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			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"THIS IS THE CUTEST THING!!\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"THIS IS THE CUTEST THING!!\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Top hat and tails and a shopping bag of leftover Greggs. #glasgow\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Top hat and tails and a shopping bag of leftover Greggs. #glasgow\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"We are piloting the schools programme w @pidginperfect today\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"We are piloting the schools programme w @pidginperfect today\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"We are making cakes! @the_lady_doctor @alijmccartney\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"We are making cakes! @the_lady_doctor @alijmccartney\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Stomping around in the woods.\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Stomping around in the woods.\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Writing research papers with my boyfriend. It's all about missing media studies w drug studies That's how we roll!\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Writing research papers with my boyfriend. It's all about missing media studies w drug studies That's how we roll!\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow GLASGOW &lt;3\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow GLASGOW &lt;3\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Roll on payday.\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Roll on payday.\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Can't believe we were here just over a week ago. Roll on Glen Brittle #bennevis\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Can't believe we were here just over a week ago. Roll on Glen Brittle #bennevis\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"After getting soaked to the pants this morning, it's taps aff in Embra.\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"After getting soaked to the pants this morning, it's taps aff in Embra.\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"Wow! The first piece of #digCW2014 content to pass 1000 listens on @audioboo - bring it on!\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"Wow! The first piece of #digCW2014 content to pass 1000 listens on @audioboo - bring it on!\" /></a></p>			<p><a href=\"\">jennifermackenziejones</a> posted a photo:</p>	<p><a href=\"\" title=\"The way kids interact with computer screens is just fascinating. Hiya Haribo, @alijmccartney\"><img src=\"\" width=\"240\" height=\"240\" alt=\"The way kids interact with computer screens is just fascinating. Hiya Haribo, @alijmccartney\" /></a></p>

A belated response to Web 2.0 storytelling #assignment3

Ok, I admit, I’m a bit late in submitting assignment 3 – and even then, I haven’t had a chance to complete Part B (to follow!)- but better later than never.

A response to Tim O’Reilly’s “What is Web 2.0?” and Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine’s “Web 2.0 Storytelling The Emergence of a new genre.”

Perhaps 3 years ago, I would have still felt enthused to use the term, it was still a term which could be used a rebellious slant in media studies, something that was a threat or avoidable to those who were focusing on other aspects of internet research. It is was an ideal which was tacked on at the end of a history of the web. Going back a few more years to 2006, I was looking for approval to be able to use the term in my undergraduate dissertation, something that I could never imagine to be able to use about 4-5 years studying cinema, film making and television theory. It was my gateway into being able to justify studying the internet in an academic context. It presented me a door in which to step through and, in the end, attempt to disprove. Web 2.0 was just not enough to describe what was going on. Now, in the thrusts of a PhD, I have to dedicate chunks of my writing time to trying to unpick and critique a term which was made famous by marketing and internet ‘gurus’ – I’ve went full circle.

Nevertheless, I’ve attended conferences in the last 12 months where I’ve been explicitly told that web 2.0 was not ‘established’ enough to be considered an area to perform in depth research. We are expected to just sit and wait until the gods of academia catch up with the rest of the online world. Until then, only few definitions are allowed to cross into mainstream media studies – mostly around social networking websites, perhaps a little about fan fiction and participatory cultures, but not anything to do with using complicated technology – or simply experimenting with the increasing amount of information and knowledge organising resources (as well as an untapped flood of people who are just fascinating to follow, discussion and potentially collaborate with). This is why, when tasked with presenting a short 10-15 minutes paper to a communication/media research audiences, which contains information about twitter – or social media as a research tool (for an example) – at least 40 percent of the paper must be spend contextualising the ream of new words and structures and formats that us ‘internet people’ take for granted. This is all very well – and perhaps I would have a bit more sympathy for their cause if it weren’t for the counter argument of the assumption position of other subjects. Broadly sharing a discipline with television experts, cinema geeks and news junkies – who don’t necessary require to spend time talking about how images are projected on to a screen. There is a desire for web 2.0 skills – shown by the emerging backlash of 2011 (the narrative of this year) but until Universities just start doing it, instead of asking those who research it to sit and wait until it is a priority subject (yeah right…) then we are going to be revisiting the terminology of web 2.0 for the next however many years.

