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.


Judd Antin

Graduate Researcher

Judd AntinJudd Antin received a Master's in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2004. He then moved to the iSchool's Master's program, where he applied a culture-centered perspective to the design and evaluation of ICTs. After graduating from the Master's program, he transitioned to the iSchool's PhD program. Judd's research with Digital Youth has centered on kids, creativity, and digital media. In particular he has explored how kids collaborate on creative works in unexpected and powerful ways using digital media tools.

Sonja Baumer

Associate Specialist

Sonja BaumerSonja Baumer has a diverse educational background, including psychology, education, and communication and media studies. After receiving her PhD from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she joined Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. During her stay at LCHC, she became involved with the Fifth Dimension project and with the analysis and design of informal learning settings that mix play with education using computer and multimedia technology. Informed by multiple theoretical approaches (sociocultural and activity theory, play-pedagogy, media studies, studies of childhood and youth cultures), Sonja joined the Digital Youth Project to study the role of new media in producing and mediating children’s culture within the new sociocultural ecologies in which children are growing up. Her research focuses on the video web sharing service YouTube. Unlike the regular TV tube, YouTube lifts the barrier that separates media producers and performers from their audience, allowing people to broadcast from their own bedrooms, create exciting videos, and publish them on the web to millions of viewers. Her goal is to understand how viewing and production of videos on YouTube help people make sense of their own lives and identities.

Alison Billings

Graduate Researcher

Alison BilingsAlison J. Billings’s interests focus on mobile computing and information systems and their effects on informal learning environments. Her research while at Berkeley centered on the use of different mobile technologies (Wi-Fi-enabled PDAs, camera phones) in a variety of learning spaces, and the emergence of spontaneous learning communities through the use of these technologies. Alison earned her Master’s of Information Management and Systems in May 2005. She is currently living in Seattle, Washington, and works for a Mobile Content company.

Matteo Bittanti

External Specialist

Matteo BittantiMatteo Bittanti's research focuses on the cultural, social, and theoretical aspects of emerging technology, with an emphasis on the interrelations of popular culture, visual culture, and the arts. His primary interest is the social and cultural impact of video games. His areas of investigation include the intersection between cinema and digital games, forms of consumerism, and popular narratives. He is the editor of videoludica. game culture, a series of books that examine video games from a broad academic and critical perspective. He is about to receive a PhD in New Technologies of Communications from Libera Universita' di Lingue & Comunicazione in Milan, Italy. Previously, he received an MS in Mass Communications from San Jose State University, in San Jose, California, and a BA in Philosophy and Media Studies from University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy. He is also affiliated with the Stanford Humanities Lab and the How They Got Game project.

danah boyd

Graduate Researcher

danah boyddanah boyd is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and a Fellow at the Harvard University Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Her research focuses on how American youth engage in networked publics such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Xanga, etc. She is interested in how teens formulate a presentation of self and negotiate socialization in mediated contexts with invisible audiences. In addition to her research, danah works with a wide variety of companies and is an active blogger.

Her blog can be found at
Her papers can be found at

Brendan Callum

Research Assistant

Brendan Callum is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California participating in the Anime research project.

Rachel Cody

Project Assistant/Researcher

Rachel Cody is a graduate student in the Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego interested in media fandoms, Internet communities, and the social networking and creative works that are fostered by these communities. A fan herself, Rachel completed ethnographic fieldwork on an online Gundam Wing fandom and continues to pursue her interests within the online Naruto fanfiction and AMV (anime music video) communities. While a project assistant and researcher at USC, she studied the social networks of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. Rachel received a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California.

Megan Finn

Graduate Researcher

Megan Finn is a PhD student at the UC Berkeley School of Information. As a Digital Youth researcher, Megan has been investigating the "technological careers" of UC Berkeley freshmen, the Freshquest project. Her other research interests include information and organizations, technology adoption models, and information systems for responding to extreme events. Megan received her Master's from the School of Information in 2005 and her BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2000. At Michigan, Megan worked at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. She also spent several years in industry at Hewlett-Packard working in a group concerned with knowledge management.

