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DS106: Adventures in Digital Storytelling (and massively open online courses)

#ds106 Assignment 1: Tell a Story from Jennifer Jones on Vimeo.

I’ve started another blog. “Oh no, not another one,” I hear you groan. This one is for #ds106 – the ‘massively open online course’ in Digital Storytelling I wrote about in my PhD notebook before the Christmas break. I wanted to/needed to take it back onto this server (using wordpress) for the nature of the course – which makes it easy to aggregate with the course’s RSS firehose (originally I was going to try posterous – as I use this website as a portfolio). I don’t intend to double post onto the notebook often, as much of the course is designed as a self-discovery/network between other participants – however I feel that in the context of recent posts, it would make sense to include my first post here. They’ll be assignments, I might set assignments – but it is is essentially an experiment in online, open and playful course delivery. I figured that we can talk about these things forever, taking part in something that is already happening makes a good start. The end of 2010 spelled sadness for the University, the start of 2011 may be our opportunity to grow and transform something new out of the shit.

I’ll be blogging my contributions to #ds106 at http://ds106.jennifermjones.net – some of it will be silly, some of it will be technical and some of it might just inform some of the things I’ll be up to in the coming months.

Originally posted on 11/01/2011:

“So Jim Groom’s Digital Storytelling (ds106) MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) begins today – hooray! – therefore I’m adding to the surge of new posts declaring hullo to the world and bit of context as to why I’m looking forward to taking part (I even set it up it’s own special wordpress for the process.)

The course aims and ‘learning outcomes’ (for those not registered and might be reading this via twitter):

*Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression * Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking * Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres
These are pretty straight forward – but are not things that can be ticked off regimentally like traditional assessment criteria. They are skills which are difficult to be “taught” and come through practise, even play. From following the feed for the weeks on the run up to the course, I’ve been entertained by animated gifs, movie mashups and some interesting takes on existing media (like swapping lyrics and images – and playing with the boundaries of what we already know and assume) – only now it is my turn to try out some of the crowdsourced assessments and exercises.

I’ve recently blogged and stated an interest in running my own open course (working with an existing module at the university where I work part time) in correlation with my PhD research into new media and the Olympic Games. The course would correspond to the citizen media network being ‘set up’ on the run up to the London Games – and would be offered up as a open training/context exercise around the possibilities of the internet alongside existing media events. Essentially, the assignment (and the outcomes of the modules) are to produce a social object that is connected to the wider #media2012 network but is working with a local context (could be community media cafe, could be an internet radio station, could be a simple website – but the focus is on the people involved, not just building a website that becomes redundant once the course is finished – an exercise in thinking creatively but critically.)

What I would love to take away from these next 15 weeks is the experiences of being a student on an open course (learning and engaging in this way around the topics and skills of digital storytelling), where some of the participants are actually taking it as a ‘real life’ module, earning credit as part of their degree course at UMW. So it’s kinda meta why I’m here – I’m interested as a person who spent the best part of her student days winding up people on the Internet using animated gifs and swapping heads/bodies on a cracked copy of photoshop, and as somebody who is developing a real research interest into new and exciting (potentially radical) methods of course production and course delivery.

Look forward to getting started!”

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Planning an open access #media2012 community/alternative media module…

“Every battle we fight is a battle for the hearts and minds of other people. The only chance we have of reaching people who haven’t yet heard what we’ve got to say is through the media. We might, with good reason, regard the papers and broadcasters with extreme suspicion, we might feel cheapened and compromised by engaging with them. But the war we’re fighting is an information war, and we have to use all the weapons at our diposal. Whether we use the media or not, our opponents will. However just our cause and true our aims, they will use it to demonise and demolish us, unless we fight back. Exploit the Media, or the Media Will Exploit You!George Monbiot, An Activist’s Guide to Exploit the Media

You can’t help but get all reflective and sentimental at the end of the year – with work winding down for the holiday. That’s in the “real world” that is, not in PhD land – where I’m trying to wade through the thick treacle seeping into the pores of higher education, in order to get a chapter draft written and progress even further into a humanities black hole. ANYWAY, I’m trying to keep my enthusiasm afloat – which involves keeping busy, trying new things and finding new ways to break(fix) the system. I feel like it is my responsiblity to do something like this…

What?

