Shaping the Digital Pen: Media Literacy, Youth Culture, and MySpace

David Kirkland, New York University
New technologies and online social communities have changed how youth practice literacy. However, many literacy classrooms seem detached from such changes. To help bridge this divide, I offer youth media educators the example of Derrick, a student who participated in an “ethnography of literacy” I conducted from 2003 to 2006. By analyzing three texts that appeared prominently on Derrick’s MySpace page, I seek to broaden notions of literacy, situating them in the current culture of technology where youth media literacies thrive. I also attempt to address a larger question of what Derrick’s example means for youth media education. In addressing this question, I hope to accompany youth media educators into an exciting textual universe that, by its very nature, challenges deficit assumptions about students and narrow ideas about literacy and its processes.
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