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What the Law Can (and Can’t) Do About Online Harassment

edc17, stalking February 16, 2017 at 07:09PM


As Knox (2015) notes, the participatory nature of web 2.0 is frequently talked about through a utopian lens:

the communicative potentials of the network are frequently positioned as the solution to the hierarchies, inequalities and inaccessibilities of the institution. Thus, rather than ‘virtual’ or ‘otherworldly space’, technology becomes anti-institutional and emancipatory in its capacity to facilitate and enhance those traits already present in society.

The article linked to demonstrates some of the ways in which this lens is problematic. For many women, in particular, online communicative potentials online are not emancipatory, due to the persistence of gender, and gender inequality online:

The U.S. Department of Justice statistics suggest that 850,000 American adults—mostly women—are targets of cyber-stalking each year, and 40 percent of women have experienced dating violence delivered electronically. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found 40 percent of adult Internet users have experienced harassment online, with young women enduring particularly severe forms of it.

While this, as the article highlights, is a social problem and not just a problem of technology, the persistence and scalability of technologically mediated communication can amplify its impact and consequences. Within education, I feel that the prevalence of harassment is something we (as educators) need to be (more) conscious of when asking students to participate in networked learning. Frequently, we lack the (clear) guidelines required to manage harassment and other behaviour that’s inappropriate to our setting, leaving both our students and us vulnerable within our learning ‘communities’.


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E-tribalized Marketing?: The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption by Kozinets, Robert V. (1999)

edc17 February 13,


at 07:09PM

When reading Kozinets, Robert V. (1999), “E-Tribalized Marketing?: The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption,” European Management Journal, 17 (3), 252-264 (which I sought out because I wanted more information on the same reference from to McLuhan in Kozinets, 2010), I noticed a reference to McLuhan (1970):
“Networked computers empower people around the world as never before to disregard the limitations of geography and time, find another and gather together in groups based on a wide range of cultural and subcultural interests and social affiliations.” (p. 1)
At face value this seems like such a great idea. However, does this not reduce diversity within networks? At what cost? I’m thinking back to the earliest of days of #mscedc, in which discussion within the Twitersphere turned to self-segregation, and the risks of non-diverse networks, such as Sheehan’s ‘spiral of silence’ , in which  people are more less-likely to voice opinions they perceive to be minority in non-diverse communities. We also discussed how such a spiral might be amplified, and I raised questions about how social practices associated with social media might (such as seeking
‘likes’) lead to more self-segregation, further reducing diversity within networks.
The McLuhan (1970) reference from Kozinets goes further, however. It is not about social media, but all networked technologies. In recent reading of Stewart (2015), it was proposed that networks foster participatory culture. I don’t disagree with this, nor question that giving agency and involving diverse peoples in knowledge generation is positive. However, one has to ask if there is a connection between participatory culture and reduced network diversity. I’m not suggesting that such a connection would be inherent or unavoidable. However, given observations of tendencies towards reduced network diversity through self-segregation, it seems to me that it is possible that there is another (new) literacy, upon which integrated society is quite dependent: a willingness to not just cluster in affinity groups, but also build diverse networks, and hold civil conversations with those who hold different perspectives to us. 

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On the important differences between literacies, skills and competencies.

edc17, metal-level process, literacies February 12, 2017 at 08:01PM

Following my reading of Stewart (2013), I wanted to explore the idea of literacy/literacies involving meta-level processes.

In the linked weblog post (the same one that Stewart referred to in her article), Belshaw expands on the idea of meta-level processes:

The important point to make here is that whilst competencies can be seen as ‘bundles of skills’, literacies cannot. You cannot become literate merely through skill acquisition – there are meta-level processes also required. To be literate requires an awareness that you are, indeed, literate.

That sounds a little weird, but it makes sense if you think it through. You may be unexpectedly competent in a given situation (because you have disparate skills you have pulled together for the first time). But I’m yet to be convinced that you could be unexpectedly literate in a given situation.

I need to think some more on this. I’m wondering about emergent literacy: generally we describe people as either literate or illiterate, but what is the tipping point? Generally, I sit in the “literacies as social practices” camp, so I support the notion that ‘being digitally literate is a condition of being able to make meaning as a social practice… via interaction with mediating technologies’ (Stewart, p. 232). However, Stewart adds ‘as a social practice and at a meta-level’ (my emphasis).

In order to make meaning of/with texts, do I need to be aware I’m making meaning? I guess you do. In the case of my visual artefact, I had doubts that anyone would be able to recognise what I was attempting to communicate, and hence felt ‘illiterate’ with that means of communication

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The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer – BBC News

Tags: edc17, immortality, cyborg, neuroscience, scifi, mind uploading
February 06, 2017 at 03:41AM



This BBC article from 2016 provides interesting perspectives on the possibility of cyborg futures:

The millionaire (Dmitry Itskov) funding research into uploading human minds to computers: “For the next few centuries I envision having multiple bodies, one somewhere in space, another hologram-like, my consciousness just moving from one to another.”

The neuroscientist (Dr Randal Koene) working with/for the millionaire: “All of the evidence seems to say in theory it’s possible – it’s extremely difficult, but it’s possible.”

A neuroscientist (Dr Ken Hayworth) involved in mapping tiny parts of mice brains, and who has no ethical objections to the notion of mind-uploading: “The idea of mapping a whole human brain with the existing technology that we have today is simply impossible.”

A neurobiologist (Prof Rafael Yuste) who has ethical concerns:  “The pathway that leads with the new neural technologies to our understanding of the brain is the same pathway that could lead, theoretically, to the possibility of mind uploading. Scientists that are involved in these methods have the responsibility to think ahead. If you could replicate the mind and upload it into a different material, you can in principle clone minds. These are complicated issues because they deal with the core of defining what is a person.”

Visionaries or mad people? The quest for immortality through cyborg lives persists..

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Do parents still model news consumption? Socializing news use among adolescents in a multi-device world – Jan 23, 2017

Tags: edc17
February 01, 2017 at 04:49PM
Open in Evernote


I previously referred to Bourdieu’s (1984) work, with reference to his suggestion that the human body has always been a site where social distinction is sought and that by extension, using technology to enhance human appearance and capacity is part of a continuing tradition. In the linked article (above) could be said to bring into play another of Bourdieu’s concepts, cultural capital.

The study in the article examined the impact of socialisation on adolescents’ news consumption:

Results indicate that parental modeling remains an important factor in socializing news consumption, even when modeling takes place via mobile devices. Additionally, we find consistent evidence for “matched modeling” between the devices parents use for news and those used by youth.

My interest was spurred by Bayne’s (2015) assertion that digital technologies cannot be separated from social practice. The use of hand-held devices and prevalence of screens in homes has seen media consumption become individualised, changing ‘social practice’:

Media use inside the home is increasingly individualized as parents and children adopt mobile devices and often use them behind closed doors, in a shift toward what Livingstone (2007) has called the privatized “bedroom culture.”

Connecting the results of the study to cyberculture, many of the fears expressed in cyberpunk relate to the increasing gaps between rich and poor or able and not able – for example, in Blade Runner anyone who can afford it and is declared fit for it has left for the Off-World colonies. The study shows how access to digital technologies alone is not an enabler or equalizer – how it is used, and how it is talked about has significant impact; technologies are not adopted universally in the same ways. Yes, digital technologies impact on social practice, but culture also impacts on how digital technologies are used.