I’m going to make 2011 the year of the open access course – both taking them, making them and delivering them. And I’m not talking about open education resources (which I gather are meant to be taster adverts to get people to sign up to your 9k a year undergraduate course) I’m going translate the material that works towards #media2012 into a course in collaboration with Jon Hickman’s 2nd year Web and Alternative Media at BCU into something that can be not only shared in different contexts (perhaps with collaboration between UWS and DMU – the two other Universities I am in connection with) but also as part of an open (perhaps an online only version – like the forthcoming #ds106 course) that can be taken as part of a series of community media/web activism training courses for Citizen’s Eye’s reportage club.

Beyond the University

Incidentally, working between the University and the community media groups will be essentially what makes this course so powerful. From the University’s perspective (or learning outcomes/assessment), instead of the students being asked to find and perform to an external, commercial client, or to work with a fake brief (normally resulting it a project that focussing on the individual) they will be asked to work with existing community group, generating ‘something’ of use or value for that group, in the context of the forthcoming Olympics and the creation of a alternative social/cultural/digital legacy. They are not under pressure to produce something that makes them money (but if they do, and justify and argue that value, that’s fine) but the purpose of the exercise is break down this link between education and an individual’s future earnings (sorry pal) -and instead look towards building solutions and working outside of expectations – the alternative. I always say to my students that if they want to tick boxes and hit set targets, then the call centre will have them – but I want to see it as somewhere they can expose themselves to ideas of what education can be and what they can do within this space.

Why the Olympics?

What the Olympics can do for now is contextualise the motivation behind a national citizen media movement, the regional development groups which have been assigned to do this are struggling- they are struggling with politics, cash and they are struggling with social media – and the assumption that being ‘official’ is what will make things work for them is intrinsically flawed. Things get cut – but the Olympics remains ring-fenced – it’s not about sport, it’s about something much deeper and more political as a global movement. Why do you think David Cameron thinks we can afford the World Cup, but not the social sciences?

The course would plug into the #media2012 citizen media network for the London 2012 games: http://www.media2012.org.uk – what is happening is real, and not a conceptualised idea. It is happening now and we can do things to take back the media lens – even for a moment.

What should it contain?

We can learn from protest movement and independent media communities – through organisation, objectives and ethical considerations – but also we can reflect on their flaws and what they could have done better to get their message heard by tracking the history of resistance and mega-events. We can also learn from how community strategies are formed and how we can use these strategies in order to convey alternative narratives around the Games and other events of this scale. There are certain narratives which suit the current government- there are some narratives that never get told, yet probably should. And it doesn’t need to be a negatively informed course – you can be controversial and cutting edge without being anti-Olympics. You can learn how to conduct online research, you can learn how to read behind the lines of the mainstream media and you can use these skills to go out and inform others. Importantly though, I think it is about learning why it is important to be critical of the media and how to interpret the messages that are being delivered through communication channels – but also how to write for the media (know thy enemy) and web skills/literacy (like website building, social media and hacking the planet)

What I need to do?

- Work with Jon to adapt the course at BCU to begin this February This will be delivered to 2nd years on the run up to 2012 and would fit into the framework of the media school.- Work on a separate (but connected) structure that could be integrated into similar modules to those BCU – but theoretically could be used by anyone who wanted to be part of the network (with perhaps invited speakers/video conferencing) – this can be expanded towards the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
– Work on a 6 weeks course that could be delivered as part of the Citizen’s Eye reportage club (this has no time frame apart from as soon as possible)
– From the citizen’s eye workshops, we can adapt the content to be shared online in a non-linear format (as in, you can chose to participate – but seen as half resources/half workshop) I want to really experiment with this as a way of teaching as a form of protest. Looking to work with DMU on this one.
– Look at alternatives to delivery – some really interesting examples of an open course is emerging through Jim Groom’s Digital Storytelling course, which begins in January and I’ll be taking as part of the experiment.
I feel that is a way that I can feed my research back into the process- and also keep myself sane whilst the world around us might not be.

