Thursday, 20 November 2008

Ethnographic study into new media use amongst the young

I noticed a tweet by Howard Rheingold today which alerted me to a new study published by the MacArthur Foundation entitled 'Living and Learning with New Media'. The study was headed up by the cultural anthropologist Mizuku Ito, with a number of contributions from Heather Horst
Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, and more (28 in total!). boyd has a variant of her contribution hosted here entitled 'Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life'

The larger project was started back in 2005 with the goal being to gain an understanding of
youth new media practices in the U.S. by engaging in ethnographic research across a diverse range of youth populations, sites, and activities
The study looks at the different media ecologies young people negotiate with on an everyday basis, taking in themes such as intimacy, friendship online, families, gaming and more. It promises to be quite interesting and initial press response has been quite positive in claiming the report should placate worried parents obsessing over the amount of time kids seem to spend using technologies and going online.

The project will culminate in a book to be published by MIT Press (entitled Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media) later in the year, but for now there is plenty material to get to grips with.

A short two page summary of the findings can be located here

A 58 page summary white paper can be accessed here

The final report can be found here (handily divided into quick access subsections)

The MacArthur Foundation's press release material can be found here with some video interviews with Ito. I've embedded one below:

This clip below is from June 2007 when the project was in its second year:

The study aims to look at how teenagers are using technology from the perspective of the participants rather than some distanced, academic viewpoint. Any of my students on MAC201 wondering what kind of case studies they should be thinking about for assessment 2, then look no further.

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