Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media

About Digital Youth

"Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures" is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives. Read more

Creative Commons License

The work on this site is licensed under a CC-BY-NC. If you share or re-use any work found on the site, please credit the original author and the Digital Youth Project and link back to the Digital Youth Project.

Photo Credits: Ritchie Ly and Geert Allegaert.

Mimi Ito's blog

Final report on our project findings

We are happy to announce the online release of the findings from our three-year project. All of the researchers who have worked on this project will be writing up individual publications, but this report represents a synthesis of the findings across the 22 different case studies. It has been over three years in the making, and is the result of a truly collaborative joint effort with 28 researchers and research collaborators. I am super proud of my team for doing such a phenomenal job with their individual projects, and for their generosity in sharing their work with this collective effort. It's very rare for ethnographers to collaborate at this scale, and we see this project as testament to the fact that large scale collaboration and joint analysis is possible with qualitative work.

Special thanks goes to the MacArthur Foundation who funded this work, and in particular to our program officer, Connie Yowell, who has been together with us in this journey every step of the way. It has been such a pleasure working with a foundation that has been so forward looking in engaging with an emerging media landscape, and willing to take the time and invest resources in understanding things from the point of view of a rising generation. Since we started this project, the Digital Media and Learning initiative at the foundation has expanded from an experimental foray to a $50 million effort encompassing dozens of projects. It is exciting to see that our work is not just an isolated project, but part of a much larger initiative that is linked to some of the most interest scholarship and educational efforts in this new field.

You can find all the details in the documents linked below, and a summary of our report. The book is due out from MIT Press next fall, but in the meantime you can read a draft of it online.

We will be celebrating the release of our report at a reception at the American Anthropological Association meetings in San Francisco. Please join us on Saturday November 22, at 6:30-8:00pm, San Francisco Hilton & Towers, Golden Gate Ballroom.

Click here to download a two-page summary of the report.

Click here to download the summary white paper.

Click here to go to the MIT Press site to order the book or download it fir free in pdf format.

Click here for the press release and video being hosted by the MacArthur Foundation.

Click "Read more..." for highlights.


Today we are commemorating a bittersweet day. A year ago today we lost our dear leader, Peter Lyman, to a heroic battle with cancer. It is hard to be believe that the time has passed so quickly, as he feels very much present to us all here in the digital youth team. It feels fitting to acknowledge this passing of time and the memory of Peter on a day that marks the ending of our shared project together, and the completion of our final report.

We have spent the past year working on a massive collaborative writing and analysis effort that has resulted in a book manuscript, dedicated to Peter, that we are tentatively entitling, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. We have just finished the full draft, in tandem with our official project end on June 30. We plan to do a pre-release on the Internet here on this web site in early fall.

MacArthur Foundation Announcement on Digital Media and Learning

Yesterday in New York the MacArthur Foundation announced that they will be committing $50 million over the next five years to the field of digital media and learning. Our Digital Youth project was one of MacArthur’s exploratory grants in this area together with Henry Jenkins' New Media Literacy project at MIT. It’s very exciting to see the foundation making this commitment to ongoing support of this area. In addition to a growing number of domestic research grants in this initiative, the foundation will begin funding international research and will roll out a related book series. The MacArthur web site on this new initiative is here and the blog is here. The webcast from today's event is here. Danah has a summary of the panel discussion here.

In Memory of Peter Lyman

Peter Lyman

Today we mourn the loss of Peter Lyman, our dear friend, generous colleague, and charismatic leader. He passed away peacefully early this morning at home in Berkeley, surrounded by his family, including two newborn grandchildren. Peter had been struggling with brain cancer for some time, though he was active, engaged and productive to his very last days. He is survived by his longtime spouse, Barrie Thorne, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, and Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley; his two children, Andrew Thorne-Lyman, an expert on nutrition who works for the World Food Programme in Rome; and Abigail Thorne-Lyman, a city planner who works for Strategic Economics in Berkeley; and he's also survived by his two grandchildren.

In addition to being a principal investigator on this ongoing project, Peter leaves a legacy of influential work in library and information science. His project on How Much Information? continues to be widely cited. As Dean of Libraries at USC and University Librarian at Berkeley, Peter made lasting changes to the information infrastructures of the two schools that has been instrumental to bringing their libraries into the digital era. More information on Peter's publications and professional accomplishments can be found on Peter's wikipedia entry which we are currently editing.

Despite being famously modest and unassuming, Peter was a natural leader. As an undergraduate, he was student body president at Stanford. He was also a founder of James Madison College at Michigan State University where he held his first full professorship. But most of all, we will remember Peter for his warm collegiality, and his devotion to his students, friends, and family whom he prioritized above all else.

We will post information as it comes in about memorial services and ways to honor Peter's memory.