Posted via email from Jennifer Jones’ PhD Notebook

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A week in Scotland and @UWSCreative

My recent trip to Scotland was a little bit of a disaster. After debating back and forth about whether I would actually make it due to the poor transport conditions that had blighted nearly all of Scotland at the beginning of last week, I managed to get to Ayr from Birmingham with only 2 hours being added to usual monthly commute. So far so good, but my tightly packed schedule was doomed to failure with the announcement (whilst I was travelling needless to say) that the UWS campus in Paisley was to be closed the following day due to the aftermath of heavy snow.
I had planned to deliver a session on amplified events to the PhD students as part of their research training workshops – and after trying to reconvene and reschedule for the following Monday, the university’s current system just ain’t compatible with short term solutions. Subsequently, the session has to be pushed back to February – which gives me time to think about how I can get the maximum impact from the delivery (it was clear from the discussions that a cross-department session on alternatives to conference techniques requires a lot more contextualisation and breaking down for a wider audience than I first thought) I might try to reuse the material for our school only at this stage and they’ll be a blog post to follow about that.
I used my freed up time wisely and met Gordon Hunt from the library to discussion the future of UWS’s information/knowledge delivery/sharing (around open access and restructuring of academic services) which is all very exciting. Having been a student at UWS since 2002 (which several short breaks in between) I have seen the university go through some massive, but well received changes in how they see themselves and what they would like to be seem as in the future. I feel quite proud to be back with them during this time (even though higher education is going through a rough ride at the moment) and it is good to hear that there are more and more people working towards a shared vision of its success.
On Friday I met with Dave McGillivray and met Matt Frew for the first time at the Tramway in Glasgow (again, my first time there as well – where I overestimated the 2 mile walk from Central on ice!) By this point, I was starting to get ill but we had an awesome and long chat about all things events, digital and research (and it’s so strange getting to talk about work with other Scottish academics – we have a unique approach to scholarly comms ;)) I look forward to working on further projects with them – especially around education technology and the lead up the Glasgow commonwealth games (via London 2012 of course!)
It was at this point where things got a bit shaky -and I got absolutely smacked down with the cold (my second go at it in 2 weeks) I then proceeded to cancel all my plans for the weekend (both work and leisure) and had to spend 48 hours watching bad television and generally feeling sorry for myself. It was totally gutting as the last few times I’ve been to Scotland, it’s been incredibly productive and I’ve found myself really enjoying being back there. It felt really strange to have to sit at my parents and not do anything!
On Monday afternoon, I started feeling better so did some work on the PhD thesis. I’ve set myself a target of a chapter draft by the end of Jan to send to Andy. This chapter is about the ideas of a city, from a practical perspective of running/bidding/constructing mega-events, but also the philosophical concept of a city and the idea of the digital city and introducing mobile cultures. I hope that if I can get this out my head that it will frame the more specific areas of debating social media, internet/media policy and activism. The holidays are doomed to writing whilst I have no excuse to leave the house.
Yesterday I was asked by Alan McCusker-Thompson to speak to UWS’s MA Music: Innovation and Entrepreneurship cohort at their CCA Glasgow hub as part of their Global Music Industries module. My only brief was to speak a bit about my PhD work and #media2012 co-ordinator role and give a overview of social media tools and processes. I took them through the #media2012 introduction and showed why mega sports events where not just about sport – and how they have a huge cultural, social and digital underpinning that can be tapped into from the perspective of artist, event manager or community group. From this, I then discussed the different levels of engagement that online tools can provide, talked through some case studies from when it can go wrong and showed a few techniques for listening, responding, content creation and generating a buzz – focussing heavily on integrity (there is really nothing else to it!)
The session was delivered as a round table, which I really enjoyed (and is part of the MA’s experience where speakers are asked to deliver on an informal level to provoke discussion) and it was really nice to catch up with a few students who had been in the same year as me when I was an undergraduate – there are a lot of exciting projects coming out of the MA (and our department, to be fair) – it’s just really nice (but a bit strange) to compare the work of the School of CCI with what else is going on at the University at the moment. Long may it continue.

Posted via email from Jennifer Jones’ PhD Notebook

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Teaching as Protest (plus additional preample)

Preample

From my last post on building an open course for #media2012, I’ve had a few really interesting conversations with people about the ways in which I go about pulling together something like this. I think this is resulted in me thinking about my role as a researcher, my role as a teacher, my role as a coordinator and my role as the “angry activist” – I am all this but not to everyone. I am going to have to be clear with each role that I play in this discussion – as although things can cross over quite substancially, there are parts where I need to be reflective (is that right word?) to what my position is and the responsibility of the influence I might play.

