Monday, 1 December 2008

Barbara Ganley and slow blogging

First heard about Barbara Ganley a few years ago when I was invited to, but could not make, an edublogger event in London. Occasionally you get invited to these things and cannot bear that you did not go as the write ups make it seem that if you were not there, then you missed a crucial heartbeat. Lucvkily she is now into slowblogging and so we may be able to catch her up. Slowblogging is like slow food (the opposoite of McDonald's I suppose).

At a time when I am wondering whether I should take a new direction in what I am doing or how I am doing it (my fiftieth birthday has pre-occuppied my mind in the same way as my tenth and my 18th(!) seeming more important than the others), I discover that at age 51 she has given up her job in academia and gone it alone.

It seems though that she is getting it together as there is this call for papers (California - very nice) which seems like a very good proposition to me. - all part of her venture into Centers for Community Digital Learning.

Anyway here is Downes citing some edubloggers he likes:

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Why No WiFi?

So why is it that our swanky hotel charges a drastic fifteen quid (approx $25 US) to access the Internet using an ethernet cable and that we can get online down the road in the Film House for no charge at all?

Is the ability to find reasonable Internet access (wifi) part of a new cultural capital. geekiness has its real dividends as we sit here booking cinema tickets and arranging which exhibitions we will see; looking at Google maps for quick rouites and photogenic spots.

We are the new frugalistas. Just like our Mums and Dads, counting the pennies, but keeping our hands in our 501s as we go. As ever we sport an ironic turn of phrase and chant to each other in unison "There is only Art, my love".

Monday, 24 November 2008

Gender Bender ...and other gizmos

Interesting piece of software ... something that uses Artificial Intelligence to determine the gender of a blogger...

I put my url in the site here and it turns out that my blog is determined as having a male author.
Well I was surprised. It is clear they just do it on language then - I suppose I don't use the word handbag enough.

Something that made me laugh this week was the 'Why don't you look that up on Google' meme. The idea is that you send this link to people who persistently ask you questions that they could easily look up themselves on Google. The solution does not necessarily keep you on speaking terms with the person - but it made me laugh anyway.

Check it out here on 'let me google that for you'.
I got that link from Paul who is the fabbest person you could ever ask to work with.

Finally what a relief to know that 'Teenagers' Internet socialising is not a bad thing.'

But what about the over fifties? Am worried sick. Actually though ... why do people assume that the young are most vulnerable to addictive behaviours and so on? The evidence is, on the contrary, that adults behave extremely addictively sometimes, it is not something just to do with youth.

Can't remember if I have ever blogged Charlieissocoollike. But if I have, here he is again:

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Demonisation of children

Barnardo's has issued a video in defence of the young - against comments that position the young as problematic and transgressive:

This comes at the same time as the continued moral outrage about 'Baby P' lines the newsagents' shelves and pours constantly out of tv and radio news. Here the outrage is against social services and other agencies.

Children are alternately positioned as victims and as perpetrators of irresponsible acts.

So which is it?

This is a blog post trying to speak out against the lack of subtelty of media discourses where there seem only to be goodies and baddies.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Just thinking about yearbooking myself.

Aside from the clear detrimental effects the Inmternet is having on our language, the Internet is also having a disgraceful effect on us getting all above ourselves and hoity toity.

Now the yearbook I think is a lovely example of new technologies giving a new twist to the old -
there are amany examples of the 'book' online - such as some sites quaintly ask 'visitors' to sign the 'guestbook' and so on - and a great many ask us to sign in - and then out - as we leave. (and don't forget we still insist on referring to web pages.)

But I digress.
What I am talking about today (if I can only keep on topic) is the way we are constantly invited to DISPLAY ourselves in so many ways.

And don't we just love it ... filling in those facebook profiles, (you can even pay for help)uploading dozens of images laying a trail of our online self all over the digital web.

Thus we have sites and pages on eBay - with a profile pof our buying and selling; we can have a YouTube profile and a space to customise; we have our fabulous blogs and Flickr streams blah blah blah.

I am thinking about how we have these cubby holes, these HUBS, which store our digital selves and we lay threads frpom them, reaching out to other spaces. There is this idea I am playing around with that is about writing and multimpodal text making where we develop an online self - the self as textually constituted - that pays homage to our off line life and each infleunces the other. Jill Walker writes about 'distributed narratives' and this is an idea to which I keep returning - and I am thinking now about distributed identities - that we produce through text.

But hey look at this - this is a grand way of the Internet playing with identity.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Be wary of leaning on your laptop!!

This evening as I was answering comments on my last blogpost I heard a voice saying 'who is that? and 'Who is there?'
I could not work out where the voice was coming from but then realised I had leant, without noticing, on my pc mouse. This meant that I was accidentally talking to Mrs Cassidy in Canada -.
WoW!!!! The Mrs Cathy Cassidy.

I wonder when I won't get excited about stuff like that? Will I ever take these technologies for granted? Part of me never wants to just get accustomed to it all. I want to always feel the magic of an event where I can be at home on my sofa, and talking to a teacher in her school in Canada. I don't want to think of it as ordinary or mundane. I think it is fabulous!

