Blog post in the Chronicle reports on a collaborative gathering of digital humanists and techie folks, and the result: Anthologize, a WordPress plug in that lets you turn your blog posts into a PDF file. The comments under the article are also worth a look, as they raise interesting issues vis a vis intellectual property particularly with regards to comments left by blog visitors.


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schools and cyberbullying

An article from the NYTimes Magazine explores the roles and responsibilities of schools and school administrators in preventing cyberbullying. Good article to use with freshman seminar to accompany chapter on cyberbullying.

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too much technology?

Another entry in the too much technology debate: Hooked on Gadgets, And Paying a Mental Price in today’s New York Times.

“Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. …These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.”

This is fascinating to me, because I’ve come across this theme of addiction (and the shame that sometimes comes with it) in my research with college students. For example, when I’ve asked students to keep a technology journal for a few days, the response often ends up being “wow, I didn’t realize how much technology I use and how dependent on it I am” and “that’s not a good thing.” When I ask why they feel so dependent on it, however, the answer tends to be harder for them to articulate – because they’ll feel out of the loop, like they’ll miss something, or might be letting others down who expect them to be always available. These are reasonable and important social explanations, in the context of the social worlds in which they operate. It’s really interesting to see that there might also be a cognitive and physical explanation as well… and interesting to ponder the potential interplay between the social and the cognitive…

Related to the article, you can also test your focus using an interactive quiz from Stanford researchers that was used to examine how many objects low and high multitaskers could hold in short term memory.

I’m not a great multitasker – I tend to work very intensely on one thing at a time, and end up being sunk deep enough into the task that I get annoyed at distractions and interruptions. According to the Stanford research, this explains my high scores on the focus test.

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Mashable’s huge list of social media goodies

The good folks at Mashable recently posted a list of “90+ Essential Social Media Resources” with lots of interesting stuff to explore. Note to self: explore the interesting stuff. 🙂

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participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0

Interesting blog post by Henry Jenkins on the need to distinguish between the terms participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0 (via Gloria Jacobs). Jenkins argues that using web 2.0 as a concept for learning may be problematic, resulting in a view of learning that emphasizes tools and technologies, corporate control, and consumerism. (Participatory cultures on the the other hand are bottom up, peer to peer, and [in many cases] critical.) Jenkins uses Brown and Adler’s (2008) definition as a jumping off point for this discussion:

“The latest evolution of the Internet, the so-called Web 2.0, has blurred the line between producers and consumers of content and has shifted attention from access to information toward access to other people. New kinds of online resources– such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and virtual communities– have allowed people with common interests to meet, share ideas, and collaborate in innovative ways. Indeed, the Web 2.0 is creating a new kind of participatory medium that is ideal for supporting multple modes of learning.”

My biggest problem with this definition, and a focus on tools and technologies, is that 1) it comes across as rather determinist, and 2) it underplays the social learning theories that are at the heart of collaborative, peer to peer learning (at least in formal learning settings). It may seem a bit chicken and egg, but folks have been thinking about and practicing social learning for a while now. One of the nice things about Web 2.0 technologies is that they’ve provided a means for us to more easily put into practice some of these collaborative, peer to peer practices – but they didn’t invent the idea, and social learning would still happen without them.

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Facebook and privacy

This is obviously a hot topic lately, especially with FB’s latest round of changes. This time there’s less of an uproar from users (at least, in my news feed, anyway) perhaps because these changes don’t affect the interface in a major way as have past changes. On the other hand, the new changes are at a much deeper level, and leave users with a difficult decision regarding their privacy, leading toward a share all or nothing scenario.

Gizmodo posted a compelling article, Top 10 Reasons to Quit Facebook. The article also points to EFF‘s timeline of changes to FB’s privacy policy, which shows a clear tendency toward a default of share everything, all or nothing.

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alternatives to Ning

Ning is going with a paid model only, which is a bummer. I used it with great success for one class, and was planning to use it with more. However, a bunch of folks have collaborated on a list of alternatives to Ning – very useful! (via Michele Knobel)

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