Feb 242014
 

This afternoon I will be liveblogging the MOOCs in Cultural Heritage Education event, being held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

As this is a liveblog please excuse any typos and do let me know if you spot any errors or if there are links or additional information that should be included. 

Our programme for today is:

Welcome and Intro - Christopher Ganley (ARTIST ROOMS, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate)

Image of Christopher Ganley (National Galleries of Scotland) Christopher is the learning and digital manager for the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. In case people here don’t know about Artist Rooms, this is a collection that came to Tate and NGS in 2008. Around 1100 items of art from Anthony d’Offay with the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the British and Scottish Governments. The remit was to be shared across the UK to engage new audiences, particularly young people. The collection has grown to around 1500 items now – Louise Bourgeois is one of the latest additions. The Artist Rooms Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle with Tate and NGS led by the University of Edinburgh. And today’s event is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and has been arranged by the University of Edinburgh School of Education as part of the outreach strand of their research.

Year of the MOOC?: what do Massive Open Online Courses have to offer the cultural heritage sector? - Sian Bayne, Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh)

Sian is beginning. Jen and I are going to situate the programme today. Jen and I are part of the School of Education working in Digital Education, and we are ourselves MOOC survivors!

Image of Sian Bayne (University of Edinburgh)We are going to talk about MOOCs in a higher education context, and our research there, and then talk about what that might mean for museums and the cultural heritage context. Jen will talk about the eLearning and Digital Culture MOOC and expand that out into discussing cultural heritage context.

So, what do we know about MOOCs? It’s a bit of a primer here:

  • Massive: numbers. Largest we ran at Edinburgh had 100k students enrolled
  • Open: no “entrance” requirements.
  • Online: completely.
  • Course: structured, cohort-based. And we don’t talk about that so much but they have a pedagogy, they have a structure, and that distinguishes them from other open education tools.

In terms of where MOOCs are run we have EdX – they have no cultural heritage partners yet. We have Coursera and they do have cultural heritage partners including MOMA. And FutureLearn who have cultural heritage partners yet (but not who are running courses yet).

The upsides of MOOCs is that they have massive reach, a really open field, high profile, massive energy, new partnerships. But on the downsides there are high risks, there are unproven teaching methods – and the pedagogy is still developing for this 1 teacher, 20k students kind of model, and there is a bit of  a MOOC “backlash” as the offer begins to settle into mainstream after a lot of hype.

In terms of cultural heritage there isn;t a lot out there, and only on Coursera. American Museum of Natural History, MOMA, California Institute of the Arts and the new Artist Rooms MOOCs are there. Some interesting courses but it’s still early days, not many cultural heritage MOOCs out there.

So in terms of the UK Jen and I have just completed some research for the HEA on MOOC adoption. One aspect was which disciplines are represented in UK MOOCs. We are seeing a number of humanities and education MOOCs. FutureLearn have the most of these, then Coursera and then there are cMOOCs in various locations. In terms of the University of Edinburgh we launched our first MOOCs – 6 of them across 3 colleges – last January and were the first UK university to do so. This year we have 7 more in development, we have 600k enrollments across all of our MOOCs and sign ups for the Warhol MOOC is well past 10k already.

So why did we get involved? Well we have a strong and growing culture of digital education,. It was an obvious for us to take that step. There was a good strategic fit for our university and we felt it was something we should be doing, engaging in this exciting new pedagogical space. Certainly money wasn’t the motivator here.

MOOCs have been around for a while, and there is still some things to learn in terms of who takes them, who finishes them etc. And we’ve done some research on our courses. Here the Philosophy MOOC saw over 98k students but even our smallest MOOC – equine nutrition- saw a comparable number of registrations to our total on campus student body (of approx 30k). Of the 309k who enrolled about 29% of initially active learners “completed” with a range of 7 – 59% across the six courses. We think that’s pretty good considering that only about a third of those who signed up actually accessed the course – of course it’s easy to sign up for these and hard to find time to do them so we aren’t worried about that. The range of completion is interesting though. We had 200 countries represented in the MOOC sign ups. And age wise the demographic was dominated by 25-39 year olds. And we found most people who took the MOOCs, at least in the first round, mostly had a postgraduate degree already. They were the people interested in taking the MOOCs. And now over to Jen…

Image of Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh)Jen. I want to tell you about the experience that lecturers and tutors had on the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC that took place last January. Firstly I wanted to talk about the xMOOC and the cMOOC. the xMOOC is the highly structured, quite linear, institutional MOOCs – the Coursera or FutureLearn model. Some peer interaction, but as a side benefit of the content as the main thing. Teacher presence in these sorts of MOOCs tends to be very high profile – the rock star tutor concept. You won’t meet them but you’ll see them on video. A lot. The other sort is the cMOOC, the connected MOOC. these were thought of by Canadians in 2012/13 before MOOCs became built. Around the theory of connected environments, participants create the course together, very loosely structured, very collaborative, very focused on participant contributions. Not about the rock star professors. This difference has been quite a big press thing, xMOOCs have had a bashing, people suggesting they are “elearning from 1998 minus the login button”. But actually what Sian and I have been finding is that in ANY MOOC we see much more than these two different forms. Our own MOOC is really neither an xMOOC or a cMOOC but had a lot of other content.

So our MOOC, #EDCMOOC, was based upon a module of the MSc in Digital Education module that generally has about 12-16 participants, and instead trying these ideas about the self in online environment in a MOOC format, at huge scale. So we decided rather than doing week by week lecture heavy format, we would do something different. Instead we did a “film festival” – clips for participants to watch and talk about. Then some readings on theory of digital education. And questions to discuss. We asked students to create public facing blogs which we linked to, we also used the built in discussion spaces. And instead of weekly tests etc. we had a single peer assessed “digital artefact” final assignment.

We gathered all blogs, which they had registered with us, in one place – so you could see any post tagged with #EDCMOOC. And we had a live hangout (via Google+ / YouTube) at the end of every few weeks – and we would pick up on discussions, questions that were coming up in those discussions and coming in live. The students themselves (42k of them) created a Facebook Group, a G+ group, used the hashtag but also these additional groups meant there was so much material being produced, so much discussion and activity beyond a scale anyone could keep up with. A hugely hectic space for five weeks, with everyone trying as best they could to keep an eye on their corner of the web.

Bonnie Stewart described our MOOC as “subverting it’s own conditions of existence”. And it was a chance to rethink that xMOOC/cMOOC divide. But also what the teacher is in a MOOC. What it means pedagogically to be in a MOOC. There are interesting generative questions that have come out of this experience.

So, I want to show you some examples of materials participants made on the MOOC. Students shared these on Padlet walls. We also had an image competition halfway through the MOOC. e.g. “All Lines are Open” by Mullu Lumbreras – the Tokyo underground map re-imagined with many “You are here” markers - emphasizing the noisiness of the MOOC! There were many reflective and reflexive posts about students trying to get to grips with the MOOC itself, as well as the content. There was such a variety of artefacts submitted here! There were images, videos, all sorts of assignments including super critical artefacts, such as Chris Jobling’s “In a MOOC no-one hears you leave” – although interestingly we did. There was also a chatbot assignment – allowing you to talk to “an EDCMOOC participant” and used comments from chats and from the course to give back comments, really interesting comment on the nature of the MOOC and the online environment. We also had a science fiction story all created in Second Life. This must have taken such a lot of time. We have found this on the MSc in Digital Education as well that when you give people the opportunity to create non textual assignments and contributions they give such creative and take such a lot of time over their multimodal work.

We also had  - a nod for Artist Rooms colleagues – a Ruschagram tool as an assignment. And indeed people used their own experience or expertise to bring their own take to the MOOC. Artists created art, scientists drew on their own background. Amy Burbel – an artist who does lots of these online videos but this one was all about the EDCMOOC.

Image of Jen Ross and Sian BayneSo I’d like to finish with some ideas and questions here for discussion… Elizabeth Merritt from the Centre for the Future of Museums asks about MOOCs in terms of impact. Rolin Moe talks about MOOCs as public engagement on a different scale. Erin Branham asks about reach – why wouldn’t you run a MOOC even if only 20k people finish. We have comments on that actually… David Greenfield emphasises the innovation aspect, they are still new, we are still learning and there is no one single way that MOOCs are being used. There is still a lot of space for innovation and new ideas.

Q&A

Q1) I work at the Tate in visual arts, the idea of assessment by multiple choice is very appealing so I wanted to ask about peer assessment. How did that work? Did there need to be moderation?
A1 – Jen) It is quite controversial, that’s partly as the MOOC platform don’t handle peer assessment too well. We didn’t get asked too much to remark assignments. Peer assessment can work extremely well if the group know each other or share a common understanding.

A1 – Sian) It was strange how assessment focused many people were for a non credit bearing course though, they wanted to know how to pass the MOOC.

Q2) I wanted to ask about the drop out which looked absolutely huge…

A2 – Sian) You mean people who didn’t begin to engage with the MOOC? It is problematic… there has been a lot of criticism around drop outs. But we have been looking at them from a traditional education point of view. MOOCs are free, they come in, they sample, they leave. It’s about shifting our understanding of what MOOCs are for.

Q2) What did you learn from that…?

A2) I think it would be too hasty to make too many conclusions about that drop off because of what it means to be in a MOOC

A2 – Jen) there is some interesting research on intentions at sign up. Around 60% of people signing up do not intend to complete the MOOC. I don’t think we will ever get 90% retention like we do on our online MSc. But Sian’s point here holds. Different demographics are interested for different reasons. Retention on the smaller equine science MOOC was much more about the participant interest rather than the content or pedagogy etc. The 7% retention rate was the more innovative assessment project.

Q3) We would love to have that data on drop outs. We aren’t allowed to fail at that rate in public. I work in the National Library of Scotland and we know that there is “library anxiety”.  I would hate to think this is a group with inflated library anxiety!

A3) Absolutely and I know there will be more on this later on. But its about expectation setting within the organisation.

Q3) Just getting that data though – especially the research on those who don’t want to complete – would be so valuable for managing and understanding that completion in open contexts.

Q4) Perhaps the count should be from the first session, not from those who sign up. It’s not the original email we are concerned with but the regular drop out which would be more concerning. We get people doing this with on site free experiences. This is more about engaging with the higher up decision makers and marketing about how we could use MOOCs in cultural heritage.

A4 – Sian) It was unfortunate that many of the MOOCs really marketed sign up rates, and inflated expectations from that, as a way to promote the MOOCs early on. Very unhelpful to have messages like “we want this one to hit a million sign ups!”

Q5) These aren’t credit bearing but are there MOOCs which are, how do they work?

A5 – Jen) Quite new territory. Some allow you to have some sort of credit at the end of the MOOC on payment of a fee. And some – including University of Central Lancashire – are trialling MOOC credit counting for something. Work at European level there too. But no one has cracked the magic bullet.

A5 – Sian) Two offering credit so far – one at Oxford Brookes, one at Edge Hill.

Q5) Maybe credit will appeal to those currently absent from the demographic profile – moving to those with few or no higher level qualifications

A5 – Sian) we did ask people about why they did the MOOC, many for fun, some for professional reasons. none for credit.

Q6) what are the indirect benefits of the programme?

A6 – Sian) We have had five or six people enrolling on the MSc as a direct result of the MOOC. We also got great publicity for being at the forefront of digital education which is great for the University. That indirect benefit won’t last of course as MOOCs get more mainstream but

A7 – Sian) 40 days academic staff time to develop, 40 days to deliver it. And that doesn’t include the Information Services staff time to set up the technology, In terms of participants I’m not sure we have that data

A7 – Jen) We kind of have it but it’s taking a long time to analyze it. You get a lot of data from the MOOCs. There is a whole field of learning analytics. We have the data from both runs of the MOOC but it’s hard to find the best way to do that.

Q7) Interesting, for people reflecting on their own time investment

A7) We gave guide time of 5-6 hours per week for the basic involvement but actually many people spent a lot of time on it. And there was a lot of content so it took that long to read and engage with it for many participants.

Q8) How do you assess 40k people?

A8 – Sian) Well that’s why we spent a lot of time trying to make the assessment criteria clear for people marking each other.

Q9) Can you say a bit more about xMOOCs and cMOOCs. A lot seem to be xMOOCs?

A9) There is a lot of discussion around how to go beyond the bounds of the xMOOC.

A9 – Sian) Our MOOC was seen as quite innovative as we were a bit of a hybrid, but a lot of that was about participants using social media and just having a hashtag made a difference.

Q9) So are there people trying to move out of the platform…

A9 – Jen) for the credit and microcredit courses you try to bring students into the MOOC platform as that is easier to measure. And that’s an area that is really becoming more prominent…

A9 – Sian) Would be sad is the move towards learning analytics took away the social media interactions in MOOCs.

A9 – Jen) We do see AI MOOCs where there is some opportunity to tailor content which is interesting…

Comment) Can see these working well for CPD.

:: Update: Jen and Sian’s Prezi can be viewed online here ::

The changing landscape of teaching online: a MoMA perspective - Deborah Howes (Museum of Modern Art)

It is a pleasure for me to tell you just a little bit about what has been going on at MOMA, especially having to spoken to just a few of you – I realise you are very savvy digital education, cultural education audience.

I like to start with this slide when I talk about online learning at MOMA – of MoMA education broadcasts in the 1950s. We have always been interested in technology. It is part of our mission statement to educate (the world) about the art of our time. This image is from the 1950s when MoMA had an advanced idea of how to teach art and creativity – and they invited TV crews in from Rockafeller Centre to record some of what was going on in terms of that education.

So online learning for MoMA can be as something as simple as an Online Google Hang Out working with seniors who go on a field trip once a month without them having to leave their apartment – they have a museum visit and discussing the art. Some have mobility issues, some have learning disabilities. But they have these amazing opportunities to visit and engage all the time for free. We use Google Hangouts a lot and this is an example that really hits home.

Image of Deb Howes (MoMA)

This example, like much of what I’ll talk about today, isn’t strictly a MOOC but it’s from that same open online concept and the MOOC is changing. However we have, at MoMA been running online courses since 2010. These are NOT MOOCs as we charge for them. You can take them in two ways. You can be self led and there is no teacher responding to you and there are no students but you go at your pace whenever you want. Or you can do the teacher led version with a teacher, with fellow students, with responses to your comments. We started the concept of starting these courses. We did this with Faith Harris, who now works at Khan Academy, and she was teaching online in the New York Museum of Fashion. She had a clear idea of what the format was – a structured course led by an educator. We did a studio course – how to paint – to see if that would work. That seemed such an usual idea at the time but they are really popular, especially as an instructor led experience. They like to see and share progression and to get feedback on that. Just like a real studio experience. So the “how to” videos, one of the things we tried to replicate online was the feel of exclusivity you have in an on-site course. If you enrol in person you get to paint in our studio then you get access to the galleries when no-one else is around. So here we have Corey Dogstein and he’s also an artist, the students love him, but you can see this video of how to paint like Jackson Pollock and really get into that free form, jazz playing vibe.

My previous role I came from a gallery where I had no idea who was doing my tour, or what they were getting from it, then I was in an academic place where I knew who everyone was, how they were progressing, assessing them etc. So in this role the online teaching experience has been really interesting. In particular taking out the temporarility and those barriers to speak up, you open up the accessibility to a much much wider audience. The range of learning difficulties that students come in with and feel able to participate online, that wouldn’t feel able to participate as fully in person is striking.

We use a course management system called Haiku. No matter what you do it looks like a bad high school newspaper. It organises content top to bottom, welcome messages, etc. 60% of our students to the MoMA online course have never taken an online course before. They tell us they’d rather try it with us! We have a lot of first timers so we have to provide a lot of help and support. We try to make them engaging and lively. The upside of the highly controlled space is that the teachers themselves are making these courses, it’s easy for them to change things, that’s the upside.

We try to think thematically about content, rather than thinking academically along a timeline say. So colour as a way to explore modern art came to mind, and also broadens the base beyond painting and sculpture - design and architecture for instance. So this way we can interview the curator of design, Paula Antonelli, on colour in design. [we are watching a clip of this]. Talk about exclusivity! Even on my 11 o’clock tour I couldn’t get you time with Paula. The students really respond to this. And we also created videos of the preservation techniques around colour.

This course: “Catalysts: Artists creating with sound, video and time” brings all those ideas together, and is a hybrid xMOOC and cMOOC although I only just realised this! We got the author Randall Packer to put this history together using artefacts and resources from MOOCs. It’s so hard to do this history – why read a book on the history of video artworks?! As an educator how many museums have the space to show a whole range of video art? Even at the new Tate underground you have a rotating collection. Rare to have an ongoing historical way to explore these. One of the reasons MoMA was able to jump into online courses feet first, is that Volkswagen are a corporate sponsor of the galleries and were keenly supportive. And as part of teaching the Catalyst course Randall, who is also a practicing artist, thought it would be great if we could get students to make and share work, wouldn’t it be great to make a WordPress blog they could use to share these and comment on each other. And my colleague Jonathan Epstein suggested digital badges – they get a MoMA badge on their blog and badges for LinkedIn profiles etc.

So, over three and half years we’ve registed about 2500 students. Small versus MOOCs but huge for us. Around 30% of enrolees are not from the US and that 30% represents over 60 countries. For us it was about engaging people in a sustained way with people who couldn’t come to MoMA or couldn’t come often to MoMA, and we really think we’ve proved these. This is one of those pause moments for us… so, any questions…

Q&A

Q1) That quote on your slide “the combination of compelling lectures with the online galery tours and the interaction with the other students from around the world was really enlightening and provocative” – what do you learn from these participants?

A1) We do find students who set up ongoing Facebook groups for instance, and they are really active for a long time, they will go on a trip and write to their peers about what they’ve seen. We learn whilst they take the course, but also over time. What is so hard for museums to learn is what the long term impact of a museum visit… there is no way to know what happens months or years later, or when they are at another gallery… But you get a sense of that on the Facebook groups.

Image of Deb Howes (MoMA)

Q2) At the moment it’s $25 to come into MoMA. How much are the courses?

A2) It is. But it’s a sliding scale of prices. For self-led courses… 5 weeks is $99 if you are a member. or $150 for a non member (of the museum) 10 week course. For instructor led it’s $150 to $350 per course depending on time etc. They may fluctuate, probably go down. I like the idea of a cost recovery model. Free is hard for me as instructor. But there is a lot of free stuff, and especially in the MOOC world, they are comparing what’s available, what the brand is worth, which is worth doing.

Q3) Member?

A3) Of the museum. Typically at the museum you get lots of discounts, free entry etc. as part of that. I think it’s about $75 for an individual membership right now and that’s part of a wider financial ecosystem I don’t get into too much.

So… we have all these courses… We got contacted by Coursera who said “oh sorry we can’t take your courses as you don’t award degrees” but here is a sandbox for K-12 for you. In fact MoMA does a huge amount for teachers. We had just done a huge new site called MoMA Learning with resources for all sorts of classes. So we thought, well this will be our textbook essentially. If we leave it there we don’t need to renogiate all the content again. So we decided to do a four week “art and inquiry” MOOC. There is a huge focus in the core curriculum on discussions around primary source materials, we do a lot of training of teachers but we can’t fit enough of them in our building. We have taught a class for teachers around the country, perhaps beyond, who come for a week in the summer and talk about inquiry based learning. It just so happened when this came together that we were the first MOOC in the primary and secondary education sandbox – I think that has everything to do with why we had 17k ish participants. We had a “huge” engagement ratio according to Coursera, they told us we were off the charts – people are watching the videos “all the way to the end!”. Huge validation for us, but if you think carefully about all the ways people are learning that satisfy them, people look for something to engage with – and museum educators are great at this, great at finding different ways to explain the same thing.

At the end of the course we had a survey. 60% were teachers. The rest were taking the course for different reasons – doctors wanting to talk about x-ray results better with patients. 90% of all those who answered the survey had not been to MoMA or had an online MoMA experience but they did visit the website or site afterwards. We had more friends, we had people following and engaging with our social media. It was a wonderful way to have people access and engage with MoMA who might now have thought to before.

So I have a diagram of MOOC students. It is kind of Ying-Yang. The paid for courses tend to be my age or older, highly educated, have been to many international galleries. Coursera they are 20-30 year olds, it’s about their career, they take lots of Coursera courses. And what struck us was that putting our content beyond the virtual museum walls, people really want to engage with it. In the museum we want people coming to us, to speak to us, but here they don’t visit us at all but they still want to engage.

We had 1500 students get a certificate of completion. In MoMA we have 3 million admissions per year. I have no idea how many take that information with them. For me as a museum professional 17k people made an effort to learn something about MoMA, word is out, and I taught 1500 teachers in the way I would like to in an academic way, and I taught more than I could teach over three years, but in one single summer. And the success of that means we have followed up with another MOOC – Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art. The first one runs again soon, this new course runs from July.

There are a few other things we do online… MoMA Teens Online Course Pilot. This was a free 5 week course in art appreciation at MoMA. These were teens that had taken probably all our teen courses as part of after school programmes. They brought back to us this Real World MoMA episode. [very very funny and well full of art in-jokes].

You get the idea right? I should just let the teens do all the videos! We have a new group of teens coming in doing a completely different thing. This is their medium, they understand. They combine the popular with the collection in an unforgettable way, the kids will never forget these five artists they focused on.

I just want to go through some pedagogical background here. There is a huge body of really interesting reseach on how the brain works, what makes memories… One of the things I always try to think about is what makes your brain remember, and why a museum is such a great way to learn. So one thing that is that you learn when something new comes in – a new sight, a new sound, a new smell… Museums are like that. They are new experiences. For children they may never have been to a museum or even to the city before. I try to make the online courses take that into consideration. How can we do that, and make the brain hold on to what it being learnt?

I don’t know if Howard Gardner is familiar to you? His ideas that different brains work differently, and that we need to present material in different ways for different people. We have hands on aspects. We have scientist experts, we have critics… we try to present a range of ways into the material.

So here also is some student feedback – the idea that there is more in the course than can be absorbed but that that is a good thing. We also try to ensure there are peer to peer aspects – to enable sharing and discussion. So here we have the learning communities from that studio course – where participants share their art… increadible learning experiences and incredible learning communities can exist beyond the museum and beyond the university but it is great to be there to support those communities – to answer questions, share a link etc.

I wrote a post you might like: moma.org/blog search for “how to make online courses for museums”

Moving forward we have a couple of hundred videos on YouTube but we were asked if we would put these into Khan Academy. We filtered the best down, gave them embed codes, and they have created a structure around that. As a museum you don’t have to do everything here, but reusing is powerful.

And moving forward we are doing some collaborations with the University of Melbourne.

And my forcast for Museum-University Partnerships forecase? Sunny with a chance of rain! There are real challenges around contracts, ownership etc. but we can get to a place of all sunny all the time.

Q1) We would be developing online learning as a new thing. When you decided to go down the online route did you stop anything else? Did you restructure time? How does that fit with curator duties?

A1) We didn’t drop anything. The Volkswagen sponsorship allowed us to build the team from myself and an intern to include another individual. But it’s a huge time commitment. Curators don’t have the time to teach but they are happy to talk to camera and are generally very good at it. I was at John Hopkins, and previously to that at the Metropolitan Museum… I was used to having media equipment to hand. There wasn’t that at MoMA but we created a small studio which makes it easy for curators to pop in and contribute.

Q2) Could you say a bit about the difference of practical versus appreciation type class?
A2) for practical classes the key is *really* good videos. Being able to replay those videos, if shot well, is really helpful and clears up questions. It lets them feel comfortable without asking the teacher over and over again. If you’ve ever been in a group critique that can be really intimidating… turns out that the level of distance of photographing your work, post online, and discuss online… students feel much better about that. There is distance they can take. They can throw things at the wall at home as they get critiqued! It is popular and now online you find a lot of low price and free how to courses. But our students who return it’s about the visits to the gallery, the history of the gallery, connecting the thinking and the artwork to the technique

Q2) So unspoken assumptions of supplies available?

A2) No, we give them a supply list. We tell them how to set up a studio in their own bedroom etc. We don’t make assumptions there.

Beyond the Object: MOOCs and Art History - Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh)

Our final speaker is one of the “rock star lecturers” Jen mentioned!

So, in comparison to the other speakers here the course I have been preparing has not yet run. We have just under 12000 signed up so far, we anticipate around 20k mark. I am an academic and I teach film studies, particularly experimental cinema. A lot of the films I talk about it can be hugely hard for people to get hold of. That presents massive difficulties for me as a researcher, as a writer, but also for these sorts of learning experiences.

Where I want to start is to talk about Andy Warhol. A book, Warhol in Ten Takes, edited by myself and Gary Needham at Nottingham Trent University. We start with an introduction about seeing a piece called “does Warhol make you cry?” at MoMA – and he was at the time. So many rights to negotiate. That book is solely about Andy Warhol’s cinematic work, focusing on 10 films in detail. Those that are newly available from the archive, those where there was something new to be said. He only made films for five years – making 650 movies in that time. A lot even in comparison to Roger Corman (5 a year or so). Some are a few minutes long, some many hours. The enormous challenge was that in 1972 Warhol took all of his films out of circulation – he wanted to focus on painting, he was getting sued a lot by collaborators who wanted money from them. And they remained that way. Just before his death he said “my movies are more interesting to talk about than they are to watch”. He may have been joking but that sense has hung around studies of his work. Take a film like “Empire” (1964) it’s a conceptual piece – 8 hours and, in terms of content, time passes and it gets dark – has been little shown. Very few of his films are in circulation. MoMA has around 40 circulation copies available but that’s a rare place you can see them, you can see screenings at the Celeste Bartos screening rooms. The only other place to see them is at the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh on VHS. If not that its 16mm. You can’t pause or rewatch. It’s cold. It’s really hard to do Warhol research… so many pirate copies also out there…

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So are his films worth seeing or are they just conceptual pieces? Since the films have started to come out of the archives films like Empire have been shown in their entirity… people then discuss the experience of sitting through all of them. Indeed in his PhD thesis (Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis), Justin Remeselnik suggests they are “furniture films” – you can admire and engage with them but not to be paid attention to for an increadibly long time… and yet in Pamela Lee’s book Chronophobia talks about seeing Empire the whole way through, as a phenomenological record of pain it’s fairly incredible. She’s not alone here… another writer, Mark Leach, asked an audience to provide live tweeting during a screening of Empire, and then compiled these into the book #Empirefilm.

This is a long diversion but… Gary Needham and I tried to think hard about the experience of the Factory and the working environment there, what was it like to see Warhol’s films in the context of other experimental filmmakers in the 1960s. In trying to put together a MOOC these ideas sat with me, as the rights negotiations for the book took place over 18 months. We had 30 new images created – we had to apply for grants to get these made, rather than reproduced – by the Warhol museum. We had materials from BFI. We were able to use publicity materials as well. And we had to get agreements from so many people. The Whitney Museum has a Warhol Film Project and acted as our fact checker. It’s a 500k word book so that took some time. One of Warhol’s assistants, Gerard Malanga, allowed us to use his diary entries in the book. I came to Warhol knowing the rights access issues. And I came to the MOOC knowing those issues, knowing the possible time lag…

Chris provided a great introduction to Artist Rooms earlier. I head up the Art and it’s Histories strand. Sian and Jen head up the education strand but I work with artist historians and theorists doing research projects around the materials. So making a MOOC was an idea we thought about as a way to bring out Warhol to a wider audience, and to highlight the Artist Rooms content. I had a lot of questions though and I knew we could not use moving images at all. Could we talk about Warhol’s work without images or clips? What does that mean? Can we assume that people taking the course might source or be able to watch those things. I’ve been teaching Warhol for 15-20 years. I can show all manner of images and clips to students for teaching which are fine to use in that context but which would be impossible to use online for copyright and provenance reasons.

