danah boyd

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danah boyd
Danah Michele Mattas

(1977-11-24) November 24, 1977 (age 46)
Known forCommentary on sociality, identity, and culture among youth on social networks[3]
SpouseGilad Lotan[2]
AwardsTechnology Review TR35 Young Innovators 2010[1]
Scientific career
FieldsSocial media
ThesisTaken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics (2008)
Doctoral advisor

danah boyd (stylized in lowercase, born November 24, 1977, as Danah Michele Mattas)[4] is a technology and social media scholar.[5][6][7][8][9] She is a partner researcher at Microsoft Research, the founder of Data & Society Research Institute, and a distinguished visiting professor at Georgetown University.

Early life[edit]

Boyd grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Altoona, Pennsylvania.[10] According to her website, she was born Danah Michele Mattas.[11]

After her parents' divorce, in 1982, she moved to York, Pennsylvania, with her mother and her brother. Her mother married again during danah's third grade and the family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

She attended Manheim Township High School from 1992 to 1996. She used online discussions forums to escape from high school. She called Lancaster a "religious and conservative" city. Having had online discussions on the topic, she began to identify as queer.[12] A few years later, her brother taught her how to use IRC and Usenet. Even though she thought computers were "lame" at the time, the possibilities for connecting with others intrigued her. She became an avid participant on Usenet and IRC in her junior year in high school, spending a lot of time browsing, creating content, and conversing with strangers.[13] Though active in many extra-curricular activities and excelling academically, boyd had a difficult time socially in high school. She assigns "her survival to her mother, the Internet, and a classmate whose misogynistic comments inspired her to excel."[13]

Once she reached college, she chose to take her maternal grandfather's name, Boyd, as her own last name. She decided to spell her name in lowercase so as "to reflect my mother's original balancing and to satisfy my own political irritation at the importance of capitalization."[10][11]

Her initial ambition was to become an astronaut but after an injury, she became more interested in the Internet.[10]


danah boyd in 2005, a speaker at Digital Identity conference in Chicago

Boyd initially studied computer science at Brown University, where she worked with Andries van Dam and wrote an undergraduate thesis about how visual depth cues in a virtual 3D environment affect depth perception.[14] She pursued her master's degree in social media with Judith Donath at the MIT Media Lab's Sociable Media Group. She worked for the New York-based activist organization V-Day, first as a volunteer (starting in 2004) and then as paid staff (2007–2009). She eventually moved to San Francisco, where she met the individuals involved in creating the new Friendster service. She documented what she was observing via her blog, and this grew into a career.[15]

In 2008, boyd earned a Ph.D. at the UC Berkeley School of Information,[16] advised by Peter Lyman (1940–2007) and Mizuko Ito. Her dissertation, Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics, focused on the use of large social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace by U.S. teenagers,[17] and was blogged on Boing Boing.[18][19]

During the 2006–07 academic year, boyd was a fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California. She was a long-time fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she co-directed the Internet Safety Technical Task Force,[20] and then served on the Youth and Media Policy Working Group.[21]


Visualization from one of boyd's lectures by Willow Brugh

While in graduate school, she was involved with a three-year ethnographic project funded by the MacArthur Foundation and led by Mimi Ito; the project examined youths' use of technologies through interviews, focus groups, observations, and document analysis.[22][23] Her publications included an article in the MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning, Identity Volume called "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life."[24] The article focuses on social networks' implications for youth identity. The project culminated with a co-authored book "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media."[25]

In 2007, she published research on youth using Facebook and MySpace in Race After the Internet.[26] She demonstrated that most young users of Facebook were white and middle-to-upper class, while MySpace users tended to be lower-class black teenagers. She argued that people tend to connect with like-minded individuals, also known as homophily, which perpetuates these enduring social hierarchies. Boyd focused on the concept of white flight by connecting the analogy to how white, privileged teens were forced to leave MySpace from their parents. Fueled by fear that MySpace was a "digital ghetto", parents of these teens were more welcoming of Facebook's network effects. Over time, these differences were exacerbated and led to the social reputation of these social media platforms.

Her work has been translated and relayed to major media.[12] In addition to blogging on her own site, she addresses issues of youth and technology use on the DMLcentral blog. Boyd has written academic papers and op-ed pieces on online culture.[27]

Her career as a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center started in 2007. In January 2009, boyd joined Microsoft Research New England, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a Social Media Researcher.[28]

In 2013, boyd founded Data & Society Research Institute to address the social, technical, ethical, legal and policy issues that were emerging from data-centric technological development.

