Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for the ‘email’ Category

Private Facebook ‘Support Groups’

without comments

Issues of Privacy Online

I have joined a private group on Facebook. You cannot find it through the Facebook search facility or via Google.  You cannot see if your friends are members of private groups. This is the info from Facebook about the different types of privacy for groups:

From Facebook:

Online privacy – or lack of it – has of course been a hot topic over the years and Facebook in particular has been held up as a major offender for the invasion of private information and selling it on. Despite offering services free of charge, Facebook has made a lot of money from selling our information. But now we all know about it, maybe we should just act responsibly and not say too much online that we don’t want shared:

Locked Gates - Cemetery Road Cemetery Sheffield

Private Facebook Groups
The group I have joined is for ‘ME Mums’ . I was told about the group through another support forum for carers of people with ME and it was only via invitation that I could have joined – being linked to the group by an existing member. The group allows us to talk privately  – sharing information and grievances. We also have some laughs.

Community / Grassroots level Expertise
The group has been a source of a great deal of valuable info that I would otherwise not be able to find out – in fact having a daughter who has had ME for 15 years, I  have gained more info in the last month or so than I managed to collate on my own over those years.  Expertise is of the kind Gee writes about when he describes Affinity Spaces. Expertise that is valued is the ability to behave like a hunter gatherer, bringing jewels to the nest from other parts of the Internet. Hyperlinks are common on the ME Mums space – reaching out to other support groups; marginal medical research; useful gadgets to buy – eg heart rate monitors being a popular one at the moment – ; ‘good people’ we can trust; videos on YouTube and to other ME organisations across the world.

The group has no official ‘certificated’ experts – no medical doctors and the like. Respect is earned through online reputation within the group – and the greatest gurus are highly valued and receive lots of ‘likes’ and affirmative remarks on their posts. They post daily, lengthily and bring lots of information. Furthermore, such gurus mediate the info – explaining its relevance to others in simple language. Other members refer to such posts and to the documents the gurus share. Other ways of acquiring respect is via the amount of support you offer; a sharing approach is universally expressed and no negative judgements are ever articulated. the ‘like’ button is used liberally – and with multiple meanings.

We have created – and continue to create – an archive of symptoms, of bad experiences and of good, that could be the basis of some good research.

Risks – Breaches of Confidentiality

This online space of which I am a member will not become the focus of my own research; this would not be ethical and would jeopardise other types of benefit I get from the group anyhow. But I am learning things from being a part of this new type of online space – which I think has real dangers as well as benefits. Because whilst we may all keep everything secret – there is no guarantee of this, we hope to trust members, but who knows? Also, maybe at some point someone will hack in – and maybe Facebook will decide to make our info available to a third party. We always have to be on our guard. Not just because there is information we are sharing about our children online – which they may not wish to share and which is confidential; but also because we are sometimes specific about professionals we criticise (perjury? slander?) but also because at this stage, children are still taken into care when they have ME – on the pretext of Munchhausen syndrome by proxy. We only have to think about politicians’ leaked emails to get a clue about the damage seemingly innocuous digital texts can do sometime.

The downside of user driven expertise
On the downside, I see some people getting in a big state over the information they are given and I have seen how they can easily end up worrying too much. The problem with people researching for themselves is that they are so close to the situation – and while this has absolute advantages (insider knowledge etc) sometimes distance is necessary for perspective. This kind of grassroots level research is a great thing but at the same time I keep thinking that it would be good if this were not necessary – that if medics and social services etc co-ordinated themselves as well as we have, we would be able to trust them to care for our children as well as they care for heart patients etc. People with orthodox carefully diagnosed illnesses get better help. Traditional experts – medics in particular – have power and also access to privileged information and funding for treatments and support and research. If they could only see our conversations sometimes, it would make them very angry; but after the anger they may learn something very valuable.

Educational application of private groups
In terms of education … I did not realise exactly how private you can make a Facebook group and so this does have some useful affordances for teaching and learning – will muse on this at a later date. I like the idea of creating a Facebook space for students now that I realise I can reassure them their friends will not see the group and it will not interfere with their existing presentations of self online!! And as I have seen, when the motivation is there, the group can work very impressively. This is what online participation is all about.

Written by DrJoolz

July 12th, 2012 at 11:02 am

e mail meme

with 6 comments

At one time I used to receive loads of ‘jokes’, stories, images (usually sexist, laughing at how stupid men/women are) even prayers on email.
These have died down now – maybe as people have tired ofthese things, or maybe because I rarely responded to the ones sent to me (perhaps everyone else gets as many as they used to) . I think that what they do is kind of ‘poke’ people, reminding them of who they cpuld interact with if they want to, in the same way as facebook does I suppose. And maybe now a lot of this kind of phatic socialisation and development of in-jokes has transferred to facebook, Bebo and so on and on.

