chapter  7
27 Pages

On Being Self-Taught |

Vignettes and cases studies detailed in the prior chapters demonstrate that kids learn many things by making videos with friends and family. Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the ethnographic interview. When I asked kids directly about how they learned to make videos, they often portrayed themselves as nearly autochthonous learners. Many kids espoused an ideal of being self-taught as part of a performance of technical identity. Such a value is common in technical cultures and among “nerds” and “geeks” who believe strongly in the importance of learning outside of school or formal institutions (Bucholtz 1998). Kids performed technical affiliation to the importance of being self-taught by de-emphasizing the contributions and impact of the media ecologies in which they grew up, as well as the social sources of support and direct assistance they received. Many kids’ definition of “learning” was relegated to highly traditional and formal versions of knowledge acquisition based on sit-down classroom models. Notably, the definition of the term self-taught varied; kids labeled many different methods as appropriate ways of teaching themselves about technology, computers, and video.