Jul 042017
 

Today I am again at the Mykolo Romerio Universitetas in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the European Conference on Social Media 2017. As usual this is a liveblog so additions, corrections etc. all welcome… 

Keynote presentation: Daiva Lialytė, Integrity PR, Lithuania: Practical point of view: push or pull strategy works on social media 

I attended your presentations yesterday, and you are going so far into detail in social media. I am a practitioner and we can’t go into that same sort of depth because things are changing so fast. I have to confess that a colleague, a few years ago, suggested using social media and I thought “Oh, it’s all just cats” and I wasn’t sure. But it was a big success, we have six people working in this area now. And I’m now addicted to social media. In fact, how many times do you check your phone per day? (various guesses)…

Well, we are checking our smartphones 100-150 times per day. And some people would rather give up sex than smartphones! And we have this constant flood of updates and information – notifications that pop up all over the place… And there are a lot of people, organisations, brands, NGOs, etc. all want our attention on social media.

So, today, I want to introduce three main ideas here as a practitioner and marketer…

#1 Right Mindset

Brands want to control everything, absolutely everything… The colour, the font, the images, etc. But now social media says that you have to share your brand in other spaces, to lose some control. And I want to draw on Paul Holmes, a PR expert (see www.holmesreport.com) and he says when he fell in love with social media, there were four key aspects:

  • Brands (in)dependency
  • Possibilities of (non)control
  • Dialogue vs monologue
  • Dynamic 24×7

And I am going to give some examples here. So Gap, the US fashion brand, they looked at updating their brand. They spent a great deal of money to do this – not just the logo but all the paperwork, branded items, etc. They launched it, it went to the media… And it was a disaster. The Gap thought for a few days. They said “Thank you brand lover, we appreciate that you love our brand and we are going to stick with the old one”. And this raises the question of to whom a brand belongs… Shareholders or customers? Perhaps now we must think about customers as owning the brand.

Yesterday I saw a presentation from Syracuse on University traditions – and some of the restrictions of maintaining brand – but in social media that isn’t always possible. So, another example… Lagerhaus (like a smaller scale Ikea). They were launching a new online store, and wanted to build community (see videos) so targeted interior six design blogs and created “pop up online stores” – bloggers could select products from the store’s selection, and promote them as they like. That gained media attention, gained Facebook likes for the store’s Facebook page. And there was then an online store launch, with invitees approached by bloggers, and their pop up stores continue. So this is a great example of giving control to others, and building authentic interest in your brand.

In terms of dialogue vs monologue I’d quote from Michael Dell here, on the importance of engaging in honest, direct conversations with customers and stakeholders. This is all great… But the reality is that many who talk about this, many are never ever doing this… Indeed some just shut down spaces when they can’t engage properly. However, Dell has set up a social media listening and command centre. 22k+posts are monitored daily, engaging 1000+ customers per week. This was tightly integrated with @dellcares Twitter/Facebook team. And they have managed to convert “ranters” to “ravers” in 30% of cases. And a decrease of negative commentary since engagement in this space. Posts need quick responses as a few minutes, or hours, are great, longer and it becomes less and less useful…

Similarly we’ve seen scandinavian countries and banks engaging, even when they have been afraid of negative comments. And this is part of the thing about being part of social media – the ability to engage in dialogue, to be part of and react to the conversations.

Social media is really dynamic, 24×7. You have to move fast to take advantage. So, Lidl… They heard about a scandal in Lithuania about the army paying a fortune for spoons – some were €40 each. So Lidl ran a promotion for being able to get everything, including spoons there cheaper. It was funny, clever, creative and worked well.

Similarly Starbucks vowing to hire 10,000 refugees in the US (and now in EU) following Trump’s travel ban, that was also being dynamic, responding quickly.

#2 Bold Actions

When we first started doing social media… we faced challenges… Because the future is uncertain… So I want to talk about several social media apps here…

Google+ launched claiming to be bigger than Facebook, to do it all better. Meanwhile WhatsApp… Did great… But disappearing as a brand, at least in Lithuania. SnapChat has posts disappearing quickly… Young people love it. The owner has said that it won’t be sold to Facebook. Meanwhile Facebook is trying desperately to copy functionality. We have clients using SnapChat, fun but challenging to do well… Instagram has been a big success story… And it is starting to be bigger than Facebook in some demographics.

A little history here… If you look at a world map of social networks from December 2009, we see quite a lot of countries having their own social networks which are much more popular. By 2013, it’s much more Facebook, but there are still some national social media networks in Lithuania or Latvia. And then by 2017 we see in Africa uptake of Twitter and Instagram. Still a lot of Facebook. My point here is that things move really quickly. For instance young people love SnapChat, so we professionally need to be there too. You can learn new spaces quickly… But it doesn’t matter as you don’t have to retain that for long, everything changes fast. For instance in the US I have read that Facebook is banning posts by celebrities where they promote items… That is good, that means they are not sharing other content…

I want to go in depth on Facebook and Twitter. Of course the most eminent social media platform is Facebook. They are too big to be ignored. 2 billion monthly active Facebook users (June 2017). 1.28 billion people log onto Facebook daily. 83 million fake profiles. Age 25 to 34 at 29.7% of users are biggest age group. For many people they check Facebook first in the morning when they wake up. And 42% of marketers report that Facebook is very important to their business. And we now have brands approaching us to set up Facebook presence no matter what their area of work.

What Facebook does well is most precise targeting – the more precise the more you pay, but that’s ok. So that’s based on geolocation, demographic characteristic, social status, interests, even real time location. That works well but remember that there are 83 million fake profiles too.

So that’s push, what about pull? Well there are the posts, clicks, etc. And there is Canvas – which works for mobile users, story driven ads (mini landing), creative story, generate better results and click through rates. (we are watching a Nespresso mobile canvas demo). Another key tool is Livestream – free of charge, notifications for your followers, and it’s live discussion. But you need to be well prepared and tell a compelling story to make proper use of this. But you can do it from anywhere in the world. For instance one time I saw livestream of farewell of Barack Obama – that only had 15k viewers though so it’s free but you have to work to get engagement.

No matter which tool, “content is the king!” (Bill Gates, 1996). Clients want us to create good stories here but it is hard to do… So what makes the difference? The Content Marketing Institute (US), 2015 suggest:

  1. Content
  2. Photos
  3. Newsletters
  4. Video
  5. Article
  6. Blogs
  7. Events
  8. Infographics
  9. Mobile applications
  10. Conferences and Livestreams

So, I will give some examples here… I’ll show you the recent winner of Cannes Lions 2017 for social media and digital category. This is “Project Graham” – a public driver safety campaign about how humans are not designed to survive a crash… Here is how we’d look if we were – this was promoted heavily in social media.

Help for push from Facebook – well the algorithms prioritise content that does well. And auctions to reach your audience mean that it is cheaper to run good content that really works for your audience.

And LinkedIn meanwhile is having a renaissance. It was quite dull, but they changed their interface significantly a few months back, and now we see influencers (in Lithunia) now using LinkedIn, sharing content there. For instance lawyers have adopted the space. Some were predicting LinkedIn would die, but I am not so sure… It is the biggest professional social network – 467 million users in 200 countries. And it is the biggest network of professionals – a third have LinkedIn profile. Users spend 17 minutes per dat, 40% use it every day, 28% of all internet users use LinkedIn. And it is really functioning as a public CV, recruitment, and for ambassadorship – you can share richer information here.

I wanted to give a recent example – it is not a sexy looking case study – but it worked very well. This was work with Ruptela, a high tech company that provides fleet management based on GPS tracking and real-time vehicle monitoring and control. They needed to hire rapidly 15 new sales representatives via social media. That’s a challenge as young people, especially in the IT sector – are leaving Lithuania or working in Lithuania-based expertise centres for UK, Danish, etc. brands.

So we ran a campaign, on a tiny budget (incomparable with headhunters for instance), around “get a job in 2 days” and successfully recruited 20 sales representatives. LinkedIn marketing is expensive, but very targeted and much cheaper than you’d otherwise pay.

#3 Right Skills

In terms of the skills for these spaces:

  • copywriter (for good storytelling)
  • visualist (graphics, photo, video)
  • community manager (to maintain appropriate contact) – the skills for that cannot be underestimated.
  • And… Something that I missed… 

You have to be like a one man band – good at everything. But then we have young people coming in with lots of those skills, and can develop them further…

So, I wanted to end on a nice story/campaign… An add for Budweiser for not drinking and driving

Q&A

Q1) Authenticity is the big thing right now… But do you think all that “authentic” advertising content may get old and less effective over time?

A1) People want to hear from their friends, from people like them, in their own words. Big brands want that authenticity… But they also want total control which doesn’t fit with that. The reality is probably that something between those two levels is what we need but that change will only happen as it becomes clear to big brands that their controlled content isn’t working anymore.

Q2) With that social media map… What age group was that? I didn’t see SnapChat there.

A2) I’m not sure, it was a map of dominant social media spaces…

Q3) I wanted to talk about the hierarchy of content… Written posts, visual content etc… What seemed to do best was sponsored video content that was subtitled.

A3) Facebook itself, they prioritise video content – it is cheaper to use this in your marketing. If you do video yes, you have to have subtitles so that you can see rather than listen to the videos… And with videos, especially “authentic video” that will be heavily prioritised by Facebook. So we are doing a lot of video work.

Introduction to ECSM 2018 Niall Corcoran, Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland

I wanted to start by thanking our hosts this year, Vilnius has been excellent this year. Next year we’ll a bit earlier in the year – late June – and we’ll be at the Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland. We have campuses around the region with 7000 students and 650 staff, teaching from levels 6 to 10. The nearest airport is Shannon, or easy distance from Cork or Dublin airports.

In terms of social media we do research on Social MEdia Interactive Learning Environment, Limerick Interactive Storytelling Network, Social Media for teaching and research, Social Media for cancer recovery.

In terms of Limerick itself, 80-90% of the Europe’s contact lenses are manufactured there! There is a lot of manufacturing in Limerick, with many companies having their European headquarters there. So, I’ve got a short video made by one of our students to give you a sense of the town. And we hope to see you there next year!

Social Media Competition Update

The top three placed entries are: Developing Social Paleantology – Lisa Lundgren; EDINA Digital Footprint Consulting and Training Service – Nicola Osborne (yay!); Traditions Mobile App – Adam Peruta.

Stream A: Mini track on Ethical use of social media data – Chair: Dragana Calic

The Benefits and Complications of Facebook Memorials – White Michelle, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA

I wanted to look at who people imagine are their audience for these memorials. And this happened because after the death made me look at this, and I decided to look into this in more depth.

So, I’m using danah boyd’s definition of social networking here. We are talking Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat etc. So, a Facebook Memorial is a group that is created specifically to mark the death of a friend or family members – or for public figures (e.g. Michael Jackson).

