From twitter – Turnitin as a plagiarism “detection” system?

Knox (2015) writes:

“It is notable that algorithms, assumed to provide objectivity and exactitude, are frequently used in areas of high risk and security, and this is precisely where the most prominent example can be found in education: the use of the Turnitin plagiarism detection service at the point of assessment. ”

This is at odds with my own experience of using Turnitin. It is not a “plagiarism detection service”. It is at best able to suggest where plagiarism may have occurred, through its similarity indexing algorithm, but the ultimate call as to whether or not plagiarism has occurred is (still) made by humans. The similarity score of Turnitin is used as part of the evidence gathered in suspected academic misconduct cases. I have never heard of a student being penalised automatically. Perhaps it happens elsewhere.

Moreover, there should be push to flip the  focus of Turnitin’s reporting to  enable students to improve their scholarship.

ref: Knox, J. 2015. Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1


From Twitter

A very interesting exchange with James via Twitter off the back of my comment regarding Turnitin as a “plagiarism detection tool”. I argue that it’s not such a thing, but there are those who take the opposing view point. I could see this discussion taking shape in to a larger piece of work.

Credible knowledge sources

Fox attempts to knock back the argument that the Murdochs, or more correctly the Murdoch Family Trust, will have under their control several of the leading news providers in the UK after the deal. It notes the separation between broadcast and print businesses, while pointing out that both companies have their own boards and independent shareholders.


The UK is currently looking at the division of labor in news production and circulation being even tighter. This apparently concerns a lot of people, including the UK Government.

Gillespie says that the production of information can only be handled by proxies in the division of labour. To do so otherwise would be too mammoth a task given the size of our country

“some produce and select information, and the rest of us, at least in that moment, can only take it for what it’s worth”.  (Gillespie, 2012 p 25)

And yet, when considering the fundamental importance of a single search engine’s algorithm in putting news and content in front of the information consumer, Google’s market share is not prominent in the headlines, despite it account for 88% of UK search engine activity in January 2017 according to


This comes down to a number of reasons, but one which I’d be interested in exploring is that the technology is not understood by law makers. Unlike traditional media who have actively sought to lobby and influence and gain power in the UK political arena, tech companies give the appearance at least, of enjoying staying out of the limelight and just getting on with what they do. I suspect the latter part of that is naive, I’m sure they do plenty lobbying too, but I don’t see a google doodle appearing any time soon stating “It was google what won it” in reference to a general election result.


Pinned to Alogrithms on Pinterest

This was supposed to be an image that showed how people will claim to have a superior understanding of Google’s algorithm to such a degree that they can offer “1st page placement”. Something has happened to the image which I’ll need to rectify, but the context was Gillespie’s “Evaluation of Relevance” section of the secondary reading this week.

Just Pinned to Alogrithms: 43 Penguin Friendly SEO Tips for Page One Google Rankings:

Pinned to Alogrithms on Pinterest

I included this image of a book cover because it exemplified the element of fear that people hold about algorithmic culture, the invasive, pervasive and prominent role algorithms have taken in our every day life. It also looks like a book I might yet read.

Just Pinned to Alogrithms: The dangers of big data: How society is being controlled by mathematical algorithms:

Pinned to Algorithms on Pinterest

“So in many ways, algorithms remain outside our grasp, and they are designed to be. ……”

Just Pinned to Algorithms: joke-algorithm-is:
“……This is not to say that we should not aspire to illuminate their workings and impact.”
 (Gillespie, 2012 p26)

My first memory of algorithms

(image source:


It was a programme that my dad and I typed, line-by-line in BBC Basic. The BBC micro combined with hours of painstaking debugging from the lines of code printed in the Bebug Magazine pictured above, resulted in a programme that would create trees on-screen based on your inputs. I guess in today’s money such programming would be referred to as “procedural generation”, but it’s still an algorithm. Procedural generated games are among the most fascinating experiences gaming has to offer today. At least, I think they are. The controlled randomness of it all is fascinating to watch unfurl as it moves through its magical creative powers.

Using algorithms to create learning pathways could be very similar to game design. I hope I can investigate this more fully in the Games Based Learning module coming up in the next academic year.

