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Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics

From: Karl Dubost <karl+w3c@la-grange.net>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 13:38:21 -0500
Message-Id: <A7BAE450-C97F-4D7A-A832-CABB5E7AB1D2@la-grange.net>
To: public-social-web-talk@w3.org


We discussed about Danah Boyd at a point. She has posted her doctoral  
dissertation online.

“Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics”

Abstract: As social network sites like MySpace and Facebook emerged,  
American teenagers began adopting them as spaces to mark identity and  
socialize with peers. Teens leveraged these sites for a wide array of  
everyday social practices - gossiping, flirting, joking around,  
sharing information, and simply hanging out. While social network  
sites were predominantly used by teens as a peer-based social outlet,  
the unchartered nature of these sites generated fear among adults.  
This dissertation documents my 2.5-year ethnographic study of American  
teens’ engagement with social network sites and the ways in which  
their participation supported and complicated three practices - self- 
presentation, peer sociality, and negotiating adult society.

My analysis centers on how social network sites can be understood as  
networked publics which are simultaneously (1) the space constructed  
through networked technologies and (2) the imagined community that  
emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and  
practice. Networked publics support many of the same practices as  
unmediated publics, but their structural differences often inflect  
practices in unique ways. Four properties - persistence,  
searchability, replicability, and scalability - and three dynamics -  
invisible audiences, collapsed contexts, and the blurring of public  
and private - are examined and woven throughout the discussion.

While teenagers primarily leverage social network sites to engage in  
common practices, the properties of these sites configured their  
practices and teens were forced to contend with the resultant  
dynamics. Often, in doing so, they reworked the technology for their  
purposes. As teenagers learned to navigate social network sites, they  
developed potent strategies for managing the complexities of and  
social awkwardness incurred by these sites. Their strategies reveal  
how new forms of social media are incorporated into everyday life,  
complicating some practices and reinforcing others. New technologies  
reshape public life, but teens’ engagement also reconfigures the  
technology itself.

Received on Monday, 19 January 2009 18:38:32 UTC

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