Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

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What’s the Matter with Sugar?

How can we harness social media for the public good? That’s the question I asked today when I introduced the module I’m teaching this year, TECH3022 Advanced Social Media Production. Across Western society we are facing a whole series of pressing issues that don’t get a lot of coverage in the media, but which are important to people on a day-to day-basis.

As issues of social justice, there is growing concern that we take for granted some key aspects of our daily lives, and indeed what amounts to some of our most personal and intimate moments. There is, I believe, a growing awareness that we are no longer in control of ourselves, or able to make sense of the way that we think about some of the most basic issues that we have to deal with, especially as we try to cope with the demands that are placed on us by large corporations, marketing campaigns, governments, the medical profession, the health industry, and even pressure from our families, our friends and our fellow citizens.

I’m talking about sugar, and the mass delusion that carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced diet. In the Western world we are part of a culture that views the mass production and processing of food as an essential way to obtain nutrition. To put it simply, mass produced and processed food is said to be good for us, but increasing evidence is telling us that it’s not.

In the Western world we are experiencing an epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is costing our health services billions of pounds to deal with. Why are people getting fat and fatter? Is it because they are greedy and lazy? Is it because they gorge themselves on cheap food and don’t do any work? Are fat people just moral shirkers who can’t exercise self control? The answer to each of these questions is no, it is not the fault of individuals that they can’t stop putting weight on or making bad choices about their diets.

Many of us, like myself, exercise intensively on a regular basis, but still don’t see any benefit on the bathroom scales, so something else must be going on. And after reading books by Michael Poolan, Gary Taubes, John Yudkin and others, I’ve come to see that food and the way that we package and process food is essentially exploitative.

The Western industrial food production model does a number of things. It exploits the animals that it turns into burgers. It exploits the land that the cattle and crops are grown on by decimating their nutritional value. It exploits the workers who are attempting to make a living and demonises their trade unions, making people work in harsh and insecure workplaces, while accepts little responsibility for the welfare of those employees. Lastly, this system exploits us, the consumer.

As consumers we are said to have almost limitless choice, but the truth is that we have few alternatives to the carbohydrate rich food model. We have to go with the flow and accept what the major food producers, drinks manufacturers and supermarkets want to foist on us. Try telling your friends that you are having a high fat diet and they will insist – mostly because they are concerned – that you are deluded and that you can’t possibly expect a diet without starchy food to be good for you. The peer pressure that we face is immense, the limited range of choices that we have are getting narrower, and the whole system of food production is designed around the carbohydrates that the food industry churn out, but which are doing so much damage.

So in my lecture today I asked learners to think about the way that their food is replete with carbohydrates and sugars, and to think about how they are sold to us as if they are automatically healthy, i.e., sunshine in a glass! How much sugar would we expect in our food, other than that which we add directly ourselves?

Over the next few months, we are going to look at this in some detail, and we are going to experiment and test out some ideas about how social media can be used to spread the message that the levels of sugar that we have in our diet are going to kill us. I’m going to keep a regular blog about this, hopefully a couple of times each week. I’ll post my lecture notes and any links to sites and stories I think are interesting. Let me know what you think about this on Twitter, it would be great to read about your experiences of giving up sugar and getting off the processed food treadmill.

What are the pressing issues of social justice in society?
What are the challenges of living in our modern society?
What do we need to think about and understand about ourselves in order to solve some of these social issues?

TECH3022_15-Lecture-001-Processed-Media-2014-09-17

Starbase Leicester Makes It So…

StarBase Leicester is a Science Fiction and Fantasy group, who meet once a month, for a variety of events, run for members. Regular events include Superhero Night, creative writing night, Megazone, Roleplaying Games, Muchkin, Cinema trips, Console nights Starbase Leicester aims to encourage its members to contribute and run ideas of their own, make new friends and to enjoy everything scifi, fantasy and gaming related activities, amongst like-minded individuals. This group accepts anyone, as long as they are 16+ and prepared to have a little fun. I spoke with Hannah, Sam and Chris who told me about their roles and what they get out of being members of Starbase Leicester.

DMU Commons Wiki – Proposal

Collaborative media skills are used extensively by learners on TECH1002 Social Media & Technology, TECH2002 Social Media Production, TECH3022 Advanced Social Media Production, with the potential to be used in many other modules within the Leicester Media School. These modules focus primarily on the use and critical development of digital literacies, promoting active participation in social media production communities. Underpinning the pedagogic practice of the modules is a recognition that “In an information age… it becomes essential to prepare students for… new literacies because they are central to the use of information and the acquisition of knowledge. Traditional definitions of literacy and literacy instruction will be insufficient if we seek to provide students with the futures they deserve” (Donald J. Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004).

In supporting this learners are encouraged to avoid the ‘banking’ model of learning, and instead approach their use of online or digital media as a participant in a community of practice. As Jones & Hafner suggest “the five main changes that we see as most relevant to the kinds of literacy practices that will be required in the ‘new work order’. They are: 1) a shift away from manufacturing work to ‘knowledge work’, 2) the distribution of work across large geographic distances, 3) a de-emphasis on the ‘workplace’ as a place where people work, 4) a flattening of hierarchies within organisation, and 5) a weakening of the relationships between employers and employees” (Jones & Hafner, 2012, p. 175). In emphasising collaborative knowledge and production techniques and relationships there is a need for learners, therefore, to reflexively analyse their own status as a participant in a network of co-learners and collaborators.

In embracing these techniques, as Rheingold argues, it is important to not that with the “proliferation of literacies and divides that accompany them are a real problem. It isn’t easy to maintain a high level of basic reading and writing literacy, and the percentage of the population that can afford the time and money to learn additional multiple literacies is undoubtedly going to remain small, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an elite. The multiliterate can be a public – a networked public” (Rheingold, 2012, p. 253). None of which can be done, however, without testing the framing within which digital and social media literacies are enabled. Incorporated in these forms of practice and reflection, therefore, is an emphasis on critical questions and responses to the dominant and mainstream use of media. Using Belshaw’s elements of digital literacy learners are asked to self-evaluate their own practices and review each of the critical elements that are closest to their experience of  ‘media literacy’. According to Belshaw “Questions relevant here include: who is the audience? who is included? who is excluded? what are the assumptions behind this text? and so on’” (Belshaw, 2013, p. 53).