So, there are roughly 250 Warhol pieces in the Artist Rooms collections. There are particular strengths there. There are a great number of posters, as Anthony d’Offay said to me, these give a great overview of events during his lifestyle. There are also stitched photographs – another strength – and these are from the end of Warhol’s career. There are not many so to have a number to compare to each other is great. There are also early illustrations and commercial works. And there are self portraits from the early to mid 80′s. So for me how do I put together a course on Andy Warhol based on this collection? His most famous work is all from about 1962 to 1966. These pieces are silk screens of Monroe, Electric chairs, guns, Campbells soup cans. They are hugely expensive and not in the collection. But are these so familiar that I can assume those taking the course will know them. But the other partners in Artist Rooms – from the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate – that did cover some of this famous 1960s material, to sex up the course a bit!

So this let us take shape. This will be a five week course. Each week will be a video lecture from me (sex, death, celebrity, money, time) and then a video interview who have worked with Warhol’s work in one way or another – curators, academics, conservators etc. Who could give a fresh perspective on Warhol and what he means to them. I’ll come back to them shortly.

I’ve talked about Warhol’s ubiquity and that’s been an issue as we finalised materials, looked at editing videos. Warhol is one of the most well known artists in the world. His images circulate so widely on such a range of objects (maybe only exceeded by the Mona Lisa) that familiarity with them is high. You can buy just about everything – from mugs to skateboards… the Warhol story is extraordinary. What’s really interesting for anyone teaching art history or theory is that he provides a really interesting test case with regards to reproduction and distribution.

For instance the Marilyn Diptych ( Andy Warhol, 1962). This was based on a publicity still for the 1953 film Niagara which he cropped to his liking. He started to make works just after her suicide in 1962. They have been described as work in mourning. And they are important examples of pop art, collapsing the worlds of art and pop culture. But also commenting on the mass media reproduction of imagery. The uneven application across this piece suggest the blurring of images in newspapers, and the important difference between similar reproductions. Thomas Crow (in his essay for Art in America (May 1987), “Saturday Disasters: Trace and Reference in Early Warhol”) writes that Marilyn disappears quickly when you look at this work, what becomes clearer is the blurrings, the paint level variations. But I have been using this image to teach with Walter Benjamin’s essay on mass production in relation to art work. His essential argument is that endless reproduction, owning of facsimiles etc. changes our relation to the original. It could seem less valuable… or more valuable… as we have seen with Warhol’s work. And Warhol’s own work is a reproduction itself of course. And his painting is the valuable thing… not the press still…

Being able to talk about this work and reproduction through the MOOC and the digital format adds another layer. MOOCs raise the question of what the use of gallery visits may be. What’s the difference of talking about a work and engaging with the original piece. The process of art or art history has always involved travel to galleries, biennials, festivals. Writing about it means seeing the work, there are financial angles there, there are green angles there. For example I am going to Newcastle for three days to see “Crude Oil” (Wang Bang, 2008). It is a 14 hour movie, you can only see it in installation. I intend to move in… my husband thinks I’m mad!

And what about the experience of engaging with the stuff here. I spent three days at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh preparing for the MOOC watching to VHS, speaking to staff, and also looking at Warhol’s “time capsules” – receipts, ephemera, e.g. a box from 1978 is just “Concorde stuff”. I was accompanied by a curator, they opened boxes for me… some smelled bad due to moldy stuff, exploded soup cans, a still-inflated silly birthday cake which was a present from Yoko Ono. They are treated as art works. They are still cataloguing these things. So I spoke to the curators about how they are making the time capsules educationally engaging. They have video of celebrities going through them, for instance John Waters gives a great critique of one of the time capsules. They did a live opening, streamed to the ICA, of one of the time capsules. I mention these because these were really interesting examples of opening this type of content and artist up to others.

Let me just say a bit about how we have made the videos for the MOOC. My colleague Lucy Kendra who had filmed other MOOC content saw this filming experience as unusually immediate and intimate in form. We spoke to curators and conservators at the galleries, Gary at Nottingham, and Anthony d’Offay himself. We were also given access behind the scenes at the Tate Store – they took out 10 pieces as a backdrop which was so valuable. We had interviews of an hour, an hour and a half. We have so much materials. For the Warhol class there will be a required 10 minute version of the video, but we will then give a longer, possible unexpurgated, videos for those that want to see them the whole way through. These are fantastic and extraordinary videos. I think they are fantastic representations of these institutions but I think it may open the doors to careers in some of these roles. We hope they may open doors in ways other art education courses may not do.

These interviews I could not have forseen, but they have become the bedrock of the course, the USP, the main draw, and these first time perspectives on the artist and his career. Why Warhol is still of interest and the personal interests of the interviewees themselves. We started by thinking the issue would be about content and rights but the interviews have gone beyond the object there.

Image of Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh)Q&A

Q1) Will there be assessment at the end? Will they be assessed by peers.

A1) Yes, I think there has to be for Coursera. I have PhD student Teaching Assistants. I have left some of those decisions to them. They have suggested allowing practical responses to the materials – to get a sense of materials and present day materials, contemporary approach. Or a short written text, a 2-300 word response to a work of their choosing – perhaps from Artist Rooms or perhaps another. These are great TAs though with ideas like building a map of the nearest Andy Warhol to the participant, opening up possible discussion of access. Peers will assess the work and this is where drawing on the expertise of colleagues who have run MOOCs before is so valuable.

Q2) When we did our MOOC we had an easier rights time but we really wanted to use films that it was hard to find legal clips to… we avoided anything we knew was of dubious origins. But we found students sharing those clips and images anyway! What do you plan to do with that?

A2) As far as I know the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh are well aware that material leaks out… if our participants link to those things we can’t help that. We just create that distance and leave that in the students hands.

Comment – Debs) I feel your pain entirely! In addition to the academic excellence issue, at MoMA part of our job is about preserving the identity of the work, of the artists in our collections. We can’t distribute unofficial copies of works by artists in our collection, it wouldn’t look good. And yet… we were one of the first museums to go to Electronic Arts Intermix about using video online. They’d never really been approached to digitalise their works in that sort of context. The first person I spoke to was extremely pessimistic about these once-cutting edge technology using artists works being able to share these works online. We were able to say that in the environment of this course – a limited course, not a MOOC, we have a lot of details on them – it is very comparible to the classroom. We stream it and although you probably could capture the content but most won’t. They were OK with this. We got Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, etc. allowing us to stream the content. It was costly… but I hope as we push these boundaries more the artists and rights holders will go with that. Otherwise we will have a loss to art history and accessing this hard to reach art. That arguement of the most famous work being the most visible already is one I’ve used before, I hope that rings true.

Q3) Do you have specific goals – educational or a specific combination of enrolees – for this MOOC?

A3) There are two or three key goals. Part was a partnership between the university, the Tate and National Galleries. And part of that was about trying a MOOC as a way to do that. It might be that the Tate or National Galleries want to use one of those interviews somewhere else too. For me it is also about trying a new tool, and what is possible with that. I am interested in testing the boundaries of what Coursera will do.

Q4) With the MOOCs which you have completed… with hindsight now is there a lot that you would do differently?

A4 – Deb) Not a lot but… with the videos I wish we had done differently. I wish we had done them straight without “last week you did X”, or interviews with curators etc. I wish I had had the insight to bring in the right people or to make it more long term useful.

A4 – Sian) for our second run we did make changes. We refused to make videos the first time, we were being hard line. But the dominent comment online were “where are the professors” and “where are the videos” so we made introductory videos for each week. That was the most significant change.

And with that a really interesting afternoon is complete with thanks to organiser Claire Wright, and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for providing funding for the event.

Find out more

Dec 042013
 
Screen Capture of the Digital Participation Inquiry Website

Today sees the publication and launch of the Interim Report from the Royal Society of Edinburgh Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry.

I have been delighted to be a member of this Inquiry Committee as we have spent the last year or so investigating existing research and speaking to people across Scotland about their own experiences, concerns and ideas. And I wanted to make sure the report was shared here as I hope you will help us get word out about it.

We are really keen to ensure that the Interim Report is read and responded to by many new voices, particularly those who we have yet to engage with. We are keen to hear your honest and informed feedback, comments, and suggestions as we reflect upon the Interim Report and make changes and improvements before a final report is launched in Spring 2014.

The best way to get in touch with your feedback is to email the Royal Society of Edinburgh (digiscot@royalsoced.org.uk) but I will also be happy to pass on any comments left on this post or sent directly to me.

Find out more:

Nov 232013
 
photo of book bag

Today I have been liveblogging – by invitation no less – at the Society of Young Publishers Conference 2013 in Oxford, and EDINA is proud to sponsor the event through my participation. The event in entitled “Life in Publishing: It’s more than just books (and Tumblr)“, it’s theme being the future of publishing into the digital (and the inspiration for the name coming from this Tumblr blog).

My notes from the day can be found over on the SYP blog, Press Forwardhttp://thesyp.org.uk/syp-conference-2013-liveblog/

You can also view tweets from the event on #SYPC13.

Anyone interested in data, app development, digital publishing or disruption should find something of interest in there… and for me it has been a fun and informative day! And if you have been at the conference and are interested in what EDINA does around publishing and publishers I would recommend taking a look at the UK LOCKSS Alliance, CLOCKSS,  The Keepers Registry, and The UK Access Management Federation.

 November 23, 2013  Posted by at 5:18 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Nov 112013
 

This afternoon I am attending “A digital humanties workshop in four keys: medicine, law, bibliography and crime“, a University of Edinburgh Digital Humanities and Social Sciences event. I will be liveblogging throughout the event and you can keep an eye on related tweets on the #digitalhss tag. The event sees four post doctoral researchers discussing their digital humanities work.

As usual this is a liveblog so my notes may include the odd error or typo – please let me have your thoughts or corrections in the comments below!

Alison Crockford – Digital articulations: writing medicine in Edinburgh

In addition to the four keys we identified we also thoughts about the four ways you can engage with the humanities field more widely. And in addition to medicine I will be talking about motions of public engagement.

Digital articulations plays on the idea of the crossover of humanities and medicine. So both the state of being flexibly joined together and of expressing the self. The idea came from the Issecting Edinburgh exhibition at Surgeons Hall. Edinburgh has a very unique history of medicine when compared to other areas of the UK. But scholars don’t give much consideration to the regional history and how medicine in an area may be reflected in literature. So you get British texts or anthologies with may be one or two Scottish writers bundled in. Edinburgh is one of the most prominent city in the history of medicine. My own research is concerned with the late 19th century but this trend really goes back at least as far as the fifteenth century. As an early career researcher I can’t access the multimillion pound grants from the ESRC you might need… So digital humanities became a kind of natural platform. I wanted to build a better more trans historical perspective on literature and medicine, would need input from specialists across those areas, I would also need ways to visualise this research in a way that would make sense to researchers and other audiences. I was considering building an anthology and spoke to a colleague creating a digital anthology. I chose to do it this way with a tool called omecca, in part because of its accessibility to other audiences. Public engagement is seen as increasingly favourable, particularly for early career researchers I’m interested in tools to foster research but also to do so in digital spaces that are public, and what that means.

I don’t have a background in digital humanities and there doesn’t seem to be a single clear definition. But I’m going to talk about some of the possibilities, what drives a project, how does that influence the result, etc. I will take my cues from Matthew Kirshenball’s 2002 essay on digital humanities and English literature. He sees it as concerned with scholarship and pedagoguey being more public, more collaborative, and more connected to infrastructure.

I was reassured to know I am not alone in looking at this issue and to have questions, there was a blog post on HASTAC – the humanities, arts, science and technology alliance and cOllaboratory. This was looking at the intersection between the digital humanities and public engagement, despite that organisation being already active in that space. I get the sense that this topic comes up as being there, but perhaps only recently ave there been deliberate reflections on the implications for that.

The digital humanities manifesto 2.0 which talks about increasingly public spheres. There’s a kind of deprivation in kirshenberg’s take on digital humanities and public engagement. I’m not sure public engagement deserves such derisive treatment, even though I am concerned about how public engagement and similar values judgement is increasingly chipping away at the humanities. But there is more potential there…

Many digital humanities tools are web based apps, they are potentially public spaces, and there are implications on our perspectives on any digital humanities, or indeed any humanities work. For instance the Oxford digital humanities conference last year, lookin at impact, nonetheless talked about public engagement as something more than just dissemination, but also something richer. Thinking about the participation of your audience, their needs and interests, not just your own.

Bowarst states that humanities scholars may risk letting existing technologies dictate their work, rather than being the inventors and designers of their tool. Whilst we may be more likely o be adopters I do not think that it is always the case nor neccassarily a problem. Working as Wikipedian in Residence at NLS I have been impressed with the number of GLAM collaborations embracing a range of existing kit: flickr, WordPress, Omeka, Drupal.

Omeka is designed for non technical users, it is based around templates and editable content. It is about presentation of materials. They are designed for researchers, those already interested… Who will SE it as a tool fr their research but not for wider audiences (e.g. Digitising historical serialised fiction and depictions of disability in nineteenth century literature). But these can look samey as websites, there are limitations without design support. However looki b at Lincoln 200 or Indeed George Arthus Plimpton rare book and manuscript page vs treasures of the New York Public Library website which is more visual and appealing. So I am interested in having the appeal of a public orientated website with the quality of a scholarly tool.

So looking At Gothic Past we see something that is both visual and of quality. You can save materials. The ways these plugins, opportunities for discourse etc. in Omeka etc. one up public engagement in richer ways…

Returning to medical humanities.. I think it has inherent links to public engagement, it helps enhance understand perceptions of health and illness. It’s impact can be so universal. Viewing medicine through the lens of literature enables a massively diverse audience who have their own interest, experience and perspectives to share. Giving a local focus also connects to the large community interested in local history. And designing the resource for that diverse audience with these many perspectives will help shape the tool. Restricting a resource to researchers

Q&A

Q) really interesting oaicularly the problems of digital humanities and research… Could yo say more about Omeka and how you plan to use it?
A) I have a wish list for what I want to make from Omeka. I would like logins, the ability to save material, and to have user added content and keywords to drive the site, so that there is input from other audiences, not just researchers but also public audiences. For instance exhibitions around digital patienthood. I hoe to be a good customer. If you don’t have the technological skills, you still have to put in the time to understand the software, to create good briefs, two months in I’m still working with the web team to create a good resource. I want to be a good customer so that I get what I want without making the teams life hell!

Q) what do you think being a good client means for our students. Bergson mentions that the more we rely on existing technologies, the harder it becomes. Think outside the box.
A) I think some f those coming up behind me have a better nderstanding of things digital… But those are the corporately driven websites, but they don’t neccassarily look. Eying that. Maybe you need something akin to research methods, looking at open source materials and resources. But realistically that may not be possible.

Q) I wanted to ask abut the way the digital humanities is perceived as a thing. In your public engagement work is that phrase used?
A) I think largely people think that these are the humanities and these are digital tools. There are parallel conversations in humanities and in the cultural contexts… The ideas of the digital library just being the library. So this doesn’t seem to be specific to academia, it is a struggle fr others to work out how to incorporate the digital into your experience.
Q) we are alread post digital?
A) kind of… The ideas of a digital resource from a library being a different tool doesn’t really seem to be what you actively consider, you see a cool tool.

Q) do you think the schism between research and public engagement exists in the cultural sector?
A) they have a better potential chance to do that. They must provide materials for research and also public engagement and public audiences. We think about research and sharing further but these organisations think inherently about their audiences, but the resources are great for research, for instance the historical post office directory research. The sector is a good place to look to to see what we might do.

Chen Wei Zhu – Rethinking property: copyright law and digital humanities research

Chen Wei did his research on open source but spen much of that time at the British Library.

I will be doing a whistle stop tour of copyright law, mainly drawing on the non digital. Just to set the scene… When did the digital humanities staRt? 1946 is a convenient start date, an Italian Jesuit priest tried to index the massive work of Thimas Equinus, they were digitised, put onto CDROM and now online. But at that time the term wasn’t digital humanities but “humanities computing”. I tried Googles n-gram viewer and based on that corpus you see that “humanities computing” comes in in the 1970s but “digital humanities” emerges in the 1990s. Humanities computing is still hugely used but will be interesting to see when “digital humanities” becomes dominant or bigger. A health warning here… Best between 1820s and 1922. 1922 in the US marks the beginning of copyright, but in Europe materials published before then were already in copyright. And another Heath warning… oigkes scanning kit isn’t perfect before 1820s because of print inconsistencies and changes. E.g. “f” instead of “s”. It fell out of use after times newspaper dropped the long f/s in 1893. So much data to clear up.

So what are the digital humanists opinion and understanding of copyright. I feel that digital humanities scholars are quite frustrated. E.g. burdock et al 2012 sees it this way. Cohen and Rosenzweig 2005 see it as an issue of Things never being fixed? [check this reference]

The US copyright office is shutdown… The US federal government closure included the copyright office being shut down. It is still saying it is shut… There will be a huge backlog for registering copyright.

So how did copyright law begin? What is the connection between the loch ness monster and copyright? The story goes that st columba is not only the first sighted of Nessie, and the first person engaged in copyright dispute. There is a mythical connection too…

The first copyright dispute is sometimes called the patron saint of copyright, huge misunderstanding, he is more the first pirate, copying a manuscript without the permission of his tutor. When he was caught secretly copying the book of psalms st finnian was very angry, he wanted to restrict the copy. The idea “to every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy”. So this was the first copyright case. Columba had the decision go against him, and he rose up against the king s he led something of a bloodbath.

Now in this case there was no clear author of either finnian or columba. Ad no publishing planned r taking place. SL skip forward to 12th century china we see Cheng Sheren, the first publisher to register their copyright. We see a picture like Pre 18th century England, where the publisher has copyright. In china as in 16th and 17th century England is all about censorship not copyright in any other sense.

The Statute of Anne 1710 is the first copyright act, which brings in the rights of authors and does not include censorship clauses. The first modern copyright law. But author based copyright didn’t really take off until the early nineteenth century, think this was another ethos. Only as authors are seen as romantic genius in the romantic age does this model takes off. Publishers recede to the background to manage economic aspects and authors move to the forefront.

Enter stage left the authors guild. So Authors Guild vs HathiTrust (2012). The Authors Guild has around 8000 members at present. The authors ar encouraging decision that the distinct judge recognised a fair use defence for HathiTrust Trust to digitise copies of texts. The judge argued two types of transformations: full text search, and accessibility of text. That is very very important as an aspect of the ruling. And the judge was convinced of fair use defence. Some humanities scholars submitted, matthew jocker did an analysis of the use of digitised text.

Where we are… We started from the year 1550 and ended in 2012. The meaning of copy has changed. Is digitisation the same as copying by hand? And for digital humanist and copyright lawyer we have to reimagine the role of copyright and the role of the author in copyright. Could see authors as intellectual property owners. We didnt see intellectual property as a term emerge until 1960s when we saw an influential book and the IPO set up, but that idea does change our thoughts of copyright to some extent. But we also see open source, coined in 1988.. There are parallel growth there… We are more a steward and custodian rather tha exclusive intellectual property owner.

Q&A

Q) just to be a pedant here… Your discussion of the romantic author… I think you got it reversed… The law precedes the author by a distance. In the 18th century original works, poems, epic poems like the work of alexander pope etc. for the sake of erectile, their rank of gentlemen, and royal sponsors made books of vellum, extremely expensive.. The way the publishers got around the need to publish these expensive texts was to republish out of copyright works, recycled materials (including shakespeare), etc. cheap material on recycled rag paper. When new works appear, when paper costs drop, then you see new types of writing replacing old writing and publishers have little say… And in the early nineteenth century you see authors assert power. Profit and capitalisation of ideas in republishing of works is so crucial to current Authors Guild debate is important.

A) I’m glad you mentioedn Alexander pope, he is quoted in 1771 case. Almost all cases in 1710s onwards are between publishers but pope actually sued his publisher in that time. That is a gradual change… Going o the nineteenth century.

Q) us versus uk
A) divergence of law… In 1922… Us copyright act was a 56 year act. In 1978 that was in place… Anything Pre 1922 Out of copyright. UK it is 70 years after authors death. Canada 50 years, sheet music sites in Canada. Stuff out of copyright in Canada but not in the uk. But you can access in the uk. Definitely territorial but internet access is not.

Q) interesting you raised music, a whole other complicated history there.
A) absolutely, very complex. For instance Stravinskys work was very difficult for him to copyright because of Russia’s take on property.

Q) the ease of violating copyright law… Working fr Wikipedia and Wikipedia UK… It can be twisted around. The NLS we frequently have conversations about releasing digitised materials. In the uk unlike the us new digitised material has new rights attached. But we have just been putting content out there.
Comment) the British library lets you use copies of less that 3000 copies but if you have an ebook contract you have to pay huge sums for an image.
Q) it costs more to enforce copyright and fees. The NLS have a non commercial clause for digitised materials, usually we won’t charge if the come and ask us. But cost of enforcement can be higher than perusing. Is this unique to digital?

Gregory Adam Scott – The digital bibliography of Chinese Buddhism as a research and reference tool

Gregory is a digital humanities post doctoral fellow at IASH, his doctorate looked at printing and publishing in early Buddhist cultures. His talk has a new title “building and rebuilding a digital catalogue for modern Chinese buddhism”.

I chose this title inspired bynjorge Louis borges’ “the library of babel” containing the sum of all possible knowledges, versions with all typographic mistakes, the catalogue itself… I evoke this to represent the challenge we face today in looking at mountains of data, whilst the text may be less random we still risk becoming lost in our own library of babel.

My own work looks at a more narrow range of data. I began studying the digital catalogue of Chinese Buddhism cataloging texts from 1866 and 1950. But first a whistle stop tour of printing and religious printing in china. A woodblock print edition if the diamond Astra from 886 CE remains the earliest printed text that records the year of printing. In ore modern east Asian print history religious texts we some of the most frequently printed texts. The printing blocks of the Korean buddy canon was an enormous undertaking in terms of time, cost and political support. Often the costs were supported by ideas that contributing to publishing religious works would be something of a merit economy, bringing good things to you and to your family, which can then be gifted to others – s these texts often include a credit to donors in which they dedicated the texts to loved ones.

Yang Wenhui (1837-1911) and his students published hundreds of texts, thousands of copies and was a hugely influential lay Buddhist publisher. As we see the introduction of movable type and western printing processes this was hugely important, more work was printed in a thirty seven year window than in the previous two thousand years. This is great interma of accessing primary sources but problematic for understanding printing cultures. We see publishers opening up. The history of modern china is pepped with conflict and political and cultural change. And religious studies were often overlooked in the move towards secularisation, this is now slowly changing. And libraries were often free from key religious texts and it can be particularly hard to track the history of print in this time because of variance of names, of contributors, of texts, and of cataloging.

So I wanted to go back to original sources to understand what has been published. S I started with five key sources who had created bibliographies based on accessing original materials rather than relying on primary sources. There were still errors and inconsistencies. I merged these together where appropriate. I wanted to maintain citations so that original published sources could be accessed, that the work could be understood properly.

I did this by transcribing the data. I used a simple bare bones methods with XML. Separating the data and the display of the data. If someone wants to transform the data this format will allow them to do that. This is used simply, tags and descriptions are as human readable as possible. I want future researchers to be able to understand this. I also used Python for some automated tasks for indexing some of these texts.

Looking at the web interface that I put online, it uses Php, the same stack as Omeka. The database runs on SQL. There is a search interface where you can enter Chinese keywords and eventually you will be able to search by year or pairs of years. It returns an index number, title, involved author etc. simple but helpful information. It includes 2328 entries whe the spike at the golden age of china in 1902 is very evident. And then each item has its own static HTML page. That is easy to cite and includes all information I know about this text. S far I think this resource has been useful to produce data t pint the way towards future work… Less the end f research, more the beginning. This work has let me see previously undiscovered texts, you can also look across trends, across connections, the relationships to the larger historical picture. It could also be applied to other disciplines regions.

All of my input to this project is provided under creative commons (non commercial). Bibliographic data isn’t copyright able as it is lucid knowledge but the collection of that could be seen to be original work so I’ve said it is my work that I am happy for others to use.

The reason there is such a spike in 1902, where a date is not known it is assigned to that date free which all texts will have a date.

This catalogue is different from book suppliers data as the purpose is so different, my research use is not for purchase in the same way. I want to add features and finesse this somewhat but my dream is if doing what I’d call “Biblio-Biographies” to see the appearance of text over time, seeing nowhere it appears in publishers catalogues… and how the pricing and presentation changes. For instance looking at the Diamond Sutra we see different numbers of editors, one offers a special price for 1000 copies. I used bibliographic sources but there are so many more forms and formats that I will need to consider, each source will be treated differently. Adverts may appear for publications that were never produced. Have moved from bibliography, to catalogue to something else.

Q&A

Q) why not use existing catalogue tools
A) didn’t have anything with the right sort if fields, very different roles of authors, editors, etc. not in a standard format, consider MARC but it wailed be relatively easy to transform the XML to MARC.

Q) are you thinking about that next stage, about having ways for more people to contribute.
A) I have been involved in the wiki based dictionary of Chinese buddhism, we opened it up to colleagues and nothing happened. But only us, the co-editors contributed. Big issue is about getting credit for your work which may be the issue for contribution.
Comment) have a look at the website Branch on nineteenth century literature, have asked for short articles and campaigned for MLA bibliographies inclusion and that helps with prestige. Just need big names to write one thing…

Q) could you say something more about other sources
A) there are periodicals, a huge number of the,. A lot of these focus in on ocular printings of texts, some include advertisements, etc. so these texts point off to other nodes and records.

Q) you talked about deliberately designing your catalogue for onwards for transformation, and whether you’ve thought about how you will move forward with the structure for the data…
A) I’m not sure yet but I will stick to the principle that simple is good and reusable, and transform ale are good.
Comment) you might want to look at records of music and musical performance.
A) I’ll keep that in mind, Readings of these texts are often referred to as performances so that may be a useful parallel.

Louise Settle – Digitally mapping Crime in Edinburgh, 1900-1939

Louise is a digital humanities post doctoral fellow at IASH and her work builds upon her PhD research on gender and crime in the nineteenth century.

I want to talk about digital technologies and visualisation of data, particularly visualisation of spatial data. I will draw upon my own research data on prostitution. And considering the potential fr data analysis.

My thesis looked at prostitution in Scotland from 1892 and 1939. The first half looked at the work of reformers, and the second half looks at how that impacted on the life of women at this time. S why do crime statistics matter? Well it sets prostitution in context, recording changes and changing attitudes. My data comes from the borough court records, where arrests took place, where police looked for arrests, and the locations of brothels at this time. Obviously I’m only looking a offences, so the women who were caught, and that’s important in terms of understanding the data. Because these were paper records, not digitised, I looked at four years only coinciding with census years, or the years with full data nearest census years.

I used Edinburgh Map Builder, developed as part of the Visualising Urban Geographies project led by Professor Richard Roger who helped me use this tool, although it is a very simple tool to use. This allows you to use NLS historical maps, Google Maps and your own data. There are a range of maps available so you pick the right map, you can zoom in and out, find the appropriate area to focus on. To map the addresses, you input your data either manually or you can upload a spreadsheet and then you press “start geocoding” to have your records appear on the map. You can change pin colours etc. and calculate the difference between different points. Do have a look and play around with it yourself.

