The book is titled Status Update written by Alice E. Marwick. It examines the topic of social status within Silicon Valley and throughout social media. And if you’re a software developer, you really need to read it.
The best summary is this headline from an Amazon review: “All the right people hate it.” I can see why.
When I started the book, I thought it would talk about “social media” the same way that people on CNN do: not really understanding it from a participant’s perspective. To the contrary, the book demonstrates a keen awareness of what social media is and how it works, and just presents it in an accessible way.
A lot of norms that I’ve always just taken for granted about life on the internet have histories that I had never heard explained thoroughly before. It was really cool to be taken back through the history of the tech industry by someone willing to cut through Silicon Valley’s over-the-top rhetoric.
The central core of the book is really an in-depth breakdown of status-seeking techniques within the tech world. But it’s not just a description of status, it’s a deconstruction: who can participate in these status-seeking activities? Who benefits from them, and who doesn’t? How are society’s existing power structures around gender and race represented? How are they reinforced?
The book has given me a lot to think about – it’s well worth a read.