I think this Q and A with Danah Boyd and Henry Jenkins about the many very subtle and significant aspects of MySpace should be a must read for any of us that are concerned with the general response that schools are taking and the recenty DOPA legislation. If nothing else, it should give us some great talking points for holding a discussion about the site and the dynamics surrounding it. Here are some of the highlights:
“Youth are trying to map out a public youth territory for themselves, removed from adult culture. They are doing so online because their mobility and control over physical space is heavily curtailed and monitored.”
I know this is a difficult argument for some to accept, that we did this out in the real world and our kids are forced to do it in the virtual world because the real one has become so scary. As a parent of two small kids, I struggle with this as well. When my children get old enough to, say, take their bikes and ride off on their own, how comfortable will I be with letting them go alone? Certainly, when I grew up around here, it was the norm to go and find a game or whatever outside. Now..? There is much more in this interview about this.
“In many cases, schools are being forced to respond to real world problems which only came to their attention because this information was so publicly accessible on the web. Schools are uncertain what level of responsibility they should have over what their students do online â€“ some are worried about what they are doing on library computers and others seek to extend their supervision into what teens are doing on their own time and off school grounds. Much of the controversy has come not as a result of anything new that MySpace and the other social software sites contribute to teen culture but simply from the fact that adults can no longer hide their eyes to aspects of youth culture in America that have been there all along.”
This is an interesting point, I think. As parents, are we just now being confronted with behavior that we didn’t really want to deal with before?
“As a society, we are at a moment of transition when the most important social relationships may no longer be restricted to those we conduct face to face with people in our own immediate surroundings but may also include a large number of relationships which are conducted over vast geographic distances.”
You pretty much have to believe this in order to understand MySpace. And this is a tough one for most. It’s so different from what we’ve experienced. But, as with so many other things that change from generation to generation, who is to say that it is necessarily worse from what we are accustomed to?
There is much, much more…