Highlighting, connecting



The ABC carried a brief story this week about Australians’ use of social media.

It drew upon survey data from Tumblr to frame the story. It used this introduction:

Australians are using social media to curate their image, rather than connect with friends and family

An Impulse Gamer post provided more detail about the survey and discussed the importance attached to social presence. The Tumblr survey suggests that social presence involves curating as well as creating content.

We’ve become so conscious online that a carefully selected like, comment or share is now akin to a public announcement of our thoughts and feelings.

I found the ABC introduction to the survey after a week of thinking about Douglas Rushkoff’s 2014 post, How Technology Killed the Future. In that post, Douglas observes:

Sure, the rate at which information spreads and multiplies has accelerated, but what’s taking place now is more than a mere speeding up. What we’re experiencing is the amplification of everything that happens to be occurring at the moment, and a diminishment of everything that isn’t. It’s not just that Google search results favor the recent over the relevant; it’s that suddenly an entire society does.

Douglas’s Present Shock suggests:

People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, and compile knowledge. We strove for an instantaneous network where time and space could be compressed. Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Yet this “now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.



These connections, discovered through other people’s highlighting, sharing and curation, have encouraged me to think about pedagogy in the time of an elusive “now”. Two other prompts supported my thinking too.

Kate Schwartz and Keara Duggan have been discussing tweeting our way to collaboration and personalization. They shared their experiences of using Twitter to develop their practice of blended learning.

Inspired by an entire twitter-savvy crew of teachers, administrators, and instructional specialists, we wanted to grow the positive effects of the Tweet chats. As our conversations and learning around blended learning became more intense, more focused, and more realistic, we realized blended learning chats would elevate the online discussions.

They added “Twitter provided teachers with a space to continue learning and sharing”.

My second link came through Darrell Cobner‘s assiduous curation of online resources. He alerted me to Cornelius Puschmann and Marco Bastos’ discussion of two blogging platforms. They point out:

A recent survey by Nature Publishing Group suggests that new instruments for sharing and communicating research are gradually being viewed with more seriousness than was previously the case, though national and disciplinary differences persist.

Their PLoS ONE paper (2015) provides the background to their blog post. Their review of HASTAC and Hypotheses led them to conclude:

HASTAC is driven by newness and what you might call a revolutionary, cross-disciplinary aspiration, compared to the disciplinary focus of Hypotheses. New media, new forms of teaching, learning, and collaboration, are discussed more often in HASTAC, while Hypotheses includes more content dedicated to the transferal of traditional humanities and social science research into a new environment.

Their 2015 paper includes this observation “HASTAC’s blog entries are conceptually more like casual conversation rather than academic writing”. They do have a caveat: “the toolbox for analyzing blog platforms is still evolving and that the results need to be treated with care”.

What I take from their research and from Kate and Keara’s post is that a diversity of platforms and connections helps us to develop an epistemic culture that is agnostic and open. I think this is what Karin Cetina explores in her discussion of the machineries of knowledge construction.

Within and Beyond Now

Ironically, as I was writing this post, I received an alert to a post by Nikki Usher written in September. Now meets curation in my sharing it here. I am engaging too in the social presence discussions that introduced this post.

Nikki writes about using Slack, Twitter and Medium in her teaching of a journalism course. She observed:

Big worry about introducing all this technology: Did I obscure the point of the class while throwing too much tech at the students? Hey, you’re going to be on Twitter, and Tumblr, and Etherpad, and Slack (yup, all that) — oh, btw, you’re going to be learning about Habermas and the future of news, and let’s also talk about the burning questions facing journalism. This is the delicate balance: trying to get them to use new tech in the service of learning ASAP class starts, but also trying to make sure that it doesn’t overwhelm. And I felt maybe that I overwhelmed them.

She concludes:

What I’m most worried about is the balance between preparing my students to use technology journalists and other organizations/professions are using and also impressing upon them the fundamental ideas of the course in these critical first few days. I think the next two classes will help, though, as we begin talking more specifically about how journalism is changing in the digital age.

I thought I would use her post to conclude my discussion of highlighting and connecting. As with all my posts, I see open sharing as an opportunity to explore ideas and reflect on pedagogy in a digital age.

I do think that being from an age before digital technology that the benefits I see from it are so important to me. The opportunity as a teacher for me is to engage with the ‘nowness’ of our world and support critical engagement with it.

Photo Credits

Tweet Me (Kate Ter Haar, CC BY 2.0)

Teaching (Nathan Russell, CC BY 2.0)

Bristol Then & Now 1941-2010 (Paul Townsend, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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