Becky Herr-Stephenson

Graduate Researcher
Becky Herr-Stephenson is an Associate Specialist at the University of California Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine. Becky’s research interests include media literacy, teaching and learning with popular culture, and youth media production. Her dissertation, "Kids as Cultural Producers: Consumption, Literacy, and Participation," investigates issues of access and media literacy through an ethnographic study of media production projects in two mixed-grade (sixth, seventh, and eighth) special education classes. Previously, she was a member of the research team for the Digital Youth Project and a graduate fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication. Before beginning her graduate studies, Becky worked as a production manager for companies producing original content for the web and multimedia museum exhibits. Her current work with the DMLstudio involves a literature review of institutional efforts related to youth digital media production. Becky recently completed her PhD in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

Heather A. Horst

Postdoctoral Researcher

Heather Horst Heather is an Associate Project Scientist at the University of California, Irvine (UCHRI) who conducted research during the Digital Youth Project as a Postdoctoral Scholar at University of California, Berkeley. Heather is a sociocultural anthropologist by training who is interested in the materiality of place, space, and new information and communication technologies. Before joining the Digital Youth Project in 2005, she carried out research on conceptions of home among Jamaican transnational migrants, as well as issues of digital inequality, as part of a large-scale DFID-funded project titled "Information Society: Emergent Technologies and Development in the South," which compared the relationship between ICTs and development in Ghana, India, Jamaica, and South Africa. Her coauthored book with Daniel Miller, The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Oxford, UK, and New York: Berg, 2006), was the first ethnography of mobile phones in the developing world. Heather's research in the Digital Youth Project integrates her interest in media and technology in domestic spaces, families in Silicon Valley, and the economic lives of kids on sites such as Neopets.

Her website is

Mahad Ibrahim

Graduate Researcher

Mahad Ibrahim is pursuing his PhD in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. His current research focuses on developing better mechanisms to support illiteracy and orality in computing and exploring issues of privacy in ubiquitous computing. He has spent the last year in Egypt researching the adoption and usage of ICT among marginalized populations as a Fulbright Scholar. He also has experience working on health-related issues. Mahad worked in providing HIV/AIDS education to at-risk youth and for the District of Columbia HIV/AIDS surveillance division. He has also worked on analyzing ubiquitous computing deployments in hospitals. Before attending UC Berkeley, Mahad worked in the IT industry for several years. He has his Bachelor's (1999) in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University and a Master's (2002) in Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley.

Patricia G. Lange

Postdoctoral Researcher
Patricia LangePatricia G. Lange is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Her areas of interest for the Digital Youth Project are centered around using theories from anthropology and linguistics to understand the cultural dynamics of video creation, reception, and exchange among kids and youth. She is studying YouTube as well as video blogging groups to gain insight into the cultural aspects of video sharing and how these practices change ideas about the public and private. Lange is exploring how the content and form of videos as well as material video sharing and response practices serve as sites of identity negotiation, emotional expression, and promotion of public discourse in increasingly video-mediated, online milieu. She has recently published articles in a variety of journals including: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Discourse Studies, Anthropology of Work Review, First Monday, and The Scholar and Feminist Online.

Her website with list of publications can be found at
Her video blog on YouTube is at

Arthur Law

Graduate Researcher

Dilan Mahendran

Graduate Researcher

Dilan MahendranDilan Mahendran is a fourth-year PhD student at UC Berkeley's School of Information. Dilan's academic areas of interest are in Race Critical Theory, Postcolonial Studies, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophical Anthropology, and Phenomenology. He is also interested in the methodological problems of positivism and naturalism in technology studies and issues of constructivism in the social study of science and technology. Dilan's research areas are centered around the impact of digital technology in hip-hop music making. He is currently conducting ethnographic fieldwork at the DJ Project, a hip-hop music production after-school program in the Mission district of San Francisco and in East Oakland, California. Dilan received his BA in Anthropology from Northeastern University and his MS from the School of Information, UC Berkeley.

Annie Manion

Graduate Researcher

Annie ManionAnnie recently completed a Master’s degree in East Asian Area Studies at the University of Southern California and holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Chicago. She spent a year in Kyoto as an undergraduate at the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, a year teaching English in Kyushu after graduating from college, and a year studying Japanese language at the Inter-university Center at Yokohama. Though she is interested in many aspects of Japanese culture, such as gender issues and history, her primary interest lies in popular culture. Her research has focused largely on anime and manga and the fan community that surrounds these popular media in America. Through her master’s thesis she considered the role popular culture such as anime plays in encouraging an interest among young Americans to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture. In the future she hopes to be able to go on investigating the international flow of popular culture, with a continuing focus on Japanese popular culture, and explore the ways in which ideas and representations are changed and affected by the heightened awareness and access to foreign culture made possible by technological advances such as the Internet.