The 2.0 is supposed to signify progress, an end of one epoch and the beginning of another – almost instantly since the dawn of the 2.0, have people been desperate to define the 3.0 or joke about the 4.0 – but realistically, nothing has really changed in a dramatic way. This is not a revolution – we’ve got to contend with mass adoption (thanks to ‘better’ broadband, ‘cheaper’ techonlogy and growing use of mobile devices) – secondly the back bone of the internet (code and stuff) is still very much like the code before we starting talking with decimal points. This is not to say that people aren’t getting better at creating platforms which are easier to use, more pervasive in their structure and sharing techniques and fixes to make the experience a much lighter and brighter world. The essense of ds106, therefore, is one where we are actually asking to strip back this interface of free web platforms and one click visual editors – but instead, encourage participates to unpick and break the softer world of web 2.0 with its ready made rounded corners and freebie publishing platforms. It recognises that having your own server, with your own domain – and understanding the backend of that space is an important skill to master, which in turn makes its users more critical about the online platforms which they occupy. This combined with a growing and organic user base of those participating in the course, there is something much more exciting happening than those usual 8-7 points about semantic and collaboration 2.0. Even on a basic level, it’s much easier to feel comfortable create and play in a ready made community, rather than testing and throwing things out there into a public ether.

And now I’ve (just about) caught up, it’s time to try and do just that… onwards with Assignment 4 and daily shooting!

Reflecting on “A Personal Cyberinfrastucture” #assignment2

I’ve had a few days to chew on Assignment 2 (a response to Prof Gardner Campbell’s “A personal cyberinfrastructure”) and after an epic braindump on this morning, I have decided to focus on my own personal cyberinfrastructure, namely how I got to point I am now – actively researching and working with these sort of online environment as part of my daily practise.

I think as a preamble, it is worth nothing that I have no formal qualification in ICTS or computing studies – everything I know about computers, or more specifically, the stuff that I know how to find and achieve online is entirely self taught/an accident. My parents both come from communication/technology backgrounds and I was exposed to computers, and later the internet, from a young age. There was a running joke in my family that I could run a computer into the ground within a week, pushing them to breaking point and running up high dial-up bills in the process.I used to sneak around, plugging the modem into the phoneline during offpeak hours, trying to muffle the connection noise so I could get another hit.

I built my first website in 1997 (because my mum was learning how to do it – and my dad’s work brought with it some personal work space) I started with the WYSIWYG editors like FrontPage – but often got frustrated with the limitations in the drag and drop formats, so looked for ways around it – I worked out that I could copy code from websites I like and tried workarounds to get the look that I liked (mmm, frames) The personal webspace my dad had was essentially a digital dropbox – so anything that involved scripts was out of the question – so I tried other free spaces to capture the look that I wanted. I explored bulletboards, chatrooms and early social networks like Bolt – I made friends with people who were into the same bands I was into, I’d wait for hours for sounds and images to buffer. I could go on.

It is important to note that none of these activities were encouraged within school – my computer habit was strictly for the home. It was an extra thing that I did – and it was often mocked or discouraged as a waste of time. Even at university (studying for a BA in media theory with production) it wasn’t until 2nd year where I was exposed to something “about the internet” from (my now PhD supervisor’s) class in cyberculture. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could be something that could be taught and later, researched. My mum even swore me off doing an IT qualification in school because she thought I knew too much about computers for it to be worth me doing (and I should focus on classes where I would learn something new) – ironic, when I see jobs doing what I do, but asking for qualification is IT as a vital requirement. I have no accreditation for my knowledge, it is organic and breed from, what I can only describe as, an addiction – a passion, something that I would do without anyone asking or telling me how to. Something that has changed me.

