Digital Culture

The Value of Social Media and Counternarratives

Monday, August 17, 2015 Comment blacklivesmatter-600.jpg

As I write these words, St. Louis County has just declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of protests marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. When word began to spread that night that protests were taking a violent turn, I did not immediately turn to The New York Times, CNN, or any other traditional news source to learn more about what was happening. Instead, I turned to Twitter. There, I found first-hand reports from people on the scene in Ferguson about what


The Selfish Selfie and Simulation, Part 2

Thursday, August 07, 2014 Comment selfie-ns-2.jpg

Random autobiographical story: When in school, as part of our elocution classes, we had a dragon for a teacher, who used to prowl around with a menacing looking wooden measuring scale, as we obediently enunciated our words and practiced tongue twisters in an attempt to improve our diction and pronunciation. “She sells shellfish on the sea shore” the class chanted in a well-trained chorus. Every voice a whimper, trying to find comfort in remaining anonymous. But, in the middle of the group chanting, the scale rose and there would be silence. One petrified kid was stared


The Algorithms of Busyness

Thursday, May 22, 2014 Comment busy-sked.jpg

During the past week, I have been busy. I know this because my phone tells me so. Each night, before I go to bed, I check my schedule for the next day — seeing where I need to be, what time, any student meetings I’ve scheduled, and any notes I’ve made for my classes. That sentence makes it sound like an arduous process, but it’s little more than a swipe on my iPhone’s home screen to see what’s scheduled and a mental calculation about the level of formality my attire will require. Lately, my phone — I


Enacting Social Change in a Digital Age: An International Case Study

Saturday, June 15, 2013 Comment amigosdelasamericas1.png

In recent years, international development organizations have started incorporating digital media programming in an effort to merge storytelling and popular media into civic engagement and to bring young people together across national and cultural differences. In 2009, AMIGOS de las Americas partnered with a major development agency to carry out youth media and youth arts programs in Nicaragua. As the program’s director, Chelsey Hauge, a doctoral candidate in Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, spent three years studying young people’s relationships with media production, community development, and civic engagement. She was especially interested


Writing Without Networks

Thursday, July 12, 2012 Comment socialnetwork.jpeg

In his essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Nicholas Carr relates an exchange between Nietzsche and one of his friends, in which the friend remarked that the philosopher’s writing style had changed after he began to use a typewriter. As Carr tells us, Nietzsche’s reply was to agree, stating, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Those who study technology (Carr credits Kittler, who has written extensively about the effects of technology on culture, as the source of the Nietzsche story) tend to readily agree with these conclusions: technologies impact our behavior


The Challenge of Teaching Networked Writing

Monday, June 25, 2012 Comment johnjones.27.600.jpg

In my last post I wrote about what Derek Mueller calls the “digital underlife,” the writing practices of students that fall below the radar of classroom practice, but which are crucial ways in which these students practice literacy. In that post I argued that it is important for teachers to acknowledge the ways in which our students actually write and encourage them to think of themselves as writers. Yet doing so doesn’t answer another crucial question: how does this writing fit into our instruction? For a sense of perspective, it is worth noting that this is a


Digital Underlife and the Writing Classroom

Monday, May 14, 2012 Comment johnjones.26.600.jpg

In a 1987 paper, Robert Brooke argued that instructors needed to pay attention to the ways that students didn’t pay attention, like passing notes in class or whispering conversations. Building on the work of Erving Goffman, Brooke argued that these behaviors represented a writing “underlife” that was a means for students “to show that their identities are different from or more complex than the identities assigned them” in the classroom or school as a whole (p. 230). Fast forward to now. In a recent paper, Derek Mueller argues that the underlife needs to be reexamined, as


Technology, Cities & Collaboration

Friday, May 11, 2012 Comment lf_picture.jpeg

As Assistant Professor of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, Laura Forlano’s interests converge at the intersection of technology, cities, and culture. Prior to her professorship in design, Forlano was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Interaction Design Lab in the departments of Communication and Information Science at Cornell University. Her research focuses on urban informatics — the integration of digital technologies into urban spaces — and the emergent forms of organizing and collaboration that are possible through the use of ubiquitous technologies. Her current project, “Design Collaborations as Sociotechnical Systems,” is a worldwide


Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture

Monday, February 13, 2012 Comment raquel.17.600.jpg

Last year, Rio de Janeiro saw the birth of a new type of battle in the streets of the favelas: the “Small Step Battle.” In this battle, hundreds of kids and teenagers from the poor parts of Rio are fighting with a major weapon: dance steps. Everyday, kids are posting videos of themselves performing creative and often very difficult ‘funk’ dance steps on YouTube. These videos are now a fever: some have millions of viewers. The battle is on and these kids are challenging others to create better (and often, even more difficult steps) to dance


eBooks, Writing, and Ownership

Thursday, February 09, 2012 Comment john23.600.jpg

One of the great promises of the internet is that it allows for writing to be distributed outside of the restrictions imposed by traditional publications. On the internet there is no scarcity of resources, no oversight by editors, and no need to tap a pre-identified audience, and these features of web publishing have made it possible for anyone with access to post nearly anything to be read by potentially anyone else. However, while the gains for writers have been very real, there remains a distinct hierarchy between the products of the traditional publishing industry and web-based