Friday, March 21, 2008

More tube

Deep cut
We know that Web 2.0 sites are partly defined by their dependence on user content. In this respect YouTube is no different. But as I observed here, it doesn’t really promote participation through linking, indexing and commenting. In fact the connections that YouTube make are more outward facing, ending up in other sites, personal blogs and word of mouth recommendations. If you’re looking for the Flickr of moving image then Vimeo is the answer. You can upload video to share with people and friends via a contacts list…in short it’s more of a networking site, but will it challenge YouTube domination?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Email stress

tow path
Usually I take a positive stance on new communications technology. I think of new channels of communication as being inherently neutral in character, offering different opportunities and choices to users. Reflecting on email, particularly in the way that it is so intensively used in academic and institutional settings, I’ve come to wonder why it contributes to so much work-related stress. Now, of course, it’s not email itself – it’s the way we use email, and the working practices that it supports. I’ve talked to a number of colleagues about this, and watched how they sigh when referring to their inbox, and I’ve watched how people will flick across to their email when working on something else, just to delete irrelevant messages in a desperate bid to keep on top of things. And then there are those of us who obsessively check our mail – before going to bed, on waking up and so on. Here’s a wonderful piece on email apnea that reflects the phenomenon of email stress and even meanders into medical territory. The theme is not new. This article in the Guardian summarized some recent research. I’ve been unable to track down any more from Karen Renaud, but this is a useful introduction. As we approach a bank holiday and the possibility of a few days leave, how many of us will worry about the state of our mailbox on our return? Well, I’m not going to worry about it until I do! In the mean time here are my mail management strategies: try to keep the inbox as empty as possible; delete the obvious junk and reply-to-alls; read it, respond or delete; if it calls for a detailed response, send a holding message; limit the number of times you check your mail each day….And if you’re reading this and wondering what happened to your reply – well, they’re just strategies. Sometimes I forget to use them!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comic Poetry

I listened to a celebration of comic poet, Hovis Presley over lunch and my first thought was to reach for a YouTube clip which is exactly what I’ve served up today. I’m getting gradually more interested in the YouTube phenomenon as it enters more and more into public discourse and everyday conversation. This blog contrasts the anarchic nature of its archive with the popularity of the entertainment that it provides. Although it doesn’t quite deliver on developing community it certainly gets around – it’s so easy to embed the clips, so quotable and so unlike traditional media.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Focusing on text

I was here yesterday for the first seminar Theorising the benefits of new technology for youth: Controversies of learning and develop. There was some interesting debate, but I realized that I begin from a different starting point. My interest is in textual production and consumption and I draw theory from that, and apply new perspectives to it…perhaps that is characteristic of a digital literacy approach. I focus on resources, practices and processes of meaning making….So, when Rebekah, as discussant, used text to illustrate some points about framing and performing identity I began to see more clearly what I thought was missing from an otherwise engaging conversation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This was sent by a friend who said I liked the unusual...well, it's an old Sesame Street thing but it's a very visual representation, with animals unaware of the human meanings they're making. Well, the same thing's going on here (don't you just love that lounge music!) trivial, but visually quite interesting.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I was interviewed by Kate Spicer for the Sunday Times on Friday about the feminization of the internet through social networking. OK, so I didn’t get a mention (I’m all right about that), but I still think that the article does a good job of capturing current trends. The main message for me is that although girls and young women seem to be the most prolific producers and consumers this doesn’t translate into financial gain or industry success. This is an interesting aspect of Web 2.0 – it provides a platform for publishing, but the hidden publishers are the one’s who really profit. The rest of us just produce and consume the content.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


It was interesting introducing blogs and wikis to a new group of masters students today. I think Richard and I are getting better at it as it becomes a part of our pedagogy. In the morning people were blogging their reflections in a very natural way. There are clearly a range of views about the value of thinking-through-writing, but I'm really keen on it! At one point the room went very quiet as people started making comments on each other's blogs. I found myself replying to one with a link to this Marshall McLuhan site. The afternoon had a different flavour, with an introduction to wiki building. I was interested in the way the peer-to-peer technical support was mixed in with the content stuff. So often we teach skills and then expect learners to apply them. This seems a much better model, in which one kind of learning is folded in with another.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


no entry #2
I gave a seminar here today called Logged on: doing literacy in a virtual world, in which I talked about the Barnsborough project. I’ve noticed that when I do this it’s the unconventional nature of synchronous chat that usually captures most attention. Spelling and punctuation are sensitive issues with educators. I suppose we’re all caught in a double bind here, recognising that language and literacy change but also that policing the language, holding notions of correctness, and maintaining standards go with the job. Digital literacy brings this to the fore. I have one extract where children are playing hide and seek and one writes - gis sum clus wire yu ar – quite unselfconciously written as it would be spoken in South Yorkshire. There’s not only the issue of non-standard spelling here, but also all the issues around accent and dialect. I’m reminded of this (from 2006), which suggested that text-language might actually be helpful, but also all the argument for allowing vernacular language in school where it is appropriate. Where would it be more appropriate than in informal chat?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Changing mediascape

Today’s report on the 2008 Digital Entertainment Survey makes interesting reading. To say that: Homework is threatened by social networking, as the Guardian does, is bound to attract a bit of interest and a bit of complaint. But hidden beneath the headlines is some interesting information on media trends. For instance, over 60% of the under 25s regularly use social networking sites; most youngsters tend to fast forward through adverts; and the interest in on-demand programming is potentially huge. Social networking sites for content delivery are attractive with over 1 in 4 seeing the benefit of being able to chat with others or interact with the content as it is being streamed. Not so surprising is the age factor in online behaviour - 55% of males aged 15 to 19 regularly browse social-networking sites, only 13% of 45-to-54-year-old – are you surprised? The full report should be here, but I can’t find it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Autism in Second Life

This video presents some of the key issues for autism activists, showing the tensions between the medical model and the social model in everyday terms. But it also highlights how new technology – specifically the internet can be a powerful tool for such groups. Amanda Baggs has taken the Autism Liberation Front into Second Life, representing her everyday behaviours in virtual space….this is fascinating: why choose to be other than you are?