Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Social media

Hannah and Aysha
I notice that ‘social media’ is the new buzz word in the blogosphere. Social media, aka the Read/Write Web , provides us with the potential to build and extend our knowledge and understanding, develop niche interests, and connect with others beyond our face-to-face networks. This has major implications for education, liberating it from the constraints of time and place, making it a continuing process. Well is that emancipatory or oppressive? Are we stumbling towards a ‘control society’ where nothing ever gets finished, because it’s always in process: "In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything... school is replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment. It's the surest way of turning education into a business." (Deleuze (1995:179).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'll be back

I'm heading off into the sunset for a short break, so there'll be no new posts on this blog for a few days. Have added the New Literacies Sampler pdf to the sidebar (under books), please feel free to preview!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just a second

cat and mouse
I've been following the public debate (in so far as a blog debate is public) between Clay Shirky, Beth Coleman and Henry Jenkins around the status and significance of Second Life. I think I'm interested in Second Life for much the same reasons as Jenkins. It's what people do there - what they perform and what they produce that interests me. But, at least for the time being , I've drawn a line. First Life is too demanding, too complex and too full to even entertain the thought of having a parallel second one! That aside, Jenkins makes some powerful points. Here's a summary of the ones I find most significant:

1. SL provides a model of civic participation and cultural production;
2. The more significant uses of web-based communication lie in asynchronous written communication that frees us from the constraints of place and time;
3. SL represents a particular enactment of Bakhtinian carnival;
4. SL is keeping alive the idea that 'we might design and inhabit our own worlds and construct our own culture' (see 1.)

This said, I think we need a more in depth look at how virtual worlds could provide environments for a wider variety of things - collaborative learning and dispersed problem-solving amongst them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


weighty sign
People clearly have different motives for signing up to a photosharing site. My original motivation was to create a bank of pictures online that I could use on this blog. Since then things have changed a little - friends, family and a few online acquaintances will, from time to time, visit and comment on my photostream. I enjoy playing a small part in this community. This is quite a typical story of social networking. I’m aware that for others popularity/ attention is a strong drive. If you’re one of those, then Thomas Hawk has 10 tips for getting attention that you might like to look at. But of course it’s not a simple divide between attention-seekers and the rest. I quite regularly check on the popularity of my pics (mostly because it’s an accessible feature and partly because it’s nice to get some approval). The fastest climbing picture in my ‘views’ count is shown above. It’s a quite unremarkable picture of an icon on my daughter’s door. Posted on January 8th it’s now at Number 11 out of the 200 listed why? I guess it’s the tags. I’ve noticed ‘home’ and ‘house’ always attract attention (interesting)… ‘sign’ isn’t exactly a crowd-puller. So I guess it must be ‘weights’ and ‘lifting’. Now I’m running an experiment. I’m going to give the same tags and title to a random image and see how it goes on the ratings. There’s nothing better than a bit of attention, after all.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New literacies

Well, hard copy of the book has finally arrived and I think it really works well as a collection. There's a really good exploration of Web 2.0 stuff here, and I'm glad to be a part of it! New literacies/digital literacies is really well communicated in this short video which illustrates the changing nature of text as well as what happens behind the scenes in html, with feeds and so on. Not only informative but.. er um.. appropriately presented - ends with a great message.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Is it a sock or a is it a glove?
I’ve been doing some preliminary work on music-sharing. There’s not much of a literature in this area, but I did find this which shows how music-sharing is ‘richly interlinked with other social practices.’ The authors (writing in 2001) suggest that the challenge for developers is to create technologies that enable users to strengthen existing friendships, make new friends and social contacts. It struck me that there are some key differences between music-sharing and photo-sharing. In photo-sharing you offer your interests, your activity – parts of your personal narrative, whereas music-sharing is much more about signaling affiliation and identity through consumption. The power of recommendation is, after all a significant part of group membership. So achieves this through the act of naming musical tastes, but offers this through the act of sharing files themselves. More to follow…

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

MySpace (again)

Souvenir table
At last some common sense! Sameer Hindujar’s study shows that teenagers are more alert than they are often given credit for. He says ‘some of the threats allegedly posed by MySpace and its ilk may be a bit overhyped.’ There’s also this on social networking, and an interesting look at tagging as an online social practice (here) Many thanks to Sarah for these!

Monday, February 05, 2007


Not that I have a problem with it, but I found out that Neil Diamond has a MySpace page. In fact, according to this report, more than half of MySpace visitors are now age 35 or older. Why even my old friend Harry has his own page. But despite the demographic shift you can see a whole different look to these pages – different design principles are at work - and, for the most part, there’s a different business sense or purpose at work. In fact it seems less like social networking and more like putting down your marker in cyberspace.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Surfaces for writing

Butterfly tattoo
I was driving the car today when I noticed that someone had written 'I wish i had a car' in the dirt on my rear windscreen. They must have done that in mirror-writing for me to be able to read it. It's probably the simplest act of graffiti - the finger that writes on a dirty white van 'also availbale in white' or 'clean me I'm dirty' or, of course, something less polite... in a similar fashion there's writing on steamed up glass... Then, today, I read in Siri Hustvedt about 'dermagraphism' which seems to have become a generic term for a scratch on the skin that appears like a pattern. But in Hustvedt, it's more of a magical act in which passing a hand over the skin reveals a written message - a sort of psychic tattoo. Mmmm!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ludic spray

Jez's maze
What a strange-sounding coinage! It sounds a bit kinky, but actually its not... Originating in this interview, ludic spray is defined as ‘the stuff that is inspired by a formal game but doesn't adhere to its rules.’ We could include fanfiction, the emergent economies that grow up around online games and so on. So, when Aleks Krotoski talks about ludic spray in relation to this Ofcom consultation report it begins to make sense. She says that ‘the new media revolution has highlighted that everyone plays. We surf, we tweak, we mash up, we blog. It's how we grapple with new concepts, new ideas and new experiences. Play is an essential part of how we make sense of our universe.’ I’ve been turning those words over in my mind – it’s a popular Western liberal ideology (I even wrote my undergraduate dissertation on that topic all those years back!). Play power sounds like a universal, but is it? I’m not convinced about that. Anyway it’s certainly true about new media – a world in which the boundaries between play and work are often hard to define. And I guess most of my own interests are about tracing that ludic spray into learning in informal and formal educational settings (bring on the virtual world).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sisters online

Here’s an interview with Danah Boyd. There’s a bit that just seems to sum up what I wrote about Hannah yesterday. ‘Most of what's happening is they're building relationships, they're engaging socially, they're seeking validation, they're seeking negotiation of status, and this is happening both on and offline in a very fluid way.’ I think that’s accurate. Now whether Ruth (in the pic) uses MySpace in the same way is a moot point.