Digital Youth Research
For the past three years, University of California-Irvine has carried out the Digital Youth Research project to uncover the changes brought on by technology. Always-on, internetworked devices are ubiquitous, far more so than even ten years ago. What’s happening to youth who grow up so enmeshed? “The research shows that today’s youth may be coming of age and struggling for autonomy and identity amid new worlds for communication, friendship, play, and self-expression.”
From the two-page summary:
Some youth “geek out” and dive into a topic or talent. Contrary to popular images, geeking out is highly social and engaged, although usually not driven primarily by local friendships. Youth turn instead to specialized knowledge groups of both teens and adults from around the country or world, with the goal of improving their craft and gaining reputation among expert peers. While adults participate, they are not automatically the resident experts by virtue of their age. Geeking out in many respects erases the traditional markers of status and authority.
This paragraph is a neat summary of ESR’s Portrait of J. Random Hacker. Could it be that the Internet is making mainstream the characteristics geeks and hackers have shared for decades? Or is popular culture catching up to forerunning hackers?
Thus far I’ve only read the two-page summary but am seriously intrigued to read it all. The idea of geeking erasing “traditional markers of status and authority” is especially fascinating and well-rooted in the Biblical tradition:
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ 7But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’
9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’ (Jeremiah 1:6-10)
Here’s more, from the project site: