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Alex blogged this, and it is amazing on a whole buncha levels regarding meaningful learning and social constructivism. :)


Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

If you don’t see the embedded link, click on alex’s name to see it.

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Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

Had lunch with Alex H, and talked about some projects, and his latest book which is just finishing up.
Alejandra at work
Met Aleja at the new Mac store at 14th and 9th. We got an appointment for a Mac expert for today.
Alejandra at work
Andrew and Aleja were making fun of me.
Alejandra at work
We went to Pastis again, at the end of the day. Getting in just at 5 to miss the crowds.
Pastis
I like pastis! The drink that is.
Chateau Aleja
Went back to aleja’s place to fix her old computer so that she can pass it on to someone else. It has a bum hard drive, but I’ve got some spares.
Manhattan from NJ
I caught a cab from tribeca up to 42nd to catch laura after her show, but missed her by 10 minutes, and she was already on the bus to NJ. I caught the next bus, and when I got off at the stop at the end of their street, I took this picture.

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Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

From Blackwell Synergy - J Comp Mediated Comm, Volume 13 Issue 2 Page 429-440, January 2008 Article Abstract:
Alexander Halavais, Derek Lackaff 2008 An Analysis of Topical Coverage of Wikipedia Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 2, 429–440. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2008.00403.x

Many have questioned the reliability and accuracy of Wikipedia. Here a different issue, but one closely related: how broad is the coverage of Wikipedia? Differences in the interests and attention of Wikipedia’s editors mean that some areas, in the traditional sciences, for example, are better covered than others. Two approaches to measuring this coverage are presented. The first maps the distribution of topics on Wikipedia to the distribution of books published. The second compares the distribution of topics in three established, field-specific academic encyclopedias to the articles found in Wikipedia. Unlike the top-down construction of traditional encyclopedias, Wikipedia’s topical coverage is driven by the interests of its users, and as a result, the reliability and completeness of Wikipedia is likely to be different depending on the subject-area of the article.

Alex is always good for insight and asking the right questions. I’m off to read it!

jason: jason (Default)

Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

Alex has a great post, and not just because my course is starting this week by reading his chapter on Blogging. In Did blogging kill the public intellectual? Alex discusses Russell Jacoby’ item in Big Brains, Small Impact in the Chronicle of Higher Ed., noting “he assumes that a public intellectual inhabits the public sphere, and in this public sphere his professional life is nearly completely divided from his everyday life” while talking about how the noise of millions of bloggers has drowned the voices we should all be listening to, because they’re saying important things we should know.

I remember this debate, as I’ve said before, happening at the south by southwest in 2003, when journalists were going on about how blogs were cutting into their space. Of course blogs have ‘won’ though they didn’t actually know there was a battle, and are now entrenched in the broadcast media.

Alex’s analysis is better than mine, but there are two points I want to note, but I’ll stick with one. It is about shakespeare. As the wise and mighty Roger (my renaissance poetry prof. from the early 80s) was wont to impart, everyone wrote sonnets back then. Shakespeare (Sidney, Spenser, et al.) was just the best of them. People read sonnets was we used to watch hockey games. We played hockey, on the ice or in the street, and when we saw a professional game we could appreciate the skill because we too were players. The public poets were the best among many.

And that’s what I have to say about this supposed dichotomy between the public intellectual voice and the rest of us blogging… the public intellectual will serve that position best when everyone is speaking, and that intellectual just happens to do a better job of it than we do. Anyone can be a prophet in the desert. Do it in the crowd.

Everyone in CLD419 and CCLD419 should read this if they want to get a sense of the ongoing struggle for voice that blogs have initiated.

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Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

Alex’s post Man v. Shark led me to Sharkrunners Game : Shark Week : Discovery Channel, which is particularly cool, as Alex mentions because it uses telemetry from real sharks that have been tagged with GPS.

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Alex blogs about Virtual Teams, right when I’m thinking of how to organize teams for my course’s main project using Song Child: “What does it mean to collaborate? I despise people who start out with etymological explanations, but in this case I’m going to take the cheap way out. Collaboration is pretty clearly from the Latin: together (co) world (labor) process. So, collaboration is simply “working together.”” Oh, wouldn’t that be nice.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

AlexH reminded me about the educational blogging awards. Go nominate someone you know who has a high enough profile in the blogging community for the The Edublog Awards!