Mrs Cassidy's blog is just fantastic - as are her students of course who must be amongst the luckiest kids ever!! It seems that the yackpack gets used quite a lot by people, check out this post.

Check out yesterday's video:

But the thing I really love about Mrs C's latest finds is pictaps.

If you are interested you can put a walkie talkie channel on YOUR blog too .. how about it?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

iDentity, iText

A few years ago someone said that I had no way of knowing that Riverbend was a real person - that she could be lying about her identity.
This same person also suggested that I could not authenticate tommigoodwin who had been keeping a blog Senitel 47.

At the time I was fed up to be doubted like this - to have it suggested that Iwas being duped. But in retrospect I see this was an understandable suspivcion from someone who did not spend much time online - and it made me work out how Iknew that these bloggers were not 'fake' - whatever that might mean.

I realised that I had undergone a subconscious checking prodecure - just as I might in other areas of my life - just as when I meet someone new face top face - . In face to face situations I am not naturally suspicious of people but I guess obver time you learn how to pick up inconsistencies and can then spot someone who does not seem quite who they say they are - the person they say they are is not the same as you see enacted. Goffman writes about this as 'telling' signs - you can articulate one thing but your behaviour tells another.

What I find interesting is the way we want always to move beyond the text onscreen, back out to the lived life beyond the virtual world. When I was studying English Lit many years ago, I was atold always to keep to the text. To analyse just the text and not worry about the author's life. This is now an unfashionable approach I believe - I think now that in English Lit they learn that context of the writer is part of the meaning of the text.

And so too I suppose onscreen. We have to take into account the context of the writer.

Thus we tell people in our profiles where we live and who we are . People read this stuff and are angered when it is not true.

Just thinking aloud today - for once in months.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Stuff that is banned becomes unbanned on YouTube. Am researching for the writing of a chapter about YoTube for the book Guy and I are putting together on 'Web 2.0 for Schools' - (for this series.)

have used the search term 'banned cartoons' and fascinated to discover this Betty Boop cartoon:

Obviously banned for its racist content. Interesting also is the discussion that follows in the comments section.

More disturbing was the discussion which followed a news report about a banned diversity training video... this is a more recent film which was supposed to be used as a staff development/ awareness raising piece. However people complained about the assumptions that white, 'blue collar workers' are more likely to be racist than black or hispanics. The discussion that ensues on YouTube is quickly taken over by white supremists. Following links from their discussions quickly took me down avenues too dark to paste into my blog. Gut wrenching stuff. Anyhow this is the original news report:

Certainly all sorts of issues here to consider in terms of using YouTube in schools - I would not feel confident that I could deal with the possible outpourings that some of the videos and comments that YouTube might incite from my students. There are important issues to consider about how to introduce YouTube and how to guide students' use of the site so that they come to a critical reading of some of the hateful material there.

And I have to admit, this kind of stuff forces one to take a moral position - something I find a real challenge. I like to think that as a teacher I don't dictate to kids what to think but give them the resources to think about and to think with and then let them go. But actually when push comes to shove, I would have to take a clear ant racist and anti sexist stance - and I am not sure what this looks like without either allowing some of these views to be voiced in my classroom (and all that implies) or without banning this stuff. Hmmm.

And finally ... maybe Ihave a lot to learn from sites like this which Rosa told me about.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

All spaced out

This font conference is marvellous....

Does it count as new literacies if fonts come to life and interact with each other?
And another thing ... when did we ever before word processors, know the names of more than twenty fonts? Or of any fonts? And when did the word 'font' become so commonplace? Huh? Hh? Not so stupid now, are we? We know new stuff.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


It is not just about different languages. Sometimes it is idiom.
Occasionally I have no idea what a New Yorker is saying to me and they have less of a clue about me.

It is a question of what you expect the other to say in a particular situation - like 'on the right' was not understood by our cab (taxi) drtiver, who was listening for 'take a right' - and we referred to a flat when we should have said 'apartment'. All this stuff makes a huge difference as to whether you have to turn the car round and change direction...

Waiting for a tube ("subway") in London we have to 'Mind the Gap'. In NYC we "stepaside".


Mind The Gap

I love how technology allows us to put these items side by side.

Friday, 25 July 2008

It's been a while...

but hey, I have been busy.

Thank Goodness I have a short break now before the new academic year. (Although Guy and I do need to finish that book (2009, we hope) Web 2.0 for Schools: Learning and Social Participation for this series before end of August ... but it's coming along ...)

This last few weeks I have been to this conference hosted by UKLA - did a keynote with Guy that links into our new book (did I mention that?)

And then moved on to Mississauga, near Toronto where I did a summer school with Guy, Colin and Michele. That was fun. here is the slideshow of my keynote on the interface between Flickr and Streetart (and stuff).

Am now in New Jersey, having a fabulous time meeting Flickr Friends and partying.

Been looking at streetart as usual:

Swoon - not just a state of mind

had our first ever facebook party. Met so many interesting people.

(Thanks to TT for image.)

Friday, 13 June 2008

ScreenCast: 1, YouTube: 0

Oh dear. I had one of those days where technology got the better of me. I spent the ENTIRE day trying to send a Keynote presentation to YouTube.
I managed to get it on there with NO SOUND, but apart from that: NOTHING.