The visual aspect is a very simple and clear way to explore your subject, and the visual element is particularly good for non specialist audiences, but it also helps you spot trends and patterns you may not have noticed before. So looking at maps of my data from 1903, 1911, 1921 and 1931. The maps visualise the location of offences, for example it was clear from the maps that the location changed over time, particularly the move from the old town to the new town. In 1903 offences are spread across the city. In 1911 many more offences particularly around the mound. In 1921 move to new town further evident. By 1931 the new town shift is more evident, some on Calton hill too.

The visual patterns tell us a lot, in the context of the research, about the social geography of edinburgh. Often old town is seen as working class area and new town as a middle class area. Prostitution appears to move towards to centre but that is also the grin statistician, the shopping areas, the tourist areas. This tells us there is more work there. They keep being arrested there but that does not deter them. Small fines and prison spells did not deter. Entertainment locations were more important than policing policies. You can see that a project that is not neccassarily about geography has benefitted from that spatial analysis aspect.

If you have spatial information in your own research then do have a look at Edinburgh Map Builder. But if you have data for elsewhere in the UK you can use Digimap which includes both contemporary and historical maps. There are workshops at Edinburgh University, and the website on the bottom there. That’s UK-wide. And a new thing I’ve been playing with is HistoryPin – this uses historical photography. You can set up profiles, pictures, paints, etc. you can plot these according to location. You can plot particular events, from your computer or smartphone. Yo can look at historical images and data. So I have been plotting prostitution related locations such as the Kosmo Club, the coffee stalls on The Mound. You can add your data and plot them on the map. Very easy to use site and this idea of public engagement, this is a great tool for doing this.

Q&A

Q) I was quite interested in those visual tools and the linking of events tying them to geographical places. And there are other ways to visualise social network maps, I wonder how it would be to map those in your work, there must be social connections ther. Social network analysis can look very similar… I wanted to know if you have considered that or come across that sort of linkage.
A) I haven’t but that sounds really exciting.

Q) I wanted to ask you about the distribution and policing. If one were to return to the maps. Some marked differences in the number of offences – arrests? – how much detail did you take out of it? You said they were going back and were not deterred. In 1911 markedly different numbers. But even at the times when there was actually more policing towards the old town, the police were just sticking to the main routes. So was the old town a lawless zone at that time? Police not wanting to venture into dark alleys. And how long does Edinburgh’s tolerance zone persist. And it’s curious o see that without Leith too! As now the city operates a more direct reflection but perhaps before the amalgamation of the authorities perhaps there wasn’t such a direct deflection affect?
A) in terms of Keith it was occurring there. The argument is coming from the suggestion that it was informally tolerated in the old town… I don’t disagree that it happened in the old town but my arguement is that it is also happening in the new town and measures there don’t stop it when they should. And my research also sees the police not always caring and judges and juries moving for reform rather than harsher sentences. Cafes and ice cream parlours were a cause of concern in Glasgow in 1911 which may impact the figures then. The 1903 records are not correct, it may be an outlier as the general trend is of decreasing offences over time…

Q) about the visualisation tool, you have tremendous amount of interest in those maps, are this emails important for research design, for research questions. Or would you wish for a tool with more possibility for contextualisation. Fr instance statistics from authorities etc, to interpret your findings. What possibilities for researchers to have these tools yield more stuff?
A) the maps are interesting, they are more appealing. But these need to be used with tables, charts, statistics. If just presenting on the work I would have included those other factors. So in 1903 you lose some density when all dots are in the same place. But an interactive tool to do that would be great.

Comment) what is so attractive of visualisation is speed and efficiency but that also means there is a risk in concluding too quickly, of not necessarily reflecting reality of prostitution – the reader may read your map of offences in that way, that will be easy to do but the methodology can be dull to people and that can mean misunderstandings.
A) absolutely. This needs to be in context.

Q) could you have layers comparing income against offences etc. if you’d found any projects that were developing more complex…
A) the big project is the Edinburgh Atlas, there is a mini conference on hidden histories and geographies of edinburgh on mapping crime, it’s on the IASH mailing list, there are others doing that.

Q) you talked about women seduced by foreigners in edinburgh?
A) in edinburgh there was concern about Italians at ice cream parlours, brazilians were the concern in Glasgow. And in edinburgh there was also a German Jewish pimp of concern as well.

Discussion more widely…

Comment) I’m primarily a learnin technologist and I send my life trying to get people to start from the activity they want to undertake, and not starting with the tools. I found it refreshing tat you all started with your data and looking for tools with the right affordances. How did you find you were helped with that search for a tool.
Louise) it was human contacts. I saw a lecture from professor Richard roger.
Ally) it was similar for me, I found a software through a contact but found it hard to find what else was out there. It basically came down to Omeka or Drupal that the web team knew about. but it would have been great to know what was out there, what the differences are, what resources there are. Even looking through DHNow and DH Quarterly there isn’t a sense of easily identifying the options for the tools. That can be a bit of an issue.
Greg) I used the tools colleagues were using to build my own…
Comment) HCI has the notion of affordances, what it easily enables you to do and what else it could enable yo to do. Is there something there about describing affordances for the humanities. My sense is that often they are pitched towards the sciences, sometimes terminology varies event, so understanding affordances varies.
Ally) sometimes developing your own tools is good, but even a little knowledge and terminology let’s me get better results from these tools, if. Come to these tools end these colleagues with no knowledge then I will not have a successful outcome. I want to really explore Omeka so that I feel confident and able with it.

Question) have the tools changed your research questions or ways of working?
Louise) not me
Ally) for me the have. I was introduced to the 19th century disability reader digital anthology and knowing what was capable with the tools changed what I wanted to d with my project. It did to some degree. By the basic aim was I want to know more about late nineteenth century medical history hasn’t changed. But the project has
Wei Chen) I find the legal documents, creative commons licenses etc. most useful, I was able to be involved in the first version of the Chinese Creative Commons license.
Greg) it hasn’t changed my questions but the scale of work possible and how I might explore it has changed for me.

Question) what advice would yo give for people thinking about digital tools for research
Greg) don’t be afraid to just try things out, work out what’s possible…
Louise) do ask for help, do take advantage of courses…

Question) I was struck with the issue of time when you gave your presentations. Have you reflected on the process of the use of time. How to use jt creatively and consain it. And how that use of time perhaps changed your view of get, of hard copy materials.
Ally) with digital projects you can find you go with the additional time used. Yo should not underestimate the time neccassary. But at the same time I would spend hours and hours leafing through texts to answer a research question. I want t use this tool to reduce the time to find the data I need, to access it, to interpret it. But this project is about developing this oll to benefit myself and others later. You need to be realistic, step back, and be realistic about what is possible.
Louise) that’s part of the issue of digital humanities. My work will be in a traditional book format but the Historypin work, very engaging, but not counting towards career, towards a job. That’s a challenge fr digital humanities and for early career researchers, it’s why our scholarships are so good.
Wei Chen) and there is the distant versus close reading difference. Close reading still has a role but that distant reading allows us to interrogate that reading, to find that resource, etc.
Greg) nothing we are doing are unrecognisable research but we are able to perhaps examine more material, or to do things more quickly. We are not doing everything differently but using new tools in our work.

Question) do you think this investment in tools is changing humanities as a result f this temporal and labour investment in tools. Ally you talked about putting off other work…
Ally) well I am song research, You always have to manage many projects at once. And ther will be an impact. But. Chose the digital path because time and financial limitations changed what was possible. It could have been done another very expensive way. So I’m not putting off research, I would probably be spending years collating information… Instead I am setting something up to facilitate my own research in the future. The relationship between distant and close reading. That divide isn’t as fiery as it appears.
Comment) the superficial view of the digital is happening in teaching. Universities jump on the digitisation bandwagon in a way that changes how humanists are employed, how software are copyrighted and licensed. All these tools help universities save money. One can overreact… Ealignments f labour and resources makes not so positive inroads…
Ally) it’s a huge problem, I have huge concerns about the University’s MOOC programme. There was discussion of open access individuals to talk about what these means…
Louise) not sure but I know colleagues are concerned.
Wei Chen) open access is about economic growth, not hardcore humanist values. Humanist values should be at the core for digital humanists, there will be an increasingly curatorial role fr all formats of material
Comment) abit critical engagements

Question) one of my concerns about this sort of work, and the work in geography in ways of making and curating an archive. I was wondering about the length of time an archive is available after a project. There was a BBC project to save our sound and it finished and the map is no longer accessible… So who looks after and preserves data.
Greg) I think it’s hard to “lose” data, it’s abit implementation not methods.
Ally) I think it’s about how digital humanities adopt tools, about reflecting on project aftermath. When looking into project funding you don’t want that tool lost. It’s not an issue f methodology or individuals but it has implications for future archiving.
Comment) which is why Greg’s work in XML matters
Me) and the use of research data management plans and research data repositories to help ensure planning and curating of data at the outset, and to ensure lon terms access and sustainability.

Oct 102013
 
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Today I’m at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh, for the CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013. I will be presenting on social media and digital participation this afternoon but will be liveblogging the event the rest of the day (see headings/sections below). As usual as this is a liveblog please be aware that there may be small errors, typos, etc. and please do feel free to comment, provide suggestions, etc.

Welcome and introduction – Dr Audrey Sutton, CILIPS President

Welcome to the event. I’m so pleased to see such a big turn out today. Early thanks to Cassie and Sean for putting together a great programme. Do use the hashtag – I find so many interesting things on Twitter and I’m sure we all have colleagues keeping an eye on that tag.

The CILIPS autumn gathering is such a lovely opportunity to come together and share experience and information. We have three programme areas today around our theme of inspiration and education. We also have stands today from our sponsors and Supporters.

I was really excited when I saw the themes for today’s programme. I’m an ex-school librarian, and really pleased to see the recent Institute of Education showing that children who read for pleasure do so much better in school – I’m not so sure about maths but I’ll take their word fr it! So having a strand on the impact of the difference we can make for society. And for those of us involved in intensive outcomes based funding, and the proof of the outcomes are absolutely key, so I’m really pleased that we’ll be giving you some knowledge to take away their. We also have a strand of information literacy – my own PhD was on information and digital literacy so this is very dear to my heart. Even when we take about digital tools, digital devices, libraries are really at the heart.

I wanted to leave you with a bit of fun… You know your a 21st century librarian is when you know what an IP number is, but not what an ISBN numbers, when the best way to remind about overdue items is to Facebook them!

Now to our first keynote. Barbara has been a school librarian for over 20 years and is Head of Library and Resources at the Emmbrook School, Berkshire. She has been deeply involved in libraries including through CILIP schools committees.

Keynote 1 -Pentland- Let’s shout about advocacy – Barbara Band (@bcb567) CILIP Vice President

This has been a fantastic and strange year, I never would have dreamed a year ago that I would be here and Vice President of CILIP. Teenagers are much less daunting!

So if I asked you to define advocacy you will find so many varying ideas, but all are correct. So we talk about doing more advocacy but what do we mean? At its core advocacy is about “the art of pleading or arguing in favour of something, such as a cause, idea or policy” but it’s also abut getting others to voice your perspective too, to develop understanding and build partnership. It needs a deliberate sustained effort over time with a variety of approaches and techniques.

For us, librarians and libraries or whatever the terminology is for you and your organisation, we have to self advocate. This is particularly important when resources are short, when there are threats to what we do. And the best people to help us to dvocate are those that we work with, who know and Alcatel our work. If we think about advocacy and the terms around it it is about campaigning, it is about defending but it is also about promoting. And that is promotion meaning persuading, communicating, informing, it is not just about marketing in more traditional senses. And in fact the definition of promotion is fairly similar to advocacy in some ways.

A lot of people are not comfortable with advocating. People are not sure what they need to do. Some are not comfortable with lobbying, with campaigning in this way. Colleagues were concerned with being part of lobbying last year in case there were consequences in their workplace, concerned about doing that advocacy in public. By contrast “promotion” is a more comfortable term, it is more familiar, but it can equate to much the same thing.

Now often a keynote will offer an overview. I could give you statistics – could be quite depressing, particularly latest reports on literacy. But the thing is that you are all librarians, you can all find these yourself. And I find that it’s more useful to leave with something practical, something I can do… What I want you t do is think about why we should advocate, what should we advocate for, who should we advocate to.

So why advocate?
Well the perception of what we do really matters. How we are portrayed in the media, online, in conversation, etc. really makes a difference, we can influence that perception. For instance on Mumsnet a discussion about the lack of a school library indicated that lack of knowledge of what we do, I was able to help them understand. To correct and update those perceptions.

We have power to influence people, to inform them of what we do or what our benefits are, the more we do that the more we can improve our status and that’s really important as we work in an area with competing priorities. And then that hopefully results in a greater profile, increased visibility. It’s not just abut how people regard us but also about new partnerships, links with Alice’s, better impact. And if that isn’t enough building relationships with partners and decision makers.

But the core issue for us is that people don’t know what we do. I have parents coming in for parents evenings who are astonished that it has changed since they were at school – the who,e world has moved on, of course libraries have kept pace!

And who will tell people about or work if not us? How do we make it clear what we contribute and what the impact of cuts or moves to volunteers, etc. without advocating for ourselves? W have to go out and advocate.

I said I wasn’t gong to use quotes and statistics but I did want to show you this quote from Steve Bowman, University of Chichester:

30% of our success is due to skills and experience BT 70% is due to visibility

And it’s not a simple thing. You don’t know who your supporters might be, who might share your message, who might come forward and advocate for you, it’s not just your service users but much wider communities. So for instance students at schools, if we can influence them, we can impact the community beyond the library – to teachers, to other staff and they can alter perceptions of others – the head of school for instance, to parents and governors, and beyond the lock, community.

I have parents talk to me about the role of libraries in students lives, not necessarily vulnerable students who feel the library has been an important part of finding a place to be themselves. And when my friends son had a party there was discussion of librarians in schools and how good they were. You just never know who will pick up these messages.

How you are perceived as a librarian by other staff can really change how you are perceived as a
professional in an organisation. That matters.

If we are advocating for the profession we also need t engage with the wider works, what librarians outside of your area do, what the profession means for them. And we need to advocate much wider to decision makers, policy makers, the press. These are the hardest group to reach and it is s hard t have an impact. You have to advocate again and again, libraries seem to have universal support, MPs say they support us but we don’t have their commitment or their finding. That’s essential. It’s easier to support, it’s harder to commit.

When you are advocating you really have to focus on your target audience. Yo need to have a focus, a key message to a specific target. That message needs to be pertinent and re,event to your target audience, and it needs to speak their language. So if I talk to teachers I’ll talk abit listed say, with parents it’s about learning and supporting, with fellow professionals it’s about sharing research, etc.

So, how do you do advocacy? Well it will vary by your sector, your context, your organisation. We cannot do everything, don’t stress about it. But even a small action can have a big impact. For instance displaying books in the library will influence students reading.

It’s not enough to meet targets, to deliver great services, you also have to talk about and tell them what you do. The problem is that people who really know what they are song makes it look so easy. The skills involved in finding and evaluating information are not obvious. You need to take advantage of opportunities to talk about what you do. When I out author talks on I send them to all staff, so they know that that’s part of what we do. I send my manager a monthly email of all the events did activities I’ve done. I’ve been at my school ten years and still my colleagues don’t real,y understand what I do – maybe only another school librarian can. And that job changes, we need to communicate that. And if you have a PR person in your organisation make sure they know what you do so that they can advocate for you. My school started doing a “tweet for the day” and because I tweet the person managing that advocate for me by retweeting and sharing. DO use testimonials and quotes, showing the appreciation and impact of your work. And you need to develop a “tribe” around your role. We are lucky, we have a school librarians group with a very active discussion space, they are peers, supporters, people to share experience with, to help advocate, to present a common message. You can also feed that activity back to your organisation, to maximise that impact.

And that takes us to social media… Like it or not it is essential. Organisations and companies have Facebook presences, they tweet, these really matter. Politicians, businesses and the press, those power groups I mentioned, they watch social media for news, for trends, for information. You can’t do this stuff too much. We all have a voice that we need to lose. Read and comment on blogs, retweet information, share them on Facebook, engage online to advocate. Use your network to advocate and generate awareness. If one strategy doesn’t work, try something else. Be persistent, creative and adaptable.

Now when I take my students out on a trip I tell them that people make assumptions based on how they look and behave. We generalise based on experiences with individuals from a specific group. That means that people make assumptions on libraries and librarians based on what they see or experience from us. That means every time we contribute, we respond, we engage with the media we send a message, we advocate. We need to make sure we send the right message, we have to stay professional in what we do even if we are being critical. Using “views my own” is irlevent, I’d have to be anonymous for that to have any impact. Otherwise everything you do sends a message, and it has to be the right one.

And finally I want to as that advocacy is a two way process. CILIP is there to advocate but it can only do so much, we have to do what we can to make the. Kat of that advocacy activity. The retweeting, the sharing of links and success stories all help. And that allows us to build on our success… And that will come back and help you to promote more.

So, in the words of a famous marketing campaign: Just Do It!

Q&A

Q1 – Ian McPartland, CILIPS schools advocacy) thank yo for your talk. We are setting up a good practice area on the CILIPS Website and I hope you will be happy to share your slides there?

A1) of course.

I’m afraid, due to a major coughing fit (sorry all in the room!) I wasn’t able to type Barbara’s excellent suggestions for how she does her own advocacy work, things like handwritten letters, using every opportunity to highlight what you do, etc…

Parallel sessions

For the first parallel session of the day I have picked the schools advocacy session. I’m curious to find out more about school librarians and their role, particularly with EDINA’s intest in schools through Digimap for Schools. I’m also curious to see how the discussion will transpire after this mornings keynote.

Parallel Session 1 – Schools Libraries: Advocacy! A group discussion facilitated by the School Libraries Advovacy Group (Yvonne, Keith, Cleo)

This session will be very much about discussion and participation. But first a quick update in the schools advocacy task and finish group. CILIPS recognised that support for staff in schools and school libraries highlighting the contribution that staff and school libraries make. And associated with that was some research from SLIC on the school libraries sector.

When we set up it was clear that advocacy was the important thing for us to focus on. And so we came up with some key objectives and we’ve been pretty successful in meeting thoughts. We knew we wanted to contact Education Scotland, and briefings for school librarians. And we were lucky in that Cathy has put this strand for school libraries into this event.

The sharing of best practice matters. We’re just doing our job not shouting about it. But Sean McNamara has set up an area of the CILIPS website to share best practice, case studies, expectations, what the school can expect from their school library. Hopefully today’s discussion can contribute to that space.

We also wanted to contribute to SLIC. There are members of the project group that are also on the SLIC group. Their literature research has come up with really compelling research on the impact of schools library. But it is research on Australia, USA, and Canada but not from the UK or Scotland. The next step will be about us, what about us?

And we wanted to just talk about a really tricky advocacy tool that Dorothy came up with on the SLIC website. This is a very visual guide, based on sound statistical evidence, to how school libraries have impact on achievement on the SLIC website, where the report will also be soon. And we also wanted to do an audit of school libraries in Scotland.

Over to Keith

Keith: I am Freedom of Information officer at Robe Gordon University. I sent 7 questions to local authorities in Scotland and beyond. This was sent on 31st May 2013. Asking about centralised schools library service, if provided the budget, minimum qualification, pay scale, etc.

21 authorities responded. 17 sent a refusal to respnd under the act. Two did not respond at all – and I’ll be following that Jo as it breaches the act, however a very wide variety of quality and depth of answers.

But from the responses. 9 independently funded school library services, one found as recent,y as 2012 with £400k backing. All but one of 21 authorities employ professional librarians. 10 required chartered status or intent, 19 required degree in library and Informaton studies. Hard to give stats on remuneration as a very wide range of pay, contracts, scales, and the roles vary widely. Average spend per school libraries was around £2k, highest £5k, lowest around £1k.

Of those that replied…
- variation of services
- overall demise of centralised school library services
- majority of school libraries staffed by qualified or charted staff
- variety of contracts, most full time and 52 weeks per year…
- some very interesting English stats as well…

Over to Cleo

Cleo: I will be talking about Edinburgh, where we still have a central library service and librarians in every school. But in 2010, about this time of year, had to make efficiencies. I can’t share everything today but school librarians did fantastic work, all wrote an impact statement, with support from colleagues, all working together. They spoke to parent councils, they made a DVD linking their work to the Curriculum for Excellence. And this was brilliant, was shown to their heads and decision makers…

Cue clip of video…

This was an amazing and powerful thing. Working centrally I wrote a report for head teachers about the impact of what sessionalisation – one day a week of librarian time being taken up with other rather than direct work with students. That was really effective, we had political backing at the council. That line of a librarian for schools has been held, because politically that line was being held. But politically that’s changed. Never forget that you may fought for something once and it may have worked but the thing is politicians change, things change, you have to do it again, you’ve got to keep talking all the time!

So let’s jump forward to 2013. We have a great service, super librarians. I have on your table Teen Titles and Free Your Minds, two initiatives we do collaboratively as schools librarians. We do this great work, I sit centrally advocating… But surprise surprise last month the budget proposals came round there is to be a review of schools libraries in Edinburgh. It’s gutting. It may seem unbelievable but people don’t know what they do. They don’t realise what happens outside of what they see. We need people to know it’s not just the library, it’s not just collections. It is the full time equivalent librarian that makes the difference, it’s proven in that evidence of the impact of schools libraries. I know you will all do amazing events, author events, European fairs, etc. but what else do you need to do? You have to spend that time, you have to package that work up, let the head know, raise profile nationally, disseminate what you did, how good it was, what the impact on the learners is and what would happen if you weren’t there! Do your managers know what you do? The reading programmes? The school activities? Wo that work would actually be pushed back onto? Head teachers need to know that role, what that means for other staff. Edinburgh isn’t the only local authority reviewing school librarians. We have to be out there shouting about what were doing. Please take the opportunity to let people know what you are doing, what you could be doing, and how your work connects to the Curriculum for Excellence.

And now back to Yvonne: we will now discuss in groups, we will get our ideas on paper. Record your discussion and we will ring a bell to move you clockwise to the next table…

And with that it’s over to discussion, back shortly

Discussion areas:

- Who do you speak to? Who are the key people? Discussion here included pupils, oupil councils, teachers, etc. but also valid concerns and risk aversion, strictures of schools, ban on speaking to press, need for any materials to be approved by comms teams, caution in tweeting etc.

- What does a school librarian do? Lots of online stuff, events, library as a teaching space, project work, special displays or events to be highlighted, etc. Discussion of participation in teacher training days, this isn’t very common. Teaching and writing teaching materials – e.g. Literacy programme. Sometimes part of literacy work for PSE/careers. Careers information as well, arranging associated events and talks.

- what support do you need? Colleagues, managers, etc. but it’s about informed support. A lot of staff think of the room, not the person. Also need Scottish based evidence, parents, communities, local authorities’ evidence of disbenefits and impact of cuts and changes. Also council and councillors. Education Scotland. Scottish government. Press. Thought leaders and organisations e.g. Rotary clubs.

- what skills do you need? Knowledge of curriculum, ICT, negotiation, communication, empathy, business, management skills, etc… And flanteur (what the kids call “flirty banter”… Huge array here… Also leadership, time travel (as in it won’t fit in the day), persuasion… Respect, anticipation, ability to see and grasp opportunies, and current awareness, strategic skills,

- how to move forward? Job description – review, make it reflective. Emphasise teaching, ebooks, impact statements, consistency across schools, information literacy for teachers, education documents, building good relationship with education scotland.

Keynote 2 – Liz McGettigan – A Force for Change – The infinite possibilities of libraries and librarians in the digital age

I am first and foremost a librarian and passionate about libraries. I want to look back and particularly forward. I want us to remember what a force for change we are, some ideas for the future…

More than 150 million people will be born this year, and into an information economy. W need to cater for that child. I want to show some experiences of works across Scotland, particularly around digital and digital content. I’d love to show some American and Australian examples but there won’t be time today.

Things change fast. The internet has been with us barely 20 years. Children grow up with social media. It is not the strongest but the most intelligent and most flexible opt hat survive, I really believe that. There are so many catalysts for change – ebooks,portals, mobiles… But the content matters for me, not the format. In diminishing budgets and this economic climate how d we rovide the great commercial-like customer experience? And there’s also the dates of our buildings… The move to hubs did cafe culture. Again tough in this economy. Anyone struggling with technology should be heartened by the fact that we’ve adapted before – from card catalogues for instance.

Why are we here? Well John Cotton Dana said that public libraries are the “centre for public happiness” and that seems a fitting way to move on to customer experiences…

So this is CrIgmillar library. This is a hub. About more than libraries, about physical experience, innovative interior spaces, digital experiences. Scotland’s libraries are fabulous, if they are not then they should be, how do we make that happen? How do we get that funded? How do we become players and leaders? How d we get leaders or know that libraries are the centre if what happens – we have free technology, the community and trust of the community… We don’t make enough of that. So inside Craigmillar it’s about a lovely and inviting space, it’s ownership, safe places t red to learn to work to play, it’s not all about books and collections.

Looking at some other libraries, good design is about a modern ambience, an inviting space. You need research, community input, working out how to work together, get libraries involved in economic development… But what about cost? You have to take a fabulous idea and take SL,unions not problems to your leaders. We have to show how you rationalise three or four buildings into one fabulous community space. We make people feel safe, used, happy, that’s still a key thing for us.

The library can be in my pocket, why have a psychical space. We have taken the leap,mstarted social media suites, an app, a portal, that gave us profile. That gives you a can do attitude. Performance improved, that was seen by decision makers. We have opened two new libraries in a hard time. Our social media suite – our blog, rue YouTube content, etc. we created ourselves, this is free promotion and just required a few key people in key posts. We highlighted catalogue materials in our posts – we copied New York public library here. And of course we have provided ebooks, I’d love to see more take up. And local history. We have the most exciting content in the world. If we all gathered our materials we could compete with google for quality and quantity. We created Our Town Stories, people contribute their own perspectives and stories here,

So the time for libraries and librarianship is now!

Digital materials don’t replace libraries, they enhance and update it. There are great Aberdeen touch screen materials for instance. We are moving towards for pads fr staff rather than PCs. Fantastic tech again. Another library shit here – a panel of screens. People do use books but we need hybrid libraries so digital content is accessible.

Yes, I do live in the real world. Performance improvement is key too. The digital and physical improvements led to performance improvements and that’s what matters. Satisfaction improved.

So we need to get better at recognising what we are doing. What we are are. What we are for. What we can do. As how we raise the profile of this. For some people of am books have higher profile than us – we need to shout more, show our digital differences, community activities, we need to speak to COSLAS and be seen as big players. The new librarian or leader has to be a people person, passionate, enthusiastic, digitally savvy, visionary, known for a can do attitude, culture of innovation. And they get out there, at the table, impress people, set the pace, tackle change, models the way, finds champions and partners, pushes buttons – use the right language, presents solutions not problems. Read, learn, develop, take risks.

So tailoring buildings, design and layout of public buildings have impact on the library and the community. It clearly impacts on sense of community and a sense of investment in communities, and it means working with partners and other information and communities.

We have to remain a force for change.