Anyway I got this today:

According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids
in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s probably shouldn’t have survived, because
our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was
promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or
cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent
‘spokey dokey’s’ on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags – riding in
the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the
same. We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with
sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one
actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed
down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we
were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99
channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no
personal computers, no DVDs, no Internet chat rooms.

We had friends – we went outside and found them. We played elastics and
rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt! We fell out of trees, got cut
and broke bones but there were no law suits.
We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played chap-the-door-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners
catching us.

We walked to friends’ homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school;
we didn’t rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round
the corner.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of…they
actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem
solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of
innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and
responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you’re one of
them. Congratulations!

Pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow as real kids, before
lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good.

For those of you who aren’t old enough, thought you might like to read about
us. This, my friends, is surprisingly frightening…and it might put a smile
on your face:

The majority of students in universities today were born in 1986…They are
called youth.

They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the
Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel. They have never heard
of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena Cherry or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has
existed since they were born. CDs have existed since they were born. Michael
Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round
in shape and they can’t imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance.
They believe that Charlie’s Angels and Mission Impossible are films from
last year. They can never imagine life before computers. They’ll never have
pretended to be the A Team, RedHand Gang or the Famous Five. They’ll never
have applied to be on Jim’ll Fix It or Why Don’t You. They can’t believe a
black and white television ever existed. And they will never understand how
we could leave the house without a mobile phone.

Now let’s check if we’re getting old…

1. You understand what was written above and you smile.
2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after a night out.
3. Your friends are getting married/already married.
4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably with
5. When you see teenagers with mobile phones, you shake your head.
6. You remember watching Dirty Den in EastEnders the first time around.
7. You meet your friends from time to time, talking about the good Old days,
repeating again all the funny things you have experience together.
8. Having read this mail, you are thinking of forwarding it to some other
friends because you think they will like it too…

Yes, you’re getting old!! :-)

I admit to having quite liked reading this and felt a bit smug and thought ‘oh yes!! That’s true – especially as I started remembering spending days roller skating while pushing along my old dolls pram filled with stuff.There are myths and tropes about today’s kids, yesterday’s kids and today’s adults. I guess the meme within this whole thing is the one that has persisted over generations which is that in the old days, people had it tougher and it did them good.

Certainly the author of ‘Toxic Childhoods’ has a rose coloured notion of the past and probably has loadsa conversations about the good old days.

But I am not glad I have thirteen amalgam fillings in my teeth; that my Mum used to cut a hole in the front of my winter shoes to turn them into summer sandals; or that Sundays were so endlessly endlessly boring; or that oneof my junior school teachers smoked in the classroom and that kids got whacked on the hands, legs or face if they did stuff wrong in school. Don’t et me wrong, I enjoyed my childhood and it is quite thought provoking getting these kinds of email from time to time. (And it is this that shows my age – I can talk about my childhood and know that it was very very different in so many ways to that of ‘kids today’.

Written by DrJoolz

September 2nd, 2007 at 3:03 am

Mash ups

with 2 comments

Having moaned in my last post about the number of emails I get, this morning I was unable to open any of my emails due to a “hardware problem” at work.


I had no idea how to start work without it. I was totally incapacitated. All my work was online – hidden away as attachments to emails. Maybe I will never moan again about having so many emails… no don’t think so.

When it did get going, I found I had been sent a link to this wonderful creation on Youtube:

An interesting take on the mash up where classic paintings of women have been digitised and allowed to dissolve one into another. I guess it reflects similarities and differences about women across the ages.

I receive increasing numbers of emails which contain links to YouTube and it is certainly a site which has become a household name. It is embedded into everyday life in a manner which no longer is associated with exotic or advanced ICT practices. Perhaps this is an example of ‘blackboxing’; a term associated with Black Box Theory – which I was introduced to by Mary P and Jennifer Rowsell.

In the meantime, I suppose I need to be more circumspect when I use terms like ‘everyday life’ … whose ‘everyday life’ do I mean? Nesta Futurelab has a report about Digital Divides which they say are increasing. Some people’s everyday lives allow them no access to technology at all.
It is arguably the role of policy makers and education practitioners to to provide opportunities for everyone to access new technologies and use them in ways that are relevant to their lives.

The futurelab is in Bristol, so while we are down there (here?) let me show you some streetart from there:

beauty island

This is from the StokesCroft area and even though this art is on the street, it has a frame around it as if hanging in somebody’s house. Nice juxtaposition here taking style from one space and putting it in another. The work has been created by local people trying to re-claim the area and do it up in the way they want. It is as if they are saying’ this is our home’. It is a kind of streeet art mashup of genres. (It is not just in technology that grass roots level creativity plays with boundaries and moves things around to express new ideas.)

Written by DrJoolz

June 13th, 2007 at 4:59 am