So, despondent and deflated was I that TT suggested I use JING.

What a good idea.

I just ran the presentation and recorded it on the screen and uploaded it to Screencast.

Five minutes, job done.

Marvellous little package is JING. And so too Screencast. All free. All easy.

Now... go tell your friends about the OnlineMA. in New Literacies:

Thursday, 29 May 2008

street art stuff

Really love this little people streetart project which Tim told me about. (Thanks Tim).

I am putting together an article about the convergence of streetart and new technologies for the Visual Culture journal. Last week I presented in Manchester on this called: Location Location Location: streetart and online spaces - a traveller's tale.
So I am really enjoying the Channel 4 shorts at the moment on streeart:

Am going to London at the weekend and will do this tour and hope to look at the exhibition. SO EXCITING!!!!

Friday, 16 May 2008

DCSF on Youtube

I didn't realise that the government had videos on Youtube ....

here is the launch of the Byron report :

and here is something from the outtake genre of video ...

funny what you come across when you aren't trying.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

vegetables as instrments

Obviously, we all know vegetables are good for you:

(OMG do not make the mistake of viewing the WHOLE of this video...)

This is perhaps a new take on the 'five a day' rule:

As you are aware, vegetables are great for your health, but it turns out they have a great number of other uses too. Plenty more where this came from:

I wrote before a bit about memes here and here and here. Just wondering if the whole veggies as musical instrument is also a meme.

I am pretty sure that the 'How to ...' format is a meme of some kind... which THE PERKLETS have heroically joined in with.

I think that the term meme is a term to be used to describe a social phenomenon but is NOT something that determines what should happen. That is to say I think a true meme evolves through and across groups, but f it is kind of DIRECTED, it does not seem like a true meme to me As in this example here.

Or am I being too purist about this? If you want to row about this check out this

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

How Not to

... After exploring 'How to ' genre videos on YouTube and VideoJug, I could not resist sharing this wonderful promotional video, from a couple of people who make family videos for others:

there is certainly something to be learned from this ... which is about how many of the videos on websites reflect that we know a lot about self presentation, about how to engage the audience,a nd about what works on film. (There is nothing like watching other people's errors to make you realise what knowledge you have.)

For the umpteenth time yesterday I was part of a conversation where people were saying that it was terrible that there was so much rubbish 'out there'.

What is meant by this, is that on the Internet there is a lot of stuff that people do not want to read, see, watch, hear, etc. It means that there is a lot of stuff that they think is not good enough.

These opinions implies that for some, the Internet should have some kind of system that sets a minimum standard. Maybe that some people cannot participate or that each text has to be checked somewhere or somehow. I do not agree this is necessary. (I do agree that we should not have pornography or violent acts etc - dunno who judges these really though). I think these comments often come from those who use the Internet mainly for work and it is deemed to be a SERIOUS place. However for others it is the place where they play and really act in a way they cold not elsewhere. And for some it is a place where they do ALL these things.

I think anyway that we are all learning about how to judge sites. We are all finding sites that cater to our tastes and that these sites change over time (Flickr) and also that our interests tastes change as well. Why do we need to have the Internet ape printed publication rituals and values? I challenge the necessity for this and although I sometimes see sites I think are of low value for me, they are of value to others. The Internet represents a huge range of people, interests, desires, values and culture. I would not want to say who could hang out there or not.

So yeah. I am happy for the Yotubers of all shapes, sizes, denominations and stuff. Anyway. I like to research it.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

How to .....

Seems to me that so many people live their lives against a little commentary in their head.  (I am not talking schizophrenia here. I mean that little self presentational narrative .... no? OK...)
 I confess. 
When I cook I often pretend to be on the telly.
I do. 

I cut the veggies and cook the pasta and explain to my imaginary audience what I am doing. I offer top tips as I go, giving of course, a sexy little smile every now and then. (To many of my viewers this may seem like a nervous twitch or manic mannerism.
 Buy hey. 
Who can account for taste?

Some people go further. Not only do they do commentaries all the time.... but they also actually film themselves (probably doing several 'takes') make the videos,  and then  upload them to YouTube... or VideoJug (etc.).  Take for example, 'How to shave your legs': 

love the way  the video 'How to remove permanent maker (sic) from walls', actually begins with the person putting permanent marker (aka 'maker') on the wall.

Check out the first comment though ... 'Why am I watching this?'  (And at the time of writing over 1,200 people HAVE watched this). 

Well indeed you may well ask.  It is a good question.
Why are people watching this? (Of course a lot of people are NOT watching, I concede, but .... I think a lot of people tune in to LOADS of these ... and also comment.) 

I think  it must be something to do with knowing that we are not bonkers and that actually everyone is ordinary and has a lot less in common with Sarah Jessica Parker and all other 'celebrities' than they do with all the ordinary people filming themselves and living ordinary lives. I think it is something about affirming our place in the world and getting a sense of who we are and how we fit (or not) with the rest of the world. There is also something marvellous about the immediate publication and sharing process that is alluring. And to watch it is to reject the shiny and saccharine feel of polished and professional film. Maybe we are sick of it. 

Others of these 'How to'  videos are spoofs. Some of them are very funny, comedy type things and this one really makes me laugh... How to give a great man-to-man hug....

