Learning and Literacy

My thoughts on chapter 4 of Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito & Danah Boyd’s Participatory Culture in a Networked Era.

After reading chapter 4 of this book, I ended up writing quite  a few pages of notes and thoughts on this chapter. The book tries to critically examine “participatory culture” and how our thinking around this concept has changed over the last 20 years since Henry Jenkins first coined the term.

Chapter 4 focuses on media literacy as well as learning in a community such as in a participatory culture.

One thing I kept wondering about was why they kept going back to Youth. They spoke of youth as if the rest of the population didn’t contribute to participatory cultures in the same way. Youth was also vaugely defined, and I wondered more than once what age range they were thinking and how old the oldest “youth” were in their talk.

The text was quite easy to read as it was written in a very oral style of an interview.

A discussion they had was about learning and producing as a community. Wikipedia came up several times; Jenkins calling it possibly the greatest example of a good participatory community. At the very least it is one of, if not the most well known example. I agree that Wikipedia is far more cedible than many High schools and universities gives it credit for. Even if you don’t want students to cite just wikipedia, it is a great starting point when researching a topic.

Another concern that was brought up was the possibility of “information overload”. This is due to the overwhelming information that can be found on the web and that we now have access to. With it comes questions of Quality of information and if we should vet the information or expect people to develop any kind of sensibilities when navigating through seas of information. I agree with their assessment of the need to adapt to the amount of information rather than try to go back to a world were we would be “go back to a diet of starvation in terms of communication and information.”(p. 100)

This chapter pointed me towards Jenkins’s White Paper which I will check out as well as other authors that might be useful in my own research. I hope to make a post on chapter 5 of this book as well later on.


Konsoll 2017

Not really a blog just about the masters so I’m not calling it such.
A more in depth progess blog will come later, I promise.

I was at Konsoll 2 weeks ago here in Bergen. It was very interesting and though I didn’t catch any of the workshops, the talks were very good. I especially liked theones talking about specific games such as Jane NG‘s talk on Firewatch, Martin Fasterholdt on INSIDE and Colm Larkin on getting your game out early with his Guild of Dungeoneering.

Met many people within the video game developing community, both Norwegian and internationally. I am already loking forward to next year.


Trollscape AS

I’m having a really hard time trying to organize my thoughts and present it as an understandable overview of my Master Project Plan. That being said I just need to start writing something….And then I will try to gather all off my “findings” in some kind of presentable and understandable way. As far as life lessons go, I don’t i have any tips for the reader, not today. But I MUST get better at reflecting over how i’m wasting time planning how to do something.

Alrighty then so today’s life lesson is….

  1. Write drunk, edit sober.
  2. Write drunk, revise sober.

I guess that make sense, anything is better than nothing and I guess this tips is applicable towards being high as well. Yes, so let’s start this blogpost and get on with today’s subject. My Master Project Plan!

Was I mistaken in thinking that this blog was an opportunity to showcase some kind of academic insight or know-how?

No I guess not!

Well can you please try to show some traces of intellect in this blogpost than, and stop making fools out of us!

Sure, I’ll try!  No sorry. I’ll do it! there is no trying! #yodawisdom #insight #know-how

From my experience most creative processes requires one to find a way to master or at least balance opposing views, ideas, distractions, focus, urges, irrationality, chaos, instincts and so on. Part of the battle is taking control of the procrastination, reap its fruits, and make it work to your advantage. For me this requires a shifting focus of my feelings or energy in a Yin and Yang kind of way. We need both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline. I guess this is what makes it so fucking hard. All theses opposing ideas oscillating back and forth reinventing itself with new features and at the same time trying to merge as one comprehensible idea. It’s been said that “Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality” but “If you have ideas but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” There is a important distinction between the two and I have to become better at dragging the ideas down from the imaginative plane of existence and let it materialize into something real.
I’m not sure why but my mind keep dragging Aristotle’s four causes into this mess! And since i’m in writing mode now (not drunk or high though) trying to produce stuff, I’ll let it pas!
 

If you are gonna steal quotes you might as well give us the rest! “Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.”    

 

The messy mechanism of creativity is in many ways similar to the chaos governing my own mind, and this is why It’s essential that I develop and deploy an useable strategy for getting shit done! 

You think^^ 

Yes, and even if i seem to agree on what i just wrote i still feel like this blogpost is not achieving what it set out to do! It’s once again becoming kind of meta, talking about what i am doing or should be doing, instead of actually doing it.
Chill dude and give me a fucking brake! I just placed 30 000 NOK in a frozen bank account and created a norwegian corporation. This is doing something!
As i were saying.. Yesterday, (or the day before) I created a corporation named Trollscape AS and put up 30 000 NOK as its shared capital. This makes perfect sense as i’m slowly realizing that my master project and my ambitions are not on the same page. Actually I have a whole set of sub-selves with their own plans and schemes for finding ways to realizing them. But that’s also of topic, so more on that stuff later.