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Barry just told me about Protect the Net, and it sounds like some of Catsy’s old work at the lab.

Protect the Net —Toronto is the first stop in the Protect the Net worldwide campaign. The Toronto Protect the Net event will be highlighted by presentations by experts and academics on Internet censorship, surveillance and infowar, as well as the worldwide public release and demonstration of the psiphon censorship circumvention tool. psiphon is a human rights software project developed by the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies that allows citizens in uncensored countries to provide unfettered access to the Net through their home computers to friends and family members who live behind firewalls of states that censor.Protect the Net will educate and empower citizens worldwide about the perilous state of human rights online and what they can do to help rescue and restore those rights.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

I was reading the always thoughtful and reflective Alex H’s post Facebook retreats where he talks about the privacy issues floating about there, and how the people running Facebook have responded…

…designers failed to predict the potential privacy implications of their systems. It’s worth contrasting these with another rollout over the last few weeks: Flickr’s addition of photo geotagging capabilities. …they made clear when you started geotagging that it would affect your privacy, and gave you a reasonably fine-grained control over who would see what.

I’m not suggesting that more participatory design and evolution, particularly for social systems, isn’t a good thing or a necessary thing. But I think a more pressing issue may be preparing our designers—both on the CS/application coding side and on the designerly user experience side—to think more about the moral impact of their code.

This led me to muse on thin vs thick social networking technologies:

I wonder if this sort of problem isn’t in itself embedded in the architecture itself… this has to be a question, as I’m not as versed in Facebook as I might… mostly because I wrote it off as uninteresting to me as an educator, though recognizing its interest to IS and sociology people. FB is one of the thin social technologies; linking people and building social networks, but never plumbing the depths of the individuals or social relationships. It is always the event, the happening, the cocktail party, the rave perhaps, (insert current social activity). It is not the kitchen conversation at a party, the dinner with Andre, tuesdays with Morrie. It may be a funeral, but never a wake. With thin social technologies, one can build a community, but never actually have a community, thinking back to Rheingold. It got me thinking of some of Wellman’s stuff… it is not what we do with a technology that is important, it is what we say with a technology. I always rant that computers are tools for putting people in touch with people (and the personal products that they create). And I guess that this stands but with thin social technologies the connection is all that is there. Just a link, a line, contact information, event planner… what we’re doing, and to a lesser extent what we did.

Of course it is thin, because we only show our good sides. Social networking technologies never have a slot for morning breath, inability to finish a thought, non-standard sexual orientation, or bad hair. Thin social communication technologies are also thin because they do not allow or afford the opportunity to look beyond the surface.

So what is a thick social technology? Example-wise I would say that Flickr! and LiveJournal.com (or Vox) are prime and very different examples. Flickr! is very hot in people’s minds… sharing and tagging photos. Livejournal is often derided on the other hand. But both through photography and text, provide the possibility for generating thick descriptions… deep and rich visual or textual narratives about an individual and her/his way of seeing and interacting with others in the world. When you look back over 5 years of someone’s blog or someone’s photo-stream you can see development and growth, where it is happening. Or the potential is there; in a way that it never is with thin technologies. If someone reads on my blog, they can see 6 years of my life, such that I’ve chosen to make public, and they can tell if they think that I’m a good person or not, interesting or not, thoughtful or shallow. Try doing that with a thin technology where all you get is a business card, likes and dislikes and an event calendar.

Both flickr! and LJ have rather well developed privacy tools for tagging personal and private content in a public space, as well as public. This is key.

When someone sees my ‘thick description’ I am also able to see theirs. And if I don’t like what I see, I can block them from seeing me. That’s what it is like when we open our hearts and minds to others in face to face social situations. A statement or comment on a post or photo can be read back into the commenter’s own work or thoughts… you have context and reciprocity.

I never engage with an LJ or flickr! user who has not posted images, thoughts or information about themselves (except my students who use these technologies under duress). I can’t see why I would bother communicating with someone who is themselves a closed book. And when the book is open and full, I feel that I am able to have a good sense of who I am talking to.