For example, I am never been a member of a political party (and probably never will be)- and struggle to feel part of an institution, always trying to remain on the edge of many discussions, avoiding being trapped in the centre of one. I think the PhD process is already helping me come to terms with this (because things don’t need to be granular) and keeping myself at distance from locative identities (such as being ‘from a place’ or working at a specific organisation – something I find myself having to justify more when I am back in Scotland for instance) has gifted me the chance to work through things at a very unusual position as a PhD student. Notably, when I was at Leicester, the PhD was this process that required me to live near-by, work in an office with other PhDs and communicate research through seminar and/or paperwork – much of this in isolation from the department and communication with supervisor relied on shared dates where the physical face to face is required of both of us. This is not unique to Leicester (it is probably expected at most institutions, including UWS) but the decision to move campus and work fulltime, at a distance, with a University and supervisor I already knew, has opened up all these questions about what the experience of PhD should really be. Judging on the emails that I get from the institution (such as refusal to acknowledge my gmail account and the requirement to print, sign and post physical documents rather than simply accepting a electronic response) and the communication I have had with those students who do work on campus (some of which asking me if ‘academia’ approves of what I do??) it really makes me think about the future of what a PhD might entail. Certainly, I am no average research student – going by recent history, I really shouldn’t have made it here (and have been told that I don’t ‘belong’ in academia in past), and it has been a battle of my wit to convince myself that I should. But there more I think about it, the more I believe that the space in which I can do what I do has been so very precious – something that they can’t take away from me (the ability to spend time working on something entirely of your own, a self-fulfilling trajectory – but also can be of real value to the society you are explosed to) I don’t do this because I’m after the glory of having let another qualification or being an aqua song- I am doing it because right now, I couldn’t really imagine myself doing anything else.

This is why I am scared for the future of the University – I was a dreadful student (I am also a dreadful “employee”), if it wasn’t for universities like UWS, I would have not found my escape route out of my own angst about the world, found a way to articulate it and explore ideas beyond my immediate location (because, really, it is ideal to just stay put with your school friends and neighbours – and if you don’t like it then you are nothing but a rabble rouser)- but at the same time, I am hopeful and excited about what we can achieve in this reawakening – whilst they are looking one way, or perhaps burying their heads in the sand – we can go and something with it.

So..

I’m going to split this blog post up into four, firstly focussing on the act of teaching as protest. (And it might be a bit waffley – so bare with me!)

What do we need to do?

In terms of my own research, I see real synergy between what the recent student occupations and what I think a citizen media network for the London games could achieve. I mean, we could be all ‘Olympic values” about it – most of which are lovely words about humanity, respect and dignity (a breeze for the PR dream city machine) and I guess, through social media and a professional interface, we could generate a national spectacle (but ‘citizen-led’) which interesting symbols, associations and use the power of the (now) well oiled communication network (with infleuncial nodes) that the Internet has already provenly facilitated in the past (I could point out specific examples but then I would be taking things off tangent) – an obvious mechanism would be use the frame of resistance to provoke discussion, or to generate an obvious “alternative” narrative – this was done in Vancouver quite successfully, where the notion of ‘the alternative’ was wrapped up with the emerging power of social media. Different activism groups (with different and sometimes conflicting messages) stood together under the same banner in order to protest against the Olympics (as a symbol of capitalism, as a force of community deconstruction, as a drain on the budget – it goes on) – if it was a success, it was unsure – but there was solidarity across groups for brief passings in time.

I think, however, there needs to be a real focus on the occupation of space and the physical action of doing so. Although the motivation to occupy space is different, there is much to be learned by how the occupation of Universities (and the non-occupation of some Universities – such as those that didn’t happen in Leicester, for instance – or BCU students joining University of Birmingham students because of the growing media attention around the great hall) came about, how they were critiqued and they connected/supported each other (and how the momentum gathered support online and off) – this is more than a carefully crafted media campaign, distruption or spectacle – but the act of using a context to pull together in the purest form. It’s not what happens online that matters, it is what it does to the lifes of the people involved and focus on the experience that they want to have. There is nobody really telling you what you can do here.

