This summer I will be co-chairing, withÂ Stefania Manca (from The Institute of Educational Technology of the National Research Council of Italy) “Social Media in Education”, a Mini Track of the European Conference on Social Median (#ECSM17) in Vilnius, Lithuania. As theÂ call for papersÂ has been out for a while (deadline for abstracts: 12th DecemberÂ 2016) I wanted to remind and encourage you to consider submitting to the conference and, particularly, for our Mini Track, which we hope will highlight exciting social media and education research.
An expanding amount of social media content is generated every day, yet organisations are facing increasing difficulties in both collecting and analysing the content related to their operations. This mini track on Big Social Data Analytics aims to explore the models, methods and tools that help organisations in gaining actionable insight from social media content and turning that to business or other value. The mini track also welcomes papers addressing the Big Social Data Analytics challenges, such as, security, privacy and ethical issues related to social media content. The mini track is an important part of ECSM 2017 dealing with all aspects of social media and big data analytics.
Topics of the mini track include but are not limited to:
Reflective and conceptual studies of social media for teaching and scholarly purposes in higher education.
Innovative experience or research around social media and the future university.
Issues of social media identity and engagement in higher education, e.g: digital footprints of staff, students or organisations; professional and scholarly communications; and engagement with academia and wider audiences.
Social media as a facilitator of changing relationships between formal and informal learning in higher education.
The role of hidden media and backchannels (e.g. SnapChat and YikYak) in teaching, learning.
I would also encourage anyone working in social mediaÂ to consider applying for theÂ Social Media in Practice Excellence Awards, which ECSM is hosting this year. The competition will be showcasingÂ innovative social media applications in business and the public sector, and they are particularly looking for ways in which academia have been working with business around social media. You can read more – and apply to the competitionÂ (deadline for entries: 17th January 2017)- here.
TEDxYouth@Manchester is in itâ€™s 8th year, and is based at Fallibroome Academy, a secondary school with a specialism in performing arts (see, for instance, their elaborate and impressive trailer videoÂ for the school). And Fallibroome was apparently the first school in the world to host a TEDxYouth event. Like other TEDx events the schedule mixes invited talks, talks from youth speakers, and recorded items â€“ in todayâ€™s case that included a TED talk, a range of short films, music videos and a quite amazing set of videos of primary school kids responding to questions on identity (beautifully editedÂ by the FallibroomeÂ team and featuring children from schools in the area).
In my own talk â€“ the second of the day â€“ I asked the audience to consider the question of what their digital footprints say about them. And what they want them to say about them. My intention was to trigger reflection and thought, to make the audience in the room – and on the livestream – think about what they share, what they share about others and,hopefully, what else they do online â€“ their privacy settings, their choices..
My fellow invited speakers were a lovely and diverse bunch:
Kat Arney, a geneticist, science writer, musician, and author. She was there to talk about identity from a genetic perspective, drawing on her fantastic new book â€œHerding Hemingwayâ€™s Catsâ€� (my bedtime reading this week). Katâ€™s main message â€“ a really important one – is that genes donâ€™t predetermine your identity, and that any understanding of there being a â€œGene forâ€¦ xâ€�, i.e. the “Gene for Cancer”, a “Gay Gene”, a gene for whateverâ€¦ is misleading at best. Things are much more complicated and unpredictable than that. As part of her talk she spoke about gene â€œwobblesâ€� – a new concept to me –Â which describesÂ the unexpected and rule-defying behaviour of genes in the real world vs our expectations based on the theory, drawing on work on nematode worms. It was a really interesting start to the day and I highly recommend checking out both Katâ€™s book, and the The Naked Scientists’ Naked Gentics podcast.
Ben Smith, spoke about his own very personal story and how that led to the 401 Challenge, in which he ran 401 marathons in 401 days. Ben spoke brilliantly and bravely on his experience of bullying, of struggling with his sexuality, and the personal crises and suicide attempts that led to him finding his own sense of self and identity, and happiness, through his passion for running in his late 20s/early 30s. Ben’sÂ talk was even more powerful as it was preceded by an extraordinary video (see below) of the poem â€œTo This Dayâ€� by performance poet Shane Koyczan on the impact of bullying and the strength in overcoming it.
VV Brown, singer, songwriter, producer and ethical fashion entrepreneur, gave a lovely presentation on identity and black hair. She gave a personal and serious take on issues of identity and appropriation which have been explored (from another angle) inÂ Chris Rockâ€™s Good Hair (2009). As well as the rich culture of black hairdressing and hugely problematic nature of hair relaxants, weaves, and hair care regimes (including some extreme acids) that are focused on pressuring black women to meet an unobtainable and undesirable white hair ideal. She also spoke from her experience of the modelling industry and it’s incapability of dealing with black hair, whilst simultaneously happily engaging inÂ cultural appropriation, braiding corn rows into whiteÂ celebrities hair. V.V. followed up her talk with a live performance, of “Shift” (see video below), a song which she explained was inspired by the gay rights movement, and particularly black gay men in New York expressing themselves and their sexuality.
The final invited speaker was Ben Garrod, a Teaching Fellow in evolutionary biology at Anglia Ruskin University as well as aÂ science communicator and broadcaster who has worked with David Attenborough and is on the Board of Trustees for theÂ Jane Goodall Institute. Ben spoke about the power of the individual in a community, bringing in the idea of identity amongst animals, that the uniqueness of the chimps he worked with as part of Jane Goodallâ€™s team. He also had us all join in a Pant-hoot – an escalating group chimp call, to illustrate the power of both the individual and the community.
In amongst the speakers were a range of videos –Â lovely selections thatÂ I gather (and believe) aÂ student team spent months selecting from a huge amount of TED content. However, the main strand of the programme were a group of student presentations and performancesÂ which were quite extraordinary.
Highlights for me included Imogen Walsh, who spoke about the fluidity of gender and explained the importance of choice, the many forms of non-binary or genderqueer identity, the use of pronouns like they and Mx and the importance of not singling people out, or questioning them,Â for buying non gender-conforming, their choice of bathroom, etc. Because, well, why is it anyone else’s business?
Sophie Baxter talked about being a gay teen witnessing the global response to the Pulse nightclub shootingÂ and the fear and reassurance that wider public response to this had provided. She also highlighted the importance of having an LGBT community since for most LGBT young people their own immediate biological/adoptive familyÂ may not, no matter how supportive, have aÂ shared experience to draw upon, to understand challenges or concerns faced.
Maddie Travers and Nina Holland-Jones described a visit to Auschwitz (they had actually landed the night before the event) reflecting on what that experience of visiting the site hadÂ meant to them, and what it said about identity. They particularly focused onÂ the pain and horror of stripping individual identity, treating camp prisonersÂ (and victims) as a group that denied their individuality at the same time as privileging some individualsÂ for special skills and contributions that extended their life and made them useful to the Nazi regime.
Sam Amey, Nicola Smith and Ellena Wilson talked about attending the London International Youth Science Festival studentÂ science conference, of seeing inspiring new science and the excitement of that â€“ watching as a real geek and science fan it was lovely to see their enthusiasm and to hear them state that they â€œidentify as scientistsâ€� (that phrasing a recurrent theme and seems to be the 2016 way for youth to define themselves I think).
Meanwhile performances included an absolutely haunting violin piece, Nigun by Bloch, performed by Ewan Kilpatrick (see a video of his playing here). As brilliant as Ewan’s playingÂ was, musically the show was stolen by two precocious young composers, both of whom had the confidence of successful 40 year olds at the peak of their career, backed up byÂ musical skills that made that confidence seemÂ entirely appropriatelyÂ founded. Ignacio Mana Mesas described his composition process and showed some of his film score (and acting) work, before playing a piece of his own composition; Tammas Slater (you can hear his prize winning work in this BBC Radio 3 clip) meanwhile showed some unexpected comicÂ sparkle, showing off his skills before creating a composition in real time! And the eventÂ finished with a lively and charming set of tracks performed by school alumnae and up and coming band Cassia.
All ofÂ the youth contributions were incredible.Â The enthusiasm, competence and confidence of these kids – and of their peers who respectfully engaged and listened throughout the day â€“ was heartening. The future seems pretty safe ifÂ this is what the future is looking like – a very lovely thing to be reminded in these strange political times.
Preparing a TEDx talk – a rather different speaking proposition
For me the invitation to giveÂ aÂ TEDx talk was really exciting. I have mixed feelings about the brilliantly engaging but often too slick TED format, at the same time as recognising the power that the brand and reputation for the high quality speakersÂ can have.