Katynka Z. Martínez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Katynka Z. MartínezKatynka Z. Martínez is Assistant Professor in the Raza Studies Department of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a communications scholar who focuses on Latino media studies and teaches courses on cinema, television, and journalism. As a Postdoctoral Researcher on the Digital Youth Project, she engaged in participant observations among media arts educators working with middle-school and high-school youth in Los Angeles. Katynka conducted home interviews with these students and their parents to better understand how digital media are used outside of school. She is currently working on a study of how Latino youth have used digital media and drawn from pop culture to participate in the current debate regarding immigration to the United States. She is especially interested in how youth use digital media and create new works that are informed by their experiences navigating through densely populated urban areas of Los Angeles. Examples of this work can be found at:

Sarai Mitnik

Graduate Researcher

Sarai MitnikSarai Mitnick completed her Master's at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Sarai Mitnick is interested in design and in how a variety of techniques can be incorporated to understand human practices and create better technological tools. She is also interested in education, how technology affects learning, and issues surrounding technology and gender. Sarai has done work in graphic design, user interface design, and human-computer interaction research. Sarai completed her Master's at the School of Information at UC Berkeley.

C.J. Pascoe

Postdoctoral Researcher

CJ PascoeC.J. Pascoe is a sociologist who is interested in sexuality, gender, youth, and new media. Her book on gender in high school, Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, recently received the 2008 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association. As a researcher with the Digital Youth Project she researched the role of new media in teens' dating and romance practices. Her project "Living Digital" examines how teenagers navigate digital technology and how new media have become a central part of contemporary teen culture with a particular focus on teens' courtship, romance, and intimacy practices. Along with Dr. Natalie Boero she conducted a study titled "No Wannarexics Allowed," looking at the formation of online pro-anorexia communities and focusing on gender, sexuality, and embodiment online. C.J. is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The Colorado College.

C.J.'s website can be found at:

Dan Perkel

Graduate Researcher

Dan PerkelDan Perkel is a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley's School of Information. His research explores how young people use the web and other technologies as a part of their everyday media production activities. Dan's ongoing dissertation research investigates the mutual shaping of young people's creative practices and the social and technical infrastructure that support them. Prior projects include explorations into the design of a collaborative storytelling environment for fifth-graders, ethnographic inquiry into an after-school media and technology program, and investigations using diary studies to capture everyday technology use. With UC Berkeley artist Greg Niemeyer and colleague Ryan Shaw, Dan helped create an art installation called Organum, which looks at collaborative game play using the human voice (and which was followed up by "Good Morning Flowers"). In a past life, Dan worked as an interface designer, product manager, and implementations director for Hive Group, whose Honeycomb software helps people make decisions through data visualization. He received his BA (2000) in Science, Technology, and Society from Stanford University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and his Master's in Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley's School of Information in 2005.

Paul Poling

Graduate Researcher

Paul Poling worked with Megan Finn on a project examining technology use among community college students. Before joining the Digital Youth Project, he worked for the Peace Corps in rural Kenya teaching HIV/AIDS prevention and helping a women's group develop their business. He also witnessed the advent and explosive adoption of mobile phones in Kenya. Paul's experiences there fired his interest in information communications and technology for developing regions, and led him to return to Kenya to research the feasibility of automated medication reminders for TB patients via mobile phones. Paul brings to this current research an interest in exploring patterns of technology adoption and methods for developing appropriate technology. He received his BS in Applied Physics from Emory University and his MA from the School of Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley.

Laura Robinson

Postdoctoral Researcher

Laura RobinsonLaura Robinson studies the comparative cultural use of new media in Brazil, France, and the United States. Her current project examines digital inequality among economically disadvantaged youth. Her study explores the role played by information resources in everyday processes by situating information seeking and media use within respondents' larger social networks and access to resources.

David Schlossberg

Graduate Researcher

Christo Sims

Graduate Researcher

Christo SimsChristo Sims is a PhD student at UC Berkeley's School of Information. He was a member of the Digital Youth research team from 2005 until 2008. His fieldwork focused on the ways youth use new media in everyday social practices involving friends, family, and intimates. He conducted research at two sites, one in rural Northern California, the other in Brooklyn, New York. His contributions can mostly be found in the report's chapters on Intimacy, Friendship, and Families. Christo received his Master's degree from UC Berkeley's School of Information in the spring of 2007, and his Bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in the spring of 2000.

Christo's website can be found at:

Sarita Yardi

Graduate Researcher

Sarita YardiSarita Yardi is a PhD student in the Human Centered Computing program at Georgia Tech. Her research interests include design, learning, education, HCI, and ethnography. She is currently conducting a media literacy education project through the YWCA TechGYRLS program. She helps to run an after-school computer club for middle-school girls, teaching them about empowerment and gender issues through the use of computers and technology. Sarita received her BA in Computer Engineering from Dartmouth College in 2002 and her MA from the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at UC Berkeley in 2006. She has worked on numerous hardware and software design projects and spent two years as a software engineer developing an integrated web application and database system.