[employment: phd in digital literacy practises of immigrant youth]

The digital literacy practices of immigrant youth for the formation of identity and learning networks (0.9 fte)

This project is focused on the analysis of the everyday digital literacy practices of Moroccan immigrant youth.While the past several years have seen an increasing amount of research on the digital literacy practices of youth, within and well beyond theNetherlands, relatively little of this work to date has focused on immigrant youth and their productions and interpretations of social media (e.g. weblogs, Hyves, YouTube, texting, Twitter, gaming). This project will provide a unique contribution to the field by developing ethnographic studies of youth as they use social media and integrate it into their everyday lives in the Netherlands.

We are particularly interested in how digital literacy practices are used to produce identities and learning networks. What are the shapes and scales of new media networks for Moroccan immigrant youth? How are these new networks changing, and how are they related to social networks with longer histories (e.g., extended family, community)? How do networks formed through practices with social media support the development of local, national, and transnational identities? How do such networks also structure new social spaces for learning?

These questions are addressed in this project through ethnographic research that will be augmented with other research methods, including social network analysis and survey data.


[swarm theory and social media]

I'm in the final stages of editing a selection of articles to appear in an upcoming journal issue and one of the articles deals with swarm theory. Many readers here would recognise Howard Rhiengold's Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution or perhaps Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang who coined the term in 1989 (see the *trusty* resource wikipedia).

More recently there's the famous National Geographic article on swarm theory: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/07/swarms/miller-text/1 which does an excellent job (exciting and informational) of explaining the science behind swarms. Enter left stage, the ants:

"I used to think ants knew what they were doing. The ones marching across my kitchen counter looked so confident, I just figured they had a plan, knew where they were going and what needed to be done. How else could ants organize highways, build elaborate nests, stage epic raids, and do all the other things ants do?

Turns out I was wrong. Ants aren't clever little engineers, architects, or warriors after all—at least not as individuals. When it comes to deciding what to do next, most ants don't have a clue. "If you watch an ant try to accomplish something, you'll be impressed by how inept it is," says Deborah M. Gordon, a biologist at Stanford University.

How do we explain, then, the success of Earth's 12,000 or so known ant species? They must have learned something in 140 million years.

"Ants aren't smart," Gordon says. "Ant colonies are." A colony can solve problems unthinkable for individual ants, such as finding the shortest path to the best food source, allocating workers to different tasks, or defending a territory from neighbors. As individuals, ants might be tiny dummies, but as colonies they respond quickly and effectively to their environment. They do it with something called swarm intelligence."

And that, in a nutshell, is collective intelligence and why crowd sourcing can be beneficial (knowing the right questions to ask helps too) and why tools like twitter are great resources for getting tips (maybe even on finding the shortest path to food).

As the National Geographic writer, Peter Miller, says of the ant colony the same can be said for social media: "no one's in charge."


[employment: professorships in digital media and design]

The IT University of Copenhagen has just advertised a super position for those working with digital media and communications or interaction design to start in Jan. 2010.

"The program covers two main areas: Media and Communication and Interaction Design. Successful candidates should be competent in one of the two areas and must be enthusiastic about:
• conducting research at the highest international level
• developing and conducting excellent and inspiring graduate and under-graduate teaching
• actively taking part in developing the IT University and its relations with external partners
Furthermore, faculty on associate professor level are expected to draw in external funding for research and be capable of, and prepared to supervise Ph.D. Students.

Applicants in the area of Media and Communication should be competent in a broad selection of topics from the area of digital media and communication, including humanistic, social and cultural aspects of digital technologies. A disciplinary background in the humanities, communication or social sciences is preferred, although others are not excluded if the candidate can document work within the area.
Topics of interest are: digital communication (Internet/mobile), academic communication and writing, digital media theory, digital rhetoric, methodologies in the study of communication, strategic communication, cultural and sociological approaches to the study of digital media, digital culture and cultural policy, digital literature, digital aesthetics, art and design, historical perspectives on digital media and design, and visual communication. Moreover, it will be an asset if the applicant engages in creative digital practice.

Applicants in the area of Interaction Design should be competent in a broad selection of topics from the area. Topics of interest are: methodologies, methods and techniques for interaction design, contextualized philosophy of science and historical aspects of digital design, techniques and tools for sketching, modeling and prototyping, ethnographic approaches to design, methods for user-driven design, digital aesthetics, pervasive computing, location-based services and gaze interaction."

Submit applications to:

The IT University of Copenhagen
Att. Journalen
Rued Langgaards Vej 7
2300 Copenhagen S


Read more about the application process and what you need to include here.


[cfp: born digital]

Educational Insights (an online journal mostly focused on education) has a call for papers out. Due date for abstracts is 15 of June:

Teresa Dobson, Academic Editor | Michael Boyce, Managing Editor

Born Digital (Contemporary Art and Education)

"Over the last 20 years a new generation of art and literature born as electronic, or borne within distributive digital channels, has developed in tandem with new ways of defining, measuring and decoding them (i.e. reading), and along side new delivery mechanisms for pedagogical methods and practices. Born Digital wishes to explore these new artifacts and their new distributive form in the context of pedagogy and artistic practice.