Q&A

No questions just now but Liz will be available to talk to for the rest of the day…

Presentation of Honorary Membership and Mentor of the Year awards

The Honorary Membership awards go to four information professionals. Rosemary, past literary editor of the Herald and Sunday Herald, led literature working group which reported in February 2010. She published Scotland: a history in 2010 and we we lucky enough to have you speak at our annual conference in 2012.

Annabel Marsh is someone who is very active on Twitter, I’m sure many of us follow you. You have been responsible for the Children’s literature collection at Strathcook, you have been art of the Scottish Educatonal Lubrarians a group, you are responsible for the Glasgow tweetups which Cathy tells me we should all get involved in.

Cathy (from UoE) is a specialist in library cataloging and classification. W have had trouble adequately describing Cathy’s contribution, you have have been an exemplar of professionalism and a challenging presence at times, which is so important. Thank you for your contribution to CILIP.

Peter Reid, we appreciate first and foremost that Peter led CILIPS at a very difficult time, it was Peters judgement and diplomacy that had such impact on our fellow professionals. For me your legacy has been a very rewarding year. Peter is also professor of librarianship and information management at Robert Gordan University. Than you again for your work, in the last year in particular.

Peter says: it has been a challenging year but getting out and seeing what you do has been the most rewarding experience.

Back to awards: our last award winner is for the mentor of the year, Jennifer Findley,her background is environmental and biological sciences but she has mainly worked in law libraries. Most of her mentoring has been online through Twitter and her me tee is about to submit! Congratulations!

And with that it was time for lunch!

Parallel sessions

This session I have plumped for then literacy session.

Parallel Session 3 – Information Literacy: In Practice – National Library of Scotland and Glasgow School of Art Projects (split session)

Beverley Casebow and Alice Haywood from National Library of Scotland will be kicking us off this afternoon. Beverley and Alice work on educational resources for both online and offline activities. They will be talking abut Project Blaster, an initiative between NLS and schools in Edinburgh.

Beverley: Alice and I are the lerning team for the NLS and our remit extends to all ages and all areas of Scotland. E do hands on workshops, online resources, web features and videos, partnership work with partner organisations such as Archeology Scotland, Scottish Ballet etc. but we will focus on one project, Project Blaster which is aimed at developing literacy, critical thinking and digital literacy skills.

All of our projects are underpinned by the Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy across learning. This address pes both literacy and critical literacy. We feel gha the learning team much help young people and lifelong learners tie develop not only multiple-literacy skills but also critical skills across a range of media. SL our toolkit focuses on developing the ability to find and select information, critical thinking and evaluation, cultural and social understanding, creativity, and to be aware of the creative audience.

Some of you may be familiar for Alan Burnett. He used the library regularly to research his history and children’s books. He has worked with schools through various events around information literacy, the research process, and turning this into a variety of formats. We wanted to take advantage of his skills and experiences to create an online experience. In schools he had worked with a Victorian history example but we wanted it to have cross-subject relevance. We also included games and activities for PCs and smart board. We filmed Alun as well. We used animation and a space girl and a crab guide you through… This apealing animation and parts of the resource are aimed to ensure it can be accessed by students themselves.

Over to Alice: this is a six stage process. The sixth stage is “blast off”. So if I play “what am I looking for” video… Alun and also animation explaining what he is saying. This describes Primary or secondary source. (very cute). And how you use a primary source, how you guess and explore and find out what information you are dealing with.

So in stage one the class choose a topic and collaboratively decide what they will be looking at as a class, to set their own goals. In stage two we see that video. It is about research but spew don’t directly refer to it as such. Stage three is about where they find information – starting with their own environment a school, as home, in their community and people in that community, and in the library and internet. this is illustrated as concentric circles that build into a bigger picture, reinforcing places to look for information, establishing basic skills at an early level. Stage four is more meat and bones in terms of putting project together. It shows them how to organise and record the Information for their project. And at stage five critical and selective analysis comes in, this is where they evaluate and choose the best information for their project, emphasising the need to validate. Finally at stage six they go back to the classroom and decide what to produce, what will be created with this research to create and actual class excercise.

So it is about those key skills of finding and selecting information, critical thinking and evaluation, cultural and social understanding, thinking creatively, effective collaboration and creation.

We’ve had feedback from teachers who have trialled the resource. They kink the framework for teachers, the structure to use. They like the applicability across subjects.

We hope that this will be part of a bigger picture.

Beverley: we are currently working in a resource with Archeology Scotland for adult and community learners. Next year we hope t look at visual literacy around the first world war. We also Want to look at political literacy – have already done some work in this area, see the section on the Education Scotland website. Contributed to a timeline of the history of e.g. Women’s and universal suffrage.

And now onto our next literacy presentation. This time from Glasgow School of Art: Duncan Chappell and Jennifer Higgins.

Delivering Information Skills to Artists and Designers

We are going to talk to you about InfoSmart, the GSAs online portfolio of literacy skills, particularly designed for visual thinkers, which is important for us.

InfoSmart is a series of freely available online modules, on the GSA website. They can be completed form beginning to end, or they can be dipped in and out. Designed for any practitioner wanting to improve their Information literacy skills. Designed in house using inexpensive tools. We are one f only two remaining small institutions specialists in Scotland. One of very few independent art colleges. Since 2000 30% of Turner Prize winners have been our graduates. We run from undergraduate through to PhD level.

We looked at existing resources but none suited our visually inclined learners, they often do not think in linear ways and find scholarly writing hard. Cobbledick 1996 emphasises the importance f browsing to artists and designers, Our full bibliography can be found on our website.

It seemed to carry through across all levels that our students have few information skills or very mixed skills. Even at PhD level academic writing skills cannot be assumed. So we wanted to drive development based on feedback and needs. We asked our students about searching versus browsing and 62% of students tend to browse. Where possible we tried to canvas a wide range of views and opinions. Institutionally there were interests to accept more non traditional backgrounds, with even more mixed skills. And we really want to build our research activity as well.

Over to Jennifer

Jennifer: there are five key modules which can be dipped into but there are linkages that students should notice. The structure is not unlike the Project Blaster. So the first section is on searching and discovering, keyword searches are looked at, primary and secondary sources… And having a balance of information. The next module focuses on finding materials whether archives, artists books, etc. then there is an evaluate section which encourages critical thinking, bias of programming, etc. and discuss wikipedia as well. Our next section, arguably the most well used, looks at preparing written assignments including referencing, ethics, plagiarism. And finally the Use section, pretty important in our sector where copyright and usage matters.

The InfoSmart logo was designed in house at GSA. It is in clear language and simple design. We have avatars to help reinforce key learning and provide continuity for the students. And fans,my we ave plans to formally assess but we have an archive certificate that they can enjoy as a playful thing.

We have summaries of what is in each section, what they hope to achieve.

Back to Duncan

Duncan: we mapped our resource to the same standards as academics work to. This mapping of materials to SQA levels, to RS Competitncies, SCONUL, Vitae and National Occupational Standards. Arduous but means InfoSmart has real credibility for academic staff. We will now be mapping to the new Creativity in Scotland report from Education Scotland. We won a THES award for our work and we are keen to explore more. Perhaps as a MOOC. The project was funded by SLIC and it is available as an Open Educatonal Resource under Creative Commons license, so anyone can use or reuse it.

Q&A

Q for NLS) will this expand to secondary level
A) this is a pilot level, we want to reassess after the first year and then expand.

Q for GSA) what is a MOOC
A) Massively Open Online Courses. These are self directed online courses free at the point of use.

Q) what do you mean by browsing?
A) mainly physical items but also online resources. When we demonstrate full text journal databases a lot prefer to browse every issue… Seem to prefer to do that. They have sort of magpie visual tendencies, huge reliance on serendipity…

Q) you moved from harvard to MHRA?
A – Jennifer) it was for consistency. Not sure why that reasoning.
A – Duncan) I find Harvard easier but our academic board is who we follow

Parallel sessions

Parallel session 3 – Let them Tweet Cake: Engaging communities through the social media that works for them, plus thoughts on spreading the benefits of digital participation – Nicola Osborne, EDINA

I will not be blogging my own session here but you can access the Prezi for this session here, and the associated list of resources here.

 

Final session keynote – Welcome to the End of the World – E-Safety, Online Behaviour and the Death of Privacy – Simon Finch, Northern Grid

Simon is opening with an overview of the day: I’ve seen a really positive message and areas of hope. When I heard about advocacy I had a bit of sinking feeling… But I’ve seen such motivation and ideas and positivity today!

So I want to say the culture of understanding of behaviour have changed. We have companies that make things that are changing the way that we behave. So if we were talking road safety… If they’d just been invented we’d still need to be working out the detail…

When hurricane sandy hit where did everyone go? Starbucks! But why? Free wifi! Things are changing…. But we have all this new technology that we are trying to bend to our will, trying to fit to our models. I struggle. I watch Question Time and This Week. I watch it on Thursday. My colleague says “why don’t you watch it on Saturday?” we’ll I can’t! It’s on on Thursday! I can’t watch a whole series on a Sunday in a onesie!

Now we mock the sharing of pictures of food then we miss the opportunity to engage. Now I usually give presentations on how to get fired on social media… An Oxford university Librarian was sacked for not stopping it – not for doing it, for not stopping it. But that poor Librarian got so much press. The Daily Mail, and others, are there to give us a hard time…

So, cyborgs… DARPA have created cyborgs for carrying bags. We have “Backyard Brains” which are little electronic cockroaches that can be controlled by mobile phone. And we have Google Glasses… Done on Android… Anyone can write for it… How about software to take an image every time you blink… So we’ll ask kids to bring phones in but leave the glasses at home…. And we have drones tracking kids to school, but also worrying a woman in Seattle… And drone license
So being requested in their thousands… And we have a petman to test clothing….

We have to come to the conclusion that privacy is dead. So we have to teach kids how to manage privacy, how to manage their data. We won’t end up removing the risk but managing the risk. T protect children. You are gatekeepers to the world wide web. Risks include stranger danger perhaps… The culture has changed. My teen neice uses instagram saying “say hi to me”, “I’m bored”. Kids are needy. I was like that too! We need to understand that normal has changed. It’s not only predators who pretend to be someone else…. We tell kids about sexual predators, did bad people are anonymous…. But being anonymous is a great equal thing. It means older people can talk to younger people. Most people who see my stuff are people into education, kids aren’t interested.

Sparkle box, primary school site being run by convicted pedophile. Saw people in schools panic…! Why would be surprised that people who want to do harm to children hang out where kids will be, it’s obvious. So you need to know that websites aren’t like books, authors don’t reach out. So do we need to train the kids what to do. It’s weird not to be on Facebook… But ditch privacy settings, assume your enemy is watching…

We need to define “friend”. Someone you like. Someone you can trust. Someone you’ve met. But meeting online counts. We used to have pen pals. This is the proper stuff. You have to choose the communication channel, you have to reach out t them and you have to change their minds… I am attention seeking and needy, we all are, we like nice things to be SiD… There are fantastic things to be seen on the web. Cue video clip of truck and airplane… It’s rubbish, it’s an advert for a pickup truck. We have to impress on kids that stuff online can’t always be trusted. And companies don’t want your likes, they want your data, they want to know who you are…

Body image… We have a lot to do… Cue photoshopped image of Robert Downey Jnr on Sherlock poster. H&M paste head shots onto computer generated bodies! Because “the clothes fit better”. X factor is bullying as entertainment. And You’ve Been Framed. And then we have Amanda Todd, killed herself about what is said online. Like kids dying for not wearing seatbelts when I was a kid. And it’s not like a computer game, you can’t see when they are running out of life/energy.

So we have to think about security. Need pass phrases, not passwords… Passwords matter. Don’t be stupid….

We have to think about trust. So many hoaxes. We trust star ratings… But have to be critical… Ad we need to think about IPR. Someone takes a creative commons picture of someone on flickr but can’t give away the person photographed’s image yet it ends up on an advert… It’s complex but we need to be out there…

You have to get out there and create stuff, if you don’t Someone else with. It’s an opportunity…

Twitter is biggest staff room in the world. If you blog about what you do you can find peers, interesting people, information. I use delicious, I tag everything in real time… I have to show mos and councillors how to be safe online.

I am brand simfin. He is a better person than Sam Finch. It’s an ideal view. I am all these online identities plus my offline identity. I pump stuff out all the time. If you share stuff that wouldn’t be fine on big screens at conferences then you are doing it wrong.

So that award… I won the Naace ICT Impact Award in 2013. It came at a bad time for various reasons. But I feel weird about awards. Other people don’t get them. I tried curling when I worked in Canada for a while. They gave me most improved player… I was told it meant I was the worst player… But anyway I won an award for web world. Online I’m regarded… At work the muggles don’t get it. In job interviews you start to get people asked to account for last five days on Facebook… Fair enough. You just need to be faster, better, effective… More than the next guy… Do all your stuff under one identity, none of this personal and professional stuff, get everything done right.

Closing remarks – Dr Audrey Sutton, CILIPS President

Thank you for staying on. It’s been extremely worthwhile… You always out me on after the most entertaining speaker! A few observations. I live the idea this morning that those who benefit from services most closely are our best advocates. I want to be in Barbaras tribe really. Liz talked about the hybrid library, the centre of public happiness… The NLS and GSA conversation was really interesting to me…. My son is an artists and he’s an inveterate browser so good luck to GSA! Nicholas bake off was great fun and put me in mind of my tea! Not sure about snap hat though! Geat feedback from Annabel’s session… And how to lose your job on Twitter, how to best share stuff, I have a lot to take away, to be digitally confident.

Thank you to everyone who delivered a session for us today. Huge thank you to our venue here, our photographer, to all of our honourable members and particularly to Cathy and Sean. And to our session chairs. Thank you all so much for coming and we’ll look forward to doing it all again next year!

 

 October 10, 2013  Posted by at 10:44 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jul 292013
 

A few weeks back I attended Culture Hack Scotland 2013 at The Whisky Bond, a mixed art/culture/design space in Glasgow. I was aiming to liveblog the event but ended up too busy with the hack so I’m just finally setting them live now – do let me know if you have any questions or comments about our hack, it would be great to hear what you think!

The event is in it’s third year (my write ups of CHS2011 and CHS2012 are here on the blog) and now a well established part of the Scottish tech events calendar, with developers, techies, designers, and people who don’t quite fit any of those labels (including me) heading along to build something awesome in an intense environment.

nerdy fortune cookie message "By eating this, you are agreeing to our use of cookies"

Culture Hack Scotland is not the place for seriousness, behold the awesomely nerdy fortune cookies.

There are very few rules about what you can build at Culture Hack Scotland – as I am typing this post one team are broadcasting a two hour “Live & Hacking” TV show as their contribution to the event for instance – but a range of data are made available from arts and cultural organisations. One of the features of these events tends to be developers supporting each other through their hacks and this year one ambitious team have made a universal API for all of the data, as Linked Data. However with laser cutting, 3D printing, sewing machines and a range of musical instruments mean there is a real emphasis on physical projects this year: mechanical high-fiving over the internet; adventures on a static Arduino-enabled peddle bike; and something amazing involving a giant beautiful laser cut Scotland.

Image of an automatic bell ringing machine

Twitter-triggered bells. They chimed whenever #chscot was tweeted. This led to underhand tweeting late into the first night to wind up early hackers…

My contribution this year is a team collaboration with Akiko Koyabashi and Brian Macdonald. We have been working with the Albert Drive data, a series of tweets about the Tramway’s fantastic sounding year-long community participation arts project all based in and around Albert Drive, Glasgow.

image of I am on Albert Drive badges (in both English and Arabic)

I Am on Albert Drive badges (in both English and Arabic)

When I looked at the data sets likely to be available Albert Drive caught my eye as I was keen to do something visual with the tweets – and started off with a plan to create an animation of the conversations back and forth. But, having packed any number of drawing, lego and stop motion kit things, inevitably, change. When I came to look through the data properly on Saturday morning it didn’t seem quite right for that format. A lot of the tweets were from the Albert Drive accounts (@AlbertDrive and @neighbourhoodw2) reporting the events as they happened. There were retweets and replies but overall the tweets (a 7 day snapshot from the project) are more reporting than conversation. They have also been provided with only minimal metadata and excluding georeferences – although it’s not all unusual for people to elect not to share their location on tweets (which is why mapped tweet visualisations should always ring a few feint alarm bells).

pile of flyers

Flyers for Tramway’s Albert Drive project.

So, what to do? I started to read up more on Albert Drive and still thought the project was really interesting… I wanted to see if I could do something useful manually with the tweets perhaps… And then I was joined by Akiko, an Edinburgh-based architect who was keen to address Tramway’s core hope for Culture Hack Scotland: to have a lasting and impactful legacy for their project. Akiko was keen to do this through a physical presence of some sort and as we started chatting an idea began to come together. I would do something with getting those tweets on a map, locating them within their context. Akiko would design some form of awesome community-based physical experience/interface that would connect the real social world of Albert Drive to the archive of the Albert Drive project content. We both researched the project further, keen to find out what had happened in the arts project, how it had taken place, and how we could build on that.

I discovered that there was actually loads of additional content around the project – commissioned images, videos (shared across two youtube channels), tweeted images, sound clips… but lots of these were not connected up to the website and it was hard to browse or experience the project as a coherant whole. So I started pulling resources together. Meanwhile Akiko analysed the physical space of Albert Drive, it’s properties, character and key areas – she made this into a truly amazing Post It note wall.

image of laptop and post it wall

My laptop showing Albert Drive tweets with Akiko’s amazing post it analysis shown in the background. Also pictured: a very tasty lunch.

As Akiko and I were chatting about possible physical embodiment, and key moments and locations associated with the project it became clear that getting ALL of these properly on the map would be a super starting point to understanding The Drive. So, much of my Saturday Night was spent manually building a layer of Albert Drive public spaces – the shops, the religious buildings, the post boxes, etc. This was a very manual process. Running two browsers in parallel I used Google Map Engine Lite to map each item, with Google Street Map open in parallel for reference, for checking the location and name of shops, etc. A fair amount of searching and verifying locations was also required but soon the map was coming together.

Image of Nicola editing maps

Me, hard at work finalising KML files for We Are On Albert Drive.

As I progressed the mapping Akiko designed several possible options for a physical embodiment of the project. Should it be a mobile seat? Perhaps a touch screen interface. Could the data be somehow projected into a more intimate space – she sketched a sort of comfy armchair with umbrella screen above it. Should a treasure box be used? I had seen simple physical interfaces like this at the new Furniture Gallery at the V&A and Akiko found a number of fascinating treasure box art works but thinking this through further the practicalities of curating content and maintaining it didn’t seem quite feasible for a project looking to create a lasting record rather than actively continuing. And then Akiko came across the notion of Guerilla benches and began prototyping some fantastic designs…

Image of Brian coding at his laptop

Brian codes into the night…

Meanwhile… early in the hack – in one of the check ins – Brian had said he was keen to do something on health and wellbeing that might look at the impact of the Albert Drive project but had hit a brick wall with the non-georeferenced tweets. He knew we’d been working with the same data and, when his own project seemed to reach a dead end, he came over to chat. It soon became clear that our public spaces map and Brian’s Twitter API work thus far could be a perfect combination. I exported the Public Spaces map as a KML and worked on pulling all of the videos and images around the project (again very manually) into a new map layer. Meanwhile Brian worked on how to turn this into a real experience – how to navigate and view content and start to pull in Tweets.

Image of Akiko trialling physical interfaces

Akiko explores the potential of Makey Makey – a kit for turning anything vaguely conductive into a controller.

And working on the physical interface Akiko had, as we’d been foofing with the data, designed and begun construction on a fantastic sociable bench – you sit on it and view and navigate around the materials using very physical controllers running via the amazing Makey Makey human interface. The idea is for it to sit somewhere on Albert Drive – and be movable around various “guerilla” locations – and for conversations to start, for explorations of the project to be sociable and located.

Akiko worked on constructing the bench out of many layers of cardboard with clever Makedo parts (essentially reusable plastic construction parts) so that it was sturdy – and it was very study. She then commissioned the laser cutting folk to fabricate perforated screens for speakers, an acrylic sheet to use as a lightbox/projection screen, and plywood seat pieces which, via pressure pads, could trigger the bench to switch on/off.

Brian and Akiko constructing the hack

Brian experiences a breakthrough moment as Akiko wires up the bench just before the hack deadline!

Things started to come together. In addition to the Public Spaces KML I had finished a reasonable cross section of the images, videos and sound recordings as a new Albert Drive KML. Finally I set to work creating a last crowd sourcable map layer. Anyone could add to this public Albert Drive layer enabling the community to add their own new materials – tweets, videos, comments, whatever – onto the map. Brian had created a simple-to-use walk through using Google Street Map but bringing in each of these layers. He envisioned adding live tweets as an additional layer – building on his previous work – and that would also have been in place had time allowed.

When we finally attached the Makey makey and a Pico projector to the laptop the effect was magical. Akiko had created four controllers – forward/back/left/right – using 10p coins that appeared to be glued to the acrylic panel. Making contact with them triggered you to walk through Brian’s map interface – which projected up from a pico projector concealed inside the box. As you walked getting near to the objects I had been mapping – a tweet, a photo, a video or a landmark – triggered it to appear in parallel with the map.

Image of a map of Albert Drive

A map showing the Albert Drive tweets, images, video and sound objects I georeferenced for our hack.

OK there were a few bugs. I hadn’t managed to complete all objects on all of the layers and the crowdsource layer was more concept than content. Brian’s interface worked well but some object types weren’t happy – not all media embed codes are equal and working out the kinks wasn’t doable in the last hour. And Akiko’s bench was great but some of the physical controllers were more robust than others – in the end rather than use the pressure pad contacts we concealed the key earth connection in the perforated speaker housing as this was the only way to make a successful connection.

When it came time to demo our idea those loose connections and an overheating Pico projector let us down but Akiko did a great job explaining the concept. You can watch her presentation – and our collective attempts to fix the previously-beautifully functioning bench – in the video below:

You can also view Akiko’s slides – with some great mock ups of how the project would look in-situ – here: Albert Drive [PDF]

Whilst the demo didn’t go quite as planned we were able to show loads of our fellow hackers, arts organisations and interested others how the bench actually worked, with many delighted looks as people sat down, chatted, and proved how the sociable physical incarnation of the materials really added to the rich digital resources and fun 1st person map interface for them.

image showing a hand on the bench working the physical interface (10p coins)

Akiko demonstrates the 10p controllers as the screen shows both the map and an image of one of the churchs on Albert Drive.

We were delighted at what we had created and felt honoured to be commended by Simon Kirby, Professor of Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh and one of the three Culture Hack Scotland 2013 judges.

Image of several hackers looking at the bench

Tired hackers take a look at the We Are On Albert Drive bench being demonstrated when back up and running after our Show & Tell.

All three of us felt that the project needed to be local, relevant and alive. We each had different ways to do this. For Akiko that was about located and social experience, for me that was about getting a coherant path through the data based around geography, and for Brian it was about bringing in new and real time data in meaningful ways. It was a really inspiring team to be part of and I am really proud of what we all achieved in the time.

Huge thanks to Akiko and Brian for being just brilliant. Massive thanks are also due to the Tramway for inspiring our weekend with their date, and to the ever-amazing Culture Hack Scotland organisers at Sync for orchestrating another productive, creative, energising and inspiring Culture Hack!

Useful Links:

Find our more about Team We Are Albert Drive:

And finally…

Please enjoy these highlights from others’ amazing Show and Tell demos:

Image showing an audience watching a man on a bicycle

One of the hacks featured a bicycle wired up with sensors and Arduino to turn it into a controller for a video game – your cycling moves you around a skyscape where (in a more developed version) you would encounter birds flying.

image of a crowded room

The full audience of hackers, arts organisations and judges pile into the hack space to view a sound map made of astroturf, cardboard, sensors and bird sounds. A highly interactive and popular hack.

Three men stand on an astroturf and cardboard map.

The map in action: you step to hear the bird population of that area, many people stepping creates a kind of avant garde bird song.

The full write up of the event can now be found on the Culture Hack Scotland website – I highly recommend a browse through each and every one of the imaginative hacks dreamed up during the weekend.

For a more nostalgia-inducing overview do also take a look at Live and Hacking – a Saturday-morning Kids TV-style streaming production entirely conceived, prepared, filmed and broadcast during the hack (where you will also see me on Tweet reporting duty).

 July 29, 2013  Posted by at 11:27 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life 1 Response »
Jun 192013
 

Today EDINA is hosting a talk by Martin Hawksey on data visualisation. He has posted a whole blog post on this, which includes his slides, so I won’t be blogging verbatim but hoping to catch key aspects of his talk.

Martin will be talking about achievable and effective ways to visualise data. He’s starting with Jon Snow’s 1850s map of cholera deaths identifying the epicentre of the outbreak through maps of death. And on an information literacy note you do need to know how to find the story in the graphics. Visualisation takes data, takes stories, and turns them into something of a narrative, explaining and enabling others to explore that data.

Robin Wilton georeferenced that original Snow data then Simon Rodgers (formally of Guardian, latterly of twitter) put data into CartoDB. This re interpretation of the data really makes the infected pump jump out at you, the different ways of visualising that data make the story even clearer.

Not all visualisations work, you may need narration. Graphics may not be meaningful to all people in the same way. E.g. Location of the pumps on these two maps. So this is where we get into theory. Reptinsp, a French cartographer, came up with his own systems of points, lines, symbols etc. but not based on research etc, his own cheat system. If you look at Gestalt psychology you get more research based visualisatsions – laws of similarity, proximity, continuity. There is something natural about where the eye is drawn but there is theory behind that too.

Jon Snows map was about explaining and investigating the data. His maps were explanatory visualisation and we have that same idea in Simon Rodgers map but it is also an exploratory visualisation, the reader/viewer can interact and interrogate it. But there are limitations of both approaches. Within both maps it’s essentially a heat map, more of something (in this case deaths). And you see that in visualisations you often get heat maps that actually map population rather than trends. Tony Hirst says “all charts are lies”. They are always an interpretation of the data from the creator’s point of view…

So going back to Simon Rodgers map we see that the radius of a dots based on the number of deaths. Note from the crowd “how to lie with statistics”. Yes, a real issue is that a lot of the work to get to that map is hidden, lots of room for error and confusion.

So having flagged up some examples and pitfalls I want to move onto the process of making data visualisations. Tools include Excel, Carto GB, Gephi, IBM Many Eyes, etc. but in addition to those tools and services you can also draw. Even now so many visualisations are made via drawing, if only final tweaking. Sometimes a sketch of a visualisation is the way to prototype ideas too. There are also code options, D3JS, SigmaJS, R, GGplot, etc.

Some issues around data: data access can be an issue, hard to find, hard to identify source data etc. Tony Hirst really recommends digging around for feeds, for RSS, find the stuff that feeds and powers pages. There are tools for reshaping feeds and data. Places like Yahoo Pipes, which lets you do drag and drop programming with input data. And I’ve started touching upon data shapes. Data may be provided in certain ways or shapes, but it may not suit your use. So a core skill is the transformation of data to reshape data, tools like Yahoo Pipes, Open Refine – which also lets you clean up data as well. I’ve tried Open Refine with public Jiscmail lists, to normalise for those with multiple user names.