Teaching as protest

I can across this excellent post by PhD Student Guy Aitchison via Jamie Potter this morning, reflecting on the lessons learned from the UCL occupation and how they can help the movement progress. There were 4 points that rung true with me – but also have helped me articulate some further thoughts as teaching as form of protest (as in, the day job will be subjected to the commodification of the experience of education – and the expectations of those fast approaching this growing attitude are validated by the cycle that by doing/paying for a degree, they will get a well paid job at the end of it – and perhaps by raising the fees, will improve the quality/value of the degree but you have to be “really serious” to invest in that debt- therefore they already know what the benchmarks of what they need to know in terms of what they require a degree experience to be.) So what happens if you remove the commodity – by doing it anyway – the students who are there, are there for experience, not the commodification of the experience.

“Educate each other, disseminate skills.”

Guy believes that it is important that we must educate each other and disseminate skills – something I agree with profoundly. In the attempt to share my work with my peers,I have had PhD students bite off my hand in order to be ‘taught’ how to use social media as part of progression of their academic career. They want the step by step process of building, maintaining and projecting an academic career online – but still have expectations of it being delivered in a certain way. Of course, you could teach people how to do things step-by-step, formally, where you are the teacher and they are the students – a uniformed approach where by the end of it, they all have a collective idea of what their using social media should be. I have to deliver it in this way due to the expectations set by the University and those who signed up to the course – at the same time, I have to reduce my work into a managable chunks that be delivered to a general audience with their own set of experiences with the technology, purely descriptive – when really, the best way to do it is to just go and bloody do it. If you need to go on a course on the act of doing – then is it really worth exploring? It would probably make more sense to give them a project to do and to get on with it than it would be to attempt to lecture for 3 hours on generating “engagement” online. If you have a context worth fighting for/writing about (even if that context is just yourself!) then that’s half the battle.

So, if instead I share my skills (and learn from) people who have no expectations about what I can give them or what I can get from them, there is something more powerful happening there. By putting my thoughts in this space, for instance, there is hope that I can open dialogue with those who are interesting in furthering these conversations. This is the point where I would like to think more about how to reassess the education space/expectations.

“Keep it adventurous and creative.”

I recently went to a meeting with the Autonomous DMU group – which very much a meeting format – it wasn’t until after that I realised that we could have had a bit of impact if we gate crashed the DMU question time event in the other building. It felt a little bit like that we are conditioned to treat timeframes and spaces in such a way, so it is rude to not follow through with set plans and set expectations.

I love the University for Strategic Optimism and their hijacking of spaces such as Tesco and Lloyd TSB to give a public lecture. I was already brewing up ideas up ideas of holding seminar in the Walkers stadium about sport as a sin (but not yet) – The UfSO are already working towards “open” courses such as the forthcoming cultural studies and capitalism, where Goldsmiths are going to provide the space to bring on a semester long course on Marx’s Capital (Humanities is cheap lol) – there is also a call of papers to “Reimagine the University” – taking advantage of the collective resistance to the marketisation of Higher Education.

“The recent response to the marketisation of higher education has given a voice and a collective identity to a discontent stretching beyond funding constraints. It is now time to respond as well as create, looking for new action and dialogue for the future. We want to open up debate, not close it down.”

On the note of keeping in adventourous and creative, the Really Open University posted a really interesting post about the geographies of a kettle -

“The kettle of course seeks to divide the space of the city into spaces inside and outside the kettle and to isolate and manage disorder within a defined site in order to maintain it elsewhere. But what needs to be understood is that this spatial strategy of physical containment is also a media strategy which seeks to concentrate the spectacle of violent protest into a defined space precisely for the media. Thus the physical terrain of the kettled site is marshalled to produce violent spectacle for media consumption.

