Everyone seems to agree that we live in a era of participatory culture. Few people agree on what should be the terms of participation. From time to time, I will direct attention towards challenges and obstacles to the public’s right to participate. More often than not, these debates center on young people and their access to media. Young people are the shock troops in the digital revolution — early adopters and adapters of technology in their constant search for a room of their own in a culture where adults get to define all of the rules.
The latest battle in the ongoing struggle over young people’s access to and participation within digital cultures is HR 5319, better known as the Deleting Predators On-Line Act (or Dopa). Essentially, this proposed legislation would require any school or library which receives federal funds to ban a range of social networking software, including most notably MySpace, but also potentially including Live Journal and blogging software. This legislation has emerged in response to media coverage of a range of social problems which critics associate with MySpace, including concerns about the threat posed to young people by adults on the prowl for underage victims.
My former student, danah boyd, has been researching MySpace and the other social network sites. She’s become a go-to gal with the media on MySpace issues and a sharp critic of the proposed legislation. Recently, the two of us got together for a joint interview about DOPA and MySpace more generally.