As of 2022, boyd is president of Data & Society.[29] Also as of 2022, she is a Partner Researcher at Microsoft Research and a visiting professor at Georgetown University and New York University.[30] She also serves[when?] on the board of directors of Crisis Text Line (since 2012),[31][self-published source?] as a Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, on the board of the Social Science Research Council, and on the advisory board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).[citation needed]

Book-length publications[edit]

  • In 2008, boyd published her PhD dissertation titled Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics at University of California, Berkeley.
  • In 2009, boyd co-wrote Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media with Mizuko Ito, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr Stephenson, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Z. Martínez, C. J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, Christo Sims and Lisa Tripp.
  • In early 2014, boyd published her book It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens at Yale University Press.[32] In It's Complicated, boyd argues that social media is not as threatening as parents think it is and that it provides teenagers with a space to express their feelings and ideas without being judged.[32]
  • In 2015, Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito, and boyd published Participatory Culture in a Networked Era at Polity Press.[33]

Peer-reviewed articles and academic contributions[edit]

  • In 2011, boyd published a research paper with Microsoft Research and Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society titled White Flight in Network Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.[26] This was published in the book Race After the Internet.
  • In 2013, boyd co-wrote Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe: Information Poverty, Information Norms, and Stigma with Jessa Lingel. This was published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Honors and awards[edit]

danah boyd giving a keynote at ROFLCon at MIT in 2010

In 2009 Fast Company named boyd one of the most influential women in technology.[34] In May 2010, she received the Award for Public Sociology from the American Sociological Association's Communication and Information Technologies section.[35] Also in 2010, Fortune named her the smartest academic in the technology field[36] and "the reigning expert on how young people use the Internet."[37] In 2010, boyd was included on the TR35 list of top innovators under the age of 35.[38] She was a 2011 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Foreign Policy named boyd one of its 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers "for showing us that Big Data isn't necessarily better data".[39]

In 2019, boyd received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Barlow/Pioneer Award for her work as a "Trailblazing Technology Scholar",[40] and gave a keynote highlighting women's situation in the tech industry and specifically the controversies at the time involving the MIT Media Lab.[41]

