Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

“Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace” – Danah Boyd American Association for the Advancement of Science – February 19, 2006

Boyd begins her article by explaining what MySpace and justifying it’s importance academically and culturally. After she introduces her audience she moves on to what MySpace actually is, beyond a ridiculously popular website graphically designed by a retarded monkey. She calls it a teen hang out space. MySpace revolves around profiles, other than tweaking your own profile and commenting on other’s profiles there is little to actually do. But what do teens do together outside of MySpace? They “hang out.” I haven’t done much research in this area, but I’m sure Boyd isn’t the first to look at public, private, and controlled spaces and the lack of private spaces for teenagers, but I found this concept fascinating and can definately see how it relates to MySpace.

One of the major draws to interacting in a community online as a teenager is that ages are blurred. A teen can belong to a community of adults as an equal, unless of course he demonstrates his immaturity. But you are not immediately judged based on your age as you are in the physical space. But it’s not the freedom to be an “adult” in an adult community that draws teens to MySpace; it is the freedom to be adults in a teen owned community. Who owns and governs one’s community on MySpace? The users! There are no adults overseeing the interactions, much to the chagrin of many adults, and so teens can learn how to present themselves and interact with each other; jockey for social positioning.

As much as I dislike MySpace, as a web developer I despise it’s design, and as an ex-teenager I despise it’s social culture, but am I really no different? Instead of finding ungoverned community on MySpace I find it on IRC and forums.

citation: boyd, danah. 2006. “Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace.” American Association for the Advancement of Science, St. Louis, MO. February 19.

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