There is a genre that has been popular on UK TV for a long time now that has this very 'underproduced' feel to it ... but which in fact is carefully choreographed. YouTube is clearly, for some, the nursery slope for 'real' paid film work and people are wanting to get 'spotted' I reckon.  This one has more that 23, 500 views. 

Then of course there are the slightly competitive how to films ... this one is a scream, with someone demonstrating how fast he can fold his 'bike Friday'.  (Others in this genre include how to's on  Moonwalking, hula hooping, and such like. Well loads of stuff really.  The 'how to' is a great formula for a little video. )

I am actually quite scared that TT might be putting a video up soon... he is so proud of his little foldaway bike...
. here it is all lit up....


Friday, 18 April 2008

Random stuff on the net ...

such as:

the worst album covers ever

the cooking by numbers idea

the industrious counting machine

They are all great. I haven't used stumble upon or ages. But it was fun today.

But not as great as this:

they are the young (and gorgeous) relatives of a student on the MA in Educational Research which I teach in. They are fab. (This is the first in the 'How to' investigation.... watch out for more.)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Sheffield University Students Love YouTube

It is a year since the Information Commons opened at The University of Sheffield.

What better way of celebrating than viewing a YouTube video filmed in that luscious space...

The popularity of YoTube is immense and in a recent piece of research I found that this is the favourite website of 24/24 interviewees aged between 16 and 18 . What is the attraction ... well for the most part it is WATCHING videos and then talking about them on MySpace, Bebo or Facebook. It is a vital part of online conversation. Videos most watched are music videos ..' so you don't have to buy them' and 'funny videos' . they did tell me that they would love to make videos and upload and would like to learn how to do this in school....

Seems to me that just as on other social networking sites, people do stuff in order to upload to YouTube... not ust about recording stuffalready going on. Look at this bit of naughtiness as students trespass on the roof of the infamous Arts Tower.


Wednesday, 2 April 2008


This is not about New or Digital Literacies.

It is just a rant .... by way of a change.

Inspired by Karl bemoaning the attitudes of people on telephones.... he complains that despite changes in law about gay rights, attitudes of some people and organisations seem to lag behind.

I fancy having a moan about the phone call I had the other day:

Caller: Hello Can I speak to Claire Rosie please?

Me: Hi , Is that the Learning and Skills Council?

Caller: Yes. How did you know?

Me: because people from the LSC always call my daughter by that name. It’s not her name. It’s XXXX.

Caller: Oh I see. It’s XXXX? Is it? But we have Claire Rosie down here.

Me: Well I am afraid that’s not her name. It’s XXXX. Anyway I am afraid she is in bed asleep at the moment and so is unable to speak with you. Can you call after 4?

Caller: In bed? At this time?

Me: Yes That’s right. I am afraid she is unwell.

Caller: Well actually that is what I am concerned about.

Me: Oh really?

Caller: Yes I have unusual notes here saying that every time we ring someone says she is in bed. So I want to check what is going on.

Me: Yes, that’s right. Every time you ring she is in bed. I think it is me people usually speak to. I am afraid she is in bed as she is unwell. When people ring I usually suggest they call after 4 as she is usually resting until then.

Caller: Until 4 o clock? In bed? Really? Now? (Absolute Disbelief; consternation etc.) How can she always be in bed this late?

Me: Yes. That’s right. None of us are happy about it. But that is the way it is. She is in bed. She is ill. She has been ill for eleven years and we are not enjoying it. I am sorry it is inconveneient but this is the nature of her illness. We are not trying to trick you.

Caller: So you are trying to tell me she has been asleep for eleven years?? (Sarcastic. Incredulous. Calling me a liar type of voice).

Me: No I am not saying that. I am saying that she is in bed till late and I keep telling people from the LSC to ring after 4. The reason why you even know about her and have her name (wrongly) is that she is signed on to do an online course – which as it happens she has been too ill to complete.

Caller: Well when can we speak to her about the course?

Me: After 4 o clock. But hang on a minute. I think you are being unbelievably rude here. How dare you sarcastically say ‘ Has she been asleep for eleven years?’ You know she hasn’t. You know she is signed on for a course. Why are you speaking to me like this? Have you any idea how painful this conversation is? (Really flipping mad aty this point. Nearly crying as usual).

Caller: There is no need to take it the wrong way.

Me: I have not taken anything the wrong way. You have said the wrong thing and I have taken it the appropriate way. I have spotted that you are being rude and I am responding.

Caller: I am sorry you think I have been rude. You would not believe the people I have to deal with. I just need to know what is going on and I am sorry you have taken that wrongly.

Me: Etc blah blah …

You get the gist? This is what some (a very very few) people are like if they don't think your illness/disability is of the right kind.

maybe she should have read this:

a smile in action

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Unbearably good StreetArt

the loveliness of this idea as a piece of streetart by joshua allen harris... oh it is delicious....

(Thanks to the food of the future for this).
There is also this video which shows an hour in the life of a Banksy piece:

There is some doubt about the authenticity of the guy in this video ... and it's probably and April fool thing

Really loving the way these pieces spread round the web these days.