Robert Zebruck and Brubecker talk about imagined audience as the flattening of realities. So, right now I can see people in the room, I can see who you are, how you react, how to modify my tone or style to meet you, to respond to you. But it is hard to do that on social media. We see context collapse. And we can be sat there alone at our computer and not have that sense of being public. Sometimes with memorials we will say things for that audience, but in other cases perhaps it is sharing memories of drinking together, or smoking weed with something… Memories that may jar with others.

It was a long road to get to this research. My review board were concerned about emotional distress of interviewees. I agreed in the end to interview via Skype or Facebook and to check everything was ok after every question, to make it easier to see and review their state of mind. I had to wait over a year to interview people, the death had to not be by suicide, and the participants had to be over 18 years old. So I did conduct qualitative research over Skype and Facebook… And I found interviewees by looking at memorial pages that are out there – there are loads there, not all labelled as memorials.

So, my data… I began by asking who people thought they were talking to… Many hadn’t thought about it. They talked about family members, friends… Even in a very controlled group you can have trolls and haters who can get in… But often people assumed that other people were like them. A lot of people would write to the deceased – as if visiting a grave, say. I asked if they thought the person could hear or understand.. But they hadn’t really thought about it, it felt like the right thing to do… And they wanted family and friends to hear from them. They felt likes, shares, etc. were validating and therapeutic, and that sense of connection was therapeutic. Some even made friends through going out drinking, or family gatherings… with friends of friends who they hadn’t met before…

This inability to really think or understand the imagine audience, that led to context collapse. Usually family is in charge of these pages… And that can be challenging… For instance an up and coming football star died suddenly, and then it was evident that it was the result of a drug overdose… And that was distressing for the family who tried to remove that content. There is an idea of alternative narratives. Fake news or alternative facts has a particular meaning right now… But we are all used to presenting ourselves in a particular way to different friends, etc. In one memorial site the deceased had owed money to a friend, and they still felt owed that money and were posting about that – like a fight at the funeral… It’s very hard to monitor ourselves and other people…

And there was fighting about who owned the person… Some claiming that someone was their best friend, fights over who was more important or who was more influenced. It happens in real life… But not quite as visibly or with all involved…

So, in conclusion… There are  a lot of benefits for Facebook Memorials. Pyschologists talk of the benefit of connecting, grieving, not feeling alone, to get support. Death happens. We are usually sad when it happens… Social networking sites provide another way to engage and connect. So if I’m in Lithuania and there is a funeral in Hawaii that I can’t travel to, I can still connect. It is changing our social norms, and how we connect. But we can do more to make it work better – safety and security needs improving. Facebook have now added the ability to will your page to someone. And now if someone dies you can notify Twitter – it changes it slightly, birthday reminders no longer pop up, it acts as a memorial. There are new affordances.

Personally, doing this research was very sad, and it’s not an area I want to continue looking at. It was emotionally distressing for me to do this work.

Q&A

Q1) I am old enough to remember LiveJournal and remember memorials there. They used to turn a page into a memorial, then were deleted… Do you think Facebook should sunset these memorials?

A1) I personally spoke to people who would stare at the page for a month, expecting posts… Maybe you go to a funeral, you mourn, you are sad… But that page sticking around feels like it extends that… But I bet Mark Zuckerberg has some money making plan for keeping those profiles there!

Q2) What is the motivation for such public sharing in this way?

A2) I think young people want to put it out there, to share their pain, to have it validated – “feel my pain with me”. One lady I spoke to, her boyfriend was killed in a mass shooting… Eventually she couldn’t look at it, it was all debate about gun control and she didn’t want to engage with that any more…

Q3) Why no suicides? I struggle to see why they are automatically more distressing than other upsetting deaths…

A3) I don’t know… But my review board thought it would be more distressing for people…

Q4) How do private memorials differ from celebrity memorials?

A4) I deliberately avoided celebrities, but also my IRB didn’t want me to look at any groups without permission from every member of that group…

Comment) I’ve done work with public Facebook groups, my IRB was fine with that.

A4) I think it was just this group really… But there was concern about publicly identifiable information.

Online Privacy: Present Need or Relic From the Past? – Aguirre-Jaramillo Lina Maria, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia

In the influential essay, The Right to Privacy, in the Harvard Law Review (1890) – Warren and Brandeis, privacy was defined as “Privacy – the right to be let alone”. But in the last ten years or so we now see sharing of information that not long ago would have been seen and expected to be private. Earl Warren is a famous US judge and he said “The fantastic advances in the field of electronic communication constitute a greater danger to the privacy of the individual.”

We see privacy particularly threatened by systematic data collection. Mark Zuckerberg (1999) claims “Privacy is no longer a social norm”. This has been used as evidence of disregard toward users rights and data. The manner in which data is stored, changed and used and the associated threats. But we also see counter arguments such as the American Library Association’s Privacy Revolution campaign.

So, this is the context for this work in Columbia. It is important to understand literature in this area, particularly around data use, data combinations, and the connection between privacy concerns and behaviours online (Joinsen et al 2008). And we also refer to the work of Sheenan (2002) in the characterisations of online users. Particularly we are interested in new privacy concerns and platforms, particularly Facebook. The impact of culture on online privacy has been studied by Cho, Rivera Sanchez and Lim (2009).

The State of the Internet from OxII found that Columbia had between 40 and 60% of people online. Internet uptake is, however, lower than in e.g. the US. And in Columbia our population is 46% 25-54 years old.

So, my study is currently online. A wider group is also engaging in personal and group interviews. Our analysis will focus on what background knowledge, risk and privacy awareness there is amongst participants. Wat self-efficacy level is regealed by participants – their knowledge and habits. And what interest and willingness is there to acquire more knowledge and gain more skills to manage privacy. At a later stage we will be building a prototype tool.

Our conclusions so far… Privacy is hard to define and we need to do more to define it. Privacy is not a concept articulated in one only universally accepted definition. Different groups trade off privacy differently. Relevant concepts here include background knowledge, computer literacy, privacy risk, self efficacy.

And finally… Privacy is still important but often ignored as important in the wider culture. Privacy is not a relic but a changing necessity…

Q&A

Q1) Did age play a role in privacy? Do young people care as much as older people?

A1) They seem to care when they hear stories of peers being bullied, or harassed, or hear stories of hacking Instagram accounts. But their idea of privacy is different. But there is information that they do not want to have public or stolen. So we are looking more at that, and also a need to understand how they want to engage in privacy. As my colleague Nicola Osborne form Edinburgh said in her presentation yesterday, we have to remember students already come in with a long internet/social media history and presence.

Q2) I was wondering about cultural aspect… Apps used and whether privacy is important… For instance SnapChat is very exhibitionist but also ephemeral…

A2) I don’t have full answers yet but… Young people share on SnapChat and Instagram to build popularity with peers… But almost none of them are interested in Twitter… At least that’s the case in Columbia. But they do know some content on Facebook may be more vulnerable that SnapChat and Instagram… It may be that they have the idea of SnapChat as a space they can control perhaps…

Q3) I often feel more liberal with what I share on Facebook, than students who are 10 or 15 years younger… I would have some privacy settings but don’t think about the long story of that… From my experience students are a lot more savvy in that way… When they first come in, they are very aware of that… Don’t want a bigger footprint there…

A3) That is not exactly true in Columbia. The idea of Digital Footprint affecting their career is not a thing in the same way… Just becoming aware of it… But that idea of exhibitionism… I have found that most of the students in Columbia seem quite happy to share lots of selfies and images of their feet… That became a trend in other countries about three years ago… They don’t want to write much… Just to say “I’m here”… And there has been some interesting research in terms of the selfie generation and ideas of expressing yourself and showing yourself… May be partly to do with other issues… In Columbia many young women have plastic surgery – came out of the 1980s and 1990s… Many women, young women, have cosmetic surgery and want to share that… More on Instagram than Pinterest – Pinterest is for flowers and little girlie things…

Q4) You were talking about gender, how do privacy attitudes differ between males and females?

A4) The literature review suggests women tend to be more careful about what they publish online… They may be more careful selecting networks and where they share content… More willing to double check settings, and to delete content they might have difficulty explaining… Also more willing to discuss issues of privacy… Things may change over time… Suggestion that people will get to an age where they do care more… But we also need to see how the generation that have all of their images online, even from being a baby, will think about this… But generally seems to be slightly more concern or awareness from women…

Comment) I wanted to just follow up the Facebook comment and say that I think it may not be age but experience of prior use that may shape different habits there… Students typically arrive at our university with hundreds of friends having used Facebook since school, and so they see that page as a very public space – in our research some students commented specifically on that and their changing use and filtering back of Facebook contacts… For a lot of academics and mid career professionals Facebook is quite a private social space, Twitter plays more that public role. But it’s not age per se perhaps, it’s that baggage and experience.

Constructing Malleable Truth: Memes from the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign – Wiggins Bradley, Webster University, Vienna, Austria, Austria

Now, when I wrote this… Trump was “a candidate”. Then he was nominee. Then president elect… And now President. And that’s been… surprising… So that’s the context.

I look at various aspects in my research, including internet memes. So, in the 2008 Obama’s campaign was great at using social media, at getting people out there and sharing and campaigning for them on a voluntary and enthusiastic basis. 2016 was the meme election I think. Now people researching Memes feel they must refer to Richard Dawkins talking about memes. He meant ideas… That’s not the same as internet memes… So what are the differences betwen Dawkins’ memes and Internet memes? Well honestly they are totally different EXCEPT that they require attention, and have to be reproducable….

Mikhail Bakhtin wrote about the Carnivalesque as something that subverts the dominant mode or perspective, it turns the world on its head… The king becomes the jester and the jester becomes the king. So the Trump tie memes… We need no text here, the absurd is made more absurd. It is very critical. It has that circus level laugh… He’s a clown or a buffoon… You know about it and how to reproduce this.

In terms of literature.. There is work on memes but I think when understanding memes with millennials, but also baby boomers, even people in their 70’s and 80s… We have to go back to major theorists, concepts and perspectives – Henry Jenkins, Erving Goffman, etc. This is a new mode of communication I think, not a new language, but a new mode.

So method wise… I wanted to do a rhetorical-critical analysis of selected internet memes from the facebook page Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash, which had over 420k members when I wrote this slide – more now. It was founded by a college student in October 2015. And there are hundreds of thousands of memes there. People create and curate them.

