teen activism on the web

Thursday, October 27, 2001
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Bartos Theater
MIT Media Lab

20 Ames Street


The democratic potential of new media depends in part on their capacity to empower groups that historically have had a limited voice in politics. Some American teenagers are now exploring the power of the Internet in imaginative ways. Examples include Peacefire, mobilizing arguments against the censorship effects of software filters; the anti-smoking Truth campaign; the Goth community's organized challenge to the post-Columbine moral panic. These instances of collective political action illustrate something of the way in which digital media have enabled teens to make a difference in national and even international policy debates. This forum will combine scholarly perspectives on teen culture on the Web with front-line accounts by youth activists about how they have deployed the resources of new media.


Bennett Haselton
has been publishing reports on blocking-software technology on the Peacefire.org Web site since 1996. Peacefire's reports, featured on a variety of news outlets, have been used as evidence in court cases challenging the constitutionality of blocking software in public libraries. He works as a contract hacker, finding and fixing security holes in Internet servers and applications.

Henry Jenkins
is the Ann Fetter Friedlaender Professor of Humanities and director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies. His books include From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, The Children's Culture Reader, and Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. He writes about the intersection of culture and technology in his column, "The Digital Renaissance," in Technology Review.

Christine Ortiz
is a founding member of both the Florida SWAT/Truth and National Truth campaigns about the dangers of smoking. An MIT sophomore majoring in Chemical Engineering and Political Science, Ortiz is a consultant to many state and national social-change campaigns including the American Legacy Foundation.

Susannah Stern teaches in the communication department at Boston College, where her latest research addresses adolescent Internet use, especially personal home pages. Stern received her Ph.D. in mass communication research from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.