Social Media Ethics Rule #1 is to Be Nice. Really?

Pinterest’s #1 “Pin Etiquette” is BE NICE. Really? While I’m not opposed to being respectful and acting responsibly online, I bristle at the idea that respect = “being nice” Would I think differently about it if they had used Kate Bornstein’s rule: “don’t be mean”? Yes.

I glanced quickly at Twitter’s rules and best practices pages. They provide a much different approach to how to engage respectfully and ethically online. Wow. I think there’s a ridiculously long blog post in my future about ethics/etiquette policies on social media sites.

some sweet tweeting!

I’m always looking for great classes that use twitter in interesting and valuable ways. Check out my reply tweet and the original tweet that I found:

notes from podcast 5 @the undisciplined room

As I mentioned last week, STA and I have started a weekly podcast. This week was episode 5 or One Long Parenthetical Aside. Of course, we didn’t get to everything that I wanted to discuss, so here are some of my notes:

I see this as an issue of:
ethics (“best practices”) + logistics + politics + writing style

I recently wrote a blog post, “The Trouble with Footnotes” or “My Trouble with Footnotes” in which I discussed how I used to really like footnotes but now embrace hyperlinks and parenthetical asides. It got me thinking about the purpose (or lack of purpose) of footnotes in blog posts.

some questions: Academic writing requires citing sources, oftentimes in footnotes that may also include asides + tracing of sources. Should these be eliminated when writing online? Are links enough for citing sources? Sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of links and to be able to refer back to them later on. Should blog posts be all about the immediate experience? How can we use it to archive ideas and sources?

Here’s how Paula Petrik, a history and new media prof at George Mason University, describes the purpose of footnotes:

The superscripted footnote/endnote reference mark and its accompanying footnote/endnote text and reference mark are the hallmark of scholarship in the humanities. It is the “breadcrumb trail” that allows scholars to gauge the quality of the evidence underpinning research and to follow the evidentiary path.

In Scholarship on the Web: Managing and Presenting footnotes and endnotes, Pretnik provides different CSS (cascading style sheets) for creating footnotes/endnotes in a post. I’m still uncertain about footnotes in blog posts; they seem counter to the spirit of blog posting. What I am convinced of, however, is that we need to have many more difficult, troubling, messy conversations about what “serious” scholarship online should look like. Maybe this conversation is a good place to start?

On our first podcast, STA and I talked a little bit about how to determine if something is a reliable source. Now, I’m wondering, how do we ensure that we are citing properly? That we are engaging with and sharing other cites/sources/authors/ideas responsibly? I think that this is a question of ethics. In the podcast I briefly mentioned how this ethical question gets complicated/contextualized by the politics of who systematically fails to cite (I focused on white feminist bloggers) and whose work they appropriate/exploit (namely, women of color bloggers). Ethical “best practices” must involve considerations of power and privilege.

Politics: Does using footnotes (and citing lots of sources) make your work inaccessible and too formal? In the podcast I mentioned a story that I read in this article about bell hooks and the politics of her footnote-free writing:

She once declared that she knew that many of her readers outside academia could not always afford to buy books. Thus, she found a rhythm in her writing and thinking that formed itself into short, essayistic chapters without footnotes and seldom more than 10–15 pages. She concluded this to be a format ideal for free-of-charge, stand-up reading—behind the shelves in a bookshop: long enough to allow thought lines to be evolved, but short enough for the reader to be captured in a stolen moment. In this way, the ideas would still surface and linger on in the mind of the reader—as potential tools of resistance and vehicles of “alternative epistemologies” (hooks, Remembered Rapture: 16).

Logistics: What’s the best way to provide/share information that makes it easier for others to follow your trail and to learn about new sources that they can return to? I’m always experimenting with how to cite and curate/annotate sources on my blog. I think I like the idea of having a link list at the bottom of the post. Or, what about a weekly list of links done (sort of like show notes for a podcast) posted on the blog? Hmm…maybe I should do some research to see how other bloggers/researchers handle this problem.