The use and practice of the DMU Commons is structured around the following themes:

  • Principles of Collaboration – how media production is increasingly co-developed and co-produced.
  • Critical Encounters with Media – encourage learners to reflect on how they define, access, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate using digital and social media.
  • Strategic Analysis: learners are expected to show awareness of the cultural, cognitive, constructive,  and communicative practices that the undertake, so that they can reflect on their effectiveness in and confidence in producing creative work that has a civic usefulness founded in critical reflection.
  • Employability Skills: many production companies now use collaborative and social media tools to support production, encourage innovation and to open the process of intellectual practice and knowledge work as a collaborative practice. This recognises the shift away from block audiences, linear production management techniques, and the enhanced status of networks and non-linear knowledge management skills.
  • Practice and Experience: These skills are most effectively taught through forms of practice that make use of shared resources, collective knowledge development, real-time information management, decentralised moderation, peer and network interactions.

DMU Commons Blogs:

http://futuremedia.our.dmu.ac.uk/

Future-Media-001Experiential Learning: allows learners to showcase their work, build an online persona, collaborate in a web-document, integrate and embed other social media tools, reflexively evaluate their social media use, face outwards into wider media production and social media communities.

Literacies Acquired: blog development, reflexive writing, still and moving image appreciation and use, persona development through reflexive practice, social media networking skills networking, WordPress shortcodes,

 

Blackboard Wiki:

Blackboard-Wiki-001This is a limited tool that does not reflect general practice in the real-world. Learners produce content only for themselves and their tutors, limiting their expectations that the wiki entries that they make have the potential to be found, linked-to, quoted and challenged on the World Wide Web. Ring-fenced media practice opportunities delay learning as they give learners a false sense of security, a limited expectation and ambition to innovate and experiment, and a limited desire to ‘bank’ their knowledge with their tutor, rather than exchange it in a wider knowledge economy of which they are legitimate and responsible practitioners.

Media Wiki:

http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Mediawikis_for_research,_teaching_and_learning

Media-Wiki-001According to Schneider, Beneto & Ruchat “Mediawiki, the technology developed for Wikipedia, has interesting affordances for supporting a range of teaching and other scholarly activities” (Schneider, Benetos, & Ruchat, 2013). They argue that Mediawikis facilitate the integration of diverse academic activities, the combination of learning management with knowledge management, and do so at a reasonable cost. Media Wiki is a standard format for wikis, as the platform that supports Wikipedia, the worlds largest and most accessed wiki, it has a strong founding in open-source development, not-for-profit knowledge exchange, reliability, cost-effective resource use, collaborative moderation of content and usability (with some simple instruction). It is not ‘coding’ or ‘programming’ heavy to use, it has a very robust discussion and moderation capability, and it offers increased integration with many content management systems and social media applications.

Proposal:

Host a DMU Commons Wiki that can be used as a shared network resource by students and staff at De Montfort University based on the Media Wiki platform. Promote the wiki as a knowledge-exchange community that brings learners, researchers and collaborators together to share information, ideas and academic best-practice. Media Wiki can be linked to the LDAP server so only enrolled students, researchers and staff at DMU will be able to access the wiki for editing and moderation purposes. Integrating Media Wiki skills in the taught module provision of the social media production modules, and encouraging other colleagues and learners to take-up the facility will generate usage and on-going monitoring of the system by a group of core users, with other moderators and users encouraged to participate through CELT.

 References:

Belshaw, D. (2013). Essential Elements of Digital Literacies   Retrieved from http://dougbelshaw.com/ebooks/digilit/

Donald J. Leu, J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. L., & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a Theory of New Literacies Emerging From the Internet and Other Information and Communication Technologies. In R. B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart – How to Thrive Online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Schneider, D. K., Benetos, K., & Ruchat, M. (2013). Mediawikis for Research, Teaching and Learning   Retrieved from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Mediawikis_for_research,_teaching_and_learning

 

DMU Commons Wiki – Proposal

Collaborative media skills are used extensively by learners on TECH1002 Social Media & Technology, TECH2002 Social Media Production, TECH3022 Advanced Social Media Production, with the potential to be used in many other modules within the Leicester Media School. These modules focus primarily on the use and critical development of digital literacies, promoting active participation in social media production communities. Underpinning the pedagogic practice of the modules is a recognition that “In an information age… it becomes essential to prepare students for… new literacies because they are central to the use of information and the acquisition of knowledge. Traditional definitions of literacy and literacy instruction will be insufficient if we seek to provide students with the futures they deserve” (Donald J. Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004).

In supporting this learners are encouraged to avoid the ‘banking’ model of learning, and instead approach their use of online or digital media as a participant in a community of practice. As Jones & Hafner suggest “the five main changes that we see as most relevant to the kinds of literacy practices that will be required in the ‘new work order’. They are: 1) a shift away from manufacturing work to ‘knowledge work’, 2) the distribution of work across large geographic distances, 3) a de-emphasis on the ‘workplace’ as a place where people work, 4) a flattening of hierarchies within organisation, and 5) a weakening of the relationships between employers and employees” (Jones & Hafner, 2012, p. 175). In emphasising collaborative knowledge and production techniques and relationships there is a need for learners, therefore, to reflexively analyse their own status as a participant in a network of co-learners and collaborators.

In embracing these techniques, as Rheingold argues, it is important to not that with the “proliferation of literacies and divides that accompany them are a real problem. It isn’t easy to maintain a high level of basic reading and writing literacy, and the percentage of the population that can afford the time and money to learn additional multiple literacies is undoubtedly going to remain small, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an elite. The multiliterate can be a public – a networked public” (Rheingold, 2012, p. 253). None of which can be done, however, without testing the framing within which digital and social media literacies are enabled. Incorporated in these forms of practice and reflection, therefore, is an emphasis on critical questions and responses to the dominant and mainstream use of media. Using Belshaw’s elements of digital literacy learners are asked to self-evaluate their own practices and review each of the critical elements that are closest to their experience of  ‘media literacy’. According to Belshaw “Questions relevant here include: who is the audience? who is included? who is excluded? what are the assumptions behind this text? and so on’” (Belshaw, 2013, p. 53).

