Comment from Cathy’s blog

Hello Cathy! Thank you for sharing this excellent video and commentary; I’ve watched the video twice now and it’s packed full of interesting ideas and expressive, imaginative ways of describing what sounds like a rather arduous and very complex experience.

I was interested in comparing the three video clips of movement or cars – the first so quick, so intentional, so bright; the second in slow motion, with the snow, and with an entirely different perspective (a pedestrian perhaps); the third quick again, but quieter on the roads, less bright. I wondered if you might be making a point about the quick pace of the MOOC but also its rigidity in terms of the list of topics you showed. This, then this, then this, then this, ad infinitum, but without any real control over the order in which things are covered. The second clip, then, was a sign of both brake and break as you attempt to make sense of the complexity of the topic and of the micro-ethnography. The third clip of driving, then, perhaps the home strait.


from Comments for Cathy’s Lifestream

Comment on Stuart’s blog

This is a really interesting post, slides and video, Stuart – thank you for sharing. It doesn’t sound like you had the most edifying time and your video encapsulates perfectly the experience you describe in your blog post.

I’m really interested in what you describe as the ‘lack of direction’ in the MOOC, and the way in which this contributed to feelings of being overwhelmed. The MOOC I did was structured clearly, but more than that was well signposted – it was easy to get a sense of how the course had been constructed.

I think you also have a super point about motivation, particularly this:

“participants seemed to want to satisfy their own needs rather than assist in the learning of others”

While I can see that this would have had a hugely detrimental effect on the development of community, I also get the sense that you can hardly blame them! If someone is treating the MOOC in a strictly instrumental way (like, to make money) then they’re not necessarily going to want to invest in the experience. It’s probably false economics, and I might not be able to explain this well, but I wonder if the fact that the MOOC was free to join contributed to this? If the MOOC had charged a small nominal fee to join (£5, for example), do you think it would have put off a lot of the people who joined for such instrumental reasons?


from Comments for Stuart’s EDC blog


from Pocket

Just sharing a link to a favourite blog of mine; the quality of posts definitely makes up for their relative infrequency! The posts provide examples of the use of ethnography in libraries, and I find discussion surrounding the methodologies employed to be often extremely useful.

The Story Behind That ‘Future That Liberals Want’ Photo

Samuel Themer never planned to be a symbol of everything that’s right or wrong with America. He just wanted to go to work. But when he hopped on the subway to head into Manhattan on February 19, the Queens resident was in full drag—he performs as Gilda Wabbit.

from Pocket


A few days ago, the Twitter feed of a right-wing political magazine tweeted the photo above with the caption ‘This is the future that liberals want’. And it spectacularly backfired. My Twitter feed  – admittedly one which roughly reflects my political views and is therefore a bit of an echo chamber – was full of people commenting ‘well, yes, actually’; there were also plenty of memes using the same text but with different images – some serious, some ironic, some hilarious: my favourite so far is about gay space communism.

The article I posted is the story behind the image, and it’s quite lovely. Definitely worth reading. But it’s made me wonder about the way in which community cultures develop around the notion of endorsement. The tweeted memes had so many RTs and favourites. I’m thinking about the ways in which we instrumentally use Twitter to express community, identity or belonging without actually creating content ourselves. To say ‘yeah, me too!’ without actually saying it. It’s almost equivalent to the MOOC participants who would be classified as lurkers: they might agree with a comment, but express it only in the ‘up votes’ (or whatever mechanism is used)….

No one reads terms of service, studies confirm

Apparently losing rights to data and legal recourse is not enough of a reason to inspect online contracts. So how can websites get users to read the fine print? The words on the screen, in small type, were as innocent and familiar as a house key.

from Pocket

An interesting article about how we don’t read the T&Cs, featuring a research study by two Canadian professors who managed to get a load of students to agree to promise a(n imaginary) company their first born children.

This has, I think, many important implications for the way we use technology. From a UX perspective, knowing that the T&Cs aren’t being read would mean that websites and companies ought to rethink the way they give information to potential customers, so they’re fully informed when they sign up. Somehow I can’t imagine this happening. The author of the article, however, suggests a sort of unspoken digital ethics contract (similar to the Hippocratic Oath), but how that might work is another matter.

There’s also how far we’re unable to do anything at all about terms and conditions we disagree with. If our use of a particular site is entirely optional then we can choose not to use it; if it isn’t – if our employer insists on it, or if it’s something expected of us – then we can hardly demand that Google or Facebook comes up with an alternative set of T&Cs just for us.

This is on my mind, particularly, as a result of an action I took in responding to the mid-term feedback from Jeremy. One of the points made – and a completely valid one – was that I might look to broaden my horizons in terms of the feeds coming into the lifestream. I added a couple of feeds and then looked to link up YouTube to the WordPress blog. And I was then faced with this:

Manage? I clicked on the ‘i’ to see what it inferred, and was faced with this:

At this point, I was turned completely off the idea of linking the two – any videos will just have to be – as Cathy brilliantly put it – glued on to the lifestream. I’m sure their intention is not particularly insidious, and I’ve probably already inadvertently given up lots of my data, but this seemed just a step too far.

But, on the other hand, at least it was clear.

Pinned to Education and Digital Cultures on Pinterest

Just Pinned to Education and Digital Cultures: Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions: Bruce Hanington, Bella Martin: 8601200649796: Books

I haven’t read this book, but it was mentioned by a couple of colleagues in a Research group I’m in at work, so I thought it might be worth sharing. From a few books reviews I’ve glanced it, it appears to be full of innovative ways of doing ethnographic research (including, possibly, Dan’s break-up letter) – definitely something for my ‘to read’ list!


This was a bit fortuitous (and came about because I jokingly suggested to my manager in the first week of EDC that I was now an “automation genius”), but I thought I’d share the gist of what I said. I was speaking to HASS graduate researchers, so I tried to provide them with a few ways that I thought IFTTT might be useful for research. If anyone reading has other suggestions I’d be really grateful to hear them!

  1. Publicising your work: e.g. getting IFTTT to tweet or FB blog posts you write, reaching a wider audience without necessarily needing to do extra work.
  2. Curating research: e.g. using IFTTT to save tweets on a topic, or things said about you during a conference presentation, and put them somewhere you can safely retrieve them at a later stage (or when someone talking about the REF asks you about impact)
  3. Organising your life: e.g. there are IFTTT recipes for getting reminders about starred emails you haven’t dealt with, or saving contacts’ details somewhere sensible.
  4. Backing up your back-ups e.g. I talk about backing up work a lot; but it dawns on me that if you regularly back up to say, Dropbox, you could get IFTTT to back up your back ups to Google and Evernote and lots of other places.

How I feel openly posting ‘academic’ work on Twitter

Just Pinned to Education and Digital Cultures: Pinterest: Chedsnehblogs ♡
That’s scary jumping, rather than anything else, just in case it isn’t clear. It was an ‘eeek moment’, a sort of worlds collide thing, because I use Twitter sometimes professionally but largely not these days… in any case, nothing bad happened!