So now the fun stuff…

For the Olympics last year for the cultural Olympiad last yer in Scotland we had the #citizenrelay tracking the progress of The Olympic torch. So lots of data to play with. First talk twitter (Topsy) media timeline. Uses Timeline by verity plus Topsy data. This was really easy to do. So data access was using Topsy, it pulls in data from Twitter to make its own archive. Has API to allow data. Make it easy to query for media against a hashtag. Can return data in XML but grabbed in Jason. Then output created with timelineJS. You can also use google spreadsheet template from timelineJS template (manually or automatically). Used spreadsheet her, yahoo pipes to manipulate. Can pull data in with google spreadsheets, when you’ve created the formula it will constantly refresh and update. So self updates when published.

Originally Topsy allowed data access without API key but now they require it. Google app script, JavaScript based – see big Stack Overflow community – has similar curl function for fetching URLs and dumping back into spreadsheet. Have also done this with yahoo pipes (use
Rate module for API key aspect).

Next as the relay went around the country they used Audioboo. When you upload AudioBoo geolocates your Boos. So AudioBoo has an API (without key) and you can filter for a tag. You can get the data out in XML, JSON and CSV option but they also produce KML. If you can access a public KML file and paste into Google Maps search box then it just gives you the map. Can then embed, or share link to that file. So super easy visualisation there. But disappointingly didn’t embed audio in the map pins. But that’s a google map limitation. Google Earth does let you do that though…

So using Google Earth we only have a bit of work to do. We need t work out the embed code. So Google now provides a template that lets you bring in placemark data (place marker templates). You can easily make changes here. And you can choose how to format variables. Yu can fill in manually but can also be automatically done SL use Google AppScript here. I go to AudioBoo API, grabs as JSON, then parses it. Then for each item push to spreadsheet. So for partial Geodata these Google templates are really useful.something else to mention: Google Spreadsheets are great, sit in the cloud. But recently was using Kasabi and it went down… And everything relying on it went live. Sometimes useful to take a flat capture as spreadsheet for back up.

So the next visualisation… Used NodeXL (SNA). This is an open source plug in for excel. It has a umber of data importers, including for twitter, Facebook, media wiki, etc. just from the menu). And it has lots of room for reformatting etc. then a grid view from that.

And this is where we start chaining tools together. So I had twitter data, I had NodeXL to identify community (who follows who, who is friends with who) so used Gephi, which lets you start using network graphs. A great way to see how nodes relate to which other. Often using for Social Network Analysis but people have also used it for cocktail recipes (there’s an academic paper on it). There is a recipe site that lets you reform recipes using same approach. Gephi is another tool.. You spend an hour playing… And then wonder about how to convey to others and you can end up with flat graphic. So I created something called TAGS Explorere to let anyone interact – and there are others who have done similar.

Another example here. A network of those using #ukoer hashtag and looking for bridges in the community, the key people. This is an early visualisation I created. It was generated From twitter connections and tag use with Gephi, but then combined and finished in a drawing package.

This is another example looking at different sources. A bubble chart for click throughs of tweets. Man get a degree of that info from bit.ly. But if you use another service it’s hard to get click through however can see referrals in Google Analytics – each twitter URL is unique to each person who tweets it so you can therefore see click through rate for an individual tweet. This is created in google spreadsheet. An explore interactively, reshape for your own exploration. So this spreadsheet goes and uses google analytics API and Twitter API then combines with some reshaping. One thing to be aware of is that spreadsheets have a duality of value and formulae. So when you call on APIs etc. it can get confusing. So sometimes good to use two sheets, second flr manipulaton. There’s a great blog post on this duality – “spreadsheet addiction”. if you are at IWMW next week I’m doing a whole session at Google Analytics data and reshaping.

Q&A

Comment: study/working group on social network analysis, some of these techniques could be buildpt onto our community of expertise here.

Comment: would have to slow way down for me but hopefully we can devise materials and workshops to make these step by step.

Martin: But there are some really easy wins, like that Google Maps one. And there is a good community of support around these tools. But for instance R, if I ask on Stack Overflow then I will get an answer back.

Q) is there a risk that if you start trying to visualise data you might miss out on proper statistical processes and vigour?

Martin: yes, that is a risk. People tend to be specialists in one area rather than all of them. Manchester Metroplitan use R as part of analysis of student surveys, recruitment etc. this was from an idea of Mark Stubbs, head of eLearning, raised by speaking to specialist in Teridon flight. r is wily used in the sciences and increasingly in big data analysis. So there it started with expert who did know what he was doing.

Q: have you done much with data mining or analysis, like Google N Gram?

Martin: not really. Done some work on sentiment analysis and social network data though.

 June 19, 2013  Posted by at 3:34 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Apr 122013
 

Today is the third and final day of the Lancaster Twitter & Microblogging conference. For more on the event see my Day One and Day Two liveblogs. Today there are only a few sessions over a half day so this will be a rather shorter post.

Firstly it’s off to:

Cracking the code: Towards a semiotic understanding of Twitter and its use by media fans by Rhiannon Bury

Since Twitter came on the scene on 2006 it has seen rapid growth, particularly since 2009. There are thought to currently (2013) be 500 million registered users, 200 of whom classified as monthly user. Smith counts over a billion monthly users of Facebook and Pew has found 65% of US adults using Facebook, 8% using Twitter in 2011. Latest figures were 67% use of Facebook, 16% use Twitter. Huge growth but still niche use. Twitter is just ahead of Pinterest which didn’t even exist in 2011. But it is being used by fans, so Neilson has found – not sure of process though – 20 million TV viewers tweeted whilst watching. I did some work on Television 2.0 research a couple of years ago and found most don’t tweet but that younger fans use twiter more frequently than older fans (Pearson -1.26) ; more female fans (39.3%) using twitter than male fans (30.9%) but that reflects the fact that women are more likely to take part in this sort of participative media.
I don’t have time to go through all of the literature but there is a lot on self-presentation here – goth identity etc. Ruth’s work is really useful here, Goffman is trotted out a lot. I wanted to conceptualize Twitter as a structure for communication, a social orientated approach from Rowland Barthes, and John Fisk’s work in television studies. I won’t have time to cover everything here but I want to start with the semiotics of twitter, the framework for my work. So there are two types of relations: Syntagmatic relations (horizontal axis) – this is about linearity; combination; addition; deletion (going back to Barthes here). Paradigmatic relations (Vertical axis) – is about. See Daniel Chandler 2002 etc. The difference is about the presence or absence of signifiers in the text. So we have ideas of Denotation (first order of signification – Saussure) and Connotation (second order of signification – Bathes).
So the tweet is about using or breaking the rules here. I will look at this as a visual and temporal paradigm. There are so many versions here but I’m sticking to the web version of Twitter here. So an example of a tweet here. One can be very bounded, no relationship to other. But authorship is important e.g. quotations. And profile image, name, username and the importance of temporality – that date stamp. And we have that @symbol which is built into the system  to allow exchange (added to meet user needs/demands). We can see intertextuality here, communicative structures. Honeypot and Herring talk about classifying tweets, they were very interested in @sign and conversation. But I think we can look at structure of this beyond that. The role of RTs, the time issue. I want to understand that text box as tweets. I want to understand them as a way to understand  the secondary texts – the TV studies and media studies perspective. And that other type of secondary texts – the other fan writing etc. As Henry Jenkins points out there is always a set of relations of affect. There is an emotional connection to the text for the viewer. I want to look at some of those aspects of fan tweets here.
Microblogging and aggregation (it’s complicated). We talk about this stuff as microblogging but is it? But this is not a paradigmatic relationship. There is a shared syntagm – all it really has is newest to oldest. We do that with email but Twitter changes how we interact and experience that – using on mobile and tablets that structure has far more impact, the software emphasises nowness and currency. All the aggregation tools emphasise these. And there is minimal intratextuality – not always connections, often loose. It’s a bit like images on your digital camera – there may be a connection but it’s not neccassarily present or obvious.
So when we think about Twitterverse… It’s central to the idea of microblogging but we can’t clap eyes on it. We only ever see a partial view. So Twitter has this idea of aggregation as connotation – but that is that partial and incomplete view. Twitter’s structure emphasises that… the homepage is that partial personal view. And that stream is on the right hand side, very western left to write thing. But without us creating these posts there is no content so that drafting button is prominent. Quote here from Nancy Baym (@nancybaym) about how you can possibly pay attention to large numbers of followers. So, understanding these texts is about understanding context, ideology, etc.
I have done over 60 inteviews and wanted to pull some quote out. My fans emphasised consumption over production. So one comments on following everything posted by two people they are fans of / with. Another talks about multiple areas of fandom and engaging in that traditional fandom through twitter. But there is discussion about the direct connection between fans and stars, I’m not suggesting this is all the time, but my fans really emphasise the importance of a really direct connection to key stars, to these representations of them. But we see hints of syntagmatic failure, a fan complaining that the structure limits understanding of news to the “now” so they use other media to find out what is actually happening. Going back to the Honeypot and Herring 2009 idead of the potential of addressivity: that possibility of direct comment to the creators. That being able to address comments directly matters, whether or not there is a reply, and those reply having huge impact on those fans.
I do want to look at areas such as hashtags, recipriocity etc. For myself I found it’s giving me more of a rigour to my own analysis. Twitter is important, not just describing its usage.
Q&A
Q) Could you further explain the failure of the syntagmatic fail?
A) main rule of Twitter is no more than 140 character. So that really limits what you can put in there. That’s why Twitter conversations can be trivial. People get around it, they use abbreviation from IM etc. But what the fan is saying here is that for a fan who wants to know more about what’s happening with, in this case, Nathan Fillon, their tweets are not enough. That is a failure of what they say and do to some extent.
Comment) But is that a failure? Maybe that switching is a success?
A) Absolutely. I’m not saying that 140 characters is failure. But it’s that idea of needing to supplement in this case. But in larger picture it’s really value added.
Q) What about dialogue between fans and dotted line back to original object, adding things in?
Comment) Yes, bulk of what I see on Twitter is commentary, addition, etc.
A) Absolutely, this is one piece from user aggregation riff. But yes, we need to get into that, we need to think about user exclusivity. And that issue of viewing conversation. It’s absolutely central.
Comment) It makes it really complicated as time then splits. Not a single temporal line but multiple branches. And in terms of asyncronicity what about retweets? Some people retweeted a year old tweet when I was presenting the other day.
A) Sure, the retweet does show that age of tweet, but it shows up the way that you would read it as a the perceiver of the retweets. Hypertext theory and intertextually is really essential for understanding Twitter.
Comment) Top Tweets also warps the idea of age of tweets etc.
A) Yup and that’s a whole big ball of wax but I’m trying to factor that in.
Next up will be:

Use of Weibo by UK universities and Chinese students: A study of intercultural micro-blogging by Nick Pearce, Durham University (and Yimei Zhu, University of Manchester)

Nick teaches a lot of international students and works with recruitment areas of the university as part of his teaching work around social anthropology. It occured to me that we could be using Weibo to market what we do, but also interested in that idea of engaging with a social media in a language you don’t speak but where you can sort of see what’s going on. I have been working with Yimei Zhu and she does speak Mandarin so whilst I talk about not understanding what is being said, she does and her research is very much around analysing exchange on Twitter.

So today I’m going to talk about this in the context of UK Universities and some exploratory work.

UK Universities and social media – the focus here is on marketing/recruitment. It’s a cheap/low cost means of interacting with multiple audiences. So when I came to Durham I set up a Facebook page for our courses and we get maybe an enquiry a week through Facebook. Not sure if they might have contacted us another way but they are able to. And similar idea behind our Weibo page. Although this would be an institution-wide Weibo page. That multiple audiences aspect does matter though. You can see a top five chart of Universities on Twitter – ranked by followers and retweets (http://craig-russell.co.uk/demos/uk_uni_twitter/index.html). Not a surprise that OU is biggest – it’s the biggest university in the UK so that makes sense. They have an active Facebook page as well – although that was not all good news. You might get 1 in 10 bad comments, but 9 out of ten challenging that comment. You lose some of that control but your “product” (though I hate that word) gets out there. The chart of followers drops off fast… For Durham our Twitter profile is busier than our Facebook page.

There are issues in follower numbers. There is the issue of fake/zombie followers (zombie is a Weibo term but it’s a lovely term). There was a hoohah when Yale joined Weibo, and they got a huge number of followers instantly. But analysis showed that there were only a few hundred followers that were actually active. There’s a suggestion that Weibo may have had something to do with those fake followers, Yale certainly didn’t pay for them. But it’s easy to gather raw figures but it’s not really a good measure. For me Facebook comments and enquiries count far more than “likes”. Even more so for the OU perhaps. Interactions matter here. There are alternaive analytics – e.g. Klout, PeerIndex… but not much better than raw figures. It’s important to be careful and critical of numbers.

So what about China. Chinese students are a significant part of international cohort – 79k in 2012. Facebook/Twitter restricted in China (you can access them but only through dubious means, but they do get use). What makes that interesting is that those using Facebook in China tend to be more political, to go to that effort you need that. Weibo was set up in August 2009, has over 360 million users, it has restrictions but no one is being forced to use it. It is clearly popular and clearly became popular very quickly… regardless of whether we think many of those users are fake/zombies.

So looking at my Weibo profile it is quite Twitter-like. I follow people… but I’m not sure how I came to follow them. You can post in English here. And you have animated gifs – which I’d love to see in Twitter! But interface all in Mandarin. My colleague speaks Mandarin but uses no social media. I use social media all the time but don’t speak Mandarin… when she asked how to log out I found it faster – that’s a reflection of how like other sites Weibo looks. Other big similarities here. There are assymetrical follower relations (like Twitter, unlike Facebook) and there is 140 character limit. But in Mandarin that’s a lot! Ai Wei Wei says that that’s a short story. But some differences here. There is ID verification – it is supposed to be your passport number but there’s a suggestion that that’s not a rigorous checking process. Censorship is rather opaque, you only really encounter it by gaps and absences. But remember that Twitter is moderated – you get taken down or reported for some actions. Thinking back to Lee Salter’s plenary we saw people jailed for Tweets. There are differences there but also more similarities than first apparent maybe. And you have other differences: animated gifs but also gamification. So I am “level 1″. In Twitter it’s maybe about follower counts, in Weibo you get to new levels and you get a special patch/badge. So Weibo may have started as a clone but I think it’s gone beyond Twitter in some features.

So I went to my boss, the head of the University. I wanted to look at UK Universities on Weibo. There is no table of these. So Yimei did a manual search using the HESA list of universities and various search terms. I talked about ID verification but there is also verification of pages, a whole other levels. 58% had presences; 43% had verified presences. Posts are mainly in Mandarin, some in English. So, we did set up a Weibo page but verification is tricky from the UK. I got sent a very tricky Mandarin form, no indication of who should sign in. They wanted an official stamp, and that had to be in red. It takes weeks… So we have a page, tweeting going on – mostly retweeting comments about Durham.

Looking at and understanding Weibo when you don’t speak the language… it’s odd. Twitter isn’t global. Weibo isn’t global either, although expanding and just launched a Thai version. No reason that Weibo couldn’t launch an English language interface and have that take off. People are happy to sign up to Apple and hand over power and choice to some extent. I’m not saying that will happen with Weibo but seeing that other cultural context lets you look at these things in a new light.

Q&A

Q) The counts on your profiles are different on Twitter and Weibo. Any of those numbers can be normalised in some way. APIs for both will show you more detail of that data.

A) Yimei has been looking at content and interactions and she’s been noting changes, interactions and the role of time.

Q) Your comparison of censorship – I don’t think Twitter is that harsh.

Comment) There was an article this morning, in Hong Kong there are removed Tweets and censored Tweets. Also papers on censorship of Weibo, based on large data set.

A) Chinese Communist party control the broadcast media. Their response to social media, there are some who fear social media… You can censor afterwards but you can’t stop people tweeting. One of the founders of Weibo, a private company, was making a democracy point.

Me) Different types of censorship: political in China, commercial on Twitter – much more about brands etc. Now that may have different impact and ethical implications but those are both forms of censorship.

Comment) Yes, I think so. In China censorship really isn’t a line here though, it’s never clear what is/is not censored. Sometimes things appear to have been censored relatively at random.

Comment) Weibo functions because the government lets it and works within it’s mandate. Twitter chooses to censor

Me) Yes, but Twitter is not just making choices, it also comes under government pressure to censor – they have censored tweets in the Middle East after pressure from some governments, they were also pressured to censor and restrict during London Riots

A) Find that feature of social media very odd: people like Pinterest ignore copyright law and sort of reset rules in how they run having ignored those rules. Would YouTube have taken off if all non-cleared video content been removed/censored?

And with that we have to finish a really lively wee Q&A.

Plenary: Saying ‘sorry’: Corporate apologies posted on Twitter by Ruth Page

Johnny is introducing Dr Ruth Page and mentioned her book Stories in Social Media, and her article on Self Branding and Celebrity in Social Media. Last year Ruth organised an event at Leicester on social media which was a particular inspiration for this week’s event. Ruth is also Chair of new special interest group in Linguistics. David Bartam, Johnny Unger and Ruth are currently coauthoring a book on researching social media.

I am a little ambivalent about going last but at least I should get the last word (ish). So my talk is on “saying sorry”. I’m going to start by making some opening remarks on Twitter, why it is significant to corporations, a bit about the data set. And I need to make an apology myself – my section on corporate “talk” is not about apologies per se but contextualising apologies. Then I’ll look at approaches to apologies, characteristics of corporate apologies, and the application of linguistics. There are some interesting potential approaches coming from our highly varied backgrounds and disciplines here.

Twitter is public, participatory environment (Jenkins 2006); virtual marketplace (Bourdieu 1977); driven by value of attention and visibility (Marwick 2010). There is a direct access there – complaining to Starbucks or an airline say – but that isn’t evenly distributed power. In 2012 I argued that it works like a virtual marketplace and that that is around attention and visibility – reach of tweets, scale of followers, influence, etc. But that’s not the only way that attention and visibility shows up. It also shows up in linguistic choices in Twitter, how people shape interactions to those affordances, and an opportunity to see how those inequalities and hierachies works.

How is Twitter used? It’s electronic word of mouth (Jansen 2009) – and that matters to company, they mine that all the time. 51% of users follow users/companies (Edison research 2010). But there are different types of twitter accounts, there are corporate and/or personal accounts. But I’m interested in corporate and branded accounts. You also see distinct accounts for specific purposes, e.g. customer care accounts.

So, where did I start to get intereted? My data isn’t designed in response to a specific research question, the research has evolved organically from my work for last few years. My data is based on around 180k tweets harvested from 100 publicly available accounts, using custom Python codes pulling data from named accounts. Firstly I was comparing company use with “ordinary” use – although “ordinary” isn’t really the right word here. people said “you haven’t looked at hashtags”, and I did. So I started to look at the very different corporate use of hashtags. I had 40 companies, 30 celebrities, 30 “ordinary accounts”. Gathered data in 2010 and 2012. And today I’m talking about around 1200 tweets with apologies in them.

When I harvested the data I wanted to distinguish between updates, things that were public but with an @username, and the RTs. It doesn’t take into account quoting or MTs etc. as those are newer practices. So I was interested in the distribution of those types of tweets. In 2010 all types of users favoured the one-to-many broadcast pattern (the update), what does that say about identies and how individuals manage their interactions with others?

So how do companies use Twitter updated? There are interactions initiated by the company – pushing things out; broadcast the brand – through hashtags; broadcast across platforms – link analysis; broadcast conversational snippets – modified RTs (less occurance in new style RTs which isn’t covered here). So looking at occurance in hashtags we see that hashtags occur in the updates, they are in the one-to-many not the @reply one-to-one posts. And the use of hashtags is increasing. But this is odd, hashtags started off as folksonomic phenomenon to allow your topic to be promoted and found. Twitter changed their search algorithm so that you can find topics easily BUT the use of hashtags is increasing over time. The most frequest hashtags across all accounts is #FF. But digging further corporate hashtags tend to highlight products, corporate positioning, or making searchable the companies as producers. Whereas ordinary people’s hashtags seem to reflect the community – mainstream media, consumer interests. Yes Twitter gives ordinary people a voice, but they are still positioned as audience, as consumers when you look at those tweets.

I also looked for links in tweets, corporate accounts use much more links and their use it on the rise. There is a rise of the amplified talk. Originally in 2010 I saw links as ways to signify authority as recommenders, as endorsers. But different things happening now. General trend in links – Twitter is more multimodal – photos and videos increasingly important. And Twitter is increasingly multi-platforms – Facebook groups, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Daily Booth, VintageCam, YFrog, Whosay, Mobile Apps. Posts to multiple sites or connecting sites. Images are used to indicate products, what they are selling. But that’s not all that’s happening. In 2010 ordinary users tended to share clear links to articles in their field, their own blog – you could tell what their profession was. Corporations point to own web sites, promotional offers. Real collapse of professional/personal now taking place. Now ordinary uses point to some professional identity links, but also general life, photos, interests (e.g. fashion etc). Corporate use is a little different, some corporate professional links, but also sharing of images by customers/users, of experience images etc.

The last sort of tweets being shared are modified retweets, You see that celebrities their use is declining. Their use is slightly declining for ordinary users. But their use is increasing by corporations. And how does that happen? It’s about sharing compliments, feedback, things that promote their brand. They show they are engaging but in a very specific and careful way.

When I look at distribution of tweet types in 2012 there seemed to be few changes but Corporate use is radically different – many more addressed messages. Why is this happening? Up to this point I had looked mostly at updates, so it was time to explore addressed messages. I started with concordance techniques from corpus linguistics. I looks for the words that appear much more in just those addressed messages compared to all those other messages. I used the remaining dataset as the reference dataset, addressed messages as the sample. And certain words appear much more often, such as “hi”, “thanks” etc. They don’t just occur often, they often occur together. For instance “@username Hi [name], sorry for your frustration. Please follow/DM us additional details regarding this and we can try to help. Thanks.” So we are seeing the rise of customer care here. But it’s not just corporates who apologise…

Difficulty of apologising…

  • Reluctant apologies – [cue Big Bang Theory clip of Penny reluctantly apologising to Howard. And being told to get over herself by him. Then him bursting into tears].
  • Punk apologies – [cue music video]
  • Politicians apologise – [cue Nick Clegg Apology Song video]

Even cats say sorry… even Whales say sorry when Twitter is over capacity…

Apology as a “post event speech act” (Spencer-Oatey 2008) – I’m following this understanding. This is recognition of something going wrong, acknolwedging that, reconciling parties. Enables future interaction and restoration of equilibrium (Ogiermann 2009). But research literature looks in linguistics tend to be about private apologies but there is a need for more work on public apologies, of apologies in large corpuses.

There is huge use of “sorry/apologise” here – aggregated data for both (and americanised spellings) show huge use of these terms in corporate tweets. Semantic components of an apology based on Bloom Culford(?) in 1989. Semantic components:

  • Illocutionary Force Indicating Device (IFID) e.g. we’re really sorry
  • Taking responsibility
  • Explanation or account
  • Offers of repair
  • Promise of forbearance – not to make same mistake again.

In the 1200 tweets there was only one case of taking responsibility, and only one case of promise of forbearance, both were in ordinary accounts. Maybe commonsense reasons – liability, appropriateness, responsibility or role of person speaking.

You see lots of Illocutionary Force Indicating Devices. But there are very different approaches. Companies avoid restating the problem in 66% of apologies. The reverse happens in ordinary accounts – 58% of their apologies. My favourite of the apologies was “I’m sorry for the slugs in your strawberries”. It is good to acknowledge what you are apologising for but that is very risky, you risk raising the profile of the issue or validating etc.

10% of corporate apologies give an explanation, 27% of ordinary users did. When companies did explain their apology they shifted blame: denied the offence – telling the user they got it wrong; place blame with third party; factors beyond the company’s control (e.g. legal requirements, weather, etc). And on the rare occassions companies do accept responsibility they do that in a very specific way. They use linguistic constructions that made it very hard to see responsibility, e.g “sorry for the ongoing issues caused by the Booking Office cluser, there is a staff shortage in the area and we are working on it”. You need to show yourself in best light is the theme here, and a good way to do that is to make offers of repair. When company does that they happen in a very specific way with an awareness of the multi-party nature of the interactions. Offer of repairs tends to be something monetary or tangible – but not the tweeter doing that.

So these apologies are embedded in wider interaction. You see this in the way that questions occur in corporate apologies. 22% of corporate apologies and 13% of ordinary apologies include a question. Another aspect is the use of imperative, they are telling the customer or giving a command. It happened in 33% of corporate apologies, not at all in ordinary apologies. So often further contact initiated by company – e.g. “standby for a message” or further contact required by customer – e.g. drop us an email. That latter type are often hedged. But these are risky, they don’t close the loop, they risk the customer not responding, following up etc.

Openings and closings tend to be quite specific. Companies tend to use “Hi” and end in “Thanks” and a signature. Ordinary people do not. 37% of companies include a signatures, none of the ordinary accounts to. More interestingly perhaps, 19% of apologies posted by companies include greetings, that “hi”, but again no ordinary accounts to. They seem to be trying to build rapport, but that marks them out as different from ordinary users. So companies using this startegy mark their social distance, and show structures derived from email, not from conversation. But you do see alternative openings. Discourse markers (5% in company accounts, 27%(?) in ordinary accounts) – several flavours, so can, for example be associative expressiveness e.g. “Oh, I’m sorry” etc. Emoticons are also used to intensify negative sentiment or to upgrade positive sentiment – for offers of repair say. But sometimes it doesn’t match well. Some mismatch of negative responses – smiley to mitigate negative response. And sometimes it’s about promoting rapport (especially in line with future interactions).

So, what does this mean. The reason companies apologise in this way is to avoid face-threatening damage to reputation – e.g. avoiding restating problem. Mitigate face-threatening damage… [sorry, couldn't keep up there]. So the implications? apologising is important strategy in use as part of customer care. There are repeated, distinctive patersns suggest a particular genre shaped by purpose of interactions and positions and roles of participants. So, the application here? Well it’s interesting for it’s own shape, you see the patterns you may not otherwise see. But challenge for myself is how do we use the work we do as linguistics in a way that helps other people. Well one of the things I’m doing is talking to London company who are creating social media analytics software, to create customer care software to make this work better. Perhaps not always pushing interactions into other spaces, closing loops, showing responsiveness etc.

Final thoughts – obvious limitations here. I haven’t taken into account participant perspectives; haven’t looked at whole interactions, just the apologies, it’s not the whole iteration; small number of accounts considered and not neccassarily noting location and cultural differences between Uk and US say. Possibilities though – what do you want to do with your work? Where can other perspectives by useful?

Unfortunately we finish without time for questions. I wanted to ask whether the rise of hashtags didn’t reflect the adoption and maturity of use by companies, or the use of hashtag campaigns. Hashtags also create links unlike search terms so have added value. And I wanted to ask about the issue of collapse – there has been a Twitter corporate strategy to boost use by media, by celebrities, as part of advertising campaigns all of which encourage collapse. Wider use and adopting of Twitter beyond professional spheres also have a big impact on collapse here, of the types of interactions, of the merging of followers etc.

 April 12, 2013  Posted by at 12:56 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , , , , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 112013
 

It’s day two at the Lancaster Twitter and Microblogging Conference. As I did yesterday I will be live blogging the parallel sessions I attend, the plenaries, etc. But much of the conversation around this event is to be found on Twitter on the #lutwit hashtag.

Factors influencing academics’ use of microblogging tools in teaching and learning by Nordiana Ahmad Kharman Shah

Nordiana’s research looks at the use of microblogging and the factors in that use and the complex issues around adoption and use.

