Homago: Acronym for Hang(ing) Out, Mess(ing) Around, Geek(ing) Out. Also spelled HOMAGO.
The homago acronym evolved from “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Learning and Living with New Media,” an influential 2008 Digital Youth Project report, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, that summarized the findings of “a massive ethnographic investigation into the place of new communications and media technologies in the lives of American young people.” (The copyright date on the PDF is 2010, but USC communications professor Henry Jenkins wrote about it in a November 2008 blog post, which I quote in the previous sentence.)
The report did not abbreviate the title, but by early 2012 the condensed form was appearing in the writings of educators and librarians. “The gist,” wrote New York Hall of Science’s Eric Siegel in February 2012, “is that kids learn along this kind of axis or overlapping venn diagram that includes the most casual (Hanging Out), proceeds to a more active and engaged, if still very diffuse mode (Messing Around), to a more focused and productive mode (Geeking Out.)” YOUmedia (“Youth-powered 21st century learning”), in five Chicago public library branches, was funded in part by the MacArthur Foundation “as a next step in the HOMAGO campaign,” as Siegel put it.
YOUmedia, Chicago. Image via The Works at NYSCI.
Other libraries have followed suit. In “Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond,” published March 8 in the print edition of the New York Times, reporter Katharine Q. Seelye writes:
Libraries have long facilitated the “finding” of information, [Nevada library consultant Joe Murphy] said. “Now they are facilitating the creating of information.”
That will be evident at the Boston library’s new section for teenagers. Teen Central is to become what is known as “homago” space — where teenagers can “hang out, mess around and geek out.” It will include lounges, restaurant booths, game rooms and digital labs, as well as software and equipment to record music and create comic books. The vibe will be that of an industrial loft, with exposed pipes and polished concrete floors, what [Boston Public Library president Amy] Ryan called “eco-urban chic.”
Watch a video of cultural anthropologist Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, one of the original Digital Youth Project researchers, talking about homago.