I regularly give talks and presentations, but distilling ideas of digital identity into 14 minutes whilst keeping themÂ clear, engaging, meeting the speaker rulesÂ felt challenging.Â Doing thatÂ in a way that wouldÂ have some sort of longevity seemed like a tougher ask as things move quickly in internet research, in social media, and in social practices online, so I wanted to make sure my talk focused on those aspects of our work that areÂ solid and long-lived concepts – ideas that would have usefulness even if Facebook disappeared tomorrow (who knows, fake news may just make that a possibility), or SnapChat immediately lost all interest, or some new game-changing spaceÂ appears tomorrow. This issue of being timely but not immediately out of date is also somethingÂ we face in creating Digital Footprint MOOC content at the moment.
As an intellectual challenge developing my TEDx talkÂ was useful for finding another way to think about myÂ own presentation and writing skills, in much the same way that taking on theÂ 8 minute format of Bright Club has been, or theÂ 50 ish minute format of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, or indeedÂ teachingÂ 2+ hour seminars for the MSc in Science Communication & Public Engagement for the three years I led a module on that programme. It is alwaysÂ useful to rethink your topic, to think about fitting a totally different dynamic or house style, and to imagine a different audience and their needs and interests. In this case the audience was 16-18 year olds, who are a little younger than my usual audience,Â but who I felt sure would have lots of interest in my topic, and plenty ofÂ questions to askÂ (as there were in the separateÂ panel event later in the dayÂ at Fallibroome).
There are some particular curiosities about the TED/TEDx format versus other speaking and presentationsÂ and I thought Iâ€™d share some key things I spent time thinking about. You never know, if you find yourself invited toÂ do a TEDx (or if you are very high flying, a TED)Â these should help a wee bit:
Managing the format
Because I have mixedÂ feelings about the TED format, since it can be brilliant, but also too easy to parody (as in this brilliant faux talk), I was veryÂ aware of wanting to live up to the invitation and the expectations for this event, without giving a talk that wouldnâ€™t meet my own personal speaking style orÂ presentation tastes. I think I did manage that in the endÂ but it required some watching of former videos to get my head around what I both did and did not want to do. That included looking back at previousÂ TEDxYouth@Manchester events (to get a sense of space, scale, speaker set up and local expectations), as well as wider TED videos.
I did read the TED/TEDx speaker guidance and largely followed it although, since I do a lot of talks and know what works for me, I chose to write and create slides in parallel with the visuals helping me develop my story (rather than writing first, then doing slides as the guidance suggests). I also didn’t practice my talk nearly as often as either the TED instructions or the local organisers suggest – not out of arrogance but knowing that practicing a few times to myself works well, practising a lot gets me bored of the content and sets up unhelpful memorisations of errors, developing ideas, etc.
I do hugely appreciate that TED/TEDx insist on copyright cleared images. My slidesÂ were mostly images I had taken myself but I found a lovely image of yarn under CC-BY on Flickr which was included (and credited) too. Although as I began work on the talk I did start by thinking hard about whether or not to use slidesâ€¦ TED is a format associated with innovative slides (they were the original cheerleaders for Prezi), but at the same time the fact that talks are videoed means much of the power comes from close ups of the speaker, of capturing the connection between speaker and theÂ live audience, and of building connection with the livestream and video audience. With all of that in mind I wanted to keep my slides simple, lively, and rather stylish. I think I managed that but see what you think ofÂ my slides [PDF].
Normally when I write a talk, presentation, workshop, etc. I think about tailoring the content to the context and to my audience. I find that is a key part ofÂ ensuring IÂ meet myÂ audience’s needs, but it also makes the talk looks, well, kind of cute and clever.Â Tailoring a talk for a particular moment in time, a specific event or day, and a particular audience means youÂ can make timely and specific references, you can connect to talks and content elsewhere in the day, you can adapt and adlib to meet the interests and mood that you see, and you can show you have understood the context of your audience. Essentially all that tailoring helps you connect more immediately and builds a real bond.
But for TEDxÂ is the audience the 500+ people in the room? Our audience on WednesdayÂ were mainly between 16 and 18, but there were other audience members who had been invited or just signed up to attend (you can find all upcoming TEDx events on their website and most offer tickets for those that are interested). It was a packed venue, butÂ they are probably the smallest audience who will see myÂ performance…
The video being during the event captured goes on the TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016Â Playlist on theÂ TEDxYouthÂ YouTube channel and on theÂ TEDx YouTube channel. All of the videos are also submitted to TED so, if your video looks great to the folk Â there you could also end up featured on the core TED website, with much wider visibility. Now, I certainlyÂ wouldnâ€™t suggest I am counting on having a huge global audience, but those channels all attract a much wider audience than was sitting in the hall. So, where do you pitch the talk?
For my talk I decided to strike a balance between issues that are most pertinent to developing identity, to managing challenges that we know from our research are particularly relevant and difficultÂ for young people – ad which these students may face now or when they go to university. But I also pitched the talk to have relevanceÂ more widely, focusing less on cyber bullying, or teen dynamics, and more about changing contexts and the control one can choose to take of ones own digital footprint and social media content, something particularly pertinent to young people but relevant to us all.
When Is it for?
Just asÂ streaming distorts your sense of audience, it also challenges time. The livestream is watching on the day â€“ that’s easy. But the recorded video could stick around for years, and will have a lifespan long beyond the day. With my fast moving area that was a challenge â€“ do I make my talk timely or do I make it general? What points of connection and moments of humour are potentially missed by giving that talk a longer lifespan? I was giving a talk just after Trump’s election and in the midst of the social media bubble discussion – there are easy jokes there, things to bring my audience on board – but they might distance viewers at another time, and date rapidly. And maybe those references wouldn’t be universal enough for a wider audience beyond the UK…
In the end I tried to againÂ balance general and specific advice. But I did that knowing that many of those in the physical audience would also be attending a separate panel event later in the day which wouldÂ allow many more opportunities to talk about very contemporary questions, and to address sensitive questions that might (and did) arise. In factÂ in that panel session we took questions onÂ mental health, about how parental postings and video (including some of those made for this event) might impact on their child’sÂ digital footprint, and on whether not being on social media was a disadvantage in life. Those at the panel sessionÂ also weren’t being streamed or captured in any way, whichÂ allowed for frank discussionÂ building on an intense and complex day.
Whatâ€™s the main take away?
The thing that took me the longest time was thinking about the “take away” I wanted to leave the audience with. That was partly because I wanted my talk to have impact, to feel energising and hopefully somewhat inspiring, but also because the whole idea of TED is â€œIdeas worth sharingâ€�, which means a TED(x) talk has to have at its core a real idea, something specific and memorable to take from those 14 minutes, something that has impact.
I did have to think of a title far in advance of the event and settled on “What do you digital footprints say about you?”. I picked that as it brought together some of my #CODI16 show’s ideas, and some of the questions I knew I wanted to raise in my talk. But what would I do with that idea? I could have taken the Digital Footprint thing in a more specific direction â€“ something I might do in a longer workshop or training session – picking on particularly poor or good practices and zoning in on good or bad posts. But that isnâ€™t big picture stuff. IÂ had to think about analogy, about examples, about getting the audience to understand the longevity of impact a social media post might haveâ€¦
After a lot of thinking, testing out of ideas in conversation with my partner and some of my colleagues, I had some vague concepts and then I found my best ideas came â€“ contrary to the TED guidance – from trying to select images to help me form my narrative. An image I had taken at Edinburgh’sÂ Hidden Door Festival earlier this year of an artwork created from a web of strung yarn proved the perfect visual analogy for the complexity involved in taking back an unintended, regretted, or ill-thought-through social media post. It’s an idea I have explained before but actually trying to think about getting the idea across quickly inÂ 1 minute of my 14 minute talk really helped me identify that image as vivid effectiveÂ shorthand. And from that I found my preceding image and, from that, the flow and the look and feel of theÂ story I wanted to tell. Itâ€™s not always the obvious (or simple) things that get you to aÂ place of simplicity and clarity.
Finally I went back to my title and thought about whether my talk did speak to that idea, what else I should raise, and how I would really get my audience to feel engaged and ready to listen, and to really reflect on their own practice, quickly. In the end I settled on a single slide with that title, that question, at it’s heart. I made that the first stepping stone on my path through the talk, building in a pause that was intended to get the audience listening and thinking about their own digital identity. You’d have to ask the audience whether that worked or not but the quality of questions and comments later in the day certainly suggested they had taken in some of what I said and asked.
