ALT-C 2009: In Dreams Begin Responsibility


Watching ALT-C 2009, streaming live from the University of Manchester, from today through Thursday 10th August 2009. There’s also some other sessions being streamed via UStream.

Follow the stream on Twitter. (#altc2009 seems to be the main hashtag, but there are other’s noted!).
Beware of the concept of Digital Natives:

Universities Online

As part of my research into possibilities for universities to make use of the plethora of social media around, I put out a message on my Twitter feed, and picked up a few new followers working at the overlap of social media/academia, and it’s interesting to see what is popping up in this constantly changing field.

YouTube.edu
Last week (Thursday 26th March), YouTube officially launched an independent area of its site (to which Universities need to apply, and at present seems to be US universities only, but where the US leads, the rest of the world follows…) which seperates scholarly content from the more general content available on YouTube. Along with site Academic Earth which also launched last week, offering lectures direct on the World Wide Web…

Scott Stocker, Stanford’s director of Web Communications notes: “Particularly in this time when the coverage of higher ed in general is diminishing in the mainstream media, it allows us to tell stories directly in a very effective way to a large audience.” Wall Street Journal Blog

It’s an interesting time to be in academia, seeing what possibilities the new technologies offer, but also being aware that they need to offer a return on investment (both time and money), and to most effectively leverage the media available whilst retaining intellectual property.

Social Media MA
Birmingham City University is to offer an MA in Social Media in September 2009, and the Twitter feed has been buzzing with feeds, and the press has quickly picked up on it, publishing online material several hours before it could make it to print.

“”Social media” in the context of Internet technologies is itself a relatively new term which broadly correlates to the concept of Web 2.0. “Social media consultancy” as a profession is being shaped by the early proponents of the field.

There is a dichotomy within this nascent industry. On the one hand established businesses are seeking to co-opt the tools of social media and use them for commercial gain; on the other third sector organisations are making use of these tools to build complex and conversational communication strategies for minimal cost.

This MA programme will explore the techniques of social media, consider the development and direction of social media as a creative industry, and will contribute new research and knowledge to the field.” Birmingham City University.

University of Glasgow: Student Blogs
An interesting idea: “our student blogs aim to give you an insight into what it’s really like to be a student at Glasgow”, which they could also do via a search on YouTube! Interesting to think about the dynamic between official/unofficially sanctioned media. My expectation is that prospective students would trust the unofficial (looking) material more!

More Academic Networking

Academia.edu

OK, a new site (or is it new, well, it’s new to me!) has appeared on my horizon: Academia.edu. Discovered it through Facebook, when I saw Martin (Polley, my PhD supervisor) had signed up to it. Wonder why it didn’t appear when I Googled “academic social networking”, obviously doesn’t have great SEO – have to teach them some tricks! The site looks like it could add some real value, as it has listed all departments even within the University of Winchester where I work (a small university), not just American Universities. Can list your publications, significant conference papers, research interests, upload your CV. Think it has real value-added potential!

Life Coaching
OK, maybe a blog should be about a single subject, but I just wanted to put a bit of info on tonight. This week has been extremely busy, the lowlight of which was my laptop breaking, so I’m borrowing another computer to write this (so excuse the image, created with Paint, rather than PhotoShop!). Still deciding on a new one, but in the meantime, tomorrow have my final weekend of the current course of life-coaching (it’s going to be a lifelong learning skill, but have found it useful already in teaching!)

Check out:
On other matters, I’ve been doing life coaching with Bex (see http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/) and it’s been really helpful. I’ve now got a second blog where I talk solely about my PhD, which came out of one of our sessions, and I am thinking more positively and being more organised. You should give it a go!”
http://charlynorton.blogspot.com/2009/02/its-been-few-days.html

Academic Social Networking

Although I’ve been playing around with a number of social networking sites, trying to identify their potential, I’ve not look for any specific academic networking sites, and wondered if there were any.

What is academic networking?Academic networking has a long tradition, both within and across institutions.

