SXSW notes: Danah Boyd Current TV interview

I’d spotted Ms Boyd whilst flitting about the various night-time happenings in the city of Austin over my five-day sojourn at SXSW Interactive 2006…

It was equally by chance that I caught her interview at the Current TV booth while wandering around the busy expo hall on the last day of the conference, Tues 14th March.

Posing the questions was Daniel Terdiman, affable to a tee, though Danah hardly needed much prompting. Currently a PhD candidate at the School of Information (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley and a Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Communications, Danah also blogs at Zephoria and posts lots of longer, insightful essays and copies of her conference talks at – a must-read for social media investigators 😉

MySpace and the history of moral panics

Asked about MySpace, Danah explained that it started 3 years ago and now [March 2006 that is] has 58 million users. Parents are afraid to even go there with the messy pages and bouncing animated graphics. Half of the users are “youth” ie. 12-24 years old.

The panic now about kids on MySpace, she observed, is like the Victorian panic about girls reading books, and the panic about sewing machines which feared what would happen to their minds and morality if girls spent all day rubbing their legs together.

From her extensive interviews, she said, teens *know* when they get messages from predators – and they just delete them.

Digital social networks – the new public space?

Teens have always used public spaces to express and assert their identity, Danah explained. In the eighties they had malls and parks etcetera, but now teens are becoming restricted from or tightly controlled in these spaces.

Now MySpace is their space and it seems natural to hang out and see what’s happening with their friends. They’re connecting to everyone and anyone because it’s the contemporary way to be seen and see others. They’re patently *not* becoming friends with all these people. They have a culture that makes sense to them so let them take what they want from it, she argued.

Culturejamming and the total SXSW experience

Danah explained that 2006 was her third year at SXSW, and she said there was a similarity and affinity between SXSW and the Burning Man Festival. The context is what brings people together and what they’re all passionate about, but the social side is equally important.

Culturejamming was the attraction for her to events. Flashmobs were her favourites: SMS driven gatherings, costume flashmobs, pillow fights in San Francisco. They disrupt our culture and have a positive energy, she enthused.

In closing Daniel invited Danah to sign-off after inhaling some helium, which she duly partook of and made her high-pitched farewells.

[Oddly, I can’t find the interview via search on the Current TV site itself, but I found another TV interview she did on O’Reilly Factor that’s been YouTubed…]

All SXSW Interactive 2006 panels:

My other SXSW Interactive 2006 session write ups:

What’s In A Title?

Beyond Folksonomies – Knitting Tag Clouds For Grandma

Book Digitisation & The Revenge Of The Librarians

James Surowiecki on The Wisdom Of Crowds

Running Your New Media Business

The Perfect Pitch

What People Are Really Doing On The Web

Commons Based Business Models

Want more? Check out the SXSW 2007 website…


2 responses to “SXSW notes: Danah Boyd Current TV interview

  1. V interesting…thanks for this

  2. So you as well as I really have no idea of which direction we go next, do we?



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