Networked social media provide infrastructure that allows information to flow far and wide. Politicians, celebrities, and corporations are jumping in with the hopes that they can get their message out. Sometimes messages do get widespread attention, but people complain that these are the “wrong” messages – the inaccurate, the humiliating, the saccharine. Understanding how information flows through networked technologies requires moving away from the potential of the infrastructure and focusing on the logic of the network itself. What are people’s incentives for spreading information? How and why do they distribute content? What social and structural barriers exist that configure how information is disseminated? And how can we understand the flows of content in the context of everyday practices?
Danah Boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She recently completed her PhD in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley.
Dr. Boyd’s dissertation “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics” focused on how American youth use networked publics for sociable purposes. She examined the role that social network sites like MySpace and Facebook play in everyday teen interactions and social relations. She was interested in how mediated environments alter the structural conditions in which teens operate, forcing them to manage complex dynamics like interacting before invisible audiences, managing context collisions, and negotiating the convergence of public and private life. This work was funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of a broader grant on digital youth and informal learning.
At the Berkman Center, Danah co-directed the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to work with companies and non-profits to identify potential technical solutions for keeping children safe online. This Task Force was formed by the U.S. Attorneys General and MySpace and is being organized by the Berkman Center.
Dr. Boyd received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University and a master’s degree in sociable media from MIT Media Lab. She has worked as an ethnographer and social media researcher for various corporations, including Intel, Tribe.net, Google, and Yahoo! She also created and managed a large online community for V-Day, a non-profit organization working to end violence against women and girls worldwide. She has advised numerous other companies, sits on corporate, education, and non-profit advisory boards, and regularly speaks at industry conferences and events.
Danah maintains a blog on social media called Apophenia.
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