INFO 287: Living in a Digital World

How does participating in online culture differ from participating in a physical space? How is it the same?

A large part of my life has been spent exploring various digital worlds. I am only a few years older than the teens interviewed in “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out” and I grew up in the same, or very similar, environment. Texting, IMing, Myspace, and video games monopolized my teen years and continue on in some form today.

In “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out” the authors divide online culture into several categories. One category, hanging out, is an extension of physical culture. People digitally hang out with peers they know in real life online to have a sense of privacy. They text friends to continue conversations across long distances and play online games with friends when they are unable to physically hang out. All of these activities can also be done offline and in person.

It has been  a few years since this book was written and the lines between the digital and physical worlds have blurred to the point that for many people the two worlds are one and the same. As a teenager everyone wanted the coolest flip phone, with unlimited texts! Now texting takes a back seat to social media on smart phones where the entire online universe is instantly accessible at all times. It is common to take pictures at any given activity and instantly put them online where your friends can “like” them. At library conferences people are told to use the conference hashtag while live tweeting their thoughts on the presentations. Even traditional accessories can access the internet, I can reply to Facebook posts and text on my watch and buy running shoes that track my steps. The digital culture and offline culture have merged into the single culture of my generation because we are always online.

Ito, M., & Bittanti, M. (2009). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out : Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, US: The MIT Press. Retrieved from


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