Say what now..? and please, by all means, feel free to make some fucking sense soon.   

What i’m getting at, without drifting into half understood semiotic principles is this. If I want to describing my thoughts or ideas to you the reader, I should get you to understand what is going on inside my mind and how my own relationship between signs and the real-world is. 

I disagree, but it’s important that your “something that stands for something in some capacity” is close to my own understanding of the same something.   

Some years ago i was given the task of writing down what was on my mind so we could discuss it further. While struggling on this task I realized that it made no sense to just write down the words or concepts without its relations. I understood the question and concept of “on my mind” as something more than just words, symbols, or signs. I could not talk about how and why different thoughts were occupying my mind without thinking of their relations to each other as well as their real-world significations. The result is a metaphorical mindmap model of how I were thinking about this stuff and how that stuff were in relations to the rest of my mind stuff.

This whole exercise ended in a total failure and the main reason for this is that the other person had her own ideas or preconceived notions about what that answer would look like. In short, she wanted a list with some words on it. In later years i have found this model useful when trying to understand how randomness and unrelated concepts end up as one (in the center of focus.) And if the person viewing my model has some familiarity with Bohr’s obsolete atom model and how chemical bond are made, they could get more out of it. 

Let’s cut to the core now! 

For there to be any real understanding between me and you, we need to agree on our relationship between a sign and its real-world counterpart. I’m now getting close to the realm of digital literacy and the stuff of my first blog post, not where i was going with this! 

I look at most kind of communication with others like a Lingua franca between two different minds who do not share a brain. When it comes to body language and chemical reactions to stimuli there is a difference,  but even here I have some opposing views and understandings. 

Not the point you are trying to make… 

True! When I was trying to describe my master project I got very confused by what the different names (and “train of thought”  represented as part of the specific “idea”) Why are you writing in past-tense? It’s not like we are done with this battle. It’s happening now, as i type, kind of. In my mind [Trolls in Norway] – [Troll i Norge] – [Trollspiracy] – [The fairy dust girl] – [Norwegian Folklore]- [Norse Mythology] – [Nature] – [Activities] – [Family fun]  have or share some attributes/elements (thinking back to my model now) with each other. They are all part of this “troll focus” that is occupying the center of my focused mind. Trying to bring all of the elements apart and identifying its “sub-particles” might be easy enough, my problem lies more in the “how to present this information to you the reader.” Or I think it does, and the reason for this is because I have not put all of my thoughts into a form that is easily transferred into words or signs. But who said i need to use words? I can go multimodal if that could help.But not sure it would, or maybe, did the mindmap image make any sense? Maybe I should go back to the realm of structuralism now that i have put words on some of the problems and its relations..   

So, pretty please… with sugar on top, finish the fucking post! #inspiredbywhichmovie?

Before I started to write about my vision for [Troll i Norge] i were systematizing all the Troll stuff and elements and putting it up on the wall. In light of this I had some new revelations that made a huge impact on my project development, if not personal economy!                                                                                                                           

One of the reasons for all the chaos, is that i’m trying to create content to run on technology that I have not yet made. I’m also trying to mash all of the different [element] together, create something useful so I can win 1 million NOK, and at the same time call it my Master Project. This is not possible for me, and since most of the [elements] themself are a mash of other elements it all becomes a mess. This realization were really important as it took me back to a more ambitious version of my Master project/plan and at the same time opening up for something more. This whole idea was kind of illuminating as I have been trying to scale my Master Project down to something more achievable. This is still the point, but In an attempt to structuralize it all I feel the need to go one level up and this is where Trollscape AS comes in.   

One of the ideas connected to [Troll i Norge]’s central node is the wanting to create a family activity set in nature. But why should this nature activity be forced to only become a part of a [Troll i Norge] app. Especially when the underlying structure and technology could easily been refitted to match/incorporate other kind of concepts. This became especially troubling when looking at the Explorer vs Troll Master(narrator) game dynamics. My solution to this is to create an top level application named Trollscape. This application has two main functions, it can be used to create small games and stories utilising the specs of your device. A camera and GPS might be used to create a small game of hot and cold, find these flowers, and so on. The main idea here is to make it easy for a local game master/narrator(parent) to create small tasks or games for the kids to complete in the style of a scavenger hunt or similar. The game, og narrative might be put online or kept locally on the device, this is up to the game master. Trollscape’s other function is to run “scape-narratives” located at specific places in the physical and digital world, stories ready to be be explored with the help of a device.