Partly the spectacle of action is important in terms of making the presence visible with the media – but it is currently, and will always be, in the hands of those in power – the act of protest, although very important, has potential to react against this predefined construct of the media. The post suggests ways in which to break down the expectations of ‘the mob’ and seperating movement (instead of a group of 10000 – 10 groups of 1000) in a clever, targetted way would do so – but so would be a clever way of taking on the media at its own game. This is what the ‘professionalism’ of a citizen media network could achieve – where education (such as how to break down media spectacles, to seek alternative sources and reject the mainstream media as nothing but a money making device – but perhaps in a way that is without my anger all over it ;)) where there are alternatives – and not only are there are alternatives, there are routes in which through knowing how these images and stories are constructed and told – as well as learning how to operate the tools requires to help rebuild “the alterative”, can also provide a social value to those involved. Again, a cataylst.

“Convince the wider student body.”

I think we not only have to convince the wider student body, but more the wider population – if only the issues that are emerging were just about the raise of tutition fees. It surprised me last night during #phdchat that there were postgraduate students were unsure about how the changes were going to affect them (some thought it was just an undergraduate issue.) I guess one solution would be to begin to consider a PhD in the same way MAs are being considered now – as a qualification that adds a bit of edge to your existing degree in order to help you get a job and be a better part of society. And if it is your money – as a self-funded route normally is – then what you choice to do as a PhD project does give you slightly more freedom that of those who are funded (I think that’s a myth at the moment – I’ve been both). But I think there is a major point being missed here – do we be progress down a route of academic research because we want to make loads of money? Do we even deserve an academic role at the end of our research journey? As far as I’m concerned, I need to be in this space – I need to be able to say these things in order to work things out. There are no right or wrong answers here.

Simply, there is a great issue ahead of us. There is a wider narrative being painted- those in education just now who are not convinced, are probably not going to think about education again until their kids need to go. They’ve got through the door before the shit really hits the fan (this was a general attitude when I was an undergraduate in Scotland – what with our free education and everythik, why should we protest against top up fees in England..) No really, we do need to care – and I’m glad there is an emergence of those who do. As I said previously, I have NO political party alliance – I will not buy a copy of the socialist times nor will turn down invites to meet with civil servants to talk about digital media policy – therefore I will try my best to remain open and respectful to anyone who behaves in the same manner. Thanks to the internet, I can find my like-minds – although, it’s difficult to find them any other way – so as Guy suggests there needs to be a level of facing outwards (that damn public engagement rhetoric that PhD students need to be thinking about – make you work accessible and on multiple levels and disiplines) Public talks, workshops and informal persuasion – much of which requires cracking stereotypes (some of which laid on by the media, some of which picked up generationally and/or as identity) This part will be hard, as already I feel this post is far too ‘academic’ for a general audience – but sometimes you need to be ‘academic’ and fluffy with things before you can untangle it further and beyond. Plus – I await being told that it is 2 days before xmas, why don’t you switch off and stop being so serious.

“Become a networked participant.”

I’m currently reading Joss Hand’s new book @ is for Activism – which is already stirring up much about the dicussions around online activism (a lovely xmas read) – there is also a good interview with Joss on New Left Project – I could ramble a lot about this (especially as my background is in New Media) but I think I’ve already touched on the importance of being a networked participant – and I think there is a wider debate to be had (where ironically, the value of the debate – therefore the digital part – comes from a meta space where you are using it to engage around.) I get my news and my judgement from my network – sometimes it brings me down, most of the time it keeps me afloat – and I find myself far more plugged in these days in order to avoid what is being said in the mainstream media. This can only continue – and I think by ending here, I can pick the next post up at the point of social media coordination and critiquing the discussion around the online environment.

What next?

Although I still don’t feel that I have reached a point where I am satisfied with this writing, I think it is a process in which by doing so, I can help myself unwrap that what I intend to do.

Posted via email from Jennifer Jones’ PhD Notebook

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Questions I use to summarise notes from a piece of literature #phdchat

This are the structure I use after I’ve read and made notes on a journal article (so after I’ve been through every page, noted themes, references of interest and copied down citations). Feel free to use – I can’t remember where I got it from originally!

(Included an example note from Beer, D. (2009) Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the Technological Unconscious. New Media and Society. Vol 11 (6). pp 982- 1002)What is the author trying to say?

