Sociologist danah boyd’s long-awaited first book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, hits shelves today. boyd, who is currently working as a researcher at Microsoft, is one of the preeminent scholars of the way young people — especially marginalized young people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds, as well as diverse gender and sexual orientation — use the Internet, and her work has been cited often for her sharp observations and her overwhelming empathy for her subjects.
It’s Complicated is a passionate, scholarly, and vividly described account of the reality of young peoples’ use of networked technologies in America today. Painstakingly researched through interviews and close study for more than a decade, boyd’s book is an important analysis of networked culture you don’t want to miss.
In eight brisk chapters — thoroughly backstopped by a long and fascinating collection of end-notes — boyd tackles the moral panics of networks and kids, and places them in wider social and historical contexts. She systematically, relentlessly punctures easy stories about how kids don’t value privacy; whether the Internet holds special danger of sexual predators; the reality of bullying; the absurdity of "Internet addiction" and the real story of "digital natives" and the important and eminently fixable gaps in kids’ network literacy.
boyd is not a blind optimist. She is alive to the risks and dangers of networks; but she is also cognizant of the new opportunities and the relief from other social problems (such as hysteria over the presence of kids in public places; sexism, racism, homophobia and slut-shaming; the merciless overscheduling and academic pressure on adolescents) and the immense power of networks to enable advocacy, agency and activism.