A wide range of new forms wherein narrative is restructuring and redefining itself are of interest: Blog novels; E-literature; Narrative within locative applications such as google maps and geo-tagging with GPS; RSS poetics; Narrative in the context of mobile games and social media applications such as youtube, flickr and facebook. Likewise, consideration and analysis of the digital artifacts born out these mediums is a concern to us.

We are interested playing with the concept of being Born Digital, taking into account multiple meanings of Born, including: Existing as a result of birth; Having a natural or perfectly suited ability; Existing as a result of a particular situation or feeling; And keeping in mind its homonym Borne, to play with a notion of transport, of delivery, of support and endurance.

Generally, we support submissions using an original approach, which avoid excessive commentary on any canon, and we encourage efforts to express the matter within the structure of the medium itself. That being said, we expect rigorously critical investigation within the parameters of any play.

Please submit your précis by June 15, 2009 to educational.insights@ubc.ca

For more information : born digital"


[critical digital literacy]

I believe that access to technology (digital or otherwise) is not synonomous with literacy. Via Doug Belshaw I find a resonance in a passage from Allan Martin’s Digital Literacy and the “Digital Society” in Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. The notion of identity (biography) as a constructing and reconstructive practise plays alongside notions of digital literacy.

Society is being transformed by the passage from the “solid” to the “liquid” phases of modernity, in which all social forms melt faster than new ones can be cast. They are not given enough time to solidify and cannot serve as the frame of reference for human actions and long-term life-strategies because their allegedly short life expectation undermines efforts to develop a strategy that would require the consistent fulfillment of a “life-project.” (Bauman, 205, p.303)

For those who do not belong to the global elite, life has become an individual struggle for meaning and livelihood in a world that has lost its predictability… Consumption has become the only reality, the main topic of TV and of conversation, and the focus of leisure activity. The modes of consumption become badges of order, so that to wear a football strip of a certain team (themselves now multinational concerns) or a logo of a multinational company become temporary guarantors of safety and normality.

In this society, the construction of individual identity has become the fundamental social act. The taken-for-granted structures of modern (i.e., industrial) society - the nation state, institutionalized religion, social class - have become weaker and fuzzier as providers of meaning and, to that extent, of predictability. Even the family has become more atomized and short term. Under such conditions individual identity becomes the major life-project. You have to choose the pieces (from those available to you) rather than having them (largely) chosen for you. In this context, awareness of the self assumes new importance, reflexivity is a condition of life; a life that needs to be constantly active and constantly re-created. And care is needed, because each individual is responsible for their own biography. Risk and uncertainty have become endemic features of the personal biography, and individual risk-management action is thus an essential element of social action (Beck, 1992, 2001). The community can be no longer regarded as a given that confers aspects of identity, and the building of involvement in communities has become a conscious action-forming part of the construction of individual identity. Individualization has positive as well as negative aspects: the freedom to make one’s own biography has never been greater, a theme frequently repeated in the media. But the structures of society continue to distribute the choices available very unequally, and the price of failure is greater since social support is now offered only equivocally."


[welcome to scoopville: social media basics]

Social media: describe, rate, comment and connect: key ideas of social media. New opportunities to create and care

Watch the video:


[phd training session: digital literacy & creativity]

A full-day for the AHRC funded
CEDAR (Collaborative Digital Research in the Humanities), organised by the Universities of Bangor (Dr Astrid Ensslin) and Aberystwyth (Dr Will Slocombe).

As I've noted before, I'll be talking about academic blogging and the digital literacy (a favourite topic of mine).

For the students participating, feel free to add comments as directed in the presentation.

Please comment on the idea of reading and writing as “an invisible skill” (see Sue Thomas's video, 16:00) and whether you find the Stroop test challenging or not and why.

Literacy + Technology + Creativity = Digital Literacy in the 21st Century

Important that these elements are seen as interdependent

Read The Whale Hunt here: http://thewhalehunt.org

UPDATE: Keno Buss and Sascha Westendorf have joined us for a bit about their project and some hands-on experience with the De Montfort Creativity Assistant.


[academic blogging: why I do]

I'm working on a couple of presentations I'll be doing on Saturday as part of Dr Astrid Ensslin's AHRC-funded Ph.d training sessions. This will be the third session of six. I'll be giving a talk on academic blogging and then on digital literacy and creativity (I'll be showing a bit of Sue Thomas' talk on transliteracy too).

I'm often asked why I blog and aren't I worried about giving away too much of my research. Good questions but simply, no. I'm not worried. Blogging here is like my online business card. It always makes me wonder when people (especially academics) don't appear on google...why not? It's also about participating. A great example for me is a year ago I blogged about new media literacy and my feeling that the terminology "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" wasn't quite right...resulted in some greatconversations almost exactly a year later.

It's also about getting help. Just look at how Christy Dena shared with me some excellent transdisciplinary resources. And my post garnered a comment from Basarab Nicolescu. And then I met him and attended some interesting seminars in Paris...in French. And soon Nicolsecu will be coming to the IOCT...pretty neat cycle.