My master project will then set out to describe and create some of this content and use technology to create a entertaining experience focused on trolls and their history. Trollscape + [Troll i Norge] transform a smart device into a magical tool which eventually tears down the walls protecting our reality from the magic of the world, [#Trollspiracy].

When taking the explorer on the road from [Troll i Norge] to [Trollspiracy] I will focus on how to tell a the “a story” and create a mock-blog and other online sources with crumbs of information telling parts of the story. A important point here is to explore storytelling techniques and at the same time draw focus towards the oral nature of folktales and its cultural heritage.

Btw: In Norwegian, Troll is not only the word for a magical creature It’s also closely related to Trolldom (magic and spells). 

I should also mention that there is a distinction between the Master Project (1 year) and my Master Plan (2+ years)

That’s enough for tonight! Wrap it up and leave all the loose treads and questionable reasoning where it’s at. 

Btw #theanswerispulpfiction! and the actors name is ?

October Break update

Hi everyone.  Greetings from the fjords and glaciers northward!

The fjords and mountains of Norway just can't be captured in photos, yet I try… #hikinginwonderland

A post shared by Mia Zamora (@miazamoraphd) on

Great class last week!  I enjoyed our discussion in class, and it was great to see some of you during the chat with Henry Jenkins and Esra’a Al Shafei later that evening as well.

I also wanted to draw your attention to this very interesting keynote talk by Dana boyd last week at the DML 2017 conference.  This is worth watching for sure:

 

What is next?…

If you are wondering what is up next on our schedule, we are now officially entering a new “phase” in #ResNetSem.  Each of the coming weeks we will be collectively focusing on your individual #ResNetSem research work.  Each of you will take the helm of our discussion for one week, assigning an applicable reading for all of us to read and reflect on via our blogs.  One by one you will present/workshop your current work with all of us in an extended seminar discussion.  This is a collaborative and supportive forum – each of us will contribute to the presenter’s ideas by offering productive and thoughtful feedback on the ongoing work he or she has shared with all of us.  Each of your individual research projects will be a part of a final e-book publication for the class.  The e-book will feature your unique research inquiries into networked life/culture.   Please refer to the Course Calendar to take note of when you are scheduled to workshop/present on your own current work for #ResNetSem discussion and feedback.

First up nest week is Magnus!  He will be presenting his current MA research work next Thursday, October 19th,  As soon as he forwards me his reading selection, I will forward that to all of you.  You should receive this soon in your UiB email.  Please read his selection in full and blog your reflection on his selection for your next blog due Oct. 19th.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week.

Hope you are enjoying your break time.  I am reveling in the majestic beauty of Norway!

Dr. Zamora

On the thesis & danah boyd

This week’s blog will be divided into two different parts. In the first I will be talking a bit more about my masters thesis topic. And in the second, I’m taking a closer look at the interview with danah boys by On Being Studios, more specifically about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the Internet.

 

Thesis: Algorithmic Awareness

In terms of a temporary title for my thesis I was thinking about “man over machine? An analysis on getting around the algorithms on social media”.

When I first saw the theme of ‘Algorithmic Awareness”, I was thinking more about research on the degree in which a specific demographic group is aware of the various algorithms behind social media. However, someone from my class here in Norway brought up an interesting situation whereby he works around the algorithms of Netflix by having multiple accounts on the PlayStation he uses to watch it.

In my thesis I’d thus like to take a different angle on the issue. Instead of merely finding out in what way people are aware of the algorithms on social media, I’d like to take a look at how people try to work around them. Or do they even try to work around them in the first place? The making of multiple accounts each tailored to a specific kind of content or trying to like as many of as few things as possible? These are a few things that I think of when it comes to ways in which one can overcome the algorithms on social media.

This could be researched through qualitative interviews, whereby it is possible to find out if people are aware of the algorithms and how they deal with this.

This way the question gets a whole new dimension: that of apathy or action.

 

Podcast danah boyd

In my discussion on the podcast of danah boyd, I would like to just take a few snippits out of it that I found interesting or that I’m familiar with through some of my previous courses.

The first is the fact that she mentioned in her teenage years that her brother brought her a yellow page book where supposedly the pages on the Internet were all written down. Never before in my life have I ever heard that something like that existed. It is hard to fathom that there was ever a time where all the pages on the Internet could be written down in a book. Looking back at it, I first got on the Internet when I was 10 (so about 12 years ago now) and I think even then it was already impossible to do that kind of reduction. So something like that would be literally impossible right now, as I’m sure by the time you would finish a book like that the amount of website would’ve already doubled. It made me realize how much the Internet has evolved in the span of about 20-30 years.

Another part that I found interesting is the magnifying that the web does when it comes to the presentation of the dangers in the world. It reminded me of the concept of the “risk society” by Ulrich Beck. He talks about how the world today does not have more or less dangers than in the past, but through contemporary media (not just the internet but also television & radio), these risk have become global. We are more aware of the dangers that exist in todays society and have thus, in danah boyd analysis, become more scared to sort of say.

