Youth Culture

The Spread of Innovation

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Tens of thousands from across the U.S. and around the world will settle in Austin this week to join in the big festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW). For two weeks, it’s a chance to see what is happening in the worlds of interactive, film, and music. By the time SXSW is over, 1,800 bands will have performed, 250 films will have screened, more than 4,000 talks will have taken place, and hundreds of events will have happened.  SXSW Interactive is a big playground and a place where new ideas are tested with one of the world’s


Revolution: Thank You, Brother Mike

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It was more than 10 years ago that I first met Brother Mike, before the launch of our Digital Media and Learning initiative and before the birth of the Digital Youth Network program. The work was in its infancy. We were just developing the initiative and had given out three grants. One to Henry Jenkins, to explore and conceptualize new media literacy. One to Mimi Ito and the late Peter Lyman, to launch the largest ethnographic study of how young people participate with digital media. And, the third to Nichole Pinkard to begin an after-school program on the


Digital-Age Civics: Media Makes a Difference

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If you caught Joe Kahne’s recent post, you’ll know something about a concept that’s also central to my latest mini-book. As a member of the MacArthur Foundation-backed research network Joe chairs, I’m also exploring the notion of “participatory politics” as a useful way to understand young people’s engagement with digital-age civics. I got interested in this topic both as a media maker who collaborates with teens at Youth Radio, a Peabody Award-winning youth-driven production in Oakland that serves as NPR’s youth desk, and as a researcher who’s spent the last few years exploring the digital afterlife


Thoughts on Pew’s Latest Report on Teens: Notable Findings on Race and Privacy

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Yesterday, Pew Internet and American Life Project (in collaboration with Berkman) unveiled a brilliant report about “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.” As a researcher who’s been in the trenches on these topics for a long time now, none of their finding surprised me but it still gives me absolute delight when our data is so beautifully in synch. I want to quickly discuss two important issues this report raises. Race is a factor in explaining differences in teen social media use. Pew provides important measures on shifts in social media, including the continued saturation of Facebook, the decline


Pop Culture Criticism as 21st Century Skill

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As part of the Digital Youth Network’s (DYN) 2011-2012 professional development, we have set out to explore how critical media literacy can help Chicago middle school students become responsible and savvy digital producers. Through hours of discussion and self-reflection, we have decided that the challenge to integrate critical theory into our tech-heavy digital production curriculum is no easy task. In what ways can we make critical media literacy relevant to our students’ desires to produce media that imitates the same mainstream content we want them to deconstruct? While teaching a DYN afterschool video production class at


Exploration: Digital Media and Social Inequality

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Christo Sims is a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Information and a graduate researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network’s Leveling Up project. The project team is investigating the learning dynamics of interest-driven online groups that support academically relevant knowledge-seeking and expertise development. Sims, whose research interests include youth culture, digital media practices, and social inequalities, developed an on-the-ground research methodology while working on the Digital Youth Project. A t hree-year ethnographic research project, Digital Youth brought together a cohort of researchers who jointly worked to understand how digital media and technology are meaningful


Very Worthy Reads

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In a new report from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality,” the authors set out to “map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities.” Their key findings: 1. Search shapes the quality of information that youth experience online.2. Youth use cues and heuristics


Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture

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Last year, Rio de Janeiro saw the birth of a new type of battle in the streets of the favelas: the “Small Step Battle.” In this battle, hundreds of kids and teenagers from the poor parts of Rio are fighting with a major weapon: dance steps. Everyday, kids are posting videos of themselves performing creative and often very difficult ‘funk’ dance steps on YouTube. These videos are now a fever: some have millions of viewers. The battle is on and these kids are challenging others to create better (and often, even more difficult steps) to dance


Digital Futures: Internet Freedom and Millennials

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Last year was a turbulent year for freedom of speech and online expression in India. Early in 2011 we saw the introduction of an Intermediaries Liability amendment to the existing Information Technologies Law in the country, which allowed intermediaries like internet service providers (ISPs), digital content platforms (like Facebook and Twitter) and other actors managing online content, to remove material that is deemed objectionable without routing it through a court of law. Effectively, this was an attempt at crowdsourcing censorship, where at the whim or fancy of any person who flags information as offensive, it could


When Traditional Policy Goes Bad: Teen Social Use of Mobile Devices in High Schools

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As I’ve been lately analyzing my data set related to in-school use of mobile devices at an urban school in South Central Los Angeles, I’ve been intrigued by some of the general tensions that exist in mobile media use in schools and the way teens tend to utilize mobile devices in ways that oppose traditional school power structures. Though the initial findings I will share in this post come from one research site over the course of a year, the social practices, based on my ongoing conversations with both high school youth and teachers, mirror the