Connections and thoughts in the latest round of chapters.

A-List Bloggers and Cocooning

I wondered in our Wednesday meeting last week what the effects might be to have bloggers who, in the process of looking for greater notoriety, blog to A-list blogs with a format and message meant to hopefully garner themselves a link in the A-lister’s next post. Jacob’s touches on this issue in page 245 as he raises his concern that the “cult” surrounding A-list bloggers create a large filter for discussion leading to this issue: “In such an environment, blogs are no renaissance in communication, but merely an instrument of apartheid for individual perspectives.”

In this sense, the gatekeepers and gatewatchers previously mentioned by Bruns in chapter two might be in need of their own medicine.

Videoblogs and Marketing

I tried to watch a youtube video a concert a few weeks back. To be honest I was cleaning the house and only rarely looked at the screen, but when I did I was annoyed at the number of links, original poster’s comments on the experience, and a fair share of what seemed to be marketing links which obscured what was going on. Reading Fitgerald’s well known note that economic rights go hand in hand with copyright, when we all have the easy ability to cut at past video’s what will the line be in terms of imbedded commentary and marketing value? Maybe videos will be plastered with the same logos as wedding photographers free copies.

From Jacobs:

“Research is being conducted on new models for television and interactive media advertising across the globe precisely because businesses still need a means of providing information about products and services to potential consumers” (246).

“…blogs provide for businesses an opportunity to access niche interest groups while also collecting data on the changing interests of those groups” (247)

Jacobs sees the emerging marketing and brings the reader back to Rushkoff’s notes on the fall of journalism and the dangers of blogging to become connected to profits and marketing to niche groups.

Story time: I own a really shitty pair of hunting boots. They work great as comfortable pieces of office foot wear, but if I walk more than ten minutes at a brisk pace my heals will start to take some damage, and if a blade of grass has so much as a drop of dew on it, my socks will be wet. I have mended them many times by gluing in linings as well as having to reattached the sole a few times. Like I said, shitty. Main point for me is that I like getting outdoors, and my feet bled on more than a few occasions last year. Hello and thank you tax return. I spent a fair amount of time researching online and ended up purchasing a pair of Danner boots. Not gloating, but I would wear them all day if my girlfriend wouldn’t make fun of me for it. Now though, as I sit here writing this blog post, if I switch over to higheredjobs.com there is a marketing box in the upper right corner about as big a post it and it is telling me how amazing the Danner Sierra hunting boot is! You don’t say… I’ve been tailed, and I am thinking that for the week’s project I am going to look into this potential aspect of blogs. Will there come a time in which my email will be filled with suggested blogs-maybe for Danner products?

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Weekly Review

A bit of a mixed bag this week. Between grading papers, and revising a failed lesson, I found that my usual group work vigor was much decreased by the online atmosphere. The ease at which I knew could simply hop onto the web and check out what malmsy was up to, or Rants Raves and Obsessions, made it, well too easy. Needless to say, by Saturday I had a draft, by Sunday I had read Rants Raves and Obsessions (RRO), and chose to revsie what I had done. In all, I got the impression that simply bouncing back and forth between blogs was not the most effective manner of handling the situation. Either way, I did try to add onto what RRO’s blog post had finished on-a look into pseudonymous academic blogs. I checked out a few, picked a stand out winner, and wrote a quick report on what struck me as the stand out qualities (Link to said post:Work in progress-but initial thoughts on a pseudonym blog). All in all I felt that our two pieces added onto each others work. Not seamlessly by any means, but a little.

What was learned. As always, deadlining is a terrible idea, as is waiting for others to post before moving forward.

Now for the rest of the week. Coming to the chapters from the initial angle of academic blogging was very interesting, and also drove me toward a my natural habitat-notes on the work in question, which is here: Chapter Twelve Notes: Jill Walker.

The Banisch work was something which I feel I have mentioned before, but dammit all, some messages are worth repeating. Once again I made note of the blog’s ability to act as fact checker and debate started: Banisch: Fact Checks and Conversation.