This makes my personal cyberinfrastructure a little bit unpredictable – I’m at a stage where I can now blend in, rather than being the pale and awkward computer person in the corner, a child who gets shouted at for spending too much time on that bloody computer, somebody who is different -I’m connecting with more and more people on a daily basis, who – in turn, are going through the same process. It is a remarkable (and bloody exciting) process to be part of – but it also places me in a realm where even more questions are whizzing around my head than ever before.

Here is a thought – online, in this space – we have the opportunity to be exposure to as much frequent and interesting information and knowledge as we dare chase after. But take it offline – and I don’t mean hanging out with your twitter buddies (which I have a real privilege of being able to do on a really regular basis – twitter strengthens relations exponentially) – but take it offline into a meeting, or a classroom – and it all start to feel a bit odd again. More and more people are online than ever before (thanks to ‘cheaper’ technology, ‘faster’ broadband, ‘easier’ platforms – in theory) – yet, still the rhetoric of internet still often brings tumbleweeds- I strongly believe that it hard to generalise the online experience, even when we all log into the same websites, we are looking at them in very different contexts and very different screens. The role of being the ‘geek’ (a contested term) is still the cliche of those who seem to ‘master’ this environment as part of their day to day activities – with only certain considerations being allowed into the general framework (mobile phones are a good example of this – and I guess with the safeness of web 2.0 discourse and lately, social media, we are starting to see an increased acceptability to online environments within top-down institutions at least) Yet, the increased desire to standardise it- it own it, it be the person who names and decides the outcome of it, we run the risk of missing out all those great, non-accredited, experiences that add up to who we are when we think about who we are online.

I would even go to say that I struggle in formal teaching of computer-y stuff because of this. I tried to specialise in digital illustration and web design when I was at further education college (aged 16) and duly dropped out after a few weeks of standardised lab workshops and thumb twiddling. As for answers to tackle this, I have none – but it certainly has had a huge (if not, the biggest) influence in the direction I’ve ended up taking with my work. If I could bottle that skill and share it, I would – but it’s really hard to justify telling students to right-click ‘view source’ and find the bit they like/don’t understand about the web as part of a syllabus. It’s the process that leads you to that right click to begin with is far more valuable that the source itself.

An essay on the effects of digital developments in education (or a preamble before the #assignment2 storm)

How strange – when I read the initial article that we were to read for #ds106 assignment two, I was reminded of an essay I wrote during my Masters degree on a module about the digital economy. Amongst other things, we were to demonstrate how digital developments are contributed to transforming aspects of education and the ways in which students learn – and this was I ended up picking as one of my topics.

It’s a bit late tonight to start preparing a response to the assignment (and I’ve been writing all day as part of PhD chapter draft) but I thought I would share the original essay (originally submitted in May 2008) with the wider world. It’s never been shared in public before – and I hope to revisit it very shortly through some of the work I am preparing in this section of my thesis. I’m definitely finding that I’m way more critical now, but it’s nice to see how my original ideas were starting to form prior to starting the PhD and working in higher ed. Must revisit it with that in mind!

Hopefully have a crack the proper submission tomorrow night – it’s totally in line with the thinking I iz thinking right now.

Demonstrate how digital developments are contributing to transforming aspects of education and the ways in which student learn:

The enthusiasm for developing information communications technologies (ICTs) has generated much discussion in relation to higher education, and in particular, the ways in which these developments can and are transforming the methods that students learn and how they are being taught. Dutton and Loader (2004) state that, “ICTS are central to shaping the future of education, research and the sciences by changing how we get access to information, people, services and technologies themselves.” (Dutton and Loader, 2002: 4) They expand on these interrelating roles and suggest four methods in which ICTs can play with a learning environment: “Access to people” – the ability to network with, not only other students, but with teachers, researchers and experts; “Information access” – the ability to search, synthesis and attain multimedia information; “Access to services” – the ability to make accessing information more “horizontal, where the boundaries between producer and consumer is less distinguished; and “Access to technology” – the ability to learn about ICTs through frequent use and routine exposure. (Adapted from Dutton, 1999: 205: in Dutton and Loader, 2002: 4).

