MacArthur Forum talk on “Teen Socialization Practices in Networked Publics”

Last Wednesday, I gave a talk in Palo Alto as part of the MacArthur Forum “From MySpace to Hip Hop” alongside the rest of the Digital Youth Research Team. I’m still waiting on the videos and as soon as I have them, I will post them. In the meantime, I thought that I’d share my crib from the talk. For those of you who know my work, much of this will be familiar. Still, it’s a pretty good overview of my project. Enjoy!

“Teen Socialization Practices in Networked Publics”

UPDATE: The videos are now up on YouTube: MySpace to Hip Hop, A MacArthur Forum, 04.23.08

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4 thoughts on “MacArthur Forum talk on “Teen Socialization Practices in Networked Publics”

  1. Jamie

    Impressive work Danah, Although I have to say, it’s kinda weird and fascinating at the same time to see my generation being analyzed at present but that’s what makes it all the more interesting!

  2. Josh

    Hi danah, I went to the talk w/ a bunch of artists in the participatory culture research group at UCSC. The people i was with really liked your comment at the end about the history of “teenagers” as a consumer category. Thought it helped to counteract the creepy marketing vibe of some in the audience. Anyway, great job!

  3. Steve

    Hi danah,

    Despite my generally high regard for you and your work, I must question a couple of your central points.

    The first is to equate the SNS experience with “hanging out”. They are not the same and never could be the same because of one critically important factor. Hanging out implies multiple presence in real time. I see you. You see me. He sees us. We see them. We are here together. This is the essential quality of hanging out. If you’re not multiply present in real time, what you are doing may be important in your life and significant to your social identity, but it’s not hanging out. Just like when I was growing up, Friends would spend hours after school on the phone discussing everything from homework, to gossip, to personal issues.Important socialization, surely. But not the same as hanging out. Just like passing notes in class isn’t hanging out.

    The kinds of interactions that can happen in real-time two-person, real-time multi-person, and asynchronous multi-person are just really differnet.

    And this distinction is even recognized in one of your teen quates where “hanging out” is actually counterposed to “going online”.

    And my other point is that I think it would be good to look more closely at hanging out in the world of today.

    Now teens in the time and place I grew up (Watervliet, MI – 1958-1964) hung out though it wasn’t called that. They hung out on the hill by the east door of the high school for the half hour or so after school let out. The hung out at the drugstore on Main street. They hung out by the lake. They hung out in their friends basements. They hung out at the game. (Notice I say “they” rather than “we”. Asperger’s Syndrome didn’t exist as a diagnosis in that time and place, but it certainly existed as a condition. I was already the outside observer).

    And among teens I have known more recently (Lansing, MI 2002-2005) they still hang out. They hang out at McDonalds. They hang out at the Mall. They hang out in basements and back yards. They hang out at the downtown bus terminal. And they have MySpace, Yahoo Messenger and Xanga. (Okay, the kids that hang at the bus terminal are a differnet bunch, they may or may not have SNS – I actually don’t know).

    Now, I admit that not all of the examples I give would meet the criteria for how I infer that you would define “hanging out”. Not all these examples refer to instances of public space where the possibility of random unplanned encouters exists. And some of my examples shade into the gray area between “hanging out” and “partying”. But a significant subset of my examples would qualify.

    So, I think the interesting questions for understanding the interplay between online and offline teen socialzing would be some of the following? How many teens still “hang out” in the traditional sense. Who are they. My sense is that hanging out would vary by urban versus suburban, prep versus alternative, “ghetto” versus “working class” urban neighborhoods, ethnicity of the parents, class as such, and similar factors. It might actually be fun to nail this down.

    Then do the same thing for online. Merely noticing the class-oriented dichotomy between MySpace and Facebook set off a storm of controversy not unlike that of the littbe boy who famously criticized the Emperor’s fancy wardrobe. But I really think it only scratches the surface of class issues online. How does computer access vary among teens whose families have a computer in the home versus those who don’t. How does online access and usage differ between those who graduate high school and are college bound versus those who go immediately into the blue collar/no collar workforce.

    And, once both those sets of questions are addressed, put them together. How does the relationship between offline and online socialization vary according to factors such as class, subcultural identity, etc. (Do gamers use SNS differently from non-gamers – just for instance?)

    And, let’s never forget the “moving target” quality of these kinds of questions. A “generation” in teen social customs is what – maybe 4-6 years? Anybody know? How quickly does the march of events make even the most insightful research obselete?

    Just being my provocative self,


  4. BB

    I hang out online at ..different social rules than myspace or facebook.

    great stuff Danah!

    The following reminded me of the basic building blocks of social web:

    Skyler Sierra (18, Colorado): If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist.
    Tara (16, Michigan): Like everyone says get a Facebook. You need to get one.

    Building Blocks:

    Identity (you)
    Presence (twitter, last visited,)
    Relationships (facebook)
    Conversations (comments)
    Groups (subgroup)
    Reputation (testimonials, ratings)
    Sharing (flickr)

    More from this slide show on designing the social web:

    “Turning Real Life Behaviors Into Social Features”

    what about a social site built around teen consumerism?

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