Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for the ‘academia’ Category

Facework, Hair work, Cut & Paste

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I am looking forward to having my haircut next week … by one of the hairdressers involved in my research project. It will be quite interesting and different – having your haircut is an intimate thing. You have your hair and head rubbed, and combed and pruned, and crimped and it is all very PROXIMAL. I don’t think I have read any articles before which involve having your haircut by one of the research participants.

So that’s cool.

I am thinking about a number of things in the project …. about the way in which the young women immerse themselves not just in a lot of work where they groom themselves in particular ways to fit a very definite hetero-normative style; they also do the same for other women in a serving type capacity. There are lots of photos in their Facebooks which show them posing in ways that have a postural intertextuality – imitative of styles like Beyonce poses; Kylie stuff even; Britney Spears I can see in the styling. But also they have photos of themselves in prom dresses and sitting in stretch limos. These are all images that can be indexed in global ways. Yet there is also something very LOCAL in the photos … the homey ones show them in English pubs; with very English looking boys who have rottweilers on leads; who are in pubs and clubs that have a very local feel. There seems to be a continuum in their lives that they move across and through and this is all displayed in Facebooks in ways that do not acknowledge the different worlds they operate in.

Often their chat online os very girlish; they talk about their Mums and Dads and they present as daughters, as hairdressers and also as sexual beings. They also adopt language that is quite male at times – positioning women in often sexualised and even brutal ways.

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November 11th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Facework on Facebook … at Oxford

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I am looking forward to going to Oxford today to give a seminar and to meeting people from the Education Department – and this will be my first time as a visitor to the University.

Thanks to sisyphus007

The presentation is based on a paper I gave at Manchester and have re-written for Computers and Education. .

Slides available on slideshare and draft paper on scrib’d.

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November 9th, 2011 at 10:47 am

Ethics and photography

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The OCA (Open College of the Arts) has a most wonderful blog with so many videos that are short, moving and good to look at. This one , without trying to, makes some excellent useful points about ethics and photography.

The Dad Project from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.

I will definitely be using this when I teach my Image Based Research session to the MA Educational Research students this year.

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August 31st, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Education, Film, academia

Online Social Not-Working

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It is really hard to concentrate in the summer. Somehow the more time you have, the longer it takes to do anything. I find myself drifting into Facebook; re-checking emails and … not working on my to do list.

I am supposed to be working on a re-draft of an article about teenagers’ uses of Facebook for Computers and Education … where the two reviewers are asking for different things – contradicting each others’ requests. All very frustrating and all reinforcing what we know … that even with peer-reviews, things are subjective. Writing in academia is pressurised … we are all so aware of the REF . It’s not just about quality it is about Impact and being able to demonstrate that once you have published, that your work is relevant to others.

Writing about Facebook for academic peer-reviewed journals seems to be the antithesis of what Facebook is about. One of the great things about FB is the way it embraces spontaneity; its write-now, publish-now affordance, and the immediate feedback that goes with it.
I like the way online social networking texts are at once ephemeral and permanent. Permanent because the texts stay online … but ephemeral because readers write things intended for the moment – and so they usually won’t get read more than a few days after being written.

So FB distracts me from writing about FB – I am after the immediate gratification it gives me, rather than the three months later, get your writing deconstructed by someone you don’t know.

I am tempted to look for another distraction and to write a book proposal. Cup of Jasmine tea?

Jasmine tea

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August 17th, 2011 at 9:03 am

Challenging the Binaries

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Kate Pahl and I are talking about the Centre for the Study of New Literacies conference for next year. The theme will be

Challenging the Binaries

It is going to be asking people to think about the oppositions we sometimes set up when looking at New Literacies Research. Examples are Home/School; Formal/Informal; Digital Native/ Digital Immigrant; Academic/non-academic; New/Old; Online/Offline; Multimodal/monomodal; Virtual/Real.

These binaries are often useful but more often we need to be aware that these are not hard and fast separate domains – and perhaps new technologies are helping us to challenge these boundaries more and more.  Anyway that will be our theme – and preliminary dates are 29th and 30th June – but yet to be confirmed.The Call for Papers will be coming before too long.

call for papers

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August 16th, 2011 at 3:52 pm


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Day One of the DuckRabbit training, run by Benjamin, went so well today. The object was to learn how to approach the production of professional looking sound and vision narratives – using digital images and audio.

I was hoping to get ideas about using digital narratives with young people who find it difficult to express themselves through writing. I was thinking that I could work with teachers and develop a project that would be fun but also provide a way for learners to express their ideas multimodally. This looks like something that has real potential. Check out some of the Duckrabbit exemplar slideshows here.

However it also made me realise how, in academia, we are so staid in the way we present our work and how we don’t tap into the potential of multimedia digital presentations enough. Today we learned how to get across a much more complex message in a shorter period of time by using multiple modes of communication – using multiple sound tracks alongside images, making them work together in providing a complicated narrative. I think that using something like this in academic conferences, folllowed by discussion would be really exciting. (Academics at conferences are always stressed out by not having enough time to present complex ideas).

We are planning already, an exhibition of presentational work at the conference for The Centre of the Study of New Literacies in July, so I may try this idea there. It will be about Flickr and Streetart and the way in which streetartists are influenced by Flickr. I am doing a paper on this at the multimodalities conference at The Institute of Education and the idea would be to do a presentation that would work with that too. This is the Multimodality abstract.

