Digital Youth ProjectNovember 21, 2008
Today, I recieved an interesting mail on the mediaanthro list announcing the public release of the findings from the to date most extensive US (three year 2005-2008) ethnographic study (of mostly youth between the ages of 12 and 18/19 – depending on where you read) of new media in kids’ everyday lives. The “Digital Youth Project” has among other published some of its findings in a summary report. Furthermore, it is possible to take a glimse at the forthcoming book “Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) at the project’s website.
The authors of the forthcoming book write: “The goal of this project and this book has been to document the everyday lives of youth as they engage with new media and to put forth a paradigm for understanding learning and participation in contemporary networked publics. Our primary descriptive question has been: How are new media being taken up by youth practices and agendas? We have organized our shared analysis across our different case studies according to categories of practice that correspond to youth experience: media ecologies, friendship, intimacy, family, gaming, creative production, and work. In this way, we have mapped an ecology of different youth practices as well as mapping the broader social and cultural ecologies that contexualize these practices. As we take into account these larger structuring contexts, we have remained attentive to the dynamics of youth culture and sociability, seeking to understand new media practices from a youth point of view. We have described the diversity in forms of youth new media practice in terms of genres of participation rather than categorizing youth based on individual characteristics. In this way, we have articulated the relationship between broader social and cultural structures and everyday youth activity in ways that take into account the changing and situationally specific nature of youth engagement with specific practices. Although we see our work as essentially exploratory, as among the first steps toward mapping the terrain of youth new media practice, we have tried to identify some initial landmarks and boundaries that define this area of ethnographic inquiry.
Following from our descriptive focus, we had a central analytic question: How do these practices change the dynamics of youth-adult negotiations over literacy, learning, and authoritative knowledge?” (Source: Final Report: Conclusion).
At present, this can in many ways be considered a seminal research project. Both the draft of the book as well as the project website appears worth while taking a thorough look at ;-). I’m certainly going to do that, and I hereby invite others to do the same and engage in discussions on this blog of the Digital Research Project and its results.
Some questions that come to my mind:
On what ‘grounds’ have the research been conducted?
What (if any) are the contributions from this research which we as (Danish) researchers may take with us and learn from?
In which ways may the Danish (media) ecologies of everyday livings be viewed as similar to as well as different from the US (media) ecologies of everyday livings – as presented by the Digital Youth Project researchers?
What may be the contributions of this research to the further development of our understandings of the ways in which ‘new media’ can take part in youth’s learning practices?
What may be the contributions of this research to the further development of our understandings of the ways in which ‘new media’ can take part in educational designs and practices?