In order to understand why and how these changes are occurring, it is important to look at where education and learning is positioned in the wider socio-economical context of modern society. As Sardar and Ravetz (1996: 7) propose, the implied “cyber-revolution” differentiates itself from previous revolutions, as it is one of consciousness. Furthermore, Castells (1996) characterises this epoch as being called the “network society”, being one where it is not the centrality of knowledge and information that defines this network society, “but the application of such knowledge and information to knowledge and information processing/communication devices, in a culmative feedback loop between innovation and the uses of innovation.” (Castells, 1996: 31) In this case, the University, which Agre (2004: 153) describes as being “in some sense about information and the life of the mind,” is a paradigm of the network society – a place where networking, knowledge processing and technological innovation are paramount.

Schiller (1999: xiv) refers to the process of networks having generalised the socio-cultural scope of the capitalist economy and defines it as “digital capitalism”. He states that, “digital capitalism has already begun to prey on education, placing some of the most sensitive processes of social learning at the mercy of proprietary market logic.” (Schiller, 1999: xiv) Sardar and Ravetz put the enthusiasm surrounding cybertechnology, down to “the fantasy of finding “new materials” for economic growth…a product of post-modern times.” (Sardar and Ravetz, 1996: 9) Schiller describes the effects of digital capitalism upon education, as a shift from “relatively autonomous instructional and learning processes,” into a more direct attempt to provide for labour markets. Schiller argues that:

The system of educational provision was being reoriented toward familiar corporate practises that were foreign to the bulk of earlier educational endeavour: growing utilization of casualised labour, productivity enhancement measures, and product development based on profit and loss potentials. A concurrent and related reform, toward school-to-work programs, lifelong learning, and “new partnership”, symptomatised an intensifying vocationalisation of the educational process” (Schiller, 2000: 144)

Similarly, Agre (2004) looks at the incentives for standardisation within higher education, as when data can be communicated over long distances successfully, “it becomes useful to standardise the goods that are bought and sold. That way, goods that might be available for sale at widely dispersed locations can readily be compared for their properties and prices.” (Agre, 2004: 154) According to Agre, some organisations, in particular information work – are rewarded by ICTs for standardising their processes, as “the very distinction between “line” and “staff” emerge when work done by staff can be applied to administration of large amounts of standardised line work.” (Agre, 2004: 154) This is all very well when it comes to managing information, but as Reich and Weiser remind us: “There is an important difference between things considered as information, and things that are simply part of everyday activity without any impulse purpose of conveying knowledge.” (Reich and Weiser, 1996: 84) Or more simply, as Castells puts it, “The network enterprise makes material the culture of the informational, global economy: it transforms signals into commodities by processing knowledge.” (Castells, 1996: 188)

With this in mind, we can return to Dutton’s transformative elements of ICTS and education, and look at each one closely, in relation to recent digital developments within the University environment – taking into consideration the influence of the proposed digital economy.

Access to people: Networking

ICTS such as course management software (such as Blackboard), email, video-conferencing, and more recently micro-blogging websites such as twitter and seesmic, have allowed for teachers to communicate with students, for students to communicate with other students and for researchers to discuss and seek collaboration on projects related to their own expertise. Agre (2004: 156) believes that the communication that is occurring across time and space is down to two amplified incentives of networked information technology. The first is the result of standardisation of practise across all places that exist within a university institution, where the same activities would occur, and second, “to interconnect those places so that eventually they merge, in some useful sense, into a single site of social practise.” (Agre, 2004: 156)

