danah boyd

danah boyd

[ny, ny]

danah has been a huge influence.. see below.

her book, it’s complicated, comes out feb 25, 2014:

it's complicated

book links to amazon

book site:

it's complicated site

[note: available on site linked above – free pdf download]



it's complicated highlights and notes

By and large, the kids are all right. But they want to be understood.


notes/resources on it’s complicated via hastac:





danah on tour:

question/answer at 20 min – huge.. danah – i’m more worried about the ones that are not privileged being misunderstood than those privileged – not getting in… ness. [story of uni asking danah why kid would lie to them about not being in gangs… when his online presence showed otherwise.. her response – what makes you think he’s lying to you.. it’s survival…]

the danger of just one story ness..

31 min – question on “fixing” inequality – danah – tech/online is exposing what we have created offline… don’t think tech is our first effort at fixing… we have done stranger danger to our kids offline.. and that mindset can be seen differently online.. so tech will be helpful.. but need to address underlying – already in existence – issues.. ie: kids online represent existing politics..(paraphrasing all this)

35 min – question on inability to focus w/tech.. danah – talking about our set up of compulsory ed.. is focusing on one task actually in our best interest..? our best skill? – is it ideal? it depends on what we value.. and.. on being able to focus.. it’s almost like adults are far worse at this than teenagers..

38 min – spot on – on timeliness/sleep… we blame kids for getting online late on night – rather than questioning our practice of sending kids to school at an ungodly hour (ie: after 15 hrs of doing the right thing at school at all.. they crave down time online – connecting with friends)

***40 min – talks about her experience where she was told to go find data that fits our beliefs…

47 min – snapchat – you pay attention because you know it’s going to disappear

48 min – the idea of everyone moving to one service (whatsapp/facebook) – really questionable..

50 min – question – a lot has changed in tech – but nothing has really changed in human behavior – danah – how important human contact is… we have focused so heavily on structuring.. that we miss learning… and learning is embedded in connections.. learning to relate to others, have empathy is hard..  how do we as a society create the environment for youth to encounter all kinds of interactions.. the need to allow exploration.. i don’t think tech can drive this.. if we want them to be engaged…responsible/giving/caring… we need to invite them into the public world long before they run off to college

what about tech grounding the chaos for the being in the public world – via daily curiosity – rather than in school…


danah’s new research institute 2014:

data & society
– – –

new white house


In under six weeks, our amazing team produced six guiding documents and crafted a phenomenal event called The Social, Cultural & Ethical Dimensions of “Big Data.” On our conference page, you can find an event summary, videos of the sessions, copies of the workshop primers and discussion notes, a zip file of important references, and documents that list participants, the schedule, and production team. 

Navigating the messiness of “big data” requires going beyond common frames of public vs. private, collection vs. usage. 


danah at sxsw 2014:

danah at sxsw

..this is why I struggle with these tools; they mirror and magnify the good, bad, and ugly. We use this visibility to panic rather than using it to figure out new ways of helping young people.


let kids run wild


Peter Gray reviews it’s complicated:

gray on boyd


nov 2014 on net neutrality et al:



her sites:  danah.org and  apophenia via zephoria   and wikipedia

just meeting up with these people via plenary panel of dmlconference 2013.

dml 2013


Plenary Session #1: “Remixing Citizenship, Remaking Democracy” w/ Craig Watkinsdanah boydAstrid SilvaBiko BakerCathy Cohen

connected learning

dml ness

macarthur foundation


research from 2009:



danah is amazing.. if you want to find/follow someone seeking truth/authenticity.

perhaps start here:


or here:

danah siste


i write about her influence on us here. she (and macarthurs work in general) have been a huge inspiration.. the idea to go where people are living/learning.. rather than fix/study them in assigned/designated spaces.

way back when i started gathering info on web use here – but my first impression was with danah boyd’s work.

