Monday, September 24, 2007

Status versus friendship

“The impulse to collect as many ‘friends’ as possible on a MySpace page is not an expression of the human need for companionship, but of a different need no less profound and pressing: the need for status.” She continues:
Unlike the painted portraits that members of the middle class in a bygone era would commission to signal their elite status once they rose in society, social networking websites allow us to create status—not merely to commemorate the achievement of it. There is a reason that most of the MySpace profiles of famous people are fakes, often created by fans: Celebrities don’t need legions of MySpace friends to prove their importance. It’s the rest of the population, seeking a form of parochial celebrity, that does.

Consensus and Transparency

Ever since the early 19th century, there has been a vigorous debate about whether the Supreme Court and other appellate courts are best served by consensus or transparency — by unanimous opinions written by the chief justice, which was John Marshall’s view, or by separate opinions in which individual justices make their disagreements clear, which was the view of Marshall’s distant cousin and archrival, Thomas Jefferson. Roberts has explicitly embraced Marshall’s vision. Stevens, however, takes the Jeffersonian view. “I don’t believe in suppressing dissent,” he told me. “If you disagree you should say so. . . . I just feel I have an obligation to expose my views to the public.”