Xanga high

Blogging is a big deal at Evergreen Valley High School, a new, technology-rich school in San Jose. Some 200 students — about one out of eight — blog at Xanga.com, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Students call their blogs “my Xanga.”

On Xanga, cliques form through “blogrings” — groups of journals posted by users with shared interest. Anyone can create or join a blogring, which include ones aimed at Japanese anime enthusiasts, students who live in the 408 area code and girls who are “boyfriendless.”

On a recent day, 220 users had joined the main Evergreen blogring; there were 23 on a blogring for Evergreen’s band and three on one for the school’s cheerleaders.

. . . Most teens abide by an unwritten code of the blogosphere: What happens online stays online. Many have digital friendships with classmates but never socialize in real life “because we don’t hang with the same crowd,” as one Evergreen student explained.

Karen Huang, a 15-year-old freshman at Evergreen, carried on a virtual relationship in every way — and the guy never knew it. Intrigued by a cute classmate at school, she found out who he was and began reading his Xanga. “Noooo, I never talked to him,” said Huang, aghast at the prospect of a face-to-face conversation with the boy. “But I read his Xanga every day and learned a lot about him.” After a few months, she decided he was “too weird.” The flirtation ended without the two ever speaking.

When a gay student was mocked on a malicious Xanga, it tripled his traffic; most of the new visitors expressed support for his openness.

More than half of Evergreen students come from Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipino families. Most are middle class. Perhaps Asian-American students prefer to communicate emotions at a distance. Or perhaps they’re just part of a wired generation that uses all the communications tools they’ve got.

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  1. Kris Hasson-Jones says:

    The low risk of emotional hurt and humiliation has got to be a major draw to online interaction.

    Then there’s the timing issue: online I can take time to get over any distracting immediate emotional reaction and craft a response to other people’s writing that represents me at my best. It takes a lot of practice in social situations to get good at this when face to face, in synchronized realtime.

  2. In the mid-1970’s, I remember spending an awful lot of time IM’ing with kids in other JrHS’s in our district. This was back in the days of the PDP-8 and teletypes. I know that a similar kind of community grew among the early radio enthusiasts, and around the “party line” telephone system. I’ve also read several charming books about pen-pal relationships over the last few hundred years.

    I’m waiting for the musical: “The Blog around the Corner”

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I paid $2200 for my PDP-8L and about $1500 for my ASR-33. My daughter hated me for hogging the phone line before when I was timeshare with Call Computer. Odd, I now have 4 wire lines and a cellular and DSL, but back then I never thought of a second phone line for my daughter. Toggling in that octal bootstrap to start the PDP was fun, but having to re-enter basic from paper tape because of an improper shutdown was a 45 minute pain.The first time I saw a 300 baud printer, the 110 baud TTY afterward seemed to take forever to print a line and I was off on a race for faster more powerful that hasn’t ended yet.

  4. That “oh my gosh, the kids are [xxxx]” schtick the papers have is getting a bit old. Let’s see, the plastic bracelet thing, the oral sex thing, the sex, no committment thing… Next it will be, “most kids abandon their blogs” or whatever.

    I go to look at the teen blogs from time to time because I get comments on some of the criticisms I’ve had of teen culture. There’s a lot of the usual, only written down.

    I don’t think it’s Evergreen’s webbed-upness, or the Asianness. Blogs on a particular platform get to be a fad, that’s all.

    I would have been more impressed if she’d surveyed all the highschools in the SJUSD (San Jose Unified) or compared blog maintenance at Palo Alto High vs. Gunn, or something of the like.