Tag Archives: social media

Google Alert for the Soul

See on Scoop.itNetwork learning

Peter Evans‘s insight:

An interesting but unconvincing argument presented here. The corrupting influence of consumerism on authenticity appears to be to be based on a ‘straw man’ argument accepting identity as individual. The corruption is due to the colonisation of self-actualisation by consumerism. Yet, arguably, the idea of an authentic individual (internal) identity has always been problematic.

Secondly, the argument that individual identity is being transformed by social media to a socialised and computationalised (and networked?) identity appears to rely on technological determinism. Social media has not made “Authenticity as fidelity to an autonomous, unified a priori self” untenable. It was always untenable as humans are inherently social animals. Furthermore, the idea that the quantified self is a way of locating an authentic self seems distinctly flawed and would benefit from a more critical analysis of the ‘computational turn’ in the social sciences. Ben Williamson’s notion of the ‘data doppleganger” seems more appropriate here (http://bit.ly/1lwXlIC)


See on thenewinquiry.com

Freelance Film workers in Beirut: An Ethnographic Network Analysis by Arek Dakessian,

These are some rough notes on this presentation from a series of seminars run by the Social Network Analysis Group in Scotland (SNAS). The intro to the talk states:

Arek is a first year PhD student in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, and his research mainly revolves around networks of cultural production in cities, specifically Beirut. He aims to unpack the relationship between processes of cultural production and consumption and the day-to-day political economy of his city.

His presentation titled “Freelance Film workers in Beirut: An Ethnographic Network Analysis” is the same title he gave a paper currently under review, but his presentation would focus more on doing a dual mode social network analysis based on ethnographic data and some of his dissertation findings.

This is a small informal seminar group. My notes will be very partial and live (and with poor spelling and grammer).

Announced that SNAS as received some funding to become more research-focused and link with the other universities in Scotland and to run two workshops in 2014. The workshops will be focused on what people are doing in Scotland on SNA and whether there is potential for collaborative research.

Arek’s research is on networks of cultural producers and  mainly film-makers in Beirut. He will be talking about the experience of practicing and the research experience of conducting SNA, especially shifting from ethnography and mixed method network analysis.

Narratives of Bierut dominated by bombs and nightlifes. The reality is more complex (as you’d expect). Consists of approx 18 different sects cutting across cultural and ethic boundaries; also 80k + non-national domestic staff (who are not allowed to practice their religions as not generally one of the 18 official sects; also Palestinian refugees based in camps as well as refugees from Syria. So have clear interplay between politics and culture and complex networks of cultural production.

Arek’s ethnographic research on social capital in networks of cultural production – essentially how to gain access to those networks and to “make it”.Initially completed some basic SNA involving centrality but not fully developed.

Ethnographic SNA is difficult in terms of sampling and bounding the network as well as data gathering. Using textual data such as credit lists linking people, objects and events. To ethnographically understand “what is going on” – identifies who is not included in the textual data.

Seeks to enhance SNA through using textual data, eg, the politics of network and multi-plexity and the double ’embeddedness’ of SN – networks within networks. In the case of Beirut, sect/ religious networks also very important in understanding the networks of cultural production.

Will be undertaking dual mode of network analysis and then to explore the semiotics running behind these networks. So the interaction of politics and cultural production can be explored.

Social network: knowledge and learning at work

Here are my slides from a workshop held for the University Forum for Human Resource Development (UHRD)

My talk was followed by Amy Woodgate talking about the University of Edinburgh‘s experience with MOOCs. There is a detailed report on the University’s first round of MOOCs available here. What surprised me, was the extent of the treatment of MOOCs as Open Education Resources  and the positive way the University was supporting other universities in using MOOC content for their own degree programme, other organisations in using MOOC resources for workplace learning and even schools using the MOOCs for classroom teaching. All in all, an inspiring talk and discussion.

Notes from Twitter and Microblogging – part 3. 10 April

Uses and risks of micro-blogging in organisations by Soureh Latif Shabgahi from Sheffield University

The research focused on SMEs as these may be more receptive to business improvement interventions. However, initial research found larger organisations as early adopters of enterprise micro-bloggers (EMB).

Found little research on EMB, especially in the UK. Research has tended to focus on communications and narrating work . From the literature:

  • Found EMB used in relationship development; discussions; sharing knowledge; recording; knowledge management and knowledge sharing; communication and awareness raising. Strong focus on communication as providing work-related updates that enhanced awareness of each other and hence increased sense of community. Also EMB stimulated discussions either using EMB or face-to-face.
  • Risks associated with EMB included risks associated with limit of 140 characters; difficulty of using the platform; security and privacy risks; time taken in learning about and using the tools; noise to value ratio including information overload. [Some risks could be seen as closer to resource costs?]

Looked at Yammer as a micro-blogging platform inside the firewall as well as Twitter

Research involved interviews, observation and questionnaires involving 20 SMEs in South Yorkshire.

Interviews cited positive aspects of EMB included: speed of thought; customer and employee communication; mobility and immediacy and being able to communicate at a large-scale. Interviews also identified risks including ease of upsetting/ offend someone either internally or externally (with reputational damage); fear around security as confidential information passed around via Yammer.