O’Donnell (2000) argues against this and considers that one of the impacts of technology within the realms of academia is “attenuation of social linkage.” He elaborates by stating that, “Inch by inch, the network of face-to-face contacts of the primordial village has been thinned out and dissolved as more and more rarefied threads link us to people farther and farther away.” (O’Donnell, 2000: 175) Certainly, ICTs have granted us with the ability to connect and reach people who we may have not been able to geographically reach before, however, it is important to unpack the apprehensions that one may have regarding computer mediated communications. O’Donnell’s concern is based primarily around changing environments from a professor’s perspective, were he believes that, “the constellation of people we “talk” to will surely change dramatically, and people close to hand, with offices on our hallway, will drift further away are former strangers across the ocean loom larger than life.” (O’Donnell, 2000: 176) Furthermore, he believes that because human beings desire to make “new linkages stronger and more nest-like,” that academics are setting themselves up from rejecting their local research community in favour of a more global, digital context. (O’Donnell, 2000: 176)

Agre does not agree with this notion entirely, as there is more belief that “research communities are not discrete. They too have something of a matrix structure, whose axes are the subject matter being studied and the methods being employed to study them.” (Agre, 2004: 157) The chance to network with specific a individual or groups that may or may not be outside of their department, university or even country, allows for the unity of a dynamic research community – where “it binds each community’s participants more closely to one another while enabling each community to evolve even more rapidly away from each other.” (Agre, 2004: 157) It could be considered that, it’s this occurrence that may have cause O’Donnell to believe that the abundance of ICTS in education is causing a rupture in the ways in which colleagues decide to communicate with each other.

In relation to teaching, Agre argues that networking using ICTs in education allows to “connecting the places of university teaching with other places in the world.” (Agre, 2004: 161) Returning to Schiller’s notion of the vocationalisation of the educational process, it could be established that the networking need not just occur within the context of the university. Schiller (1999) argues that, “New information technologies, among which the Internet ultimately loomed pre-eminent, eradicated the physical and social barriers between college and workplace.” (Schiller, 1999: 147) Universities are required to build stronger, official links with businesses in response to the idea that education is a monitory investment for students, who are looking for work after they graduate. Agre critiques this argument by stating that it simple enough to create a network that “is to move bits from point A to point B,” however he believes, “that kind of information structure is easy to get wrong, given that nobody is likely to possess as adequate substantive model of the activities that the infrastructure is supposed to support And an infrastructure that gets such things wrong can foreclose the possibilities that it was supposed to open up.” (Agre, 2004: 155) In short, although the tools are apparent for this particular kind of network, it is different to distinguish a set of criteria that would standardise the process in the same way as information work has done.

Access to Information: Multimedia Technology

Following on, Dutton and Loader (2004) state that, “The Internet has highlighted the role ICTS can play in searching, screening and obtaining electronic information and print publications, for instance, in using an online catalogue to find books in the library, and in supplementing other, educational media, such as text books.” (Dutton and Loader, 2004: 8) ICTs effect on the access to networking and other people ties in with the increased availability for access to all different formats of media information. Schiller (2000) believes that the Internet as allowed for the dream of an informational cornucopia seemed to be nearing actualisation.” (Schiller, 2000: 143)

Due to the sheer quantity of material that can be made available, the library can be used as an example as into how ICTS have affected the production, distribution and access levels of information within an educational context. Browning (1996) argues that the “massless” quality of digital works allows for them to transported immediately. He states that, “The world’s great libraries share a great vision: Books once hoarded in subterranean stacks will be scanned into computers and made available to anyone, anywhere, almost instantly, over high speed networks.” (Browning, 1996: 56) This somewhat utopian vision, as Browning describes, “will transform libraries from guardians of tradition to catalysts of a vast change. By breaking down the walls that separate libraries from each other and from publishing. This will change the economies of publishing, and with that, the ways in which ideas are disseminated and culture is made.” (Browning, 1996: 56)

Browning believes that there are two major dilemmas that occur from the digitalisation of libraries. Firstly, he argues that technological reasoning makes the role of a librarian and the role of an editor become interchangeable. Browning elaborates by stating that, “By lowering the cost of reproduction, and thus increasing the amount of information published, new technology increases the value of the judgements made by librarians and online searches as they pick and choose what their customers might read.” (Browning, 1996: 63) If books and other sources of information become solely available in digital form, the restrictions for a physical place of storage becomes removed – who should be the one that decides what is available and what is not available from that particular library?