As a speaker there are some logistical aspects that are easy to deal with once you’ve done it a first time: travel, accommodation,Â etc. There are venue details that you either ask about – filming, photography, mics, etc. or you can find out in advance. Looking at previous years’ videos helped a lot: I would get a screen behind me for slides, there would be a set (build by students no less) and clear speaker zone on stage (the infamous red carpet/dot), I’d have a head mic (a first for me, but essentially a glamorous radio mic, which I am used to) and there would be a remote for my slides. It also looked likely I’d have a clock counting down although, in the end, that wasn’t working during my talk (a reminder, again, that I need a new watch with classic stand up comedy/speaker-friendly vibrating alarm). On the day there was a sound check (very helpful) and also an extremely professional and exceptionally helpful team of technicians – staff, students and Siemens interns – to get us wired up and recorded. The organisers also gave us plenty of advance notice of filming and photography.
IÂ have been on the periphery of TEDx eventsÂ before: Edinburgh University has held several events and I know how much work has gone into these; I attended a TEDxGlasgow hosted by STV a few years back and, again, was struck buy the organisation required. For TEDxYouth@Manchester I was invited to speak earlier in the year â€“ late August/early September – so I had several months to prepare. The organisers tellÂ me thatÂ sometimes they invite speakers as much as 6 to 12 months ahead of the event â€“ as soon as the event finishes their team beginÂ their search for next yearsâ€™s invitees…
As the organisingÂ team spend all year planningÂ a slick event â€“ and Fallibroome Academy really did do an incredibly well organised and slick job â€“ they expect slick and well organised speakers. I thinkÂ all of us invited speakers, each of us with a lot of experience of talks and performance,Â experienced more coordination, more contact and more clarity on expectation, format, etc. than at any previous speaking event.
That level of detail isÂ always useful as a a speaker but it can also be intimidating â€“ although that is useful for focusing your thoughts too. There were conference calls in September and October to share developing presentation thoughts, to finalise titles, and to hear a little about each others talks.Â That last aspect was very helpful â€“ I knew little of the detail of the other talks until the event itself, but I had a broadÂ idea of the topic and angle of each speaker which meant IÂ could ensure minimal overlap, and maximum impact as IÂ understood how my talk fitted in to the wider context.
All credit to Peter Rubery and the Fallibroome team for their workÂ here.Â They curated a brilliant selection of videos and some phenomenal live performances and short talks from students to create a coherent programme with appropriate and clever segues that added to the power of the presentations, the talks, and took us on something of a powerful emotional rollercoaster. All of us invited speakers felt it was a speaking engagement like weâ€™d never had before and it really was an intense and impactful day. And, as Ben G said, for some students the talks they gave today will be life changing, sharing something very personally on a pretty high profile stage, owning their personal experience and reflections in a really empowering way.
In conclusion then, this was really a wonderful experience and a usefully challenging format to work in. I will update this post with the videos of the talks as soon as they are available – you can then judge for yourself how I did. However, if you get the chance to take part in a TEDx event, particularly a TEDxYouth event I would recommend it. I would also encourage you to keep an eye on the TEDxYouth@Manchester YouTube channel for those exceptional student presentations!
Today I am again at the Association of Internet Researchers AoIR 2016 Conference in Berlin. Yesterday we had workshops, today the conference kicks off properly. Follow the tweets at: #aoir2016.
As usual this is a liveblog so all comments and corrections are very much welcomed.Â
Platform Studies: The Rules of Engagement (Chair: Jean Burgess, QUT)
How affordances arise through relations between platforms, their different types of users, and what they do to the technology – Taina Bucher (University of Copenhagen) and Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam)
Taina: Hearts on Twitter:Â In 2015 Twitter moved from stars to hearts, changing the affordances of the platform. They stated that they wanted to make the platform more accessible to new users, but that impacted on existing users.
Today we are going to talk about conceptualising affordances. In it’s original meaning an affordance is conceived of as a relational property (Gibson). For Norman perceived affordances were more the concern – thinking about how objects can exhibit or constrain particular actions. Affordances are not just the visual clues or possibilities, but can be felt. Gaver talks about these technology affordances. There are also social affordances – talked about my many – mainly about how poor technological affordances have impact on societies. It is mainly about impact of technology and how it can contain and constrain sociality. And finally we have communicative affordances (Hutchby), how technological affordances impact on communities and communications of practices.
So, what about platform changes? If we think about design affordances, we can see that there are different ways to understand this.Â The official reason for the design was given as about the audience, affording sociality of community and practices.
Affordances continues to play an important role in media and social media research. They tend to be conceptualised as either high-level or low-level affordances, with ontological and epistemological differences:
High: affordance in the relation – actions enabled or constrained
Low: affordance in the technical features of the user interface – reference to Gibson but they vary in where and when affordances are seen, and what features are supposed to enable or constrain.
Anne: We want to now turn to platform-sensitive approach, expanding the notion of the user –> different types of platform users, end-users, developers, researchers and advertisers – there is a real diversity of users and user needs and experiences here (see Gillespie on platforms. So, in the case of Twitter there are many users and many agendas – and multiple interfaces. Platforms are dynamic environments – and that differentiates social media platforms from Gibson’s environmental platforms. Computational systems driving media platforms are different, social media platforms adjust interfaces to their users through personalisation, A/B testing, algorithmically organised (e.g. Twitter recommending people to follow based on interests and actions).
In order to take a relational view of affordances, and do that justice, we also need to understand what users afford to the platforms – as they contribute, create content, provide data that enables to use and development and income (through advertisers) for the platform. Returning to Twitter… The platform affords different things for different people
Taking medium-specificity of platforms into account we can revisit earlier conceptions of affordance and critically analyse how they may be employed or translated to platform environments. Platform users are diverse and multiple, and relationships are multidirectional, with users contributing back to the platform. And those different users have different agendas around affordances – and in our Twitter case study, for instance, that includes developers and advertisers, users who are interested in affordances to measure user engagement.
How the social media APIs that scholars so often use for research areâ€”for commercial reasonsâ€”skewed positively toward â€˜connectionâ€™ and thus make it difficult to understand practices of â€˜disconnectionâ€™ – Nicolas John (Hebrew University of Israel) andÂ Asaf NissenbaumÂ (Hebrew University of Israel)
Consider this… On Facebook…If you add someone as a friend they are notified. If you unfriend them, they do not. If you post something you see it in your feed, if you delete it it is not broadcast. They have a page called World of Friends – they don’t have one called World of Enemies. And Facebook does not take kindly to app creators who seek to surface unfriending and removal of content. And Facebook is, like other social media platforms, therefore significantly biased towards positive friending and sharing actions. And that has implications for norms and for our research in these spaces.
One of our key questions here is what can’t we know about
Agnotology is defined as the study of ignorance. Robert Proctor talks about this in three terms: native state – childhood for instance; strategic ploy – e.g. the tobacco industry on health for years; lost realm – the knowledge that we cease to hold, that we loose.
I won’t go into detail on critiques of APIs for social science research, but as an overview the main critiques are:
APIs are restrictive – they can cost money, we are limited to a percentage of the whole – Burgess and Bruns 2015; Bucher 2013; Bruns 2013; Driscoll and Walker
APIs are opaque
APIs can change with little notice (and do)
Omitted data – Baym 2013 – now our point is that these platforms collect this data but do not share it.
Bias to present – boyd and Crawford 2012
Asaf: Our methodology was to look at some of the most popular social media spaces and their APIs. We were were looking at connectivity in these spaces – liking, sharing, etc. And we also looked for the opposite traits – unliking, deletion, etc. We found that social media had very little data, if any, on “negative” traits – and we’ll look at this across three areas:Â other people and their content; me and my content; commercial users and their crowds.
Other people and their content – APIs tend to supply basic connectivity – friends/following, grouping, likes. Almost no historical content – except Facebook which shares when a user has liked a page. Current state only – disconnections are not accounted for. There is a reason to not know this data – privacy concerns perhaps – but that doesn’t explain my not being able to find this sort of information about my own profile.
Me and my content – negative traits and actions are hidden even from ourselves. Success is measured – likes and sharin, of you or by you. Decline is not – disconnections are lost connections… except on Twitter where you can see analytics of followers – but no names there, and not in the API. So we are losing who we once were but are not anymore. Social network sites do not see fit to share information over time… Lacking disconnection data is an idealogical and commercial issue.
Commercial users and their crowds – these users can see much more of their histories, and the negative actions online. They have a different regime of access in many cases, with the ups and downs revealed – though you may need to pay for access. Negative feedback receives special attention. Facebook offers the most detailed information on usage – including blocking and unliking information. Customers know more than users, or Pages vs. Groups.