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Work in progress-but initial thoughts on a pseudonym blog

Looking at Rant Raves and Obsessions work on a few issues of internet anonymity, I figured I could pick up the torch and give some of my thoughts as to the use/content/tone of a academically driven pseudonymous blog. To be honest, there is no driving thesis here, I am just looking, commenting, and overall respecting the usefulness and clarity of a single blog which Walker’s essay made note of-Confessions of a College Dean.

Well for starters, yeah I giggled a bit at his header

In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990’s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

My mind instantly created a picture of a panopticon style chimney surveying the grounds, but any who, moving on.

The anonymity brings a level of frank honesty that I do not think I would see from a Dean who knows their peers or really anyone could be watching. From February 11th, he calls on his readers/commenters to provide some feedback on an issue he admittedly knows little about: the needs and wants of trasnfer students.

My first thought is, I don’t know.  I haven’t seen any research on that, though admittedly, I haven’t looked.  Anyone who can cite anything specific is invited to share in the comments.

Simple and honest, I like that, and I also feel that most deans would cringe at the thought of posting for the whole world to see their lack of knowledge about a potentially lucrative subset of incoming students.

Walker makes a great point in the beginning of her essay which hits to the heart of most public interaction and voiced thought, especially within academia, “…the anxiety if I said what I really wanted to say, I wouldn’t know how to defend it.” Hence the need and draw for many to blog, to be another anonymous Cato.

Viewing the mixture of academic and suburban husband/father posts of Dean Dad, there is a healthy does of realism that cuts through to the merger of life’s work, life’s pursuits, and and just being a functioning human. His latest post, “Friday Fragments,” presents this merger as he fills in his readers from topics spanning the growth growth of one of his children, a conversation about academic costs with his physician, the oh so inspiring effect design fad had upon the decision to build flat roofs in areas prone to snow buildup  (I have had to lovely task of shoveling two of them off already!), and his take on the flawed system the government is using to rate colleges.

Poking around the website, I have decided that this blog I will read again, if not for the easy tone, but also for the expertise.

 

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Banisch: Fact Checks and Conversation.

Banisch’s statements as to the sad state of affairs for news media immediately brought to mind a multitude of gripes which I have been growing.

“It is now commonplace in political sociology to observe that the ideal-typical public sphere of classical liberal political theory-where truth emerges from rational debate among active citizens and its reflection through the media and political representation- is an increasingly hollowed-out space.  Concentration of mass media ownership, corporate agenda for news setting, and the limiting of open debate both in the political fora and in public conversation mirror secular decline in citizens’ interest and participation in politics (139).

To illustrate

The Murdoch empire

newscorp-holdings.jpg

Indymedia.org gives a rather compelling list of who owns which news media entities, as well as how much money they donated to political campaigns. To give a few examples: General Electric, owner of media entities such as NBC, MSNBC, CNBC-with co-ownership of other great channels such as the Hitler…I mean the alien…I mean the History Channel, hits a massive number of viewers, and also donated millions to the 2000 presidential campaign of GW Bush.

To be honest I am not doing this sight justice, here is another example of the connections which are being made:

WESTINGHOUSE / CBS INC.
Westinghouse Electric Company, part of the Nuclear Utilities Business Group of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL)
whos #1 on the Board of Directors? None other than:
Frank Carlucci (of the Carlyle Group)

Television Holdings:
* CBS: includes 14 stations and over 200 affiliates in the US.
* CBS Network News: 60 minutes, 48 hours, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, CBS Morning News, Up to the Minute.
* Country Music Television, The Nashville Network, 2 regional sports networks.
* Group W Satellite Communications.
Other Holdings:
* Westinghouse Electric Company: provides services to the nuclear power industry.
* Westinghouse Government Environmental Services Company: disposes of nuclear and hazardous wastes. Also operates 4 government-owned nuclear power plants in the US.
* Energy Systems: provides nuclear power plant design and maintenance.