Browning’s second -more complex – issue looks at the dilemma of copyright and distribution. When a book is physical, there is only one copy and can only be read by one person at a time. This makes the process of lending easier as the library can keep tabs on who has borrowed it and also make payments to publishers for the display of that book within the physical library. Browning discusses how an electronic book, which can be transported and read by many at one time, would be valued within a library context. Browning states:

If libraries do not charge for electronic books, not only can they not reap rewards commensurate with their own increasing importance, but libraries can also put publishers out of business with free competition. If libraries do charge, that will disenfranchise people from information – a horrible thing. (Browning, 1996: 63)

Stefik (1996) argues that instead of debating the this issues should be less about the “protection and containment” of information, but more about “supporting and encouraging a lively trade in information.” (Stefik, 1996: 227) He states that, “Rather than just confining genies to specific bottles, we want to encourage them to travel between bottles under rules of commerce.” (Stefik, 1996: 227) Stefik believes that it is less about buying and selling information, and more about taking information and using it to generate new ways of processing knowledge.

Although this is a very important consideration, some believe that the whole notion of a physical place (with physical books) will still be required – even in this apparent age of digitalisation. Reich and Weiser (1996) believe that although “the networked world has a physical presence through displays and keyboards. This need not, and should not, be its only physical presence.” (Reich and Weiser, 1996: 86) They continue by stating that, “If communities continue to enjoy local identity (we think this diversity is very valuable and will not vanish) then their networked versions ought to be distinct.” (Reich and Weiser, 1996: 85) They see the library, like the University, as a place that local communities need – regardless of the availability of digital information.

Moving on, another bi-product of digitalisation is the multimedia production of information. As Stefik puts it, “Digital publishing is creating a melting pot of genre.” (Stefik, 1996: 246) ICTS have allowed for the facilitating of different media inputs, such as text, still images, pod-casting and video conferencing, in order to supplement existing teaching methods. As Stefik puts it, ““The simple provisions for extracting, editing and embedding small portions of digital work open doors to creative sampling and reuse of multimedia materials.” (Stefik, 1996: 250) That is, information that has existed previously can be taken, edited and reused within a variety of different contexts – generating a new experience for those who are viewing it for the first time.

If relation to the copyrighting of these new products that have resulted from the “melding” of different media formats, Agre discusses the effects, if current copyright laws were used:

It would be disastrous to change copyright rules if multimedia courseware development tools are to become as routine and cheap as the desktop computers and library tools that faculty employ in designing their courses now. If any element of multimedia production is not likely to become cheaper with time, then analysis should identify them early on, so that they are not institutionalised without adequate reflection. (Agre, 2004: 164)

It is clear that the way in which copyright law is applied to educationally information should be taken into consideration and requires a particular sense of caution in this implied “information age”. Returning to Stefik (1996) briefly, he advises that, “one incremental approach would be to distinguish between individual and organisational repositions, starting with institutions dealing in documents of high value and limited distribution.” (Stefik, 1996: 250)

Access to Services: Re-engineering the Management of Education

Dutton and Loader state that, “ICTs can facilitate routines transactions and services in education, just as they can in government and business. ” (Dutton and Loader, 2004: 11) This can be anything from the enrolment at the start of term, to the use of course-management software, such as Blackboard, to make it easier to communicate information and course material to students on a wider basis. Agre (2004) explores the myth of ICTS and the effects that it may have on the services that a university provides. He states that it is a popular believe that ICTS will substitute class-time entirely where all classes will be conducted on the Internet, “that students will pick and choose their classes that best suit them; that the resulting competition will improve the prevailing quality of instruction: and that the methods and resources employed in teaching will not be determined by ancient tradition but by the value that students place on the various course offerings as evidenced by their willingness to pay for them.” (Agre, 2004: 158)

This may be a result of the myth of ICTs within education, but as Dutton and Loader explain, the online presence of a university is ones of the more important factors of “shaping their decision on where to apply, running close behind the general reputation of a university and personal visits to the campus.” (Dutton and Loader, 2004: 11) This is of the ways in which ICTs has shaped the way in which universities have to provide services, as their intake could depend on the way in which they brand and market themselves on the Internet.

