Category Archives: Weekly Synthesis Archive – No longer running as it was obligatory for my MSc.

Final Synthesis – Lifestream Reflections

In terms of digital activities, I am now definitely more open to working on other platforms. I tried to make use of a lot of different digital tools to reflect my engagement with the course. Many of them for the first time ever. These have included video, MS paint, note taking web apps (both writing on my own and with others), voice-to-text apps podcasts, and twitter. I told myself it was just as important to critique the various methods used, as it was to make “notes” on the readings. This made me more open to experimentation. If it went wrong I could always write a post saying why it went wrong.

I think I expected the “being public” element of EDC to be more important than it ended up being. Rather than having my every post scrutinised and debated it was only very rarely that I had people other than my tutor comment on my blog. This is perhaps an accurate reflection of present day digital culture. With so many alternatives sources of information and entertainment it is actually far more likely your output will be lost in the datacloud rather than pilloried by keyboard warriors.

Looking back at my lifestream the main thing I that struck me is that I haven’t ever wanted to look at my lifestream. For this post, I found it more useful to re-read my weekly syntheses as they condensed the sprawling morass of the lifestream into something more manageable. The lifestream was worthwhile in so far as it useful to have links to all my posts on various platforms available on my blog’s dashboard. What I think this reflects is that is not enough just to bring data together in one platform, it needs to be processed into useful information and then made easily navigable so it can be connected to more information, either by myself or others, This is a worthwhile principal to embed in my learning processes as it will make it easier to work on larger, more sustained projects such as the dissertation.

One interesting thing about the lifestream though is the fact that, thanks to the RSS feeds from other blogs, it will continue to grow even after I have moved on from writing the blog. The blog will become a sort of strange shifting memorial to my EDC learning.

This will probably be the last time I get to blog as part of my MSc as none of the courses I am planning to take are assessed that way. I will miss the freedom that comes from an absence of word counts limits.

Finally, I would just like to note how much I enjoyed the Nethnography/community culture block as it gave me a chance to link my studies to my interest in drumming and musical education. I thought this would be a bit self-indulgent but I’m beginning to come around to the idea that by looking at Digital Education as a drummer I may have found a unique research angle. This may well end up being how I approach the dissertation.

Weeks 11 and 12 – Bonus Tracks

Some bonus EDC work. Like a secret track on an album. This was the first track that came into my head and it seems to have a suitably Digital Education line in the lyrics (despite it being about analogue ham radio):

“So many ways to communicate what you want to say”

Anyway. Here’s some extra bits and bobs I’ve been up to:



Weekly Synthesis – alGOGOrhythms and tangents

Any excuse to post this:

I got married to this song.

Another sort of al-gogo-rhythm:

This is my current drum teacher and this is the video (combined with a gumtree ad) that made me choose him over any other teacher in Edinburgh.

All very abstract and tangential which, along with algorithms, has been the theme this week:

I made a spotify playlist using and inspired by algorithms. I also made some abstract notes on the set reading. I got lead off on a tangent by other posts on the code acts blog. I did my tweetorial analysis and took part in the google hangout.

I was active on Twitter, which was useful as a classmate was able to sort the TAGS analysis when I couldn’t. This meant I could do a wee bit more tweetorial analysis.

My RSS feeds threw up some more tangents. This post can relate back to the approach we are being asked to take with algorithms, namely being curious about how they work, not necessarily refuting all their findings but always looking to question their workings.  It is very easy to argue that algorithmic culture is the current source of the “post-truth crisis” Hapgood is trying to inoculate his students against. He also talks about how worthwhile it is to get students to teach in order for them to realise how little they know. By co-incidence this really resonated with me as I am currently preparing to teach my first drum student. I’ve really had to revise my stick gripping techniques.

The main conclusion I have drawn is that Mike Hapgood is bloody prolific.










Weekly Synthesis 9 – Togetherness

Lots of togetherness this week. Obviously there was the tweetorial, which brought a lot of the EDC students together to talk about saddles and cheese. Judging by the archives/analytics my ineptitude with twitter may prevent may stop my contribution being reflected accurately. I thought tweeting to the hashtag was enough for a reply rather than tweeting @ every person in the conversation.  Oh well.

Oh well is also my ultimate response to my attempt to write my notes together with 2 classmates this week. It was still worth the effort on my part even if we didn’t have time to carry out everything I planned.

