Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Talks at IR 9.0 -- Mimi Ito Keynote

Ok, I've had some more sleep and will start commenting on talks I saw. Honestly, I didn't see as many as I would have liked or register them as clearly as I should, because I was exhausted and sick for the whole trip, but I did at least see a few. I'll just mention the high points--otherwise know as the talks I can remember having attended!

In her keynote, Mimi Ito reported on a really large project being carried out at USC to look at youth culture and the internet, and she identified two kinds of participation, and focused on discussing the second. The first kind is not so different from kinds of socializing that have existed for a long time, but the latter is newer, or at least the extent to which it is available to teens is new and is allowed by the Internet.

1. Friendship-driven learning and participation

--hanging out
--overcoming limitations in local social network
--highly motivating to participants -- who are producers of knowledge and social reality
--social life becomes more public and persistently remembered.
--capacity building, jumping off point for...

2. Interest-driven learning and participation (Example, Naruto fans)

--expanding social networks beyond local groups
--unprecedented opportunity to connect with like-minded peers.
--learning new skills
--higher publicity potential

Naruto Fans who produce Anime Music Videos (AMVs) and who engage in Fan-subbing exhibit:

--high degree of collaboration and reciprocity
--mastering esoteric knowledge leads to status
--peer-based ecology of review and critique
--directed outward mainly to other subbers, but also to "leechers"
--become media creators--a moment of recognition and identity creation when they see something produced by another fan
--competing with industry

In general they found fans enjoyed:

  • Diversity of genres of youth participation
  • peer-based learning, participation, and reputation building
  • small scale, local networks and communities
  • accessing broader publics and audiences
  • routing around traditional gatekeepers such as parents and teachers.
The most interesting point (to me) was the extent to which these interest based communities resembled similar communities typical for adults, such as acdemic discipline-- the AoIR being an obvious example of course, except maybe that the line between industry and fan scene is blurrier for adults because many adults are in the industry. Of course there are plenty of adults in hacker groups, demoscene groups, filesharing groups etc. --this last point is mine, not hers though.

It was a nice talk with fun video examples, but I really wish she had done more than just describe the Naruto fan scene.

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