Sunday, September 07, 2014

It’s Complicated by danah boyd

I have wanted to write a review of It’s Complicated by danah boyd since it was published about 6 months ago.  Now I have some added incentive because she will be speaking in Chicago on Sept. 22nd.  Having previously heard boyd speak locally, I would encourage parents and educators to attend. That evening, boyd will be joining former physics teacher Sam Dyson in a panel on “Re-imaging School: opportunity, safety, and privacy in the social lives of networked teens” at the Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater from 6:30 to 8:00pm. Register here for the program sponsored by Golden Apple, National Louis University and the MacArthur Foundation.

Even though it is a fairly scholarly work – based on qualitative research and interviews with 166 teens and with almost 50 pages of notes and bibliography -- It’s Complicated should be explored by both parents and educators.  Boyd describes her objective as follows: “I hope to help the public better understand what young people are doing when they engage with social media.” She is certainly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.  boyd discusses multiple aspects of online behavior including privacy, addiction, bullying, inequitable access and literacy. She effectively uses numerous examples and quotes from teens to provide context and to support her argument.

For example, boyd quotes Northwestern Professor Eszter Hargittai whose own recent (March, 2014) research concludes: “Findings suggest that simply having grown up with digital media does not result in either universal know-how about the Internet nor universal online engagement suggesting that interventions are important to make sure that people from all backgrounds have the necessary skills to take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer.” As librarians, we are constantly debating this issue as we explore and refine lessons on information literacy.

If you cannot attend Re-imaging School on September 22nd, grab a copy (downloads available) of It’s Complicated and/or listen to boyd discuss the book in the video below:

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