The use and practice of the DMU Commons is structured around the following themes:

  • Principles of Collaboration – how media production is increasingly co-developed and co-produced.
  • Critical Encounters with Media – encourage learners to reflect on how they define, access, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate using digital and social media.
  • Strategic Analysis: learners are expected to show awareness of the cultural, cognitive, constructive,  and communicative practices that the undertake, so that they can reflect on their effectiveness in and confidence in producing creative work that has a civic usefulness founded in critical reflection.
  • Employability Skills: many production companies now use collaborative and social media tools to support production, encourage innovation and to open the process of intellectual practice and knowledge work as a collaborative practice. This recognises the shift away from block audiences, linear production management techniques, and the enhanced status of networks and non-linear knowledge management skills.
  • Practice and Experience: These skills are most effectively taught through forms of practice that make use of shared resources, collective knowledge development, real-time information management, decentralised moderation, peer and network interactions.

DMU Commons Blogs:

http://futuremedia.our.dmu.ac.uk/

wpid-Future-Media-001-2014-02-5-14-191.jpgExperiential Learning: allows learners to showcase their work, build an online persona, collaborate in a web-document, integrate and embed other social media tools, reflexively evaluate their social media use, face outwards into wider media production and social media communities.

Literacies Acquired: blog development, reflexive writing, still and moving image appreciation and use, persona development through reflexive practice, social media networking skills networking, WordPress shortcodes,

 

Blackboard Wiki:

wpid-Blackboard-Wiki-001-2014-02-5-14-191.jpgThis is a limited tool that does not reflect general practice in the real-world. Learners produce content only for themselves and their tutors, limiting their expectations that the wiki entries that they make have the potential to be found, linked-to, quoted and challenged on the World Wide Web. Ring-fenced media practice opportunities delay learning as they give learners a false sense of security, a limited expectation and ambition to innovate and experiment, and a limited desire to ‘bank’ their knowledge with their tutor, rather than exchange it in a wider knowledge economy of which they are legitimate and responsible practitioners.

Media Wiki:

http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Mediawikis_for_research,_teaching_and_learning

wpid-Media-Wiki-001-2014-02-5-14-191.jpgAccording to Schneider, Beneto & Ruchat “Mediawiki, the technology developed for Wikipedia, has interesting affordances for supporting a range of teaching and other scholarly activities” (Schneider, Benetos, & Ruchat, 2013). They argue that Mediawikis facilitate the integration of diverse academic activities, the combination of learning management with knowledge management, and do so at a reasonable cost. Media Wiki is a standard format for wikis, as the platform that supports Wikipedia, the worlds largest and most accessed wiki, it has a strong founding in open-source development, not-for-profit knowledge exchange, reliability, cost-effective resource use, collaborative moderation of content and usability (with some simple instruction). It is not ‘coding’ or ‘programming’ heavy to use, it has a very robust discussion and moderation capability, and it offers increased integration with many content management systems and social media applications.

Proposal:

Host a DMU Commons Wiki that can be used as a shared network resource by students and staff at De Montfort University based on the Media Wiki platform. Promote the wiki as a knowledge-exchange community that brings learners, researchers and collaborators together to share information, ideas and academic best-practice. Media Wiki can be linked to the LDAP server so only enrolled students, researchers and staff at DMU will be able to access the wiki for editing and moderation purposes. Integrating Media Wiki skills in the taught module provision of the social media production modules, and encouraging other colleagues and learners to take-up the facility will generate usage and on-going monitoring of the system by a group of core users, with other moderators and users encouraged to participate through CELT.

References:

Belshaw, D. (2013). Essential Elements of Digital Literacies   Retrieved from http://dougbelshaw.com/ebooks/digilit/

Donald J. Leu, J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. L., & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a Theory of New Literacies Emerging From the Internet and Other Information and Communication Technologies. In R. B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart – How to Thrive Online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Schneider, D. K., Benetos, K., & Ruchat, M. (2013). Mediawikis for Research, Teaching and Learning   Retrieved from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Mediawikis_for_research,_teaching_and_learning

 

The Six Rules of Pecha Kucha

On Tuesday I went to an event at Phoenix Arts in Leicester that Creative Leicestershire organised in which six creative and talented people presented a Pecha Kucha. It was really good fun, with a real sense of participation and creativity. I really like the Pecha Kucha style and I’ve been asking my students to do them as part of their social media coursework. The need for Pecha Kucha’s came from the need for creative people to be able to communicate clearly without talking for a long time. So if you want to be more creative, the secret is to shut up. This was the first Pecha Kucha event I’ve sat through, though, which let me come up with six rules that will help to make a Pecha Kucha more engaging.

Rule 1: Don’t talk to the slides – the habit of waiting for the twenty-second transition is distracting, keep your back turned to the slides and don’t worry about them, they will tell your story in the background. It’s your words and the speed that you speak that your audience will focus on.

Rule 2: Produce the images yourself, don’t use stock images. The last thing that you want is a text-based, PowerPoint style slide. Use images from your Facebook profile, or from the shoebox under the bed. Using standard images found on the web or in a stock archive aren’t as interesting as the images you make or take yourself.

Rule 3: Try to explain an idea. Rather than listing a series of events, or relating a journey, start by asking your audience to think about a concept, and then use the images and the evidence that you talk about to illustrate the idea.

Rule 4: Use LOL Cats. Actually, you can use any form of meme or cartoon image to provide a break in the chain of associations. Your audience can think about different things at the same time, but they will always appreciate some relief.

Oggl_0066

Seed Creativity’s Jon Prest

Rule 5: Wear a funny hat. This is an optional thing to do, but it certainly made me laugh.

Rule 6: Be honest, be yourself. Don’t try to over-project your idea, who you are, or what your experience has been. Keep it real and grounded in your experience. It’s you we’ve come to listen to, not a self-help book in a railway station newsagents.

