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Public notebook

Short blog post tips from @adders

Adam's response to my response as it were, has two super-practical principles for getting short blog posts written:

  1. Connect the thought “that's interesting” with the action of writing the blog post as closely as you can. Don't leave tabs mouldering in your browser, don't leave draft posts in your drafts folder. Get it done, and get out.
  2. Be very clear what the point you want to make is, make it and quit. Over a while, the various pots will built into a narrative of the issue you're exploring – and you can bring that narrative to a peak, if not a climax, by writing that longer post. But save that until the point where the creative damn is going to burst, by letting some pressure out over time with those short posts.

Absolutely.

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Public notebook

Whitewalling: Teens create their own Facebook super log-off

201011161717.jpg

Here’s an interesting approach that Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd found a young person using to manage their Facebook privacy and presence:

Mikalah uses Facebook but when she goes to log out, she deactivates her Facebook account. She knows that this doesn’t delete the account – that’s the point. She knows that when she logs back in, she’ll be able to reactivate the account and have all of her friend connections back. But when she’s not logged in, no one can post messages on her wall or send her messages privately or browse her content. But when she’s logged in, they can do all of that. And she can delete anything that she doesn’t like. Michael Ducker calls this practice “super-logoff” when he noticed a group of gay male adults doing the exact same thing.

Mikalah is not trying to get rid of her data or piss of her friends. And she’s not. What she’s trying to do is minimize risk when she’s not present to actually address it.

It goes to show that despite a platform’s desire to push people into disclosure by default, users will find ways to make their own choices about how publicness works. Because for many young people not being on Facebook just isn’t an option.

I asked Shamika why she bothered with Facebook in the first place, given that she sent over 1200 text messages a day. Once again, she looked at me incredulously, pointing out that there’s no way that she’d give just anyone her cell phone number. Texting was for close friends that respected her while Facebook was necessary to be a part of her school social life. And besides, she liked being able to touch base with people from her former schools or reach out to someone from school that she didn’t know well. Facebook is a lighter touch communication structure and that’s really important to her. But it doesn’t need to be persistent to be useful.

In the comments and related Tweets to this post, we can see that this hacking of the way Facebook works to suit personal reputation / presence management is common. One Tweet from @Tremblebot says their students call it “Whitewalling” or “Whitewashing”, and that the practice requires an investment up front and then makes it easy to stay on top of what people are posting about in the way of comments, tags and photos.

Perhaps this is something I should add the second edition of Me and My Web Shadow in the workflow for managing reputation. Certainly, if Facebook were to take a leaf out of Twitter’s playbook it would think about adding this as an easier to use or more prevalent feature.

“Whitewalling” also looks like evidence for the notion that people, yes even digital natives, want to retain some control over their privacy and what the world sees and hears about them.

Categories
Public notebook

How Howard does it: attention master at work

This is a great video in which Howard Rheingold (using Screenr, an interesting Twitter screencasting tool) explains his process, his workflow, for gathering information and putting it to work (or turning information into knowledge as he says).
The simple five-minute walkthrough is very useful to me personally, as I am thinking about both how I process information / knowledge and how to define and explain these processes and the digital literacies involved to others. Howard teaches digital media at Stanford and urges his students to use these tools as part of their work – so he has some strong insights to offer (to say the least).
There is so much information out there, in Twitter streams, in Google, in Delicious, in email in Facebook, in the articles that we read online, that the challenges for knowledge workers are becoming acute, specifically:
  • Attention: How do you focus on relevant things and not get distracted by the endless fascinating things being discussed in your social networks. Or as Howard has explained it before, how do you learn to switch from diffuse attention, where you are open to your network’s inputs and focused attention where you hone in on the thinking and effort around a single task, such as writing a report or chapter of a book. (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr expands on issues around how we pay attention online and in deep thinking/reading long-form text, by the way – more to come on this from soon.)
  • Creating value / knowledge: Twitter for example, is wonderful. But you could spend all your time playing the game that is Twitter, collecting and sharing links with your ever-expanding network without ever turning the links into working knowledge, adding your perspective.
Blogging, for me, is one tactic for refining information into knowledge in this way (which is partly why I get twitchy if I don’t write a post for a long time). The discipline of switching my attention to creating a post and not diving back into the Twitter stream hunting for new hits of exciting information, is a way of of re-stating what I have learned in my own words.
That act of writing, reporting and analysising (even briefly) that both really understanding what I am reading and connecting it with other ideas, creating my own perspective. Sometimes that perspective adds value in my network, sometimes it just helps me understand things better (usually you don’t know which it will be – usefulness in networks is hard to predict).