Boyd has spoken at academic conferences including SIGIR, SIGGRAPH, CHI, Etechm Personal Democracy Forum, Strata Data and the AAAS annual meeting.[citation needed] She gave the keynote addresses at SXSWi 2010 and WWW 2010, discussing privacy, publicity and big data.[42][43][44] She also appeared in the 2008 PBS Frontline documentary Growing Up Online, providing commentary on youth and technology.[45] In 2015, she was a speaker at Everett Parker Lecture.[46] In 2017, boyd gave a keynote titled “Your Data is Being Manipulated” at the 2017 Strata Data Conference, presented by O’Reilly and Cloudera, in New York City.[47] In March 2018, she gave a keynote titled "What Hath We Wrought?" at SXSW EDU 2018[48] and another keynote titled “Hacking Big Data” at the University of Texas at Austin, discussing data-driven and algorithmic systems.[49] In November 2018, she was featured among "America's Top 50 Women In Tech" by Forbes.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Boyd has stated she has an "attraction to people of different genders", and identifies as queer. On her website, boyd notes that she attributes her "comfortableness with [her] sexuality to the long nights in high school discussing the topic in IRC".[51] She is married and has three children.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MIT (2010). 2010 Young Innovators under 35, Danah Boyd, 32, Microsoft Research: Shaping the rules for social networks, Technology Review.
  2. ^ Rimer, Sara (May 26, 2009). "Play with Your Food, Just Don't Text!". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Heer, J.; boyd, d. (2005). "Vizster: Visualizing Online Social Networks". Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization (INFOVIS'05). p. 5. doi:10.1109/INFOVIS.2005.39. ISBN 978-0-7803-9464-3. S2CID 5876116.
  4. ^ boyd, danah. "a bitty autobiography / a smattering of facts". danah.org. Retrieved November 2, 2008. She noted her mother added lowercase 'h' in birth name "danah" for typographical balance, reflecting the lowercase first letter 'd' and later changed her last name to lowercase "boyd" in 2000.
  5. ^ Danah boyd publications indexed by Google Scholar
  6. ^ Danah boyd publications indexed by Microsoft Academic
  7. ^ Danah Boyd at DBLP Bibliography Server Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ Donath, J.; boyd, d. (2004). "Public Displays of Connection". BT Technology Journal. 22 (4): 71. doi:10.1023/B:BTTJ.0000047585.06264.cc. S2CID 14502590.
  9. ^ Marlow, C.; Naaman, M.; boyd, d.; Davis, M. (2006). "HT06, tagging paper, taxonomy, Flickr, academic article, to read". Proceedings of the seventeenth conference on Hypertext and hypermedia – HYPERTEXT '06. p. 31. doi:10.1145/1149941.1149949. ISBN 978-1595934178. S2CID 12202818.
  10. ^ a b c Debelle, Penelope (August 4, 2007). "A space of her own – Encounter with Danah Boyd". The Age. Australia.
  11. ^ a b boyd, danah. "What's in a Name?". danah.org. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Danah boyd, anthropologue de la génération numérique". Le Monde.fr. August 20, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "a bitty auto-biography / a smattering of facts". www.danah.org. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  14. ^ boyd, dana. "Depth Cues in Virtual Reality and Real World: Understanding Individual Differences in Depth Perception by Studying Shape-from-shading and Motion Parallax" (PDF).
  15. ^ Erard, Michael (November 27, 2003). "Decoding the New Cues in Online Society". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  16. ^ boyd, danah (2008). Taken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics (PhD thesis). University of California, Berkeley.
  17. ^ "Voices on Antisemitism interview with danah boyd". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. October 22, 2009. Archived from the original on May 5, 2012.
  18. ^ "Taken Out of Context – my PhD dissertation". zephoria.org. January 18, 2009.
  19. ^ Doctorow, Cory (January 19, 2009). "danah boyd's PhD thesis: Teen sociality online". Boing Boing. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  20. ^ "Members of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force". Berkman Center for Internet & Society. January 13, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  21. ^ "Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative". June 19, 2018.
  22. ^ "MacArthur Foundation Project Summary". Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  23. ^ "Final Report". The Digital Youth Project. Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  24. ^ boyd, danah (2008). Buckingham, David (ed.). "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life". Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge: MIT Press. 119–142. doi:10.31219/osf.io/22hq2. ISBN 978-0262026352. S2CID 153326533. SSRN 1518924. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  25. ^ Ito, Mimi; et al. (September 2009). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01336-9.
  26. ^ a b boyd, danah. "White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on March 14, 2012.
  27. ^ Shirky, Clay (February 28, 2008). Here Comes Everybody. Penguin Group. pp. 224–5. ISBN 978-1-59420-153-0.
  28. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (September 22, 2008). "Microsoft hires social-net scholar Danah Boyd". CNET. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  29. ^ "danah boyd". Data & Society. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  30. ^ "bio and photos for conferences/publications". www.danah.org. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  31. ^ "danah boyd,Partner Researcher, Microsoft Research". LinkedIn.
  32. ^ a b boyd, danah (2014). It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (PDF). Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300166316.
  33. ^ "danah boyd :: Publications". www.danah.org. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Fast Company Staff (February 1, 2009). "Women in Tech: The Evangelists". Fast Company. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  35. ^ "2010 CITASA Awards". CITASA. 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  36. ^ Jessi Hempel; Beth Kowitt (September 7, 2010). "Smartest Academic: Danah Boyd". Fortune. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  37. ^ Hempel, Jessi (2010). "Ones to watch: Danah Boyd". Fortune. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  38. ^ Naone, Erica (2010). "Danah Boyd, 32". Technology Review. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  39. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. November 26, 2012. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  40. ^ "Pioneer Award Ceremony 2019". Electronic Frontier Foundation. August 15, 2019. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  41. ^ boyd, danah (September 13, 2019). "Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On". Medium. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  42. ^ "danah boyd's Opening Remarks on Privacy and Publicity" (Press release). South by Southwest. March 14, 2010. Archived from the original on March 17, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  43. ^ Kincaid, Jason (March 13, 2010). "Danah Boyd: How Technology Makes A Mess Of Privacy and Publicity". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  44. ^ "Keynote Talk: danah boyd on "Publicity and Privacy in Web 2.0"". WWW 2010. April 29, 2010. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  45. ^ "PBS Frontline: "Growing Up Online" with danah boyd – January 22nd" (Press release). Berkman Center for Internet & Society. January 14, 2008. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  46. ^ "OC Inc". uccmediajustice.org. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  47. ^ "danah boyd at Strata Data Conference in New York 2017". conferences.oreilly.com. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  48. ^ "Watch danah boyd Keynote, What Hath We Wrought? [VIDEO]". SXSW EDU. March 8, 2018. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  49. ^ "Media Ethics Initiative: danah boyd on Hacking Big Data". UT Events Calendar. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  50. ^ "Danah boyd". Forbes.
  51. ^ boyd, danah. "a bitty autobiography / a smattering of facts". danah.org. Retrieved November 2, 2008. She noted her mother added lowercase 'h' in birth name "danah" for typographical balance, reflecting the lowercase first letter 'd' and later changed her last name to lowercase "boyd" in 2000.
  52. ^ boyd, danah (February 20, 2017). "Heads Up: Upcoming Parental Leave". Retrieved February 20, 2017.

External links[edit]