My RSS feed has thrown up a post on federated content for videohosting, bringing people together to be part of the distribution network rather than leaving it to corporate behemoths to make the platform.  Another feed had a remarkably apt article on the battle over LA adoption in schools in New York. Siemens would probably explain this as a failure in organizational capacity, specifically to a failure to build consensus amongst educational stakeholders.

Returning back to twitter, my understanding of the platform is coming together now. People follow you out of politeness if you send them a nice tweet (generally). This means that my tweets are slightly more likely to end up in their feed, but I shouldn’t worry that they are going to see everything that I tweet as the feed changes all the time. At least that’s how I hope it works as I now being followed by @rhiaro  and @BenPatrickWill   both of whom do very proper EDC work. So hopefully I don’t have to make every tweet profound and scholarly.


Week 8 Synthesis – Reptiles, Lizards, Worms and algorithmic play

I kicked off these week by making a small slide show to evidence my algorithmic play.  On a whim I invented the alias Montorg P. Lizardo which ended up setting the theme for this week.

I watched a TV programme where an academic expert on worms tried to claim he had great musical insights on music on account of his ability to play with data analysis algorithms. I thought it was a joke but it turns out he does write actual papers on this.

Along with this written synthesis there is also a sort of audio synthesis where I was able to present the posts listed above in a podcast. The main point was to play with algorithmic audio devices to turn myself into a talking space lizard but I did attempt something a bit more ambitious.

I spent some time thinking about Gordon Gekko type financiers and how their algorithmic play has real world impacts.

Worms and lizards are often food for birds which tenuously links to my twitter feed. Sort of. I’ve tweeted every time I’ve read an article I felt touches upon some of the course themes. I had a few more “conversations” with my coursemates than usual. I discussed my dislike of the catch all group noun “creatives” with Colin and there was an aborted attempt to involve others in my podcast idea.

Speaking of feeds some of the blogs that I have subscribed to have fed into my life stream. There was no serendipitous mentions of algorithmic culture or reptiles so I can’t think of anything to tie them to this week’s theme. Oh except they are all American writers (who seems to dominate EdTEch blogging) and an eagle is symbol for America.


Weekly Synthesis 7 – Feeling and Emotions

(a guilty pleasure, Travis Barker is classy drummer)

Or maybe this…

Anyway. I spent a lot of the week leaving comments on other people’s artefacts. Everyone else’s comments tended to be very positive and friendly whilst my habit is to drill straight into questions and critiquing.  I often have to remember to go back to the top when I write a comment to put some praise in it.  I tend to neglect the emotional considerations of commenting on others’ work.

I’ve had feelings of bemusement when trying to think of how to add variety to my lifestream as specified here. I eventually had a great feeling of satisfaction when I figured out what I was going to do. I’ve copied over a few emails into the stream and added the RSS feeds from some Ed-Tech blogs I thought looked good (this actually inspired this week’s theme).

As the RSS feeds rely on those blogs being updated I decided to press on with using different apps for making notes on the next block’s reading. I was inspired by Myles Thies artefact to use padlet and this resulted in two posts here and here.

I also finished off the lyrics for my band’s song. I feel pretty proud of them. Arguably they are not very “personal” or “emotional” but as a drummer I’ve often argued against the emotional centre of the song being solely located in the text/lyrics. Instead it is created through practice, the interactions between all the musicians.

Week 6 Synthesis – Video and Presence


(this is one of the first bands I ever brought a tape of)

My posts here, here and here all relied heavily on video in order to document the experience of participating with the Drumeo community. Indeed, it would be impossible for Drumeo to exist without video technology. This reflects Lister’s point that media is a combination of tech affordance as well as human creativity and economic power (Lister, 2009).

Reviewing my posts got me thinking about presence. Hine (2000) gave a brief overview on the debates of reflexivity in ethnography, the fundamental question being how, or even should, ethnographers draw attention to their “presence” in the construction of ethnographic knowledge? By appearing in the videos is  my presence as a digital ethnographer more obvious than in my posts here, here and here? Two of those posts have verbatim text from Drumeo forums where I am writing quite informally. One post was written just for this blog. Am I more present in a personal sense when writing impersonally in comparison with the post where I was consciously writing in a formal, academic register?