There's nothing like a good meme or a good piece of gossip.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Eleven GOOD Reasons not to ban social networking sites

I went to Lewisham yesterday and talked to Primary ICT co-ordinators about New Literacies, Social networking and the future ... I had enjoyed the weekend preparing for it ... putting together a list of sites and examples of wikis, blogs, and so on. The conference participants were really welcoming, enthusiastic and fab. I really enjoyed talking with them.

I gave examples of:

  1. - photosharing;
  2. Bubbleshare; - photosharing where you can add speechbubbles etc
  3. Voicethreads; - photosharing and you can add sound and text;
  4. Evoca; - podcasting;
  5. 21 Classes blogging software;
  6. Blogger - blogging software;
  7. You Tube - video sharing;
  8. Making the News - podcasting and more;
  9. Radiowaves - podcasting and more;

Well all seemed OK and at the break people talked to me about how they were going to try some of these ideas. Am excited at the thought that a few said they were interested in doing the online MA in New Literacies at Sheffield.

Then came the presentation from Kent Local Authority who talked about how they had totally banned all social-networking sites in every school in their region. (And Lest we forget ... Kent still has grammar schools and wotnot). They had distributed more than 100 thousand leaflets to parents which includes information on discouraging use of chat-rooms and social networking sites. The leaflets promoted the use of pcs for educational purposes only and suggested also that young people should not ever use computers unsupervised. Here is an example poster.
I feel OK about most of this but am unhappy about only going to websites that the teacher has set out or to never use chat is not really responsible in my view. We have to teach students how to independently research in a safe way.

This is the policy document.... here. Again a lot of good stuff but some areas where I think that they have used a hammer to crack a nut and I do hate the idea of banning things. (We once burnt books you know.)

This is all on the same day that the much awaited report from Dr Tanya Byron brought some similar approaches - with children constructed as totally manipulable, passive, uneducable dupes. The Guardian reports:

Byron, who shot to fame with the BBC series Little Angels, was asked by the prime minister, Gordon Brown, last year to complete the study. She will say the pace of the online revolution has left parents as "the internet immigrants" and children as "the internet natives", often causing worries for parents struggling to stay in touch with technology.

There is a funny thing going on here, with on the one hand children as expert in technology, but unable to make any kind of moral choice. Also I am not keen on the terms native or immigrant; they have negative connotations at the best of times and undermine the complexity of what it might mean to be competent. Education is what is needed for everyone, including parents. We need to run classes for them too. Classes where their kids show them things and we show them things and we all learn from each other. I definitely think we need digital literacy researchers involved in future research in this area, not just psychologists who see children in quite strange ways sometimes!! (Dr Tanya is the one who suggests that to teach kids to behave you can sit them on their own in a room - I am just not into this kind of punishment malarky I have always believed in talking to kids in a reasonable way at every stage.)

So without spending my whole day on this blog rant I want to identify reasons why I think Social networking sites should NOT be banned from schools:

  1. Social Networking is here to stay. People will use them even if they are banned in school. Children therefore need to be taught how to use them safely.
  2. Students use social networking out of school, - so do many parents and this number will increase. We will (continue to) alienate learners if we ban what they value.
  3. Some children do not have access to the Internet out of school. Schools are places where we should try to balance out inequalities and provide equal access. Children (and adults) increasingly use the sites to continue social activities begun elsewhere (and vice versa).
  4. Students can be shown the value of citizenship journalism and the need for other voices than those officially constructed by mainstream media. This is an important social literacy practice for citizenship education.
  5. In a classroom context students can be shown how to enjoy, control and be wary of the power (their own and that of others) in online text production and consumption.
  6. If teachers use SNW sites in school, they can talk with students an ongoing basis, without using scare tactics, about how to stay safe online.
  7. Students can be taught to read online texts critically and discern 'hidden messages' - for we know that some insidious sites, such as Nazi sites, KKK sites appear innocuous at first. If we ban all sites like this, they will only read them unsupervised.
  8. The nature of literacy is changing; to ignore social networking sites is to exclude a whole area of literacy practice from the educational domain - thus making the school curriculum a dinosaur. Multimodal texts are easy to produce using social networking software.
  9. There are excellent educational benefits in using social networking software - even when it is not used to actually network with others - such as using Voicethreads and embedding work into a blog.
  10. Social networking software is changing all the time and thus brings constant fresh and exciting FREE material into the curriculum.
  11. Children are motivated by using such software - especially boys.
Let's hear from the kids: Top Ten Reasons to Use Blogs in the classroom

There is a need to treat kids as responsible people and to show them things carefully. Not ban things as you will never be able to keep it all out. So you need to teach them to protect themselves and to ENJOY what there is online and not pretend that the Internet and pcs are only there fore boring educational sensible things.

And that's all I've got to say about that really. Apart from that the slideshow for the conference is here:

Monday, 24 March 2008

Swoon (again)

Here's swoon talking at MOMA about her work:

and part Two:

I am currently drafting an article called:

Location Location Location: Changing places, modes and meanings of streetart as digital image

Briefly it's about the use of online spaces to promote and share streetart and the ways in which the online space impacts on meanings of the art and how this then is brought back to the street.... that is to say, that I have seen how streetartists use Flickr to promote their work; to talk about their work; to show their work. They influence each other online; they see how flickr people respond to their work and and how they love to photograph it. And this can impact on what artists do next - and they certainly participate in photographing and 'collecting' the art in Flickr spaces. This whole process creates an interesting and dynamic archive online where images are replicated, arranged, labelled, organised and tagged. The art work becomes part of multiple narratives and acts differently for different people, meaning different things.

