Monday, November 26, 2007


my house 4
This is was what it looked like in the final stages...and this is just to say that I haven't completely gone from the blogosphere and will be posting again soon! Apart from being very tired from what is one of the major upheavals you can make meatspace, I've found it really difficult to get a broadband connection. There's a message to Ofcom on the way, but how ridiculous that one provider can block your connectivity with another. They must be short-staffed at the telephone exchange! In the meantime I've been making a start on the book 'Web 2.0 for schools' which is a collaboration with Julia Davies. More about this one soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I threw it all away

my house 1
Reading Benwell and Stokoe (see sidebar) is confirming my view that identity is constituted and performed through discursive practice. But I also want to extend this to the ways in which we express identity through consumption in order to acknowledge how we build social ties around the ways in which we consume, resist, parody and critique our consumption (another kind of discursive practice, perhaps). It’s not quite as simple as ‘we are what we consume’ it’s way more subtle than that; but neither are we the unthinking dupes of consumerism. More it’s how we consume, what we don’t consume, and what we throw away! This was brought home to me through frequent trips to recycling points and dumps as I sort through things in the run up to moving house!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Working ground

sad princess
We’ve been experimenting again with blogs and wikis on our Masters course. Yesterday we had 14 students with little previous experience construct a wiki of about 30 interlinked pages with out-facing links and rich media in just under 60 mins! I noticed 2 things much more clearly this time. Firstly that, because the writing/thinking and contribution is much more open, the potential for collaboration is often in conflict with self-confidence and impression management (this is probably more the case for blogs than it is for wikis). Secondly and not unrelatedly, the digital writing involved tends to make identity work overt as students tell their own stories and colour these with details from their non-professional lives, hybridizing self-disclosure with critical reflection in new and interesting ways. Blogs and wikis as tools for online collaboration and learning are explored in this article in Language Learning and Technology. And here it is argued that: ‘There is a lot of emerging literature regarding the potential of blogs and wikis as learning spaces. The majority conclude that these social software tools can be a transformational technology for teaching and learning. Blogs and wikis are tools supporting a social constructivist theory of learning. Social constructivism, a variety of cognitive constructivism, contends that knowledge is actively created by social relationships and interactions, emphasising a collaborative model for learning.’ OK, we know that the real challenge is introducing them and working them into what we do in intelligent ways.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blogs bloom

lilly flower
Blogging seems to be as buoyant as ever in the UK. This article reports that 'of Britain's web population of 26 million,15% kept a blog.' That’s a lot of blogs, a lot of writing on line, and a lot of posting! Much of the blogging boom is attributed to Facebook and MySpace, and of course commentators are caught up with defining the boundaries between blogs and other online formats. And so you get: 'The line between a blog and a website has finally blurred enough it's often hard to tell if you're a blogger or not,' said Jon Silk, of the PR firm Lewis. 'Users of sites such as Facebook and MySpace are all bloggers.' But I suppose the main message is worth re-stating digital literacy is becoming a central part of many people’s lives, and education is only just starting to catch up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Surveillance (again)

This report, from 2005, on the rfid-tagging of school students in California (as if they were criminals) caused a minor storm, but showed us the shape of things to come. More recently, a school in Doncaster started piloting a scheme in which students have rfid-chips sewn into their school badge. The manufacturers say that tagging helps "accurate and speedy pupil registration, child security." Also it aids " school behaviourial and reporting systems covering rowdy pupils" – I wonder how we got so bad at registration, and why we opt for custodial measures rather than trying to understand disaffection. Not surprisingly, civil liberties groups are not amused. Let’s face it students will soon realise that the technology locates the badge not the individual. Swap uniforms, lock your badge in a secret location, interfere with the rfid signal – the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

La fracture numerique

caged in
La fracture numerique (digital divide) is exposed in a survey of young adults in the US. The survey looked at patterns of use with respect to the social networking sites Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, and Friendster. The main headlines are that “gender, race and ethnicity, and parental educational background are all associated with use, but in most cases only when the aggregate concept of social network sites is disaggregated by service…” So, as we suspected we have a picture of unequal participation related to user background. The author concludes, here, that differences in the adoption of social networking services will contribute to digital inequality. A similar theme was identified here by Jackie who refers to the social graph (here).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Symbolic work?

favourite shop
This is a favourite amongst my most recent photographs. There is something about the juxtaposition of the pro-anarchy spaycan graffiti and the folksy North-West Frontier ethic of the take-away shop-sign that is very glocal. Also, on closer inspection, there’s some textualising of the self - as I am caught in reflection in the window – captured, commented upon and circulated.

Friday, November 02, 2007


hospital bed

I came across a reference to electronic paper and tried to work out what this might actually be. For once the wikipedia entry was unhelpful; this not much more so; and this lost me after the first few sentences. I must say, I can’t quite see its use - apart from securing a place in the quirky inventions gallery alongside author Margaret Atwood’s gadget for remote book-signing (the LongPen) and this from BoingBoing Gadgets – the Bible-writing robot!