YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

Youth Media and its Digital Afterlife
  • Project Description

    Youth Media and its Digital Afterlife, led by Network member Elisabeth Soep, followed young people’s creative, investigative, and civic-minded projects through the stages of development, distribution, and—crucially—what happened once the work was released to networked audiences. The project explored cases in which young people’s projects triggered unexpected outcomes. Runaway spread, comment streams that go off the rails, critical re-postings, policy uptake, absolute lack of traction: outcomes YMDA saw as calling for new literacies and social practices involving youth and their educational allies. A story’s digital afterlife can shift its intended scope, and scale, and what’s at stake, as a result of the post-publication activities of readers, viewers, users, and community members. Projects of interest included media stories and youth-designed technology. Working in conjunction with the MAPP team, Youth Media and its Digital Afterlife examined the tricky role of “youth voice” in digital-age civics, and identified implications for how we understand, investigate, and support young people’s agency in public spheres.


    As Research Director and Senior Producer at Youth Radio, the Digital Afterlife Project’s Lissa Soep produced a series of stories with youth reporters on media, learning, and civics for outlets including National Public Radio. The series was called Youth Radio’s Learning Innovations Desk. Alongside other YPP members, Lissa worked to share research insights from Network research with audiences beyond academia, which included posts on Boing Boing.

    New Literacies and Participatory Cultures, Education's Digital Future, Stanford University


    By Any Media Necessary, Transmedia Hollywood: Spreading Change


    Soep, E. 2014. Participatory Politics: Next Generation Tactics to Remake Public Spheres. Cambridge: MIT Press.


    Youth Radio Learning Innovations Desk story from NPR: Modifying the Dollhouse


    Boing Boing 2013