Themes in the article will be:

  • Different modes and moving texts from one place to another
  • Re-articulation of materiality
  • Meanings change
  • Presentations of identity
  • Transforming spaces
  • Interaction of items with environment and interaction of people with the art (or not)
  • Changing over time
  • Mash-ups
  • Replications and memes
I will submit it to Visual Communication and hope for the best.

swoon and man with bag

And, I forgot to mention, I found out about the Swoon videos, because another street artist, anaperu told me about it in a comment on this picture here. So there we are. More evidence, my dear Watson.


Have been looking at the new 21 classes blogging software. Looks like a great new package for the teacher who wants to use blogs but is nervous about keeping control of things. Looks easy to use and privacy settings are changeable very easily.

Here is what I have just set up.

Jackie told me about Voicethreads a way to combine sound with images - and again user-friendly software set up with schools in mind. Here's my space.

You can embed what you do on voicethreads, into your blog or website:

(I know it's a bit rubbish but I rushed this!)

Next up .... we all know the frustration of our pcs and software going wrong. Check this out.

And for easter ... there's this link. Enjoy!!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Literacy for Lifelong Learning Conference

I have had a fantastic time over the last few days at the Literacy for Lifelong Learning Conference here in Jamaica - The University of West Indies Education Department. .

When I get my photos and my head sorted out a bit more about the experience of being here, I will post more about the trip, but for now, here is the slideshow which I used for the keynote presentation. (Click on the orange and blue shareware icon to go to the shareware site and see the show on full screen)

I will add more links into this post when I get home so that conference delegates can access the paper I have written relating to the keynote presentation. and also the powerpoint I used and and resources I referred to in my workshop.

But in the meantime .....I also mentioned the book in my workshop by Marsh and Millard - see here.

And Kress's book here.

Exciting, accessible and intelligent is Lankshear and Knobel's book on New Lteracies .... as well as their book The New Literacy Sampler ... which is also available online to read here.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The World of Dolly Parton sleeveface

So is this a new literacy practice I wonder?
You get an album with a big face on; hold it to your head ... and you're a popstar!!

It's a group on Flickr and a blog.
It must be a meme.

As after the sleeveface blog ... there have been loads spring up. Check it out on Google.

If you don't know how to do it ....go on You Tube. Or look here >>>>>>

so are you gonna have a go?


Sunday, 2 March 2008

Plug for Gamma and Street Art and New York City

It made me laugh to see on Flickr that Elbowtoe has done a wheatpaste of Gamma Blog.

This was shot by Rebecca aka RFuller RD

Anyway, this is the spitting image of Gamma in my opinion and being so reminded of him, I nipped across to his blog, only to find he has left this fab video for us to see - featuring streetartists from NYC.

OPEN AIR from knox on Vimeo.

People often talk about Sheffield as being 'like a village'. Well somehow when I am on Flickr, the whole world seems like a village.

Does that mean I am a Geek?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

New Take on New Literacies

A kind of reverse grafitti is shown here with a acharity for the homeless cleaning up walls covered in streetart ... but leaving a new trace... just the shape of a homeless person crouching for warmth.

In another example of text reproduction, see the antics of this photocopier here ... and before you switch it off assuming how it will end ... please view to this very short film's conclusion.

And so we have two very different examples of new literacy practices - involving the use of memes and text reproduction.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Flash Mob

The message was spread mainly via Facebook for everyone to KEEP STILL and FREEEEZE yesterday at 3.30p.m. in Trafalgar Square.

People turned up from all over the country to take part in a massive piece of art work - a community event which begins online, moves off line to the real world and is reported and documented online again.

Enabled by the web these flash mob games continue through the world.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

forwarding emails

When I first got an answer phone in the 1980s, I would spend ages recording what I thought were whacky messages for all callers. Some of these were quick and quirky, some of them ... well, best forget.
But I got over it and stopped that rubbish. People don't have to listen to me burbling on any more. And I am sure they are happier for it.

Same with 'joke' emails. When I first went online (when was that? It seems like I have been here forever, but I think t was 1995)I used to love getting 'forwarded emails' with cartoons and songs and links to sites. I would forward them happily to whoever else I thought would like them - the grand total of people on my mailing list being around 20.

But then I got wise and I stopped. At over a hundred emails a day we really can do without the sexist wise guy cracks about women drivers and blah blah. I especially don't like ones that tell me the world is evil aand the world is coming to an end. If these people really liked me and knew me, they would not send me these things and so it is not fun or sociable at all.

I suppose I find it all intrusive - again this is why I am not keen on facebook with its facility for sending messages out indiscriminately. It is time for people to become more careful and sophisticated in their use - especially as there are so many of us 'in here' these days. I include myself in this criticism actually - someone who too happily uses 'reply all' sometimes!!

We have now got over the novelty of t'Internet - OK so I am a miserable sod, but these e mails are driving me batty (.com)

Nettiquette here.