One interviewee had a more negative perspective on Twitter as an enterprise tool as, eg, private information had ended up in public domain, reputational damage eg, of poor spelling [??] and alienating older employees [??]

Future research to further develop the model of uses and risks of EMB to inform effective interventions and support for enterprises.

Q&A indicates lack of research on legal risks – although there is more research on legal risks of, eg, blogging.

Possible for extending the research to include less IT savvy organisations and how they may use EMB. Again, finding the breakdown of the dichotomy between private micro-blogging use and public micro-blogging and how that relates to the reputational risks for the company.


Notes from Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices. 10 April

These are notes from the Twitter and Micro-blogging conference at Lancaster University.  The full programme can be found on Lanyard. The Twitter hastag is #LUTwit

Introduction started from @JuliaGillen with the general acknowledgements, thanks and background to the conference. In particular, the conference emerged from the interests of the Linguistics dept in social media and some concerns of commercial capture of analysis of social media and companies striving towards linguistic analysis without really understanding what it is or might be.

Just going through the programme for the next couple of days.

First up is Lee Salter from University of the West of England  speaking at the Plenary on: online freedom and repressive law. His research  interests are in social media, journalism and protest movements. Author, with Janet Jones, of Digital Journalism.

His interest in SoMe is the relationship to trad journalism and paradoxes related to uses of SoMe and the responses form trad journalism and also from the state.

Twitter is “lots of different things to lots of different people” including as hub for reporting popular protests.

Seeking a middle way between journalist opposition to SoMe while also avoiding the hyperbole. Use of SoMe emerges from particular disasters of the Tsunami and the London bombings rising profile of twitter for news. This was cemented by the use of Twitter in reporting popular protests around the world providing news hours before broadcast news.

Criticisms of Twitter concern its lack of structure, fragmentation and incremental addition of information to fill the 24hour demand. Key criticism is that Twitter reconfigures relationship between journalist, audience and subjects (protestors).

Has Twitter changed communicative power relations and empower protestors or not. Journalists acting as gatekeepers and filters of news content as institutionalised relations of power. Argument that these relations are being undermined by SoMe – its immediacy and interactional nature. This includes that SoMe undermines the temporal structuring of the news cycles and so influence how news may be reported and by whom – so news comes form non-elite reporters. So disrupts temporality and in terms of power relations.

But is that correct? Influence on SoMe depends on the resource base of the reporter – that Twitter is used by a small minority who actually used Twitter and those that do are generally affluent (in UK) – while in US are more likely to be female and black/ hispanic and have fewer than 50 followers.

Study of Twitter use in Australian elections was dominated by established journalists with agenda reflecting traditional power relations. Online activists engaged in loosely coupled (competitive and fluid assemblages) relationships with traditional reporters. News continues to be dominated by small elites – business as usual.

The use of Twitter in news discourses is under-researched but research of BBC website and wiki news comments found commentary filtered to privilege the ‘middle ground’ – reinforcing the notion and assumption of traditional journalistic neutrality.

Traditional news providers integrated use of twitter as a linear narrative yet Twitter does not have a linear discursive structure.

In protest movements eg, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria seen as examples of SoMe in use of SoMe (albeit overrated) yet Bahrain ignored. SoMe used to explain what going on – to communicate to the outside world and bounce back through mainstream media. So media discourses integrated in a way that didn’t happen in Bahrain & Saudi Arabia.

Twitter influence reflects and replicates power of traditional media – Piers Morgan was the most popular (cited?) journalist on Twitter on the London riots.

Shown a couple of clips showing journalists engaging with and supportive of Arab Spring protestors yet dismissive of student protestors in London.

Moving on to why SoMe not shut down by authorities and suggesting that the internet is perceived as an ‘act of nature’ and “just there”! Lawrence Lessig argues on one hand have state regulation, on another is economic regulation and on another hands are norms (hegemony). So a regulatory regime occurs that means overt state regulation is less important. Cites the case of Paris Brown and Paul Chambers on the public private dichotomy breaking down in peoples minds yet the legal frameworks have failed to keep-up with changes in technology and practices. In particular, argues that e-communications are more stringently regulated in law than the traditional press, ie, for inappropriate use – but what is appropriate use of Twitter. Points to cases of people being imprisoned for incitement on SoMe.

Points out that for the London riots, alternative explanations of the riots and rioters fail to reach the mainstream media. The idea that SoMe transforms power relations is clearly questionable. Furthermore, that SoMe was more used in post-riot clean-ups rather than in the actual riots.

A further function of SoMe is its use by the police (in UK) for intelligence gathering and to use it to engage with protest “leadership” – even if reality is that there was no leadership while police continue to assume there ‘must be’!

Police use of SoMe in riots a combination of information, calls to stay calm, to seek information, to name and shame, to threaten rioters.

Overall points to emergence of Foucault notion of governmentality – that SoMe spaces are self governed.

