A few weeks ago at the CASE Summit in New York I was lucky enough to hear danah boyd present on connected culture and understanding the social media practices of young adults. I’ve read many of her blog posts over the years and have always appreciated her perspective, that said this was my first time listening to her in person.


I thought she did a nice job framing the Zynga phenomena.  I must confess, despite having no problem with the ‘noise’ on twitter, social networked games (like Farmville and Foursquare) just don’t interest me. Danah framed this new type of interaction as a form of “social grooming”. Essentially we’ve evolved beyond writing “yo” and “yo yo” on each others walls and these games are defining a new lowest common denominator for social interaction online.

In many ways this is no different then what kids (and adults) have always done privately, it’s just happening in a more public place. Site’s like Facebook are a new form of public space. Are we ready for private conversation in a public place ?


Another concept she discussed was what it means to give up power and be vulnerable online. She referred to social media as a “delicate place, a dance where you have to acknowledge each other”. Schools are lucky because most of their alumni love them .. the negativity schools are likely to face online is going to pale in comparison to what a company like United will face. Which is a a good thing, but you still have to be willing to answer questions and deal with people who aren’t exactly happy with what’s going on. She suggests that you look at the visibility of this and this is an opportunity to make a change: “leverage what you can see and figure out how to be adjust rather then just blaming the medium”.


Here are a few other takeaways:

  • Don’t go there and just expect to observe
  • Show respect and posses honesty
  • Use twitter to respond to negative things – It’s ok to be vulnerable
  • See social media as an opportunity
  • Photo credits:

flickr.com/brianscott/ (monkeys)
flickr.com/travis_warren123 (danah)

Travis Warren

Travis Warren

Founder and President at Whipplehill