In her example of bullying, I will argue that the Internet also magnifies this phenomenon. I agree with her that bullying isn’t more common in today’s world, but I will add that it has become more visible than ever before. If I were a bully (I am not), than it would be much more easy for other people to see my behaviour online (for example on Facebook). Through the Internet it is also easy for bullies to continue their behaviour after school.

This part thus also holds true that the Internet has made visible those things that were previously concealed.

In some ways it’s scary how much modern media can bring forth these things that shouldn’t be rewarded with visibility. But because of the rapid development of the technology, as was made evident in the first paragraph, it is hard if not impossible to stop these negative consequences.


Reflections on a podcast: Teens practicing everyday life on social media

Krista Tippett interviews danah boyd about the online worlds of teenagers in the context of communication and social interaction. Danah’s self-introduction in this podcast is followed by the striking discussion about the spirituality of social media and the meditating effect of blogging, twenty years ago, when technology and interfaces had not been mature enough to engage the “blogging activity”. Back in 1997, danah narrates, a simple web page had been the medium of keeping track of events and practicing everyday life. Later on, “digital diaries” gradually took the shape of blogs. As the transition era has begun since the Internet made its appearance, every generation involved perceives the usability and the profits or the menaces of technology in different ways. For instance, younger individuals take most of the technological achievements for granted.

Kids wonder how the internet was found!

Although some of us have experienced the long waiting in front of our computer screens watching anxiously the bright data package exchange between the grayish computers and the yellowish phone, annoyed by the dial-up beeping, children and teenagers today consider our times of digital suffering to be a bad fiction, parody-like production!

If you have the time to watch the video about teens’ reactions to the internet of the 90s and read the comments, as well, you would probably notice that most people arguing that kids used to hang out more, play outdoors and interact in person. Nowadays, according to danah, children should be supervised when playing at the park and in some countries it is illegal to leave ones kids unattended in public outdoors space.

Internet mirrors society and magnifies any malfunctioning structures of the real world, which should be redefined before getting transferred online.

Nevertheless, real world dangers have been transferred in our virtual worlds as well; cyber-bullying would not have existed if bullying had been eliminated in the first place. On the contrary, internet has catapulted the drama, by encouraging behaviors such as self-bullying, because of the need for attention among younger individuals.

  • Technology is changing the nature of what is public and private.
  • Technology is transforming the narrative of our lives.

I partly disagree with the fact that children should be warned about the long-term consequences of publicly expressing themselves on social media, by fear that their future employers would not hire them. For being young and spontaneous? This would be a great opportunity to prepare the youth to deal with society, its structures and transparent rules.

People, chill out! What happens online, stays online… FOREVER!

I am not a parent yet, but I believe that family is the first bond and gate towards social structures, so encouraging young people to develop their interpersonal skills is very important. In addition, past is related to our present and helps form our future; it is significant to remind children to be proud of their achievements and learn from their mistakes. Undoubtedly, human cultures and identities are emerging within the virtual era that gives plenty of perspectives in matters of information and communication.

Transformed communications

There has been a remarkable point on the podcast, concerning the manipulation of spelling and the increase of textualized interactions, both deriving from practicing social media and introduced by young people. Acronyms and abbreviations have replaced whole phrases, in order to type less and navigate/multitask more. Inspired by early chatters and then gamers, this trend expanded through communities and got rapidly popular among students. It seems to be a miracle how technology shapes the mechanisms of expression leading creativity into a new dimension.

Networked classes and human purposes

Making connections and be part of a network apparently does not mean that we could bring all our contacts into our profile and grow a network where all family, friends and colleagues interact with each other. NO! A network should be interest-driven and have a primary goal to be formed. It could be an expectation to get an improved social status, a better job and new friends. And by all means, that network should reflect our popularity and participatory skills, so no more skipped posts, likes and comments if we want to succeed. Furthermore, it could be an alternative network that we can start building up when we get fed up with our old one. Golden had been the age of nokia mobile phones and their innovative settings of registering one’s contacts into different groups with different roles assigned; ringtones and blocking content permissions. This privilege keeps on being offered twenty years later in every social interface.

No offence, I understand that some people get tired of the urban daily life and need a break; personally, I respect my own privacy as others’ and I consider it to be a basic need, but not to the extend that I would isolate my contacts, or ditch them for the sake of class mobility.

Some of the most sensitive and fragile issues concerning humanity have been simplified and underestimated. Same time we worry about how the new generations could adopt morality and appreciate the balance in values and intentions.

Danah Boyd/Krista Tippett Podcast

This was a pretty nice conversation about emerging technologies, I would say.
Much like a friendly chat between two people who obviously has a lot to say on different technological subjects.

