Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Padlock on green

padlock on green
At the recent SSHRC/CSSE conference in Newfoundland I used a Flickr slide to make a few points about digital literacy and social networking. By a sort of organic process this has turned into a short paper. Here's a bit from the abstract: '..using the idea of ‘affinity spaces’ (Gee, 2004) this paper shows how tagging within the Flickr photo-sharing community can lead to learning and knowing, and new ways of seeing. Through a narrative account of my involvement in an affinity space, I develop a model to explore the processes at work in this instance of socially-situated learning. This is used to suggest the educational potential of online social-networking environments.' You can beta-read the paper here. Any comments or feedback would be much appreciated.

Monday, October 30, 2006


lip balm front
Today, I closely examined a belated birthday gift from Ruth. Lip balm. But, packaging is everything and this really does take the biscuit. Peppermint Schnapps flavoured Mullet lip balm... (you can order it online). I took a photograph of it and then finished off 'Padlocking Literacies' which I'll put up a link to in the next xouple of days. Then I wrote up the review of Travel Notes. I concluded that: 'Pahl and Rowsell’s book is certainly value for money and provides a good introduction to some of the key themes and debates in literacy and literacy education. It is unlikely to attract the attention of many teachers, because of the way in which it foregrounds the theoretical, but it will be most useful to research students and those on Masters programmes. More than anything else it will provide a way of navigating the complex terrain of contemporary thinking in literacy at a time when that is certainly needed.' That'll be in English in Education - probably the Spring edition.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The information

I was down in London yesterday for this and after I met up with Ruth. I like the picture I took, it looks like she’s wearing a mask! We had coffee in a place near Bond Street. During the day we heard a lot about information literacy. Kathy Lemair of SLA was talking about it, I’d been reading about it on the train journey and can refer you to work here and here and in Sheffield (partly). These kind folk define it as: ‘the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.’ So that’s literacy isn’t it?

Also in the literacy field its worth looking closely at the new Primary National Strategy. In Year 2 we have: ‘Wordprocess short narrative and non-narrative texts’ – that’s under Presentation. Under Creating and Shaping Texts in year 5 we have ‘Create multi-layered texts, including use of hyperlinks and linked web pages’ and ‘Use a range of ICT programs to present texts, making informed choices about which electronic tools to use for different purposes’ also under Presentation. There’s more there, too but how will it be interpreted? And finally for today, I’m keeping a close eye on the campaigning here where a local group is trying to oppose exploitative mining in the Peak District.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Looking back

old post office with hookah
Looking back , this used to be the post office on the corner. It's a sign of the times that its changed to an internet cafe, and next day delivery won't be a problem any longer. Looking back on this (which was a long and serious post), I found the discussion quite interesting. The network metaphor is worthy of analysis, but I’m not so sure I’m so concerned about the ‘dark matter’ between nodes. There’s some interesting comment on the emptying of space (Giddens makes a similar observation) and I do think it’s worth thinking about the institutions, technologies and spaces that support and facilitate networking, but I don’t see Networked Individualism as anti-social, just more fluid than earlier social systems. If, however, Networked Individualism is our future then there are implications for civic participation and political engagement that will result from a new sense of belonging which may not necessarily be anchored to the nation or state.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dogs/writing 2

fish 'n' chips
If you can't see the detail on the shutter picture, it's a classic of marker-pen annotation that says: "Please open all the time - thank you. You do the best chips". And here’s a PDF of the “Dogs and writing” piece that I promised earlier in the week. I’m now onto “Padlocking Literacies” which looks at digital literacy, Flickr and social networking. Then I’m going to revise the paper from my Canada presentation…and then there’s a book proposal to put together. Work hard get reward is a very basic Pavlovian-consumerist drive, but nonetheless I’ve decided I want one of these. Of course a way of subverting consumerism is to play – if you can’t afford your favourite i-Pod make one out of paper at this site.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tops on them towers

An old man stopped me when I was photographing the new mosque. “See they got tops on them towers.” He commented. “Looks a lot better.” I replied. There was an awkward silence. “Well.” He said, with a rising intonation. I was left wondering whether this was local ambivalence or a sign of hardening attitudes. I suspect the latter. To make matters worse we now seem to be embroiled in an unholy row over niqabs and hijabs and how they might or might not interfere with teaching and learning. I ask you! Banning has to be the worst approach, but here goes an HE institutions banning the niqab. Thank goodness there’s still the voice of reason. I don’t mind admitting I wear weird clothes…and at last we have a decent pair of minarets in Sheffield.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I always like reading Ideant, but you know what, I think my attention span is shrinking. I’ve been doing quite a lot of thinking and writing about social networks recently, so this seemed really interesting: The tyranny of nodes: Towards a critique of social network theories (link). Maybe I’m just tired, but I found the post too long to hold my attention. I’ll come back to it tomorrow when I may have something more intelligent to say. Meanwhile, any striking thoughts anyone?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dogs or writing?

