As the parent of a Brown University alum, I occasionally check the Brown Daily Herald, the engaging student newspaper that kept me connected during years when my child did not necessarily let me know what was happening. By reading the student newspaper I could find out who was speaking at the university, why certain important issues concerned Brown students, and what significant faculty research projects interested me. More importantly during that time, an amazing woman, academic superstar Ruth Simmons, Ph.D., assumed the presidency of the university, and from that moment on, there was never a dull moment, at least from my perspective, anywhere at Brown or in the Daily Herald.
This week I read with some interest a Brown Daily Herald article about the visit of dana boyd (yes, she spells her name with no caps), a Brown alum (’00) who has established a reputation as an astute observer of the social networking culture and the issues that arise from so many of us using one or another of these virtual communication tools. Her research has focused especially on teens and social networking.
The most interesting boyd quotes in the newspaper article? Social media “…goes beyond what technology was designed for,” and social media such as Wikipedia provide “the perfect opportunity to learn about media literacy” because they openly demonstrate how information accumulates while at the same time requiring debate on the quality of that information.
If you are a parent who looks with wonder and some chagrin on the digital lives of children, boyd’s writing is thoughtful but pointed, as are her lectures. One of the best lectures I have heard on social networking, delivered by boyd to students at Olin College, provides a glimpse into the always-changing digital world. All of her published work offers a window for parents and educators to peer through and gain perspective about virtual life changes. Boyd has interviewed thousands of digital natives about their virtual lives, so her perspective is unusually reliable.
Other dana boyd Resources
- Berkman Center – one of the places where boyd works
- Taken Out of Context, American Teen Sociability in Networked Publics – boyd’s dissertation at UC Berkeley
- The High Priestess of Internet Friendship – Financial Times article about boyd
- Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, essays about growing up as a digital child – MacArthur Foundation Series; boyd is one of the authors
- Lecture given by dana boyd at Olin College in 2009, discussing her dissertation research, and a great way to get a grounding on the social networking culture