The point being made here is pretty obvious right: impartiality???

To be honest I have been looking at goofed up graphs, skewed reports, and recalling images of fire breathing Egyptians used as a backdrop for a Fox News piece on the growing power of the Muslim Brotherhood, for quite a long time now. All of which reminded me of the hierarchies which blogs transcend and monitor. I came across another example of skewed data on Flowingdate.com:

unemployment chart by fox news

Looks a bit funky right. But the real gold was below this post. Reading the back and forth reminded me of just how powerful this style of interface could be. Here we see more than a single author griping, but move to a contained discourse community who moved beyond the article’s contents; note the link on the second post.

You know Fox News is meant to be unbiased, right?

It clearly is not but MSNBC stinks of liberal bias. I’m a lifelong Republican but I only read Reuters. We still lack a popular, balanced source of news in America. This chart certainly does not make Fox News reliable but at least it can be considered reliable considering its nature.

Nevertheless, there have been enormous increases in public debt–no doubt caused by Obama’s blue-collar public sector support. He’s causing more problems than providing solutions to be fair. Although he is one of the better Democratic presidents of modern times, there are better alternatives. I won’t give my preference and with this move I am allowed to put the message out there that FlowingData should not push a political agenda. I understand this is your personal blog on statistics, visualisation of them and more, but it should remain confined to this subject.

  • Ionnas, “no doubt”? There are a lot of doubts about that statement; I don’t think that “blue collar public sectorN has any real meaning. Debt started rising after Bush’s first two unpaid for tax cuts. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were also unpaid for. There was also the huge expansion of medicare which was also, you guessed it, unpaid for. Obama’s policies have added to debt, but keep in mind that times of high unemployment is the only time when deficits are justified. The main reason for the massive increase in debt is the lower tax revenue because of high unemployment and the Bush tax cuts. Take a look at this chart:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07……html?_r=2

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Chapter Twelve Notes: Jill Walker

First and foremost, her tone bespeaks of what I would expect an academic blog post to read like. Being that I have not had a ton of experience delving into academic blogs, it is hard to say, but what I get here is a personal tone, set to well argued and documented conclusions.

Walker’s note that her attitude toward blogging changed due to her placement within the ivory tower was very interesting to me. This once again shows the power of audience. This seems to be especially true within the realm of academic discourse, as Walker fears the need to possibly defend her opinion to those whose respect could potentially affect her career or academic standing (127-128).

I found the connections between the lecture and the blog to be very strong. She makes a good point that both require the listener/reader to allow the publisher to take center stage for the duration of their presentation; the expectation being that the entire blog post will be read in one sitting, and the draw of links be put off until the reading is finished. The importance here is that a conversation can be created after the presentation of content.

Pages 130-133 reminded me that I am in the process of writing my masters thesis, and have daily been bouncing ideas back and forth, making notations on my paper, and have on more than one occasion thought that I should start jotting down how many times and in what manners my mind and paper content has drifted. In a sense, as a blog project, would this immortalize the paper more so than the sad truth she brings up about many student papers/projects in which “…people will read a paper, grade it, and then put it away forever,” 132)?

Final note, on her final pages of this essay (136-137)-can the weblog ever replace the journal, or the project, or even the essay? And can the blog post, or other emerging genres of knowledge production, every be taken seriously enough to say warrant achievement of degrees outside of this study? I go back and forth on this note, mostly because I like the essay/thesis/dissertation- I am by no means a master of writing them-but I find them comfortable, and when done properly, highly readable. Yet, reality cannot be avoided by sticking my head in the sand.

She also noted that Kairos is in the process of utilizing the aggregating and linking abilities which blog posts utilize so well. Would this lead to a reworking of the rules of what is an acceptable citation, or what can be considered as an acceptable source? Would readability be enhanced, or would I skip over blue links much the same as I skim over lengthy quotations? The major question which I consider with this post is: if the ivory tower is bypassed with the consent of those within it, what are the ramifications?