This speaks to the problems of MySpace that came up this year, and how children were running into problems. MySpace is another thin social technology that in my own mind I thought of as MyHype. It seemed to be used as a tool for self-promotion, even when the promotion was a fantasy fiction of yourself. As the dominant discourse of the space is a “fantasy fiction of yourself” it is easy to see how children (children covers up to 18 in Canada when it relates to these sort of issues) who are not yet the most sophisticated in their social dealings with others can be so easily manipulated.

I should wrap this up, as it is too long for most people’s online attention span, and aside from Clevergirl few people seem to read this. Suffice it to say that when social communication technologies provide a two-way dialogue with narrative descriptions of self over a sustained period of time you are left with a rich and complex model of the individual (in terms of what they want to share online), and it is much easier to have a sense of who you are talking to, who their social network is (and what those people are like). You can never trust someone online any more than you can in real life… but when in both situations you ‘know’ someone’s family and friends over a period of time you have a deeper sense of who they are and you can made rather valid social decisions based on this information.

Some people get picked up at bars. Some people meet when attending the reunion of their best friend’s extended family.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Was just reading Alex’s post on Facebook creepifies?, and then went to have a look. I’ve always ignored it. Seems like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, LinkedIn are all just examples of form without content technologies that allow people to pretend that they exist.

As one sage and urbane professorial friend put it while we were chatting online:

- never assume anyone on facebook does anything
- fb is about college and stuff
- orkut is about brazillians having sex
- linkedin is about business
- and myspace is about teenagers pretending to be adults pretending to be teenagers who are actually 45 year old women looking for teenagers pretending to be adults… so they can condemn the practice

Of course he’d trash blogs and Livejournal, but for me, and I point to Rochelle for getting this into my head, it is about metaphor and the location of discourse. Blogs locate a narrative on yourself. It is all about you. The others mentioned above are all about pretending you are someone… the location of discourse is ‘elsewhere’, and the metaphor is hype, with a little bit of the simulacra thrown in somewhere. What I find interesting is that there seems to be a relationship between popularity of a technology and its inability to actually DO anything of value. If you have to work at it, express yourself, think about what is important to you and how you want to share it with others, then it is just too much work. If you just have to create a list of personal opinions edited to highlight how you are simultaneously just like everyone else and much cooler than you really are, then the technology is a hit. Hmmm… I wonder why that is? :)

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Alex Halavais has taught some courses at SUNY Buffalo on pornography, and provided a small article to the ACM Siggroup bulletin I co-edited a couple of years back. His recent blog post is interesting: NY Times providing child porn

A lot of newspapers have been shy to link outside of their own news organization: so much so that it is almost a truism. They followed the corporate credo of keeping users on the site. That has changed over the last few years, with more and more traditional news sites willing to include hyperlinks.

He goes on to talk about how NYT, while talking about issues around child pornography actually provides links to sites that while not illegal, are on the boundary. The legality of even linking to these sites, let alone viewing them is open to debate now that it is possible that virtual child pornography, where someone claims to be or acts as if or appears to be under the age of 18, even if a counter claim is presented, is a possible crime. This is tied to the fact that an image of a child nursing or bathing can be cause for charges, though I assume not conviction.

I decided to not even link to the NYT article, let alone read it, but rather fall back to linking to Alex’s post. It is interesting to note that even looking for research material about issues surrounding child pornography could be a problem, as you might run into the material. When looking for material to teach with I made sure that I restricted my google search with “site:gov.ca” to only search canadian government sites. Perhaps site:edu might be ok as well.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Just had a chat with someone from The Canadian Press. It was a phone interview on the educational uses of blogging in higher education. Got to mention alex, Rochelle and Roger regarding their blog work, as well as the development of blogging tools at Ryerson. Relatively painless, and good to get Ryerson on the map.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Don’t miss Alex’s video clips he put together on blogging: The learning blogosphere. For no other reason, it is fun to hear his voice overly compressed. But in general, this thoughts are always well contextualized and measured. Will be required watching for my winter course.

October 2013

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