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Digital Natives in the Press

Today’s New York Times features an article about differences in content creation among girls and boys:  Pew reports that girls in the US are bigger bloggers and upload more photos, while boys are bigger vidders.  Why?

Just follow socializing of gender for generations – it’s still the same, just migrated online.  As quoted in the NYT:

“With young women it’s much more about expressing yourself to others in the way that wearing certain clothes to school does,” said John Palfrey, the executive director of the Berkman Center. “It ties into identity expression in the real world.”

Harvard Magazine reports about Urs Gasser and John Palfrey’s upcoming book, Born Digital.  Here, Palfrey highlights the issue of the digital dossier:

Palfrey believes companies should be required to disclose—either in plain English or on an icon resembling a nutritional label—what they do with the information they collect. “What is it that you collect and store about me?” he would ask. “Is it only what I put in, or is it my browsing habits? Do you share [data] with any third parties? How long do you keep all of [it]?”

– Miriam Simun

No Boys Allowed, or, DN in the News

Poking around yesterday, trying to settle on a topic for a blog post, I took a quick break to peruse the New York Times Style section online. Scanning the headlines, one article in particular caught my eye—a piece titled “Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain,” about the prominence of young girls as content creators on the Internet.

So far, so good. Clicking through, I realized I had hit the jackpot. Perfect! This is an issue we often discuss at Digital Natives, since patterns of youth creativity on the Internet are deeply important to the arguments we hope to make about the positive (and negative) potential of youth engagement with online media. The fact that far more young girls than boys write blogs helps us to problematize the idea of a homogenous “digital generation.” If girls feel more at home on blogs, while boys feel more at home on YouTube, then they are already erecting boundaries within the fluid Internet between separate, gendered spheres. Compelling stuff. I kept reading.

As I read further, though, something strange happened. There I was, reading an article in the New York Times, getting ready to write all about it on the Digital Natives blog. And then, the New York Times started writing about Digital Natives.

Turns out, the New York Times interviewed our very own John Palfrey concerning his thoughts on this issue of young girls producing more online content than boys do. He has some fascinating insights, and I think they’re representative of some of the broader trends we’re seeing in the data the Digital Natives team here has collected over the past many months. At any rate: congratulations to the whole team, thank you to the New York Times for this pleasant but somewhat disorienting surprise, and I highly recommend checking the article out for yourself!