Publics offer youth a space to engage in cultural identity development. By engaging in public life, youth learn to interpret the cultural signals that surround them and incorporate these cultural elements into their life. For a diverse array of reasons, contemporary youth have limited access to the types of publics with which most adults grew up. As a substitute for these inaccessible publics, networked publics like MySpace and Facebook are emerging to provide contemporary American youth with a necessary site for peer engagement. While networked publics provide space for various critical forms of sociality, the architecture of the sites that support networked publics is fundamentally different than the physical architecture that we take for granted in unmediated life. Persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences are all properties that today’s youth must face in their public expressions. Because of these properties, youth are being socialized into a public life that is quite different from what their parents experienced. In this talk, dana addressed what youth are doing on social network sites and why it matters.
danah boyd is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Communications.