Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for the ‘facebook’ Category

Social Media to Big Media

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This last week has been an emotional roller coaster. From tiny acorns great oaks do grow. (And other cliches).

After a disappointing result in the UK election, where the right wing Tory party for the UK got voted in by a majority, a lot of us here were gutted, especially as the Tories were voted in on a mandate that supports the ‘ordinary working person’. Many of us have seen this as a vote against the non working people – including the elderly, sick, infirm … etc. It is not great being ill or disabled to such a degree that you cannot work; work is about access to the world, participation in interesting and exciting things. It allows you to meet people, to socialise and of course, earn money. If you cannot do this your choices are limited. No one chooses this for themselves. Obvious to me. But I live with this reality through my daughter so I see it daily; but she and millions of others remain hidden behind closed doors from the rest of the world.

After the election my daughter posted on Facebook about her disappointment and was astonished to see how quickly her post received literally hundreds of shares by people she odes not know.

The following day Rosa was asked by The Guardian to write an article for their ‘Comment’ series. After a bit of angst about how to approach this task, she produced a great article that to date has in excess of 9,500 shares. It’s here.

She has now been approached by other newspapers and by disability organisations who are asking her for quotes and comments that they can use too.

So – out of bad, can come good. The Tories gave her the push to shout her head off.
Rosa has lived a difficult and isolated life since her illness, aged 11, stopped her from attending school and she has been virtually housebound ever since. The internet has been her umbilical cord to the word and she has friends across the globe. She is networked and respected. But this latest event has given her the recognition that gives her the confidence and assurance she needed. She has a voice that people want to hear. The Internet did this for her.

The Internet is enabling. Rosa has read loads, spent hours, days, months and years interacting online; doing MOOCs; joining forums; listening to podcasts; reading reading reading. She is not addicted to the Internet. She would rather be out there, face to face, physically present. But this is the next best, and Rosa rocks.

Written by DrJoolz

May 15th, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Private Facebook ‘Support Groups’

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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: https://www.facebook.com/help/privacy/groups

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

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

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.

Written by DrJoolz

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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiedyszko/5658404181/

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.

Written by DrJoolz

November 9th, 2011 at 10:47 am

Hot off the treadmill

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Most mornings you will find me jogging along happily on a treadmill at the University sports centre. I love it. The scene: rows of treadmills, bikes, cross-trainers and rowing machines arranged in lines facing six tv screens. I will be on one item (starting with a warm up on the bike and then the mad behaviour on the treadmill); I will be wired into my ipod, wearing a heart rate monitor and staring at the tv screens, but probably thinking about work. I watch all the screens, reading across them all rather than getting involved in just one. The whole thing is quite surreal and scuppers the notion that technology breeds couch potatoes. But that is another blog post entirely.


(pic from here Thanks.)

On Monday morning (my day off) several things got me thinking – first of all that the latest Beyonce video seems to be pornographic and also seems to celebrate male violence against women; I find it embarrassing to be in a place where there is porn (in my opinion) being screened.

Secondly it is so weird how many people who are on Facebook say that they hate it. The Jeremy Kyle show, as usual had anti-social people yelling at each other about their dysfunctional relationships. One young woman at some point started describing how her estranged boyfriend had been ‘mouthing off’ about her on Facebook. She also told how she had ‘slagged him off’ on there and that she had ‘dissed’ him and lied about him and boasted about having a great number of sexual partners. She dumped him publicly on Facebook. At the end of all this she said ‘I hate Facebook. It’s crap. Only bad things come of it.’ It is interesting how people criticise the medium as opposed to their own behaviour.

Then on another channel at the same time this was all ‘kicking off’ on Jeremy Kyle, there was a tv advertisement for something called ‘Cell Phone Spy’. Yes seriously. You can use it to spy on what people are texting. I thought this would be illegal but apparently not. This is advertised on MTV. I found it online, but the site looks dodgy so you may prefer not click on the link – and I am not sure how long the link will be live anyway.

In my google search though, a huge list of results linking to sites advertising similar products showed how you could spy on ‘cheating spouses’, or become a ‘mobile spy.’ To me it seems the software is moving faster than legislation can keep up. Very sinister indeed. Maybe I am starting to realise why some people are so nervous of new technologies.

Written by DrJoolz

September 30th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

No time to be my son (& distributed identities)

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I was telling some friends of mine about the next stage for my Facebook research. One of them was immediately excited about this, saying how much she hates Facebok … ‘I think it’s terrible. Even when he is at home with us, he has to keep up appearances with is friends. They are forever commenting and LOLing. I just wish he could sometimes just relax, be a kid with us and not be forever on call. It’s like he has no time just to be my son.’
A very interesting insight I thought. It made me wonder. I suppose it means he is ‘enacting being a friend ‘ when he is in a context away from his friends. He is ‘doing’ an identity that belongs to another context. But to him, he feels he is with friends when he is on Facebook.