Another thing I’ve noted in the lifestream is that I’ve not been posting much in Twitter during this block. Unlike my coursemates I don’t really use it much for conversations. As most of my work has been specific to Drumeo I didn’t feel I had much to share.  Having said that for a while I had the honour of the top rated tweet for #mscedc. The approval of our algorithmic overlords and my classmates appealed to my vanity. Something to explore in the next block perhaps.

Also Jeremy whilst you’re here can you look at this and leave your response as a comment? Thanks!

Week 5 Synthesis – Methods

Looking back on this week I think the theme has been improvising with methods (much like the video above).

For one reading, rather than typing notes on one screen whilst having the reading open in another, I experimented with using voice-to-text software. Some amusing typos, some annoying Americanisms (it’s not intuitive for me to say period instead of full stop) and a different cognitive experience. Editing using this software is a pain so I had to pause and compose my notes carefully before speaking. Typing notes allows me to try things out and back track more.

I used a different, more conceptual method to produce a second map of Drumeo.

As promised last week, I tried to employ the methods of political economy to analyse Drumeo (here and here).  These were more difficult to write than I first expected. I feel like I can spot economic factors that shape the online community but my posts don’t quite capture my thoughts on the issue fully. But then I read the Hines reading that Netography is inherently partial in its analysis and stopped worrying so much. Hopefully by providing lots of little posts by the end of the month the Drumeo site as a whole will be clearer to any readers of my blog.

Which brings us to my own method for the block. From what I can see there are not many EDC students taking my “make several ethnographic objects as you go along” approach. It’ll be interesting to see how we’ve all ended up interpreting the task differently. In the next 2 weeks I am hoping to produce some love letters, time lapse videos and hopefully copy over some of my posts in Drumeo to this blog to show how I participated in that community.


Week 4 Synthesis – Seen and Not Seen

Reviving a habit from IDEL and having theme songs as the Cyberculture playlist is now complied. This is my inspiration for the cybernetic maracatu. Anyway.

Seen and not seen. What is visible and what is not? The fundamental debate in early digital ethnography seemed to be whether communities and communication could happen when other people could not be seen. What would we do without embodied social cues? Through the development of text speak and avatars online communication found a way to be seen.

My own visual artefact was seen by a few people but not by many. The importance of timeliness even in asynchronous communication there. Maybe it will have a long tail.

I enjoyed the Lister (2009) reading on the political economy of the internet. In a way political economy is taking what is not seen in our daily lives and making it seen. I intend to do a post on the political economy of drumeo next week. I am interested in the way capitalist base has shaped the superstructure of drumeo as a media. I particularly want to consider why it isn’t structured like Wikipedia (e.g. free, open source, editable, etc) and what consequences stem from that.

A lot of my work is not seen this week as I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Although this can be traced in my notes section. Again a reminder that like anthropology, a lifestream can only be a partial snapshot of a social activity. It’s important to ask what data is getting captured and what isn’t.

Two final things, my first netography post was about what members of the drumeo community were not seen on a shared map. Finally, I managed to fit references to a course reading, Magrite and Mission of Burma in one tweet. Confusing the object with the representation is basically confusing what is seen and what is not seen.

Week 3 Synthesis – A New Approach

Drawing upon the advice I got from the tutorial I am going to try and be more thematic in my summaries from now on.

For me the week’s theme is serious play. A post-modern approach to scholarship that was cited in the Cyborg Manifesto and can be linked to the ethos behind the gamification of Education. Although, as a musician I tend to think of the verb play in that context rather than with games. This interpretation is also reflected in the musical slant to all my posts.

So what have I done?:

Played with Cyborg Manifesto to make song lyrics, a not entirely new approach for me. I also tried to set some notes on Cybernetics to music.

I have bombarded the mscedc twitter with cyborg themed songs. I am grateful that they will be pulled into a playlist.

My favourite post was about playful musical interpretations of speech.

For me this approach raises questions of what constitutes “serious” and “proper” scholarship. Are these valid methods to evidence my engagement with the course? Although enjoyable the contrast with my previous studies makes me a bit uncertain. Am I learning just as much? If I say I have learnt something is this what I mean by a “valid method”? Or by validity do I mean have a produced something that will earn me marks according to the course’s grading criteria? Should this reflexive calculations be part of my approach or should I just continue playing around? These are serious questions.