Two months before nad one month after the US Election I did two sets of samples… Memes that received 1000 or more likes/retweets. And memes that received at least 500 or more likes/reactions and at least 100 shares. As an unexpected side note I found that I needed to define “media narrative”. There doesn’t seem to be a good definition. I spoke to Brooke Gladstone of WYNC, I spoke with colleagues in Vienna… We don’t usually take time to think about media narrative… For instance the shooting at Pulse Nightclub has a narrative on the right around gun control, for others its around it being a sad and horrible event…

So, media narrative I am defining as:

  1. Malleable depending upon the ability to ask critical questions
  2.  Able to shape opinion as well as perceptions of reality and a person’s decision-making process and…
  3.  Linguistic and image-based simulations of real-world events which adhere and/or appeal to ontologically specific perspectives, which may include any intentional use of stereotyping, ideology, allegory, etc.

Some findings… The relational roles between image and text are interchangable because of the relationship to popular culture. Barthes (1977) takls about the text loading the image burdening it with culture, a moral, an imagination. And therefore the text in internet memes fluctuates depending n the intended message and the dependence on popular culture.

So, for instance we have an image from Nightmare at 20,000 ft, a classic Twilight Zone image… You need to know nothing here and if I replace a monster face with Donald Trump’s face… It’s instantly accessible and funny. But you can put any image there depending on the directionality of the intended meaning. So you have the idea of the mytheme or function of the monster/devil/etc. can be replaced by any other monster… It doesn’t matter, the reaction will depend on your audience.

Back to Barthes (1977) again, I find him incredibly salient to the work I’ve done here. One thing emerging from this and Russian memes work done before, is the idea of Polysemic directionality. It has one direction and intentionality.. No matter what version of this image you use…

So, here’s a quick clip of the Silence of the Lambs. And here Buffallo Bill, who kills women and skins them… A very scary character… We have him in a meme being a disturbing advisor in memes. If you get that reference it has more weight, but you don’t need to know the reference.

We have the image of Hillary as Two Face, we have Donald as The Joker… And a poster saying “Choose”. The vitriol directed at Clinton was far worse than that at Trump… Perhaps because Sanders supporters were disappointed at not getting the nomination.

We have intertextuality, we also have inter-memetic references… For example the Hilary deletes electoral colleges meme which plays on Grandma on the internet memes… YOu also have the Superman vs Trump – particularly relevant to immigrant populations (Jenkins 2010).

So, conclusions… The construction of a meme is affected and dependent on the media around it… That is crucial… We have heard about fake news, and we see memes in support of that fake news… And you may see that on all sides here. Intertextual references rely on popular culture and inter memetic references which assumes knowledge, a new form of communication. And I would argue that memes are a digital myth – I think Levi Strauss might agree with me on that…

And to close, for your viewing pleasure, the Trump Executive Order meme… The idea of a meme, an idea that can be infinitely replaced with anything really…

Q&A

Q1) This new sphere of memes… Do you think that Trump represents a new era of presidency… Do you think that this will pass? With Trump posting to his own Twitter account…

A1) I think that it will get more intense… And offline too… We see stickers in Austrian elections around meme like images… These are tools for millennials. They are hugely popular in Turkey… There are governments in Turkey, Iran and China are using memes as propaganda against other parties… I’m not sure it’s new but we are certainly more aware of it… Trump is a reality TV star with the nucleaur keys… That should scare us… But memes won’t go away…

Q2) In terms of memes in real life… What about bumper stickers… ? They were huge before… They are kind of IRL memes…

A2) I am working on a book at the moment… And one of the chapters is on pre-digital memes. WWII used to write “Kilroy was here”. Is Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe a meme? There is definitely a legacy of that… So yes, but depends on national regional context…

Q3) So… In Egypt we saw memes about Trump… We were surprised at the election outcome… What happened?

A3) Firstly, there is that bias that reinforcing narrative… If you looked at the Sanders meme page you might have had that idea that Clinton would not win because, for whatever reason, these people hated Hillary. Real rage and hatred towards her… And Trump as clown hitler… Won’t happen… Then it did… Then rage against him went up… After the Muslim ban, the women’s march etc…

Q4) There are some memes that seem to be everywhere – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sean Bean, etc… Why are we picking those specific particular memes of all things?

A4) Like the Picard WTF meme… Know Your Meme.com is a great resource… In the scene that Picard image is from he’s reciting Shakespeare to get Louixana Troy away from the aliens… It doesn’t matter… But it just fits, it has a meaning

Q5) Gender and memes: I wondered about the aspect of gender in memes, particularly thinking about Clinton – many of those reminded me of the Mary Beard memes and trolling… There are trolling memes – the frog for Trump… the semi-pornographic memes against women… Is there more to that than just (with all her baggage) Clinton herself?

A5) Lisa Silfestry from Gonzaga, Washington State and Lemour Shipman in Tel Aviv do work in that area. Shipman looks at Online Jokes of all types and has done some work on gender.

Q6) Who makes memes? Why?

A6) I taught a course on internet memes and cultures. That was one of the best attended courses ever. My students concluded that the author didn’t matter… But look at 4Chan and Reddit or Know Your Meme… And you can tell who created it… But does that matter… It’s almost a public good. Who cares who created the Trump tie meme. With the United Airline you can see that video, it turned into a meme… and it had lost millions in stock.

Stream B: Mini track on Enterprise Social Media – Chair: Paul Alpar

The Role of Social Media in Crowdfunding – Makina Daniel, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

My work seeks to find the connection between social media and finance, specifically crowd funding. And the paper introduces the phenomena of crowdfunding, and how the theory of social networking underpins social media. The theory around social media is still developing… Underpinned by theory of information systems and technology adoption, with different characteristics from what happens in social media.

So, a definition of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is essentially an aspect of crowdsourcing, spurred by ubiquitous web 2.0 technologies. And “Crowdfunding refers to the efforts of entrepreneurial individuals and groups – cultural, social and for-profit – to fund their ventures by drawing on relatively small contributions from a relatively large number of individuals using the internet, without standard financial intermediaries” (Mollick 2014).

Since 2010 there have been growing amounts of money raised globally through crowdfunding. Fobes estimates $34 billion in 2015 (compared to $16 billion in 2014, and $880 million in 2010). The World Bank estimates that crowdfunding will raise $93 billion annually by 2025. This growth couldn’t be achieved in the absence of internet technology, and social media are critical in promoting this form of alternative finance.

Cheung and Lee (2010) examined social influence processes in determining collective social action in the context of online social networks. Their model shows intentional soial action, with users considering themselves part of the social fabric. And they explain three processes of social influence: subjective norm – self outside of any group; group norm – self awareness as a member of a group; and social identity – self in context. Other authors explain social media popularity because of a lack of trust in traditional media, with people wary of information that emanates from people they do not know personally. Kaplin and Haenlein (2010) define social media as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 applications that allow the creation and exchange of user generated content” So it is a form of online interaction that enables people to create, comment, share and exchange content with other people.

So, how does social media facilitate finance, or crowd sourcing? Since social media assists in maintaining social ties, this should in turn aid facilitation of crowdfunding campaigns. Draw on Linus’s Law “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. Large groups are more adept at detecting potential flaws in a campaign than individuals (alone). Thus providing fraudulent campaigns from raising money for crowdfunding projects. Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide spaces for sharing and connection are therefore suitable for crowdfunding campaigns. Studies have shown that 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan of the products Facebook page (Knudsen 2015).

Brossman (2015) views crowdfunding as existing in two phases (i) brand awareness and (ii) targeting people to support/back one’s campaign. And crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarted and IndieGoGo allow project creators to publish pertinent information and updates, as well as to link to social media. Those connections are present and that also helps deal with a relative lack of social networking functionality within the platform itself, where they are able to create project descriptions, they have a community of users and utilise web 2.0 technologies that allow users to comment on projects and attract money.

A study by Moisseyez (2013) on 100 Kickstarter projects found that connection between social media approval and success in funding. Mollick (2014) observed that crowdfunding success is associated with having a large number of friends in online social networks: a founder with ten Facebook friends would have a 9% chance of succeeding; one with 100 friends would have a 20% chance of success; one with 1000 friends would have a 40% chance of success. He cited a film industry example where more friends mapped to a much higher potential success rates.

So, in conclusion, we don’t have many studies on this are yet. But social media is observed to aid crowdfunding campaigns through its ability to network disparate people through the internet. One notable feature is that although there are main forms of social media, crowdfunding utilizes a limited number of spaces, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore future research should examine how the expertise of the creator (requestor of funds) and project type, social network, and online presence influence motivations.

Q&A

Q1) I was wondering if you see any connection between the types of people who back crowdfunding campaigns, and why particular patterns of social media use, or popularity are being found. For instance anecdotally the people who back lots of crowdfunding campaigns – not just one off – tend to be young men in their 30s and 40s. So I was wondering about that profile of backers and what that looks like… And if that profile of backer is part of what makes those social media approaches work.

A1) The majority of people using social media are young people… But young people as sources of finance for, say, small businesses… They are mainly likely to be either studying or starting professional career… But not accumulating money to give it out… So we see a disconnect… Between who is on social media… On Twitter, Facebook, etc. to raise finance… You successful in raising funding from people who cannot raise much… So one would expect people in mid career were using most social media, would expect more money coming from crowdfunding… One aspect of crowdfunding… We are looking at resources… You asking for small amounts… Then young people are able to spare that much…

Q2) So most people giving funding on crowdfunding sites are young people, and they give small amounts…

A2) Yes… And that data from Mollick… combined with evidence of people who are using Facebook…

Q2) What about other specialised crowdfunding networks… ?

A2) There is more work to be done. But even small crowdfunding networks will connect to supporters through social media…

Q3) Have you looked at the relative offerings of the crowdfunding campaigns?

A3) Yes, technology products are more successful on these platforms than other projects…

Using Enterprise Social Networks to Support Staff Knowledge Sharing in Higher Education – Corcoran Niall, Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland and Aidan Duane, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland

This work is rooted in knowledge management, this is the basis for the whole study. So I wanted to start with a Ikujio Nonaka “in an econoy where the only certainty is uncertainty… ” And Lew Platt, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said “If HP knew what HP knows it would be three times more productive” – highlighting the crucial role of knowledge sharing.

Organisations can gain competitive advantage through encouraging and promoting knowledge sharing – that’s the theory at least. It’s very important in knowledge-intensive organisations, such as public HEIs. HEIs need to compete in a global market place… We need to share knowledge… Do we do this?

And I want to think about this in the context of social media. We know that social media enable creation, sharing or exchange of information, ideas and media in virtual communities and networks. And organisational applications are close to some of the ideals of knowledge management: supporting group interaction towards establishing communities; enable creation and sharing of content; can help improve collaboration and communication with organisations; distinct technological features that are ideally suited for knowledge sharing; fundamental disruption in knowledge management; and social media is reinvigorating knowledge management as a field.