I’m sure we can add more ideas to this list. What suggestions do you have?

The Six Rules of Pecha Kucha

On Tuesday I went to an event at Phoenix Arts in Leicester that Creative Leicestershire organised in which six creative and talented people presented a Pecha Kucha. It was really good fun, with a real sense of participation and creativity. I really like the Pecha Kucha style and I’ve been asking my students to do them as part of their social media coursework. The need for Pecha Kucha’s came from the need for creative people to be able to communicate clearly without talking for a long time. So if you want to be more creative, the secret is to shut up. This was the first Pecha Kucha event I’ve sat through, though, which let me come up with six rules that will help to make a Pecha Kucha more engaging.

Rule 1: Don’t talk to the slides – the habit of waiting for the twenty-second transition is distracting, keep your back turned to the slides and don’t worry about them, they will tell your story in the background. It’s your words and the speed that you speak that your audience will focus on.

Rule 2: Produce the images yourself, don’t use stock images. The last thing that you want is a text-based, PowerPoint style slide. Use images from your Facebook profile, or from the shoebox under the bed. Using standard images found on the web or in a stock archive aren’t as interesting as the images you make or take yourself.

Rule 3: Try to explain an idea. Rather than listing a series of events, or relating a journey, start by asking your audience to think about a concept, and then use the images and the evidence that you talk about to illustrate the idea.

Rule 4: Use LOL Cats. Actually, you can use any form of meme or cartoon image to provide a break in the chain of associations. Your audience can think about different things at the same time, but they will always appreciate some relief.

Seed Creativity's Jon Prest

Seed Creativity’s Jon Prest

Rule 5: Wear a funny hat. This is an optional thing to do, but it certainly made me laugh.

Rule 6: Be honest, be yourself. Don’t try to over-project your idea, who you are, or what your experience has been. Keep it real and grounded in your experience. It’s you we’ve come to listen to, not a self-help book in a railway station newsagents.

I’m sure we can add more ideas to this list. What suggestions do you have?

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

If you are interested in how social media is being used and understood by activists’ movements around the world, then Symon Hill’s book Digital Revolutions is a clear and concise introduction. From #tag activism to the complex political, economic and nationalistic dynamics of the Arab Spring, Hill charts a path through some of the main dilemmas facing political and civic activism in the age of Twitter, Facebook and social media networks. Hill starts by stating that his core principle and conviction is that “liberation comes from below and never from above” (Hill, 2013, p. 15), and that “however much we discuss technology, let’s not do so in a way that leads us to forget the slums in Egypt, the soup kitchens in Greece or the newly present food banks in Britain” (Hill, 2013, p. 26).

Hill isn’t an open-ended optimist, as some of the internet and digital networked society evangelists have a tendency to be. Instead Hill grounds his ideas and his examples in the reality of social change that won’t be won through online media campaigns alone, but only when they turn into popular movements for change. The UK Uncut movement is given prominence in Hill’s account, free from hyperbole and rhetoric. It is good to note how Hill points out that “social media is a tool rather than a cause of social change.” Facebook and Twitter, according to Hill “did not overthrow Ben Ali or Murbarak, any more than the printing press overthrew Charles I” (Hill, 2013, p. 81).

What I was particularly drawn to is Hill’s unequivocal rejection of transactional forms of hierarchy within much of Western social and civic life. According to Hill “we need to appreciate the importance of the rejection of hierarchy” (Hill, 2013, p. 97), and therefore give some thought and energy to thinking through what the alternatives might be. This is something that I am intensely sympathetic with. The challenge, if we accept Hill’s argument and look forward to the emerging forms of social organisation, is how we can prepare people to act as mindful and reflexive citizens who have the skills and the sense of self-awareness and self-confidence that allows them to claim their entitlement to participation in our shared social life?

To understand how networks of peers and co-developers and citizens can gain through collective action for the benefit of the wider community, rather than simply clawing for personal, partial and financial advantage, is a worth challenge for all.

 

Hill, S. (2013). Digital Revolutions – Activism in the Internet Age. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications.

 

Be Mindful and Notice the Difference

This much I have learnt: Don’t confuse personality for intelligence, your own or other peoples.

Be Mindful and Notice the Difference

This much I have learnt: Don’t confuse personality for intelligence, your own or other peoples.

Making Things in a Digital World – Gauntlett on Small Steps

David Gauntlett is a long-time advocate of the democratic power of the internet and the affordances that digital technology brings for human beings to be creative through participation. According to Gauntlett, “you are what you make” (Gauntlett 2011), with your personal and social sense of identity in the networked and mediated world increasingly defined by, and through, the power we have to produce things. Gauntlett suggests that while we inhabit a world in which “digital technologies and the internet have not initiated creativity… they have certainly given creative practices a boost” (Gauntlett 2014). So it is interesting to read his article ‘The Internet is Ancient…’ which is based on a forthcoming book chapter to be published next year.

The challenge of the internet, Gauntlett argues, is in recognising the ways in which creativity is enabled and the ways that creativity is played out through different conversations, through different material manifestations, and through different opportunities for collaboration. In his article Gauntlett draws attention to the perception of a fundamental schism, that he believes divides thinking about the internet and digital media technologies. This is a schism “between those who say positive things about the value of the internet for culture and society, and those who are broadly critical or negative”.

Gauntlett’s view is that there is a positive and constructive potential inherent in internet and digital culture. A potential that will ensure that “constructive alternatives can be offered” that will by their very nature represent a challenge to the established and legacy notions of identity and social order that we have inherited from the modern, mass forms of social organisation and media. In his own words Gauntlett recognises that he is on the “optimistic side of the fence” in this debate. Gauntlett suggests that he has taken an interesting position, vis-a-vis, the wider expectation that academics have about critical debate and discussion in relation to internet culture and digital media participation – in that he is so clearly an advocate.

While Gauntlett recognises the need to be sceptical about the take-up of social media and digital participation tools, he makes the clear suggestion that we should avoid the “recklessly giddy” spin that accompanies much of the critical language and counter-claims that are made about digital and internet culture. The argument has been compromised, Gauntlett says, by those who want to make money from our online endeavours, and those who want to aggrandise and bathe themselves with “academic professional kudos.”