I’m not quite sure what to write here. They talk a lot about how technology has changed and affected our daily lives–especially families. Like how much of the way technology has been treated quite punitive by governments has been a hindering factor to alleviate symptoms, instead of actually suppressing them. The conversation seems to tap into a very broad range of subjects, so it’s hard to pinpoint one and write something focused.

The main theme, if there is one, seems to be a mindfulness of how we present ourselves on the internet. One of the issues they address is the problem of passing time. Facebook, for those that have grown up with it, becomes somewhat of a memory collage where you can trace the history of your life. That doesn’t sound so bad, but the problem is: People change. If you have radical, anti-government views as a 14-year old, and post rants or threats on Facebook–it can come back to haunt you as an adult, even if those views have changed.  Understanding that when you’re 14-years old is hard, and I’m guessing most people won’t at that age or younger, or won’t care. But for an adult, for example an employer, it would be good to remember that people change when lurking on a potential employee’s Facebook-profile.  The sort of “stickiness” that the new social media landscape presents us with can be a huge problem for us, I think. Luckily there are ways of removing your digital footprint, but it’s always stored somewhere.
I’d say that we NEED to start teaching children in school about what to be aware of when going online.


Reactions to a podcast with Danah Boyd and my masters thesis idea comes to fruition.

In the podcast, Danah Boyd is being interviewed by Krista Tippett, its lasts about 1 hour and 25 minutes, and it consists mostly of Danah reminiscing about her past.
What I got out of it is more reactions to her comments and remarks about her own digital youth, and a few remarks towards her answers (or lack of) to the questions she is presented with.

This will be a very lengthy post, so I will in no way be offended if you choose to just skim through it. At least you have been warned.

Danah starts with telling about her own meeting with digital technologies, and the internet especially. Her opinion was that at the time, it was uncool to be a nerd, and that the networked social life that we today see as completely normal, and by all means needed to be cool, is completely different to what it used to be.
This is not my experience though, when I grew up, being a part of a social network online was very cool indeed, because it ment you where a part of the select few that had access to a computer and the internet. Now I grew up in the same time as Danah, though she is a few years older than me, but when we started to use the internet was most likely only distanced by a few years. I started using the internet when I was around 8 years old, that would be in 1993, so very early on, and my family got our first computer and internet connection when I was 10.
In Danah`s part of  growing up, social networks were as she says uncool, and yes, she probably started using the net a short time before me, but I think its more cultural than actual fact. As I grew up, anyone who had internet was the coolest kid in school, and the social network surrounding those kids where much more vibrant than those without.

In this section of the interview, Danah mentions her experience with chatting with a transgendered person online, and because of the anonymity provided with “hiding behind a screen” she dared to ask very personal questions. My first thought here were immediately  STRANGER DANGER! This is most likely due to my sceptical nature, and my knowledge of how  predators online work.
The scenario I saw when she was talking about this was along the lines of: “sexual predator pretends to be a trans, in order to gain the confidence of underage lesbian teens. Jerking off as they exchange deeply personal information”.
Online predation, stranger danger and the online hunting grounds were at that time totally unheard of. And since Danah mentions that she never actually met the person, who knows, most likely its was a sincere exchange, but chances are also there that it was someone exploiting a naive teen.

This leads to the next section of the interview, where Danah and Krista talks and discuss how online life is becoming more and more an amplification of everyday life. It is as if anything that you partake in, in your life, that you also bring online will be amplified in some form or fashion.
What is dangerous here is when the negative sides of everyday life permeates online and becomes amplified. Your fears especially, and the lack of understanding. Fear spreads from platform to platform, and takes on different meanings as the platform evolves. The example Danah use in the interview is the parent who were contacted by child services because her child was playing outside alone without supervision, even though the parent could see her from the window. This is though something that would never happen in Norway, as a child here, even today in 2017, you are encouraged to go outside and play, alone or with friends.
I don’t want to sound like I’m acting all high and mighty, but American culture has for a very long time now, been driven my fear mongering, so much so that its come to the scenario Danah mentions. Were kids no longer can play outside without a parent being present.
This fear of strangers, kidnappers and pedophiles apparently is so strong, that you risk losing custody of your child if you let them play outside alone.
So the critical issue here is: Why do we not have the same fear for children roaming the internet alone?