We do see Enterprise Social Networks (ESN). If you just bring one into an organisation, people don’t necessarily just go and use it. People need a reason to share. So another aspect is communities of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991), this is an important knowledge management strategy, increasingly used. This is about groups pf people who share a passion for something – loose and informal social structures, largely voluntary, and about sharing tacit knowledge. So Communities of Practice (CoP) tend to meet from time to time – in person or virtually.

ESN can be used to create virtual communities. This is particularly suitable for distributed communities – our university has multiple campuses for instance.

So, knowledge sharing in HEIs… Well many don’t do it. A number of studies have shown that KM implementation and knowledge sharing in HEIs is at a low level. Why? Organisational culture, organisational structures, beurocractic characteristics. And there is well documented divide/mistrust between faculty and support staff (silos) – particularly work from Australia, US and UK. So, can CoP and ESN help? Well in theory they can bypass structures that can reinforce silos. That’s an ideal picture, whether we get there is a different thing.

So our research looked at what the antecedents for staff knowledge sharing are; what the dominant problems in the implementation of ESN and CoP. The contextual setting here is Limerick Institute of Technology. I used to work in IT services and this work came significantly from this interest. There is a significant practical aspect to the research so action research seemed like the most appropriate approach.

So we had a three cycle action research project. We looked at Yammer. It has all the features of social networking you’d expect – can engage in conversations, tagged, shared, can upload content. It lends itself well to setting up virtual communities, very flexible and powerful tools for virtual communities. We started from scratch and grew to 209 users.

Some key findings… We found culture and structure are major barriers to staff knowledge sharing. We theorised that and found it to be absolutely the case. The faculty staff divide in HEI exacerbates the problem. Management have an important role to play in shaping a knowledge sharing environment. The existence of CoP are essential to build a successful knowledge sharing environment, and community leaders and champions are require for the ESN. Motivation to participate is also crucial. If they feel motivated, and they see benefit, that can be very helpful. And those benefits can potentially lead to culture change, which then effects motivation…

We found that our organisation has a strong hierarchical model. Very beaurocratic and rigid. Geographic dispersal doesn’t help. To fix this we need to move from a transactional culture. The current organisational structure contributes to the faculty staff divide, limits opportunities and motivations for staff and faculty to work together. But we also found examples where they were working well together. And in terms of the role of management, they have significant importance, and have to be involved to make this work.

Virtual communities are a Knowledge Management strategy has the potential to improve collaboration and interaction between staff, and it has to be seen as valued, relevant, a valid work activity. Staff motivation wise there are some highly motivated people, but not all. Management have to understand that.

So management need to understand the organisational culture; recognise the existence of structural and cultural problems; etc. Some of the challenges here are the public sector hierarchical structures – public accountability, media scrutiny, transitional culture etc.

Q&A

Q1) On a technical level, which tools are most promising for tacit knowledge sharing…

A1) The whole ability to have a conversation. Email doesn’t work for that, you can’t branch threads… That is a distinctive feature of Yammer groups, to also like/view/be onlookers in a conversation. We encourage people to like something if they read it, to see that it is useful. But the ability to have a proper conversation, and organised meetings and conversations in real time.

Q2) What kind of things are they sharing?

A2) We’ve seen some communities that are large, they have a real sense of collaboration. We’re had research coming out of that, some really positive outcomes.

Q3) Have you seen any evidence of use in different countries… What are barriers across different regions, if known?

A3) I think the barriers are similar to the conceptual model (in the proceedings) – both personal and organisational barriers… People are afraid largely to share stuff… They are nervous of being judged… Also that engagement on this platform might make managers thing that they are not working. Age is a limiting factor – economic issues mean we haven’t recruited new staff for almost 10 years, so we are older as a staff group.

Q3) Might be interested to compare to different cultures, with asian culture more closed I think…

A3) Yes, that would be really interesting to do…

Q4) I am trying to think how and what I might share with my colleagues in professional services, technical staff, etc.

A4) The way this is constructed is in communities… We have staff interested in using Office 365 and Classroom Notebook, and so we set up a group to discuss that. We have champions who lead that group and guide it. So what is posted there would be quite specific… But in Yammer you can also share to all… But we monitor and also train our users in how and where to post… You can sign up for groups or create new groups… And it is moderated. But not limited to specifically work related groups – sports and social groups are there too. And that helps grow the user base and helps people see benefits.

Q5) Have you looked at Slack at all? Or done any comparison there?

A5) We chose Yammer because of price… We have it in O365, very practical reason for that… We have looked at Slack but no direct comparison.

Finalists in the Social Media in Practice Excellence Competition present their Case Histories

EDINA Digital Footprint Consulting and Training Service – Nicola Osborne

No notes for this one…

Developing Social Paleantology – Lisa Lundgren;

This is work with a software development company, funded by the National Science Foundation. And this was a project to develop a community of practice around paleontology… People often think “dinosaur” but actually it’s about a much wider set of research and studies of fossils. For our fossil project to meet it’s goal, to develop and support that community, we needed to use social media. So we have a My Fossil community, which is closed to the community, but also a Facebook group and Twitter presence. We wanted to use social media in an educative way to engage the community with our work.

We began with design studies which looked at what basic elements to contribute to engage with social media, and how to engage. We were able to assess practical contributions and build an educatie and evidence-based social media plan. So we wanted to create daily posts using social paleantology, e.g. #TrilobiteTuesday; design branded image-focused posts that are practice-specific, meet design principles, often huperlinks to vetted paleontological websites; respond to members in ways that encourage chains of communication. There is a theoretical contribution here as well. And we think there are further opportunities to engage more with social paleontology and we are keen for feedback and further discussion. So, I’m here to chat!

 

Traditions Mobile App – Adam Peruta.

When new university students come to campus they have lots of concerns like what is this place, where do I fit in, how can I make new friends. That is particularly the case at small universities who want to ensure students feel part of the community, and want to stay around. his is where the Traditions Challenge app comes in – it provides challenges and activities to engage new students in university traditions and features. This was trialled at Ithaca University. So, for instance we encourage students to head along to go along to events, meet other new students, etc. We encourage students to meet their academic advisors outside of the classroom. To explore notable campus features. And to explore the local community more – like the farmers market. So we have a social feed – you can like, comment, there is an event calendar, a history of the school, etc. And the whole process is gamified, you gain points through challenges, you can go on the leaderboard so there are incentives to gain status… And there are prizes too.

Looking at the results this year… We had about 200 students who collectively completed over 1400 challenges, the person who completed the most (and won a shirt) completed 53 challenges. There are about 100 challenges in the app so it’s good they weren’t all done in one year. And we see over 50k screen views so we know that the app is getting more attention whether or not people engage in the challenges. Students focus groups raised themes of the enjoyment of the challenge list, motivation for participation (which varied), app design and user experience – if there’s one key takeaway: this demographic has really high expectations for user interface, design and tone; contribution to identity… Lots of academic research that the more students are engaged on campus, the more likely they will remain at that university and remain engaged through their studies and as alumni. So there is loads of potential here, and opportunity to do more with the data.

So, the digital experience is preferred, mobile development is expensive and time consuming, good UI/UX is imperative to success, universities are good at protecting their brands, and we learned that students really want to augment their on-campus academic experiences.

Conference organiser: Those were the finalists from yesterday, so we will award the prizes for first, second and third… and the PhD prize…

Third place is Lisa; Second place is me (yay!); First place is Adam and the Traditions mobile app.

I’m going to rely on others to tweet the PhD winners…

The best poster went to IT Alignment through Artificial Intelligence – Amir  – this was mainly based on Amir’s performance as his poster went missing so he had to present to an A4 version of the poster so he did a great job of presenting.

Thank you to our hosts here… And we hope you can join us in Limerick next year!

Thanks to all at ECSM 2017.

Jul 032017
 

Today I am at the Mykolo Romerio Universitetas in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the European Conference on Social Media 2017. As usual this is a liveblog so additions, corrections etc. all welcome… 

Welcome and Opening by the Conference and Programme Chairs: Aelita Skaržauskienė and Nomeda Gudelienė

Nomeda Gudelienė: I am head of research here and I want to welcome you to Lithuania. We are very honoured to have you here. Social media is very important for building connections and networking, but conferences are also really important still. And we are delighted to have you here in our beautiful Vilnius – I hope you will have time to explore our lovely city.

We were founded 25 years ago when our country gained independence from the Soviet Union. We focus on social studies – there was a gap for new public officials, for lawyers, etc. and our university was founded,

Keynote presentation: Dr. Edgaras Leichteris, Lithuanian Robotics Association – Society in the cloud – what is the future of digitalization?

I wanted to give something of an overview of how trends in ICT are moving – I’m sure you’ve all heard that none of us will have jobs in 20 years because robots will have them all (cue laughter).

I wanted to start with this complex timeline of emerging science and technology that gives an overview of Digital, Green, Bio, Nano, Neuro. Digitalisation is the most important of these trends, it underpins this all. How many of us think digitalisation will save paper? Maybe not for universities or government but young people are shifting to digital. But there are major energy implications of that, we are using a lot of power and heat to digitise our society. This takes us through some of those other areas…. Can you imagine social networking when we have direct neural interfaces?

This brings me to the Hype curve – where see a great deal of excitement, the trough of disillusionment and through to where the real work is. Gartner creates a hype cycle graph every year to illustrate technological trends. At the moment we can pick out areas like Augmented reality, virtual reality, digital currency. When you look at business impact… Well I thought that the areas that seem to be showing real change include Internet of Things – in modern factories you see very few people now, they are just there for packaging as we have sensors and devices everywhere. We have privacy-enhancing technologies, blockchain, brain computer interfaces, and virtual assistance. So we have technologies which are being genuinely disruptive.

Trends wise we also see political focus here. Why is digital a key focus in the European Union? Well we have captured only a small percentage of the potential. And when we look across the Digital Economy and Society index we see this is about skills, about high quality public services – a real priority in Lithuania at the moment – not just about digitalisation for it’s own sake. Now a few days ago the US press laughed at Jean Claude Junker admitting he still doesn’t have a smartphone, but at the same time, he and others leading the EU see that the future is digital.

Some months back I was asked at a training session “Close your eyes. You are now in 2050. What do you see?”. When I thought about that my view was rather dystopic, rather “Big Brother is watching you”, rather hierarchical. And then we were asked to throw out those ideas and focus instead on what can be done. In the Cimulact EU project we have been looking at citizens visions to look toward a future EU research and innovation agenda. In general I note that people from older European countries there was more optimism about green technologies, technology enabling societies… Whilst people from Eastern European countries have tended to be more concerned with the technologies themselves, and with issues of safety and privacy. And we’ve been bringing these ideas together. For me the vision is technology in the service of people, enabling citizens, and creating systems for green and smart city development, and about personal freedom and responsibility. What unites all of these scenarios?  The information was gathered offline. People wanted security, privacy, communication… They didn’t want the technologies per se.