Nicholas: So, implications. From what Asaf has shared shows the risk for API-based research… Where researchers’ work may be shaped by the affordances of the API being used. Any attempt to capture negative actions – unlikes, choices to leave or unfriend. If we can’t use APIs to measure social media phenomena, we have to use other means. So, unfriending is understood through surveys – time consuming and problematic. And that can put you off exploring these spaces – it limits research. The advertiser-friends user experience distorts the space – it’s like the stock market only reporting the rises except for a few super wealthy users who get the full picture.
A biography of Twitter (a story told through the intertwined stories of its key features and the social norms that give them meaning, drawing on archival material and oral history interviews with users) – Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology) and Nancy Baym (Microsoft Research)
I want to start by talking about what I mean by platforms, and what I mean by biographies. Here platforms are these social media platforms that afford particular possibilities, they enable and shape society – we heard about the platformisation of society last night – but their governance, affordances, are shapedÂ by their own economic existance. They are shaping and mediating socio-cultural experience and we need to better to understand the values and socio-cultural concerns of the platforms.Â By platform studies we mean treating social media platforms as spaces to study in their own rights: as institutions, as mediating forces in the environment.
So, why “biography” here? First we argue that whilst biographical forms tend to be reserved for individuals (occasionally companies and race horses), they are about putting the subject in context of relationships, place in time, and that the context shapes the subject. Biographies are always partial though – based on unreliable interviews and information, they quickly go out of date, and just as we cannot get inside the heads of those who are subjects of biographies, we cannot get inside many of the companies at the heart of social media platforms. But (after Richard Rogers) understanding changes helps us to understand the platform.
So, in our forthcoming book,Â Twitter: A Biography (NYU 2017), we will look at competing and converging desires around e.g the @, RT, #. Twitter’s key feature set are key characters in it’s biography. Each has been a rich site of competing cultures and norms. We drew extensively on the Internet Archives, bloggers, and interviews with a range of users of the platform.
Nancy: When we interviewed people we downloaded their archive with them and talked through their behaviour and how it had changed – and many of those features and changes emerged from that. What came out strongly is that noone knows what Twitter is for – not just amongst users but also amongst the creators – you see that today with Jack Dorsey and Anne Richards. The heart of this issue is about whether Twitter is about sociality and fun, or is it a very important site for sharing important news and events. Users try to negotiate why they need this space, what is it for… They start squabling saying “Twitter, you are doing it wrong!”… Changes come with backlash and response, changed decisions from Twitter… But that is also accompanied by the media coverage of Twitter, but also the third party platforms build on Twitter.
So the “@” is at the heart of Twitter for sociality and Twitter for information distribution. It was imported from other spaces – IRC most obviously – as with other features. One of the earliest things Twitter incorporated was the @ and the links back.. You have things like originally you could see everyone’s @ replies and that led to feed clutter – although some liked seeing unexpected messages like this. So, Twitter made a change so you could choose. And then they changed again to automatically not see replies from those you don’t follow. So people worked around that with “.@” – which created conflict between the needs of the users, the ways they make it usable, and the way the platform wants to make the space less confusing to new users.
The “RT” gave credit to people for their words, and preserved integrity of words. At first this wasn’t there and so you had huge variance – the RT, the manually spelled out retweet, the hat tip (HT). Technical changes were made, then you saw the number of retweets emerging as a measure of success and changing cultures and practices.
The “#” is hugely disputed – it emerged through hashtag.org: you couldn’t follow them in Twitter at first but they incorporated it to fend off third party tools. They are beloved by techies, and hated by user experience designers. And they are useful but they are also easily coopted by trolls – as we’ve seen on our own hashtag.
Insights into the actual uses to which audience data analytics are put by content creators in the new screen ecology (and the limitations of these analytics) – Stuart Cunningham (QUT) and David Craig (USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism)
The algorithmic culture is well understood as a part of our culture. There are around 150 items on Tarleton Gillespie and Nick Seaver’s recent reading list and the literature is growing rapidly. We want to bring back a bounded sense of agency in the context of online creatives.
What do I mean by “online creatives”? Well we are looking at social media entertainment – a “new screen ecology” (Cunningham and Silver 2013; 2015) shaped by new online creatives who are professionalising and monetising on platforms like YouTube, as opposed to professional spaces, e.g. Netflix. YouTube has more than 1 billion users, with revenue in 2015 estimated at $4 billion per year. And there are a large number of online creatives earning significant incomes from their content in these spaces.
Previously online creatives were bound up with ideas of democratic participative cultures but we want to offer an immanent critique of the limits of data analytics/algorithmic culture in shaping SME from with the industry on both the creator (bottom up) and platform (top down) side. This is an approach to social criticism exposes the way reality conflicts not with some “transcendent” concept of rationality but with its own avowed norms, drawing on Foucault’s work on power and domination.
We undertook a large number of interviews and from that I’m going to throw some quotes at you… There is talk of information overload – of what one might do as an online creative presented with a wealth of data. Creatives talk about the “non-scalable practices” – the importance and time required to engage with fans and subscribers. Creatives talk about at least half of a working week being spent on high touch work like responding to comments, managing trolls, and dealing with challenging responses (especially with creators whose kids are engaged in their content).
We also see cross-platform engagement – and an associated major scaling in workload. There is a volume issue on Facebook, and the use of Twitter to manage that. There is also a sense of unintended consequences – scale has destroyed value. Income might be $1 or $2 for 100,000s or millions of views. There are inherent limits to algorithmic culture… But people enjoy being part of it and reflect a real entrepreneurial culture.
In one or tow sentences, the history of YouTube can be seen as a sort of clash of NoCal and SoCal cultures. Again, no-one knows what it is for. And that conflict has been there for ten years. And you also have the MCNs (Multi-Contact Networks) who are caught like the meat in the sandwich here.
Q1) I was wondering about user needs and how that factors in. You all drew upon it to an extent… And the dissatisfaction of users around whether needs are listened to or not was evident in some of the case studies here. I wanted to ask about that.
A1 – Nancy) There are lots of users, and users have different needs. When platforms change and users are angry, others are happy. We have different users with very different needs… Both of those perspectives are user needs, they both call for responses to make their needs possible… The conflict and challenges, how platforms respond to those tensions and how efforts to respond raise new tensions… that’s really at the heart here.
A1 – Jean) In our historical work we’ve also seen that some users voices can really overpower others – there are influential users and they sometimes drown out other voices, and I don’t want to stereotype here but often technical voices drown out those more concerned with relationships and intimacy.
Q2) You talked about platforms and howÂ theyÂ developed (and I’m afraid I didn’t catch the rest of this question…)
A2 – David) There are multilateral conflicts about what features to include and exclude… And what is interesting is thinking about what ideas fail… With creators you see economic dependence on platforms and affordances – e.g. versus PGC (Professionally Generated Content).
A2 – Nicholas) I don’t know what user needs are in a broader sense, but everyone wants to know who unfriended them, who deleted them… And a dislike button, or an unlike button… The response was strong but “this post makes me sad” doesn’t answer that and there is no “you bastard for posting that!” button.
Q3) Would it be beneficial to expose unfriending/negative traits?
A3 – Nicholas) I can think of a use case for why unfriending would be useful – for instance wouldn’t it be useful to understand unfriending around the US elections. That data is captured – Facebook know – but we cannot access it to research it.
A3 – Stuart) It might be good for researchers, but is it in the public good? In Europe and with the Right to be Forgotten should we limit further the data availability…
A3 – Nancy) I think the challenge is that mismatch of only sharing good things, not sharing and allowing exploration of negative contact and activity.
A3 – Jean) There are business reasons for positivity versus negativity, but it is also about how the platforms imagine their customers and audiences.
Q4) I was intrigued by the idea of the “Medium specificity of platforms” – what would that be? I’ve been thinking about devices and interfaces and how they are accessed… We have what we think of as a range but actually we are used to using really one or two platforms – e.g. Apple iPhone – in terms of design, icons, etc. and the possibilities of interface is, and what happens when something is made impossible by the interface.
A4 – Anne) When the “medium specificity” we are talking about the platform itself as medium. Moving beyond end user and user experience. We wanted to take into account the role of the user – the platform also has interfaces for developers, for advertisers, etc. and we wanted to think about those multiple interfaces, where they connect, how they connect, etc.
A4 – Taina) It’s a great point about medium specitivity but for me it’s more about platform specifity.
A4 – Jean) The integration of mobile web means the phone iOS has a major role here…
A4 – Nancy) We did some work with couples who brought in their phones, and when one had an Apple and one had an Android phone we actually found that they often weren’t aware of what was possible in the social media apps as the interfaces are so different between the different mobile operating systems and interfaces.