Beer is suggesting that the development of Web 2.0 has sparked a wave of new media writers who assess the technology through anecdotes and experience-led discussion – relating to interactivity, participatory and collaborative visions of the future. Beer suggests that the dialogue and previous accounts of Web 2.0 (and other emerging technologies) should be filtered through existing literature in order to assess the historical and political implications of the technology. Furthermore, he suggests a prilimary framework – based on Lash’s “new new media ontology” – to apply to Web 2.0 discussion in order to facilitate deeper critique of the analysis.

How does the author say what they are trying to say?

The author keeps to a conceptual framework, referring to a range of authors whose work could be applied to the analysis of the developments within Web 2.0. He uses Lash’s work relating to post-hegemonic power as an example He maintains that any one of the authors could be used as an framework in this case. Furthermore, he suggests that this is only the start of something that requires much more research at this level of analysis.

Why is the author’s point important?

This point is important to a wider context as currently much Web 2.0 related research is done at superficial level – i.e. focusing on the product or the content created. To apply Beer’s framework and/or suggestions, would mean that the developments would be considered at a deeper level – in this case, thinking about the technological process, which has became invisible, rather than purely what is happening to the user online. Furthermore, Beer asks questions relating to the owners of the websites, the economics of the websites and how the software manages, organises and works with the personal data.

Do you agree or disagree with the author? Why?
Yes… I have recently felt that Web 2.0 discussions have lacked critique and have been based on user opinions, experiences and self-proclaimed expertise of few. By applying critical theory of these analysis can allow for the construction of deeper research into the topic of web 2.0 and surrounding area.

How does this work connect with other work?

The work provides a brief literature review of key theorists to explore in relation to Web 2.0 developments in the context of culture shifts and politics of emerging technologies. There is scope to build on top of Beer’s framework and filter existing Web 2.0 discussion through it. He only suggests one way of doing it (via Lash) and even then, he states that it is only the start of thinking about Web 2.0 in this manner. It would be advised to return to this article at future points to reflect on the emerging tech discussions which have taken place.

Posted via email from Jennifer Jones’ PhD Notebook

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Guest Workshop for @Stuart_Hepburn's Contemporary Screen Actors @UWSCreative (2nd Nov, 2010)

On Tuesday this week I was invited by Stuart Hepburn to speak to his 3rd year Contemporary Screen Acting class at UWS’s Ayr campus, about using the internet to help collaborate, promote and encourage creativity as part of their future assignment and careers. As a graduate of the school (and from Ayr originally), it was strange (but exciting) being back in the classroom, this time as a teacher rather than a student. 

The class became with a quick introduction to social web infrastructure (tracking the history from geocities to posterous), moving into reasons why it might be useful for those interested in becoming an actor to use the web as part of their career plans. Using case studies, such as Limmy.com, the discussion moved into some suggestions towards building multimedia content to promote themselves as individuals and for managing campaigns for future clients (part of their assignment of the course they need to build a notional concept where they work with real commercial clients in order to apply their acting to promotion artefacts.)

It was nice to see that from beginning the course five weeks ago, some who had never thought to use the web in this way where already uploading content to youtube and documenting their progression through the course – from this, we worked towards building each student a posterous blog as a front facing website in order to build their online presence. This exercise lasted about an hour and by the end of the session they had all managed to create, design and upload content to the web. 

We then decided to experiment with google documents in order to create collaborative documents for group work and preparing their assignments. This was one by creating one giant public document where they shared details on their new posterous blog and attempted to edit the same document at the same time. 

The benefits of using google documents as a class were three-fold. Firstly, they offered a free alternative to traditional word processing, which secondly, meant that whenever you want to access your files, they are stored online and available anywhere. Lastly, there was the potential to share and edit document between multiple users, making the idea of blackboard’s “behind a password” wiki collaboration a tad redundant (but I would say that).

By the end of the session, they had all set up blogs, posted to those blogs and worked with tools to help them collaborate as a group in the coming weeks. The next stage will involve mobile video editing and uploading material based on their earlier client ideas. As somebody who is not anywhere near an actress, it was really enlightening to approach my work from this angle. I genuinely look forward to seeing what they come up with in the coming weeks – especially now I’m following all their work online. It’s great to feel part of my University, even when I can’t always be around to take part in things.

More details of Stuart’s innovative course is here: http://www.uws.ac.uk/news/response-news.asp?id=1204 

Posted via email from Jennifer Jones’ PhD Notebook

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