Challenges here? I think that privacy and security is key for social media, and the focus on the right tool, for the right audience, at the right time. If we listen to Time Berners Lee we note that the web is developing in a way divergent from the original vision. Lorrie Faith Cranor, Carnegie Mellon University notes that privacy is possible in a laboratory condition, but in the reality of the real world, it is hard to actually achieve that. That’s why such people as Aral Balkan, self-styled Cyborg Rights Activist – he has founded a cross-Europe party just focusing on privacy issues. He says that the business model of mainstream technology under “surveillance capitalisms” is “people arming and it it is toxic to human rights and democracy”. And he is trying to bring those issues into more prominence.

Another challenge is engagement. The use and time on social media is increasing every year. But what does that mean. Mark Schaefer, Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, describes this as “content shock” – we don’t have the capacity to deal with and consume the amount of content we are now encountering. Jay Bayer just wrote the book “Hug your haters” making the differentiation between “offstage haters” vs. “onstage haters”. Offstage haters tend to be older, offline, and only go public if you do not respond. Onstage haters post to every social media network not thinking about the consequences. So his book is about how to respond to, and deal with, many forms of hate on the internet. And one of the recently consulted companies have 150 people working to respond to that sort of “onstage” hate.

And then we have the issue of trolling. In Lithuania we have a government trying to limit alcohol consumption – you can just imagine how many people were being supported by alcohol companies to comment and post and respond to that.

We so also need to think about engagement in something valuable. Here I wanted to highlight three initiatives, two are quite mature, the third is quite new. The first is “My Government” or E citizens. This is about engaging citizens and asking them what they think – they post a question, and provide a (simple) space for discussion. The one that I engaged with only had four respondents but it was really done well. Lithuania 2.0 was looking at ways to generate creative solutions at government level. That project ended up with a lot of nice features… Every time we took it out, they wanted new features… People engaged but then dropped off… What was being contributed didn’t seem directly enough fed into government, and there was a need to feedback to commentators what had happened as a result of their posts. So, we have reviewed this work and are designing a new way to do this which will be more focused around single topics or questions over a contained period of time, with direct routes to feed that into government.

And I wanted to talk about the right tools for the right audiences. I have a personal story here to do with the idea of whether you really need to be in every network. Colleagues asked why I was not on Twitter… There was lots of discussion, but only 2 people were using Twitter in the audience… So these people were trying to use a tool they didn’t understand to reach people who were not using those tools.

Thinking about different types of tools… You might know that last week in Vilnius we had huge rainfall and a flood… Here we have people sharing open data that allows us to track and understand that sort of local emergency.

And there is the issue of how to give users personalised tools, and give opportunity for different opinions – going beyond your filter bubble – and earn profit. My favourite tool was called Personal Journal – it had just the right combination – until that was brought by Flipboard. Algorithmic tailoring can do this well, but there is that need to make it work, to expose to wider views. There is a social responsibility aspect here.

So, the future seems to look like decentralisation – including safe silos that can connect to each other; and the right tools for the right audience. On decentralisation Blockchain, or technologies like it, are looking important. And we are starting to see possible use of that in Universities for credentialing. We can also talk about uses for decentralisation like this.

We will also see new forms of engagement going mass market. Observation of “digital natives” who really don’t want to work in a factory… See those people going to get a coffee, needing money… So putting on their visor/glasses and managing a team in a factory somewhere – maybe Australia – only until that money is earned. We also see better artificial intelligence working on the side of the end users.

The future is ours – we define now, what will happen!

Q&A

Q1) I was wondering what you mean by Blockchain, I haven’t heard it before.

A1) It’s quite complicated to explain… I suggest you Google it – some lovely explanations out there. We have a distributed

Q2) You spoke about the green issues around digitalisation, and I know Block Chain comes with serious environmental challenges – how do we manage that environmental and technological convenience challenge?

A2) Me and my wife have a really different view of green… She thinks we go back to the yurt and the plants. I think differently… I think yes, we consume more… But we have to find spots where we consume lots of energy and use technology to make it more sustainable. Last week  was at the LEGO factory in Denmark and they are working on how to make that sustainable… But that is challenging as their clients want trusted, robust, long-lasting materials. There are aready some technologies but we have to see how that will happen.

Q3) How do you see the role of artificial intelligence in privacy? Do you see it as a smart agent and intermediary between consumers and marketers?

A3) I am afraid of a future like Elon Musk where artificial intelligence takes over. But what AI can do is that it can help us interpret data for our decisions. And it can interpret patterns, filter information, help us make the best use of information. At the same time there is always a tension between advertisers and those who want to block advertisers. In Lithuanian media we see pop ups requesting that we switch off ad blocking tools… At the same time we will see more ad blocks… So Google, Amazon, Facebook… They will use AI to target us better in different ways. I remember hearing from someone that you will always have advertising – but you’ll like it as it will be tailored to your preferences.

Q4) Coming from a background of political sciences and public administration… You were talking about decentralisation… Wouldn’t it be useful to differentiate between developed and developing world, or countries in transition… In some of those contexts decentralisation can mean a lack of responsibility and accountability…

A4) We see real gaps already between cities and rural communities – increasingly cities are their own power and culture, with a lot of decisions taken like mini states. You talked a possible scenario that is quite 1984 like, of centralisation for order. But personally I still believe in decentralisation. There is a need for responsibility and accountability, but you have more potential for human rights and

Aelita Skaržauskienė: Thank you to Edgaras! I actually just spend a whole weekend reading about Block Chain as here in Lithuania we are becoming a hub for Fin Tech – financial innovation start ups.

So, I just wanted to introduce today here. Social media is very important for my department. More than 33 researchers here look at social technologies. Social media is rising in popularity, but more growth lies ahead. More than 85% of internet users are engaging with social media BUT over 5 billion people in the world still lack regular access to the internet, so that number will increase. There have already been so many new collaborations made possible for and by social media.

Thank you so much for your attention in this exciting and challenging research topic!

Stream B: Mini track on Social Media in Education (Chair: Nicola Osborne and Stefania Manca)

As I’m chairing this session (as Stefania is presenting), my notes do not include Q&A I’m afraid. But you can be confident that interesting questions were asked and answered!

The use of on-line media at a Distance Education University – Martins Nico, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

South Africa University is an online only university so I will be talking about research we have been doing on the use of Twitter, WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype and Facebook by students. A number of researchers have also explored obstacles experienced in social media. Some identified obstacles will be discussed.

In terms of professional teaching dispositoins these are principals, commitments, values and professional ethics that influence the attitude and behavious of educators, and I called on my background in organisational psychology and measuring instruments to explore different ideas of presence: virtual/technological; pedagogical; expert/cognitive; social. And these sit on a scale from Behaviours that are easily changed, and those that are difficult to change. And I want to focus on the difficult to change area of incorporating technologies significantly into practive – in the virtual/technologial presence area.

Now, about our university… We have 350k students and +/- 100k non-formal students. African and international students from 130 countries. We are a distance education university. 60% are between 25 and 39 and 63.9% are female. At Unisa we think about “blended” learning, from posting materials (snail mail) through to online presence. In our open online distance learning context we are using tools including WhatsApp, BBM, Mxit, WeChat, Research Gate, Facebook, LinkedIn, intranet, Google drive and wiki spaces, multimedia etc. We use a huge range, but it is up to the lecturer exactly which of these they use. For all the modules online you can view course materials, video clips, articles, etc. For this module that I’m showing here, you have to work online, you can’t work offline, it’s a digital course.

So, the aim of our research was to understand how effectively the various teaching dispositions are using the available online media, and to what extent there is a relationship between disposition and technology used. Most respondents we had (40.5%) had 1 to 3 years of service. Most respondents (45.1%) were Baby Boomers. Most were female (61%), most respondents were lecturers and senior lecturers.

Looking at the results, the most used was WhatsApp, with instant messaging and social networking high. Microbogging and digital curation were amongst the least used.

Now, when we compare that to the dispositions, we seen an interesting correlation between Social presence dispositions and instant messaging; virtual presence dispositions using research networking, cloud computing… The most significant relationships were between virtual and online tools. No significant correlation between pedagogical presence and any particular tools.

I just wanted to talk about the generations at play here: Baby boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials. Looking at the ANOVA analysis for generations and gender. Only for instance messaging and social networking was there any significant result. In both cases millennials use this most. In terms of gender we see females using social networking and instant messaging more than males. The results show younger generation or millennials and females use the two online media significantly more than other groups – for our university that has an implication to ensure our staff understand the spaces our students use.

The results confirmed that millennials are most inclined to use instant messaging and social networking. Females were using these the most.

So, my reocmmendation? To increase usage of online tools, the university will need to train academics in the usage of the various online tools. To arrange workshops on new technology, social media and mobile learning. And we need to advise and guide academics to increase web self-efficacy and compensate accordingly. And determine the needs and preferences of students pertaining to the use of social media in an ODL environment, and focus

Towards a Multilevel Framework for Analysing Academic Social Network Sites: A Network Socio-Technical Perspective – Manca Stefania, National Research Council of Italy and Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli, University of Florence, Italy

I work on the field of learning, distance education, distance learning, social media and social networking. I’m going to share with you some work I am doing with Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli on the use of social networking sites for academic purposes. I know there are lots of different definitions here. In this year I’m talking about the use of social media sites for scholarly communication. As we all know there are many different dispositions to communicate our work, for what we do, including academic publications, conferneces like this, but also we have seen a real increase in the use of social media for scholarly communication. And we have seen Acadeic.edu and ResearchGate  in widest use of these, but others are out there.

The aim of my study was to investigate these kinds of sites, not only in terms of adoption, uptake, what kind of actions people do in these sites. But the study is a theoretical piece of work taking a socio-technical perspective. But before I talk more about this I wanted to define some of the terms and context here.

Digital Scholarship is the use of digital evidence, methods of inquiry, research, publication and preservation to achieve scholarly and research goals. And can encompass both scholarly communication using digital media and research on digital media. Martin Weller, one of the first to explore this area, describes digital scholarship as shorthand of an intersection in technology-related developments namely: digital content; networked distribution; open practices. And the potential transformational quality of that intersection.

A recent update to this update, by Greenhow and Gleason (2014) have defined Social Scholarship as the means by which social media affordaces and potential values evolve the ways scholarship is done in academia. And Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) have talked about Networked Participatory Scholarship as a new form of scholarship arising from these new uses of technology and new types of practice.