Q5) Can you talk about algorithmic content and content innovation?
A5 – David) In our work with YouTube we see forms of innovation that are very platform specific around things like Vine and Instagram. And we also see counter-industrial forms and practices. So, in the US, we see blogging and first person accounts of lives… beauty, unboxing, etc. But if you map content innovation you see (similarly) this taking the form of gaps in mainstream culture – in India that’s stand up comedy for instance. Algorithms are then looking for qualities and connections based on what else is being accessed – creating a virtual circle…
Q6) Can we think of platforms as instable, about platforms having not quite such a uniform sense of purpose and direction…
A6 – Stuart) Most platforms are very big in terms of their finance… If you compare that to 20 years ago the big companies knew what they were doing! Things are much more volatile…
A6 – Jean) That’s very common in the sector, except maybe on Facebook… Maybe.
During that University of Edinburgh-wide research and parallel awareness-raising campaign we (my colleague – and Digital Footprint research project PI – Louise Connelly of IAD/Vet School, myself, andÂ colleagues across the University)Â soughtÂ to inform students of the importance of digital tracks and traces in general, particularly around employment and “eProfessionalism”. This included best practice advice around use of social media, personal safety and information security choices, and thoughtful approaches to digital identity and online presences. Throughout the project we were approached by organisations outside of the University for similar training, advice, and consulting around social media best practices and that is how the idea for thisÂ pilot service began to take shape.
These have been really interesting opportunities and I’m excited to see how this work progresses. If you do have an interest in social media best practice, including advice for your organisation’s social media practice, developing your online profile, or managingÂ your digital footprint, please do get in touch and/or pass on my contact details. I am in the process of writing up the pilot and lookingÂ at ways myself and my colleagues can share our expertise and advice in this area.
And, moreÂ exciting news: my lovely colleague Louise Connelly (University of Edinburgh Vet School) and I have been developing a Digital Footprint MOOC which will go live later this year. The MOOC will complement our ongoing University of Edinburgh service (run by IAD) and external consultancy word (led by us in EDINA) and You can find out much more about that in this poster, presented at the European Conference on Social Media 2016, earlier this month…
Alternatively, you could join me for my Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2016 show….
The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas runs throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but every performance is different! Each day academics and researchers share their work by proposing a dangerous idea, a provocative question, or a challenge, and the audience are invited to respond, discuss, ask difficult questions, etc. It’s a really fun show to see and to be part of – I’ve now been fortunate enough to be involved each year since it started in 2013. You can see a short video on #codi2016 here:
In this year’s show I’ll be talking about some of those core ideas around managing your digital footprint, understanding your online tracks and traces, and reflecting on the type of identity you want to portray online.Â You can find out more about myÂ show, If I Googled You What Would I Find, in my recent “25 Days of CODI” blog post:
You’ll also find a short promo film for the series of data, identity, and surveillance shows atÂ #codi2016 here:
So… A very busy summer of social media, digital footprints, and exciting new opportunities. Do look out for more news on the MOOC, the YikYak work and the Digital Footprint Training and Consultancy service over the coming weeks and months. And, if you are in Edinburgh this summer, I hope to see you on the 21st at the Stand in the Square!
After 6 years of being Repository Fringe‘s resident live blogger this was the first year that I haven’t been part of the organisation or amplification in any official capacity. From what I’ve seen though my colleagues from EDINA, University of Edinburgh Library, and the DCC did an awesome job of putting together a really interesting programme for the 2016 edition ofÂ RepoFringe, attracting a big and diverse audience.
Whilst I was mainly participating through reading the tweets to #rfringe16,Â I couldn’t quite keep away!
Pauline Ward at Repository Fringe 2016
This year’s chair, Pauline Ward, asked me to be part of the Unleashing Data session on Tuesday 2nd August. The session was a “World Cafe” formatÂ and I was asked to help facilitate discussion around the question:Â “How can the respository community use crowd-sourcing (e.g. Citizen Science) to engage the public in reuse of data?” – so I was along wearing my COBWEB: Citizen Observatory WebÂ andÂ social media hats. My session also benefited from what I gather was an excellent talk on “The Social Life of Data” earlier in the event from the Erinma Ochu (who, although I missed her this time, is always involved in really interesting projects including several fabÂ citizen science initiatives).
I won’t attempt to reflect onÂ all of the discussions during the Unleashing Data Session here – I know that Pauline will be reporting back from the session to Repository Fringe 2016 participants shortly – but I thought I would share a few pictures of our notes, capturing some of the ideas and discussions that came out of the various groups visiting this question throughout the session. Click the image to view a larger version.Â Questions or clarifications are welcome – just leave me a comment here on the blog.
If you are interested in finding out more about crowd sourcing and citizen science in general then there are a couple of resources that made be helpfulÂ (plus many more resources and articles if you leave a comment/drop me an email with your particular interests).
After the Unleashing Data session I was also able to stick around for Stuart Lewis’ closing keynote. Stuart has been working at Edinburgh University since 2012 but is moving on soon to the National Library of Scotland so this was a lovely chance to get some of his reflections and predictionsÂ as he prepares to make that move. And to include quite a lot of fun references to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 Â¾. (Before his talk Stuart had also snuck some boxes of sweets under some of the tables around the room – a popularity tactic I’m noting for future talks!)
So, my liveblog notes from Stuart’s talk (slightly tidied up but corrections are, of course, welcomed) follow. Because old Repofringe live blogging habits are hard to kick!
The Secret Diary of a Repository aged 13 Â¾ – Stuart Lewis
Iâ€™m going to talk about our bread and butter â€“ the institutional repositoryâ€¦ Now my inspiration is Adrian Moleâ€¦ Why? Well we have a bunch of teenage repositoriesâ€¦ EPrints is 15 1/2; Fedora is 13 Â½; DSpace is 13 Â¾.
Now Adrian Mole is a teenager â€“ you can read about him on WikipediaÂ [note to fellow Wikipedia contributors: this, and most of the other Adrian Mole-related pages could use some major work!]. You see him quoted in two conferences to my amazement! And there are also some Scotland and Edinburgh entries in there tooâ€¦ Brought a haggisâ€¦ Goes to Glasgow at 11amâ€¦ and says he encounters 27 drunks in one hourâ€¦
Stuart Lewis illustrates the teenage birth dates of three of the major repository softwares as captured in (perhaps less well-aged) pop hits of the day.
So, I have four points to make about how repositories are like/unlike teenagersâ€¦
The thing about teenagersâ€¦ People complain about themâ€¦ They can be expensive, they can be awkward, they arenâ€™t always self awareâ€¦ Eventually though they usually become useful members of society. So, is that true of repositories? Well ERA, one of our repositories has gotten bigger and bigger â€“ over 18k itemsâ€¦ and over 10k paper thesis currently being digitizedâ€¦
Now teenagers also start to look aroundâ€¦ Pandora!
Iâ€™m going to call Pandora the CRISâ€¦ And weâ€™ve all kind of overlooked their commercial background because we are in love with themâ€¦!
Stuart Lewis captures the eternal optimism – both around Mole’s love of Pandora, and our love of the (commercial) CRIS.
Now, we have PURE at Edinburgh which also powers Edinburgh Research Explorer. When you looked at repositories a few years ago, it was a bit like Freshers Weekâ€¦ The three questions were: where are you from; what repository platform do you use; how many items do you have? But thatâ€™s moved on. We now have around 80% of our outputs in the repository within the REF compliance (3 months of Acceptance)â€¦ And thatâ€™s a huge change â€“ volumes of materials are open access very promptly.
1. We need to celebrate our success
But are our successes as positive as they could be?
Repositories continue to develop. Weâ€™ve heard good things about new developments. But how do repositories demonstrate value â€“ and how do we compare to other areas of librarianship.
Other library domains use different numbers. We can use these to give comparative figures. How do we compare to publishers for cost? Whats our CPU (Cost Per Use)? And what is a good CPU? Â£10, Â£5, Â£0.46â€¦ But how easy is it to calculate â€“ are repositories expensive? Thatâ€™s a “to do” â€“ to take the cost to run/IRUS cost. I would expect it to be lower than publishers, but Iâ€™d like to do that calculation.
The other side of this is to become more self-awareâ€¦ Can we gather new numbers? We only tend to look at deposit and use from our own repositoriesâ€¦ What about our own local consumption of OA (the reverse)?
