Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Helping to Understand Social Networking: Danah Boyd

As more and more we are seeing social networking for the huge phenomenon that it is, and as educators are beginning to see the value of social networking in education (for both student and teachers--especially professional development), it is worth getting to know Danah Boyd. Danah is a PhD candidate at the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California - Berkeley and a Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Communications. From her website:
"My research focuses on how people negotiate a presentation of self to unknown audiences in mediated contexts. In particular, my dissertation is looking at how youth engage with networked publics like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube. I am interested in how the architectural differences between unmediated and mediated publics affect sociality, identity and culture. My dissertation research is being funded as a part of the MacArthur Foundation's Initiative on New Media and Learning"
Danah helps to pull the covers back a little on the what is going on between people at social networking sites. She's fascinating to listen to, and while she studies youth and their involvement with these tools, many of the same dynamics take place in adult use of social networking (after lots of discussion about the "friend" features of social networking that we've had in Classroom 2.0, I have been particularly interested in Danah's discussions about "friends").

Danah blogs at: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/
Danah's website: http://www.danah.org/ (has background info, papers, etc.)
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danah_Boyd

Some media:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nfyw2KYHWw (Bill O'Reilly interview--Danah being very patient, I think)

I'd love to get Danah on for an interview, but she's been far too busy. No surprise! She's expressed concerns that educators need to understand what's taking place on social networks, and I agree. I think the positive opportunities to use customizable social neworks (like Ning) are two-fold: both to build learning management systems for classes and teacher professional development communities. Be sure to check out Classroom 2.0 (built on Ning) if you haven't already.

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