Tuesday, 11 August 2009

What??? Again??

I have moved blog spaces AGAIN.
Fourth time I think. I am now posting here

It's lovely. Do drop by.

Researching both ends

When I first started researching online texts I was drawn into looking at sites created by young people. This was way back in about 2002. I was looking at teens' personal websites (not blogs) and discussion boards relating to babyz... all sorts of weird things like sites for Wiccan teens. I was really interested in all the stuff they were collaborating on and looked at the texts really closely - was totally bowled over by what they could do. S I wrote about all these online texts and about what the kids were doing and how they were playing and learning online.

Then I started doing a blog myself and getting into Flickr and so was writing about Blogging and Flickring (and eBay, and YouTube) . This was good as I realised very quickly how and why young people were getting so seduced by, absorbed by technologies.

As time has gone on, I have realised that it is important to not just look at the texts that are being produced, but at the processes by which they are being produced. A text that is online reflects a social process. It has been produced within a social context that cannot be presumed or assumed. In order to understand online text production, we need to know about the provenance. The meanings are also rooted outside the text, often in social happenings and events that exist outside the online space. As researchers of online spaces we have to understand that those spaces are often rooted elsewhere and the texts are not always self-standing, independent and self explanatory.

So I have realised that you need to look at the texts, but also at where they are produced so look at both ends.

Nevertheless in what I would call 'mature' online spaces, - spaces which have a social history, an often intricate set of networks that have been woven within the web, - these can be comprised of texts that root into the virtual space itself and have independence from geographical place. Not all mature sites do this of course, since some social networking function alongside or in support of offline activities and relationships.

So I draw a distinction here between mature sites and less mature sites ... and texts which have roots in online and offline spaces; and texts which have roots just in the online world. I think that sites / online texts which root only in the offline world are less likely to survive.



Pic from Emblatame

Monday, 3 August 2009

Social networking websites, texting and e-mails are undermining community life,

.... the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned .....

See the BBC report here.

It's a funny old world. Surely people who use facebook are aware of the difference between making contacts on Facebook and making 'real' friends. The archbishop's concerns are around the way people are using text instead of face to face interaction....


Archbishop Nichols said society was losing some of its ability to build communities through inter-personal communication, as the result of excessive use of texts and e-mails rather than face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations.

He said skills such as reading a person's mood and body language were in decline, and that exclusive use of electronic information had a "dehumanising" effect on community life.


Interesting idea - 'excessive use of texts or emails' .... I admit I get fed up of too many emails but this is because they signify an increased workload over the decades. This is not about reduced capacity to communicate - maybe even the reverse.

I am not aware of the research that says we can no longer read each other's body language - and must admit I doubt this. I would argue that Facebook (and other sites) are not used instead of face to face communication for most people - but 'as well as' . It is about keeping in contact when it is not possible to see each other. Thus for the majority this kind of virtual contact is additional to other kinds of interactivity. Take Twitter users for example - the 140 word quickies mean that we can keep in touch on the hoof and that we are able to balance a whole range of complex relationships whilst doing other things at the same time. We are perfectly aboe to read the body language of others as well ... especially that rolling eye movement when people discover you are addicted to Twitter!

Further it cannot be underestimated how powerful it is to meet somebody for the first time who you previously only knew online. But anyhow, that aside, it is the case also (e.g. see Sonia Livingstone's work or Benkler ) that most young people keep in contact with just those people who they already know through face to face networks.

Finally, there are many people whose only networks are through online interactivity. I am talking here of people who are isolated through disability, illness - or even because they are carers - who find great friendships in online communities. To be forever reading in the press that such relationships are not good enough or are of lesser quality is a value judgement that puts such individuals in a deficit space. It is bad enough to be isolated without having condemnatory remarks made about what may be the only relationships that exist beyond the home for some people.

Nice little vid showing how the world can go ALL WRONG if we start behaving in RL how we behave in Facebook.... (don't have nightmares now) ....