hasn't RTFA a lot of time. The author has so much trouble defining the two "classes" and coming up with names for them. It is so much simpler to define than what the author conveys. You want two alternative terms than the "Hegemonic" and the "Subaltern"? How about College/College-bound and NOT College/College-bound users. That's it right there. It's obvious just from the history of the two sites. Facebook being a college only site, was only college students. When it opened its doors to high school kids, only the college-bound ones wanted in, because this was the first step in establishing their college social life. The rest just kept doing what they were doing with MySpace and interacting with the high school graduates who didn't go to college (because they were excluded).

    I prefer this classification so much more because it steers away (for the most part) from using the high school clique labels. The author wants us to think that only jocks and popular people go to college and burnouts, emo's, artsy people and that really weird kid in the corner don't go to college. Not quite the case. Burnouts go to college in either Vermont or Colorado. The artsy kids go to art school, or a school with a strong art program. That really weird kid in the corner goes to MIT and becomes the next Bill Gates (yeah that's right, you didn't know he was really smart. Now he's going to take over the world in order to get revenge on all of you assholes). The emo's go wherever.

    Now this is not all to say that everyone goes to college. This is all IF they go to college, and I understand that I am making sweeping generalizations, which is not really fair to these groups, but it's all in good fun, and based mostly on what I have observed. I'm just trying to prove the point that there is a much easier way to classify the Facebook/MySpace users without resorting to school cafeteria labels.
  • Re:Purpose? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Benwick (203287) on Monday June 25, 2007 @05:17PM (#19641067) Journal
    [social networking] is how adults get jobs .... little is known about how [online networking] will impact the more traditional social networking world, but rest assured that it will

    I can't wait to be turned down for a job because I don't like Blink 182 or Christina Aguilera, or because I don't number among the interviewer's 983 link-affirmed friends, or because I don't have pictures of supermodels I've never met on my web page, or the right mix of day-glo colors set on a bright yellow background, or annoying noises, or, or, or, {head explodes}.

    In all seriousness, the only examples I've heard are of people *not* getting jobs because they were easily Googled and employers found MySpace pictures of them passed out in their own vomit or running around naked with lampshades on their heads. ...And for god's sake I hope it stays that way. Your post gave me chills.

  • Out of context. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Monday June 25, 2007 @05:25PM (#19641191) Homepage

    The paper lacks citations, makes broad-sweeping overgeneralizations, and doesn't bother with talking to anybody on either facebook nor on myspace to back up its claims.

    The piece has been taken out of context. It's an academic brainstorm, put up in a blog for comment. It's not a finished, polished paper.

    Now please stop looking silly by acting as if it was otherwise.

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