Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Goffman wrote this in 1959. Is this true today?

American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness. These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know; they conceal proficiency in mathematics from their less able consorts; they lose ping-pong games just before the ending.
Mirra Komarovsky
One of the nicest techniques is to spell long words incorrectly once in a while. My boy friend seems to get a great kick out of it and writes back, 'Honey, you certainly don't know how to spell.'
According to the marketing talk on bowling alleys that I heard the other day, there is a funny behavior that is quite common. The guys try very hard to impress girls at the bowling alley and they start out OK, usually doing better than the girls at the beginning. These guys start to get tense and begin to perform more poorly towards the end. The girls, on the other hand, start to get the hang of it, remain relaxed (which is important for bowling) and usually win at the end, leaving the guy grumpy. Many bowling alleys have ping-pong tables which allow the guy to try to regain their pride and allow the girls to give it back.

A Meta Note: reading a book while thinking about what to blog is a slow, but interesting way to read a book. I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings...


regarding Goffman's statement, I still notice it today. I find it aggrivating since I dislike having to explain simple concepts to anybody at all, and I tend to just get annoyed with girls who do this, and only later find out (from someone else) that they were interested. Oh well.

"I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings..."

You're joining the bulk of the blogging world, and using it for what it is perhaps best suited... traditional journaling that puts people in touch with other people's mundane, yet infinitely interesting and varied lives.

Yay Joi!

And in 1959, commercials featuring a turtle showed us that we could survive an atomic blast wearing only a hat, or by 'duck and cover'.

I would hope that we've progressed a bit since then in terms of truth and self-awareness.

As I wrote in misbehaving, remember the statement made -- there are no women in weblogging technology. The check for the truth of this statement will lead to a better understanding of the problems facing women in this field, then that we want to 'play dumb'.

I've found most smart PEOPLE make the person they're talking to feel smarter and only really annoying people need to show off how smart they are.


I track backed your blog to my weblog in Japanese and it seemed not to be working.

The following is what I wrote in my weblog in Japanese:

Joi Ito said, "According to Grossman's commend made in 1959, college girls played dumb in front of boys whom they find attractive. Isn't it something that we Japanese call "Brikko"?

When I was in college (in California), this technique was out-of-date. Even at work, cute guys don't have to work hard because their female colleagues or bosses, usually sister-like figures, would take care of them in case they are not doing the job right. (I might be prejudiced but think about it.)

American women (especially Anglo-Saxon) are really dependable.

Dear my boss,
I don't like, but it has still existing in our Japanese life, I believe. Of course, our environmnet around "women" has been changing a bit; however it is already wrong thinking "around women", don't you think? I hope Japanese-old-typical-guys would change their mind soon. And maybe, the important thing is that we, "women", needs to develop our new ideal situation. Maybe me... by Kawanishi

Please share your thoughts and insights on Goffman. I read it a long time ago, maybe it's time to read again. Plenty of amusing little anecdotes to observe, and it gives us a useful vocabulary for talking about interpersonal interactions. I wonder if it applies to online interactions (if so: how? if not: why?).


I still see this happening on college campuses, I'm there. Though I wonder if it happens to the same degree as Goffman's referring to?


Yes yes read it again. It's an amazing book and I think even more important to understand it in an online environment.

i think girls should be able to play too. this is what im writing my essay on. thank youm

i think girls should be able to play too. this is what im writing my essay on. thank youm

In my opinion, most young women are smarter than young men by an order of magnitude. And, as all smart people here know - we must occasionally play dumb in order avoid suspicion, rensentment, etc.

Well, the girls that I know of like to show off. But usually when muscle power is required I will win :p Unless skill is required, well we can't win always.

in my own opinions not all girls act like so ..... ti me iTS only when a girl realy likes a guy or is despret for a guy they act like so so in some way i agree with it and in another i dont

I know plenty of girls that say they do this, but I have to believe that any intelligent woman would NEVER do this. It would lower their character, as well as creating an image of women that I can't imagine would be good. Also, it would be a lie. Any intelligent person would not be comfortable 'looking dumb' for any reason.

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While reading Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life," Joi Ito blogged a passage on performance that is worth considering: American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness whe... Read More