Who to Follow

Tara Hunt

She not only talks the talk of building community online, she also walks the walk. She is a LinkedIN Influencer, followed by over 110,000 people. Her Slideshare presentations have been viewed over 1.7 million times. She is in the top 5% of Twitter users worldwide with over 51,000 followers.

I first discovered Tara Hunt through her YouTube channel, Truly Social. I found her thinking on social media marketing and content marketing to be spot on. I connected with her on LinkedIn and Twitter, but later I came to understand the span (she was participating in online communities when modems were still dial up (1993)) and scope (where she worked on projects with Google, Facebook, Tripit, Slideshare, and more) of her online presence.

She authored the book, The Whuffie Factor in 2009, where she explores the creation of social capital online.

She recently started up her consulting business Truly Social which has grown exponentially over the last couple of years.            

Part of my reason for recommending her is that we are a bunch of educators who frequently refer to other educators in a self-legitimizing circle. I find occasional breaths of fresh air well off the ranch.         

Bling your Blog

I have been working with WordPress sites since 2009. So, I initially shied away from this extra-credit assignment.  However, I never really liked the orange of my previous theme. I selected it to go with the header picture of fall in Maine. I could have picked a complementary color instead, blue to the orange foliage, and modified that template in that way.

However, I’ve never done much with a left-hand menu, so this theme looked significantly different.  I wanted as well to have a new header image that reflects where I am living. I am a little troubled that the Twitter widget never comes out of the dark bottom part of the image. I did adjust the font color for the menu element to a darker color. I will continue to experiment with that and see if going lighter on the font color works better.

I also installed the plugin Autoptimize — which optimizes your website, concatenating the CSS and JavaScript code, and compressing it. We will see if the site loads any quicker as a result.

 

Exploring Digital Citizenship

Given that I am six classes into the program I have encountered examples of online engagement that stand out for me.  I will be recasting two here and introducing a third.  John Seeley Brown is focused on the open, online, and passion centered learning that occurs in online affinity groups. I think this is worth recasting as a facet of digital citizenship.

Online learning as a Digital Citizenship

In the following clip, just the segment about the professional surfer Dusty Paine, Brown describes a fascinating interplay between embodied lives and online lives.

This type of learning is about identity, about curiosity, about real compensation. I think these definitions of online learning and online learning community is substantially different from the online learning in which universities or human resource departments engage. To understand better, the process that Brown describes includes the following elements:

  • Shared passion
  • Face-to-face cohort
  • Practice capture technology
  • Play/practice (elements of gamification)
  • Online cohort
  • Published/peer reviewed (open)
  • Failure has a real cost (injury, financial loss)
  • Practice refinement and improvement (lather, rinse, repeat)
  • Success has potential for compensation/recognition in both real and virtual world

Here learning, and community is learner/passion-centric. Inquiry originates with passionate individuals following their dreams. That is, less frequently, or not at all how we describe school learners. More often in schools, our starting assumption is that learners are deficient in the knowledge we also assume that they need development across a broad curriculum. This approach to learning puts identity, curiosity, and real compensation at the far end of learning.

Online Gaming as a Digitial Citizenship

I have scratched the surface on online gaming and the production of content that surrounds and abounds in that venue.  A particularly fruitful example is DayZ.  The game itself is in development. Customers purchase a beta version through Steam.  The premise is the world after a Zombie Apocalypse. Players are spawned hungry, thirsty, and minimally equipped, and if they are not successful at avoiding Zombies, disease, hypothermia, and gathering equipment, their avatar will die fairly quickly. But beyond that are the other players who may be bandits, heroes, or simply worse off and desperate for survival. Sometimes trust is developed, and players band together trying to survive, and sometimes they fight and die. The game itself is rough and buggy.  However, it is a fascinating environment for social experimentation but more for live streaming. Some players are so successful with their online improvisational storytelling that they have turned gameplay into full-time work.

Accordingly, I offer Brennan at GoldGloveTV and on Twitch as one example. We are broadly familiar with YouTube. Twitch, however, is more of a niche social media and bears some further introduction. Twitch is a platform that allows computer gamers to broadcast live and real-time their game-play.  Frequently there is a social component to the gameplay, either through the game being a massive-multiplayer-online (MMO) or through a co-op element to otherwise single player games. Twitch facilitates the creation of online communities and potentially a revenue stream for successful “hosts.” Content creators can monetize their accounts by permitting advertising and promoting subscriptions.

