Who is danah boyd?

At the MCDM Town Hall this past Sunday, we were brainstorming possible professors/guest lecturers in small groups. I suggested danah boyd, and one of my group members said, “Who’s danah boyd?” And then I realized that I really didn’t know very much about her. I do know that she is a thought leader in the field of digital  media, that she has done research about youth and social media, and that she has serious concerns about privacy online and has been an outspoken critic of Facebook. This past November, she made headlines when she was nastily critiqued on a visible Twitter feed behind her while she gave a talk at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Why is it important for students of digital media to know who danah boyd is? She has been blogging about technology and the Internet since 1997 and became known for her writing about Friendster and social media in 2003.

She is a respected academic who has done extensive research about digital media, notably teens’ use of social media and how it affects their perceptions and behaviors about what is public and private.

She is also a social media researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown and a master’s in sociable media from the MIT Media Lab, and boyd recently completed her doctoral dissertation in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Washington Post called boyd “the high priestess of social networking.”

Read the “best of” danah boyd’s blog posts  at http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/bestof.html.

Thinking about danah boyd made me consider whether there is a canon for digital media, and if so, who is in that canon? Lawrence Lessig, Ethan Zuckerman, Yochai Benkler, Clay Shirky, Charlene Li, Rick Levine?  Who is missing? Is it important to have a canon at all?


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