Working within new e-resource infrastructure â€“ http://doai.io/ – lets us see where open versions are available. And we can integrate with OpenURL resolvers to see how much of our usage can be fulfilled.
2. Our repositories must continue to grow up
Do we have double standards?
Hopefully you are all aware of the UK Text and Data Mining Copyright Exception that came out from 1st June 2014. We have massive massive access to electronic resources as universities, and can text and data mine those.
Some do a good job here â€“ Gale Cengage Historic British Newspapers: additional payment to buy all the data (images + XML text) on hard drives for local use. Working with local informatics LTG staff to (geo)parse the data.
Some are not so good â€“ basic APIs allow only simple searchersâ€¦ But not complex queries (e.g. could use a search term, but not e.g. sentiment).
And many publishers do nothing at allâ€¦.
So we are working with publishers to encourage and highlight the potential.
But what about our content? Our repositories are open, with extracted full-text, data can be harvestedâ€¦ Sufficient but is it ideal? Why not do bulk download from one clickâ€¦ You can â€“ for example â€“ download all of Wikipedia (if you want to). Â We should be able to do that with our repositories.
3. We need to get our house in order for Text and Data Mining
When will we be finished though? Depends on what we do with open access? What should we be doing with OA? Where do we want to get to? Right now we have mandates so itâ€™s easy â€“ green and gold. With gold there is PURE or Hybridâ€¦ Mixed views on Hybrid. Can also publish locally for free. Then for gree there is local or disciplinary repositoriesâ€¦ For Gold â€“ Pure, Hybrid, Local we pay APCs (some local option is free)â€¦ In Hybrid we can do offsetting, discounted subscriptions, voucher schemes too. And for green we have UK Scholarly Communications License (Harvard)â€¦
But which of these forms of OA are best?! Is choice always a great thing?
We still have outstanding OA issues. Is a mixed-modal approach OK, or should we choose a single route? Which one? What role will repositories play? What is the ultimate aim of Open Access? Is it â€œjustâ€� access?
How and where do we have these conversations? We need academics, repository managers, librarians, publishers to all come together to do this.
4. Do we now what a grown-up repository look like? What part does it play?
Please remember to celebrate your repositories â€“ we are in a fantastic place, making a real difference. But they need to continue to grow up. There is work to do with text and data miningâ€¦ And we have more to doâ€¦ To be a grown up, to be in the right sort of environment, etc.
Q1) I can remember giving my first talk on repositories in 2010â€¦ When it comes to OA I think we need to think about what is cost effective, what is sustainable, why are we doing it and whatâ€™s the cost?
A1) I think in some ways thatâ€™s about what repositories are versus publishersâ€¦ Right now we are essentially replicating themâ€¦ And maybe that isnâ€™t the way to approach this.
And with that Repository Fringe 2016 drew to a close. I am sure others will have already blogged their experiences and comments on the event. Do have a look at the Repository Fringe website and atÂ #rfringe16Â for more comments, shared blog posts, and resources from the sessions.Â
Today I am again at the European Conference onÂ Social Media 2016 and will be liveblogging the sessions. Today is a shorter conference day and I’ll be chairing a session and giving a poster so there may be a few breaks in the blog. As usual these notes are being taken live so any corrections, questions, etc. are very much welcomed.Â
Keynote presentation: Dr Sue Greener,University of Brighton Business School, UK –Â Unlearning Learning with Social Media
I wanted to give you a topic this morning about my topic, which is learning. But not just learning in Higher Education, but also learning in the workplace. I encourage you to tweet throughout, do tweet me @suegonline.
Life is about learned behaviours. We learn habits and once we learn habits, they are hard to unlearn. But at the same time we also love new novel things – that’s why we love social media. You could call this a dichotomy – between habit and the new. A lovely aphorism fromÂ Maria de Beausarq: “The power of habit and the charm of novelty are the two adverse forces which explain the follies of mankind”. We see this dichotomy in psychology all the time.
Davis (1999) talks about habit as a barrier to creating thinking and innovation – the idea that “if someone did it this way, they must have had a good reason”. Glaveanu (2012) writes about “habitual creativity” – where expertise and master is brought about through the constant sharpening and adjusting of habitual practice to dynamic changes in context. As in learning a piano, or a language – practising all the time but gradually introducing flourishes and creativity.
Now, you may be wondering about whether this talk is about learning, or about skills… But I think both are very similar. Learning involves a whole range of skills – reading, note taking, evaluation, etc. Learning is a skill and has a degree of both routine and creativity. And learning is not just about those recognisable tasks… And I want to talk about “unlearning”, something that Alvin Toffler talks about in Future Shock, and he talks about 21st Century digital literacy, talking about learning and unlearning. I was started in elearning and the technology. The technology is what we fit around as habit, as mastery,Â but it’s all about learning. And when I was looking at Toffler’s work, when doing that PhD work, I was worried about learning theory – they all seemed over-engineered, too formal, too linear almost, too structured as pedagogy. I knew that the idea of learning styles – still in the literature and research – but I think of myself as having a learning palate – which I can pick and choose from, I pick the style of learning to suit the context. I personally learn best by learning by watching, by modelling from other people… Yesterday Britt Allan talked about “advertising literacy” and I hadn’t heard that before, but loved that phrase, it made sense to me, and that’s very much how I learn
Bandoura – triple reciprocal determinism – I found theories of learning I understood. He talked about behaviours, and learning from behaviours, and trialling ideas. That idea of not piling learning on learning, but instead about the idea of learning and unlearning, that makes sense. Hefler talks about organisational unlearning – giving it equal weight to learning. Yes, neural networks in the brain accumulates, but they also die away without use… And unlearning is something else.
So, what is unlearning? It is not negative. And it is not about forgetting/the unconcious giving up of knowledge – although it has been seen that way before in the 80s and 90s – we do forget things but that is not what unlearning is. And it is not just replacing the obsolete. But it is a purposive creative process as important as learning. Unlearning is about taking apart the pieces and reconstructing the meaning. It means we can build the foundations of our knowledge. Much under-researched as an area – therefore enticing. Rushmer and Davies (2004) talk about three things: Fading (over time); wiping (enforced from outside – often happens in the workplace, not comfortable); deep unlearning (from individual surprising experience producing inconsistency, changes of value). That deep unlearning can be gradual, or can be about “falling off a cliff” – when we find something surprising and need to decide to change.
And now to social media. Now, I don’t know about you but much of my unlearning takes place on social media. But why? If we go back to 1997, to the early social network 6degrees.com… Since then we have learned to communicate, to exchange information, assessing and evaluating information differently. Information is all around us, and we absorb it in a very social context. So, how much of our learning is from formal courses, and how much is informal learning? Formal learning is the tip of the iceberg, informal learning is bigger and is about rich tacit understanding. As educators we can try to overly control learning, even in e.g. closed facebook groups. But this is learning that benefits from space to work well.
So, informal learning is social and personal and often informal. Bourdieu (1992) talks about a habitus – a mindset – that is enduring but can be transformed by what takes place within and beyond it. Garrick (1998) and Boud (1999) suggested informal interactions with peers are predominent ways of learning at work. Wenger (1998) talks about social participation in the community as key to informal learning. Boud and Middleton (2003) talk about informal learning as being about mastery of organisational processes, negotiating the political and dealing with the atypical – those are things we don’t always embed in the degree process of course. So, how does this all fit with my idea of social media, this DIY media?
When this conference launched in Brighton in 2014 we had a Social Media Showcase with students, employers, academics, and school children. Last year we did a virtual showcase. And this year we did the Big Bang showcase – in a huge showground in Sussex. Over 8000 students from school children – and we were able to have conversations, have vox pops. Out of hundreds of conversations only 10 students did not use social media. And those that were active, they could write a long list (e.g. 8 or 9) of sites they use. My sense is that for this age range these presences are a little like stickers. For these kids informal learning is massive – from peers, from others, from celebrities. At that age perhaps causing a great deal of unlearning. They encounter information in schools but also from peers – which do they choose to trust and engage with? If ever there was a reason for teachers to understand social media, that was it.
At Brighton we have a “switch it on” policy – we ignore this stuff at our peril! You can always ask for devices to be switched off for a few minutes/a task. To exclude those spaces you are turning away and excluding that valuable informal learning, that bigger context. If we want to help people learn, we have to teach them where they are comfortable. And we must help people to evaluate what they see on social media – that is a critical thing for teachers. And social media is not just for kids… We are increasingly joining SnapChat and WhatsApp – less trackable conversations are appealing to older audiences too.