Access to Technology: Frequent and Routine Use of ICTS

In Hara and Kling’s (2004) ethnographic study of the difficulties that students’ experience whilst using course-management software to aid their web-based learning, they discover that “the students supported each other by sharing their frustrations with their friends or classmates…some students felt a community of learning with their classmates. The instructor also helped create a sense of community amongst the students.’ (Hara and Kling, 2004: 79) Although it is perceived that new learning ICTs require additional time and resources to learn, Hara and Kling draw upon the value of community within this process. Dutton and Loader explain that, “the routine use and integration of ICTs in the curriculum enables teachers and students to better cope with and exploit the Web and other ICT tools in their everyday life.” (Dutton and Loader, 2004: 12) It is believed that through regular exposure, the integration of new technologies can be established. As Castells (1996) puts it:

Diffusions of technology endlessly amplifies the power of technology, as it becomes appropriated and redefined by its users. New information technologies are not simply tools to be applied, but processes to be developed. Users and doers become the same. Thus users can take control of technology, as in this case of the Internet. (Castells, 1996: 31)

As “high quality education, both online and face-to-face, is neither cheap nor easy,” (Hara and Kling, 2004: 83) it is important to consider the notion that it may take time for new softwares to be understood and articulated to the students. Agre (2004) argues that, “Whatever endpoint we imagine for the networked university, the university community will experience major problems of both technology and governance in getting from here to there.” (Agre, 2004: 164) Agre continues by discussing the importance of considering that a newly reinvented university environment must be able to facilitate “self-discovery” and should not “undermine it be fragmenting itself in a hundred incompatible directions.” (Agre, 2004: 163)


Due to the nature of changes that ICTs has brought about transforming existing aspects of higher education and the ways in which students are taught, it can be established that a number of restructural methods have been employed in the light of Shiller’s concept of “digital capitalism.” Firstly, O’Donnell (2000) offers some recommendations in the light of the different structures in which evidence of an education is rewarded. He advises that ways must be found “offer credentials in specific subjects separate from our teaching of them, and to offer those through and with the prestige and authority of the university.” (O’Donnell, 2000: 182) O’Donnell simply sees this as a way in which to providing for the part-time, self-taught and the commercially taught student, “an essential part of their education: proof of having met a certain set of standards.” (O’Donnell, 2000: 182)

Following on, the idea of the University becoming completely digitalised is one that would be difficult to maintain. Reich and Weiser’s (1996) discussion surrounds the situationalisation of libraries and why they would not be completely relegated to the digital environment. They believe that “situational functions have come to exist because they fill a valuable role in the community. Their existence provides valuable lessons for the polices that should govern electronic information systems.” (Reich and Weiser, 1996: 84) The networked resource (in this case, the library), may generate the myth that it is going to replace “placeful” resources, however, Reich and Weiser argue against heading off into the notion of “placelessness” and “to add constraints to Internet architecture today so it can be placeful tomorrow, and to temper naïve enthusiasm for a completely placeless existence.” (Reich and Weiser, 1996: 91)

Finally, the myth of technological determinism that surrounds ICTs and their transformative effects is apparent during the discussions of the effects on education. Agre (2004) believes that, ‘Information technology creates little that is new. It can amplify existing forces, it can increase efficiency by collapsing meaningless differences, it can decentralise some things and it can centralise others.” (Agre, 2004: 165) As Cook (1996) suggests, “the model of sweeping social change being caused by a single technological innovation is historically and conceptually faulty and misleading. Such changes are not caused by the appearance of a single gadget; they are constituted in multiple influencing technological and social innovation.” (Cook, 1996: 79) The idea that ICTs will help diminish the concrete, “real-life” university, is misleading – as Sardar and Ravetz (1996) put it, “we live in our bodies, which need to be kept fed, warm and clean by flows of real materials and energy; and we need comradeship and love from other real people. No virtual reality can substitute these primary needs; and a society which discarded them in pursuit of electronic happiness would soon become so dysfunctional that the system itself could easily become subject to corrosion.” (Sardar and Ravetz, 1996: 12) ICTs are certainly helping and transforming the methods of teaching and learning in the network society, however, replacing the existing constructs of the physical university is best kept as a myth.


