20 / 10 / 2009Danah Boyd’s talk about Youth Generated Culture #genc

From Quebec’s Centre des Congrès for the CEFRIO’s conference about Gen C

Here are my notes jotted down live during Danah Boyd’s talk

Youth Generated Culture: Growing up in an era of social media

Section I: General intro about SN
from the ethnographer

Approach: To get into the lives of people

Goal: to understand the practices and implications for education

Uses vary by the culture but there are some fundamentals
For young people primary reasons to use SN is to engage with people they know already, true friends

You have to ‘write yourself’ as a digital body to get over the basic IP address that everybody necessarily is on Internet…

Common pattern: People lie about their age, weight, etc. Inacurate info on profiles (sometimes for safety and sometimes because they feel there is no need because SN are just for friends who know everything already (ex. teens write that they are 95 y.o.)

Young people add html and other dev for appropriation of their own their sites, it is their crazy representations, not in the system

On SN friends are not friends in the same way because of the public articulation which is a unique thing and the very challenge of SN

SN are sets of drama for young people : list of boyfriends, etc

Their conversations may seem like a waste of time and pointless activities when you listen to young people (y.p.) conversations…how are you…what are u doing nothing…but correspond to social grooming just like our adults’ corridor conversations about the weather…constitute social maintenance…they do not say so much about what you say but what the relationship is about…

Sense of awareness of your people, life patterns are shared ‘live’ for ex. with status updates to keep in touch with people around you

Twitter changed the I follow you and you follow me…you can follow s.o. you don’t know and not necessarily be followed back… and vice versa…then you need to develop strategies to get attention by condensing massive quantity of info into 140 characters

Level of conversations are different with Twitter and even more with y.p.
Not around communities of interests like adults
Mostly interest for celebrities like the Disney starlets

Section II
Teen engagement

SN= places to hang out, the place to be, to mingle, to gossip, to joke around, to flirt…=their social environment…and not bec of the techno but bec of the people…just like the mall before…

Parents’ concerns: safety (outside is scary), focus on school/education, structured agenda…make the SN fill in the need to hang out with friends which is still there for y.p….

Public and private spaces/spheres
lack of privacy is a common excuse about the Internet… being too public…
But y.p. conceptualize privacy is different : for parents privacy is about control (parents can come in your room anytime they want and this is not a privacy issue) so y.p do care about privacy but they care more about control…so it is a different privacy model (more highly sophisticated) control based vs space-based as it is for parents

Section III
Reworking the public sphere

Some public network technologies’ affordances and constraints

Persistence: things remain online = digital dossier
Dealing and navigating with this is part of knowing technologies today

Replicability: duplications are the power of bits and that is where what was said in and from private environments become suddenly public from MSN reproduced to FB for instance with blurring frontiers

Searchability: everything is searchable online

Scalability: sometimes the scale is not something we want but the network effect creates it

Audience Invisibibility: there are invisible audiences when you communicate on SN not all audiences are visible at one point and you have to take into account this or imagine audiences of ‘friends’…who you think you are speaking to…what can be understood…

Collapsed contexts: SN bring together varied and foreign contexts in many ways without formal scripts to address them

Best counter-example is the one of the wedding: it is a very scripted context compared to SN which don’t have formal scripts to help you behave yet

Norms of groups vary: for ex. what is interpreted as Black power can be different for Black or White people and what happens then in terms of interpretations in such collapsed contexts?
Self-presentations have to deal with the expressions and articulations taking place within such life contexts wand hich then collapse online

Section conclusion: y.p. use technology very differently from the way it was designed, they bring their own set of expectations and become very creative in their IT use

Section IV
Social technologies and learning

Think of classrooms contexts: what you learn mainly are social skills ex how to talk to others and be listened to by them…it is the basis for collaboration
Use of web 2.0 in classrooms is just supporting that very social learning and as adults we tend to forget it even if we have grown up with it, taking it for granted four ourselves

Thinking of web 2.0 technologies forces us to think about the importance of learning to be social
Some very dedicated educators use web 2.0 technologies…leveraging these social technologies to allow for casual interaction opportunities which are not possible in the classroom contexts

Learning how to learn is not simple for y.p. : web 2.0 techno can help with how y.p. work out why they are in the classrooms and what and why they are learning things…teachers can use separate dedicated accounts (not their own private profile) which are very public and which allow to make clear that they are there to engage with students and there is no question of conversations behind closed doors…and it is very important to do so as teachers, educators, parents for y.p. are desperately in need of interactions with adults outside from the formal settings to make sense of what they go through in their learning/developmental/transformative experience

Forget about the myth: Lots of adults use social technologies more natively than young people. The difference is that y.p. play with it, use it, etc. but they don’t think about how they use these technologies…don’t reflect about how they are building a new culture or anything which we do

About all the attention paid to digital natives: yes they use it a lot but they are not using the tools in the perspectives adults are using it…what we can learn from them is their creative use but we can teach them how to think about their uses…as educators we have the knowledge and perspective for offering scaffolding guidance to help them work through the consequences of their uses…and they need it!

We need to offer a different kind of intervention and outreach by being engaged, as parents, as educators, to help them when they can become sometimes socially trapped by the technologies counter-effects and suffer from them (ex social rejection) and they have no one to turn to understand what they are going through, and to help them and protect them.

Information dissemination and collection is definitely changing so observing how y.p. use social technologies can teach us a lot about how to find new useful ways to survive in this informational world

For examples:
– in the professional sphere: What is expected from different environments: Hyper focused in school VS professional multitasking world…Technologies show us the ruptures in both ways and y.p. have to reconcile both
– in the democratic citizenship engagement (y.p. FB immigration contest example in L.A.)
…So engage in and find a way to make it work in your own world! 🙂

Je remercie Sylvain Sénécal et la Chaire de commerce électronique RBC Groupe Financier de me permettre de participer au colloque #genc

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