So, back to Rushmer and Davies (2004) and fading… Snapchat is about forgetting, fading. Wiping will be in place in all organisations but we have to think about how to deal more positively with resistance to change. Hislop, Bosley, Coombs and Holland 2013 – who I don’t totally agree with – have a typology of unlearning which is helpful. My thesis is that social media has some particular aspects – it is personal, ubiquitous and high speed. Data is transmitted in a hugely complex route, filtered through sites, through audiences… We have a huge dissemination of a (any) single story. Speed and serendipity are vital features of social media in action. And the experience is intimate – staring into a screen that makes it one-to-one even if in reality it is one-to-many. These interactions can change our mind. They can change our mind in referenda, they can change our mind in many ways. And they can be central to unlearning. That can be for good, and for bad. We will all have great examples of links, of ways we learn through social media. And it is less predictable than mainstream media, you can find surprises, you can catch enthusiasm – and I like to foster that even if I cannot control it!
So, can social media drive deep unlearning? I think all the signs are there. You should make up your own mind.
Q1) I am not sure I totally understand what unlearning is… Learning is a process…
A1) I would relate this to the concept of cognitive dissonance – where there are two competing ideas that you must resolve and decide between. In social media I connect with people I like and trust, if they raise an idea that I didn’t previously agree or subscribe to, their raising of it has the ability to influence or change my mind, or at least means I reconsider that issue.
Q2) YouÂ talked about habitual creativity, and implied that as you get older you may forget/fade. I saw a presentation a few years back emphasising that you can learn by changing your habits – a walking route for instance.
A2) Absolutely. Things like changing your seat in a lecture theatre, changing a route etc. But social media can really shift your understanding.
Q3) I think you talked about two types of learning that don’t mix together. Many go to universities for the workplace to gather formal skills, that you call back on etc. But that requires some structure. AndÂ of course informal learning happens all the time. And the people I
A3) I agree that media stacking and multi tasking is not good… But at the same time in lectures, at conference, I find it useful to reflect, to engage with topics etc. that is very valuable.
Comment) In high school I remember girls knitting and learning too and doing very well.
A3) It is possible, and it is skills that we are developing. I’d agree that it can work, and that it can be helpful for students to be active and engaging rather than passively receiving.
Q4) Thank you for your interesting keynote. How can social media make real change?
A4) I’m not a politician – I wish I was. We have a tool that can strike at the heart of people. It can help form and shape opinion, but that can be bad as well as good…
Introduction to ECSM 2017Â
The next conference will be in Vilnius, the capital city in Lithuania. Lithuania is one of three large modern Northern European baltic countries. We are part of EU, NATO, Euro etc. Vilnius has around 550K, and indeed Lithuania has 3 million people. We have a lovely old town, listed by UNESCO. We have technology sectors that we lead in, particularly green tech, and we have the fastest public wi-fi in the world, and third most affordable internet in the EU! People are lovely, well educated, and we speak many languages! We have 14 universities, we have research parks etc. Our campus is on outskirts of the city – but we have Uber and public transport – and the city centre is all walkable on foot. And our campus has excellent facilities and you are very welcome there. We have many researchers working on social technologies, and a journal for social technologies. And, to end, a short video…
And, on that lovely video,Â I am pausing the liveblog as I’ll be giving myÂ posterÂ on the Digital Footprint MOOC. Normal service will resume afterwards.
This session looked at how media and communications can be used to promote and engage communities in a crowd sourcing and citizen science project.Â This includedÂ aspects includingÂ understanding the purpose and audience for aÂ project; gaining exposure from a project; communicating these types of projects effectively; engaging the press; expectation management; practical issues such as timing, use of interviewees and quotes, etc.
I was chairing thisÂ session,Â drawing on myÂ experience working on the COBWEB project in particular, and I was delighted that we were able to bring in twoÂ guest speakers whose work I’ve been following for a while:
Dave Kilbey, University of Bristol and Founder and CEO of Natural Apptitude Ltd. Natural Apptitute works with academic and partner organisations to create mobile phone apps and websites for citizen science projects that have included NatureLocator, Leafwatch, Batmobile, and BeeMapp. Some of these projects have received substantial press interest, in particular Leafwatch (along with the wider Conker Tree Science initiative), and Dave will talk about his personal experience of the way that crowd sourcing and citizen science and the media work together, some of the benefits and risks of exposure, and some of the challenges associated with working with the press based on his own experience. Â @kilbey252
Alastair (Ally) Tibbitt,Â Senior Online Journalist at STV, where he has been based since 2011 working both in journalism and community engagement. Alyâ€™s background lies in community projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh, experience that informs his work writing both for STV and Greener Leith. He has particular interests in hyperlocal news, open data and environmental issues, giving him a really interesting insidersâ€™ perspective on the way that citizen science and crowd sourcing can engage the press, some of the realities of media expectations, timings, etc. and an insight into effective ways to pitch a citizen engagement story. @allytibbett
My notes from the talksÂ were captured on the day but, due to chairing, I wasn’t able to capture all of the discussion or questions that arose in the session. The video below captures the talks, with my notes from these below.Â
Musings on Media and Communications for Citizen Science Projects – Dave Kilbey, Natural Appitude
I’m not an expert but I have been working in this area for some time so these are some musings informed by my work to date.
I’ve worked on a variety of projects, which started with a project called NatureLocator – all basically mobile apps, but also website. We try to make it as simple as possible for people to take part in these projects, and we try to do that working with experts so that the data we collect is useful and purposeful. So our projects include work on invasive species, work with the biological monitoring centre. So effectively we work with researchers, organisations, and engaging the public in what we do. And we do that with design of bespoke smartphone apps and websites. In theory Innovative but actually much of this is established – although BatMobile is an exception – as was never really good enough to launch. And public engagement is central to what we do, and from that naturally comes much of our engagement with media.
We spend a lot of time and money on design and usability, because if they aren’t easy to use and appealling then participants won’t use them or use them again. The apps are for contribution, the website is for looking at the data – that’s more of an unprovoked engagement…
So the content on media on communications is this bit, which I’m calling “Smurfs… and the wrong kind of conkers”.
So I thought about why we want media coverage in the first place? It’s obvious but it matters… And these are selfish through to altruistic…
We want this to get the project (and us) noticed – we want to share what we do, and to get the project out there (important for a business too). You want to engage an army of volunteers – you can’t have citizen science without citizen scientists, you need people engaged. You want to attract more funding – crucial in a university context. Success metrics – which include impact – we are measured on how many people took part, engaged etc. and as researchers we are also measured on media presence to an extent. But there is also the aspect of personal satisfaction, and that matters.
On a more altruistic basis is increase knowledge of a concept or problem – we’ve really had that feedback on our invasive plant species work. Citizen science is increasingly about finding solutions to problems – there are all sorts of things like examination of proteins being gamified, so participants contribute regardless of knowledge. We also want to inspire interest, perhaps even the next generation of researchers – we are all passionate about what we do, and want to share that…
But the crux of the matter is that media isn’t always as important in the ways you’d expect.
If your project isn’t ready, the media coverage will be a real pain. There is a project called Ash Town done more of less as a media stunt… The organisation using the data wasn’t ready, the data wasn’t ready… and they had a backlog of verification and that disillusioned participants… The feedback loop wasn’t there but they had to take advantage of that moment. So I tend to be quite conservative about when I share projects, I want them ready.
Quite a few of our projects have had mass media interest and that can be brilliant but they cause a big spike and are largely unfocused… Normally you want a focused set of interested participants. It can be helpful but long term it’s less clear how it is helpful for finding those participants. By contrast micro media and focused marketsing and events, such as conferences, lead to better engagement – and the data from targeted audiences tends to be much better. For example there was a big issue of giant hog weed in the media this summer – we had more records than ever before… but 80% of that data was incorrect. Normally the data in Plant Tracker is 90% accurate. That was due to lots of people finding out about giant hog weed and recording lots of false positive. NOt neccassarily a problem, but an issue for data centric projects.
So we find drip feeding/organic networking works best for us. But as they say “Any publicity is good publicity?”… Maybe…. Mostly we’ve had good coverage,
To use a fishing analogy I see the mass media as ground bating – causing a general feeding frenzy, but then you have to think about how you are baiting your hook to make use of this… So it’s all about how you follow up…
So, with our first app, Leaf Watch, we had loads of media coverage. This project was small scale before with maybe 500 records a year, without the photos or georeference. So we set up a smartphone app with that sort of data for verification interested… And we had 5000 records… But also a lot of noise… 3 bottom pictures, and worse… even a smurf!