  • Brennan O’Neill is 25 and has been on YouTube since 2009. Among gamers, he is well known and widely subscribed to as well. He and his information are indiscriminately available online. And, he is well known for his drunken live streaming and his unfiltered, sometimes inappropriate, game commentary. His social media includes Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and some game related sites. Brennan employs a Video Editor to assist with the creation of videos. He has a cohort of friends with whom he games and creates content.

GolgGloveTV Logo

I am fascinated by the nested communities and the complexity of players digital citizenship. There are the choices and stories that players create in the game environment. Then as they subscribe to and interact with content creation, there is another type of citizenship. And this unlike the previous example is entirely online. Certainly, Brennen, for example, shares aspects of his embodied life but he could just as well not, and nothing would be lost.

Digital Citizenship Proscriptive Pedagogy

As a striking contrast to these previous examples, I offer the website, Digital Citizenship. This website appears to be the project of a single person, Mike Ribble.  The contact page, says this:

Mike has worked both in the education and technology fields.  He has been in both public as well as private educational institutions.  His teaching experience has been from high school students up to university graduate students.  The work on Digital Citizenship was the culmination of a three year dissertation project.  The concepts for Digital Citizenship are geared toward education, but are important for anyone who uses technology. Mike has spoken to school districts and conferences both in the United States and internationally.

I am ok with Ribble’s entrepreneurial hustle and decision to take a dissertation and repackage and publish in this way.  And while this particular bio is pretty useless I was able to quickly locate Ribble on LinkedIn, and with what was presented there I feel more comfortable with him engaging as a thought leader. Alas, clicking through the pages of resources and publications it seems this site is languishing a bit with resources from 2015 being the most current.

So turning to his content, in one of my podcasts I reviewed his nine-elements definition of digital citizenship. He creates a handy mnemonic for remembering his elements, REPs.

Respect

Etiquette

– Access

– Law

Educate/Connect

Literacy

– Communication

– Commerce

Protect

-Rights and Responsibility

– Safety (Security)

– Health and Welfare

The only point that annoys me is “Health and Welfare” I am too much an anarchist to accept that others have a claim on my lifestyle choices. Ribble elucidates his meaning this way:

Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices are issues that need to be addressed in a new technological world.  Beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction.  Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology. Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training.

Nonetheless, it is regarding content, my only hangup. However, I bridle fiercely at his phrasing, “Users need to be taught…”. Indeed, this outside in, and deficiency approach to learning is strikingly out of place when contrasted with the organic and lived examples offered above. What exactly is it that Ribble will teach Brown’s international cohort of surfers or Brennen? Rather, Ribble is teaching parents and educators, even people like myself more a visitor than a resident. His content is good and relevant even for online residents, alas, the approach is flawed for reaching them, I think. The digital citizens described above are organically and improvisationally creating their citizenship, and certainly, we see Ribble’s elements in their activities, but their engagement with them is from the inside out. Ribble’s elements remind me of codes of virtue ethics the Scout Law or the Ten Commandments for examples. Probably this as well has a place in our thinking about digital citizenship, but it feels very different and is challenging to reconcile.

References

Brown, J. S. (Producer). (2013). John Seely Brown on Motivating Learners (Big Thinkers Series). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/41pNX9-yNu4

White, D. [jiscnetskills]. (2014, March 10). Visitors and Residents. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/sPOG3iThmRI.

ZMD, (2005, January 6). Vlogging. In Urban Dictionary. Retrieved September 29, 2016, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=vlog

Where are you now?

I refer to my Yawp post which I began concerning the work done by David White, & Alison Le Cornu on Visitors and Residents in online engagement. As well my Make and Share SoundCloud “podcasts.”

Initial Ruminations on Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship Redux

Thank you, Chris, for not needing me to duplicate work.

I think the Initial Ruminations on Digital Citizenship “podcast” is closest to the assignment as given. I will have to contest a bit that imagining that we start from whole cloth on any topic is a little simplistic.  So, I do not apologize for citing my sources.