danah boyd says that because of dateline – predators are now in more danger online than youth


danan kids on fb

One of the most crucial aspects of coming of age is learning how to navigate public life. The teenage years are precisely when people transition from being a child to being an adult. There is no magic serum that teens can drink on their 18th birthday to immediately mature and understand the world around them. Instead, adolescents must be exposed to — and allowed to participate in — public life while surrounded by adults who can help them navigate complex situations with grace. They must learn to be a part of society, and to do so, they must be allowed to participate.
and too… what if public Ed created and is perpetuating the teen/adolescent yrs thinking.. the thinking hat created the 13-17 yr olds ban in the first place..?

listening (or not) with an agenda.. that’s more attuned with punishment than protection

our deep concern for protection – gets lost in the next shiny thing, we see shiny as a potential for salvation


selling out is meaningless

[Kitra – need of youth to remove themselves from all things… that essentially feel fake]


eyes on street

The media coverage focuses on how the posts that they are monitoring are public, suggesting that this excuses their actions because “no privacy is violated.” We should all know by now that this is a terrible justification. Just because teens’ content is publicly accessible does not mean that it is intended for universal audiences nor does it mean that the onlooker understands what they see. (Alice Marwick and I discuss youth privacy dynamics in detail in Social Privacy in Networked Publics”.) But I want to caution against jumping to the opposite conclusion because these cases aren’t as simple as they might seem.
What became clear in this incident – and many others that I tracked – is that there are plenty of youth crying out for help online on a daily basis. Youth who could really benefit from the fact that their material is visible and someone is paying attention
Urban theorist Jane Jacobs used to argue that the safest societies are those where there are “eyes on the street.” What she meant by this was that healthy communities looked out for each other, were attentive to when others were hurting, and were generally present when things went haywire. How do we create eyes on the digital street
jane and this guy http://on.ted.com/Downey and colin et al.. no?
How do we do so in a way that’s not creepy?  When is proactive monitoring valuable for making a difference in teens’ lives?  How do we make sure that these same tools aren’t abused for more malicious purposes?
how..? – city as school
when the only agenda is to listen… not to judge/decide appropriateness ..
of course.. would be best if every person met f to f with a small group 7ish..
that’s not happening right now.. but that’s our fault… not youths’
let’s not close down the only doors/windows we ve left open.
or even re enter and allow them.. if we are going in with an inhumane agenda…
if we have enough money resources interest … to surveill… we certainly have enough to actually listen
What matters is who is doing the looking and for what purposes. When the looking is done by police, the frame is punitive. But when the looking is done by caring, concerned, compassionate people – even authority figures like social workers – the outcome can be quite different. However well-intended, law enforcement’s role is to uphold the law and people perceive their presence as oppressive even when they’re trying to help. And, sadly, when law enforcement is involved, it’s all too likely that someone will find something wrong. And then we end up with the kinds of surveillance that punishes.
yeah. that.
If there’s infrastructure put into place for people to look out for youth who are in deep trouble, I’m all for it. But the intention behind the looking matters the most. When you’re looking for kids who are in trouble in order to help them, you look for cries for help that are public. If you’re looking to punish, you’ll misinterpret content, take what’s intended to be private and publicly punish, and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.

and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.

and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.
and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.
see war on kids.. soling.. for the old/ongoing way….
The very practice of privacy is all about control in a world in which we fully know that we never have control.
The very practice of privacy is all about control in a world in which we fully know that we never have control. Our friends might betray us, our spaces might be surveilled, our expectations might be shattered. But this is why achieving privacy is desirable. People want to be *in* public, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to *be* public. There’s a huge difference between the two. As a result of the destabilization of social spaces, what’s shocking is how frequently teens have shifted from trying to restrict access to content to trying to restrict access to meaning. They get, at a gut level, that they can’t have control over who sees what’s said, but they hope to instead have control over how that information is interpreted.
he was enamored with how people worked and we argued over the need for rigor, the need for formal training..
The whole point of a functioning democracy is to always question the uses and abuses of power in order to prevent tyranny from emerging.
it hasn’t been about justice or national security. It’s been about power
..not much is gained from reifying the us vs. them game that got us here. There has to be another way.
– – – –
..the internet has been my saving grace.
Today, I don’t have that luxury. My internet is painfully public.
..we haven’t enabled safe spaces to grow.
spaces.. from all of us having the luxury of something else to do..
But I genuinely don’t know what it means to construct safe space for geeks in this configuration of the internet. I’m at a loss. This is why I think it needs innovation. And by innovation I mean more than a repurposing of existing technical blocks.
..it became a performance, not a community. Hell, I barely keep tabs on what some of my favorite people write about because all of the tools for managing the dynamic broke when it became big. And my blogging practice changed a lot as a result. For better and for worse. So I’m not sure that it is a conversation anymore, as much as a performance that serves as an opening for a conversation in some instances.
jan 2015:
I’m not saying he’s wrong; I’m saying his story is incomplete and the incompleteness is important.
There’s a reason why researchers and organizations like Pew Research are doing the work that they do — they do so to make sure that we don’t forget about the populations that aren’t already in our networks. …. This is precisely why and how the tech industry is complicit in the increasing structural inequality that is plaguing our society.
feb 2015 – interview:
We live in a commercial society. I don’t like it and I think it’s unhealthy for everyone, but people don’t give youth enough credit. They’re working with the commercial realities because that’s what they’ve got.
I’m delighted to be joining the US Dept of Commerce’s Data Advisory Council: http://t.co/JdzQO9ia63 <grin>Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/zephoria/status/573296621930319872
april 2015: on training students to be robots
I held his hand to show him how to draw, and he broke the crayon in half. I went to open the door and when I came back, he had figured out how to scribble…

Learning to draw — on paper and with some sense of meaning — has a lot to do with the context, a context in which I help create, a context that is learned outside of the crayon itself.

But rather than seeing learning as a process and valuing educators as an important part of a healthy society, we keep looking for easy ways out of our current predicament, solutions that don’t involve respecting the hard work that goes into educating our young.

i don’t know. i’m thinking the hard work – of educating our young – is more about living/modeling what it means to be human and alive.. than – what most of us think of as educating. ie: there are a lot of amazing educators .. doing a lot of hard work.. to personalize ed.. of some assumed basics. it’s almost like abuse all the way around.. because they/we’re working hard at the wrong stuff. then the trickle. or trample. et al.
I wish I had a solution to our education woes, but I’ve been stumped time and again, mostly by the politics surrounding any possible intervention. Historically, education was the province of local schools making local decisions.
a nother wayradical econ. ni. ness.
april 2015 – interview on on being:
more conversation .. less surveillance
oct 2015  – parker lecture
One of the perennial problems with the statistical and machine learning techniques that underpin “big data” analytics is that they rely on data entered as input. And when the data you input is biased, what you get out is just as biased. These systems learn the biases in our society. And they spit them back out at us.
science of people in schools et al – studying/inputting – not us..
self-talk as data
Our cultural prejudices are deeply embedded into countless datasets, the very datasets that our systems are trained to learn on.
We didn’t architect for prejudice, but we didn’t design systems to combat it either.

We are moving into a world of prediction. A world where more people are going to be able to make judgments about others based on data. Data analysis that can mark the value of people as worthy workers, parents, borrowers, learners, and citizens. Data analysis that has been underway for decades but is increasingly salient in decision-making across numerous sectors. Data analysis that most people don’t understand.

unless we change that.. ie: less on prediction more on living..


One of the most obvious issues is that the diversity of people who are building and using these tools to imagine our future is extraordinarily narrow. Statistical and technical literacy isn’t even part of the curriculum in most American schools. In our society where technology jobs are high-paying and technical literacy is needed for citizenry, less than 5% of high schools even offer AP computer science courses. Needless to say, black and brown youth are much less likely to have access let alone opportunities. If people don’t understand what these systems are doing, how do we expect people to challenge them?

what if that’s (school, citizenry as we know/practice it) the wrong approach..  and.. what if it’s perpetuating, ie: all these youth that keep calling crisis center. what if tech can go deeper than what we’re imagining..