My work specifically looks at the use of Twitter and particularly how Twitter can increase or enhance teaching and learning (Dunlap and Lowenthal 2009); classroom use (Junco et al 2011) student use (Wakefield et al 2010) etc. There is a qualitative study of academic tweets (G. Velatsianos 2011) found that scholars engaged education and sharing best practices, used it for information resource and media sharing, to have an online pesence etc…

But Selwyn (2011) highlights some issues around social media use: the assumptions about omnipresences/ubiquity of internet access and the digital divide; belief of “digital student”, that the students will explore and use these tools but not all will, some may struggle with use; And there is unclear discussion in terms of social media in relation to learning and teaching contexts.

The literature here is growing but evidence still lacking. See Reuben 2008 for the potential in education for Facebook and YouTube but Twitter hasn’t yet found the right niche.

My first research questions here is around the different ways that academics use Twitter. This will be investigated through a qualitative approach to obtain detailed understanding of the use of “Twitter of Academics”. The research sample will be academics in HE with a Twitter profile and regular microblogging activity (defined here as once a week). There will be a thematic analysis using the Twitter API. The theoretical framework for this work is practice theory – mapping academics ongoing interactions as revealed through recurrent practices, the concept of the “practice lens”; and academics practies of Twitter – may be conceived as a continuum in which activities dynamically change influences. The research will begin with interviews, transcribe and analyse three of these; then observation of Twitter (300 tweets); and observation of Twitter and also using sentiment analysis (of those posting).

Interviews will have thematic analysis (inductive and deductive). The observation of twitter posting qualitative content analysis, deductive approach. Both will be combined to gain a fuller understanding of use and factors. Sentiment analysis (see Pang and Lee 2008).

There are some categories of activities which academics claim they use Twitter for. Conversation for instance has been selected by them, I have defined sub themes of:question and response; for opinion; for update activity. Information and sharing breaks down into research/publication; quick information; links information/news (retweet). Engagement breaks down into student; research community; public. Connecting and networking breaks down into: professional; social; community; research collaboration; seek opportunity. Identity breaks down: professionalism/profile; online presence; self presentation. Learning and Self promotion also sub categorised here. I have also categorised tweets into status; conversation; sharing resources; social.

So the discussion is about so many differing roles and activities. There are many faces of the “new” academic – a real balance to be struck around all areas of role, public engagement and impact agenda, and of course teaching, research, and opportunities.

I have created a research model of factors influencing academic use of microblogging – academic identity; technology affordances; public engagement, etc.

Q&A

Q) Monica Lalanda, doctor in US: was it hard to find that number of academics using Twitter?

A) At this point – at the beginning of the research – it was hard to find academics using Twitter. But this summer it became clear that there were far more academics on Twitter. I think this is a good time for this research. I’m not sure about percentage of usage at the moment. Some use it mainly for teaching. Some use for publishing only. Academics are starting to engage on Twitter. Lots of training and promotion around use of these tool.

Chair) There are some studies in the UK of use of Twitter by academics – see LSE Impact Blog.

Comment) I’m sure there are a lot of prejudices, many don’t see the potential, are concerned about the timing.

A) One of my interviewees is a doctor who is very happy to be able to update colleagues and patients in what he does. He has gained patients through his use of Twitter. But I was quite surprised at his usage. At the beginning I am quite surprised at this use but he is engaged in community and research community and he found organisations and media have asked him for views because of his presence.

Q) Sentiment analysis – can you say a bit more?

A) This is a new area in some ways. Analysis tends to be on content rather than sentiment. I want to explore what they are saying on Twitter and how that relates to what they actually feel, what that relationship that. Many of the academics I interviewed don’t want to enter arguements on Twitter, they don’t want to impact their own or their institution’s reputation.

And we had a diversion there about the backchannel and tone… (not appropriate to amplify but challenging) back to the questions though:

Q) Are there particular characteristics of how academics tweet compared to how others tweet.

A) Interesting question. There are real contrasts between different academic Twitter users.

Chair) Offering to share some sentiment analysis work on corporations.

Whose piper and whose tune? Discursive practices in informal learning events on Twitter by Peter Evans

This piece of work looked at the phenomenon of tweet chats on particular professions and interests, usually regular and they vary a lot. e.g. lrnchat; innochat; edchat; PhDchat. The topic is usually selected in advance and the actual tweeting is within a time limit, usually 60 to 90 minutes. All organised around the hashtag. There are some people who always attend at the core here. Some teachers described these as their main professional learning activity.

I wanted to explore how professional practices are being “talked in to being” in discussion events held in an open online environment, I particularly looked at Human Resources professionals. I looked at three events on hashtags here over three months. These vary in how many participants attend (between 54 and 72), some had 10 tweets per minute, some less. But this stuff isn’t easily constrained. Schneider and Foot (2005) describe this issue of web spheres – the bringing in of other resources, chats, tweets, etc. So looking at a blog about the event provides additional context. One participant decided to recontextualise their Twitter contributions in a blog post. And you see comments that there are poeple outside of the chat who follow up, ask questions, and a blog post has been used to address that. And there is an example here of someone correcting themself – for own happiness as much as those who may see the Tweets.

So these events are hugely expansive, you have to cut the cloth as best you can. I focused on the event archive and then started to explore outward until I reached the point where time no longer allowed. I approached the data in terms of discourse analysis, using a division that Heracleoud (2006) came up with. This splits discourse into Communicative action; discursive structure – this is the use of shorthand etc .; generating common meaning – a shared understanding of human resources here which was required to join in, to be part of this event.  A particular problem here was “what is human resource development”. It’s really not well understood at all, real split and shorthand in academia around US approach (v. corporate and profit orientated) vs European (self empowering ideas). But that doesn’t work McKendrick suggests a hologram metaphor here. But as a professional body of practice there is no standard approach, it’s fluid and contested. There is no manual. But early stage researchers, professionals, customers etc. expect there to be a standard and professional approach.

It did prove very difficult to make sense of this all. I decided to draw on ANT and translation, different perspectives on the hologram of practice, to try to develop networks of people who agreed on translation. Those network assemblages reinforce that idea of professional structure.

I actually started off using the structure of these chats, using a structure designed for unstructured group work in classrooms. So here we see an initiation, then a string of suggestions or propositions to get conversation going. One suggestion dies out fast, another gets limited interaction, another gets little, another becomes complex and connected… it becomes hard to trace. And things migrate off into discussions entirely unrelated to the chat but using the same hashtag. Indeed you sometimes see tweets asking for help in dealing with what’s going on, what that structure is. Simpson (2005/6) talks about conversational flaws. A retranslation of a topic that allows the discussion to flow. Many of these suggestions and propositions with different levels of success in the example I’ve shown actually came from a single individual. But capture of the conversational flaw has to be accepted by the audience, it’s a two way thing, not just projection of power in itself.

There is some thematic structure that comes out of these discursive networks. And some interesting behaviours. A couple of examples here of participants dismissing topics. Kirkpatrick is a widely used model in this field, 98% of businesses use this model and yet these Twitter users mock it or treat it as a drinking game. Similarly classroom off-the-job training is treated as an irrelevant, old fashioned, dehumanising practice. Is made to look ridiculous through sharing of images of Victorian classrooms.

So I came up with these three areas of discussion here. Change – and change as being in deficit because of Managament & “the business”, and Human Resouce Development. But this mix was constantly reassembled and changed depending on who was speaking, what the topic was. So, the symmetry thing. The people organising and engaged in the chat recommend use of third party app, like Tweetdeck. So you get a multi column view and the same tweet can reoccur in separate places. For participants these chats are seen as part of much wider community of practice which they are involved with. So they have a single column for event but eyes on other things… and that all starts to merge as they take part in the event. So the technology changes how that event is consumed. It appears to potentially have some impact on how that discussion is shaped, which utterances are priviledged by which users.

So, the piper and tune… it changes all the time. It gets redefined during the events and over multiple events. The hologram is both restrictive and expansive – you have to see it from one perspective but has to be seen by multiple perspectives.

Q&A

Q) Norreen Dunnett: Did you get a sense around these hashtags that they felt like a community or was it more permeable than that?

A) I think there is a core group that sees themselves as a community, they see each other as different from others. e.g. in introductions they present themselves differently. And they try to capture conversations more often. Others are drawn in quite a bit. The core group are very similar and there is overlap between several hashtags (we looked at several) and different dynamics on different days and different times, some opportunity for social network analysis here. A slightly weird mix of community and permeable.

Q) I was really interested in your comments around the difficulty of sense making, of constraining data collected, of knowing how to deal with archives etc. But I don’t quite get the hologram metaphor, can you say a bit more.

A) McGoldrick talks about it as a reconciliation of contradictions around this. The idea of HRD as management and business discipline, about growing or improving the business, but at the same time it has the aspect of development, a discourse about developing employees, about learning and empowerment of individuals. The Hologram idea recognises all of these elements. Where are someone like Monica Lee says that we just shouldn’t even try to reconcile those factors. The metaphor is about looking in and seeing what you want to see, but also having capacity to see other things, that by shifting your gaze you can see those elements.

Q) Karin: Could I ask you a little bit more about the use of ANT and what it added in terms of your conclusions?

A) It’s a good question. I’m not sure what it adds to be honest. Other than giving a loose framework to hang ideas off. The idea of network assemblage works well, the idea of entry criteria (the Kirkpatrick issues) but also the symmetry of the material. I did some work on community managers and relationship between Twitter chat event and a presentation, that they moved from cynical position to enthusiast through chatter. But this work is part of a wider piece of work where ANT will be used to some extent.

Plenary: Working and playing on science Twitter by Greg Myers

Julia is introducing Greg and referring to his book, The Discourse of Blogs and Wikis - it visibly perks up her Understanding Media students apparently!

There is, btw, a real life handout! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BHkEFg_CEAAG2Gu.jpg:large

I want to look at 8 tweets. This first is an Aprils Fools joke about Twitter. Mars Rover behaving like a celebrity on Twitter, sulking out of Twitter. So I want to talk about different kinds of Twitter feeds, different communities, different behaviours etc. Much of the quantitative research we do and cite looks at big stream of data without any reference to differences. But I know many of you here are focusing on qualitative aspects. Back when I wrote that book that Julia mentioned blogs were being treated the same, and that seemed so lacking in understanding of their distinction. So I want to basically ask… is Twitter really one genre?

Looking across the programme we have use in the Lords, tech companies, EU, academics, cricket fans etc…. can that be one genre? These are communities use Twitter for different activities. They do develop different kinds of texts, for instance, more or fewer RTs, URLs, replies. Even if they use some o fthe same feaures such as conversational particles. What are these questions and do those differences matter in our research?

So, why study Science Twitter? Well it’s one community: research scientists (there are other people who tweet about science of course). They are a great community as they have been good at networking since the 1660s. But they are an odd community for Twitter as they work in a system that rewards formal publication system, there is a divergence there. Networks of texts, also samples, people, skills, equipment, methods, money (see ANT). And Scientometrics links made by citations – impact comes from the idea that science is measurable in these ways.

There are two themes from Science and Technology Studies I’d like to bring in. Firstly the heterogenity if scientific networks – texts, materials, equipment, skills, publics, money (ANT, Callon, Latour, Law). But at the same time Rhetorical tensions between empiricist repertoire, impersonal and timeless claims in the formal literature <missed ref>.

But there is a huge volume of prior work on scientific texts, those working in science and technology studies would say what I’m saying about Twitter is really not new. So if we look at a quote from Henry de la Beche to Adam Sedgewick in 1834, published by Rudwick in 1985. It’s a very tweet-like exchange… BUT it takes place in letters and only becomes public when published 100 years later. And that is difference.

So in my handout you will see sample tweets. I have a corpus of tweets from Scientists, and a cohort of comparison tweets. See thelanguageofblogs.typepad.com. You might do concordance analyse such a corpus for topics – and here you will find keywords around science, research papers etc. But there are also other keywords that are telling. e.g.

  • But also I (less elision) – subjectivity indicated compared to other tweets)
  • of (more complex NPs) – more like other science writing
  • but (concession structure) – perhaps this is what makes an academic an academic!
  • may, maybe, some (hedged statements)
  • and a negative keyword: love – they just don’t use those sorts of terms, they evaluate in different ways.

So there are empirical grounds for seeing this community as a distinct community, but they also present themselves as a distinct community as well.

So, onto Tweet two! These tweets are at 10.30 at night – a “solidarity check in” to ask if anyone else is still working. Gets very playful responses. So this is “phatic communication” – that is communication solely for the sake of contact, not sharing information:

  • “still” implies this is late
  • “#GoTeam” parallels this to other shared projects (Merkhofer, Zappavigna)
  • “#ThursdayNightScience” invented for their shared activity
  • “Woot” – online gaming term
  • But where is “here” – well they are not in the same geographic place. The obvious inference being is everyone online, but also the less obvious inference is “in the lab” and this idea of solidarity.

And now to turn to Tweet Three. This is a series of tweets about a fieldtrip. Two kinds of time in these tweets. From inside “headed out” (current action), “my spring break” (current period defined in terms of work), projected future contacts. And from outside “early to mid Pleistocene” etc. Once he goes out he has limited mobile reception. We see a few images shared but of his campside at dawn, not his work but a sense of that experience.

Now to his return… tweets about a late flight. So more complex time. Present moment looking back to immediate past (nap) and forward to immediate future (this week’s lecture) and with very few verbs.

So, why do time references matter? Well they present themseleves as a community sharing norms, focusing on work, they have the shared ideas of terms, of routine, of publications. This is what everyone else does on Twitter but these references to time are a different representation of science work from that in journal articles or popularisations.

But there are more unique things here. Science tweets link A LOT and comment on them a lot. So here we have an example of something of a takedown of @drphilhammond’s tweet about children and screen usage. A response comes back with citation. response back from experimental psychologist criticising sampling basis and link to blog post. And others join in and say it was a mistake that that original cited article was published.

So the first post takes for granted that stating those two facts will be uncontroversial. Response uses irony to criticise. The response with textual citation (not a link). Response questions the cited work using a link. So reference does not settle the matter (unlike Wikipedia). And a real sense of reaction to this media person representing mediacal science (representation regress? – Collins).

Onto tweet 7, a chat about bafflement. It’s a kind of criticism. Sort of self-criticism of her own bafflement with technical term and time of day. But suggests something else to criticise there. See also LOLCAT on term “Thermodynamics” also representing confusion.

And our final tweet to the tag #chemophobia. This is about expertise. So an urban ecologist and science outreach person in Ohio. She doesn’t know about organic chemistry but has read something on a food blog about chemicals. Used #chemophobia tag, used for fear of chemistry going wrong etc. rather than toxicology. Asked for someone to fact check. Delayed response but eventually gets a response with whether this reaction occurs, does it exist, etc. Comes back with paper. Then she responds saying “but both chemicals in apples, naturally occurring”. SO I’m interested both in the intersection here between science and non science, but also science and science in another area to your own. So the original questionner is not a chemist and raises a question that acknowledges that. A (non-addressed) chemist responds with brief unsupported evaluation but she comes back with her own analysis to that.

So… two kinds of evaluation across these samples. There is personal stance (e.g. Yup, 7am, wildly wrong). And there is impersonal reference to shared norms of methods, citations, rhetoric, publication – the idea that critiquing an article that breaches norms settles the issues. And also hierachies of authority worked out for present purposes in the exchanges – this is where specific mentions become so interesting here, the idea of certain individuals as authoritative sources.

The implications for science stufies cover two themes: embedding of science in everyday life; rhetorical application of norms of evaluation to texts. Non-scientists would get useful (and entertaining) view of science by reading these tweets. It contextualises science in everyday life and work. But that message probably doesn’t get out. I was struck yesterday by the idea of a bubble around the European Commission. I think some of the same here, the tweets tend to go to scientists, science communicators and science educators. There is a large and somewhere sealed off world here. Almost no replies from outside. And many of the tweets are concerned with boundary work. They both open science up but also maintaining it’s distinctness, it’s inaccessibility.

But other questions here… If you do see this as a community, how does this compare to other communities studied here. This is a community that thinks of itself as a community. How distinct is the genre? Do they use affordances differently to others? Do they have different practices or simply a different register, different works because they talk about the same thing. And how does that relate to other kinds of practices. No point to study in detail unless it relates backs to other things. The people I look at are teaching, writing articles, outreach. Time patterns fit that. Other communities have different time cycles to them. In my sample I chose widely followed people. Between 3000 and 10,000 followers. And for most of us that sounds pretty good, particularly if you are tweeting about obscure aspects of astrophysics. Their authority on Twitter is about what they do there. Some are authoritative in their field but many are not as influential outside of Twitter. And finally how permeable are the boundaries of the community? Not very perhaps. Some other communities may reach out more, particularly in terms of followers and retweets.

And finally a picture… A fluffy toy and his genetic biologist look alike.

Q&A

Q) Ruth: My question is simple and small. You spoke about the corpus, what was your reference corpus?

A) I chose a corpus from another specific group, rather than all of Twitter. I chose 10 scientists and I chose reference corpus of 10 others tweeting on very specific topics (similar number of followers but all tweeting on differing topics). Roughly conmparable. For most recent samples I used the same people.

Q) Me: You talked about the exclusivity

A) For some they are. One is into women in science and feminism. Another is into hip hop (and science), so lots on music. So they tweet on other topics but they seem to have an exclusive type of engagement and response on their science tweets. I suspect that many of them have lots of followers because of those other interests but that mixture of interest isn’t represented by crossover of audiences responding.

Q) How do you define “community” if at all?

A) These individuals refer to it as a community, e.g. “ThursdayNightScience”. Now at conferences they are very specific but the community they refer to communally here it is all about belonging to this giant scientific community – which doesn’t really exist elsewhere and doesn’t respect traditional hierachies. Quantitatively you could see the links between them to see a nice graph.

Q) Sean, Lancaster: You talked about the boundary work around expertise. But could you see these as breaking a boundary, reaching beyond expertise to others, as in TV shows and spoilers in Jenkin’s Convergence Culture?

A) Maybe not about hierachy. It’s not about this person has a right to speak, and this one doesn’t. Quite often people ask for help from anyone on Twitter, and get a fast response/advice. You are calling this a boundary hybridity, that’s probably fair enough. Thing you see in ANT all the time. Boundary object that means different things to different actors but both can use it in an interesting way.

Q) Monica: I belong to scientist group which is more active than most. I wanted to ask your opinion about what is happening in Britain, the GMC has new social media guidelines for doctors which does not allow them to have anonymous accounts because of the privacy of information they hold. There is protest around that, a petition about that. And that is reasonable on commentary about economic cuts etc.

A) I haven’t studied doctors so not aware of professional structures but I think it’s a shame not to have the possibility of anonymity. Only one of those I am looking at is anonymous @scicurious but that allows for lots of playfulness. There have been a lot of articles where Twitter has acted as critique of peer review process, taken down research in hours. No less than Dorothy Fisher has said, ok Twitter may have a role here. Anonymity does seem to have a useful role here.

And now for lunch…!

And we’re back…

Twitter as professional practice: A case study of cricket journalism: @aggerscricket by Julia Gillen

I want to introduce a cricket journalist called Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket). My work draws on David Barton’s work of “technobiography”, a very socio-cultural dynamic view. Agnew is migrating from the role of journalist and public person. It is framed as a personal Twitter account, views his own, but his website is the BBC and there are lots of pointers that this isn’t a regular Twitter user.

I’m taking a media ecology view (Barton [1994]2007 – ecological view of literacy) here but I’m quite critical of it at the same time. Postman 1970 sees it as a sort of moral issue. Nystrom 1973 sees this as a study of complex communications systems and environments, interested in interactions, technology, technique and human process of emotion. And <another key ref missed>.

In 2006 the UK Parliament decided that television coverage of international cricket should be on free to air TV. But the rights don’t always go that way. Sky have the rights for many of the live TV coverage leaving the BBC with other means, predominently radio. A key thing to say about cricket. I am talking only about Test Cricket, which takes place over five days, frequently ends in a draw, and much of the time very little is happening and there are unscheduled breaks. And that could mean dead air… so there is a great traditional of literary coverage of cricket, it’s about much more than the sport.

The cricket media ecology… start with The Economist and a comment about surprise that the Test Match Cricket on the radio was still running, and that it is now on the web. But I wanted to dig more. To see what attitudes Agnew displays towards Twitter including relations to other communications, I’ll be talking about my methodology as well.

So I have taken a sensitive ethnographic type of approach. I started in March 2010. There were interactions on the website. There were some sample tweets. And then in 2011 Agnew wrote a book and he was also enthusiastic about Twitter so I analysed his media coverage. So I did some intense data collection. Starting on 10th August 2011 I collected all tweets in real time, who he replied to etc. preserved in a word document. Also looked across other media. Some other samples here and there. In part my approach was flexible and did change as I collected through it. For example… Agnew tweeted “15 mins to live chat” so I went and joined that and recorded that to see what that was like. And one of the things that was interesting there was seeing attitudes towards Twitter expressed in other media, and how those media related to it. So he receives a direct question about Twitter. He says he enjoys it, he likes comments during his radio commentary. But also implicit references for those also on Twitter. Makes a comment about his dog in the sign off… if you only interact in other media it’s not noteworthy. But if you follow him on Twitter you know he plays with his dog on Twitter – interacting with an account someone else set up for his dog.

So I’ve coded all of Agnew mentions on media in the book. It’s ostensibly about cricket but he is very interested in media. Radio gets the most mentions but, notably, Twitter gets the second most mentions. At the time “Aggers’ Ashes” was promoted via what he called “Twitter tour”. Related to that the @theashes follower situation arises and he melds that offline persona to the online persona of that Tweeter. He also playfully recommends follow another Twitter user who does a better job than him. He doesn’t do that. When I followed Agnew on Twitter in real time he went from 7am to 8pm (he barely stopped for lunch). So I followed him on 10th August 2011, the first day of a test match but the day after the riots. One of his followers tweets about the weather, also about the riots. His response *just* addresses the weather. Listening to the radio commentary it becomes clear they have been told not to mention the riots. But they elude to it, you wouldn’t understand comments like “I can see smoke in the distance”, for instance, without that context. And you see him respond in an authoritative way about the ECB confirming test match goes ahead as planned (meaning both weather and riots).

He does engage in arguement sometimes but, for instance, shuts down someone who tweets what seems to be a homophobic insults. Bourdieu (1999) takls about “difficult spots”: “difficult to describe and think about”. Only looking at a much larger quantity of data did I realise that this hadn’t been a homophobic comment but a reference to a co-commentators criticism of another team.

There are many ways Agnew involves others in his construction of stories. So pulling out the key tweets around “Moussaka Special”. He comments “treating the wife to Moussaka Surprise. Theory being devastation in the kitchen means I won’t be asked to cook again for at least 6 months” – refers to specific type of comedy. “The Wife” is a term he doesn’t usually use so that’s a reference to a type of comedy. The narrative builds. tension mounts… then two surprise tweets, the moussaka is good, and she tweets too and joins that narrative!

So really interesting narrative construction; and merging of online and offline.

Agnew did leave tweet for a while. He gets lots of abuse but attack by another author seems to be what drives him off Twitter for a while. I’ve used this idea of “change agent” (Mullins, Kozlowski, Schmitt Howell 2008) as he is quite influential in this rather traditional cricket world, and he has that trust to be that change agent, something you see more widely in adopting in Twitter. And you see these realms of onstage and offstage personae and performances on Twitter and intersections between them.

Q&A

Q) Did you tell him you were doing this?

A) I did, he didn’t acknowledge it – sort of said a few times but I’m there in a huge (200k) audience. I’m still planning to send fully written up version to him for comment.

Q) You talked about Agnew moving from journalist to public figures. As you went through data collection did you see marked difference in tone of Tweets as follower numbers grow.

A) I’d say no actually. But by beginning of 2010 he was already well on the way, his role attracts a certain amount of attention anyway. He was already a skilled user of Twitter, building stories, orientating to audiences, some moments of tension, the abandonment. But interplay generally there throughout. But will think about that more carefully.

Q) One of the things I thought between celebrity and “real people’s” use of Twitter was how much they retweet them. One thing you could look at is how much they retweet, distribution phenomenon. Also terms of address that vary between celebrities and others. Celebrities address a collective group of followers.

A) I’m not sure he is really a celebrity here. He’s more a personality.

Comment) I’d say microcelebrity eg Alice Marwick

A) Certainly he has a lot of interactions, requests to retweets, lots of iteraction. Your comment does give me an angle. But I’m not sure celebrity is the right work.

Comment) Perhaps about tipping point here, not about celebrity status but number of followers.

A) I think Agnew is about driving change etc. He did start encouraging web 2.0 use because you could speak to everyone but actually he has become someone who extends the broadcast models.

Comment) He is followed by far far more people than he follows, classic broadcast/transmit model. Reach is the wrong term or concept but that broadcast behaviour is something that is different.

A) yes, I do make that comment in my conclusions but that’s a fair observation.

And now its me so the liveblogging stops!

An analysis of professional exchange and community dynamics on Twitter around the #OR2012 conference hashtag by Nicola Osborne and Clare Llewellyn

The Prezi is here and I highly welcome comments!

But the in-person version sparked lots of questions so I think it went well and hope some attendees pass on their own use cases to the Twitter Workbench team (I’m happy to pass comments on!).

Authenticating leadership ‘like a boss’ by Tom Van Hout

Like a Boss is parody rap. Everything if followed by “Like a Boss”. Massively popular, huge amounts of tweets about this. A tweet evergreen if you like. Refers to finesse or authority. Or just their way. People, animals, objects. e.g. Many presenters have presented Like a Boss at this conference!

Leadership discourse. From management and business studies we know that leadership is about meaning. There is the transformational leader, the charasmatic leader, visionary leader. Often quite gendered as well. There is a lovely paper by Baxter in Journal of Social Linguistics in how female leaders shift in and out of various “role traps”. The Like a Boss phenonemon ties into these aspects.

Vernacular writing is an area of huge interest, this is inter personal in nature, spontaneous and unplanned, dialogical by default. The Like a Boss hashtag and tweets displays some of these. So an example here – a micromeme here. But we see lots of sharing of quite mundane achievements. Also identity as heritage discourses (around gold star stickers). Also performances of being a boss, judgements of enoughness. Now vernacular writing, why are we drawn to it? Well the rational is pretty straight forward. More people write than ever before. They write more. Digital media enables that. And as we all saw yesterday during weird Q&A session writing goes public. And finally my interest here is about identity practices. Here we see really diverse identity practices and the use of “emblematic resources” <ref?>, and an enormous range of features that could see you doing things “Like a Boss”. From buying shoes, getting out of bed, high-fiving a shark. But the meme does cohere and what makes that happen is that these are forms of self-presentation and performance – identity-as-heritage (cultural capital – like the star stickers). And identity-as-creative-play – about subverting the norms, creative play. Cue discussion of a dog on a wingback chair – why is it funny? It’s anthropomorphised, it’s a superior expression somehow, pokes fun at self-styled ways. But I’m really interested in how that meta commentary, how far that ranges. Some of these self-performances don’t work. What is the benchmark for being or doing Like a Boss does. About “enoughness” – the resources recognised as successful. Not fully developed but… online, on YouTube, views and comments etc. index what it takes to be a Boss. That measure is policed online constantly. Ideally we want an indexical range of how you perform this successfully.

In conclusion. We approach digital communication in an ethnographic perspective. We look at vernacular cultures and cultural politics. We look at leadership discourse – management of meaning and language game. We look at vernacular writing – networked writing, scale. and we look at identity practices – enoughness, self-presentation.