“Academic Networking is the development and maintenance of a network of contacts of people who have access to different sources of potentially useful information.

These information sources may be related to new research ideas, publishing and funding opportunities, teaching strategies, or new developments / trends in your profession or job.” (http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/informs/DC/95/evan.htm, 1995). Some more detailed information is given in “Networking and Other Academic Hobbies“.

Online Social Networking?
So, do the new platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Plaxo and Facebook have anything to offer, and are there any platforms specifically for academics?! I don’t have time to even suggest an answer right now about what’s on offer, but have ID’d a couple of academic sites for further investigation: academici, hypertope, and pronetos.

There’s definitely scope for a research project there, especially with the growing emphasis on knowledge-transfer between universities and businesses. The ivory tower has been going out of fashion for a long-time now (not something I’ve ever been keen on, and saw the validity of my opinion after giving a paper at the “Public History Now” forum at Ruskin College), and the new social networking sites deserve some consideration. See a brief review by Open Anthropology.

Already Using Them?
CARET at the University of Cambridge is carrying out research to complete in 2010. The project aims to bring some of the affordances of consumer social networks to teaching and learning, and will deliver applications within CamTools, their Sakai-based VLE. Take their survey.

I can’t believe it’s not Facebook

I love meeting new people, and I love making connections, therefore networking must be the thing for me, right? If I’m unconsciously networking, that’s works, but at some point we need to shift to consciously networking, and I’m looking to ways to do this. 

Facebook
I have used Facebook for online networking since end of 2006, although I didn’t really get into it until about April 2007, since when I have used it quite a lot. Great for keeping in contact with people you meet on travels, especially guests from my Oak Hall trips. More and more people are joining in, it’s not just for the ‘youngsters’ as it was seen in the early days! The concept of friendship, however, is an interesting one, and one for further debate!

University of Winchester
So in returning to Winchester, the University is the obvious place for me to hang out and renew my connections. I’ve worked for many different departments on and off since I first came to the University in 1994, and have left a trail of positive feedback behind me, which I’m pleased to see! I have gained all of my work through the University by checking in with contacts I already know, and for now it’s generated a few things, including current work on the ‘Learning‘ section of the website. Interestingly, depending on when you see this, you could see the ‘before’ version, the mid-process “a few bits have been edited” or the streamlined and re-ordered, jazzed-up version… interesting that the web never sits still.

Business Networking
On Tuesday I went to my first ever formal networking event at Business Networking Basingstoke. I was encouraged to go as they were doing “What type of Gem are you” personality testing… and I find any kind of personality testing fascinating. They help you understand and accept yourself, and also other people. In this context the idea was to understand who you may be selling to:

Sapphires are stimulating, enthusiastic, and on-the-go people. They like fun, being the center of attention, and receiving tons of recognition. Enjoying people, influencing others’ decisions, and being popular is their style. Skip the details with them, just make the buying process easy, fun, and spontaneous.

Rubies are risk takers, go-getters, and like challenges. They like to win, be right, and are fast paced. They need control, authority, and thrive on commission. Their bottom-line approach helps them make quick buying decisions. Sellers, be prepared!

Pearls are patient, relational, and incredibly harmonious. The quality time they spend with others is seen as supportive. Their relationships are longstanding and oriented to helping the team. Don’t push them from their low-key approach, or your sales style will overwhelm and scare them away.

Emeralds are effective, thorough, and detail-oriented. Their behavior of following rules, collecting data, and completing tasks pushes them toward excellence. These are the detail people who need to carefully conduct their research before making a buying decision.

Thanks to Business Know-How

It can sometimes take a while to work out which you are! I put myself in the Sapphire group, but I also have strong affiliations with the Rubies! We’re all a bit of everything, but Emerald is definitely the one I have least affiliation, although I work methodically through websites/projects (the challenge to complete) and enjoy creating structure out of a mess (a challenge to create order?)!

Two other Basingstoke networking events were drawn to my attention through this event, the Athena Network and Ladies Who Latte. Looking for a Winchester event, I then came across: OutThere (which uses Facebook style social networking from Ning), so there clearly are lots of options out there!