Ok. I am going to come back and proof read this later when my eyes aren’t so tired. Got to love the power to revise published works, and the acceptance of the community to do so.

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Week Four Review-in week five…

Week four brought to my attention a major major rule dealing with blogging/social media as an educational force: the all around importance of forging a connection between conversation and self driven learning. Much of the my work this week focused on these connections.

Learning to work well with others stressed this rule the most in my opinion, as its contents detailed the business world’s growing enlightenment on the matter of training technology, peer relationships, and conversation. All of which I found directly applicable to teaching and learning in a social media setting. Falling Behind: Time Management! stresses the strengths needed for one to prosper as an online student (the title gives it way). Central to both of these posts is the need for a student/employee to be capable, but also able to converse with sources and other people as the grow and gather their own skills.

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Falling Behind: Time Management!

One plus that I found for blogging/social media learning has to do with being sick. Which I currently am. Going to class while sick is a pain, and leads to little intellectual growth. The same can be said for attempting to create a blog post while ill, but I did find one very useful aspect of online learning: web searches take very little effort or brain power. So, since there is a need is to link link link, online ed has a one up on classroom learning as it costs me very little to sit in my home bubble and at the bare minimum search for decent links to study later.

—Revised

My sickly searches and chosen pages of “quality” info were horrendous. It appears that hot liquids and napping still hold the title belt for usefulness while ill.

Ok. Back to work.

“Consider what students need to be taught to engage blogging practice in order to overcome the challenges you see in learning by way of social media.”

I decided to answer this question based on the online aspects of this style of learning. I feel that the blogging and social media style of education has a very powerful and interesting level of individuality which one has to find on their own. The content, tone, construction, and personal organization of a blogging course is dependent on the creator’s knowledge of many levels of content and technological affordances.

With that being the case, in terms of organizing one’s life to cope with this freedom, I say-

PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL-especially now that you cannot say that your dog ate your blog post or course syllabus.

Linked to this idea is the use of the organizational tools that technology has to offer. For instance, I would stress to a prospective student that they put the course syllabus, or any other structural information for the course, on a favorites list. Farmer’s ideal blogging course places the teacher as a “central node” within the course (97). If students do not pay attention to the course structure, this hopeful construct is useless for them and will lead to a degrading of the course’s overall effectiveness. While Farmer also notes that discussion boards, and blog comments can offer some challenges in creating a social presence, as well as stiffing a teacher’s ability to be a (hopefully positive) influence, these issues can only be exasperated by a student body whose lack of awareness leads them to the xbox when they should be on a discussion board, or posting their weekly review.

For myself I initially favorited Morgan’s Weblogs and Wikis course home page so I could occasionally double check on the basic structure of the course, and The Daybook so I could check for the daily updates. I have since rid my favorites list of the courses homepage as I now feel that I have a handle on that really confusing Sunday review thing, and the Wednesday meeting schedule. I have also taken the time to add the Daybook to my RSS feed. These are not ground breaking ideas, but I do feel that they are important for the student who may forget. Or in my experience as an instructor, the student who emails me questions about the paper that is due tomorrow, even though I assigned it a week ago and have discussed it many times during class meetings…any who. The fact of the matter is, some people more help than others, but if the instructor has created sources to clear the mud, they really should be used.

Additionally, I find myself printing off or adding to favorite the the upcoming assignments/directions for the course (The Use of Blogs: Part Two), as well as the Heuristics for the weekly review.

Looking through the slither that I pulled up when I was sick, I did find decent summation of the strengths and weaknesses of online education. I fully agree with the Illinois Online Network‘s description of the importance of being involved and aware:

“While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners. Online asynchronous education gives students control over their learning experience, and allows for flexibility of study schedules for non traditional students; however, this places a greater responsibility on the student. In order to successfully participate in an online program, student must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills in order to keep up with the pace of the course.”

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