Q&A

Q) Isn’t self-tagging yourself “Like a Boss” a form of Index. So the measure is whether accept it as such?

A) Yes, the tweets identify successes in being “Like a Boss”. There are wannabees. The data we have… the notion of enoughness divides those who can (e.g. retweets) and those who want to.

Q) In what way is Like a Boss different from Like a Pro? In terms of semantic features.

A) Like a Boss calls on more cultural toughness etc.

Q) Can I ask about “enoughness”… if you use rankings, popularity, as a measure…?

A) As one measure…

Q cont.) So how do you measure that they really like that. And secondly what other measures

A) No answer yet.

Q) RT as a measure of goodness for a tweet. About variation of users. theoretically scale free in Twitter. 30 RTs would be the best day of my life for me, for some that’s every day. How do you account on that?

A) We don’t want to look at celebrities. Only normal folk.

Q cont) But a continuum there. Some random people have 20k followers you know?

A) Imagine we will, and others have done, look only at a particular range of followership.

Me) Compare RTs for other stuff – so does the Like a Boss stuff

Q) Vernacular use of Boss is very different isn’t it? Gaming connotations? Slang connotations? Not just leadership here? Maybe why more sticky as a meme

A) Sure, those come in.

Comment) Like a Pro just not  as grabbing, those other uses include “that’s Boss!” a very 70s and 80s style.

Discussion breaking out around whether “Like a Boss” is a valid tag for some tweets in Tom’s data. And then on Pro vs Boss. Boss being more contentious, declaring power over others, superiority, dominance etc. And that others don’t care how their seen – cockiness, single mindedness, self-belief…. and now into the “great man” theory of leadership. Also discussion of ironic use.

Tom: I have been able to collect different things here. Initially tweets but that is harder with the API. Collected some

 

The personal in political tweets: The use of Twitter during the 2010 British and Dutch General Elections by Todd Graham

There are three players in this twitter research: politicians, media and citizens. I’m going to specifically look at how politicians behave in social media. Today I’ll look at the UK General Election but we’ve also done work on Dutch elections and on-election periods.

We took a sample from a 2 week period (April 26th to polling day, May 6th 2010). We focused on main three parties. Any candidate who tweeted in this time. 19% of conservative candidates; 22% of labour candidates; 26% of Lib Dem candidates. And a large cohort of tweets collected distributed unevenly. We did content analysis with a team of 6 trained coders. The unit of the individual tweet. The context unit of analysis was the Twitter page – that conversation. You needed that context to code them correctly, that was crucial. We had a dozen or so categories but I will focus on 4 main ones. Type of tweet; interaction with; tweet function; tweet topic. See Graham Broersma Hazelhoff and van’t Haar 2013 for the statistical analysis. I’ll be talking qualitative analysis.

Firstly to say something of the three Prime Minister candidates. Looking at frequency of mentions. 22nd April and 29th April see a big spike. Those are the last two TV debates. They had a substantial influence on tweeting. Also an increase in tweets towards polling day (less sharp).

In terms of tweet types this was basic: normal post (48.2%); reply (?%) ; retweet (?%); retweet with comment (?%). Huge difference between conservatives vs lib dems and labour. Latter two parties interacted far more. Who were they interacting with? The public lagely, politicians (mainly own party but some debate from labour candidates), party activists (hardly ever conservatives), media, etc.

We looked at tweet topics. 80% of all tweets were about Campaign and Party Affairs. Very minimal policy talk by comparison. Some “other” chat as well. The function varied more broadly. Lots of tweets about the campaign trail (23.1%); campaign promotion (20.9%); criticism and arguing (22.9); acknowledgement (9.7%); other functions less substantial. So a typology here. We saw Broadcasting with 5 behaviours: updating; promoting; party stance; etc.

Updating accounted for 23.1% of tweets. e.g. those shown from @Jeremy_Hunt and @andrew4mk. Perhaps this isn’t an unusual thing to track in the media. But some politicians did this in a more novel way. Some gave a sense of closeness, of being part of the campaign, of knocking on doors with them…

Promoting was around 20.9% of tweets. This was largely about promoting the party or the politician, their success, their performance etc. But the Lib Dems were quite interesting. They promoted the most, but they were also really creative.@CllrDaisyBenson called out for non-celebrity endorsements and got great personal endorsements and responses.

Critiquing (17%) tended to be very superficial, about style, performance, rarely any substantive critiques of policies. Created polarised Twittersphere. Really party orientated so particularly polarised during the debates for instance. Politicians complain about this BUT they do this. And a number of followers and members of the public called them on this. Stephen Coleman and Dan Jackson’s work finds that this sort of discourse puts citizens off politics.

Interacting also had 5 behaviours: a range here so:

Attacking/Debating (9.9% of tweets): these were again superficial attacks. Typically one-off exchanges. Extended debate was rare. a yell each way but no further. Ironic as the debates – which triggered many of these – was supposed to open up debate but rather shut down here.

Mobilising/Organising (3.7% of tweets): Labour and Lib Dems really led this. @DrEvanHarris tweeted about 1400 tweets in this time period. He was chat up new followers and then ask for their help in campaigning. Candidates also shared behind the scenes type tweets.

Advice giving, helping and consulting (3% of tweets): about connecting with the citizen. Consulting with the public was about 1%. Conservatives not tweeting in this way. There are maybe 7 or 8 candidates represented in these advice and consulting tweets.

In terms of Twittering about their personal life. We had a code that just marked tweets as “personal”. e.g. Louise Mensch tweeting about running. But we are recoding those as political and personal often overlap. We also want to code the personal. But looking at some samples we saw use of personal in combination with updating – combining campaign trail with personal life note (cats and chocolate + envelope stuffing). Using personal to promote. Very common with those with young children. Tom Watson tweets about his 2 year old. Using personal to attack and critique – using kids or pets to raise funny attacks. Using life experience to draw attention to a particular issue – eg “My aunty tells me”… or use of personal experience to support arguement over several tweet discussions, e.g. on Trains.

This work is still progressing. Analysis ongoing. And looking at that mix of personal and political.

Q&A

Q) What did you do about tweets with links, e.g. to policy documents etc.

A) I have a whole codebook to deal with these. so lots of politicians tweeted links to newspapers with an attacking headline – so we coded it as attack. Or links to policy on blog – coded for that function. We basically clicked on the links and coded that up.

Q) Two questions. How did you separate whom category? People act in different roles. Also for functions categories – literature theory or your own coding?

A) Coding scheme is a combination of factors. Reading the literature. Inductive coding, also Darren’s work on politicians on Twitter influenced our coding. And we had four steps in that process of checking role of the people being interacted with. Context helped, the coders clicked through to profiles, sometimes Googling that person was required, we made some rules and procedures for that.

Q) Did the party train/constrain/orchestrate these for them? If not it seems really interesting to be outside the party machine as other publications are?

A) Labour and Lib Dems had a campaign coordinator for social media. And they had keen early adopters amongst their candidates. Conservatives not so much. Found suggestions they didn’t have much.

Me) Conservatives did hire someone for social media some time back. I’ll see if I can dig that out.

A) There was a piece in Wired… may be same one…

Q) What about images and coding?

A) We did code images in tweets but there were not many of them.

Q cont) Often they mess up that personal thing…

A) We coded them as critiques on the whole (one critiquing own party leader!)

Q) Political tweets are domain specific data. Can you develop something automatic based on your work?

A) We are doing that now, have multidisciplinary team. We are working with people in linguistics. Taking out 60k tweets and having programme learn from those tweets to try and reuse it for the next election. But context would be the tricky thing here. It was a big part of the coding process.

Comment) Programmes great for explicit texts. Much harder to deal with irony. But it’s machine learning and you need a small training set hand coded, then software learns from that and can be applied automatically to wider data set.

Professional Twitter Panel

This is our final session of the day and is about Twitter use by those with “between 1000 and 10,000″ followers on Twitter. Pre conference tweets suggest that’s a slightly controversial grouping but we shall see shortly…

Participation was sought in advance for this session and there have been two tweeters coming forward. One a Gothic Literature academic, the other @scicurious who is a prominent science blogger.

So this will work in two streams. Already have discussion on #lutwitrc up here, we’ll also keep an eye on #lutwit tweets.

I started by asking about when you find time to tweet. If you don’t tweet much it seems there is never time. If you tweet a lot it seems like a non issue. @scicurious just tweets regularly as part of the day – it runs in the background. Johnny is commenting that he tweets intensively at conferences like this, but less so at other times. But do retweet then etc. It varies a lot. When reading or writing tends to be less so than when doing things like marking and want a diversion. Several other comments. Me, tend to have in background but real morning/evening rythems. Comment that Twitter has made tweet archive of your own twitter archive to see clear patterns there. Greg: I asked Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Psychology about why so many tweets are at 7am and she said “well academics are filling in forms the rest of the day!”. Penny: comments on extreme unevenness over course of day and over longer term. Comment: also about how long you are on Twitter – count has different meaning. A measure of total tweets varies radically. Maybe come back to that as very active tweets mean something differently. Julia: we are assuming one person is one account but you may be tweeting to many accounts and time intersects with identity, not neccassarily 1:1. David: I think Penny was suggesting that we treat Twitter like other communication – we don’t measure how many chats we have in a day. Me: but the account is there, so tempting. But presence is inferred from tweeting as well, so not tweeting suggests not present.

Discussion of time to write a tweet. Rebekkah Kills says it takes no time. Comment that reading takes time, not tweeting. Takes time but not much. Greg: interested in issues of timing… e.g. cultural norms around eating and talking at the same time. Me: it’s about context here, what are expectations. For a personal tweet I may have hours to reply, but for a professional tweet or an enquiry to a service twitter account expects fast replies. Greg: I am constantly surprised, but shouldn’t be, about the speed of student email replies. So fast. Four hours can be slow. Comment: my girlfriend tweets and uses facebook and kind of sits down to “do facebook” and I think people do do that…

Greg: so that takes us into other media use. Johnny, do you have the same posts going to Facebook and Twitter? Johnny: no, I used to, then used to unlink now totally unlinked… Comment: I’m wondering about Facebook and Twitter and the idea on Putnum on strong and weak ties. greg: your practices change depends on speed of tweeting but also how many people you follow. Julia: I do find the temporal aspect changes. Facebook bring different time zones in at different times. Synchronicity on Twitter puts me out of touch with those in other timezones. Greg: I take part of Flickr365 and we do a daily update but we all tend to post at the same time, it’s a daily rythem to keep up with. Different to always on. Me on ties: I think strong and weak ties exist in Facebook and Twitter, not a clear distinction. And also timewise there are timezones of interest/habit beyond location – e.g. those staying up late in UK vs daytime in US.

Onto anonimity and pseudonimity. Me: recommending Violet Blue’s writing on Google+. Greg: BitPHd is a blog I read and it is very successful but wouldn’t be possible with real names for personal comments could damage tenureship chances. Any other opinions? We are all academics pretty much, do we assume freedom with our employers here? Comment: if you google me you find an old account which is an issue. Johnny: I feel ambivelent for adding “views are my own” on my profile. I think there is no need for there to be an issue there. Karen: don’t think that “all views are my own” thing, doesn’t cover you legally. Law hasn’t caught up. Look at UCU’s advice on social media. There have been cases no matter the disclaimers. Tony: social media used as brand management and reputation management, tricksiness around that. It’s problematic. See link tweeted to my study. So disclaimer not a bad idea from personal perspective, distance self from institutional or departmental position. I use it on my Twitter account. Me: its about setting expectations, perceptions. Comment: I’m from China and think pseudonyms are safer. greg: my research showed that people like to see a face, a person, not a blank or object avatar.

So, moving onto impact… I’ve thought about number of followers and of retweets. Is that impact? Is something else? Me: well Klout may be silly but that idea that followers, activity, replies, retweets and the presence of influential people in your network and their engagement with you has some merits. Klout have interest in numbers for marketing reasons… David: Why would you do that? Same concerns as impact in any area of academia Greg: I have a practical reason, for sampling. For journals you would check impact factor in choices. But maybe an issue about impact and influence being perceived as about marketing is an issue for any sorts of measures here and how they could be perceived. Todd: we’ve been interviewing dutch politicians, for them getting tweets picked up by news media is key. For political leads and celebrities the pick up by mainstream media might be a measure. Comment: opinion leaders matter here too, not about counts. Greg: indeed, concepts move beyond Twitter, to concepts from before Twitter around influence and impact here. Comment: impact in my work is about reaching sources, spreading news etc. in crisis organisations. Organisations mobilise resources on the ground through very influential presences and accounts.

Final topic… We had a question from, I think outside the institution, am I OK collecting Twitter data without institutional data? Apart from all the Terms of Service, Copyright, what are the ethics of it? Start with gut ethical issues and then move onto legal issue. David: yes, it’s public but designed for Twitter. The same as saying… would you have ethical issue with using voxpop in a newspaper and then reprinting it. Greg: I don’t see problem with that. David: an ethical issue… it’s recontextualising it. You need ethical approval for closed Facebook posts, but media does use and attribute that. Greg: do we all agree that Facebook is clearly private and needs ethical approval? Tony: issue is expectation. Facebook has expectation of privacy. Issue for Twitter is whether people quoted assume the audience is public. People get it wrong. It can be ticklish. My feeling is that hashtags are somehow signals active participation in a conversation. David: On some sites you might feel you are posting to that site but you are reposting to Twitter. Similar issue to local newspaper vs pick up more widely. Could feel very different. So continuuation of same ethical issue. Comment: Really good article about this by danah boyd about levels of publicness in social media. Applies here. Looking at hashtag corpora some feel private, single post. Some massively public hashtags with lots of responses. I tried to anonimise usernames but near impossible to anonimise tweets themselves. Have to be savvy consumer but can we expect that of everyone. Julia: ethics matter in social media, just as anywhere else. And getting to know Terms of Service matters. Looking through Twitter not all ToS are as clear as they could be but you can communicate and ask questions. Really different attitudes to text made public and screenshots. Many layers here. You as researcher in institution, the wider space and world expectation, and the legal side of things. So many layers. Can be tempted to think we are insulated from these kinds of things, a world you should be just as careful as. Johnny: the Twitter ToS directly conflict with the idea of anonimity. Twitter makes it hard for researchers. Comment: need to separate ethical and legal issues here. We should consider the ethical issues for ourselves. ToS is about brand not users. Researching, taking data for analysis, and then publishing are two different things. And publishing may be at a conference (temporary, closed) but on slideshare say that’s difference, or in a book or paper that’s different again. Comment: can we separate legal and ethical issues here really. Issues of good faith, of relationships with data providers etc. Greg: I deliberately left this to the end as I think it would be concerning if, because it easier ethically, all analysis was quantative, but there are many issues to discuss… and those discussions will hopefully carry on at #lutwitRC and #lutwit.

And with that – and my apologies if the notes are a little hard to follow, I’ll mull a better format and may update accordingly – the formal sessions ended  and we moved into the evening with the launch of Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices by David Barton and Carmen Lee followed by a lovely conference dinner for continuing those (and other) discussions… More from the final day of the conference appearing on the blog tomorrow.

Apr 102013
 

For the next three days I will be blogging from the Lancaster University Twitter and Microblogging Conference, where Clare Llewellyn (UoE Informatics) and I will be presenting our work on analysing #OR2012 tweets tomorrow.

Keep an eye on this post for notes on today’s talks (programme here) once things get going at 11am. The Twitter hashtag, #lutwit, will probably also be very busy!

Introduction to Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices – Julia Gillen and Johnny Unger

Julia is introducing the conference by outlining the interest in this topic at Lancaster. Greg Myers work on blogs and wikis and Nathan Jurgenson’s work on digital dualism, and Julia’s interest is in political discourses. For Julia some of the motivation for today was attending AAAI on weblogs and social media in Dublin in June. In some ways a super experience, cross-discplinary and people from Twitter there. Went to each o fthe Twitter sessions and listened to what they said. Some real overlap with University of Maryland – academics embedded in Twitter. Lots of people at the conference analysing large data sets in social media, and journalists there using social media. But I was uneasy at the event. Why were the Twitter, LinkedIn, IBM poeple there? To analyse the data for profit. Academics had some research interests there. Lots of the research was linguistics research and corpus linguistics but those presenting never used the terms. So there was a need to really examine Twitter from different perspectives, from different linguistics perspectives, real world problems and issues. There are many motivations, academic and otherwise, and a really good mix over the next few days.

Johnny Unger is now giving a brief practical overview of the conference and the Lanyrd site which acts as the authoritative programme. He is also introducing this afternoon’s Twitter Q&A with Nathan Jurgenson who will be joining the room from Twitter and video feed and suggesting we read two of Nathan’s papers ahead of that:

We will be able to ask questions ahead of or during the session (and I’m sure they are welcome from outside the room #njqa) via Twitter or in the room via Johnny.
And now a comment from the chair of tomorrow evening’s Professional Twitter plenary session, with Twitter users between 1000 and 10,000 followers about #lutwitrc (rc for “Reality Check”) engaged, discussion in a talk here and with tweets in the background. This is more on practicalities of Twitter and Tweeting than on the academic side of Twitter. Again I’m sure input from others will be welcome.
A quick comment again from Johnny: please do tweet. #lutwit is the general hashtag for the sessions. Johnny suggests adding GF4 for lecture theatre 4 etc. If there’s a better system etc. that’s fine. Some special hashtags already mentioned. You can tweet any questions about the event to @lutwit13 (or ask in person).

Plenary: Online freedom and repressive law: The paradox of digital journalism by Lee Salter, University of West of England

Lee’s research loooks at interactions between new media and traditional media. Julia came to know his work through the book he co-authored with Janet Jones, Digital Journalism (Jones & Salter 2011). Lee is also in town as his film is playing in Lancaster tonight.

I wanted to start by pointing to issues we may be talking about at the rest of the conference. My issue in social media is both how it relates to traditional media but also around the paradoxes social media can lead to. I want to focus on some of those issues through some of the more controversial areas where social media has been used.

So as we know Twitter is lots of different things to different people, it’s an integral part of modern journalistic toolkit, a ranting space, a means of sharing links and photos, and it’s a campaign and protesting tool – which I’m particularly interested in, and those discourses around this.

In the book I don’t go for hyperbolism or doom and gloom. However there are real extremes in the coverage and discourses around social media. In the coverage of the Mumbai massacre Tom Sutcliffe, writing in The Independent, rallies against the coverage on Twitter. Of course months later the paper were up and tweeting. But discourses of hyperbole does need to be modified, reined in. Twitter grows out of the use of UGC by journalists. Anar Thorson argues that Moldovan and Iranian elections see Twitter being used to generate news on the ground, “a hub for first hand accounts”.

More recently we see a journalists in a hybrid environment – breaking stories on blogs and twitter before appearance on broadcast or print. Thorson sees the coverage of the election on blogs getting greater viewership than maintream press in some cases. The criticisms of Twitter describe it as nonsense, as repition. Thorson moved to work on the “Arab Spring” and he cites NPR’s Andy Carvin as one of the paragon examples of really good tweeting. He tweeted so rapidly that Twitter tried to delete his account as they thought he might be a spammer. He used Twitter to collect first hand accounts, to verify rumous and discussio, to gather fast moving information. Benjamin Doherty critizes Carvin work as he says that he couldnt see any other NPR journalists working with activists and protestors against the Israeli state in that sort of way, keeping their job.

I want to talk now about whether Twitter really has changed corporate communications, how journalism has changed, what the power relations are.

It’s notable that journalists, as gatekeepers of information, tend to reflect existing power relations. The suggestion is that Twitter and social media have changed those power relations. Thorson argues that journalists do have incentives to protect the traditional press role but that use of social media is changing those power relations. Chadwick argues the change of relations between elite sources and elite journalists, particularly in terms of temporality. The routine news day is based around routine deadlines. Powerful sources of information can sync and interface with those times of day in order to feed the news system. Social media do not follow those patterns so closely, the news routine is interrupted. But I’m not actually sure that interruption is actually occurring. We know that participation and influence is limited by the resource base that people use. The range of people that use Twitter is limited, those that use it effectively is even smaller. Pew’s research in the US finds only 15% of internet users using Twitter, only 8% doing so daily. Only a quarter of Twitter users have ever tweeted. In the Uk research shows Twitter users as being higher income. But in the US Twitter users tend to be younger, female, urban, and more black and hispanic users than might be expected. There isn’t one profile here.

Bruns and Burgess, et al. (2011) [thanks to @mdanganh for the clarification and URL] found Twitter use in Australian elections being about traditional power and professional relations, with social media amplifying those central conversations. But activists are now engaged in loosely coupled relationships with newsmakers, the majority of those interactions have little impact, but only a small number of Twitter users make a real difference, push the conversations, etc.

There has been little work on Tweet’s intregration in mainstream media. Thorson writes not about Twitter but about “Have your Say” information and the BBC during elections. The use of this tended to represent middle ground. Wiki News did things a little differently, they required a neutral point of view. But what does “neutral” mean, especially in controversial areas. Twitter is obviously different to these two spaces. It isn’t censored, it isn’t moderated. A colleague who writes for the Guardian was complaining about Twitter as a chaotic medium, that they integrate it in a conventional linear narrative, but it doesn’t fit with discursive structures of journalism.

Now when I mentioned the Arab Spring, a lot of the attention of journalists and scholars looking at the Arab Spring has been a focus on the particular conflict in the middle east and North Africa. If Twitter had really penetrated the mainstream I think we would have seen different discourses. There has been a real role for Twitter in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, and we have seen that covered and rather overstated, but we don’t see coverage Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, say. There are various assumptions we can make about the focuses… social media tends to be used to illustrate what is going on by particular groups, very media savvy protest groups and a need to communicate to the outside world via social media, then bounce back via mainstream media (e.g. particularly in Egypt). So the discourses of social media here fitted with the mainstream news agenda and that’s why it had leverage in some areas much more so than others.

We know that Twitter power relations reflect mainstream roles – mainstream journalists have far more followers than others. Because social media has been used within the mainstream news frames. We see parallels between protest in the middle east and the UK at the same time became reported by mainstream media. I’m going to play a clip of reporting of conflict in Egypt – the images, the placement of the camera, the emphasis, etc. here (from World News Today). The interesting here is the way that the conflict between the protestors and the police are represented, the alignment of the journalist to the protestors, the reference to petrol bombs as defensive, the slight giggle in the discussion of rock throwing. Compare that with a clip from the student protests in the UK at the same time (BBC News), this time the footage includes a dismissive nod towards attacks on students by police here. Social media told a very different story to the new coverage.

This notion of communicative freedom that takes place… when Tunisia and Egypt shut down Twitter and Facebook there is outrage. In the UK David Cameron talks of shutting down BlackBerry, Facebook etc. raises far less media question. But the question

Andrew Cameron and Barbara Tool call the “Californian Ideology”, the internet is just there, it’s natural as John Perry Barlow says. Now that is not a reality, it was set up by government, by institutions etc. Laurance Lessig (in code and cyberspace) talks about political regulation and economic regulation, and norms or hegemony. And I think these may explain why Twitter regulation isn’t neccassary. The traditional public/private dichotomy is disappearing, it’s broken down, but law hasn’t caught up with a paradoxical medium like Twitter. Nor do the users. Take Paris Brown for instance, elected as a Police Youth Comissioner who is 17, and people found tweets from the ages from when she was 14 or 15… they included crude comments about sex and drugs. Do we really expect 14 year olds to understand that dichotomy? She stood down yesterday. Andrew Brown wrote some nasty comments on Facebook and was jailed for 12 weeks. An 18 year old was arrested for making comments about Tom Daley’s deceased father. And of course there is the case of Peter? because an off the cuff comment on Twitter was taken to be a terrorist threat. People aren’t very aware of this dichotomy, and the outdated law is the major problem here. Many of these cases date from the 2003 communications act. This allows prosecution for comments deemed to be offensive, obscene, etc. comments. Many comedians do not get taken to court or taken to prison for comments of those type (e.g. Frankie Boyle or Richard Littlejohn), whilst the same types of comments on Twitter and social media seem to be taken very differently. Which is particularly odd given there are no specific press freedom laws here. “improper use of public communications network”

Mitchell Stancombe was jailed for three years for a tweet asking when the riots would start in Southampton. The idea of incitement to riot predates these media and the punishment has been disproportionate. And discourses did not make it into the mainstream media. Tweets such as “This is what happens when you consistently opress [sic] the youth, have some of your own medicine #londonriots” did not make the headlines. Rob Proctor’s work on Twitter showed the most powerful tweets dominating, dissenting voices shut down, the clean up operation after the riots dwarfed the riot tweets. He argues that those who were rioting did not use Twitter, they knew they would be caught. Blackberry Messenger was far more popular for that reason.

Now another reason not to close down those spaces hasn’t really got anything to do with communicative styles, it’s to do with the modes of British Policing. We can talk about “permissive transgression”. They allow law to be broken to a certain extent “policing by consent” then cracking down, the idea being to minimise conflict. The police also lack intelligence – but social media allows huge gathering of intelligence. The other function of social media during protests and riots is quite amusing. The police try to contact and engage those that they think may be protesting. Since 2010 there really haven’t been a central starting point, an organiser, etc. They try to reach out to a leader in the protest, but there is no leader. When I looked at protests in Bristol, different students from different colleges would arrange 4 or 5 different protests, but which one got popular was luck really. no one was in charge.

Def? and his colleagues have looked in depth at how the police use Twitter in conflict. To try to calm situation, to try to engage, to provide information, and to try and name and shame individuals. On occassion some individuals were acquitted… one of these had his house burned down because he had been named as possibly involved in protest. There is a growing sense of identifiable data, of the need to be private in case seen/named/photographed etc.

And I want to end on the opposite take on this. Anonymous, as a group, is full of paradoxes. On the one hand the group is anonymous in terms of membership, representation etc. but they are also Anonymous, a brand essentially. And they are desperate for their actions and hacks to play a propaganda role so they have to play to the mainstream. They say “Twitter is their link to the world”. Looking at @YourAnonNews this is “one of many” Anonymous accounts, you cannot verify it, there is no hierachy and leadership here. They say “we are legion” and that’s a very deliberate term. Anonymous attached Israel over the weekend, I asked about a previous operation and I spoke to “Commander X” and asked him about interfaces with mainstream media. He advised we watch the “We Are Legion” documentary. They started posting quotations from the documentary at the same time as they appeared in the documentary – wasn’t a coincidence, he had control of my machine. So it’s a very weird group to interact with and talk to.

Commander X called Twitter the frontline, the key medium for publicity, it is designed to reach the mainstream journalists. They send out huge numbers of press releases as well. The operations are designed to Shock and Awe, to be too powerful for mainstream media to miss. Commander X says that that is why full blown complete take downs can force the media to discuss it. 1 million followers on Twitter. This is an important organisation. Anonymous going to war online with Israel… this seems major but all of the reporting says the same thing, from an AP release, stating that actually it hasn’t caused any real damage. Israeli government was main source for article. It illustrates those tricky power relations. But I did ask why Twitter doesn’t reject Anonymous or hack them. They say they know they are being watched, they are better at hacking than them, and they say “we haven’t done anything to offend Twitter”. It’s a paradoxical relationship.