dec 2015  – data science seminar series: making sense of found data
People have more access to more information than ever before. And those in power have more access to data about people than ever before. The ecosystem of networked information, colloquially referred to as “big data”, introduces a myriad of questions and challenges as the public grapples with privacy, networked sociality, and the politics of algorithms. In this talk, danah will weave together her research on young people’s practices of social media and the practices of “big data” to highlight challenges and opportunities in making sense of found data.
[oh my webex – can change your data for any site you visit..?]
social data – on young people usig references (ie: coke) as encoded language… which made the data very dirty..
on carmen – figuring out song mom won’t recognize but friends will
encoding – the notion of hiding in plain site
on kids knowing that if brand names were in post… friends would see them more.. they were messing w/the algorithm in order to socialize
what are consequences of that messing..
on target story – and how shopping changes for like 10 yrs after first birth… so went backwards.. to vitamins.. et al
not clear what the accuracy is.. what’s clear is that target has spent a ton of time on this
where’s the edge case of accuracy.. and obviously not accuracy… on getting trust..
what are the small/subtler ramifications
where they’re doing the interpretation of the bias of our society… and feeding them back at us
data comes about by: choice/circumstance/coercion – most is by circumstance – they just want to be a part of something social.. so can’t get them excited about privacy..
the coercive end.. ie: incarceration/policing.. spit in the ? ie: collecting genetic material.. then use genetic analysis.. finding relatives.. we’re building out huge data bases of poc… what does it mean that a majority of data bases are being collected by ie: police
coerced also in a lot of social services..
nsf – most rigorous folks.. but same techniques.. promises that are statistical unfactual.. ie: if you look at what personalized learning is promising… ie: gates/zuck… we don’t have proof of anything.. because data collected thus far has been coercive (school)
on much being formalized mechanisms of discrimination
in order for big data to go to hype to something useful.. need to look at social implications…
as we invest in tech’s we need to invest in social considerations of them…
q: i’m asking my question on behalf of my toddler… ie: smart toys surrounding him.. capturing data… ie: smart barbie… voice recognition… convo.. sent back to store maker and 3rd party… and smart homes… smart cities…. how to better architect privacy by design
a: children are a strange character.. vulnerable/exploratory.. as a result…we’re going to see lots w/older too..
on current children’s privacy.. every single one of the bills allows data to be collected for criminal justice system.. determining your first moment w/judge… we are fueling a mass incarceration epidemic..
companies are not really honest about what they are doing.. are going to have to face the music… i’m more concerned about companies not well known… i’m more concerned about the network info…. ie: address, married, et al… not biggest risk… the worst is being written off opportunities in society.. ie: via your network position.. automated tracking that shape whether you get jobs..
i’m worried what you’ve already made visible.. we get distracted by the worst fears rather than the more systemic ones…
we’re going to blame poc and we’re going to blame elites.. our ed system.. most people are not actually interacting with each other… we’ve reduced people’s networking ability… 
military level – privatized.. and college level.. keeping people in silos… so political..
what we imagined we could do with social media… compared to the more i look at it.. the more i’m concerned about what we’ve created
[hard to hear – so this is all paraphrase]
i’m loving russia – rather than trying to manipulate/control you…we’ll put out so much info .. you won’t know what’s real..
how do we get people’ enough engaged to understand manipulation
referencing fred turner‘s book – mead, cage, …. we need this to be distributed.. so media literacy
the possibility of rapid fire inequality… to be part of a meaningful society.. scares me… the point we can listen and engage others…i want to put us past that fear and get people to.. (dang couldn’t hear)


let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

“This conversation is by no means over. It is only just beginning. My hope is…” — @zephoria points.datasociety.net/facebook-must-… pic.twitter.com/yfykZZ6gUH

First, all systems are biased. There is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to media. That has long been a fiction, one that traditional news media needs and insists on, even as scholars highlight that journalists reveal their biases through everything from small facial twitches to choice of frames and topics of interests. It’s also dangerous to assume that the “solution” is to make sure that “both” sides of an argument are heard equally. This is the source of tremendous conflict around how heated topics like climate change and evolution are covered. It is even more dangerous, however, to think that removing humans and relying more on algorithms and automation will remove this bias.

so .. rather.. let’s design a mech – (ie: hosting life bits)- to help us dance with it.. dissensus ness

Recognizing bias and enabling processes to grapple with it must be part of any curatorial process, algorithmic or otherwise. As we move into the development of algorithmic models to shape editorial decisions and curation, we need to find a sophisticated way of grappling with the biases that shape development, training sets, quality assurance, and error correction, not to mention an explicit act of “human” judgment.

ie: redefine decision making… disengage from consensus..