There are lots of concerns and tensions here that have been raised… The blurring boundaries of personal and professional identities. The challenge of unreliable information online. Many say that ResearchGate and Academia.edu have a huge number of fake profiles, and that not all of what is there can be considered reliable. There is also a perception that these sites may not be useful – a social factor. There is the challenge of time to curate different sites. And in the traditional idea of “publish or perish” there has been some concern over these sites.

The premise of this study is to look at popular academic sites like ResearchGate, like Academia.edu. Although these sites are increasingly transforming scholarly communication and academic identity, there is a need to understand these at a socio technical level, which is where this study comes in. Academic social network sites are networked socio-technical systems. These systems are determined by social forces and technological features. Design, implementation and use of such technologies sit in a wider cultural and social context (Hudson and Wolf 2003?).

I wanted to define these sites through a multilevel framework, with a socio-economic layer (ownership, governance, business model); techno-cultural layer (technology, user/usage, content); networked-scholar layer (networking, knowledge sharing, identity). Those first two layers come from a popular study of social networking usage, but we added that third level to capture those scholarly qualities. The first two levels refer to the structure and wider context.

We also wanted to bring in social capital theory/ies, encompassing the capacity of social networks to produce goods for mutual benefits (Bourdieu, 1986). This can take the form of useful information, personal relationships or group networks (Putnam 2000). We took this approach because the scholarly community can be viewed as knowledge sharing entities formed by trust, recognition etc. I will move past an overview of social capital types here, and move to my conclusion here…

This positions academic social network sites as networked socio-technical systems that afford social capital among scholars… And here we see structural and distributed scholarly capital.

So to finish a specific example: ResearchGate. The site was founded in 2008 by two physicists and a computer scientist. More than 12 million members distributed worldwide in 193 countries. The majority of members (60%) belong to scientific subject areas, and it is intended to open up science and enable new work and collaboration.

When we look at ResearchGate from the perspective of the socio-economic layer…. Ownership is for-profit. Governance is largely through terms and conditions. The business model is largely based on a wide range of free-of-charge services, with some subscription aspects.

From the techno-cultural layer… Technology signals automatically who one may be interested in connected with, news feeds, propts endorsements, new researchers to follow. And usage can be passive, or they can be active participants after making new connections. And content – it affords publication of diverse types of science outputs.

From the networked scholar layer. Networking – Follow and recommend, Knowledge of sharing – commenting, questions feature, search function, existing Q&As, expertise and skills, and Identity – through profile, score, reach and h-index.

On Linking Social Media, Learning Styles, and Augmented Reality in Education – Kurilovas Eugenijus, Julija Kurilova and Viktorija Dvareckiene, Vilnius University Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Lithuania

Eugenijus: So, why augmented reality? Well according to predictions it will be the main environment for education by 2020 and we need to think about linking it to students on the one hand, and to academia as well. So, the aim of this work is to present an original method to identify students preferring to actively engage in social media and wanting to use augmented reality. To relate this to learning styles.

Looking over the literature we faced a tremendous development of social media, powered by innovative web technologies, web 2.0 and social networks. But so many different approaches here, and every student is different. Possibilities of AR seem almost endless. And the literature suggests AR may be more effective than traditional methods. Only one meta-analysis work directly addresses personalisation of AR-based systems/environments in education. The learning styles element of this work is about the differences of student needs, not specifically focused on this.

Another aspect of AR can be cognitive overload from the information, the technological devices, and the tasks they need to undertake. Few studies seem to look at pedagogy of AR, rather than tests of AR.

So, our method… All learning processes, activities and scenarios should be personalised to student learning styles. We undertook simple and convenient expert evaluation method based on application of trapezoid fuzzy learning. And looking at suitability of use in elearning. The question given to expertise focus on suitability of learning activities of social media and AR in learning. After that details explaining Felder-Silverman learning styles (4 different styles included) model were provided for the experts.

After the experts completed the questionnaire it’s easy to calculate the average values of suitability of the learning styles and learning activities for AR and social media. So we can now easily compute the average for learning styles… So every student could come in and answer a learning styles questionnaire, get their own table, their personal individual learning styles. Then combining that score, with expert ratings of AR and social media, we can calculate suitability indexes of all learning styles of particular students. The programme does this in, say, 20 seconds…

So, we asked 9 experts to share their opinion on particular learning styles… So here the experts see social media and AR as particularly suitable for visuals and activists (learning styles). We think that suitability indexes should be included in recommender systems – main thing in personalised learning system and shoudl be linked to particular students according to those suitability index. The higher suitability index the better the learning components fit particular students needed.

So, expert evaluation, linking learning activities and students by suitability index and recommender system are main intelligent technologies applied to personalise learning. An optimal learning scenario would make use of this to personalise learning. And as already noted Augmented Reality and social media are most suitable for visual and activist learners; most unsuitable for verbal and reflective learners… And that will be reflected in student happiness and outcomes. Visual and activist learners prefer to actively use learning scenarios based on application of AR and social media.

According to Felder and Silverman most people of college age and older are visual. Visual learners remember best what they see rather than what they hear. Visual learners are better able to remember images rather than verbal or text information. For visual learners the optimal learning scenario should include a range of visual materials.

Active learners do not learn much in situations that require them to be passive. They feel more comfortable with or better at active experimentation than reflective observation. For active learners the optimal scenario should include doing something that relates to the wider outside world.

And some conclusions… Learning styles show how this can be best used/tweaked to learners. The influence of visual and social media has shifted student expectations, but many teaching organisations are still quite traditional…

We now have a short break for lunch. This afternoon my notes will be sparse – I’ll be presenting in the Education Mini Track and then, shortly after, in the Social Media Excellence Awards strand. Normal service will be resumed after this afternoon’s coffee break. 

Stream B: Mini track on Social Media in Education (Chair: Nicola Osborne and Stefania Manca)

Digital Badges on Education: Past, Present and Future – Araujo Inês, Carlos Santos, Luís Pedro, and João Batista, Aveiro University, Portugal

I’ve come a little late into Ines’ talk but she is taken us through the history of badges as a certification, including from Roman times. 

This was used like an honour, but also as a punishment, with badges and tattoos used to classify that experience. For a pilgrim going to Compostello de Compagnario(?) they had a badge, but there was a huge range of fake badges out there. The pope eventually required you to come to rome to get your badges. We also have badges like martial arts belts, for scouts… So… Badges have baggage.

With the beginning of the internet we started the beginnings of digital badges, as a way to recognise achievements and to recognise professional achievements. So, we have the person who receives the badge, the person/organisation who issues the badge, and the place where the badge can be displayed. And we have incentives to collect and share badges associated with various cities across the world.

Many platforms have badges. We have Open Badges infrastructures (Credly, BadgeOS, etc.) and we have the place to display and share badges. In educational platforms we also have support for badges, including Moodle, Edmodo, Makewaves.es, SAPO campus (at our speaker’s home institution), etc. But in our VLE we didn’t see badges being used as we expected so we tried to look out at how badges are being used (see badgetheworld.org) worldwide…

How are badges being used? Authority; award and motivations; sequential orientation – gain one, then the other…; research; recognition; identity; evidence or achievement; credentialing. The biggest use was around two major areas: motivation (for students but also teachers and others), as well as credentialing. And in fact some 10% of digital badges are used to motivate and reward, and to recognise skills, of teachers. However major use is with students and that is split across award, credentialing, and evidence of achievement.

So, our final recommendations was for the integration of badges in education: that we should choose a platform, show the advantage of using a repository (e.g. a backpack for digital badges); to choose the type of badge – mission type and/or award type; and enjoy it.

Based on this information we began a MOOC: Badges: how to use it. And you can see a poster on the MOOC. And this was based on the investigation we did for this work.

Q&A

Q1) Have you had some feedback, or collected some information on students’ interest on badges… How do they react or care about getting those badges?

A1) Open Badges are not really known to everyone in Portugal. The first task I had was to explain them, and what the advantages there were. Teachers like the idea… They feel that it is very important for their students and have tried it for their students. Most of the experiments show students enjoying the badges… But I’m not sure that they understand that they can use it again if they show it in social media, into the community… But that is a task still to do. The first experience I have, I’ve known about from the teachers who were in the MOOC, they enjoy it, they liked it, they asked for more badges.

Q2) I know about the concept here… Any issues with dual ways to assess students – grades and badges.

A2) Teachers can use them with grading, in parallel. Or if they use them in sequence, they understand how to get to achieve that grade. Teacher has to decide how best to use them… Whether to use them or to motivate to a better grade.

Q3) Thank you! I’m co-ordinating an EU open badge project so I’d like to invite you to publish. Is the MOOC only in Portuguese? My students are designing interactive modules – CC licensed – with best practice guidance. Maybe we can translate and reuse?

A3) It’s only in Portuguese at the moment. We have about 120 people engaged in the MOOC and it runs on SAPO Campus. They are working on a system of badges that can be used across all institutions so that teachers can share badges, a repository to choose from and use in their own teaching.

Comment) Some of that unification really useful for having a shared understanding of meaning and usage of badges.

Yes, but from what I could see teachers were not using badges because they hadn’t really seen examples of how to use them. And they get a badge at the end of the course!

Q4) What is the difference between digital badges and open badges.

A4) Open Badges is a specific standard designed by Mozilla. Digital badges can be created by everyone.

Comment) At my institution the badges are about transferrable skills… They have to meet unit learning outcomes, graduate learning outcomes. They can get prior learning certified through them as well to reduce taught classes for masters students. But that requires that solid infrastructure.

We have infrastructure to issue badge, someone can make and create, to issue a person. The badge has metadata, where it was issued, why, by whom… And then made available in repository. e.g. Mozilla backpack.

Exploring Risk, Privacy and the Impact of Social Media Usage with Undergraduates – Connelly Louise and Nicola Osborne, University of Edinburgh, UK

Thanks to all who came along! Find our abstract and (shortly after today) our preprint here.

And I’ve now moved on to the Best Practice Awards strand where I’ll be presenting shortly… I’ve come in to the questions for Lisa Lundgren (and J. Crippen Kent)’s presentation on using social media to develop social paleontology. From the questions I think I missed hearing about a really interesting project. 

EDINA Digital Footprint Consultancy & Training Service – Osborne Nicola, University of Edinburgh, UK 

Well, that was me. No notes here, but case study will be available soon. 

D-Move – Petrovic Otto, University of Graz, Austria

This is a method and software environment to anticipate “digital natives” acceptance of technology innovations. Looking particularly at how the academic sector is having long term impact on the private sector. And our students are digital natives, that’s importance. So, to introduce me, I’m professor of information systems at the University of Graz, Austria. I have had a number of international roles and have had a strong role in bridging the connection between academia and government, am a member of regulatory authority for telecommunications for Austria. And I have started three companies.