At last the article “Do you like dogs or writing” (Merchant, Dickinson, Burnett and Myers) is published in English in Education. As Dr Joolz observes this is not available electronically. I’ll put a link to the PDF in the next couple of days. Also the subtitle: children’s digital message exchange has a glaringly bad typo (childens*). OMG! I think I’ll become an avatar to hide any embarrassment – here’s the place to do just that. And if you like full on rock or grungy blues look out for Joe Bonamassa. It’s a bit of a retro sound, but if you’re in the mood, then why not.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I had a great time in St Johns, and yesterday I uploaded my photos. I was particuarly pleased with the sunsets from Signal Hill. The one above is not photoshopped - it's just as it was, wine-coloured water - awesome! (You can see the set here). I missed National Blog Day because I was away, but I did think it was a jolly good idea. That's history, geotagging is geography...is there no end? Finally, I'm introducing Zoya at Princess-la-la, what a great blog!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Safely back home...

I’m just back from this in Canada, which was a really interesting event. It was good to be working with blogger friends as well as unblogger friends. It was probably a good idea not to go iceberg-hunting. Talking about Flickr stuff helped me develop a new angle on seeing and tagging which I need to write out in more detail soon. And on the topic I’ve just found out that Flickr introduced geotagging in August this year. How cool is that? It’s so simple, you just drag and drop pictures onto a map, satellite or hybrid. I started doing this with my Newfoundland set and then realized that that was pretty pointless – but there are lots of other contexts in which this could be really useful (padlocks for example!).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On the road

Elephants .

Getting to East London was quite a mission. We took the North Circular because of big delays on the M25 Eastbound only to discover that was down to one lane, too. Mama flies in from Casablanca this afternoon and come sundown we’ll have a big feast! Hannah visited this afternoon and showed me her new MySpace site and also gave me the address of Ruth’s music page.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

As they say...

Birthday card
Today is my birthday, so I thought I’d show my favourite birthday card. Tomorrow I’m on my way down to London, and will stay with my daughters. On Sunday I’ll be flying out to Canada and, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be here on Sunday evenin, in the company of good friends! I’m pretty much prepared (although I haven’t packed yet) – not sure when I’ll next be posting again here, we’ll see…

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Live post

Morrocan carpet
I'm blogging with "Group C", they're final year students on the BA programme at Sheffield (so this is a demo)....it's freezing in here - they told me to write this!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google literacy

bud in rain
There’s more of the good works of Google here in the form of Google Literacy. And then there’s this commentary. But if you search Google using the keyword "literacy", their own service doesn’t appear in any entry on the first 5 pages (so they can’t be accused of rigging the ranking). It does, however, come up as number two on the sponsored links – well, fair enough!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Google bombs

Here’s the definition of a googlewhack – I’ve posted on that before, and it seems like harmless fun. Not so google bombs. “Google bombs are constructed by manipulating the relative ranking of an Internet search term and thereby creating alternate constructions of reality through collective action online.” This article explores 2 notorious examples of google bombing, whereas this post is a thoughtful exploration of the politics that lurk behind the phenomenon.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Beta-blogger is still coming together, but offers a range of new possibilities, including the long-awaited function of tagging your posts with categories. Blogger site information explains that there are problems in articulating with Flickr, so I’ve hung back, but this post seems to suggest it’s now fixed. Another article seems to suggest slow migration, so I’m going to be cautious and hang back for a while. I note with interest that if you login to Beta Blogger by mistake things appear to have gone all wrong – I wonder whether this accounts for some of the problems friends have reported?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Moon festival

Today was Chinese Moon Festival, which you can find out about here. I dutifully ate my moon cake, and looked up the story behind the festival. I also looked up Henry Giroux, who I haven’t read for a while and decided to use this, which is so clear, in my paper:

“Central to the notion of critical pedagogy is the need to rewrite the dynamics of cultural and pedagogical production as part of a broader vision that extends the principles and practices of human dignity, liberty and social justice.” (1994:63)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


It’s great to see that the Digital Generations book is out (that’s the book of the conference). Some people are so prolific! Perhaps someone will ask me to review it, you never know your luck, anyway I'm looking forward to reading it. And today’s the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street – a very significant point in British history. So why hasn’t Tony Blair made it a national holiday? In fact I’ve checked the news and he seems to have forgotten to mention it altogether.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New car changes shape suddenly

New car!
Well, that's how it looks now...so rather than dwell on it, I got on with assessing a pile of dissertations and doing some planning. All a bit tedious, so I also put a bit of time in on my paper for Newfoundland, which has now changed title from "Mind the gap" to "Mind the gap(s)", simply because everything looks better when it's plural. And then to distract myself further, this evening, I looked at context-aware gaming (the link is here).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Words, words, words

English speakers seem to have a real appetite for books about their own language, whether they be of the can’t-spell/poor grammar-moral-panic variety or the aren’t-words-interesting school. The latest from the aren’t-words-interesting school is “I smirt, you stooze, they krump” which promises to be an entertaining look at neologisms. Is this linguistic self-obsession normal? I’d really like to know whether book publishers of other languages have opened up the same market of amateur fascination with language itself?