Jenny Ryan's Biography
I recently completed my MA in Anthropology at Wesleyan University, where I conducted ethnographic research on the online social networking sites MySpace, Facebook, and Tribe.net. The Virtual Campfire explores the increasingly blurred boundaries between human and machine, public and private, voyeurism and exhibitionism, the history of media and our digitized future. Woven throughout are the stories and experiences of those who engage with these sites regularly and ritualistically, the generation of "digital natives" whose tales attest to the often strange and uncomfortable ways online social networking sites have come to be embedded in the everyday lives of American youth.
Having majored in both anthropology and psychology as an undergraduate, my approach to knowledge is founded upon understanding people from the inside-out as well as the outside-in. That is to say, from the empathic participant-observation of the habitus in question. I'm interested in experiences that subvert the norms and hierarchies that order everyday life, and seek to explore further those imagined (hyper)spaces at the edges of reality.
Currently, I am interning as a research assistant for danah boyd / Digital Natives Project through the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, investigating the issue of pro-self harm websites [eg; pro-eating disorder, pro-cutting, pro-suicide]. Other current projects include research on the way members of the psytrance subculture utilize Tribe.net to facilitate local scenes and a global underground web, as well as exploring new ways of storycrafting at the dawn of the cyberculture.