So, what is the challenge? In 2020 more than half of all the people living in our world are born and raised with diital media and the internet, they are digital natives. And they are quite different regarding their values and norms, behaviours and attitudes. Considering the big changes in industries like media, commerce, banking, transport or the travel industry. They have more and more aversion for traditional surveys based on “imagine a situation where you use a technology like…”. Meanwhile surveys designed, executed and interpreted by traditional “experts” will result in traditional views – the real experts are the digital natives. The results should be gained through digital natives’ lives…

So the solution? It is an implemented method, based on the Delphi approach. Digital Natives are used as experts in a multi-round, structured group communication process. In each round they collect their own impressions regarding the Delphi issue. So, for instance, we have digital natives engaging in self-monitoring of their activities.

So, we recruited 4 groups of 5 digital natives; round one discussion as well as interviews with 130 digital natives; field experience embedded in everyday live; discussion; and analysis. We want to be part of the daily life of the digital native, but a big monolithic space won’t work, things change, and different groups use different spaces. We need social media and we need other types of interfaces… We don’t know them today. We have a data capturing layer for pictures, video, annotations. We also need data storage, data presentation and sharing, data tagging and organisation, access control and privacy, private spaces and personalisation… And access control is crucial, as individuals want to keep their data private until they want to share it (if at all).

D-Move gives insights into changes in Digital Natives views, experiences, self-monitoring, etc. And in terms of understanding “why” digital natives behave as they do. The participants show high satisfaction with D-Move as a space for learning. D-Move has been implemented and used in different industries for many years – used for media, transport and logistics, travel industry, health and fitness. It started with messaging based social media, going to social media platforms, finally implementing social internet of things technologies. And we are currently working with one of the most prestigious hotels – with a customer base typically in their seventies… So we are using D-Move to better understand the luxury sector and what parts of technology they need to engage with. D-Move is part of Digital Natives “natural” communication behaviour. And an on-going cycle of scientific evaluation and further technical development.

In terms of the next steps, firstly the conceptual models will be applied to the whole process to better understand digital natives thinking, feeling and behaviour. Using different front ends focused on the internet of things technologies. And offering D-Move to different industries to book certain issues like using an omnibus survey. And D-Move is both a research environment and a teaching environment. We have two streams going in the same direction, including as a teaching instrument.

Q&A

Q1) Your digital native participants, how do you recruit them?

A1) It depends on the age group. It ranges from age 10 to nearer age 30. For our university we can reach 20-25 year old, for 10 years to 20 we work with schools. 25 to 30 years old is harder to recruit.

Q2) What about ethical issues? How do you get informed consent from 10 to 18 year olds.

A2) These issues are usually based on real issues in life, and this is why security and privacy is very important. And we have sophisticated ways of indicating what is and is not OK to share. This is partly through storing data in our storage. It is not a public system, the data is not accessible to others.

Q3) We’ve seen a few presentations on using data from participants. According to the POPI Act (based on EU GDPR, you can’t use data without consent… How do you get around that?

A3) It’s easier because it is not a public system, and we do not relate information in publications, only at an aggregated level.

At this point I feel it is important to note my usual “digital native” caveat that I don’t agree with the speaker on this term (or the generalisations around it) which has been disputed widely in the literature, including by Marc Prensky, it’s originator.

The Traditions Challenge mobile App – Peruta Adam, Syracuse University, New York, USA

I’ve been looking at how colleges and universities have been using social media in student recruitment, alumni engagement etc. And it has been getting harder and harder to get access to social media data over the years, so I decided to design my own thing.

So, think back to your first days of universities. You probably had a lot of concerns. For instance Ithaca College is in a town less than 7 miles wide, there isn’t a big sports programme, it is hard to build community. So… The Traditions Challenge is a mobile app to foster engagement and community building for incoming university students – this works as a sort of bucket list of things to do and engage with. This launched at Ithaca in August 2016 with over 100 challenges. For instance FYRE, which already encourages engagement, is a challenge here. Faculty Office Hours is it’s own challenge – a way to get students to find out about these. And the fountains – a notable feature on campus – you can have your image taken. And we encourage them to explore the town, for instance engaging with the farmers market.

So there is a list of challenges, there is also a feed to see what else is happening on campus. And there is information on the school. And this is all gamified. Challenges earn points, there is a leaderboard which gets students status. And there are some actual real world challenges – stickers, a nice sweatshirt, etc. And this is all designed to get students more engaged, and more engaged early on at university. There is a lot of academic research on students who are more involved and engaged, being more likely to stay at that university.

Traditions in the University are very important We have over 4000 institutions. And those traditions translate into a real sense of identity for students. There are materials on traditions, keep safe books for ticket stubs, images, etc. but these are not digital. And those are nice but there is no way to track what is going on (plus who takes pictures).  And in fact Ithaca tried that approach on campus – a pack, whiteboards, etc. But this year, with the app, there are many more data that can be quantified. This year we had around 200 sign ups (4% of on campus students). We didn’t roll out to everyone, but picked influencers and told them to invite friends, then them to invite their friends, etc. And those 200 sign ups did over 1400 challenges and 44 checked in for prizes. Out of the top ten challenges, 70% of the most popular challenges were off-campus, and 100% of those were non-academic experiences. There is a sense of students being most successful when they involved in a lot of things, and have more activities going on. It is hard for comparing the analogue with the app but we know that at least 44 students checked in for prizes with the app, versus 8 checking in when we ran the analogue challenges.

In terms of students responding to the challenges, they enjoyed the combination of academic and non-academic activities. One student, who’d been enrolled for 3 years, found out about events on campus through the app that he had never heard about before. Some really responded to the game, to the competition. Others just enjoyed the check list, and a way to gather memories. Some just really want the prize! (Others were a lot less excited). Maybe more prizes could also help – we are trying that.

In terms of App Design and UX. And this cohort hugely care about the wording of things, the look of things… Their expectation is really really high.

In terms of identity students reported feeling a real sense of connection to Ithaca – but it’s early days, we need some longitudinal data here.

We found that the digital experience is preferred. Mobile development is expensive and time consuming – I had an idea, tried to build a prototype, applied for a grant to hire a designer, but everyone going down this path have to understand that you need developers, designers, and marketing staff at the university to be involved. And like I said, the expectations were really high, We ran workshops before making anything to make sure we understood that expectation.

I would also note that universities in the US are really getting protective of their brand, the use of logos, fonts etc. They really trusted me but it took several goes to get a logo we were all happy with.

And finally, data from the app, from follow up work, show that students really want to augment their experience with on campus activities, off campus activities… And active and involved students seem to lead to active and involved alumni – that would be great data to track. And that old book approach was lovely as tangible things are good – but it’s easy to automate some printing from the app…

So, what’s happening now? Students are starting, they will see posters and postcards, they will see targeted Facebook ads.

I think that this is a good example of how a digital experience can connect with a really tangible experience.

And finally, I’m from Suracuse University, and I’d like to thank Ithaca College, and NEAT for their support.

Q&A

Q1) What is the quality of contribution like here?

A1) It looks quite a lot like Instagram update – a photo, text, tagging, you can edit it later.

Q2) And can you share to other social media?

A2) Yes, they can share to Facebook and Twitter.

Q3) I wanted to ask about the ethics of what happens when students take images of each other?

A3) Like other types of social media, that’s a social issue. But there is a way to flag images and admins can remove content as required.

Q4) Most of your data is from female participants?

A4) Yes, about 70% of people who took part were female participants.

Q5) How did you recruit users for your focus groups?

A5) We recruited our heaviest app users… We emailed them to invite them along. the other thing I wanted to note that it wasn’t me, or colleagues, running focus groups, it was student facilitators to make this peer to peer.

Q6) How reliable is the feedback? Aren’t they going to be easy to please here?

A6) Sure, they will be eager to please so there may be some bias. I will eventually be doing some research on these data points eventually.

Q7) Any plans to expand to other universities?

A7) Yes, would love to compare the three different types of US universities in particular.

Q8) Is the app free to students?

A8) Yes, I suspect if I was to monetize this it would be for the university – a license type set up.

Mini track on Social Media in Education – Chair: Nicola Osborne and Stefania Manca

Evaluation of e-learning via Social Networking Website by full-time Students in Russia – Pivovarov Ivan, RANEPA, Russia

Why did I look at this area? Well the Russian Government is presently struggling with poor education service delivery. There is great variety in the efficiency and quality of higher education. So, the Russian Government is looking for ways to make significant improvements. And, in my opinion, social media can be effective in full time teaching. And that’s what my research was looking at.

So, I wanted to determine the best techniques of delivery of e-learning via social networking websites. I was looking at vk.com rather than Facebook. VK is by far the biggest social media in Russia. The second biggest is Instagram. There is strong competition there.

So I was looking at the views of students about educational usage of HK, targeting bachelor students coming from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration – an atypical institution focused specifically on public administration. A special interest group was created on VK and the educational content was regularly uploaded there. We had 100s of people in this group – hoping for 1000 in future. So material would include assignments, educational contests, etc. And finally after six months of using this space, I decided to make a questionnaire and ask my students what they like, what they don’t like, what they didn’t like the most, etc. and we had 100 responses. Age wise 82% were between 18 and 21 years old; 12% are 21-24 years old; 6% were older than 24. This slide shows that users of social media are typically young, when they move on in life, have families etc, they don’t tend to use social media. We did also ask about Facebook, 53% had a Facebook account, 47% did not.

We asked what the advantages are of VK over Faceook. 52% said most of their friends were on VK. 13% said that VK had a more user friendly interface than Facebook. 29% said VK has a more interesting background – sharing of music, films etc. – than Facebook. Looking at usage of VK in educational purpose, 35% use it weekly; 31% very seldom; 14% 2-3 times a weel; 10% daily. Usage is generally heavier on week days, on the weekend that drops.

So, what motivated people to be a member of the special interest group on a social media website? Most (53%) said the ease of access to information; 31% the dissemination of information; 4% said for the chance of interaction. And when asked what the students wanted to improve, most (53%) wanted to increase teacher-student interaction – more teachers to join them on social media.

Students mostly preferred posts from teachers that were about administration of the unit (28%) and content (28%). When asked if the students wanted to watch video lectures, 85% said yes. One year after this work I started to record video lectures – short (5-10 mins) and they become available prior to a lecture. And then find some new definitions, new terms, etc. And in the lecture we follow up, go into details. We can go straight into discussion. So this response inspired me to create this video content.

I also asked if students had taken an online class before, 52% had, 48% hadn’t. I asked students how they likes social media interaction on social media – 86% of students found it positive (but I only asked the after they’d been assessed to avoid too much bias in results).

Conclusions here…. Well I wanted to compare Russian to other contexts. Students in Russia wanted more teacher-student interactions. “comments must be encouraged” was not present in our experiment but in research in Turkey

Q&A

Q1) Is there an equivalent to YouTube in Russia?

