Boyd readings

Boyd’s writing was very enlightening to read, I thought. First of all, it was intersting to see the world of social networks broken down and explained in a rational and methodological way. Moreover, the social impacts of this new style of technological interaction, which are indeed present and undeniable in a colloquial sense, need to be explained in a way that is digestible by many people. It was great reading both her blog post on the social strata delinieated by Facebook and MySpace, and it was even more enlightening to read the response that she posted subsequently in which she addressed the critical (and otherwise) reponses that that blog post generated.

Understanding how social networks impact society is a fascinating topic for me, becuase it would be so easy to dismiss social media as a whole, or part by part, as a fad. In spite of the transitory nature of many individual services, it is clear that interaction mediated by social computing can no longer be viewed in that sense (even though it continues to be by some).

It is imperative now for research following Boyd’s methods to be continued, if only to explain or at the very least identify how people are interacting in the new social milieu online. Because it is becoming such an essential part of life for so many (myself included) it requires study if the mandates of sociologists and psychologists and computer scientists (and philosophers and semioticians, not to mention librarians) everywhere are going to be fulfilled.

I have sensed the social boundaries surrounding the division that Boyd highlights between MySpace and Facebook. Though I guess I don’t feel that I would have fit entirely into the category that she places around hegemonic teens (or would have when I was a teenager), the demarcation lines she draws are at most problematic, but at the least revealing or enlightening. Taking her post with the large grain of salt that she offers before the first paragraph, the importance and relevance of her writing can be understood.

For librarians in particular, understanding the modes and venues for teens’ and young adults’ online social lives is required to plan and create effective and safe programming that encourages social behavior, while creating boundaries that can ensure safety and positive outcomes from social networking. Not “getting” what is happening for teens online may lead to a withdrawl from the generally positive nature of social netowrking, and lead to harmful or risky behavior. I believe that it is within the mandate of librarians to ensure unfettered access to information, but it is resonable and should be expected that librarians can at a minimum make known and encourage the benefits of that information that can lead its fulfilling use. Without that, the library is just a building with free internet.


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