Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Boys & girls on Web 2.0
A thoughtful New York Times piece looks at the social Web's young innovators and reports that "the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls," referring to the Pew/Internet findings that they're the biggest creators of Web graphics, blogs, photos, profile pages, and sites (35% of girls 12-17 have blogs vs. 20% of boys; 32% of girls have Web pages vs. 22% of boys; and 70% of girls 15-17 have social-site profiles vs. 57% of boys 15-17). It's funny that the Times and (everybody else, seemingly) goes on to cite with surprise statistics about the *dearth* of girls in computer science programs - as if all this creativity on their part is somehow about computers and technology! "It is possible that the girls who produce glitters today will develop an interest in the rigorous science behind computing, but some scholars are reluctant to draw that conclusion." Well, of course. Harvard Law School's Berkman Center seems to understand that creativity on the Net is no more about technology than it is offline: "The result of [its] focus groups and interviews with young people 13 to 22, suggests that girls’ online practices tend to be about their desire to express themselves, particularly their originality." As for boys, here's an interesting observation: "THE one area where boys surpass girls in creating Web content is posting videos. This is not because girls are not proficient users of the technology, Professor Palfrey said. He suggested, rather, that videos are often less about personal expression and more about impressing others. It’s an ideal way for members of a subculture — skateboarders, snowboarders — to demonstrate their athleticism, he said." Remember, that's a quote.