For the 2016 Presidential Colloquium at Smith College, several speakers were invited to discuss the topic”Thinking in Public in a Networked World.” Among them, social media specialist and academic danah boyd. Her talk, entitled “Living in a Culture of Algorithms,” looks at the ways in which society and technology intersect in the lives of young people. As a longtime researcher in the field of social media, boyd studied the rise and fall of social media platforms like Livejournal and MySpace and has observed the online behaviors of young people extensively. While she recognizes that there are many negatives to the use (and overuse) of social media, boyd concludes that if we look at online data in a different way, we can use it to better the lives of everyday citizens.
boyd began working in this field in the early 2000s when she completed a Master’s Degree at the MIT Media Lab’s Sociable Media Group. Afterwards, she studied at the University of California-Berkeley where she completed her PhD. Currently, she is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society. She has worked for several organizations in the non-profit sector, including the Crisis Text Line, where she used algorithms to convert at-risk teenager’s social media information to data that can be used by responding volunteers. In 2014, she wrote It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.
This talk was recorded on March 30th in the Weinstein Auditorium at Smith College.