Too Big, Who Cares

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Image: My Pinterest Board Intro to Comm

Digital Existential Crisis re: Teaching.

I have been feeling increasingly uneasy about teaching my Intro to Mass Comm class. Mass Comm. And, at the same time, I’ve been increasingly inspired. It took me this long (and maybe the cases of the Arab Spring, SOPA/PIPA/ACTA, and people’s Twitter reactions to  SONY’s pricing re: Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits…)  to really embrace the amazing changes. Two inspirations for COM 1001 tonight (when the course syllabus and the book would prompt me to discuss ‘The Internet’).

1) Medium Is the Message. As Mcluhanesque as the main thesis may be, I’m refreshed by the new book Too Big to Know (2012). Internet theorist David Weinberger discusses what happens to knowledge and expertise today, now that there is so much more to know than can be known by any individual. He argues that knowledge is not created and distributed by any one person or organization, but it is created and constantly re-configured online.  He claims that, consequently,

“…The smartest person in the room isn’t the person standing at the front lecturing us, and isn’t the collective wisdom of those in the room. The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins the people and ideas in the room, and connects to those outside of it… Knowledge is becoming inextricable from – literally unthinkable without – the network that enables it.”

The age of the experts is gone. How do we teach people knowledge — or build windows and doors to those rooms? Actually, I’m excited to trying to begin to figure it out, somehow.

2) Neo-Tribalism — and thus the Opportunity is NOW (a.k.a. Who Cares about the Next Big Revolution, We Are Now Living the Revolution of Participation). Another whiff of McLuhan, put to the context of making a living. I teach at a college for professional studies, and have been concerned about how to match theories with practice. Via a famous music industry blog, I stumbled upon this (well, again, inspiring) discussion on small businesses, digital platforms, marketing, innovation by Seth Godin.

To sum up, whether we discuss cognitive processes, politics, activism, marketing, or the music industry, this is the deal (I believe):

The old paradigm is gone. History. Public policy may still be driven by corporations, but entertainment is owned by the public. If you think you’re above the audience, you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Bob Lefsetz

How to best teach the best — critical, innovative — tools and skills for this new world?

Digital Living and Human Rights

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Guest Blogging with Burcu Baykurt of NYU today. Check out the “Pardon my Finnish” blog of the FIN-UK Institute: Broadband access is a human right. Then what?

And of course we should have also discussed this: The Right to Be Forgotten.

Digital Classroom

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I’m about to embark on a course on online teaching — a very controversial topic amongst colleagues around the world, it seems

I’ve participated in a course taught on Facebook, and designed a course that took place on this blog (here is a recent review on the book the course was based on: CRiA_JOC_Review).

And as is evident from this blog, I try to include digital platforms in F2F teaching situations.

Just a few examples: I’ve heard from students and teachers alike that digital environments encourage last-minute participation and fragmented learning. I’ve heard some professor express fear that students will not learn professional social presentation skills, and that. At the same time, in my experience digital communication facilitates deeper, more extensive debates that a classroom situation could.

The added value of college to many of my students is the physical time with the teacher; and they sometimes shun away from exercises that I thought were clever — but that ended up being more about the tech app than about the content.

Yet — with online courses I can ‘meet’ students from around the world, and they can engage in learning in life situations that would not allow their physical presence. Digital classroom is not for every course or topic, but it seems to be here to stay.

So far, I’ve learned as I go. It’ll be interesting to see what the rules and tips for online teaching, by pedagogy experts, are. My goal is to come up with something completely new in terms of a final project. Tips, anyone?

Audience Evolution

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The importance of combining micro and macro, especially when we are trying to figure out how to protect democratic possibilities of participation in the digital media environment…

While I’m interested in the micro-level of digital revolution I rely on important analyses like this to give me the broad road map. Just found out that the 1st chapter is available for free on Amazon!

And more important — and free — food for thought on participation and audiences, eds. Nico Carpentier and Peter Dahlgren (both my heroes…), Communication Management Quartely’s Special Issue: CM21-SE-Web.

Diversity 2.0?

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Media Diversity is my favourite topic of study, because the way the concept is defined and used in such — diverse ways. The classic article by Phil Napoli (1999)  maps the discussions under the following categories: Diversity of sources, content, and reception.


Diversity 2.0, then, has been used in discussing diversity in the globalizing media world, as in this talk by the Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

Diversity 2.0 and Google

For the past 2 years, I have been trying (in between teaching more than full time) to conceptualize ways to expand the conventional vectors of diversity, beyond media ownership/sources, media output/content (whether diversity of representations, opinions, genres, etc.), or ‘reflective diversity’ of audience reception (that e.g. Richard van der Wurff writes about).

My idea is, in the ever expanding media landscape, populated by possibilities of content creation and participation, Diversity 2.0 should include participation. (Elsewhere in this blog I’ve talked about Clay Shirky’s approach to diversity of media participation).

The working paper participation as position and practice is my first attempt in 2009, in which I talk about participation as a practice and (strategic, policy) position.

What followed is diversity 2.0-1 — a developed version by Phil Napoli and me in 2010, where we trace participation in micro, meso, and macro levels.

I’m currently writing a short piece based on the above, for a Finnish book. And thinking… (lets say it aloud here): Diversity of Participation, conducted similarly as the Digital Living pilot interviews, will be my next research project.

Dangers of Digital Living: (Lack of) Privacy

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This post is not only in the honour of the recent FTC / Facebook settlement but also to illustrate the irony of teaching a moving target:

On 11/8 after discussing privacy issues in class, I checked out a Finnish news site and found out that a hacktivist group had just publicized personal information of 16000 Finns (my info included). They had gathered the info by hacking into several databases. They also brought down the websites of the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Police.

They declare that with this form of activism they wanted to draw people’s attention, among other things, to how carelessly official and commercial organizations deal with people’s private information. Here’s their manifesto (they claim to be a part of the global activist group Anonymous, but Anonymous denies that) .

So my students have been blogging about their take on privacy, in my case and theirs, and more generally. All of them agree: Privacy as a concept or practice no longer exists and there is no way to establish that. While everyone seems aware of dangers of digital living, few seem to care in practice.

Many observe that convenience of e-commerce overrides concerns of identity theft, and the like. Some candidly write  about the guilty pleasures of “Facebook stalking” and googling someone (that most likely most of us engage in). A few note that the advantages of controversial services such as the Google Street View have so many advantages, too.

One student notes that adjusting to digital living without privacy is a generational thing, something that parents might understand. The student’s view is that absence of digital privacy, in fact, equals more accountability, transparency. For a digital immigrant like myself, this one is a tough truth to swallow.

McLuhan & Media Diet

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It’s been a while, but not without blogging (just not here; my gig at St. John’s required a private blog called Mediastudies 2.0….).

My wonderful students dieted again; then reflected the results of the global media diet study to their own.

And, to celebrate the guru’s 100th birthday, the students also explored McLuhan‘s idea of the Global Village, in terms of digital media use. Here are some woderful insights, also presented at the STJ McLuhan conference and the NYSCA panel on social media and pedagogy:

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