Digital Publics

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= there is not just one public sphere, but many


Danah Boyd:

"Just as context is destabilized through networked publics, so is the meaning of public and private. What I learned from talked to teens is that they are living in a world where things are "public by default, private when necessary." Teens see public acts amongst peers as being key to status. Writing a public message to someone on their wall is a way of validating them amongst their peers. Likewise, teens make choices to go private to avoid humiliating one of their friends.

Yet, their idea of public is not about all people across all space and all time. They want publics of peers, not publics where creeps and parents lurk.

Bly Lauritano-Werner (17, Maine):

My mom always uses the excuse about the internet being 'public' when she defends herself. It's not like I do anything to be ashamed of, but a girl needs her privacy. I do online journals so I can communicate with my friends. Not so my mother could catch up on the latest gossip of my life.

Properties of technology have complicated what it means to be in public. We are all used to being in publics that don't include all people across all space and all time. Many of us grew up gossiping with friends out in public and stopping the moment that an adult walks over. This isn't possible when things are persistent. And it's really hard to be public to all peers and just keep certain people out. So teens are learning how to negotiate a world where the very meaning of public and private have changed. Again, this is a good thing. They're going to need these skills in the future." (