The key challenge that emerges out of this debate concerns accountability.
This conversation is by no means over. It is only just beginning. My hope is that we quickly leave the state of fear and start imagining mechanisms of accountability that we, as a society, can live with. Institutions like Facebook have tremendous power and they can wield that power for good or evil. But for society to function responsibly, there must be checks and balances regardless of the intentions of any one institution or its leader.
perhaps.. rather beyond mech of accountability.. it’s time to disengage from this consensus itized accountability. perhaps we can now go ginorm/small.. and have 7 bill people choosing.. accountable/accounting/recording/trailing/commonplace booking…. everyday. as the day.
perhaps we have the tech now.. to facilitate that chaos. if we just let go.. of the idea that someone.. has to be in charge.. or that we have to measure transactions/people/data..
data ginorm/small enough – self talk. 7 bill people accountable. trust that.
when good intentions backfire
Too many folks that I love dearly just want to double down on the approaches they’ve taken and the commitments they’ve made.
I am genuinely struggling to figure out how journalists, editors, and news media should respond in an environment in which they are getting gamed.What I do know from 12-steps is that the first step is to admit that you have a problem. And we aren’t there yet. And sadly, that means that good intentions are getting gamed.
But, at the end of the day, I’d always end up kicking myself for not imagining a particular use case in my original design and, as a result, *doing a lot more band-aiding than I’d like to admit. T.. vision for all sorts of different future directions that may never come into fruition. That thinking is so key to building anything, whether it be software or a campaign or a policy. And yet, it’s not a muscle that we **train people to develop.
*a nother way.. deep enough
**perhaps that’s key to us not having it.. it doesn’t need to be trained (as we think of training).. we already have that muscle.. as a curious/healthy 5 yr old.. so what we need is a world that doesn’t compliance it out of us..
rev of everyday life
indigenous us

interesting.. the two times i’ve decided to add an accountability page.. from two of my first mentors in all this (George and now danah). getting at the root.. dang.

ℳąhą Bąℓi مها بالي (@Bali_Maha) tweeted at 8:46 AM – 16 Apr 2017 :

Who gets to choose what is acceptable discrimination? Who gets to choose what values+trade-offs are given priority?
https://t.co/y08Xf2UBIi (http://twitter.com/Bali_Maha/status/853620688720195585?s=17)

Every decision matters, including the decision to make data open and the decision to collect *certain types of data and not others.

*this is huge.. ginorm/small huge.. perhaps .. we’re collecting/focusing on.. wrong type of data.. for humanity (rather than science of people) sake.. let’s try ie: self-talk as data

When it comes to questions of choice, what is often not discussed is *how public good and individual desire often conflict.

so let’s change *that.. let’s just go there.. ie: deep enough

A huge part of the underlying problem stems from the *limits of the data that are being used

*exactly.. but it’s because we assume man-mades.. ie: schools, jobs, jails

They don’t know who is not in the system and violating the law; they’re only making decisions based on who is there.

this is fractal to not getting deep enough.. ie: maté basic needs

This is what happens *when we simply focus on the available data and limit our purview to that narrow scope. We think we’re doing good by making data available, but what we’re doing is making available data that will **continue structural divisions. Is that our goal?

*spot on.. but go deep er.. otherwise.. **perpetuating our broken feedback loop

The problem with contemporary data analytics is that we’re often categorizing people without providing human readable descriptors.

no.. problem is.. that we’re categorizing people.. we need to stop measuring/validating/comparing.. for (blank)’s sake

Norms and standards of today will seem quaint tomorrow. *We need to prepare for that

*by letting go of accountability ness

I am excited about the possibility and future of using data to make responsible decisions. But today hype dominates public rhetoric about the use of data. We shouldn’t be doing data work just to do data work. We have a responsibility to try to combat inequities and prejudice—with our eyes open to the assumptions and limitations of our work, *and accountability as a goal.

oy.. accountability.. not a goal.. if we’re seek equity: everyone getting a go everyday

fb share by Jerry:

I love danah’s replies in this interview. The tear in our social fabric can’t be healed by technology. It’ll be done by us re-creating those social interdependencies that make up society, that engender trust.