This is a totally unrelated image - taken at a conference a coupla years ago.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Popular Culture in the Classroom

So0arcOz has a great post here about a tv programme that I have not seen - maybe it is only available so far in Oz, but it is a satirical sopa opera based in aschool.
I love that the kids in this school have the same uniform as kids in a local private school near me.

Aaaanyway I think the programme looks just spot on for use in the classroom as it provides hot topics for kids to discuss and would also be a good media studies topic in itself - 'what makes popular culture so controversial?'

Check it out.

Hilarious. I really wanna watch it on our tvs in the UK. Please can we buy it Mr BBC?

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Bebo as suicide risk?

The Today Programme had a piece about how some kids are arranging suicides online - an 'internet suicide cult'. (Listen to the first three minutes of the 8.30 section).

It refers to the 7 young people who have recently committed suicide in Bridge End, Wales. They suggested that it is websites that seems to be encouraging the spate of suicides. This is obviously a very serious business. And for some, BEBO gets the blame.

The MP interviewed suggested that young people 'lose reality' when they are online. The MP also said that she wished that young people realised that they could talk to 'real people' who could help them when they are stressed. (Mind you,closer reading of the newsreports shows that most of these people also knew each other in face to face contexts too.)

The Sun reported in this lascivious way. The Telegraph also ran this on the story. And they let readers leave comments. One person writes:

Posted by Steve (UK) on January 23, 2008 2:47 AM Report
this comment

It seems that many kids find it easier to talk to a computer
than to their parents. It is no longer sufficient for parents to leave their
adolescent kids to find their own way in life, hoping that they will eventually
turn out like themselves. Kids are being enticed by role models in the media
(including "cool" aliases on the Internet).

And there is also this vile remark:

Posted by K.Evans on January 23, 2008 1:43 PMReport
this comment

"I don't know much about South Wales, but here in New South
Wales, Australia, my kids are too busy surfing, climbing, exploring, camping and
having FUN to be sitting, gibbering over some Internet site." Well, there's your
big difference! This is England and all such activities were banned years ago by
the government in case someone bumps their head and empties the local authority
purse in compensation payments. The streets are therefore silent regards happy
playing children, all victims of the 'no ball games here' culture. Instead we
have bored, badly parented gutter snipes drowning their empty, hopeless lives
with cheap alcohol and the other end of the spectrum we have those whose best
friend is the social networking site. Well at least they're not out on the
street either drinking, battering law abiding citizens or getting knifed eh!

Aside from the sweeping statements about a whole nation (do we call it racist?) there is also the assumption that those who go online are lazy, 'badly parented' and so on. Hmm. Interesting stuff - they used to say that about people who watched TV, or before that, read popular culture novels etc. (Actually am glad that K.Evans keeps offline in the main - although what is s/he doing putting comments on virtual spaces?)

The Today programme mentions that there are 'memorial websites' and that young
people are wanting to have a site dedicated to them, when they commit suicide. I
found what they were talking about here. And here is one that has been set
for one of the teens who committed suicide in Bridge End. The argument is
that the teens are attracted to the idea of having such sites. They like the idea of a memorial.

It did not take me long to find weird stuff on Google by using key words 'suicide' and Bebo' - and certainly I think this blog is somewhat creepy.

Aaaanyway ... what do I think? I can only comment in terms of the Internet, rather than say something about teenagers' suicidal tendencies. In general it remains the case that teenagers' mostly interact with people they already know from face to face (f2f) situations. There is a smaller group who sometimes connect with some people who they don't already know from f2f situations; an even smaller group who exclusively talk to people who they only met and know from online spaces. So usually they are not confused by the virtual and the real. This makes me think that those who do get involved in this stuff, are already a bit 'lost' and impressionable.

Secondly, and most importantly, while I think that the Internet is GREAT and a wonderful opportunity in so many ways, it is definitely the case that parents and teachers need to understand what their kids are doing and guide them. Just as we give guidance to kids when they go out on their own, so too we need to guide them in the online spaces they go to. Many parents and teachers don't understand about how the Internet works and they need to know so they can guide their kids. BEBO and other social networking sites have, frankly, enriched the lives of far more people than they have hurt and I think we have to be very careful about what we say about popular cultural phenomena - an easy way to alienate the young is to tell them what they are doing is bad, dangerous and wrong.

So. The Internet is not about to go away. It is going to increase its presence in our lives. So we all need to learn how to read texts; how to protect ourselves and be aware of how persuasive/seductive some texts/ online cultures can be. This is the role of Education and Educators. Like me.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Oh wow!!

What can I do?

I want a Mac Book Air ... you can actually copy a CD or software from another computer without any wires ... oh wow!!

see this show or you can see on video here.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Learning and Teaching Conference

Had a good day at this conference on Monday.

Did a presentation about the online MA, which seemed to go down OK.

It is hosted on slideshare here.
In my presentation I was wanting to share ideas about how to make an online course, which uses 'clunky' software, into something a bit more like a web 2.0 experience. I also wanted to share thoughts about what we had learned so far as teachers.

In the actual presentation I went into the course space itself and did not just stay with the slideshow, but cannot show this here as it is all password protected. This system means that students can get on with their course without feeling that they are being overlooked by 'all and sundry'!