Perhaps for reasons of space Gauntlett condenses the complex and contested debates about online and digital thinking, into what feels like a simplistic choice between being ‘pessimistic’ and a feeling of being ‘optimistic’ about the “democratising” potential of the internet. In Gauntlett’s view it is essential to challenge the “elitism” and nostalgia of those who “wish we could go back to a world where professional people made professional media which professional researchers knew how to deal with.” The question is, though, does Gauntlett’s optimism offer any more certainty than previously held regimes of critical scholarship, or is he merely offering a different kind of [un]certainty in its place?

Gauntlett’s draws up his thinking around six points, which are:

  • “The internet is ancient” – meaning that it brings together things that we could already do and which we already value.
  • “A world with lots of interesting, creative things is always better” – meaning that it’s in our interest to stop being hung-up about texts and practices that are final or finished, and instead embrace a world in which meaning are always in motion.
  • “People doing things because they want to is always better than people watching things because they are there” – which is a challenge to the culture of reception and the separation of performer and audience.
  • “The distribution and funding possibilities of the internet are better” – which means that the potential for new publics to be built around new funding and revenue streams, as enabled by the internet, challenges the gatekeeper principles of much of modern capitalist communication practices.
  • “Small steps into a changed world are better than no steps” – which means that having a go, and testing the water on a micro-scale, are likely to lead to innovations that can’t be imagined by large-scale, macro and modernistic thinking.
  • “The digital internet is good, but hands-on physical things are good too” – which is a reminder that we exist in a physical world and not simply a virtual world, and that we should seek to understand how once plays into the other.

Overall, there is much to be applauded in these guiding principles, and Gauntlett is thorough in his examination of the relevance of each of the axioms he sums up. I have problems, however, with the intervening conjunctions and slips that are deployed by Gauntlett in order to make these ideas fit into a working pattern. For example, there is a recurring sense throughout the article that many of these ideas are good-in-theory, but there is little to suggest that they are being tested-in-practice? For instance, is it true that the “internet certainly offers possibilities of building social connections”? Certainty is one thing, perhaps, that we don’t have the luxury of! Is this certainty guaranteed in all cases and for all examples of internet use? Or is this certainty simply a rhetorical and optimistic turn of phrase that executes a well disguised slight-of-hand covering-up for the opposite, a lack of certainty?

If we are to engage critically with participation culture and social media production then we have to examine in more detail, and raise questions about the nature of these social connections? In what way are these social connections played-out and developed over time, in different locals, by different actors, in the context of different social and cultural milieu? While I’m happy to accept the assertion that there is a phenomenon of social media production that is founded on a strong set of participation based affordances, that is being played out in these circumstances; it’s necessary, however, to go beyond the issues we are presented with at face-value here, and to ask, instead, what the empirical evidence is that supports these social connections? How are socially mediated connections laid-down, used and validated? How do we learn to recognise that participation with digital media production tools is capable of delivering something useful for participants? Is all participation of equal value? Just because we can participate, does it mean that we should? Are their hierarchies of ethical and moral potential that aren’t yet being identified?

Perhaps I’m deploying a receiver-received model of communication that is outdated and is not attuned to the different types of activities that Gauntlett explores? Perhaps it would be more appropriate to tune into, what Gauntlett calls the “substantial shifts” that have taken place in the worlds of “politics, protest, economics, news, entertainment, and war, to name but a few.” I would be keener, however, if this discussion was the starting point that gave rise to further debate, and that the case studies that are used to represent them, did so on the basis of empirical evidence, and not just a desire to rebuff a so-called “cynical” and “self-serving” stance by critics who wish to cross-examine the consequences of this shift more critically.

Gauntlett, D. (2011). Making is Connecting. London, Polity.

Gauntlett, D. (2014) The internet is ancient, small steps are important, and four other theses about making things in a digital world [WWW]. Available from: http://davidgauntlett.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Gauntlett-2014-The-internet-is-ancient.pdf [Accessed 25/11/13].

Future Media Blogging

How easy is it to start blogging? What’s it like to make the move from being a personal consumer of media to a personal producer of media? I’ve just sent feedback to my first year social media production students covering their first steps in the world of blogging.

There’s been a good mix of work, with some excellent examples of blogs beginning to filter into the Future Media blog site. There are a good number of bloggers studying on the module, who are making interesting comments about the media that they are passionate about.

The point it to try to develop the skills for this from the ground up, rather than imposing a rigid hierarchy of expectations from the top down. It’s about trying to find the small ideas that will give these budding bloggers a sense of validation about their posts, and to encourage them to keep blogging, and include lots of different types of media.

I’m hoping to see and share some useful experiments in media production, with self-produced videos, podcasts and photographs being shared on the blogs. We each have our own unique point of view on the world and what is happening in it. Blogs are a great way of sharing that view and encouraging other people to have empathy and sensitivity to those points of view.

I’m also keen to explore how this content becomes spreadable and generates a sense of social impact. Does a blog have to have impact? Not really. It might just be written as an amusement of the writer and for the amusement of the reader? Though if it gets to the heart of a more contentious and wider-reaching issue then it stands a greater chance of being spread and picked-up by other people.

At the heart of this style of blogging is the active sense of participation and community that bloggers develop, even if they are separated by thousands of miles and by some pretty steep cultural distances. We all aspire to have fun and to capture a sense of play through which creativity is born. This isn’t about getting things right or wrong, or meeting other people’s expectations. It’s about doing something valuable that we as individuals find meaning in, and which other people might also find valuable and useful, even if only for a moment.

Future Media Blogging

How easy is it to start blogging? What’s it like to make the move from being a personal consumer of media to a personal producer of media? I’ve just sent feedback to my first year social media production students covering their first steps in the world of blogging.

There’s been a good mix of work, with some excellent examples of blogs beginning to filter into the Future Media blog site. There are a good number of bloggers studying on the module, who are making interesting comments about the media that they are passionate about.