Style: Footnotes (and links or parenthetical asides) can disrupt the easy reading of prose. In what ways does this effect one’s style? What are some stylistic ways to deal with this issue? I am always wondering about how blog writing changes the way that we think, engage, process and articulate ideas. What are the advantages of this new writing style? What are the disadvantages? I’m sure tons of writers have discussed this question. I think I want to revisit Chéla Sandoval and her discussions of hyperlinking in Methodology of the Oppressed.

Why we need a 4th r: Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic and algoRithms

In the above article, Cathy Davidson discusses the changing needs for learning and the new literacies that successful, engaged citizens need to have. According to her, we’ve moved way beyond the bubble standard (multiple choice, fill-in-the-bubble), which was developed during a teaching shortage and focused on a factory (systematic, efficient, fast, highly regulated) model of learning; now students need skills for creating, improvising, collaborating, re-mixing and doing. They need to learn to code (not learning code)…always in process, not a finite set of skills that one learns but tools for solving ever-changing puzzles and problems. Experimenting!

She writes:

What is marvelous about algorithmic thinking and Webmaking is that you can actually see abstract thinking transformed into your own customized multimedia stories on the Web, offered to a community, and therefore contributing to the Web.  Algorithmic thinking is less about “learning code” than “learning to code.”  Code is never finished, it is always in process, something you build on and, in many situations, that you build together with others.   Answers aren’t simply “right” guesses among pre-determined choices, but puzzles to be worked over, improved, and adapted for the next situation, the next iteration.  You look at examples, you try your own, you run the program, you see if it works.  If it doesn’t, you see where you started to go wrong, return to that place, and try something else.  The better you become, the more possibilities open for you.  Your motivation for learning isn’t to score in the 99th percentile on your end-of-grade exam but to have more complex, surprising, or beautiful results that you can work on and share with your friends.  Isn’t that what all learning should be?

(Why) should we all learn some code? What code?
Her suggestions:
Scratch (java alert)
Hackarasaurus for remixing and building websites
Teaching online
Volunteer in schools


Troubling Pinterest?

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to join and experiment with Pinterest which, according to Mashable, is the “hot new social network.” I haven’t had too much time to spend on it, but so far I have mixed feelings. STA and I discuss how we’re–the “we” is much more him than me–“not pinterested” in Episode 3 of our podcast, The Undisciplined RoomWhile it has potential as a space for creative inspiration (I think my mom would have loved it for her art/craft projects), it is also a space for sucking up lots of time and for marketing products and lifestyles. Yikes! Thankfully, I also imagine it as a space where I might make some trouble and create some boards that inspire my creative and critical writing projects and troublemaking experiments. The first board that I’m in the process of creating is: Troublemaking Role Models.

Some notes from my podcast with room34

For the past four weeks, STA and I have been doing a podcast called The Undisciplined Room. I’m really enjoying experimenting with podcasts; I’ve wanted to try them out for some time now. I know, I’m a little late to the party. Tons of people have been experimenting with podcasts for a long time now. I like doing research for the podcast and then having free-floating conversations about the topics. Well, maybe I like those parts too much. So far, our podcasts are each about 90 minutes. As STA and I discussed in yesterday’s podcast, we need to make them a little shorter. This means I need to stop bringing in so many topics and so many notes. Ha! Easier said than done. To ensure that our podcasts are not so long (too much trouble? too unruly? just too much?), I might post some of my notes and my thoughts here. I’m experimenting with that today by posting some of my notes, with a few additional thoughts, from yesterday’s podcast: Episode 4: I Always Have a Problem with Everything

APPLE’S LATEST ANNOUNCEMENT: iBooks Author + iBooks2 + iTunesU app
a. Apple and the Digital Textbook Counter-Revolution: is it revolutionary?
b. Reflections on the Apple Education Event
c. Apple introduces tools to someday supplant textbooks

If you don’t know what these apps/new Apple products are, check out the above links for an introduction. I’ve downloaded the iBooks Author app and experimented just a little with it. I have a few ideas about using it in relation to my trouble blog/research. At first, I was thinking of using it to create an introduction to the blog and to troublemaking. After talking with STA on the podcast, I have another project in mind too: A book (or a series of books?) on my queering feminist virtues, including troublemaking. I’ll need to think through what other virtues that I might want to add. In the past I’ve researched/written about courage and vigilance/persistence.

