[BOOK REVIEW] This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (re online trolling)

30596_This-is-Why-We-Cant-Have-Nice-Things-Mapping-the-Relationship-Between-Online-Trolling-and-Mainstream-Culture-by-Whitney-PhillipsThis looks really interesting:

Why do trolls exist? How can such hostile online behaviour be understood intellectually, culturally and socially? Put another way: is the notorious Pedobear character “lulz” (hilarious) or an ambivalent tour guide through child pornography?

For her recent doctorate, communications scholar Whitney Phillips conducted an ethnography of these groups by entering the trolling subculture. Drawing on that research, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things considers whether trolling is a deviant subculture or a more universalised online practice. As is common in digital media studies, while Phillips argues for the generalisability of trolling attitudes and practices, her dataset is restricted to the US.

Her book, which will be useful for theorists of digital ethnography, considers the subcultural origins of trolling (2003-07), its golden years (2008-11) as well as a transitional period (2012-15). Phillips is concerned with “the self-identifying, subcultural troll”, drawing a distinction between these practices and simple online cyberbullying. Her challenge was to study this community but not to “replicate trolls’ racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist output”, which prompts a wider intellectual question about how to create a space for researching social patterns that cause harm to others

Read full review, and see piece I wrote on social media trolling last year.

Internet Addiction Impacting Studies?

Image Credit: RGB Stock

Image Credit: RGB Stock

Curious about this piece of research:

Internet addicts were less motivated to study, according to responses given in the survey.

Students with mild or worse internet addiction were judged to be 10 per cent less intrinsically motivated, on average, than those without such a problem. The effect was more marked on internet-addicted students’ self-efficacy, which was about 25 per cent lower.

Phil Reed, who led the study, said that the results “seem to show that prolonged problematic use of the internet seems to reduce people’s ability to make long-term plans and to resist immediate temptation”.

Read full article.

[Book Review] Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority and Liberal Education in the Digital Age, by Thomas Leitch

27709_book-review-wikipedia-u-by-thomas-leitchThis looks worth a read … had many discussions about the use of Wikipedia within academic life … and let’s face it, many of us use it as a first stop… but as I say to students,  it shouldn’t be the last stop:

In this deceptively slender volume, Leitch gathers a fascinating set of narratives around the nature of authority in the academic world, based strongly on the liberal education approach of critical analysis and debate. He looks perceptively at the New Model Army of innovative information folk represented by the Wikipedia philosophy of freedom, and discusses the issues raised in terms of a battle between the visibly entrenched opposing forces of “top-down” authority and the “bottom-up” building of consensus. It is a new world full of paradox, of unresolved questions and of the metaphoric scraping of metal on metal as the traditional architectures of academia struggle to avoid a slow-motion car wreck between the two cultures.

Read full article.

“Good Works” = “Academic Citizenship”


The realities of academic life – more than research and teaching … and incredibly difficult with short-term funding/contracts

For Mary Evans, centennial professor at LSE’s Gender Institute, the rewards of fully engaging in these diverse areas of academic life have been personal and political. “For many women of my generation it was very important to construct networks within the academy, hence motivation for ‘citizenship’ was very much about establishing a ‘voice’,” she says, adding that “building friendships through work as a ‘citizen’ is a huge help in limiting that sense of isolation that is part and parcel of being an academic”.

Susan Bassnett, professor of comparative literature at the University of Warwick, outlines her “citizenship” workload in the first half of 2015: “I have three PhDs to examine, only one in the UK; an appointing committee overseas; three meetings of projects on whose advisory board I serve; two plenary lectures abroad and a week-long workshop in Italy; plus reviewing for journals, funding bodies, references, etc.”

Read full article.

"Born into a second life"


Some interesting thoughts here re ‘digital natives‘:

In my field, we are accustomed to rehearsing all the usual anxieties about threats to material book culture: we lament the loss of research skills, we worry about deserted archives and lost arts of palaeography. We champion independent booksellers over Kindles, and heatedly debate the merits of open access publishing. In our wider culture, we are nostalgic for elegant penmanship, we issue apocalyptic cautions about diminished attention spans, physical inactivity and eroded social ties.

For my own part, I don’t fear the tide of technological progress, but I am conscious of how hard it is, even when game, to keep up to speed with the latest advances. I am foxed by online grade books and iTunes alike. Even the language can leave us behind. “Virtual reality” rings with a Nineties naffness, as though its claim to reality no longer needed the qualification. We are asked to trust in innocuous “cloud” technology as though the substance of our thoughts and lives could be dissolved into thin air.

Read full story… am not convinced that current students “are a completely different operating system altogether”!

#FollowFriday: Using Twitter in Learning

twitter-iconInteresting story in THE, with Rosie Miles, who I heard from at Winchester in the past:

Dr Miles used Twitter, she said, as a kind of “ludic learning” tool, allowing students to connect with Victorian literature in a very 21st-century way.

Students adopted Twitter personas based on fictional characters: Dr Jekyll became @Doubleface1886, while Dracula’s enemy Van Helsing could be found at @Istakevamps, and Dorian Gray at @Consciencefree1.

The role play allowed students to connect with their characters and become more digitally literate, according to Dr Miles, who spoke about the experiment at Bett 2015, an annual education technology conference held last week in London.

Read full story.

Book Review: Pressed for Time by Judy Wajcman

27494_book-review-pressed-for-time-by-judy-wajcmanWell, this looks interesting:

Pressed for Time – Judy Wajcman’s clearly, interestingly and highly accessibly written investigation into the many facets of the acceleration of time in our increasingly digital society – is just such a book. If, in this rapidly changing world, one may dare to make a prediction, it is that this work will soon shoot to the top of citation index scores as a core text that goes on to spur numerous research projects in a range of fields, as well as establishing the sociology of time, its diverse structure and differential distribution, as a major research field in its own right.

Read full review.

[BOOK REVIEW] Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness

Now, here’s an interesting looking boo26976_book-review-wikipedia-and-the-politics-of-openness-by-nathaniel-tkaczk, and this first couple of paragraphs sums up a lot:

The relationship between academics and Wikipedia is a complex one. At one level we love it: however much some of us may deny it, we all use it, at the very least as a route to other information, and often as a way to start to get an idea about something new. At another level we hate it, knowing how unreliable it is and knowing how much students are likely to rely on it.

So what do we do? For many academics it becomes a pragmatic exercise. We accept Wikipedia, we use Wikipedia – and we tell our students to use it with a great deal of care, particularly in terms of reliability of information. “Never cite Wikipedia” is pretty much a mantra. And yet although we thoroughly question the reliability of the information, do we question the Wikipedia project itself? Do we ask what lies behind Wikipedia – or what the project itself really means? It often seems as though Wikipedia is part of the furniture or even part of the environment: taken for granted, on its own terms. Its collaborative “openness” is seen as admirable, its neutrality accepted and respected – without either that openness or that neutrality really being critically examined or questioned.

Read full book review.