Your Choice Assignments: Think About Your Thinking

  • Think About Your Thinking 

Online Self/Embodied Self

In crafting the audio for the Make and Share, I fell into this manner of speaking. I like it markedly better than the real/virtual phrasing of our divided experience. We seem to forget that our night time dreaming is real too, for one example, even if it is fantastical. I had not fully articulated the idea previously despite Skip’s assignments on web presence, but I am intrigued by the notion that we have an avatar online it is faceted by our sites of participation and yet is cumulative. In truth, it is similar to stories we tell about our embodied selves, lawyer, Mother, etc.. However, it is more abstracted. I think I mean by this Schumacher’s criticism/observation that a face-to-face conversation was meaningfully different from a phone call. I think his point was two-fold that we have evolved and made ourselves human in part because of our face-to-face conversations. Only of late has our communication technology become so sophisticated that we can lose track of it. Schumacher felt that rather than taking it for granted, and worse assuming an artificial posture at the outset of our inquiry we, to more precisely engage in our investigations, instead needed to inhabit our bodies first. Unfortunately, this abstracted avatar can be taken for granted too, as well its fictive origin, and we can become seduced by our participation in a representation of an altogether different event. Chris, you raise an interesting issue and that is our cyborg enhancement of our embodiments, or more subtle is our organic improvement of our embodiments. We have a long history of augmentation for beauty and this likely will continue.  Certainly, one category of this is therapeutic. But, we are on the verge of augmentation for performance both cyborg and organic and that likely will call our notions of fundamental embodiment and being deeply into question.

 

Your Choice Assignments: Search & Research

Technological Somnambulism

Definition:

Langdon Winner seems to develop a McLuhanian concern about the value-free quality of tools; he as well questions technological determinism. Versions of determinism as defined in Wikipedia:

Hard determinists would view technology as developing independently from social concerns. They would say that technology creates a set of powerful forces acting to regulate our social activity and its meaning. According to this view of determinism, we organize ourselves to meet the needs of technology and the outcome of this organization is beyond our control or we do not have the freedom to make a choice regarding the outcome (autonomous technology)….

Soft determinism, as the name suggests, is a more passive view of the way technology interacts with socio-political situations. Soft determinists still subscribe to the fact that technology is the guiding force in our evolution, but would maintain that we have a chance to make decisions regarding the outcomes of a situation. This is not to say that free will exists, but that the possibility for us to roll the dice and see what the outcome exists….

“For the interesting puzzle in our times is that we so willingly sleepwalk through the process of reconstituting the conditions of human existence” (107). Winner offers several reasons that we take our technology for granted. One is the “tool” metaphor that we employ in speaking and thinking about technology.  We pick it up and use it and put it down.  Second is the disconnection between making and consuming technology.  Third, is the illusion that technology creates new worlds in which we inhabit. The second is fascinating and particularly right with our new seduction and fascination with communications technology. The internet and my cell phone are tools beyond my keen.  Whereas, I have used a forge to make a simple but useful pot hanger for cooking with a dutch oven suspended above a fire.  I have knapped stone to craft a quick and dirty serrated knife. Turning back to the first the moral argument we attach to our technologies divorces them from any implicit ethical values, rather we say, this knife can be used well to cut bread or used poorly to harm a person.  We rarely think beyond that statement.

 From this point of view, the important question about technology becomes, As we “make things work,” what kind of world are we making? This suggests that we pay attention not only to the making of physical instruments and processes, although that certainly remains important, but also to the production of psychological, social, and political conditions as a part of any significant technical change. Are we going to design and build circumstances that enlarge possibility for growth in human freedom, sociability, intelligence, creativity, and self-government? Or are we heading an altogether different direction?(112)

So, for me, “technological somnambulism” represents the negative phrasing of the positive values entailed in notions of “appropriate technology” or perhaps said better is that taken together we can probably make better choices about our technological adoptions and applications. Wikipedia offers this first definition of appropriate technology, “Appropriate technology is an ideological movement (and its manifestations) encompassing technological choice and application that is small-scale, decentralized, labor-intensive, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and locally autonomous.”

I stumbled on a fascinating use of the online resource Quizlet. Langdon Winner, “Technologies as Forms of Life” a short set of flashcards that captures ideas in the article. In truth, it does not cover what I consider all of the key and crucial ideas but is still a fun little resource.

I  also stumbled on a previous ED 654 student’s blog posting on the topic, and Chris’s comments as well. Sarah Kessler-Frick explores the question here. Her blog post is dated in as much as some of her linked material no longer connects. But she wrestles with the same fundamental ideas.

References

Appropriate Technology. (27 May 2017)In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriate_technology

Kessler-Frick, Sarah. “Technological Somnambulism” EdHeadEd accessed May 29, 2017.

Technological Somnambulism. (5 January 2017). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_somnambulism

Technological Determinism, (16 May 2017). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 29,2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_determinism

Winner, L.  Technologies as Forms of Life. in Readings in the Philosophy of Technology., ed. David Kaplan Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, pp. 103-113.

searchandresearch

Your Choice Assignments: Search & Research

Digital Humanities

Just having completed Skip Via’s ED 677 Digital Storytelling class, it made sense to start with this topic.

