My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and 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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“Information Access in a Networked World”

Last month, I participated on a panel at Pearson Publishing along with three others from MacArthur’s digital learning initiatives. I gave a talk there about the future of information access and I wanted to make the crib available for all who might find it of interest:

“Information Access in a Networked World”

In the talk, I outline three mechanisms of information access: push, pull, and osmosis. I then talk about how teens are engaging with information through these different processes, touching on educational learning, politics, Wikipedia, and social currency. I have a feeling folks might find it interesting, especially the educator and policy maker and parent types. Oh, and of course the information access people. (Oh, and embedded in there is a sneak preview of one of my upcoming projects re: Wikipedia.)

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5 comments to “Information Access in a Networked World”

  • > learn by osmosis [. . .] sleeping with my books.

    What? You too? You mean. . . That physics teacher lied to us?

    > When I ask teens how they found out about a particular video or website or many other things, the answer is pretty universal: “my friends.”

    Would that be push or osmosis? If they know witch friend, fine — but a vast majority of the information I have, I can’t source it back. I would include the status in that argument: someone can be cool without cool-content negotiation, just by osmosis.

    You seem to say that YouTube (and MySpace) are push: would you have any elements on how on-line video they are used by teens? Forwarded links, subscriptions, quality filters, random flickering, the recommended videos afterwards, the “Replies”, outside recommendation websites, embedded videos? I do believe features count a lot there — and I cannot use any other video hosting site then Dailymotion: YouTube is just so frustrating outside of known feeds. Once again, embeddedness was an amazing idea.

    You idea about Wikipedia is great, and I loved seeing some teachers trying to give as an assignment: write a Wikipedia page — however this is far more demanding that what is seems: drama doesn’t help, the arguments are wicked, but more importantly what they learn is extremely difficult to measure, especially with a standardized test.

  • I’m really excited that you’re thinking about teenagers and Wikipedia, because I just applied a few days ago to give a presentation on the topic at eTech Ohio, the state educational technology conference. I think using Wikipedia as a focal point for discussions about critical thinking is a really important idea, though I’m a little pessimistic about whether many educators will adopt it; I just read Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, in which Neal Postman points out that we devote very little time in our curricula to learning how to be skeptical.

    I’ve also been thinking about something Gary Stager said in a presentation a couple weeks ago, that “research” as it’s taught in grade school (focusing on primary school here, perhaps, but maybe middle school as well) is very different from the research that scholars actually do. I was in a fifth grade classroom the other day where short student biographies of famous scientists had been taped to the wall, and while I’m sure the students learned something real about summary and paraphrasing, the research skill involved was probably little more than looking up an encyclopedia entry. So our traditional print media mostly appear monolithic and objective, but archival letter collections and diaries and letters to the editor (which are actually print) and other primary sources are filled with disagreement. I think your focus on Wikipedia’s transparency is important because it makes the site’s educational value qualitatively different from that of other encyclopedias. Real research is also nonlinear, of course, filled with the tangents you describe.

    Though I suspect they aren’t on exactly the same page as what you’re doing, there are a couple of interesting studies of the quality/accuracy/comprehensiveness of Wikipedia that you might want to check out if you haven’t seen them. One is Nature‘s comparison of Wikipedia and Brittanica, which dealt with science articles, is two years old and was followed by challenges by Brittanica and a response from Nature. The other is Roy Rosenweig’s really wonderful article on history and Wikipedia, published in the Journal of American History a year and a half ago.

    I’m really excited to see where you go with this topic.

  • Well put.

    The paradox of educators not educating young people is pretty much resolved if you consider that the education system is not there to educate, but to format.

    Of course Human nature resists to formatting, in inventive new ways. This fuels the Internet as we’ve known it.

    This is “La querelle des anciens et des modernes” again and again. Progress against Authority. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarrel_of_the_Ancients_and_the_Moderns

  • This reminds me of the TED Talk by Erin McKean, “Redefining the Dictionary.” She talks about possibilities involved in transferring the print dictionary to the internet. I recommend listening to her – eighteen minutes or so, and it takes a few to get into the substance of her talk.

  • Bonjour danah, my name is tilly and Claire Ulrich introduced me already, i believe.
    This is to let you know that I just posted a note on my blog with a link to the translation into French of your presentation:
    http://tillybayardrichard.typepad.com/le_blogue_de_tilly/2008/01/danah-a-dit-acc.html
    In fact there was also an earlier introductory note titled: “Introducing danah boyd”!
    I hope that you will like both, but please feel free to ask for any modification you would like me to make.
    Cheers
    tilly

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