(image source:


Algorithms; community and eye tracking in VR

Given that we’ve moved on to algorithms and culture, I thought to check out some stuff from Reddit. Reddit is driven by an algorithm, though it also has elements of human interaction to drive content up or down a hierarchy. It’s from a day-gone-by pre web2.0, but the site holds in there with huge communities built up around the “sub-reddits” there. I found an interesting discussion opening up over on /r/vive, a section of Reddit which is dedicated to primarily HTC Vive, but also VR in general.

“With all the talk about eye tracking inside VR headsets, I wanted to ask and see how many people on here have had LASIK eye surgery. The reason I am asking is because I believe I have discovered a fatal flaw in eye tracking technology when it comes to people who have had LASIK eye surgery.”

Eye tracking flaw after LASIK surgery from Vive

The user suggests that after a form of eye surgery, eye tracking software ( which is increasingly likely to be bundled along with VR. I can hear Facebook salivating at the thought of tracking eyeballs and adverts…..).

I “upvoted” the discussion, as I feel it’s an interesting and well considered original post. However, the algorithm behind Reddit, combined with other user’s interactions with the story, will determine how long the post remains visible to other users, and its position on the page.


Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Comment on A Mini-ethnography by cmiller

An automicrowebnography! Very nice presentation style too. It really helps to provide pace to your writing.

I’m very interested in your experience initially, as I’m looking through a lense of parts of Kozinet’s work for my ethnography. My finding for my mooc seems to place the community at a very different place from my experience.

When I see your response from the community, I’m more sure that my own conclusions could well prove to stand up to more rigorous debate: namely that we need a specific matrix to account for MOOC communities. They just do not seem to behave like “normal” online communities !

from Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Comment on A Mini-ethnography by cmiller

What I mean is that your experience with the community on your mooc and my experience with my mooc appear to be polar opposites, but neither, I think, are adequately covered by the matrix presented by Kozinets!

from Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Comment over on Eli’s EDC blog

Comment on Tweet! IFTTT tools that we would recommend by cmiller

I tried to get YouTube playlist and IFTTT working together, but it didn’t work.

I’m loathe to use the “liked” function with youtube because I’d spend more time removing junk from my blog, than I would save from manually cutting and pasting my video link directly. Which is what I’ve taken to do.

I am very impressed with the layout and legibility of your blog though. Something I aspire to, but time is not my own at the moment.

I’m a bit annoyed at the restrictions on our WordPress tbh. We can’t apply our own templates, edit CSS or really do much with it other than pick a theme… or am I missing something!



from Comments for Eli’s EDC blog

Comment on Lifestream, Tweets by cmiller

Excellent production. Not sure if it was intended, but with the audio quality as it was, I felt I was actually eavesdropping on your conversation rather than watching a youtube video!

The idea of MOOCS getting in the way of conversation I’m not sure about. It’s not like our MSCEDC discussion forum is a hotbed of informed debate either…

from Comments for Renée’s EDC blog

Without the internet I would not have learned what I learned tonight…

….Without the internet I would not have required to have learned what I learned in the first place.


I then set about creating a birthday wish with some video and images for my brother-in-law. It got a bit out of hand. I enjoyed learning what I needed to learn in order to create. I used YouTube, blogs, online discussion forum and some web pages to figure out techniques around Chroma Key, simple animation of images, cross-channel fades, downloading youtube videos….. I then posted it to Facebook so that my brother-in-law and his facebook friends could view it.

The end result itself for this course is not entirely relevant, but the skills I have learned tonight are exceptionally useful. Learning by doing. If you have the motivation to put effort in to something, then you will go the extra mile. This is why some technology, despite its obvious novelty value, is of great value in the classroom. Once you hook someone in, be it through motivation of progressing or changing status in a community, or just because something is fun initially, it can result in a great deal of satisfaction for the learner. No doubt for the teachers too, who see students getting to a new level of understanding without having to battle against unwillingness to learn.

Community in MOOCS should provide that backdrop. A motivation for learning. Appeal to those who can form connections out of nothing more than keypresses and internet communication. By  fostering community, the basic social need to be heard, to be seen, to be understood can be met.

Anyways, here’s the rather random outcome of my brother-in-law’s birthday wish.

Media Sources:

Soundtrack and some video clips:

Broforce PS4 game footage:

Greenscreen effects: