My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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public check-in

My blog is an opportunity to expel all of the crazy thoughts going through my head, process weird intellectual concepts, note things that i’m fascinated by and all around serve as a large pensieve of my thoughts.

As you may have noticed, i’m living in the world of youth these days and a lot of my blog posts for the next four months are going to be focused on that. My apologies to those of you who are looking to me for information on social software. I am currently more interested in understanding the theoretical and historical underpinnings of youth and identity. That said, what i am doing is not removed from social software. Most youth today use social technologies as part of their coming of age processes. They have far richer social lives than most adults. What they are doing with technology is far more complex. Furthermore, they are really focused on the act of socializing, not collaboration or any other work-centric model. Youth have a lot to teach us about social software – about its strengths, weaknesses and where innovation should go. Obviously, i’m biased – this is the root of how my research is applicable to technologists.

I hope those of you building technology will enjoy my journey to the depths of youth. I certainly am. If not, i’m sorry.

I’m also not going to being as up-to-date about industry developments as i used to be. I always love when people shoot me an email with things i really should know about – articles, links, etc. Even if i don’t post about it, i really do appreciate reading it. Besides, the probability of me already having seen it isn’t as large as you might think.

I’m also deeply appreciative of those who point me to other reflections on youth culture, either out in blog-land, in the press, or in culture more broadly. If you find something and you happen to think of me, please send it my way. Finally, if you’re writing about or thinking about youth culture, please let me know… Sometimes, i think that i’m on my own planet.

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7 comments to public check-in

  • I’m sure you’ve already heard about these, but I’ll mention them just for the sake of mentioning them. MySpace and Facebook have become two MASSIVE social networking sites in the last few years. Of course, with that degree of “social” online interaction comes the risk of stalkers. Just yesterday in our campus newspaper was an article detailing how there have already been several sexual assaults on campus directly connected to details shared on Facebook accounts, as well as several underage drinking tickets and other such violations, as pictures posted on these sites are just as valid as any other evidence.

    Might want to check those sites out if you haven’t already. To sign up for Facebook, all you need is a valid .edu email address, and hope that Facebook has included your campus.

  • Hi Danah,
    You are not alone, although I’m on a different side of the planet. My primary interest is in how ideas move from the edge to mainstream, and what is the best way to predict that velocity and impact. No surprise that what I call revolutionary ideas/insights come from the younger gen’s. I’ve enjoyed your posts, looking forward to future thoughts. BTW, on a totally different note, Randy Moss and I spoke in Chicago last week at an AMA event. He was displaying visualizations that I recognized from Jeffrey Heer and you, thus a common link of reference. Small world!

  • mrc

    “They have far richer social lives than most adults.”

    I guess that depends what you mean by “richer”. Most kids at the high school I teach at are on myspace. But as kids, the sorts of ways that they are able to shape and control their own lives are also more limited than my adult friends who use tribe. Not that richness of social life requires infinite freedom, but there is a certain depth of technology-enhanced interaction that teenagers aren’t going to access. For example, the support that an online group can give to someone in helping them find a new job, or new roommates, builds a type of relationship and community which might be described as “rich”.

    For me, staying aware of the ways youth culture relates to technology (and the rest of the world) is critical to being able to communicate with kids. There may not be any adults in the lives of the average teenager who “understand” what they are going through, but if we can at least comprehend how their social lives take place it’s a step in the direction of being able to transfer knowledge and values from one generation to the next.

  • I continue to find it fascintating that there is a massive disconnect in the coverage of the youth subculture and the hype around Web 2.0. The most recent example that blows me away is the quiet rollout of RSS and podcasting support on Myspace. These types of things are the sort that Dave Winer and others should point to as vindication of the technology but instead they ignore it as it’s something kids do. Except it’s like 50 million + kids. That’s important.

  • danah, I’m looking forward to your reflections on youth culture – I’m planning a project class on “weblog use by teenagers” for communication science students this summer and will put your blog on the reading list for my students.
    It might be actually interesting to compare the german-speaking blogosphere (which we’re going to concentrate on) to the US; blogging has caught up later over here and AFAIK networking sites like facebook are not yet that popular (while there are quite a lot of communities, e.g. jetzt.de or uboot.com).
    We will definitely have an eye on gender differences: According to a large blogging survey we conducted last october, among teens who run a blog young women outnumber men by 2:1. This seems to parallel usage patterns in the US; we also see the kind of ignorance/banalization of their practices Derrick mentions in the previous comment.

  • Sarah Bluehouse

    http://www.freetostitchfreetobitch.org/

    trademark or “stitch and bitch” application and resulting rights sispute gets yahoo groups shut down for using “stitch and bitch” or SnB in thier title…

    Yahoo seems to be going along with the cease and desist letters by deleting groups and such… what does trademarked words/uses mean for the social capital of its users? (really curious to hear your thoughts on this)