Social media complicate the very nature of public life. In this article, we consider how technology reconfigures publicness, blurs 'audiences' and publics, and alters what it means to engage in public life. The nature of publicness online is shaped by the architecture and affordances of social media, but also by people's social contexts, identities, and practices. Navigating socially mediated publicness requires new mechanisms of control and new skills. Understanding socially-mediated publicness is an ever-shifting process throughout which people juggle blurred boundaries, multi-layered audiences, individual attributes, the specifics of the systems they use, and the contexts of their use.
Nancy K. Baym (Ph.D., University of Illinois) is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England. Her research interests include new media in personal relationships and in entertainment industries.
danah boyd (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Research Assistant professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her research interests include youth culture, social media, and networked publics.