You can of course not sit behind them, watching their every move, what you can do, is teach them. The need for understanding and critical thinking when it comes to our and our children’s online presence is paramount. The internet is just like the park, potential predators lurks in corners, the difference is that in a park you can have physical supervision, online, not so much.
This is where we use our experience and teach our children to be aware of who and how they talk to others online. That anything they share, especially in the form of images and videos, can be used for other purposes then what they are intended for. I’m not saying that we should teach children to fear anyone who they meet online, but that they need to have  a healthy dose of skepticism.
This also goes into the theme of online conduct, visibility and transparency, and in the end accountability.
Now we are more in the realm of online bullying and harassment, and the fact that unless something have a direct negative consequence, the anonymity provided by the “screen barrier” can as mentioned amplify everyday life. Inconsequential bullying in the school yard can become a much more amplified and targeted activity online.

Accountability does not solely mean that blame can be put on individuals, it also means that we can hold digital medias accountable.
Danah`s example here is the #IwasShoot campaign that went on after the Ferguson incident.
The media was accused of vilifying and criminalizing teens by using the most incriminating pictures they could find. Instead of picking portraits or pictures where the victim seems happy and likable, they chose to use pictures that portrayed the victim in a negative light.
The people using the #IwasShoot uploaded two pictures of themselves, one normal where they where in a normal situation, and the other where they posed angrily, or wore clothing that made them look more or less like a criminal.
The media at that time was held accountable for their choise of the pictures they used, and that they should change their habit of using the most incriminating pictures they could find. This also reflects back to the previously mentioned fear mongering.

Further Krista and Danah talk about participatory culture, and how there is an identity shift going on in convergence with technology. In the early days of the internet, most people used pseudonyms when creating profiles and accounts on forums and other communication platforms. And in so doing, creating an online and offline identity. In today’s world of mass media, and our incessant need to share both public and private events, on platforms that require your full name, those two identities are becoming more and more converged into one. The notion of a digital identity today is closely linked to your offline identity, in the way that they intersect on so many levels.
One issue they talk about concerning this, is the possibility of negative consequences or ramifications later in life, due to your activities online.
Now that we have social media, where you basically present yourself with full name and identity, its is easy to dig up information about you.
Say a future employer looks you up on social media, what will they find, and can it be used against you in a negative way. Can they choose not to hire you because several year ago, you made racist or sexist comments?

This again stresses the importance of teaching both parents and children of the fact that EVERYTHING YOU DO has consequences. Something people seem to forget once they get behind the screen and start typing.  Even if something does not have an immediate effect, it is fully plausible that it can later down the line.
I fully advocate the need for reflection and critical thinking, especially before posting something that can be linked to you online. I’m not saying that if your anonymous, you can and should post anything you like, I’m trying to communicate, that the consequence of such actions can inevitably come back and haunt you.
Danah also mentions that she sees the need for critical thinking, and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

In the final part of the interview, Krista and Danah talk about how they see the internet as in its infancy, and that from a cultural and technological stand, we are in the very beginning of the online life. It is also why its our job and duty to shape it. We need to be an active part in how we want our life online to evolve and grow, and how we would like society as a whole to be a part of this. And even though we are in its infancy, there are examples they talk about where this “Over socialization” that’s going on today has some rather unique consequences.
Danah mentions that there are more people chosing to live alone then at any other point in history, and that it is a result of the constant social interactions that go on in everyday life. The need to be alone for a time is making people chose to live alone, so that they can have a personal space, that is theirs and theirs alone.
I think its funny to think about this in context. That our creation of tools to help you be social and connected, is also creating a need to be alone. The more social and connected our society is becoming, the more the need to disconnect from it all appears. I think its ironic that the more connected we try to become, the more the need for anti-social spaces arise.

Those were my thoughts and reactions to the podcast, now over to the second part of this blog. My masters thesis.

I have finally decided what I want to write my thesis on and around! Go me!.
The topic I have chosen is The silent majority.
A short explanation of what the silent majority is, would be to say that it is everyone that use the internet to some extent, but chose not to participate on any meaningful level. An example with numbers provided from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ would be, that out of those 3,7 billion individual users, only 10-20% actually participate on a meaningful level. Contributing to the greater good in one way or another.
That would mean that the silent majority consists of close to 3 billion users.
Now when I say silent, I do NOT mean that they never participate. You can be on Facebook, have a twitter and instagram account, and be a member on several forums, and STILL be a part of the silent majority.
I will use myself as an example here, because until recently I have considered myself as a part of the silent majority.
I have a Facebook, I have a twitter account, and recently made a instagram account, do I use these actively? Yes I do, do I post anything contributing to the digital society in any way? Until last month, no, not all, as in I have not contributed to anything. Daily updates of your Facebook status, or a daily tweet about your coffee, or a instagram picture of said coffee does NOT count as contributing. Yes you are posting something, but you are still a part of the silent masses.
I am a Imgur and Reddit user aswell, I subscribe to a dozen or so sub-reddits, and I browse imgur several times a day. I have a total of 5 posts and 57 comments made on imgur over the span of almost 3 years.
I have a total of 0 posts on Reddit, and I`ve used that site for close to a decade, and been a member for close to 3.
I  have no way of counting sadly, but I`d wager that over the last 10 years, I have fewer then 100 comments online, that are NOT a part of social media.