Power relations do not seem to have been addressed by Twitter but there are clear opportunities for transformations. There is something but it’s not transforming mainstream media. The hegemonic status hasn’t changed. The integration of Twitter into news discourses doesn’t cause disruption, it follows the patters, it is normalised. But the law fails to address these mediums. Leveson was an opportunity to address that but it didn’t happen. But the paradox, the tension here, is the issue of Twitter as a sphere of public communication and as a sphere of surveillance.

Q&A

Q) In that use of Twitter by mainstream media, how does the Guardian fit in here?

A) The Guardian did become different in riots coverage but had previously been similar to other traditional media outlets. A truly different approach would be to frame those involved in the riots as “primary definers”. I argue that the riots were political but I have many debates with intelligent people who argue otherwise. In Egypt that protest wasn’t that focused but muddies the narrative. That would have been a radical alternative discourse.

Q) Can Twitter be considered unmoderated?

A) Of course it is mediated and moderated. Take downs occur, depends if you think pre-selection or post comment take downs. BBC comments are pre-publication, with Twitter moderation tends to be after the fact. Relatively unmoderated.

Q) My name is Ty Graham, been studying how dutch journalists use Twitter, how that selection might change journalists?

A) Nick Davies wrote a great book called “flat earth news” about the role of PR in news. Throughout the 80s and 90s there were fewer journalists covering more and more who became reliant on press releases and PR. Journalism already has it’s problems. The choice isn’t between seeing or calling a source, and doing that directly vs Twitter. It’s more between press releases and Twitter, and Twitter looks better there. But one of the problems is selecting tweets that fit with the journalist or the discursive angle of the journalists. The daily mail won’t highlight tweets against it’s position for instance.

Q) To what extent does reporting of conflict reflect regulation – so in the case of Egypt the UK press is not regulated by the state, in the London Riots they are, their reporting of Tweets may inevitably be related to their own relationship with the state, with the politics of that protest, with regulation (e.g. license fee negotiation).

A) There’s certainly something there, at least in terms of TV coverage as BBC, ITV, C4 etc. are very much regulated by the state. But newspapers are not regulated in the same way and yet they elected not to frame their coverage differently. People were effectively executed around the riots and that was little covered, just as death in police custody isn’t reflected in reporting. There is a much wider issue with journalism that it wants to reflect and frame it’s coverage in ways that its readers/consumers understand, are not unsettled by, are comfortable with and that really prevents alternative discourses, radical reframings etc.

Q) follow up: surely in a rolling news era TV sets the agenda here though? Surely agenda is also set by whatever has the best pictures?

A) Well perhaps but news organisations in print also produce video; TV news producers use social media; there is such blending and merging here. And there is a real concern around the use of video. In the London Riots all of the major broadcasters handed over footage to the police and there is real concern that in the next protest those journalists may well be finding themselves targets for that reason.

We’ve just had a good lunch break, now moving to parallel strands and I have selected:

 

Building rapport in conference live tweets by Giorgia Riboni, Milan

Giorgia and her colleague C. Degano analysed conference tweeting to understanding discourse. Most participants seem to be addressing tweets to academic peers, not a more public audience. They seem to represent communications within a particular community, an efficient self-promotional tool perhaps? The main question I want to ask is “If scholars’ conference tweets are targeted at an audience of peers, how do they build rapport while sharing information?” and wondering how conference tweeters strategies vary or overlap with speakers strategies, with Erving Goffman’s essay The Lecturn. I am calling on SFG Halliday 1985 (Interpersonal Funcation); Goffman 1981 (Frame Analysis); Hydland 19?? (??)

Corpus was around 2000 tweets, hashtag based collection of 8 pplied linguisitics conference live tweets. With a reference corpus of conference scripts. John Swales Conference Corpus (2009). 23 lectures and around 77k words. I will be sharing the findings of my qualitative analysis rather than my quantitative analysis although the qualitiative results are based on that. In my data 81.5% of tweets were original tweets; 12.8% were retweets; only 5.7% were replies. It doesn’t seem that the tweeters are reluctant to engage, rather they want tweets to reach all or most of their audience instead.

looking at Goffman’s typology for audiences, these don’t seem to quite apply here. Marwick and Boyd 2010 find the effect of “networked audience” – the idea that tweets might reach a global audience of peers rather than replies which only reach a small audience. Hydland 2001 talks about metadiscursive elements and engagement markers. On Twitter there are both engagement language devices (Deixis – in person this is about “I’m pleased to be here” etc. in tweets this is a little different ; questions and imperatives; conversational elements; evaluative elements – these tends to be a matter of positioning yourself in the academic community, paying compliments, etc.) and engagement markers (e.g. @, RT, etc.). Looking at markers – hashtags enact a social relationship. The @ sign are a deictic marker of addressivity at the beginning of the tweet, it is about mentioning when mid-tweet. RTs also are about mentioning another user and representing that in your own stream (User X has posted the following (Zappavigna 2012). But in conferences there is a driver for participants’ own personality and perspective to emerge, probably hence the low level of RT.

Conference live tweeter can act as an “Animator” but there are hybrid or ambigous models here. Sometimes Animator and principal; Author or principal. This hybrid ambiguity amplifies the tweeter’s voice in relation to the speaker. And this relates to the scholarly voice, the role of the speaker (Monacelli 2009) which may represent their role, organisation, etc. and the textual self of the speaker (Goffman 1981). Goffman talks about the speaker as a performer, a method of transmitting content rather than the textural self projects in the course of the lectures delivery. But for me the textual self of the speaker is equally important as, thanks to Twitter affordances, the public and private spheres are collapsing and colliding together and thus the construction of the textual self includes both the scholarly voice and the personal voice. There is a backstage frenzy. Doesn’t mean that distance-altering mechanisms are not there, you see irony and humour, parenthetical remarks, and text brackets as well.

Conclusions. Speakers establish conection with attendees by engaging their rhetorical audience, discursively constructing their textual self and altering their alignmen with the public while transmitting their talk. But that the tweeters also perform, often using the same strategies as the speaker. Conference live tweeters can send notifications; transmit their personal and public self etc. Contact Giorgia @Giorgia_Riboni.

Q&A

Q) David Matthews, Lancaster: One of the things you mentioned was the low number of retweets. One explanation was that people want their own voice to emerge. I’m wondering whether you’d think about asking them, interviews with those you examine, as there may be other reasons. for example people using twitter at a conference don’t retweet as they know their peers are present at the conference as well, that information will already be available.

A) I agree that ethnographic approach would benefit these studies. As a live tweeter I have my own opinions and have been trying to verify those using my corpus.

Q) Mark: Have you engaged with set up, e.g. TWitter wall. Like this morning the wall ran after the talk but not during them. There is a twitter wall in the foyer/lunch area. What is the impact of that display on live tweeting. What is your experience in that?

A) A good comment. Didn’t do this as part of research, think I should have. What we are experiencing today shows that what we see of the tweets can really shape Tweets and interactions.

Q) Anthony McNeill, Kingston University: Looking at research on Blogging by Susan Herring for instance, that monologue was the trend but dialogue did occur in bursts. Some continuity between blogging and microblogging there perhaps. And 140 chars means a retweet really limits what I can say… does that have an impact.

A) Yes, initially I think that was an issue. New RT button changes that somewhere. Tweeters feel the need to credit the tweet so that may be a challenge. The way that they conserve textuality is also interesting. You consider your own tweet but you also consider your tweet in the wider context of the corpus of Tweets.

Q) Is it normal that live tweeters are present?

A) Yes, but the audience may not be.

 

Polyphony of discourse on and about Twitter: Analysis of Twitter uses in the European Parliament, Commission and Council by Sandrine Roginsky (@enirdans)

My work started with an article I saw saying that Twitter was useful for commissioners to communicate. I saw a tweet from Vivian Reding, Vice President of European Comission on the election of president Elles in 2012. It certainly won’t be a commission view. Twitter allos some form of free expresion of actors who are also part of institutions. Professionally though there are guidances around speeches etc.  Maingeuneau says that “institutions mask the conflict” but on Twitter we still see that conflict. So the research question for me here is whether Twitter make it possible to combine various registers of communication or genres of discourses,and the role of the “neutral speech” the “truth of speech” etc. You cannot have both. My hypotheisis that the communications of the institutions as public organisations on Twitter leads to blurring of personal and private, and that

French discourse analysis – Caroline Olliver-Yaniv and Claire oger which is from perspective of political sociology. See also quote on Witschge 2008 the poential of the internet for opening up public discourse cannot be evaluated without properly understanding the context. My method included participant observation, interview, etc. I had ready access to the institutions for this work. I looked at the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament. Today I will really focus on the European Commission.

In terms of the context you should note that there is a general injunction for institutions and staff of the Commission to use social media (see EP, Stategic Plan of Communication 2011-2014) as it offers “unique cost-efficient oppotunity for interactivity with citizens”. There is often a perception that there is a deficit around EU communication, but worth bearing in mind in the Commission’s use of others’ tools.

Who is in charge here? At the Commission there are 6 people dedicated to SNS (only). Important to know that Commission has very decentralised communications team. The Social media team is quite small – and on short-term contracts – but Twitter use is spread across the Commission. The European Council has one social media manager – not really communicating in general as much. At the European Parliament there is a team of 30 people dedicated to both social media and the website of the institution. The age average of these staff is around 25-35 year olds.

Ollivier-Yaniv and Oger found that institutional discourses re those officially produced by an individual or organisation. There is some evolution here of our understanding of the institution in Twitter. You have speakers who are Commissioners AND politicians. And you have Commissioners and Staffers both communicating on Twitter. Many voices for this one institution. Too many accounts for the institution. I did this full time for three months and I couldn’t track and follow them all! And there are even more since! There was one main institutional account, one for each Director Generals, 16 personal Commissioner accounts, 16 spokespeople of Commisioners, more for specific programmes and services, 27 nationalities etc. Very difficult to keep track of them.

The Commission has pushed for their staff to be on Twitter BUT not everyone is allowed to speak on behalf of the institution. See Bourdieu 2004 on the role of authorised speakers (and unauthorised speakers). However even for a researcher working on Tweets of the Commission it is near impossible to work out who is authorised to speak on behalf of the Comission. No clear guidelines here, even when staff were asked. Was told by one person that it will be obvious form indications of the the Twitter account. But same person said that her Commissioner’s account was “her personal account, she writes whatever she wants”. So very unclear whether personal or Comission views.

Moving to discourses. Institutional communication (Pasquier 2011); Political communication (Gerstle 1992); Personalised Communication (Jacobson 1994?). One Comms Officer tols me there are two types of tweets, political tweets “which are more interesting” and more personal.  If we take the account of Jose Manual Barroso (@BarrosoEU) – this actually changed names three times here. The rebrand changed the account to both a more personal and more political account. There are some Tweeters do speak on a more personal basis. Viviane Reding again seems to be much more personal. Laszio Andor does similarly but words those tweets in far more personal and informal ways.

However there are a great many more professional type tweets than wholly personal tweets. I found three types of tweets. But I am interested in the paradoxes of enunciation on Twitter and contradiction between the discourse on and about Twitter. Words like Objectivity, Impartiality, Loyalty, Discreion, Circumspection vs. “the best information are those which have not yet been communicated yet”. There is a tension between the rules and the aim of participation on Twitter. Really a huge contradiction. Interviewees all said the argumentative, very political tweets were the most interesting but at the same time they said that you really can’t do that. Most of what is tweeted is much more institutional communication. Probably rather less than one interviewee’s guestimate of 70% institutional to 30% personal political.

Some validation of hypothesis here. Smoothing of political discourse on Twitter.

Most interviews in their discourses on Twitter, they said it was a good way to reach “citizens” or the “man on the street”. But when we looked at who followed and interacted with them it was predominently media and others from the Brussels e-bubble. So it is not a good tool to reach the “man on the street” but very useful way to reach that “Brussels e-bubble”.

Questions – validation process and control of speech within and outside the organisation suited for Twitter.

Q&A

Q) Something about identity, and the need to have a certain professional character. It seems that in order to be “professional” they have to tweet a news feed, they are locked within a bubble of who they are, what they are representing, do they belong in a medium like Twitter.

A) A good question, I have the same question myself. I don’t have an answer exactly. The discourse they have about Twitter, especially Twitter rather than Facebook as they see Twitter as most useful, but I’m not sure at all. A researcher (geugeugis?) found that there is a competition between civil servants and politicians. And The civil servants are winning but Twitter is subversive to that, a way to produce own communication. But you can see the touch of civil servants in that prevelance of institutional tweets, very administrative form and tone for this. So many accounts though! There was also a debate around actor, around digital rights, strong debates and those did take place in those debates. None of the EU institutions took part in that debate. They said they don’t know how to act, how to participate, how to be part of the conversation and perhaps take sides in a way.

Q) Simon van Houts: covering the EU as a journalist is notoriously limited, “mediated mediation” – are the Twitter channels another part of this?

A) I think so. I have started to look at journalists and their interactions with EU accounts and I think I would agree there.

And after a biscuit we are back!

Uses and risks of microblogging in organisations by Soureh Latif Shabgahi

Soureh is particularly looking at use of social media tools in SMEs, and use of microblogging here. Two of the relevant tools here are Twitter and Yammer. From previous literature a majority of research into microblogging has taken place in larger organisations. Generally uptake has been large organisations who have adopted tools after early uptake and trials by some of their staff.

Yammer is an enterprise-orientated microblogging tool without restriction on number of characters.  (A’lvaro et al 2010; gunther 2009; Giles 2010). The messages shared are private to the organisation and it appears that over 70k organisations are using Yammer. However there is little research on enterprise microblogging, 30 papers starting in 2009. Most papers are in US and Europe. Key authors include Kai Riemer and Dejin Zhao. Riemer focuses on microblogging influence on communications. Dejin has focused more on awareness.

I have categorised themes in usage. The main themes are around coordination; reputation management; forming relationships’ Awareness and sense of connectnedd’; Record information for future reference; sharing knowledge/information; discussion. Personal dimensions also come in here, for instance using Twitter for finding work related updates, I have mapped that to Awareness and a sense of connectedness.  There are also face to face discussions that come out of microblogging discussions. These include areas such as work related stress etc.

In considering these tools I also categorised the risks associated with enterprise microblogging. One risk is the restriction on messages, that limitation to 140 characters; difficulties of using the system; distraction – particularly time cost, the noise to value ratio, ; privacy of employees; Security of the organisation.

Data collection via semi structured interviews with 20 SMEs in South Yorkshire area, most of which were IT based companies. But have also gathered results from SMEs in other areas, e.g. educational companies, sports companies. Based on interviews also observations of some companies – of messages posted by employees during the interviews or at a later date. Also used questionnaires to SMEs and received over 100 responses – some from companies I hadn’t contacted directly but had been passed on to them. All interviewees were asked to complete the questionnaires. Analysis has been carried out on a sample of 4 interviews, as the basis for thematic analysis for broader collection. In one SME case I interviewed two staff members, the first was a manager who had introduced Twitter and Yammer, the second was a manager who was using Twitter for their organisation. And I have pulled out some of the uses and some of the risks involved.  Interviewee 1 said that Yammer allowed sharing at “speed of thought” making it easy to use, saw Twitter very positively, as a way to market and engage with customers. Yammer as internal tool, Twitter as tool for reaching audience. Interviewee 2 liked perpetual connection – 24/7 mobile access – and talked about network effects, use for marketing etc. and possibility of attracting new customers.

In terms of risks Interviewee 1 said there was a risk of upsetting colleagues via Yammer – can type quickly and find an upset colleague. On Twitter you can phrase things badly, that had happened, and there was a reputation impact. Interviewee 2 also talked about the risk of hacking – Yammer includes very confidential discussion so real risk there – and of distraction of Twitter.

Turning to Interviewee 3, specifically about Twitter, found the scale very positive and liked the “follow” concept. For their business that was really important. There was a real value to restricting their message. Short messages allow people to decide quickly if they want information, they don’t have to read a lot. But also identified “accidentally just mentioning something” as a risk.

These first two organisations were very positive in tone. However Interviewee 4 was much more negative about use of Twitter. They saw Twitter as very famous, good for marketing and attention, probably needed for mass communication. However in his eyes it’s mainly a “social media tool” in that it is effective for communicating with friends, not with professional cololeagues. Because some private information had been leaked they were particularly aware of that risk. Spelling mistakes are a real risk. And they felt that most users of social media were younger and perhaps not mature in dealing with these issues.

As this research goes forward I will add further risks and uses to my diagrams. My study will focus on the risks and will look at policies and guidelines and how to handle risks when they arise. So for instance Reputation (e.g. spelling mistakes) and Upset/Offend Others will be added to the risks.

Q) Me: Risks – have legal risks been incorporated? Also were SMEs

A) Risks: looked at risks of microblogging and regular blogging tools. Lots of similarities. Some risks that are specific to blogging and probably vice versa. And probably will use policies and guidelines into those risks. In terms of SMEs: First question I ask is whether they use microblogging or not, sometimes I have to explain what microblogging is. Almost all companies I contact are using Twitter, lots of IT companies use it. Some are still in process of adoption. Still debating internally. Did interview them as well as wanted to capture that process of adoption. If aware of them and considering them I did include those SMEs.

Q) You picked companies with high IT knowledge. How would that map to companies with less IT knowledge perhaps? e.g. Health and social care.

A) My focus is mainly in the area of IT I have interviewed companies working in education, sports, some charities. It will be interesting… 80% are IT so there should be some scope for comparison of them with other companies.

Q) Peter Evans, UoE: Study is about use of microblogging by companies. Did you look at use of microblogging by employees not just by companies – and regardless of company policies, particularly around knowledge sharing.

A) It was difficult to find companies in the first place, I spoke to max 2 people and focused on manager who introduced it plus one other. One of my questions was about whether personal or business account was being used. One of the risks which majority of companies using personal accounts identified was the sharing of business information on personal accounts, felt that spelled trouble for the whole company. Some had specifically introduced policies and guidelines as a result, e.g. do not mention the business at all.

Q) So I hadn’t heard of Yammer before…?

A) It was hard to find Yammer companies because that is private communication but I met some of the Yammer staff and was able to find some companies through them.

Comment) Yammer is used a lot in local government.

More than just passing notes in class? Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice by Tony McNeill, Principal Lecturer in Educational Technology

Tony wants to start by linking his presentation to the main conference themes, on the many diverse and creative ways Twitter is being used… or maybe misused. So I love this Onion headline “Twitter creator on Iran: I Never Intended for Twitter to be useful” which is quite fun, not as funny as some others in the Onion, but it raises a few things. That negative, trivial, vacuus perception of Twitter. The other side is that all technology is really a misuse of technology – to put it to purposes for which it was never intended (e.g. using screwdriver to open a can of paint). Like Howard Bloom saying all reading is misreading, so all technology use is all misuse.

So in an image of a lecture we see a lecturer in the room and two participants in the backchannel. It was a minority force a few years ago. Now it’s commonplace, participation starts weeks or months in advance. Signing up for a conference means the schedule, the people, but also the hashtag. See eg a tweet about conferences sounding like the tic tic tic of typing – maybe out of date in era of smart phones.

Tony’s core question is whether this back channel is new or just a new take on old/existing practice. To answer it we need descriptions of practice and theorisations of practice. So I want to start by thinking of ways to theorise the backchannel. Tony defines this “the digital communications space used for primarily textual interactions alongside live spoken presentations generally delivered in a physical environment”. Sometimes there are images and multimodal elements in the backchannel too.

You can see Nathan Jurgenson’s critique of the term “there will not be separate online and offline conferences happening, [...] Twitter isn’t a backchannel it’s the session at the front.”. My own take is that there are backchannels and that front channels are not automatically physical, they can be digital. Back channels go way back – looking at this painting we see chatter at the back of the room. But there are roles in this room.

So I want to stick with the notion of backchannel. My theoretical frameworks are New Literacy Studies and New Mobilities Paradigm, both of which have their origins in Lancashire. So firstly New Literacy Studies are an approach around reading and writing practices, sees literacy as plural, socially embeded, and about identity and power. And a sub area of this, New Literacies, is whether new digital technologies really lead to new literary practices. Is there a new ethos in Twitter backchannels or does technology just enable what we’ve already done.

Types of backchannel tweets:

  • minute-by-minute/live tweeting
  • note taking/resource sharing – and co construction and collaborative aspects
  • personal commentary
  • dialogue – some dialogue but more monologue than dialogue
  • fun /playfulness.

There are also new conventions in the backchannel, competances to be a participant:

  • use of event specific hashtags
  • @ messages
  • retweets (RTs)
  • invite muting/unfollowing when backchannelling

All of these are implicit knowledge we need to understand.

New Literacy Studies are interested in context and in power. I was at a conference a few years ago on podcasting and there was a hastily improvised hashtag, We had a speaker from Apple and we were interested to hear ideas etc. but we got a real sales pitch. So one comment here “I really *want* to like this talk but it’s not playing to me… ” and others followed suit. We are shown a promotional video and the tweets get more angry and more defensive of being sold to. It was interesting to see that very tense mismatch between audience giggling and speaker presentation. What was going on here? Was it just silliness, boredom, irritation? I think it was something else. Academics were going beyond that academic identity but at the same time reinforcing the importance of the conference space for sharing and discussion, a reaffirmation against the sales pitch.

My second theoretical framework are the New Mobilities Paradigm (Shelly and Urry 2006) which about social life no longer being about physical proximity, being more about moving, technologies enable remote connections. Having intense but meaningful contact at a distance. A book I’ve been reading lately, by Daniel Millar, on parenting and migrant workers from the Phillipines and how that is facilitated by Skype seems to fit with these theoretical frameworks. And Shelly and Urry are against sedentarism.

So, with a new mobilities perspective how might we see the conference. The “sedentarist” conference is about face to face encounter; bounded in time and space’ impermeable (delegates only); backchannels a “distraction”.

Backchannels potentially challenge those ideas in many ways:

  • virtual/phsyical (e.g. I tweeted various links days ago using a tweet scheduler that you should see now)
  • digital/analogue
  • then/now
  • not here/here
  • interloper/delegate

There are all sorts of bizarre things. The digital is present in physical spaces – twitter walls appear in a few conferences. danah boyd had a really Twitter wall fail a few years back when very uncomplimentary tweets weren’t visible and thus weren’t addressable.

Early ethnographic perspective. Miller and Slater (2000) wrote about needing to treat the internet as embedded and continuous in daily lives.

On the backchannel theme…. Starbucks sponsored an ice skating rink at the Natural History Museum. Tweet to their tag: #spreadthecheer and you appeared at the ice rink. Starbucks weren’t stupid, they moderated it when they saw the tweets appearing but not fast enough… a skater had photographed it. The virtual was made physical in the space, photographed and tweeted and shared over 1000 times back in the digital realm.

A tentative conclusion: Backchannels constitute a new literacy practice and structure (plus two sub points

Q&A

Q) A question here… in a previous role I looked at digital scholarship… given the cost and environmental reasons will there always be physical conferences?

A) I think that we are between two ways of doing things. We are doing some video streaming of some of the plenaries. Live bloggers here… we are mid point between physical and online conference. I’ve done some technology conferences where that participation is online and that’s comfortable, there will be more use of that in the future…

Comment) Actually I think the real back channel is in the pub so I don’t agree…

Q) I went to a conference called Gin and Joy Division specifically about that… I wanted to ask about the backchannel and the thing… it’s often very multilayered. Some events I’ve been to have huge numbers of parallel conversations, which sort of gives you more of a sense of response to what is presented. Have you thought about that at all? What does the back channel say in response to the paper? Is it always sniping and jokes?

A) I always enjoy that… If someone is looking at the laptop when I’m talking you may be doing something broadly positive – looking something up, following up interesting themes. For this conference I’m not sure but a colleague who has done more quantitative work found that some conferences with successful and busy hashtags actually it comes down to half a dozen or a dozen people producing most of the tweets. But I see it as generally positive, ranging from banal (wifi, dinner, etc.). I have seen some real dialogue and co production of knowledge going on… a lot of people talking about automatic transcriptions etc… real dialogue… One post at that conference said the participant was struggling but backchannel was keeping them engaged. But it can be snarky too.

Q) Rhianon: I have to admit the description of backchannels being snarky… maybe a British thing… in fan communities especially the back channel can be about informing those beyond the room who cannot be physically present. Not about criticising the speaker but dissemination of information… about an augmented confrerence.

A) The same happens here. But snarkiness comes from US blogs, and IRC backchat really. But still broadly positive.

And it’s back to the main room for our second plenary…

Twitter Q&A with Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) by Nathan Jurgenson and Johnny Unger

This session is taking place in a more novel way. Nathan is joining us via Google+ Hangout on video, and also via Twitter. Johnny is chairing in the room. We have been asked to read Nathan’s work on the IRL fetish and to think about his work on digital dualism. Do we as academic researchers critique these things, are we guilty of these things… ?

Johnny: I will start with a question from my own experience: I often talk with colleagues about students using technology in the lecture room – computes, smartphones, tablets etc. Some find that quite concerning and threatening.

Nathan: That is one of the issues of digital dualism. A lot of the time these issues are confused with access and presence. We are trying to come to terms with that. Digital dualism we often overestimate the role of the online in the offline, and the other side of that, we underestimate the role of the offline in the online. The assumption can be concerns that students are checking out of the room. They may be but they may not. But it’s not about whether to make that compromise or not, it’s not about online or offline, its about how you augment the on and offline with each other. They are different spaces but they are enmeshed. And we should neither under or over estimate that enmeshment. Personally I am terrified of MOOCs, the idea of no face to face contact scares me. I run a conference, Theorising the Web, is certainly enmeshed though, if you weren’t on Twitter you only see half the conference.

Digital dualism is the fallacy of looking at the online and offline as disconnected and unrelated. Facebook is real of course. And the IRL Fetish is about value judgements about those spaces, as seeing people on phones, using technologies etc. as anti social, to see ourselves as more real or authentic because we are offline. When Sheryl Turkle talks about walks on the beach… she wasn’t disconnected, she’s connected but her social space is the NYT op-ed pages, rather than Facebook.

And, with that Nathan is offscreen and turning to questions on Twitter… the room has fallen silent and migrated to #njqa. And I shall move with it but return to liveblogging when Nathan appears onscreen again shortly.

And… after a weird half hour…

Johnny asks how that went? Nathan says we agree too much! He has lots of stuff to read and look at after the questions, I think there was a lot of digital thinking going on there. I am joking there but some long reads, some discussion online. Feedback from the audience is “too loud” which is very much an ironic comment, it’s been super quiet. I’ve commented that we’ve privileged the backchannel to frontchannel… very little backchat in the room. So two lessons, maybe Twitter isn’t the backchannel, maybe you need music… or more person to person chat…. maybe it was too quiet. But we are in a lecture theatre and the physical layout certainly doesn’t encourage chatter. Nathan: architecture affordances is one-to-many structure. Twitter is many-to-many format so disjunction there, conceptually interesting. Comment from the room: quite creative, real creation of content in the room. Johnny: when people are asked to create content they do that rather than chat. Nathan: indeed, may not be best format for conference where networking is so important. But really great experiment, test running this novel way, really interesting.

Our final plenary for the day took place after dinner and was, it must be said, pretty much unbloggable. In:

Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk by Rebekka Kill

We were treated to something between performance art, a great retro DJ set, and a really thoughtful musing on the cultures and practices of social media. I can’t sum it up adequately here and without Kill’s unique DJing persona, but her slides and some of the music can be found in this blog post from her performance at the Shift Happens conference in 2012.

And with that Day One is truly over. Day two sees my own presentation taking place so expect a few gaps in the blogging!