“It’s actually really clear: How do you reknit society? Society is produced by the social connections that are knit together. The stronger those networks, the stronger the society. We have to make a concerted effort to create social ties, social relationships, social networks in the classic sense that allow for strategic bridges across the polis so that people can see themselves as one. “


Because we can’t quit the products, we become desperate for the companies to save us from ourselves.

We’re not seeing something that is brand new. We’re just distraught because hatred, prejudice, and polarization are now extraordinarily visible

What would it mean to actually understand and seek to remedy the divisions? But I don’t know that that can be done in a financialized way. Actually, I know it can’t be done in a financialized way. I want regulators to work toward rebuilding the networks of America. Not regulate toward fixing an ad.

tech as it could be

automating ineq by Virginia Eubanks

danah boyd (@zephoria) tweeted at 9:03 AM – 11 Jan 2018 :

Introducing algo systems into govt decision-making isn’t inherently evil; in practice these tools often magnify inequities while seeking to redress them. Yesterday, I asked you to buy “Automating Inequality” (https://t.co/rhil9Flxa7) Here’s more on why:
https://t.co/PvELrgF19Vhttps://t.co/W0au6l4CDv (http://twitter.com/zephoria/status/951484845670182913?s=17)

I don’t know how Eubanks chose her title, but one of the subtle things about her choice is that she’s (unintentionally?) offering a fantastic backronym for AI. Rather than thinking of AI as “artificial intelligence,” Eubanks effectively builds the case for how we should think that AI often means “automating inequality” in practice.

first mention i heard was from Ethan.. requested a purchase at library
Lyn Hilt (@lynhilt) tweeted at 7:01 AM – 27 Jan 2018 :

“Panicked about Kids’ Addiction to Tech?” by @zephoria #edchat #edtechchat  https://t.co/s0PPYl8hDc (http://twitter.com/lynhilt/status/957252234223538176?s=17)

So, here’s what I recommend to parents of small people: Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone.
as a means to facilitate the complicated/ness of us:
networked individuaism graphic




an exchange early on (2009 ish?)..

from me to danah:
hey danah. thank you for the quick response.
i’ve been involved in a lot of conversations about filtering the web for public school. in my district, on twitter, #edchat, etc.
currently i’m thinking we should have no filter.
i think if we avoid the places kids can access outside of school per cipa – we are not doing all we can for safety.
i think we wait too long for everyone to get on board – to feel comfortable with change – especially in ed. i sense that now with filtering – and it’s the kids that lose.
i need your sound advice. i apologize for cutting to the chase – meaning to you – but i can’t find a reason that makes sense to me to filter.
reasons i’ve been given are:
1. safety – i don’t see filtering as the safest way.
2. money – because of #1 – i don’t think following cipa guidelines is worth the money
head me off at the pass sweet – i’m becoming wreckless to

her brilliant response:
In general, I agree with you, provided that you have school monitors in your computer room. I think that teacher monitors (and parents) being present serve as much more effective filters than technology. Shaming is much more effective than blocking. And if you’re not providing a hurdle for students to circumnavigate, you end up reducing the rebellion effect. But the key is to have present adults who are willing and able to push back at students. I do think that educators can and should help youth safely navigate all of the sites that they go to, learn to look out for signs of problems (like phishing scams) and, in general, be a source of media literacy education. But I know it’s tough and a lot of educators aren’t prepared to do it. So they hope it’ll all go away.
Good luck with recklessly changing ed!! It needs to happen!

me back:
thank you danah. so sweet of you to take the time.
insight that i needed. wasn’t even thinking of using parents as filters.
as i anticipated – your wording is so clear. and with no wreckless spelling.
26 kids and i are working on unboxing ed – logging it all on our site. would you mind if i posted this email exchange there – with our morphing thoughts of web use?
so you don’t have to write back – i’ll assume you’re ok with it if i don’t hear from you soon. 

by all means!


i resonate and love the story of capital letters.

to me they are screaming.