To be a part of the vocal minority, you need to actively contribute. As in you need to be active on open forums or/and you need to participate in the creation and spreading of intellectual property, as in creating art, fan fiction or similar created products.
You need to use social media as platform for more than just connecting with friends. Using Twitter as a platform to share political or similar agendas. Using the # functionality to reach a broader target group then just your friends. Partaking in online events that is a part of something bigger, examples like #ferguson #IfIwasShoot comes to mind.
Using instagram as a platform for selling your life, as in photographers trying to become known, same for artists, or to use it as a tool for promoting your blog and such.
The vocal minority are those who are the most active in participatory culture, those that helped shape web sites like Reddit and Wikipedia or people who answers questionnaires on Amazon Turk. To be a part of the vocal minority, you need to participate and contribute ” to the greater good” so to speak. The greater good here, being the online community we all use and enjoy.

Now, do NOT mistake the silent majority as a group that does leave anything behind, or that they do not partake in the global online domain.
They are the absolute biggest contributor to making things to viral, they are the biggest contributor to data miners and they are the biggest contributor to information about digital medias. Videos that have gone viral and that are being shared beyond belief are the exception to the rule here, every once in a while, you can or will participate in one way or another. This would be the equivalent to someone speaking up in  class, even though they usually never talk. minuscule participation, sharing a video or picture or post, once or maybe twice year, does not make you a part of the vocal majority
EVERYTHING you do online leaves behind information. Even if you hide behind a VPN and use every imaginable tool to hide your presence online, you leave behind information. Though it can never be traced back to you, information about the web sites you visit is available. How long much time spent there, what links did you click, how many articles did you read, how many videos did you stream, what content you streamed, pictures opened…. The list is endless. You do not need to participate to leave behind information that can be used by someone. Everyone does this, the second they go online.

My focus in writing about the silent majority, will be to look at how we can turn them from silent to vocal, how we can turn your average user of the internet into a player in participatory culture. I would love to find ways to increase participation on all levels, and to debate whether of not this is a good thing. This is where biases comes into view. Cultural, environmental, racial etc, how would the internet change if we managed to increase participation on a global scale tenfold? If we could go from say 15 to 50% participation online, that would amount to more than a billion users, a utopian idea it seems, but even so, what would the results be?

I like to compare the internet to the sea, where the silent majority are the fish, the vocal minority are the sharks, the instances of things going viral are the whales and those who gather up all our information are the fishing boats. I think this comparison works well in how it categorizes us. Fish are abundant, they help shape the oceans, but they are anonymous and silent in their masses. The sharks are the apex predators, they shape everything around them, and they move and control  the masses of fish. The whales are so large that they are almost impossible to miss, just like anything that go viral, while the fishing boats cast their large nets to gather up as much information as possible, not caring if they catch fish, shark or whale.

Now that I`ve given you an idea of what I’m gonna write about, do you agree with what I say? Do you think my estimation of vocal/silent si way of? What way should it shift if that is the case? Or do you disagree completely with  the notion of being silent while being online, seeing how it’s quite contradictory to be online and active on social media while being seen as a silent agent?

Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic, as I would love to know what people think of this.


Blogging about Master #3

Whoah. It’s been a while huh? Sorry about that.
A small update here for you.
I’ve worked more on twine and the Harlowe format, not only working on the story I’ve showed you a screenshot of last time, but a seperate oneto test more of the coding and on my actual game that will be my finished Twine game.

For the game, I’ve made a timeline of how I want the story to go and what I want to be able to do in the game.

thoughtmap1

thoughtmap2(Illustrations: My thoughts on how the game should proceed)

Twine has a page where they have documentation on the Harlowe format. It’s very useful and helps a lot with smaller problems that I do not need to ask in the Q&A forum for.

I am also trying to be more active in the community that I find around Twine. They have an official Q&A forum that I’ve now asked a question at (currently waiting for an answer). They seem active there so I hope I get some feedback there soon. I will also go looking for more games made in twine and try to find out where twine developers tend to be. What website do they prefer to use? Do they talk in forums a lot? Where do they publish their twine games? These are questions I am asking myself.

Besides working on the game, I’m also looking for books & articles specifically relating to participation culture. Mia Zamora has many good resources on her webside for the DIKULT 303 course.  Jenkins is an author I will be using a lot from as he is very relevant to the theories I need.

 


Researching comments on news articles

In my master thesis research I am looking at comments on news articles on news websites and on Facebook. During this process I have had to find a way to categorize comments. This has been a long, and sometimes frustrating process. I started out, before beginning the research, with a few categories that I thought would cover all comments, but that I expected would have to be changed. And they were.