TT Photographing streetart

*And why is it called Duckrabbit?? See here.

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April 14th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

My Illustrated Life

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It seems to be taking ages to get the year off to a start. The snow is still slowing everythng down and so I hardly feel I am off the starting blocks. In January there always remain a few post-Christmas traces…. not just the extra weight on my scales… but also stuff like unfinished chocolates:

Apres Huit Heures

and bits of tinsel still stuck between the carpet tufts. Beautiful as it sometimes is, the snow has been making it hard to get about. It seems quiet everywhere.

Crookes Valley Park

As I have been mentioning the last few weeks, I have been getting into Flickr again and been thinking about good shots to take and enjoying looking at things others are taking. I really love Sophies’ Photos and was interested in how this particular image draws on the book by Annette Kuhn – something I have used in an article I wrote for Discourse. What I have started to become interested in now, is images which show traces of what has been; which show a history. You have to be like an archeologist and look for clues – look at the layers of meaning, at the traces of what is there. This idea relates in some way to palimpsest; there is a good definition(illustrated) in the Palimpsest Flickr group here. Palimpsest might be this kind of thing:

Removed until further notice

this paring away of text is something that appeals to me and reminds me of the research process which involves tracings and the discernment of patterns – making sense from little things you gather. I am looking forward to February when I will FINALLY have the space to write my article on Streetart and spaces and how narratives can travel across time and space – often aided by online technologies. I talked about this kind of thing in Toronto – July 2008; details here.

Make your mind up time

And then I will focus on Facebook, where I will be researching how multimodal narratives travel across spaces via multiple, dispersed authors. Yes. That is what I will be doing soon.

Davies, J. (2007) ‘Display; Identity and the Everyday: Self-presentation through online image sharing’. In Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education. Vol. 28, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 549_564.

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January 12th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

A New Literacy Event

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Today I had a go at playing Supple!! Thanks to PJC my life will never be the same again. It’s a bit like the Sims – but sexier. So that’s the game for me, obviously.


Check out the demo.

Thinking about events and practices, what might I be involved in here .. blogging as a literacy practice and prior to this I was involved in playing video games as a practice. The literacy event I was involved in was playing ‘Supple’ at my office computer and then writing this particular post – which involved embedding a video from YouTube. Usually it is pretty easy to embed a video from YouTube but today I had to fiidle around and work out how to make the code work… maybe I am a digital native as I keep on going till I resolve a problem lilke this.

Maybe one day I will be as good as this baby using the iphone:


Amazing how this little baby is learning to manipulate text at the same time as he is learning to speak. Is this baby involved in a literacy event I wonder? As Barton and Hamilton also note is commonplace, there is a lot of talk going on around the literacy event, and this is certainly a social event we see here.

In terms of practices there is a whole load of nurturing stuff going on there (the practice of parenting and ‘being in a family’) and a sharing of a global global phenomenon from the broader context.

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November 20th, 2007 at 7:44 am


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I have been playing with a free down load of the software ‘Camtasia’.

I have been making rough and ready amateurish videos for the online MA in New Literacies.

I have to say the videos are less Hollywood than they are YouTube. You can see through the cracks of production – very much so.

But that is what web 2.0 is all about isn’t it?

Mind you I must admit I have not yet worked out how to put them in a YouTube friendly format … so an example of Camtasia is here:

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October 11th, 2007 at 5:43 pm

identity kits

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Vic mentioned this wonderful new project, which takes the ‘What’s in my bag’ idea a bit further.

A long time ago I contributed this to the pool:


(Showing a bag I continue to use and will be using again this weekend when I go to this conference.)

It is clear that people do not reveal ‘all’ but construct images in a manner so that they represnt themselves in a way that they feel OK about going online. To do this, they need to think about how people might read the images – (what will they think? what associations do the objects have? what do they ‘connote’?); they need to know something about how objects represent aspects of their persona; they need to consider what to leave out as well as what to include. Maybe they arrange things so they look smart/show their label/hide their label/ look casual/ appear expensive/cheap. And the inclusion of images of faces taken on a scanner connotes something ludic; maybe a cross-reference to office parties and ‘parts of the body image making’ and a presentation of self that says @I am game’ ‘I am fun’ – ‘I live life madly’.

I am really interested in the ways in which we display online identities and have noticed the continuities in the ways some people present themselves across sites. For example they may begin a persona on a flickr stream and then deepen it through displays in other spaces… like Niznoz’s stream and his two blogs here and here; or Gamma’s stream and his blog. They are serious reporters of the city; they show something of ‘life as it is’; of the history and the way things are changing. NizNoz has two blogs, each with a different function.

People often use their blogs as a way of SPECIALISING. People use different parts of the web, different types of software to perform different tasks. And they are getting good at working out what is good for what task. This is a digital literacy skill; not everyone will ‘GET IT’ intuitively and so there is a role for researchers in working out what the conventions are and a role for educators in teaching about these things.

It has recently become trendy to represent oneself as a Simpson on Flickr and use the image as an icon of identity. YOu can get one via a new gadget available over at The Simpsons new movie website here. Obviously a lot to be written about re avatars and icons people use on websites, but no time here… must go.

But I’ll just leave you with the image my dear partner in life made of himself on Sunday. What kind of impression does he give here? (Answers on a postcard please).

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July 2nd, 2007 at 2:54 pm