Something else to read and participate in, the HASTAC Forum on Blogging and Tweeting in Academia.


[digital citizenship: the internet, society & participation]

Today I attended a presentation given by Karen Mossberger (Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago) on Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society and Participation. Overall the presentation was interesting however I don't think the data told us anything really new...but it certainly backs up what we already surmise. Poor people and African-Americans and Latinas/Latinos has less access to computers and the internet and this filters through to less participation in public life (voting was one of the examples). The definition of citizenship put forth was that by T. H. Marshall, basically you need to participate to be a full member of a community. Citizenship is also a "developing institution" according to Marshall. So how to develop citizenship through digital means...well, Mossberger didn't really talk much about this. She concentrated on providing statistics which empirically show the digital divide. It was pretty apalling. In this day and age (here I am, using a computer, on the 'net, blogging) there are people who are too poor, or without sufficient education which in the States seems to mean you're not white...the statistics were incredible. Of course there are poor white people but apparently they are not on the 'net because they're not interested in it. From Mossberger's research, African-Americans connected internet/computer literacy with better jobs etc....and the statistics back this up. The issue of broadband access also came up. Sure people can use computers (for a bit) at a local library etc...but interestingly enough there are certain neighbourhoods where there is no DSL access (i.e. no affordable access) to the internet...only cable. That's another deterrent. I would have been interested to know what the statistics *really* meant in terms of "going online." Was it for checking bus times? What about banking online and using SNS? Mossberger at the end suggested it was more for *entertainment* purposes....but I guess what we're looking at here is not just issues of access (of course) but issues of literacy. *How* to properly navigate that content/information. Mossberger's latest project, results to be publishes as we speak, looks at Chicago neighbourhoods and notes the use of internet. I wonder what that will show. Two things aside from the presentation that I would like to share here.
  1. There were 18 people at the presentation today. 16 in the audience (then the speaker and the introducer). Out of the 18 people 7 were women. All were white.
  2. Mossberger made this comment at the end re: twitter: "I don't care what movie you saw lastnight. I don't have time for this." Actually, I think twitter (like mobile 'phones, especially if we're talking about financial cost) has it's uses. Just look at how the knowledge of swine flu is spreading/trending via twitter....
Of interest to those working with participation policies, internet access, excluded groups or web 2.0 in general, check out Mez's great article at Futherfield: The Sound of Reality Lag: Versionals are the New Black. See also Mark Pesce's post on Digital Citizenship (scroll down for a comment by Mez).


[how to reference web content]

The following useful post explains how to find the *original* date something was posted to a web site. Very useful for those referencing online content:

"There are basically three different dates associated with any "public" web page that’s available on the Internet:

1. The publication date - this is the date when a web page or a website is first uploaded on to a public web server so that human beings and search spiders can find and read that page.

2. The discovery date - this is the date when search engine spiders first discover a web page on the Internet. Given the fact that Google has become so good at crawling fresh content, the date of first-crawl can be the same as the actual publication date (#1).

3. The cache date - this is the date when a web page was last crawled by the search bot. While webmasters can use XML sitemaps to hint search engines that a page on the site has changed, search bots are free to ignore that advice and therefore the cache date may or may not be the same as the last modified date.

To give you an example, the publication date of this article is February 25, 2008 (it’s mentioned on the web-page), the discovery date (when Google first crawled that page) is also Feb 25, 2008 but the cache date, or the day when Googlebot last crawled that page, is April 20, 3009.

Know The Publishing Date of Web Pages

Now in the above case, the author has himself indicated the publishing date of the web page but in situations where the date is not specified (or you think the mentioned date in incorrect), here’s a simple hack to help you know when a web page or web domain was last published on the Internet.

Step 1. Go to google.com and copy-paste the full URL of the web page in the search box along with the inurl: operator (e.g. inurl:www.example.com). Hit enter.


Step 2. Now go to browser address bar (Ctrl+L in Firefox or Alt+D in Internet Explorer) and copy-paste "&as_qdr=y15" at the end of the Google search URL. Hint enter again.


Step 3. Google will load the results again and this time, you’ll see the actual publication date of the web page next to the title in Google search results as in this screenshot.

google publish date

Video Screencast: Know when a web page was published

Using the same trick, Google tells us that the MySpace.com domain appeared in Google around 31 March 2002, Orkut on 12 Jan 2004 while Barack Obama created his Twitter account on 05 March 2007. The first publication date for Yahoo.com, Whitehouse.gov, CNN.com, Microsoft and other very old domains is mentioned as 31 Jan 2001 which is incorrect but that probably is a bug because Google’s crawler database does include pages prior to that date like this one.

These site publication dates may not be 100% accurate in all cases but they should be very close especially for new web pages and domains.

See some more tools to know everything about a website."

This article is from the Digital Inspiration site run by Amit Agarwal.


[meg and sam come for mayday!]

Niece and nephew, Meg and Sam Pawley, came to visit us for Mayday celebrations in our village! Aside from the amazing procession and pub burgers we had lots of fun running around, climbing trees, playing Frisbee and climbing the stairs!

And yeah, I'll probably be one of *those* mums who takes pictures of everything....