The point it to try to develop the skills for this from the ground up, rather than imposing a rigid hierarchy of expectations from the top down. It’s about trying to find the small ideas that will give these budding bloggers a sense of validation about their posts, and to encourage them to keep blogging, and include lots of different types of media.

I’m hoping to see and share some useful experiments in media production, with self-produced videos, podcasts and photographs being shared on the blogs. We each have our own unique point of view on the world and what is happening in it. Blogs are a great way of sharing that view and encouraging other people to have empathy and sensitivity to those points of view.

I’m also keen to explore how this content becomes spreadable and generates a sense of social impact. Does a blog have to have impact? Not really. It might just be written as an amusement of the writer and for the amusement of the reader? Though if it gets to the heart of a more contentious and wider-reaching issue then it stands a greater chance of being spread and picked-up by other people.

At the heart of this style of blogging is the active sense of participation and community that bloggers develop, even if they are separated by thousands of miles and by some pretty steep cultural distances. We all aspire to have fun and to capture a sense of play through which creativity is born. This isn’t about getting things right or wrong, or meeting other people’s expectations. It’s about doing something valuable that we as individuals find meaning in, and which other people might also find valuable and useful, even if only for a moment.

Community Media Mantra

I came across this article today while researching my lecture on social media I’ll be giving on Monday. I think it’s perfectly adaptable to stand for community media as well as open source programming:
“If you are going to legitimately adopt the open source mantra, you must expect, prepare for, and welcome outsiders into your organization (dare I say–community?).

As a matter of fact you should probably spend significant time working on making sure outsiders can really participate.

Largely this is going to consist of changing culture, and removing roadmaps as well as identifying and exposing the processes for getting involved.” David Nalley

What does anyone think? A realistic objective?

Community Media Wiki

I’ve been playing with the idea of developing a wiki based around community media. It’s separate from this site, and uses the MediaWiki software, that is used to run Wikipedia. There’s a learning curve to get the hang of using MediaWiki, but it’s probably about the best for ease of use for users. Is this something that is worth developing and seeing if we can get an on-line community of contributors for?

http://www.communitymediawiki.net

Community Media Wiki

I’ve been playing with the idea of developing a wiki based around community media. It’s separate from this site, and uses the MediaWiki software, that is used to run Wikipedia. There’s a learning curve to get the hang of using MediaWiki, but it’s probably about the best for ease of use for users. Is this something that is worth developing and seeing if we can get an on-line community of contributors for?

http://www.communitymediawiki.net

Community Media Wiki

I’ve been playing with the idea of developing a wiki based around community media. It’s separate from this site, and uses the MediaWiki software, that is used to run Wikipedia. There’s a learning curve to get the hang of using MediaWiki, but it’s probably about the best for ease of use for users. Is this something that is worth developing and seeing if we can get an on-line community of contributors for?

http://www.communitymediawiki.net

Update: I’ve been trying to get the registration process for the site working so that users can just log-in. Rather than an open process that will allow bots and spammers to get in. So I’ve set the site so that applicants need approval from an administrator. I’m also looking for a Captcha plugin to add to the registration process so that there is an extra layer of security. I’ll keep my eye on the number of registrations and see how it works.

Community Media Wiki

I’ve been playing with the idea of developing a wiki based around community media. It’s separate from this site, and uses the MediaWiki software, that is used to run Wikipedia. There’s a learning curve to get the hang of using MediaWiki, but it’s probably about the best for ease of use for users. Is this something that is worth developing and seeing if we can get an on-line community of contributors for?

http://www.communitymediawiki.net

Update: I’ve been trying to get the registration process for the site working so that users can just log-in. Rather than an open process that will allow bots and spammers to get in. So I’ve set the site so that applicants need approval from an administrator. I’m also looking for a Captcha plugin to add to the registration process so that there is an extra layer of security. I’ll keep my eye on the number of registrations and see how it works.

Community Media Wiki

I’ve been playing with the idea of developing a wiki based around community media. It’s separate from this site, and uses the MediaWiki software, that is used to run Wikipedia. There’s a learning curve to get the hang of using MediaWiki, but it’s probably about the best for ease of use for users. Is this something that is worth developing and seeing if we can get an on-line community of contributors for?

http://www.communitymediawiki.net

Update: I’ve been trying to get the registration process for the site working so that users can just log-in. Rather than an open process that will allow bots and spammers to get in. So I’ve set the site so that applicants need approval from an administrator. I’m also looking for a Captcha plugin to add to the registration process so that there is an extra layer of security. I’ll keep my eye on the number of registrations and see how it works.

Future Media Blogging on the DMU Commons

Since the start of the term I’ve been introducing first year BSc Media Production students to bloging as part of their module TECH1002 Social Media & Technology. The aim is to get each student to share and post content on their own individual DMU Commons blog and then to share posts that are relevant to the Future Media site.

We started off in week one by setting up a basic account on the DMU Commons. First of all we changed things such as how the user names are displayed, what the domain for the site is called, and how to set up categories. This went well, and each of the students is now up and running with their own individual blog that they are free to post to whenever and however they want.

dscf1262I asked everyone to add a ‘category’ to their blog called Future Media, so that when a post is created, and the learner feels that it is relevant to the work we are doing in the module, they can select that category and it will be pulled into the Future Media site from an RSS feed and shared with all the other learners on the module – and beyond. This means that all the learners on the module are listed as contributors to the Future Media site, which is acting as an online aggregation point, or even magazine, of their posts.

The links to each of the posts points back to the original blog site, so each learner gets the chance to build more followers for their own site, who can read and interact with any other blog posts that the learner is posting. We’ve covered a lot of ground quite quickly since week one. Some learners have integrated their Twitter feeds into the sidebars. Some have started to embed YouTube videos, and everyone is starting to use hyperlinks to connect to other sites, articles and feeds of interest. I’ll be encouraging all the bloggers to experiment with different forms of media. They are all keen on producing video, audio and images, so why not showcase this work in a portfolio of blogs!

dscf1266The challenge now is to enhance the Future Media site with a better sense of graphic design, and a gallery of images that can be shared publicly. We also need to develop a moderation policy, so that any issues that might push the boundaries are dealt with sympathetically and appropriately. I’m hoping we can do this by self-management and peer-working, rather than trying to impose a centralised and hierarchical policy on everyone. This is going to be crucial to the ongoing success of the work we are doing, and I’ll be reflecting on it quite regularly.