This is Clare after she had taken a photo of me. She emailed the shot to my husband. (Dobbing me in for bad behaviour). So sometimes in real life, you can’t get away from the fact that your behaviour is reflected out elsewhere. These days, we have distributed identities.

Written by DrJoolz

September 8th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Attempting Ethical Facebook Research

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I am planning the next step in my Facebook research – wanting to look at how female trainee hairdressers ‘do friendship’ through Facebook.

At the hairdressers

One of my all time favourite studies is Jen Coates’ book ‘Women Friends‘. It is a study of language – and how women enact friendship through the language they use with each other. I want to do a similar study but within Facebook – and look also at other ways my research participants enact friendship, e.g. through Facebook updates that include words, images, games and so on. This research will combine my academic interest (you could say passions) in several areas – language, gender and new technologies.

It will also be fun working with hairdressing students and I think that ways in which they negotiate and present their emerging identities as hairdressers will come through the work. I can’t wait. Nothing better than having a good old chit chat with young women. For me to access the girls’ /women’s Facebooks, they will need to let me ‘friend them’ (and I will reciprocate).

I have submitted my ethical review and the first reviewer has already come back to me asking how I will deal with the ethics of other people, additional to my research participants, who will be visible to me online when I am looking at my participants’ pages. I have answered I will be involving groups of friends and will follow their interactions with each other and will not cite or get involved with others. However this is a complicated area – and I am not sure how feasible this will be. I may have to end up asking for additional consent if it becomes to hard to disentangle some of the data.

What it will also mean of course, (and my reviewers have not noticed this) is that my participants will also be able to see all my updates and any contributions that my friends put on my wall. So I guess if and when the research starts I will need to alert my Facebook friends.

I really hope I will get some students wanting to be involved in the project as I think it will be so fun. Oh yes. And a fantastic contribution to research.

Written by DrJoolz

September 2nd, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Performance, Sharing and Display

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I love the way technology insinuates itself into so many areas of our lives. It helps to make everything join up together – making all these connections between people, things, activities , interests.
One example is the website walk, jog, run. My neighbour told me about it. You can use it to plot your running routes so others can follow. But you can read other people’s routes and follow them. You can use the site to hook up with other runners and find out about local events. I did this run designed by someone else. It was quite exciting as I hoped to see the designer of the run – I may have done as I saw a few people jogging along. It makes the whole affair companionable. I like the way I can use this software in such a local way. It is yet another example of how we use the WORLDWIDE web to usually do stuff in our neighbourhood (preferring LOCAL to GLOBAL).. (I have written more about this kind of stuff here ).
Perhaps better still are sites like this one which connects with wearable computers you run with – equipped for example with a GPS and heartrate monitor and so on. It taps into all the obsessions of so many runners (cyclists etc) and allows them to display everything on Facebook – for example. here is another example, where someone can log a run and show all the details of their run, their heartrate and speed etc.

I think it is amazing that some people hate that we are constantly being monitored n the street by cameras, yet others (or maybe the same people) , show the most intimate (I think) details about how their body works, (and more) to all their friends (and more) online. This is not just about tracking our performance, but inviting others to do so as well. Some would say this was showing off, some would say it is about sharing.

More info here. Note the 340++ reviews

Written by DrJoolz

August 21st, 2011 at 10:17 am

What’s New (pussycat)?

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When I first started research into what kids were doing online, it was oh so different then. I seemed to be one of the very few literacy researchers who knew about this weird stuff that the kids were doing – way back in the late 90s. They were keeping ‘online diaries’ and playing games and talking in forums about the software they were playing with. They were building personal websites and then came the explosion that we call Web 2.0. (My first article on this stuff was published in 2003 having been two and a half years in review!!)

I quite liked having the empty playground, where I could run round finding stuff out and leaving new footprints in the new snow that had fallen.

snowy-cha-cha-cha

But now lots of research is happening and there is quite a wealth of material to refer to in writing up research data. I am having to read what everyone else is saying about Facebook. And then say what I am saying in the context of that. It all feels overwhelming now that the area is getting so established. What I don’t like … and maybe this is too honest … is the way that old fashioned and somewhat staid ways of writing are now being foisted onto me. To be specific, I am writing for journals who requite me to write in such traditional formats that I feel I am no longer in new territory. I feel like this horrendous structure is being forced onto the research so that it looks like it is about something else. It is very dispiriting re-drafting work in ways you don’t like.

I want it all to still feel new … not fusty.

Written by DrJoolz

August 19th, 2011 at 10:38 am