In preparation for our discussion, I wrote the following:
I don’t like textbooks: I’ve never used them for teaching. I was reminded of this when I read Hack Education’s post and her critique of textbooks as having students focus on secondary materials instead of primary ones. Maybe that’s helpful in science, but in the humanities, reading primary sources (and expanding what counts as and who is included as) is very important, especially for my own pedagogy. Can students handle primary sources? Trying to read these sources might make them uncomfortable in productive and/or valuable ways.

What interactive possibilities does it offer? Kathleen Fitzpatrick laments the lack of interactivity between readers or between author and reader; the interactivity is only between the individual user and the text. Here’s what she writes:

But there are some notable gaps here, as well. The textbooks that can be produced with iBooks Author and read in iBooks 2 are interactive, in the sense of an individual reader being able to work with an individual text in a hands-on fashion. They do not, however, provide for interaction amongst readers of the text, or for responses from a reader to reach the author, or, as far as I can tell so far, for connections across texts. The “book,” though multimediated, manipulable, and disembodied, is still a discrete, fairly closed object.

I think this is an important point. However, I wonder if that interactivity between readers and the reader and author is always necessary. What intimate (whatever that might mean) connections between a reader and a text get lost when we make everything social/interactive? Personally, even as much as I like twitter and blog comments (yes, I like blog comments), I don’t always want to know what others–even the author–think about a subject. I like to imagine my own possibilities. I am fighting back a digression about the creative process and problems with “groupthink” here. It’s hard to not talk about it, since it’s all over the interwubz these days (here and here and here).

In addition to the question of whether or not interactivity between readers is always a good thing, I like what tubbsjohn has to say about where that interactivity could/should take place in their comment on Fitzpatrick’s post:

Since the book is interactive, why not point the student out to an existing webservice such as a threaded discussion, a collaborative writing space, file uploads, photo sharing and others (behind your school’s authentication gates likely) that provide the sort activity you’d like the students to engage in. This way you can keep the ebook at the core the course but have diversions away from the book to activities that do it the way you’d like it. A simple thought but one that comes up in student responses to ereading: I want the book open AND my notebook or other activity open. This book/browser arrangement is just what the student is looking for.

I like their focus on both/and (the non-interactive/”closed” book AND other interactive options) and opposed to one or the other. As I write this, I also wonder about yet another option beyond either/or and both/and: How about getting rid of the book altogether? For my feminist debates class this past semester, I almost exclusively assigned blog posts.

Before moving on to a new, yet related, topic, I want to give a SHOUT-OUT to a “totally awesome blogger” that I just discovered: Hack Education This blogger/tech ed writer looks really cool. She has a master’s in women’s studies and wrote about political pranks. She calls herself a rabble-rouser and is ABD in comp lit. I’m excited/curious to check out her writings and to see how her women’s studies training and her rabble rousing influence her writing/reflections on tech ed. question How does feminist training influence one’s approaches to technology? Should one be explicit about their influences? If so, how? Questions about whether or not to claim one’s feminism (and how one might do that) come up a lot in my classes and I’m always interested in exploring how others grapple with them.

Stanford professor who taught AI class online to 160,000 students. Is this the future of education?
a. Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U, Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start Up
b. Check out his video talk too.

In the Chronicle article, the professor writes:

I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill,” he said. “And you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.

In my tweet about the quotation, I ask: What about a purple pill? Can we find ways to think about education technology within traditional academic spaces or without wholly rejecting traditional academic spaces? What is the role of traditional higher education? Should all courses be free? I will be pondering and struggling with these questions all year as I attempt to figure out my own role in relation to the academy. I see tremendous value in new technologies and moving outside of traditional (increasingly isolating and prohibitively expensive) academic spaces. Yet, I still see value in higher education; I loved my experiences as a student at a small liberal arts college and am not ready to give up on higher education altogether.

Okay, that’s some (yes, only some!) of my notes from yesterday’s podcast. I like continuing the conversation (well, at least continuing my engaging with the ideas) over here on my trouble blog. Maybe I’ll try it again next week.