Anonymous cited as a ‘proper’ cyber movement yet full of paradoxes: if anonymous, how can you be sure about anything they do; also against the mainstream while reliant on the mainstream as seek to influence that mainstream. Anonymous is a leaderless network that can only be understood if we set aside notions of centralisation [who or what is the actor here?]. But [unsurprisingly] such groups are excluded/ dismissed from the mainstream – as a discursive exclusion.

Twitter not address discursive exclusions and not part of the mainstream of news reporting and g=hegemonic aspects of news reporting has not really been challenged. SoMe normalised into the mainstream but that the law have failed t respond to these developments – see Leveson inquiry










Flock: meet, learn, teach… locally

Last Friday (28 Sept) , I went to an interesting presentation at InSpace which included a presentation from Morna Simpson, CEO of Flockedu. Flockedu aims to link teachers and adult learners for face-to-face learning with a tag line of “meet, learn, teach… locally”.

The idea for the company started with a personal injury that coincided with the student fees and cuts in Higher Education. The purpose of Flockedu is to link learners, teachers and venues for learning in the community alongside signposting and linking to other online learning resources. The business model is based on taking a small fee from the income generated from the trainers also draws in supplementary income from merchandising an data mining for business intelligence.

I particularly enjoyed the development process that started by Morna leveraging her online network and organised three hackdays June – Sept 2010. Participants gained a proportion of ownership of the company – an interesting alternative ownership model. While the business model for the business is emergent it appears to meet a clear market space on leveraging technology to support the demands for social, collaborative and community learning activities, face-to-face, locally and together.

The presentation itself was included as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence (following 9 month pause for surgery -something here about bad luck and later success?).



Here we go with four links on technology in education including MIT’s Open Education Initiative:

5 Ways Tech Startups Can Disrupt the Education System: An interesting post but see link below on MITs recent initiatives on open education that undermine the notion that disruptions only come from start-ups. Incumbents can also have an imagination!

MIT launches online learning initiative – MIT News Office: An interesting initiative and aggressive extension and endorsement of open education resources:

“Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” … “An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted.”

Design Thinking for Educators: Large resource and toolkit to support the application of design thinking to education.

Various ways to use social media as a facilitator or trainer: useful overview and typology of various social media tools for different training and facilitation situations.

mid week round up

A few things found (mainly) via Twitter:

An interesting article on the life-span of a shared link (its effectively over in the first 2000 seconds unless the link is on YouTube)
A presentation from Kineo on e-learning trends. Interesting mainly for the contrdictions – LMS’s are important but informal learning is the trend to watch and no mention of the integration of work and learning (I’m sure this is the basis of knowledge work isn’t it).
An interesting post on eportfolios. I’ve always struggled to engage with a formal eportfolio tool as a meaningful tool for learning as opposed to presentation. Partly, its the thought of being locked-in to a single product/ institution etc. when so many good open tools are available – may (still) favourites are here. So what is the benefit of a single eportfolio application?

learning management system: managing what?

A great post from Jane Knight on LMS adoption – the comments are great value too. The concept of workscapes as spaces where work practices and learning practices are enmeshed I particularly like. As the Internet Time Alliance state:

Work and learning have become one and the same. Networks rule. Nothing is certain. Simply doing things better no longer guarantees prosperity or even survival.

In my working life, I would say that a LMS has had at best (worse?) a small space in supporting my personal professional development. This reflects two factors: (a) much of my learning occurs through interactions that span the boundaries of, or occur outside, my employer; (b) I’m not expecting an employer to employ me for ever so why tie my learning (for how else to I keep myself attractive in the jobs market?) to *that* employer – doesn’t make sense. Similarly, being tied to a specific ‘product’ for my Personal Learning Environment/ Network is also unattractive. The flexibility of loosely coupling the best tools for the task at hand – be it doing, reflecting, collating experiences etc. – just seems to work in ways that I’ve never found replicated in a single ‘product’. My sense is that firms seeking a socialised LMS are looking to impose management 1.0 (command & control) on a world of working and learning 2.0 (apologies for the point zero tags but time is short ;-)

week notes [sort of]

its been a bit too long since the last of these – maybe I should call them just erratic notes except I like the intention.

Essentially, the last couple of weeks have been broadly about getting as much operational ‘stuff’ done – the volume of bits of paper seem ridiculous to me (and really badly designed which is demoralising). Thinking of the future is also difficult as no decisions are being made on extensions of contracts… oh the joys of the public sector!

Students are currently moving into dissertations which is exciting (I can still say that as this is only my second round of dissertations. There’s some interesting trends emerging in topics chosen by the students with career development/ mentoring as one key theme and the other being work-life balance/ workplace stress being the other. Neither is too surprising given the economic climate and recent news from China (where a number of students come from and will be going back to).

Had an interesting discussion around researching social media in education and how to cut through the hyperbole without just saying “bull” to everything. What the discussion highlighted was my lack of clarity in the critical lenses to be used in my research – hopefully more on that to follow. Also, its very apparent to me that I’m not engaging sufficiently with the social media in learning world (I blame workload but it’s really about priorities – I’m a good lurker).

Also intend to play around with the design of this blog as a creative outlet ….