Underpinning this is a focus on building individual and group capabilities in collaborative and social media. I’m asking learners to think about what capabilities they need to develop as producers of social media content, what kinds of sociability they will need to practice and perform in order to make their posts engaging and attention worthy? In trying to make this as ‘playful’ as possible at this stage, and working in reflection and analysis later, I’m hoping that we can cover the initial ground more quickly, before we really start to reflect on the processes and the affordance of social media production.

I’m very grateful to Andrew Clay for passing on such a well-developed and organised module. The clarity of the rational, the focus on critical and technical practice is clear. The challenge in moving away from a linear mind-set of media production, with a sense of externalised authority, to one that is interactive and sociable can’t be underestimated. This module is proving a great learning experience for myself, never mind the enrolled learners. I’m looking forward to expanding my thoughts on the process and the tools of social collaboration. It’s something I’ve been working on for years in other work I’ve been doing, trying to develop a more collegiate and social form of working. So this module is taking up many of the themes that have been in the back of my mind, from a more practical and experiential perspective. The key difference here is the extent to which this module affords me and my fellow learners with the ability to reflect and analyse this process as we go along.

Future Media Blogging on the DMU Commons

Since the start of the term I’ve been introducing first year BSc Media Production students to bloging as part of their module TECH1002 Social Media & Technology. The aim is to get each student to share and post content on their own individual DMU Commons blog and then to share posts that are relevant to the Future Media site.

We started off in week one by setting up a basic account on the DMU Commons. First of all we changed things such as how the user names are displayed, what the domain for the site is called, and how to set up categories. This went well, and each of the students is now up and running with their own individual blog that they are free to post to whenever and however they want.

wpid-dscf1262-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgI asked everyone to add a ‘category’ to their blog called Future Media, so that when a post is created, and the learner feels that it is relevant to the work we are doing in the module, they can select that category and it will be pulled into the Future Media site from an RSS feed and shared with all the other learners on the module – and beyond. This means that all the learners on the module are listed as contributors to the Future Media site, which is acting as an online aggregation point, or even magazine, of their posts.

The links to each of the posts points back to the original blog site, so each learner gets the chance to build more followers for their own site, who can read and interact with any other blog posts that the learner is posting. We’ve covered a lot of ground quite quickly since week one. Some learners have integrated their Twitter feeds into the sidebars. Some have started to embed YouTube videos, and everyone is starting to use hyperlinks to connect to other sites, articles and feeds of interest. I’ll be encouraging all the bloggers to experiment with different forms of media. They are all keen on producing video, audio and images, so why not showcase this work in a portfolio of blogs!

wpid-dscf1266-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgThe challenge now is to enhance the Future Media site with a better sense of graphic design, and a gallery of images that can be shared publicly. We also need to develop a moderation policy, so that any issues that might push the boundaries are dealt with sympathetically and appropriately. I’m hoping we can do this by self-management and peer-working, rather than trying to impose a centralised and hierarchical policy on everyone. This is going to be crucial to the ongoing success of the work we are doing, and I’ll be reflecting on it quite regularly.

Underpinning this is a focus on building individual and group capabilities in collaborative and social media. I’m asking learners to think about what capabilities they need to develop as producers of social media content, what kinds of sociability they will need to practice and perform in order to make their posts engaging and attention worthy? In trying to make this as ‘playful’ as possible at this stage, and working in reflection and analysis later, I’m hoping that we can cover the initial ground more quickly, before we really start to reflect on the processes and the affordance of social media production.

I’m very grateful to Andrew Clay for passing on such a well-developed and organised module. The clarity of the rational, the focus on critical and technical practice is clear. The challenge in moving away from a linear mind-set of media production, with a sense of externalised authority, to one that is interactive and sociable can’t be underestimated. This module is proving a great learning experience for myself, never mind the enrolled learners. I’m looking forward to expanding my thoughts on the process and the tools of social collaboration. It’s something I’ve been working on for years in other work I’ve been doing, trying to develop a more collegiate and social form of working. So this module is taking up many of the themes that have been in the back of my mind, from a more practical and experiential perspective. The key difference here is the extent to which this module affords me and my fellow learners with the ability to reflect and analyse this process as we go along.

Future Media Blogging on the DMU Commons

Since the start of the term I’ve been introducing first year BSc Media Production students to bloging as part of their module TECH1002 Social Media & Technology. The aim is to get each student to share and post content on their own individual DMU Commons blog and then to share posts that are relevant to the Future Media site.

We started off in week one by setting up a basic account on the DMU Commons. First of all we changed things such as how the user names are displayed, what the domain for the site is called, and how to set up categories. This went well, and each of the students is now up and running with their own individual blog that they are free to post to whenever and however they want.

wpid-dscf1262-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgI asked everyone to add a ‘category’ to their blog called Future Media, so that when a post is created, and the learner feels that it is relevant to the work we are doing in the module, they can select that category and it will be pulled into the Future Media site from an RSS feed and shared with all the other learners on the module – and beyond. This means that all the learners on the module are listed as contributors to the Future Media site, which is acting as an online aggregation point, or even magazine, of their posts.

The links to each of the posts points back to the original blog site, so each learner gets the chance to build more followers for their own site, who can read and interact with any other blog posts that the learner is posting. We’ve covered a lot of ground quite quickly since week one. Some learners have integrated their Twitter feeds into the sidebars. Some have started to embed YouTube videos, and everyone is starting to use hyperlinks to connect to other sites, articles and feeds of interest. I’ll be encouraging all the bloggers to experiment with different forms of media. They are all keen on producing video, audio and images, so why not showcase this work in a portfolio of blogs!

wpid-dscf1266-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgThe challenge now is to enhance the Future Media site with a better sense of graphic design, and a gallery of images that can be shared publicly. We also need to develop a moderation policy, so that any issues that might push the boundaries are dealt with sympathetically and appropriately. I’m hoping we can do this by self-management and peer-working, rather than trying to impose a centralised and hierarchical policy on everyone. This is going to be crucial to the ongoing success of the work we are doing, and I’ll be reflecting on it quite regularly.