Agre, P. (2004) “Infrastructure and institutional change in the networked university”, in Digital Academe: The new media and institutions of higher education and learning.” London: Routledge pp152-166

Browning, J. (1996) “What is the role of libraries in the Information economy?”, in Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society.  Oxford: Blackwell.

Cook, S, D, N. (1996) “Technological revolutions and the Guttenberg Myth”, in Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Dutton, W. and Loader, B. (2004) “New media and institutions of higher education and learning”, in Digital Academe: The new media and institutions of higher education and learning.” London: Routledge pp1-32

Hara, D. and Kling, R. (2004) “Students’ difficulties in a Web-based distance education course: an ethnographic study,” in Digital Academe: The new media and institutions of higher education and learning.” London: Routledge pp62-84

O’Donnell, J, J. (2000) Avatars of the word: From papyrus to cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Reich, V. and Weiser, M. (1996) “Libraries are more than information: situational aspects of electronic libraries”, in Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sardar, Z and Ravetz, J. (1996) Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway.

Schiller, D. (1999): Digital Capitalism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Stefik, M (1996). “Letting loose the light: igniting commerce in electronic publication”, in Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Assignment 1: Tell a Story

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

So, here it is my response to the first #ds106 asssignment (which, to be honest, I’ve been wanting to try for ages but not had any good reason too apart for my own lawls.) We’ve to tell a quick story that happened to us recently (so I don’t know where 4 years of photobooth photos fit in) but I’m quite interested in the abstract concept of this.


My laptop has travelled with me over the last 4 years, it almost feels part of me – it certainly has taken a physical and mental battering from yours truly (I got knocked over by a bike whilst it was in my bag within the first month of getting it – remarkable, it survived with minor scratches which were replaced with apple care 2 years later) It was my only company when I decided to move to Leicester in 2007 (packing two bags and giving myself a week to decide where to live) and it’s taken the best part of my post-graduate education, not having much time for anything else but it (and should hopefully see me through until the end of the PhD, where I will treat myself to a brand new one as a gift for completion) – and it’s documented my god awful selection of hairdos that I have sported in such a short period of time. The laptop remains the same, but the places and the people it has captured, has changed – and that’s quite why I’m quite glad I’ve got into the habit of taking random pictures of me making stupid faces (although the last year has been decisively lacking.)

It’s awesome to see your life kind of whizz past like that – some images remind me strongly of things, others make me appreciate how much of a better place I am now. It kind of puts me all out there (which I might have not done at the time of some of the pictures when they were take, as many of the pictures never went online to begin with) but in this context, it sort of tells a story for me. Also I really need to get used to speaking to a camera! 🙂

How I did it:

First of all, I have to arrange them in chronological order – no mean task with over 1k photos. Some of my photos were stored in my old hard-drive, the others were moved to different areas of my laptop. Furthermore, when photobooth was updated with snow leopard this time last year, it changed the file name from “Photo X” to a date stamp (much better) – so when I initially tried to dump all photos in imovie the first time round, there were some rogue images that looked out of place.

So using iphoto first of all (which noms metadata) I created a photo album containing all the photobooth images together – this made the initial transition to imovie much better.

I then followed the instructions on how to stop-motion in imovie here – specifically trying to get the gaps less than a second (iphoto slideshow was going to be my first choice by it was too slow, I didn’t one any one photo to take precedence) – I then exported it, the sped it up further once the slideshow became a video file.

The rest was straight forward edit. Now, enjoy!

And so it begins…

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!