I am delighted to announce that "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media" is now in the wild and available! This book was written as a collaborative effort by members of the Digital Youth Project, a three-year research effort funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.
The project was spearheaded by Mimi Ito and my late advisor Peter Lyman. I had the honor of being one of the members of this group and led one of the chapters in this book (the one on "Friendship"). If you're trying to understand the diversity of youth practices involving new media, this is a book for you!
Conventional wisdom about young people's use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today's teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth's social and recreational use of digital media. "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out" fills this gap, reporting on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings: at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.
Integrating twenty-three different case studies (which include Harry Potter podcasting, video-game playing, music-sharing, and online romantic breakups) in a unique collaborative authorship style, "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out" is distinctive for its combination of in-depth description of specific group dynamics with conceptual analysis.
This project was one of many funded by the MacArthur Foundation to explore digital media and learning. New projects in this area are being aggregated through the Digital Media and Learning Hub. If you are interested in this area of work, you should also consider attending the first annual Digital Media and Learning Conference in February in San Diego.