In the video, Howard talks about various stages in this example process of turning information into knowledge. How I heard them was…
  • Tuning his network to get useful information: His Twitter network is tuned to topics he is interested in (multiple topics might be focused with Twitter lists, of course) and he uses Twitter searches to find new inputs.
  • Collecting/curating information: Useful sources of information are stored as annotated bookmarks in his Diigo / Delicious databases.
  • Refining the information in his own databases: Devonthink, a desktop personal database,?is put to work to categorise and combine bookmarks and documents, snippets of information. He is making sense of it, turning links and articles into personal, working knowledge.
  • Turning the information into knowledge: Howard describes the whole process as being about turning information into knowledge. In this case, he is writing a book about attention (which I can’t wait to read) – the Devonthink data informs his writing in the Scrivener application (which helps authors combine notes and draft manuscript elements in a clever way).

We need to be aware of how our own workflow/thinking processes work, for the simple reason that they are new, evolving, emerging. There are no neat sets of productivity tools available with a training course – we hack together our personal collections of tools and behaviours (I don’t use Devonthink for instance, and have done no more than dabble in things like Diigo and Scrivener, that Howard mentions as key elements of his process) that work for us.

Image (cc) RuffLife

To keep working effectively we need to be able to critically reflect on our own behaviours and adjust them. With practice it gets easier to do this. I think of the stages of the process like a kind of graphic equaliser – I’ll tinker with the levels as I go along, but as I get better at it I know there are pre-set patterns that will work best for different types of work: writing a speech may require little collecting from the network, but a focus on refining the information I have already collected my Delicious and my blog, whereas writing my new book will require tuning my network, interrogating it for new data and connections.

: : Note to self: One useful exercise we might carry out to examine our own processes and practices would be to turn on a screencasting tool and capture how we browse and what we do with what we find.

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Public notebook

How to set up a nice simple group collaboration space

A nice piece of social media literacy here from Dr. Michael Weschand, a cultural anthropologist focused on digital, and his group at Kansas State University.

Everyone in the class (Mediated Cultures: Digital Ethnography) has their own blogs, all of which are aggregated into a single feed. This sits on a Netvibes page alongside RSS feeds of other useful data for the teaching staff and students, like the course calendar (from Google Calendar), bookmarks (from Diigo, a bookmarking service I’d not looked at yet), Wiki edits and a comments feed.

Image: The Mediated Cultures Netvibes page
Image: The Mediated Cultures Netvibes page

It looks like a great simple approach for any group collaborating on a project. Must increase my own literacy and start working more like this!

The other amazing thing is, of course, that we can all watch their work live on the Netvibes page. Which makes me feel better about the fact that even remotely I wouldn’t be able to fit in a course like this for a couple of years…

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Public notebook

Love in the time of textual harassment

Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)
Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)

I met my wife when my internet access was restricted to a 36 kps modem at one computer in my office, next to the fax machine in the secretaries’ room.

I bought my first mobile phone after we’d been together for about six months. It would be a year or two before text messaging started in the UK.

Image: What my first phone looked like - what the image doesn't show is the credit card sized SIM card or the massive brick-sized battery.
Image: What my first phone looked like - what the image doesn

If we phone one another in the day during that honeymoon period it would be on a land-line. That would happen maybe once a day.

I had email. She didn’t.

So… I have no idea what online dating, or the early stages of a relationship conducted in the modern world is like. I’ve never had a Facebook status other than married and I’ve never had to de-friend an ex and divide up our friends online like so many paperback books.

Have some sympathy, then, for today’s yoot. While it may be easier to meet potential partners, once you have the etiquette is shifting as fast as the technologies and if you happen across someone whose boundaries are different to your own, there might be trouble. Your web shadow, social network presences and always-on personal comms device (mobile) mean that when things you don’t like kick off they kick off fast.

Encouraging, then, to see sites like thatsnotcool.com offering teens a helping hand with dealing with a terrifyingly long list of behaviours that might upset them, including:

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Pestering via email and texts
  • Malicious slander
  • Hacking email and social network accounts
  • Asking for inappropriate photos
  • Posting said photos online

The has advice, spaces to discuss these issues and an amusing/disturbing set of “call-out cards” you can send / post to a harasser’s web page by way of a hint to them to back off (a selection of which are below)…

Image: Call out cards
Image: Call out cards

Via Dirk at Herd

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Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool: