[ARTICLE] Digital fear still here? Steering a positive future

A short piece I was asked to write for starts:

Dr Bex Lewis investigates digital fear, presenting a balanced view of the risks against the benefits: Fears about ‘the digital’ are widespread, particularly around questions of privacy, addiction, bullying, loss of social skills, peer pressure, and the loss of time with ‘real people’. With every new technological advance, including the printing press, the telephone, and the television, fears have been raised. These are known as ‘moral panics’. Frank Furedi, a sociologist, suggests that these occur when society feels unable to adapt to dramatic changes and fears a loss of control. This is not helped by the fact that the media tend to generalize from single instances of harm, implying that we are all ‘at risk’.

Read the full article and author profile.


What is ‘Intellectual Cowardice’?


Always interesting to read from those who are public about their ‘fears’ – once fears have been named, they can be faced, right?

Anxiety about being a fraud does seem to be an occupational hazard in academia. Ruth Barcan has written in these pages about the reasons for its prevalence – the increasing demands and complexities of the job, the stratification of the university, the insecurities of teachers and of the institutions they work for, and indeed the insecurity of higher education itself. Surely Barcan is right that a “fractured, competitive system” makes people feel overwhelmed and undermined. It often seems as if neither we academics ourselves nor others think us worthy. How can anyone finish anything in such conditions?

Yet I came to think that the final word about feeling fraudulent rests with the person who consents to that feeling. Was I victim of “impostor syndrome” or was I responsible for my fate? If I refused to take responsibility, if I gave in to my fear of finishing, then wouldn’t I make a fine candidate to join Dante’s neutrals? It was only when I learned to confront – and exploit – the deep fear that was at the heart of the project, the fear of being cowardly, that I was able to finish.

Read the full article – and a couple of interesting comments – including blaming much on the compartmentalisation of departments.

Digital Life(style)

The Digital Revolution? #MediaLit14 with @drbexl & @tim_hutchings for @codecuk

This morning’s pre-coffee session for #MediaLit14 – has there been a digital revolution, and if so, what might it look like?:


#AdventBookClub: Day 29: Fear Not


Some thoughts from Maggi Dawn today

  • … the phrase ‘Fear Not’ appears 366 times in the Bible – one for every day of the longest year.
  • We cannot look in the face of God but we can look into the face of Jesus
  • Truly great people rise above the need to impress others with how great they are.
  • Sometimes we make the business of sharing faith far too complicated, as if we need to be world experts on the subject before we can open our mouths.
  • …the meaning of Christmas is that God loves us so much, he cannot bear to be without us..

How do we take the message of Christmas and act upon it … ensuring that it lasts throughout the year, and we don’t put it aside as ‘Christmas finishes’.


The need for Universities to engage (properly) with social media

A great story in the pull out on the World University Rankings in Times Higher Education, encouraging universities to move properly into the digital age.

The increased importance of brands has been paralleled by rapid growth in the channels of information that shape reputation and transmit brands. Social media outlets have proliferated, diversifying the ways information is spread. There are live chats, blogs, interactive bookmarking and video sharing. All can and do shape reputations.

Universities have been slow to react to the shift in the media environment. They have one foot in the print and post era, and one in the online age. Yet they often engage social media on the same terms as they engage mass media: fixed and formal messages, static images and long production cycles.


To achieve this brand leverage, universities have to engage with social media platforms and listen to many active voices. And they have to be quick about it because messages on these platforms move fast and reach many.

For example, a single student’s “status update” on Facebook at midnight about University X will reach on average 130 friends. If 15 of those friends comment, their messages will go to more than 1,000 individuals. Some will post a related message on Twitter. A complete stranger who searches for University X on Twitter will see this post; they could write a blog and reach another group of readers. Before University X’s communications office has opened, a message about the institution has been created and spread.

Read full post. Many lecturers are still treating social media as something optional … but we live in a digital world and we need to engage with it!