Definition:

Bryan Alexander offers a working definition: “Simply put, it is telling stories with digital technologies. Digital stories are narratives built from the stuff of cyberculture” (Alexander, 2010, Loc 110 of 3318). I think there is a subtle difference between these two sentences. The first sentence is broadly inclusive.  And so content creators who purchase a sailboat and document their adventures online and content creators who stream MMO gameplay are both engaged in digital storytelling according to the first sentence. Alexander’s second sentence I think modifies the first, focusing the definition on being more exclusively online, “stuff of cyberculture.” I think this turn privileges the MMO streamer’s story. This is a turn with which I do not easily resonate.  Rather, it is our shifting back and forth between our online selves and our embodied selves that describe this historic moment for humanity. Perhaps in a few years with AI and robotics have lightened the burden of our embodied selves we will have a fuller sense of entirely digital humanities.

Pausing, because my undergraduate degree is in humanities it seems reasonable to ask what that meant previously? “Humanities” were those fields of inquiry other than math, science and social science. So for example, poetry, painting, theater, and writing both essay and creative, were some of the inquiries that traditionally informed the “humanities.” Hence, why I at the outset reached back to the storytelling of last semester. In summary, these were inquiries that tried to make sense of our human being. And, that detail, I think is why I hold out for a notion of digital humanities at this time that explores our shifting between online and embodied selves.

That said, it is prescient and relevant to anticipate a future where we live almost entirely online. Celebrating Alexander’s foresight, we can begin to predict a “digital humanities built from the stuff of cyberculture.” I recall studying, in the 1990’s, with an artist who was using fractal geometry to create images, or perhaps to let a computer create images, original each of them. His struggle to define “art” at that moment was interesting, but taking it the next turn, what happens when computers refer to images constructed by computers to craft subsequent images? When humans view these images what impact might that have on our person? The computers lack emotion, certainly, AI may become sophisticated enough as to offer us a convincing simulation but that is not the same thing as passion or desperation or any other distinctly human trait.  Will we use our unburdening to become distinctly human, or will we just consume and gradually retreat from our human being?

The Wikipedia article on Digital Humanities is particularly useful in term of its “values and methods” section. If we are going to define something as “new” part of that newness necessarily needs be methods, for the postmodernist in me, I love the blurring that is implicated in these methods, for example, one tells a story, and is at once writing literary criticism as well.  Treating programming languages as languages and discovering the poetry in them is fascinating as well, as examples.

Historically the arts are driven by patrons and donors, and happily, we see that the National Endowment for the Humanities has a subsite devoted to the Digital Humanities. The Office of Digital Humanities despite its unfortunately glum name offers access to grant funding and a wealth of information about projects and research.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education provides both a catalog of resources and debate around the relative accessibility of digital humanities as a turn in one’s professional scholarship. One might say that this article is itself a practice in digital humanities since it curates other catalog’s of resources as well. It is a criticism/observation of higher education’s moment.

centerNet is an international resource for digital humanities scholars. It catalogs the locations of centers of study around the world.

The online journal “Digital Humanities Quarterly” has been published since 2007, they describe themselves saying, ” open-access, peer-reviewed, digital journal covering all aspects of digital media in the humanities.” A quick review of recent articles shows a pretty even split on doing digital humanities and on methodological self-reflexion as one would expect from a youthful cluster of research.

Digital Humanities although a commonplace in higher education and academic libraries is perhaps less ubiquitous a notion among the general public. This article again captures the unsettled moment in higher education. Interestingly reporting on an MLA presentation from a community college professor simultaneously advocating for digital humanities and celebrating how the lack of funding at her home institution forces her to be precise in her disciplinary practice. Other comments point to the joint practicing of scholarship by professors and students, changes in publishing, the article ends with a salute to the media literacy that grows out of digital humanities scholarship offering that as a pretty good reason to be involved on its own.

I think these articles were interesting because my approach to Digital Humanities was focused on what ordinary people were doing online with SoundCloud, Storify, YouTube for examples. I was thinking about the production of music, art, and storytelling, not about the scholarship of and around those activities. The scholarship, however, does an interesting thing to our traditional notion of humanities because the practices blur some of the clear lines between social science and humanities or math and humanities and that is fascinating.

References

Alexander, B. (2011). The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger.

Digital Humanities. (2017, Jan. 26). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_humanities

Bessette, L.S. (March 14, 2017).Digital Humanities Training Opportunities and Challenges, In The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 28, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/digital-humanities-training-opportunities-and-challenges/63709

Fenton, W. (JANUARY 13, 2017). Digital Humanities: The Most Exciting Field You’ve Never Heard Of, In PC Mag. Retrieved May 28, 2017, http://www.pcmag.com/commentary/350984/digital-humanities-the-most-exciting-field-youve-never-hea