Keynote by danah boyd: IL2008

Keynote: Social Media & Networked Technologies: Research & Insights

by: danah boyd

Web2.0 is part of the hype but a lot of people don’t know what it is

Technology crowd: see it as a shift in technology and deployment “perpetual beta” users affect the cycle of technology creation, reshaping, user-generated content

Business crowd: web2.0 is about hope, came after the technology bubble burst, venture capitalist

Reshaped how everyday users interact with technology and what they use it for

Very topically driven, interest driven

Reshaping of what public spaces online look like, it is now about friends and your community, organized around being social= rise of social network sites

Social Network Sites Characteristics: 

Profile–create identity online, formally making your identity known in a particular context, expresses who you think you are to people in the community, you can recreate yourself online, “decorating” young people’s profile look like bedroom walls in chaos

Friends–have to publicly articulate who your friends are, it is awkward, the term friends mean different things to different people

Patterns of friending: 1. people connect with those close with (20-50 friends) 2. most have a couple hundred of friends 3. people who try to collect with as many people as possible (14year old boys, musicians, politicians) 

MySpace: makes you list best friends in order, so awkward and horrible, tricky to navigate, young people find tricks to deal with this, bands are the safest things to put in your top friends, have social rules

Comments/Wall–majority of content there is not that great–not much information exchanged, social grooming, public performance, keep relationships going 

Facebook: status updates, update what you are doing, peripheral awareness of what is going on, very similar to Twitter (microblogging)


Microblogging–use in many ways, use in businesses, etc. creates peripheral awareness in digital environment, 

Why are people spending so much time on these sites?

Using for social purposes, sharing information, flirting, etc. Very critical for young people–free time to socialize like the digital mall, area to socialize because kids are not allowed outside with decreased mobility of young people, fear, overstructuring of kids’ lives, lack of mobility because no public transit, etc. makes digital social spaces important 

Must have presence on social network sites in order to exist 

Continuum of use–use all the time or post artifacts if you are able to meet with your friends often


Social Network Sites are digital social, public spaces properties:

1. Persistence–what you say sticks around, every ephemeral acts are now persistence, traces are now permanent 

2. Replicability–can copy and paste information, take from one context to another, don’t know the copy versus original, if it has been modified, young people bully each other through this

3. Scalability–average blog is read by 6 people, Internet has scalability issues–potential to reach millions but reality of reaching no one, attention-driven media

4. Searchability–you are not searchable when you are walking around physically, but online you become searchable often by those you don’t want, most deadly by teachers, bosses, etc. how do you become not searchable? change characteristics of profile

Invisible Audiences–audiences are invisible, an unknown online, you don’t have a sense of who is seeing it, you don’t know who will get there eventually, “imagined audience” 

Collapsed Contexts–we are used to distinct contexts defined by space, example weddings are very scripted events, online no walls–can be awkward

Public=Private–convergence, try to have control over space online, now about control, marking who can see things, public is completely out of control

What does this mean?

Radically change through information ecology

Same kind of structures in information technologies being created 

Examples: tagging in, everyone organizes information now in different ways 

Young people contribute to creation of knowledge ex. Wikipedia (most transparent creation of knowledge ever created), and questions of who has voice, authenticity, etc., but we are not teaching people about wikipedia and creation of knowledge, media literacy 

Breakdown of traditional authorship and ownership, ex. mashups, remixes, etc. (fan videos, fan fiction) need to harness this kind of passion 

Traditional ways of information organization and access can be modernized, happening in a broader sense 

This is an attention economy, what comes up is what gets the most attention not what is necessarily best, now we have to deal with it

Need to understand what is going on and how to use it

Lawrence Lessig talking about changes:

Social Norms


Architecture of technologies



Net Neutrality–all bits are created equal, do you have the equal right to look at every page, how do you deal with this? need to figure out a way to protect net neutrality, need it for equal playing field

DRM–all about control of information, (, if information is locked down you can’t consume, produce and play with content, this is about sharing and creating culture, DRM can kill off ability to engage with texts, need to balance original efforts of copyright with rights of consumer

Fair Use–need to figure it out in the media world, have publishers saying you can’t take more than 10 words, fair use is only a defense, form of terror online (note: check out chillingeffects)

Always positive and negatives 

Mobile is going to change everything, web2.0 will come into the mobile world, going to expand, cluster effects are key: can’t talk to each other if on different carriers, need to have same standard to get cluster effects, no standards in mobile space yet

(de)locatability–regardless of where you are in physical world you can bring your friends through the mobile world, also you can take what you are doing in the physical space into the online world ex. GPS uses in mobile phones 

Technology radically reshaping public as we know it, take properties in play and contend with them and how we want to shape information, technology and how people are interacting 

Take Home Message: 

Technology is here to stay, we must determine what we are going to do and how we are going to interact with everyone and educate them.