So, how to attract publicity… Again, I’m no expert… Often it’s about finding an interesting story to tell that has relevance at this point in time – is there a hook to draw people in, trigger their imagination. For the Uni of Bristol it was often our Public Relations Office that often got us the gig. Me, on my own using my Twitter feed, is going to get the Times interested… So utilise your existing resources in your organisation, they have some great powerful contacts etc. to call on. And I have a colleague who does a good job of researching likely journalists and contacting them directly…
Really much of this feels random, but it’s about a lot of events coming together, and stuff in the outside world… Looking for those opportunities to tell your story to an audience that’s ready to listen… (And do get in touch).
Engaging the Media – Ally Tibbett, STV
I work at STV, and have a background in community projects and volunteering activities. I currently work at STV, also setting up a fledgling news site.
So I wanted to set the context of engaging with media… ANd I wanted to set the scene. Many newspapers are losing 10% circulation, broadcast TV are doing better, but still online transition. But most media company websites are booming – our STV pages collectively reach a few million people a day. So still a lot of reason to get word out there. And it’s worth planning that as you do your citizen science project. You need to think about where you will find the people you do want to engage with. More and more people get their news via social media. Many read news via mobile device. It’s getting more visual with vides, images, infographics. Big interactive graphics are great, but hard to scale to a phone so many media companies keep it simple..
So I’ve tried to set this up as a timeline… How you might engage the media… Before your project. When recruiting participants – who do you want to reach, is it a specific geography? Age greoup? demographic? that should influence both the scial media platfors and media companies you use. What is the benefit for participants? What is the long term goal. Is ther ean interesting back story – and what change will it bring about. And plan out a communication calendar – can you hook into, e.g. International Authors day. Editors are always looking for a new angle on events, or a local angle on a national news story. And even if that doesn’t fit your timing it can be helpful. The other thing to think about is what digital assets can you share/produce. A press release is nice, but a press release with bangs and whistle, with infographics or images etc. That is brilliant – helps journalists know why they should engage now. It’s about the infotainment, not just the data. And it could be as simple as a slideshow, or animated gifs, or data we could map. Thinking about citizen science projects I’ve already worked on, I thought of a project on happiness on different neighbourhoods – we persuaded them to share some data. If you do want help producing maps etc, then there are skilled journalists who can help. We’ll need a Shapefile. And we need that data to be open to support more open interactive stuff…
So, assuming you had a nice launch and a little publicity boost… How do you engage dring th eproject? Well citizen engagement can be more than just research – can they promote project fro you on social media. You need a #hashtga to generate social media buss and help you collate conversation. Can you give progress reports to journalists who covered the launch and those you hope will cover final results. And building that buzz from the outset, can mean there is a story, and help show th eimpact of your prokect. Also, thnk about things that cannot be shared – could be copyright or child protection etc. issues. And as you aggregate content around the hashtag and curate the best, remove anything with an issue. Tools like STorify let you do this.
From my point of view one of the best ways to engage the press is when there is a result, a discovery… The media thrives on a wee bit of controversy etc. So Neive Short from CRESH at Edinburgh looks at mapping alchohol etc. and social issues – she is a campaigning academic, taking her studies to policy makers, and that, for instance, is always of interest. So air quality or air pollution crowd sourcing project would certainly have some of those qualities, those cases to engage policy makers. Too often we get press releases about “we did a study… we might be able to do something in the future…” but we need a concrete story really…
A note on press releases… They are fundamentally quite useful. Do send them out. Keep them short. Include multiple short quotes. have a clear top line, be clear about what you’ve done. Comes with a variety of visuals in different formats – landscape, portrait, infographics, animated films etc. And supplying images in multiple formets – making our job to package it easier – makes a big difference. Is the story important enough for us to send someone out to take new images? Maybe not. BUt actually don’t send 6MBs of materials is not good – so send a press release linking to resources.
So, journalists. Do send releases etc to a generic news email addresses. Use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to find journalists with an interest in your subject, message them direct. Provide advance warning, reminders, photo and filming opportunities. Don’t do it at the weekend – no TV will come. Do it at a lunchtime on a weekday… PRactical stuff. If no one shows up, don’t worry about it, do send them pictures etc. And if there is one place that you really really want to be featured in, offer it as an exclusive and see it works. Obviously I’d like that to be me… BUt that’s something useful to hold back ni that way…
And, lastly, humour works. If you can find something daft, and can present it in a funny way… Our story “What if Back to the Future was set in Glasgow” is the second most ready story on our website having gone up yesterday. Most read story in the last year on STV was a very tall man who using the bathroom had a hand dryer calamity – that did great and almost made the front page of Reddit. We can be too serious… Be fun. Share the 15 things that happened in this project that were most funny, say…Â Humour works.
And with that we turned to some really interesting questions and discussion – huge thanks to all who came along and took part in this.
Whilst he was in Edinburgh for this event Dave Kilbey was also able to give an interview for the CSCS Network website, which you can watch there, or in the embed below:
Huge thanks to Dave and Ally for making the time to come along and speak to the CSCS network who I know really appreciated their presentations and sharing of experience. Huge thanks too to the lovely CSCS network team for providing a space for this event and support for our speakers and their travel.Â
All of this week, whilst I am mainly working on Managing Your Digital Footprint research work, there is a summer school taking place at the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics on Security and Privacy with several talks on social media. This afternoon I’ll be blogging one of these: “Policing and Social Media Surveillance : Should We Have any Privacy in Public?â€� from the wonderful Professor Lillian Edwards from University of Strathclyde and Deputy Director, CREATe.
This afternoon I am attending a talk on the Privacy of Online Social Networks which has been arranged by the Social Network Analysis in Scotland Group (SNAS) and is taking place at the University of Edinburgh. The speakers are Jordi Herrera-Joancomarti, Cristina Perez-sola, and Jordi Casas-Roma, all from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB). I’ll be taking notes throughout, although I think that the talk is also being recorded so may be available later.
Excitement mounts as the world awaits the opening of the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London on 27 July 2012. This is the third time the Games will have taken place in London; the first being in 1908 when the White City Stadium was built at short notice to accommodate them.
Originally these Games were to have been held in Rome but, following the eruption of Vesuvius in 1906, funds were diverted for the rebuilding of Naples and so their location was changed to a non-volcanic London.
White City 1908 : Exploring 20th Century London (via Culture Grid)
Forty years later the 1948 Summer Olympics were also held in London. Post-war rationing was still in force although athletes were allowed over twice the calorific intake of an adult in order to give them enough energy to compete. Watch this clip of the stirring opening ceremony which must have raised the spirits of those living through such austere times.
Britain 1948 – The Olympic Games : Gaumont British News 02-08-1948
Souvenir Guide Book 1948 Olympic Games: Exploring 20th Century London (via Culture Grid)
Sixty four years later, the Games are to revisit London. The intervening period has brought about great changes in the way the Games are run and how we view them. Since the Munich massacre in 1972 there has been increased concern the Games could be used to stage political acts of terrorism. Security will be a huge issue for the London 2012.
In the following clip from ‘News at Ten’ Mark Spitz talks about his own experience, as an athlete and potential hostage target, at the Munich Games during the hostage crisis.
Mark Spitz Interview: News at Ten 05-09-1972
Political changes within Europe have also had a big impact on the Games. As the dominance of the Soviet bloc came to an end, so did their former powerful prescence at the Olympics. There would now be new national teams from each of the former Communist states. The following clip also looks at how the Communist regime trained potential athletes through a system of select schools for children showing outstanding abilitiy in sports.
Olympic team after break-up of the Soviet Union : AP Archive 17-07-1992
Rapid advances in information technology mean more people can watch the Olympics than ever before. A new satellite was ordered by China Satcom to provide live television coverage for the Bejing Games in 2008.
Satellite launched for Olympic TV broadcasts: Getty (still images) 9-06-2008
Growing television audiences provide new markets for branded products. The Olympic brand for London 2012 is being protected by tough legislation to restrict its use to official sponsors who have paid enormous sums for exclusive rights.
The following clip, which looks at how Olympic sponsors tapped into the growing consumer economy of China, explains ‘…..it’s not just the athletes who are taking home the gold’
Global brands make grab for Olympic gold : Getty (moving images) 19-03-2008
There are also controversial new rules governing the use of social media during London 2012. This includes banning athletes from posting video clips from the Olympic village or tweeting ‘in the role of a journalist’.
Ticket holders may not broadcast video or sound recordings or post pictures to Facebook from any events they attend. Should the use of social media be policed during the Games and whose interests are being protected? London 2012 may prove interesting for more than displays of athletic prowess alone.
Don’t forget to let us know what you think about any of these issues.