Image Sources

Arranging a photo-shoot can be an expensive business, but websites look rather stark with no imagery (although I always believe the information must come first). Taking photos through e.g. Google’s image search generally means that you are using illegal images.

Microstock Photography
There are many different microstock photography sites, in which you can purchase Royalty-free (free from licence restrictions) images for as low as $0.20 per image if you sign up to a subscription plan. Pay as you go images are more expensive per image, and credits usually need to be used within a year, although the image is then yours to use. Check the small print as, for example, Shutterstock says that an image must be first-used within 6-months of download to prevent stockpiling.

Purchasing Credits
It is rare that you will find a site which will only let you buy a single image credit, so expect to buy several photos from each site if you sign up, usually with a credit card, sometimes with PayPal. All will let you sign up and add images to ‘lightboxes’ for free… in the hope that you will return and purchase them!

  • Bigstockphoto approx $20 for 10 images
  • Dreamstime approx. $20 for 22 images, but also provides free images
  • Fotolia from 57p – £3.99 for a single-image
  • iStockphoto starts at £9.00 for 10 credits, cost per credit decreases as more are purchased
  • Shutterstock £29 for 5 images, or by subscription
  • Snapvillage images from $1
  • Stock.xchng offers free images or refers you to Stock Expert where small web images are around $1 each. 
  • Photobucket mostly designed for the MySpace user, but has some gems tucked away through the search function

For historical (and very creative recent) images Getty Images comes highly recommended. To search for images created in a particular era search for e.g. “Image created 1940s”. Royalty free images start at £39 for web-use only.

You Tube
You Tube is of the course the ubiquitous video-posting site, so I’ve set up an account there and just uploaded one small video!

Just a thought on Social Networking
Finding the Tagged site slightly freaky in that people (well, blokes) vote ‘YES’, send messages and WINK at me (I guess it makes a change from pokes), especially in the 20 minutes after I’ve just checkeed the site!

Rediscovering a social life on the ‘net


Just because an application, widget, tool, web device, web 2.0 implement – whatever you want to call it – is available, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily useful. Yesterday, I started my re-familiarisation of what is ‘now’ on the ‘net. Here are some first thoughts in response to that…

Blogging
Working on a previous project, we’d established that www.blogger.com was a simple, solid site to use, and easy to access using my Google log-in. Wikipedia explains what a ‘blog‘ is.
FeedBlitz  and Feedburner are free services which allow your content to be seen by more users through sending them updates (using RSS or Atom Feeds, as generally used by blogs). Feedblitz converts them into regular (‘regular’ can be defined’) emails to be sent to subscribers. 
RSS Feeds add automatically updated content onto a website, naturally keeping the site fresh. Choose content carefully to be relevant to your website/blog. 
Virtual Worlds
I tried Second Life, but discovered I wasn’t that interested in getting the hang of it. There’s enough going on in the real world to keep me busy,  without inventing a second life! Social networking is different as it’s keeping in contact with people I have met in the real world. 

Social Networking
Facebook is my social networking site of choice. Facebook has been a great tool whilst I have been travelling, and I have many ‘Friends’ on there from a variety of different walks of life, but particularly from my time as an Oak Hall Tour Leader. Others recommend ‘spring-cleaning’ Facebook, but if I want to find someone, it’s easy enough, no need to go removing people… always interesting to have a chat with someone from your random past!
I still have MySpace and Friends Reunited accounts. I find Facebook more useful than MySpace, but am currently tinkering with the new features in Friends Reunited (now it’s free!). I have recently signed up to Twitter (famously used by Barack Obama) andTagged to experiment with their capabilities. 
There are also more specialist social networks which I have experimented with, includingMyChurch and OKCupid (which gives access to a number of personality tests). 
I have deleted my Orkut account as it is largely aimed at the South American market. I’ve not used Bebo as it seems to be aimed at the younger market. 
A couple of useful Wikipedia articles: