Friday, April 18, 2014

danah boyd, Randall Munro, and netizens.

danah boyd, author of 'It's Complicated' just gave a tech talk at Google. Her book has been in the news a lot lately, so I'll skip the details (although Facebook ought to be at least slightly worried).

But what I enjoyed the most about her talk was the feeling that I was listening to a true netizen: someone who lives and breathes on the internet, understands (and has helped build) modern technology extremely well (she is a computer scientist as well as an ethnographer), and is able to deliver a subtle and nuanced perspective on the role and use of technology amidst all the technobabble (I'm looking at you, BIG data) that inundates us.

And she delivers a message that's original and "nontrivial". Both about how teens use and interact with social media, and about how we as a society process technological trends and put them in context of our lives. Her discussion of context collapse was enlightening: apart from explaining why weddings are such fraught experiences (better with alcohol!) it helped me understand incidences of cognitive frisson in my own interactions.

What she shares with Randall Munro in my mind is the ability to speak unselfconsciously and natively in a way that rings true for those of us who inhabit the world of tech, and yet articulate things that we might have felt, but are unable to put into words ourselves. Of course they're wildly different in so many other ways, but in this respect they are like ambassadors of the new world we live in.

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