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

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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.

Principal Investigators

Peter Lyman

Professor Emeritus, School of Information
University of California, Berkeley

Peter LymanPeter Lyman was a professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley whose research and teaching interests included: E-government and e-governance; the ethnographic study of online social relationships and communities; and an ethnography of technology transfer from research communities to businesses. He received his BA from Stanford University in Philosophy, an MA from Berkeley in Political Science, and a PhD in Political Science from Stanford. During his distinguished career, he served on the editorial boards of the American Behavioral Scientist; The Journal of Electronic Publishing; Information Technology, Education and Society; E-government; and Vectors: A Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Sage Publishing, Inc., a leading social science publisher, and served on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He also served on the Board of Directors of EDUCOM, the Research Libraries Group (RLG), the Babbage Institute, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Art History Information Project at the Getty Trust, and the Internet Archive.

His research fields included the ethnographic study of online social relationships and communities, educational software, and technology transfer from research communities to businesses. He also completed a study of how much new information is produced every year, part of a long-term project on how people find the information they need and make decisions about information quality and a study of the metaphors that guide information policy (“Information Superhighways, Virtual Communities and Digital Libraries: Information Society Metaphors as Political Rhetoric.” Pp. 201-218 in Technological Visions. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004).

Professor Lyman passed away in July 2007 after a brave battle with cancer. This project is dedicated to his vision and memory. For more about Professor Lyman's life and work, please see our memorial.

Mizuko (Mimi) Ito

Research Scientist
School of Cinematic Arts
University of Southern California

Visiting Associate Professor,
Keio University, Graduate School of Media and Governance

Mimi itoMizuko (Mimi) Ito is a cultural anthropologist specializing in media technology use by children and youth. She holds an MA in Anthropology, a PhD in Education and a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. Ito has studied a wide range of digitally augmented social practices, including online gaming and social communities, the production and consumption of children's software, play with children's new media, mobile phone use in Japan, and an undergraduate multimedia-based curriculum. Her current work focuses on Japanese technoculture, and for the Digital Youth Project she is researching English-language fandoms surrounding Japanese popular culture.

Past workplaces have included the Institute for Research on Learning, Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group, Xerox PARC, Tokyo University, and the National Institute of Educational Research of Japan. She has received research grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Vodafone Group Foundation, NTT DoCoMo, the Abe Fellowship, Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association, and the Reischauer Institute. Her papers have appeared in a wide range of journals and edited book collections, and her book for MIT Press, coedited with Daisuke Okabe and Misa Matsuda, Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, was published in 2005.

Michael Carter

Educational Software Developer, Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE)

Michael CarterMichael Carter is in charge of special projects for MITE. Throughout his career he has focused on the application of information technology to learning. He shaped the curriculum that the University of Oxford and Stanford and Yale universities delivered to their alumni online, created programs with faculty from the business schools at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, and Duke universities for delivery to corporate knowledge communities, directed education research at Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group, helped the MIT Press publish the six-volume series, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning, and is working with the press on the new International Journal of Learning and Media.

He has an AB, MA, and PhD in History from Stanford. His academic career includes professing European history at Dartmouth College and directing Academic Information Resources Systems Development at Stanford University. At Digital Pictures, Inc., he created ”What's My Story?” and as Chief Playwright is currently designing and producing games for kids at

Barrie Thorne

Barrie ThorneChair and Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Barrie Thorne is Chair and Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She previously taught at Michigan State University and the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on the sociology of gender; feminist theory; the sociology of age relations, childhood, and families; and ethnographic methods. She is the U.S. Editor of Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research and the outgoing Chair of the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Children and Youth. In 2002 she received the A.S.A. Jessie Bernard Award in recognition of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass the role of women in society. She has also received awards for teaching and mentoring. From 1998 to 2002 Barrie Thorne codirected the Berkeley Center for Working Families, helping to build a feminist intellectual community focused on the themes of "cultures of care" and the changing contours of family life in the context of global economic restructuring. She is the author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School (Rutgers, 1993) and coeditor of Feminist Sociology: Life Histories of a Movement> (Rutgers, 1997), Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions (Northeastern University Press, 1992); Language, Gender and Society (Newbury House, 1983); and Language and Sex: Difference and Dominance (Newbury House, 1975). Barrie Thorne is currently writing a book, tentatively titled Growing Up in Oakland, based on three years of collaborative fieldwork and interviewing in a mixed-income, ethnically diverse area of the city.