Archive for September, 2013

Next week is dedicated to Internet culture. Please prepare brief presentations that can help others understand a small aspect of Internet culture. First, read my post about Internet culture to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

  1. Pick a part of Internet culture you are familiar with. If you’ve never heard of Reddit, you probably won’t be able to get a real feel for it in a week. Make sure you have some first-hand experience with the topic.
  2. Use references to back up your presentation. For this one, the I Can Has Cheezburger network might be a valid source. But this doesn’t mean you should avoid scholarly research like the plague, either. 😉
  3. Don’t try to cover everything. Provide a brief orientation. For example:
    • what is this thing you call LOLcats?
    • what are the main landmarks in LOLcat culture? we can has a bit of history?
    • what are some of the main values or shared meanings in LOLcat culture?
    • what mistakes should you avoid so you’re not immediately labeled as a n00b? What is a n00b anyway???
    • show pictures
    • keep in mind the class screen is small, so make everything BIG
    • ONE idea per slide, please

Overall, Internet culture is irreverent, and it tries to be free, non-hierarchical, humorous. So, don’t take yourself too seriously with this presentation. It’s OK to have some fun, but don’t be offensive.

You can use any social media you wish to coordinate topics. Your grade will include the quality of the presentation and the coordination work. You need to work in a team. If you do not participate in social media coordination until the day before, the class has the right to leave you out, and you lose presentation points.

A good place to start would be to brainstorm topics: LOLcats, 4chan, rickrolling, Leet (1337), or cultures associated with a specific medium – e.g. Tumbler, Vine, or Instagram.

See below a brilliant presentation on YouTube culture (no, I do not expect you to pull together a feat of cultural anthropology in a week):


While I’m a technology lover, I do agree with the point of view that by using technology (especially cell phones) so much we miss out on or plain avoid the opportunity to be alone.

There is a lot of self-knowledge to be gained from being alone and free of incoming information. But it often hurts and is scary. So we avoid it by reaching for connection (aka cell phone). Sherry Turkle argues that the kind of connection we get this way is not always authentic and satisfying. It is a cheap replacement, like a cheap “nutritional” drink is a replacement for a healthy, nourishing meal.

Anyway, arguments like the one above are boring. But this comedian explains it much better on Conan:

Can you try to pay attention and notice when you are using your phone to avoid being alone? Can you try practicing being alone, just sitting there, without music or any other stimulus, for maybe 5 minutes every other day, and see what happens?

We will talk more in class about this in a few weeks when we discuss the topic of attention and distraction.

Last night in class we talked about 2 main ideas:

  1. What is that self that is (re)presented online? How does the self come about? Is the self something we have or something we do?
    This came about from the last 2 articles (Ellison & Gurmuck) on online presentation of “real” offline selves.
  2. How is the self (re)presented/performed/enacted/created online? The concepts of performance and exhibition from the Hogan and Zhao readings helped here.

In the process, we also learned of some major theoretical frameworks that can help us understand (online) identity: symbolic interactionism, Goffman’s self-presentation, and performativity (Judith Butler).

I invited you to organize your thoughts around 3 main questions:

  1. What happens to identity (self-presentation/performativity) when we take it online?
  2. What research questions related to your own interests emerge? (there are many connections here that I hope you will explore in blog posts)
  3. What does this all mean for your own personal online identity management? On this note, I invite you to watch this very beautiful short movie and let me know what you think about it. Please interact with this post by liking, rating, or preferably commenting. Remember that following this blog is an important class requirement, and so is online participation. I cannot know if you read it unless you leave some digital trace…


Posted: September 9, 2013 in About reading & writing blogs
Tags: ,

One of the things that makes blogging difficult is the fear that we are not experts and we don’t have any “blogworthy” wisdom to share. As a result, we get blogger’s block and we don’t blog at all…

One of the main reasons why I ask you to blog is so that you feel all these feelings associated with blogging and therefore understand bloggers and blogging culture a bit better.

While I sympathize with the feelings, I really want to make sure you don’t think about each blog post as a masterpiece. It isn’t. It shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes on a blog post. If it has your attention and you are thinking about it, and is related to class, it is interesting and you should blog about it.

Or tweet. Please see some older posts about the very same topic – and see how the advice I gave to those students can be help you, too:

You’ll see that you are not alone. Most students experience this apprehension at the beginning of the semester. It is important that you move past it.

If you don’t know what to blog about this week, may I give you an idea? How about you blog about Twitter. Ask questions, or give advice to classmates about anything Twitter related. How you found people to follow, or maybe a short list of people they should follow, a story about how you engaged on Twitter with someone you didn’t know, or how you manage to remember to log in and tweet… Or any other tips or questions that come to mind.

As I am reading your blogs, I feel the need to remind and/or educate you about a couple of very basic things:

  1. Linking. Link from text, like this. Don’t just paste URLs in. They’re ugly. According to Tim Berners-Lee (don’t know who he is? Google and find out!!!) URLs were never meant to be seen.
  2. Widgets. Use widgets to customize your wordpress theme. Show your tags and categories on the side bars.
  3. Settings. Go through them. See what’s there. Customize. Turn on liking and rating for posts and for comments.

Don’t be lazy. Figure out WordPress. There is a lot of detailed information out there. Use it.

You can also watch these screencasts I created a long time back about some wordpress basics. The dashboard looked a bit different then, but it’s the same idea. I made them for my liberal arts undergrads who were scared of technology. You are taking a PhD level class in Technology. You can figure this out. Just try, please.

I don’t think you need this kind of help, but here it is, just in case. 🙂