I love our course and feel I know the students better than I know my 'face to face' taught students.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

New stuff to look at:

First up, is Tumbla, a new piece of free bloggoing software. Looks clean and easy to use, supporting easy upload from mobile phones.

Next is Jacke Eames' new venture Intimate Boudoir. We all know the success of TV shows like How To Look Good Naked but this is a makeover without the need to go on national TV. So you don't have that humiliation but you do have the photographs to show your friends.
This kind of thing can be a real confidence boost I guess. And perhaps they will show you ways of having your photo taken without making you look like a hog. (I often look like a hog ... but then it may be the raw materials at fault. )

Definitely the shots on 'Intimate Boudoir' are well impressive and it looks like they really can work some magic. You choose from a range of packages, the most pricey of which comes in at just over a grand. A nice litle earner I have no doubt. Is is going to be a bit of a life coach therapy thing for some people? Maybe so.

You may remember this video from Dove, which I blogged sometime back.

There is a marvellous parody here. I like web culture. Yes I do.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Street Art as New Literacy


I think that Street Art merits a place as a New Literacy - I think it has always had many of the characteristics of New Literacies, but more so now.

If we think of New Literacies as being some or all of the following - multimodal; able to be changed by people other than the original authors; that it is often replicated - either exactly or showing slight adjustments to suit context; its meanings change over time and when it is used in different contexts - and the text itself can change as the environment interacts with it or as others 'upload' / 'paste-up' /'stencil' (etc) new content near it....As Lankshear and Knobel explain here:

They can “travel” without requiring particular
people to transport them. They can be replicated independently of needing
other human beings to host the replication. The particular kinds of codes employed
in literacy practices are varied and contingent.


Make your mind up time

These days more and more street artists are conscious of their work being photographed and being put online. Like Celso. And this sometimes influences the way they DESIGN it, or where they place it - perhaps in places that are often photographed.

Often the streetartists are also very active on sites such as flickr, keeping an eye on the way their own art develops in the street (evidence of other art around it; art being added; the art weathering and going through an aging process) as well as how it is developing meanings in online contexts.
In this sense we see 'the fracturing of space' occurring as part of the whole streetart process.

See how goreb for example can look at all photos tagged with his name on Flickr. He and others can then see how popular the art is, how it is progressing in the environment - and see it as an online gallery like a museum collection. Look.

I love how Banksy has played with Flickr like this:

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

You Tube , Memes, the classroom

Have been having a bit of fun looking around YouTube,
finding memes and stuff.

If a meme finds its way online or even
begins life on the web, it usually ends up moving into other types of space and
maybe back again.

here is some of the work from the clan du neon ... campaigning to save the environment by
turning off display lights in shops ... it looks fun!

So the meme exists partly online as
part of the whole clan du neon process involves filming the process of switching
off lights and to make the video available through YouTube.

You can see
more on this blog here. Or
on YouTube here.

Rosa told me about some other memes and we had fun looking up all
sorts of things ... such as the WonderWoman copycats. Jen Gray is Grrrreat:

I dunno where she learned those
moves. But wow.

There are more related videos here.

So what else?

There is the Pedro dance. It all began with the film Napolon Dynamite with this dance here.

It has all become a bit of an Internet occupation to mimic the dance and to put on'es own spin on it. See for example here:

But I like the ones which jam together several ideas like the ipod version:

There is this other stuff going on too .. around the controversial 'don't tase me bro' news story set in the University of Florida. Basically a university student was marched away from the floor when he was trying to ask Senator John Kerry some embarrassing questions. It has become quite a well watched incident on YouTube since the whole dreadful event was videoed.

There have been copycat uses of the line 'don't tase me bro' which tend to be used as a way of signifying the USA as a police state. Sometimes to comic effect (depending on your viewpoint)

15 Seconds Of Fame

I wonder what you think of the ethics of films like this.

This time have a look on a different video sharing site. Here we can take a look at Britney Spears using 'don't tase me bro' as a line in a song. Nice.

So, a lot of mixing and jamming here. Interesting in terms of literacy, shared and distributed authorship.

What of its significance to learning -

that the Internet promotes the sharing of ideas and the dispersal of information. That we can use and re-use and reformulate. That the power of texts can be increased and weakened through duplication.

Points of discussion:

1. Where do we draw the line in terms of ethical use of video material for parody?
2. Are political messages strengthened or weakened through their proliferation and adoption by online groups?

I like the idea of applying questions to texts such as:

What is the main message or content of this text?
What is the purpose/function of the text?
What media are used to convey the text?
Are these the most appropriate modes and media for the conveyance of the
text message?
Who benefits from this text? (e.g does anyone make money?)
What messages are prioritised and which information is undermined or
omitted? (Why?)
Does anyone suffer as the result of this text?

we can apply these questions to any text and we can teach kids to ask them. And for some texts we can also ask:

Why is this text so popular/unpopular?
Why do people want to mimic this text?
How do the original meanings and beneficiaries (etc) change as a
result of this text becoming a meme?

But .... Why would you want to do all this?
The answer is simple. Because in order to become literate,we need to understand social implications of texts as they are part of the whole meaning.