Tell Me More danah boyd: an interview with the author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens”
There’s this idea that hard-core techies are code geeks. But hard-core techies also look like ethnographers. A tech ethnographer not only has to understand cultural code, but the mechanisms for how software design links back up to tech practices. I sat down with one of the most well known tech ethnographers of our time, danah boyd (@zephoria).
Over breakfast at The Ace Hotel’s Breslin, danah and I talked about her career. This fascinating and personal interview reveals danah’s journey through industry and academia.
We’re also excited to have danah’s interview launch Ethnography Matter’s second column, Tell Me More, featuring interviews with people who are pushing the boundaries of ethnography in unconventional and exciting ways. We conduct the first interview and then post a follow up interview with crowd-sourced questions from the audience.
Post your follow-up question for danah in the comments or tweet it with the hashtag #askdanah by March 10. danah will select her favorite questions to answer in her second interview!
Tricia: danah, I’m super excited that we get to talk ethnography over some yummy breakfast food! Earlier last year, you were inducted into the SXSW Hall of Fame. An ethnographer being validated by geeks! I was beyond excited when I heard this news. How did you feel when you found out?
danah: SXSW has been a very important event to me for a long time. I learned so much about the tech industry through that conference by spending late nights drinking with entrepreneurs and makers. I actually got many a job that way too. It was at SXSW where Ev Williams and I started debating blogging practices. He hired me to work for him that summer. Oh, and SXSW was where I met my partner.
Tricia: What? Are you serious?
danah: ::laugh:: Ayup! And now we have a baby who we’re taking back to SXSW this year.
Tricia: Shut up. That is so sweet. Where did you guys meet at SXSW?
danah. At a Sleater-Kinney show.
Tricia: That’s awesome.
danah: It’s just funny to be honored there because I’ve selfishly gotten so much out of the conference.
Tricia: Well I remember very clearly when I read the transcript of the keynote you delivered at SXSW in 2010. It was about Facebook’s issues with privacy. Your talk generated so much discussion. How did you settle on this topic?
danah: I thought, what could I do that would provoke this audience to think? I saw it as a political platform; not big P but small p. I wanted to use this opportunity to challenge norms inside tech industry. I decided to take on the underlying values and beliefs in tech industry regarding privacy because my research was showing that the rhetoric being espoused was naïve. My topic was not surprising for academics, but it was for practitioners. Read More…