Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for June, 2012

50 Shades of Grey

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Apparently everyone is reading this. All women apparently. So make that, “apparently all women are reading this”.

book cover

But the punters are not usually reading it in book format. It is being mass consumed digitally – e.g. on Kindles – so that no-one can tell you are reading it. No one can see the ‘give away’ book cover. With your Kindle you can be reading anything from the Kama Sutra to Bicycle Maintenance for Boys. So says, for example, the BBC here.

A lot of my Facebook friends – all women – have announced they are reading it . But they make sure they announce that they are reading it ‘to find out what the fuss is about’. Fair enough, don’t blame them. One of my friends has apparently used the search and replace facility to substitute the ‘rude words’ for funny words and she reads it to her husband. So you CAN be seen to be reading it – but explanations are at the ready in case you think they are just consuming for enjoyment ‘ without thinking’. It is an intellectual and analytical pursuit, of course.

You can even get e postcards related to the book:

From here: http://crushable.com/entertainment/50-shades-of-grey-funny-photos-753/

Irony rules. It often saves the day as it cannot be achieved without a wry criticality; by being ironic you are saying you are clever.

I wondered whether we would be so ironically amused if all the men were suddenly reading a particular porno on their Kindles. I suspect not.

I presume this is because we are used to men reading porn and we have despaired of it. And we might also see it as being related to violence against women. Or simply the denigration of women ‘in their minds’. Now we women (they) are reading it and we have to celebrate this liberation or at least, giggle. I notice there are hundreds (so far) reviews on Amazon, and the star system is used at either end of the extremity (awarding just one star or five) and not much between. Depends if you like irony or not I suppose.

  1. Do I disapprove? No I don’t think so.
  2. Am I amazed at how quickly it has sold so many copies? Yes.
  3. What do I deduce?

That this is something interesting and it is about digital text  affecting literacy consumption in an interesting way.

Written by DrJoolz

June 25th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Habbo Hotel under Siege

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For all the best possible intentions Channel 4 recently exposed how a large number of peodophile and predatory interactions take place on a very regular place on Habbo Hotel. Habbo is a Finnish social networking site aimed at teenagers, wiki describes it here.

In an extensive piece, they talked about how undercover researchers joined Habbo Hotel and found that they were immediately and regularly sexually propositioned. They were subjected to sexual talk and coercive behaviour which sometimes attempted to move virtual chat through avatars from online ‘sexting’ into requests for individuals to strip in front of webcams. The Channel 4 investigation also revealed the identity of a couple of men who have already been prosecuted for such activities.

Habbo seemed unphased at first but when they realized what a storm Channel 4 had provoked they immediately silenced all interaction on their site. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by one of Habbo’s sponsors immediately withdrawing their interest from Habbo.

Despite all my interest in researching teenagers’ online behaviour over the years, I had not been at all interested in Habbo. perhaps because not one of my research participants ever mentioned it to me – although I had heard of it.  In fact as it has been around so many years I had assumed there was not activity on there. This is apparently not the case with wiki reporting that by 2011 230 million avatars had been registered (such figures need to be regarded with caution as some people will have multiple avatars and many avatars will have been registered but never or rarely been active).

It looks like the site is going to only unmute the talk and text functions once it has put into place much better more stringent moderation features.

My comments on all this are that:

(a) As usual the research that Channel 4 undertook was research that I think is pretty flawed. The adult researchers did not behave in the same way as teenager researchers and I thnk they should have involved teenagers in a much more authentic exploration of the site. What adults do in the site is not going to be the same as teenagers. This could have been asking teenagers to consent to being involved in research, asking them to join and observing them while interacting on the site – obviously a range of safety and ethical features would need to be set up for the project.

(b) The researchers made all kinds of assumptions about how young people might react to the propositions and lewd interatcions from the resident peodos perverts etc. Agtain, involving teenagers in the research would have helped with this.

(c) The researchers had a model of teenagers and young people as helpless victims. They did not think to consult teenagers who were already using the site about their observations and experiences.

(d) the researchers made the classic mistake of trying to immediately understand the site and to participate without lurking first. I would always advise researchers to first lurk about a site before participating… and this is what most people do before they join in on a networking site too.

(e) I am against covert research. Although the researchers like to get a scoop and love the thrill of under cover operations, I think they woud have got a great deal more from the research if they had got permission ethical approval and then done a thorough and multi faceted research project.

As a result of Channel 4’s research, not only has Habbo itself reacted by taking action which it should have taken long ago in relation to trolls, peodophles and pervs (!!) but  many of the sites users are using the internet  as a way of speaking back, protesting and making it known that they would like to be acknowledged as having some agency. For example here and here.

I like the way that this player critiques Channel 4’s use of the site. You can see from the video that many young people are utterly distraught by this decimation of what they see as THEIR space.

(It is somewhat naff, btw, that Channel 4 have disabled the embedding of video material they put on YouTube.)

I am very happy to see also how young people were finally invited to be on Channel 4 to have their say and this was a very good piece.

Hopefully Habbo will involve young people in the moderation of the site and to play a major role in advising on policy etc. But the whole piece is a really great example of why we need to teach about and with social networking in schools and to see young people as research participants as opposed to subjects.

Written by DrJoolz

June 22nd, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Banned blog and back again

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Ah. The power of social media.

Google image Screenshot capture of school dinners.

Martha Payne’s very popular blog, Never Seconds where she posts about her daily school dinners – with photos – was banned. A popular blog – with over 2 million readers – her work shot to further popularity – 3 million readers – after the press caught the story.

This is the BBC’s take. And The Guardian.

Apparently catering staff feared for their jobs because of  Martha’s regular updates about the meals. The ban has since been lifted … but it is certainly food for though (LOL) that a caterer automaticaly gets upset about publicity. What did they have to be ashamed about? Here is Martha’s report of the ban.

Lovely to see this little girl taking the power of the media so seriously and equally wonderful that she just concentrated on doing the job well. What a sweetheart.

Anyhow we all love U-turns, and in a popular trend, apparently someone at the top listened, and changed their mind. Hurrah. And it turns out that this all helped Martha’s original cause – raising money for a school kitchen in Malawi!!

Written by DrJoolz

June 19th, 2012 at 4:18 pm