I have implemented a heuristic research approach. The qualitative heuristic approach is an exploratory research method where the data affects the categories. This means that the researcher should be “open to new concepts and change his preconceptions if the data are not in agreement with them” (Kleining and Witt 2000). This lead to the creation of 5 broad categories, that I for a long time was quite happy with.

But then I decided to be thorough (stupid me), so I did a reliability test. I gave a person not involved with my master thesis a list of 60 comments to categorize, and then compared them with my own categorization. The results were not good: 60% agreement. After tweaking the definitions of my categories, creating a more procedural method of categorization, and coding the comments again, a second and third reliability test gave me a score of 79 and 75%.

A reliability score of 70% or more is often used as a criterion for exploratory research. But a score of 80-90% would be considered more acceptable in most situations, and above 90% is considered acceptable in all situations (Lombard, Snyder-Duch and Bracken 2002, 593).

Things were looking better, but I was still not happy. So I decided to start completely from the beginning with a new method for finding categories. In stead of coding the comments into one category or another, I wrote any word that came to mind when reading a comment. After doing this with enough comments (about 100) a pattern emerged. Some words were repeated, and these word became the foundation of my new and final categories. And with these categories, another three reliability tests gave me a score of 82-92%. And the categories, which I now am quite confident about, are:

 

Argumentative comments: Arguments contain a proposition that can either be true or false (Blair 2009, 44). These propositions should be testable. They are also formulated for the purposes of persuasion. This means that there needs to be a point of view that the commentator wants someone to adopt, that is backed up by a proposition. Argumentative comments can also contain proofs from classical rhetoric: Ethos, Logos or Pathos.

Opinions: Opinions are comments that are not necessarily meant to persuade, but function as a direct or indirect statement of what the commentator thinks and believes about an issue.

Reactionary comments: Reactionary comments are short expressions of emotions with little or no informative value. They can also be unspecific statements – statements that are not specific enough for the reader to accurately interpret what the commentator is writing about.

Reactionary comments often contain a set of punctuation marks, especially the exclamation mark, or sets of emoticons. Reactionary comments can also be non-verbal. In these cases, the comments contain either only emoticons or written non-verbal expressions, such as “Haha!!”, indicating laughing or joy.

Informative comments: These comments do not directly argue for or against something, although they can be used in discussions to build a case for a point of view. They are meant to provide relevant information – whether or not that information is factual. Informative comments, with the exception of those classified as personal experience, contain testable factual information that can be either true or false.

Derogatory comments: These are comments that uses some form of critique or potentially hurtful discourse, usually directed at another commentator. Put they can also be directed at public figures or the subject of the article.

Humorous comments: These are comments that, with the intention to be funny, brings together two disparate ideas, concepts or situations in a surprising or unexpected manner, or that contains a play of words or self-deprecating, humorous statements.

Tagging comments: Comments containing only a tagged name. They are usually found on Facebook, and seem to be written to direct the attention of the person being tagged to the article.

Suggestions: This is one of those categories where there is not much more to say than the name. Comments containing suggestions.

Questions: Also a category where the name says it all.

Supportive comments: Supportive comments are comments made in defense of someone, including the commentator himself.

Speculative comments: Speculative comments are comments where the commentator is making speculative assumptions, for which there is no real evidence, and making conclusions that cannot reasonably be verified.

Image comments: Sometimes comments contain only an image. Images can contain relevant information, and can even be considered argumentative – a view dating back to classical rhetoric (LaGrandeur 2003, 119).

Links: These are comments that only contain a link to another website. I have not found any of these comments in the data I have analyzed myself, but I’ve made it a category because I did observe these comments while preparing for my research.

Arbitrary comments: Not really a category, just a collection of comments that made me think “WTF??”. Arbitrary comments are comments that are grammatically or contextually difficult to understand.

 

References

Blair, J. Anthony. 2009. “The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments” In Defining Visual Rhetorics, edited by Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers, 41-62. New York: Routledge

Kleining, Gerhard, and Harold Witt. 2000. “The Qualitative Heuristic Approach: A Methodology for Discovery in Psychology and the Social Sciences. Rediscovering the Method of Introspection as an Example” Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 1, no 1, Art 13 – January 2000.

LaGrandeur, Kevin. 2003. “Digital Images and Classical Persusion.” In Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media, edited by Mary E. Hocks and Michelle R. Kendrick, 117-136. Cambridge: MIT Press

Lombard, Matthew, Jennifer Snyder-Duch, and Cheryl Campanella Bracken. 2002. “Content Analysis in Mass Communication: Assessment and Reporting of Intercoder Reliability” Human Communication Research 28, no 4. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2002.tb00826.x