HOMAGO Essentials

Hanging out should

  • Support spontaneity.
  • Be perceived as low-risk and non-judgmental.
  • Feel like "neutral" territory for youth who might be coming from different places.
  • Have flexible boundaries to allow coming and going.
  • Actively support, reward, or foster collaborative activity.
  • Accentuate visibility of further participation, through artifacts and activities, to encourage further exploration.

Messing around should

  • Support self-directed, interest-driven activity.
  • Support and encourage low-commitment entry points, such as commenting or feedback.
  • Provide clear prompts for leveling up.
  • Support the display of relevant artifacts and provide performance platforms.
  • Create easy-access mechanisms for tinkering and making and doing.
  • Take advantage of natural draws, like technology that youth want to use.
  • Actively support, reward, or foster collaborative activity.
  • Provide opportunities for conversation.
  • Incorporate mentoring from adults with the expertise to provide encouragement and feedback.
  • Stimulate further exploration, through people or access to cross/multimedia.
  • Create convenient ways to connect to other related and interdisciplinary "messing around" opportunities.
  • Provide enough structure to make activities clear.
  • Allow for experimentation, with "no right answer."
  • Give youth some sense of ownership of what they did, through performance of physical artifacts or seeing how they contributed to a larger effort.

Geeking out should

  • Allow youth to level up in their areas of interest.
  • Involve guided instruction from trained mentors, institutional staff, or other media specialists.
  • Offer hands-on workshops and projects centered around making and doing.
  • Provide opportunities for focused dialogue and collaboration.
  • Give youth avenues for performance and other ways of publicly displaying their work.
  • Challenge youth to grow in their pursuits.

YOUmedia is based on these hanging out, messing around and geeking out (HOMAGO) principles, which inform space design, resources, professional development and curriculum. It should be noted that HOMAGO may not be a linear progression within the space, but often happens in an organic, nonlinear fashion. HOMAGO can often occur within the same activity. For example, within a spoken-word event, youth are "hanging out" by attending the performance, "messing around" by beginning to draft a piece and perform it and "geeking out" by performing a finished piece.

Much of what we read about in the press details the amount of time youth spend online and with other digital pursuits. While the "time" question is important, a more critical question is "what" youth are doing online. Professor Ito's work focuses on how exactly this time is being spent and ways to engage youth by adapting new media platforms, communities, and skills for greater educational purposes.

At YOUmedia, Professor Ito's research provides the foundation for how institutions, educators, and youth themselves can transform much of the time spent using digital media into productive, educational, and socially empowering activities.

The full text of Professor Ito's paper is available here.