Young people and the net net

Harold Jarche (again) points out someone’s pertinent observations. In this case, the someone is Danah Boyd, and her observations appear on The Knowledge Tree, an “e-journal of learning innovation” published in Australia.

Boyd emphasizes several characteristics of social networks that differ from ways that young people have interacted in the past:

  • Persistence (what you say or show can hang around for a long time)
  • Searchability (people can find information about you more easily than ever)
  • Replicability (and its troubling cousin, modifiability — what you say in one place can appear in another, as can what you appear to have said but didn’t)
  • Invisible audience (you’re not just talking to the people you think you’re talking to)

Boyd says at one point that the issue goes beyond the obvious (and, I think, sometimes sensationalized) one of internet safety.

It is about setting norms and considering how different actions will be interpreted. It’s important to approach this conversation with an open mind and without condescension because, often, there are no right or wrong answers.

She encourages educators to open themselves to interacting with students — for example, by having a profile on social sites popular at their schools. “Keep your profile public and responsible, but not lame.” (That windbag Polonius was right: to thine own self be true. The students already know pretty much how you are, anyway. )

Don’t go surfing for your students, she suggests; if they invite you to be a Friend, though, accept. Join the conversation — appropriately. “Social network sites are not classrooms and they should not be treated as such…”

In other words, it’s not the social network your mother (or grandmother) knew.

Linking in, circa 1950

(Image made by KaCey97007; shown here under a Creative Commons attribution license.)

2 thoughts on “Young people and the net net

  1. I loved the photo, too, Harold. And after reading your comment, I went back to Flickr and looked closely at the large-size original (which the photographer apparently scanned from a calendar). The backs of the chairs don’t look very ergonomic, but the seats swivel to change the height, and the rung near the bottom allows each operator to rest her feet. (I also like the drinking-horn microphone the supervisor is wearing; in the large photo, you can see several of the operators using them as well.)

    This morning the photo seems to me like an X-ray of connectivity. By 1950 phones were like the atmosphere: pervasive, unnoticed. Everybody had one, everybody expected to find one when needed, local calls were inexpensive enough that you didn’t think at all about the cost. Here we’re looking behind the curtain; what’s integrating the circuits is human effort.

    The caption reads “Toll Room operators at work, 1950s,” so these operators work on toll calls — costs you did think about. The world was being knit together, stitch by stitch, and this is one glimpse of the needles in action.

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