Underpinning this is a focus on building individual and group capabilities in collaborative and social media. I’m asking learners to think about what capabilities they need to develop as producers of social media content, what kinds of sociability they will need to practice and perform in order to make their posts engaging and attention worthy? In trying to make this as ‘playful’ as possible at this stage, and working in reflection and analysis later, I’m hoping that we can cover the initial ground more quickly, before we really start to reflect on the processes and the affordance of social media production.

I’m very grateful to Andrew Clay for passing on such a well-developed and organised module. The clarity of the rational, the focus on critical and technical practice is clear. The challenge in moving away from a linear mind-set of media production, with a sense of externalised authority, to one that is interactive and sociable can’t be underestimated. This module is proving a great learning experience for myself, never mind the enrolled learners. I’m looking forward to expanding my thoughts on the process and the tools of social collaboration. It’s something I’ve been working on for years in other work I’ve been doing, trying to develop a more collegiate and social form of working. So this module is taking up many of the themes that have been in the back of my mind, from a more practical and experiential perspective. The key difference here is the extent to which this module affords me and my fellow learners with the ability to reflect and analyse this process as we go along.

Future Media Blogging on the DMU Commons

Since the start of the term I’ve been introducing first year BSc Media Production students to bloging as part of their module TECH1002 Social Media & Technology. The aim is to get each student to share and post content on their own individual DMU Commons blog and then to share posts that are relevant to the Future Media site.

We started off in week one by setting up a basic account on the DMU Commons. First of all we changed things such as how the user names are displayed, what the domain for the site is called, and how to set up categories. This went well, and each of the students is now up and running with their own individual blog that they are free to post to whenever and however they want.

wpid-dscf1262-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgI asked everyone to add a ‘category’ to their blog called Future Media, so that when a post is created, and the learner feels that it is relevant to the work we are doing in the module, they can select that category and it will be pulled into the Future Media site from an RSS feed and shared with all the other learners on the module – and beyond. This means that all the learners on the module are listed as contributors to the Future Media site, which is acting as an online aggregation point, or even magazine, of their posts.

The links to each of the posts points back to the original blog site, so each learner gets the chance to build more followers for their own site, who can read and interact with any other blog posts that the learner is posting. We’ve covered a lot of ground quite quickly since week one. Some learners have integrated their Twitter feeds into the sidebars. Some have started to embed YouTube videos, and everyone is starting to use hyperlinks to connect to other sites, articles and feeds of interest. I’ll be encouraging all the bloggers to experiment with different forms of media. They are all keen on producing video, audio and images, so why not showcase this work in a portfolio of blogs!

wpid-dscf1266-2013-10-23-11-341.jpgThe challenge now is to enhance the Future Media site with a better sense of graphic design, and a gallery of images that can be shared publicly. We also need to develop a moderation policy, so that any issues that might push the boundaries are dealt with sympathetically and appropriately. I’m hoping we can do this by self-management and peer-working, rather than trying to impose a centralised and hierarchical policy on everyone. This is going to be crucial to the ongoing success of the work we are doing, and I’ll be reflecting on it quite regularly.

Underpinning this is a focus on building individual and group capabilities in collaborative and social media. I’m asking learners to think about what capabilities they need to develop as producers of social media content, what kinds of sociability they will need to practice and perform in order to make their posts engaging and attention worthy? In trying to make this as ‘playful’ as possible at this stage, and working in reflection and analysis later, I’m hoping that we can cover the initial ground more quickly, before we really start to reflect on the processes and the affordance of social media production.

I’m very grateful to Andrew Clay for passing on such a well-developed and organised module. The clarity of the rational, the focus on critical and technical practice is clear. The challenge in moving away from a linear mind-set of media production, with a sense of externalised authority, to one that is interactive and sociable can’t be underestimated. This module is proving a great learning experience for myself, never mind the enrolled learners. I’m looking forward to expanding my thoughts on the process and the tools of social collaboration. It’s something I’ve been working on for years in other work I’ve been doing, trying to develop a more collegiate and social form of working. So this module is taking up many of the themes that have been in the back of my mind, from a more practical and experiential perspective. The key difference here is the extent to which this module affords me and my fellow learners with the ability to reflect and analyse this process as we go along.

Future Media Photo Gallery

Here’s a collection of photos from the TECH1002 labs.

Future Media Photo Gallery

Here’s a collection of photos from the TECH1002 labs.

Future Media Photo Gallery

Here’s a collection of photos from the TECH1002 labs.

Future Media Photo Gallery

Here’s a collection of photos from the TECH1002 labs.

Hosting a Community Media Cafe

With over three years’ experience running drop-in café’s for community media, John Coster knows the ins and the outs well. As the founder of Citizen’s Eye, John has been meeting volunteers and activists from the community media groups and charities in Leicester to help connect people. The community media cafes are not only a chance for volunteers to share their experience about how they can develop their projects, it’s also a social platform in which it’s possible to meet people with a like-mind and a common passion for community media and social enhancement.

At today’s Community Media Hub session at BBC Leicester, John explained how to get the best out of hosting a community media café, how to make it a social event rather than a formal event, and how to make it as accessible to a wide range of people. Simple things like pushing tables together and having a badge can make all the difference, according to John. Make sure that people are welcomed when they come in. Try and do a deal with the café manager to have a discount for people attending the media café, but be sure to help the cafe by holding the event at a time when they aren’t that busy.

Community media cafés are a regular occurrence in Leicester, and coming along has helped me to widen my circle of contacts and friends, and to talk to other people who are passionate about community media. If you’ve never been to one, but fancy trying one out, just pop along to Coffee Republic on Granby Street in Leicester, every Tuesday 9.30-10.30.

How Social Media Works

fotor_WP_20131003_001For some people social media is a bit like walking in to a room and standing on a chair and bellowing at people. Look at me, aren’t I so clever…. Needless to say my students were not impressed when I tried it this morning.