A1) Yes, YouTube is big. There is an alternative called RuTube – maybe more the Russian Vimeo. No Twitter – Telegram is nearest. And no Russian analogous to SnapChat but it is pushed away by Instagram Stories now I think. WhatsApp is very popular, but I don’t see the educational potential there. This semester I had students make online translations of my lecture… with Instagram Stories… VK does try and copy features from other worldwide spaces – they have stories. But Instragram is most popular.

Q2) Among the takeaways is the need for more intense interaction between students and teaching staff. Are your teaching staff motivated to do this? I do this as a “hobby” in my institution? Is it formalised in your school? And also you said about the strength of VK versus Facebook – you noted that people using VK drives traffic… So where do you see opportunities for new platforms in Russia?

A2) Your second question, that’s hard to predict. Two or three years ago it was hard to predict Instagram Stories or Snapchat. But I guess probably social media associated with sport…

Q2) Potential won’t be hampered by attitudes in the population to steer toward what they know.

A2) I don’t think so… On the time usage front I think my peers probably share your concerns about time and engagement.

Comment) It depends on how it develops… We have a minimum standard. In our LMS there is a widget, and staff have to make videos per semester for them – that’s now a minimum practice. Although in the long run teaching isn’t really rewarded – it’s research that is typically rewarded… Do you have to answer to a manager on this in terms of restrictions on trying things out?

A2) No, I am lucky, I am free to experiment. I have a big freedom I think.

Q3) Do you feel uncomfortable being in a social space with your students… To be appropriate in your profile picture… What is your dynamic?

A3) All my photos are clean anyway! Sports, conferences… But yes, as a University teacher you have to be sensible. You have to be careful with images etc… But still…

Comment) But that’s something people struggle with – whether to have one account or several…

A3) I’m a very public person… Open to everyone… So no embaressing photos! On LMS, my university has announced that we will have a new learning management system. But there is a a question of whether students will like that or engage with that. There is a Clayton Christenson concept of disruptive innovation. This tool wasn’t designed for education, but it can be… Will an LMS be comfortable for students to use though?

Comment) Our university is almost post-LMS… So maybe if you don’t have one already, you could jump somewhere else, to a web 2.0 delivery system…

A3) The system will be run and tested in Moscow, and then rolled out to the regions…

Q4) You ran this course for your students at your institution, but was the group open to others? And how does that work in terms of payments if some are students, some are not?

A4) Everyone can join the group. And when they finish, they don’t escape from the group, they stay, they engage, they like etc. Not everyone, but some. Including graduates. So the group is open and everyone can join it.

Developing Social Media Skills for Professional Online Reputation of Migrant Job-Seekers – Buchem Ilona, Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Germany

We have 12,800 students, many of whom have a migrant background, although the work I will present isn’t actually for our students, its for migrants seeking work.

Cue a short video on what it means to be a migrant moving across the world in seek of a brighter future and a safe place to call home. Noting the significant rise in migration, often because of conflict and uncertainty. 

That was a United Nations video about refugees. Germany has accepted a huge number of refugees, over 1.2 million in 2015, 2016. And, because of that, we have and need quite a complex structure of programmes and support for migrants making their home. At the same time here Germany has shortages of skilled workers so there is a need to match up skills and training here. There is particular need for doctors, engineers, experts in technology and ICT for instance.

But, it’s not al good news. Unemployment in Germany is twice as high among people who have migration background compared to those who do not. At the same time we have migrants with high skills and social capital but it is hard if not impossible to certify and check that. Migrant academics, including refugees, are often faced with unemployment, underemployment or challenging work patterns.

In that video we saw a certificate… Germany is a really organised country but that means without certificates and credentials available. But we also see the idea of the connected migrant, with social media enabling that – for social gain but also to help find jobs and training.

So the project here is “BeuthBonus”, a follow on project. We are targeted at skilled migrant workers – this partly fills a gap in delivery as training programmes for unskilled workers are more common. It was developed to help migrant academics to find appropriate work at the appropriate level. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education, the German Federal Ministry of Labour, and also part of an EU Open Badges pilot as we are also an Open Badges Network pilot for recognition of skills.

Our participants 2015-16 are 28 in total (12 female, 16 male), from 61 applications. Various backgrounds but we have 20 different degrees there: 28% BA, 18% MA, 7% PhD. They are mainly 30-39 or 40-49 and they are typically from Tunisia, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.

So, the way this works is that we cooperate with different programmes – e.g. an engineer might take an engineering refresher/top up. We also have a module on social media – just one module – to help participants understand social media, develop their skills, and demonstrate their skills to employers. This is also a good fit as job applications are now overwhelmingly digital now. And also the employment of recruiters has moved from reserved to positive to a digital CV.

So, in terms of how companies in Germany are using social media in recruitment. Xing, a German language only version of a tool like LinkedIn, is the biggest for recruitment advertising. In terms of active sourcing in social media, 45% of job seekers prefer to be approached. And in fact 21% of job seekers would pay to be better visible in these space. 40% of job openings are actively sourced – higher in IT sector.

So we know that building an online professional reputation is important, and more highly skilled job hunters will particularly benefit from this. So, we have a particular way that we do this. We have a process for migrants to develop their online professional development. They start by searching for themselves, then others comment on what was found. They are asked to reflect and think about their own strengths and the requirements of the labour market. Then they go in and look at how the spaces are used, how people brand themselves, and use these spaces. Then some framing around a theme, plan what they will do, and then they set up a schedule for the next weeks and months… So they put it into action.

We then have instrumental ways to assess this – do they use social media, how do they use it, how often, how they connect with others, and how they express themselves online. We also take some culture specific and gender specific considerations into account in doing this.

And, to enhance online presence we look at OpenBadges, set goals, and work towards it. I will not introduce OpenBadges, but I will talk about how we understand competencies. So we have a tool called ProfilPASS – a way to capture experience as transferrable skills that can be presented to the world. We designed badges accordingly. And we have BeuthBonus Badges in the Open Badge Network, but these are on Moodle and available in German and in English to enable flexibility in appling for jobs. Those badges span different levels, they are issues badges at the appropriate levels, they can share them on Xing of LinkedIn as appropriate. And we also encourage them to also look at other sources of digital badges – from IBM developerWorks or Womens Business Club, etc.

So, these results have been really good. Before the programme we had 7% employed, but after we had 75% employed. This tends to be a short term perspective. Before the programme 0% had a digital CV, after 72% did. We see that 8% had an online profile before, but 86% now do. And that networking means they have contacts, and they have a better understanding of the labour market in Germany.

In our survey 83% felt Open Badges are useful for enhancing online reputation.

Open Badge Network has initiatives across the world. We work on Output 4: Open Badges in Territories. We work with employers on how best to articulate the names

Q&A

Q1) In your refugee and migration terminology, do you have subcategories?

A1) We do have sub categories around e.g. language level, so can refer them to language programmes before they are coming to us. And there had been a change – it used to be that economic migrants were not entitled to education, but that has changed now. Migrants and refugees are the target group. It depends on the target group…

Q2) In terms of the employer, do you create a contact point?

A2) We have an advisory board drawn from industry, also our trainers are drawn from industry.

Q3) I was wondering about the cultural differences about online branding?

A3) I have observations only, as we have only small samples and from many countries. One difference is that some people are more reserved, and would not approach someone in a direct way… They would wave (only)… And in Germany the hierarchy is not important in terms of having conversations, making approaches, but that isn’t the case in some other places. And sharing an image, and a persona… that can be challenging. That personal/professional mix can be even tricky.

Q4) How are they able to manage those presences online?

A4) Doing that searching in a group.. And with coaches they have direct support, a space to discuss what is needed, etc.

Q5) Lets say you take a refugee from country x, what is needed?

A5) They have to have a degree, and they have to have good german – a requirement of our funder – and they have to be located in Germany.

Comment) This seems like it is building so much capacity… I think what you are doing over there is fantastic and opening doors to lots of people.

Q6) In Germany, all natives have these skills already? Or do you do this for German people too? Maybe they should?

A6) For our students I tend to just provide guidance for this. But yes, maybe we need this for all our students too.

Dec 042016
 

This summer I will be co-chairing, with Stefania Manca (from The Institute of Educational Technology of the National Research Council of Italy) “Social Media in Education”, a Mini Track of the European Conference on Social Median (#ECSM17) in Vilnius, Lithuania. As the call for papers has been out for a while (deadline for abstracts: 12th December 2016) I wanted to remind and encourage you to consider submitting to the conference and, particularly, for our Mini Track, which we hope will highlight exciting social media and education research.

You can download the Mini Track Call for Papers on Social Media in Education here. And, from the website, here is the summary of what we are looking for:

An expanding amount of social media content is generated every day, yet organisations are facing increasing difficulties in both collecting and analysing the content related to their operations. This mini track on Big Social Data Analytics aims to explore the models, methods and tools that help organisations in gaining actionable insight from social media content and turning that to business or other value. The mini track also welcomes papers addressing the Big Social Data Analytics challenges, such as, security, privacy and ethical issues related to social media content. The mini track is an important part of ECSM 2017 dealing with all aspects of social media and big data analytics.

Topics of the mini track include but are not limited to:

  • Reflective and conceptual studies of social media for teaching and scholarly purposes in higher education.
  • Innovative experience or research around social media and the future university.
  • Issues of social media identity and engagement in higher education, e.g: digital footprints of staff, students or organisations; professional and scholarly communications; and engagement with academia and wider audiences.
  • Social media as a facilitator of changing relationships between formal and informal learning in higher education.
  • The role of hidden media and backchannels (e.g. SnapChat and YikYak) in teaching, learning.
  • Social media and the student experience.

The conference, the 4th European Conference on Social Media (ECSM) will be taking place at the Business and Media School of the Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 3-4 July 2017. Having seen the presentation on the city and venue at this year’s event I feel confident it will be lovely setting and should be a really good conference. (I also hear Vilnius has exceptional internet connectivity, which is always useful).

I would also encourage anyone working in social media to consider applying for the Social Media in Practice Excellence Awards, which ECSM is hosting this year. The competition will be showcasing innovative social media applications in business and the public sector, and they are particularly looking for ways in which academia have been working with business around social media. You can read more – and apply to the competition (deadline for entries: 17th January 2017)- here.

This is a really interdisciplinary conference with a real range of speakers and topics so a great place to showcase interesting applications of and research into social media. The papers presented at the conference are published in the conference proceedings, widely indexed, and will also be considered for publication in: Online Information Review (Emerald Insight, ISSN: 1468-4527); International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments (Inderscience, ISSN 2050-3962); International Journal of Web-Based Communities (Inderscience); Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (Emerald Insight, ISSN 1477-996X).

So, get applying to the conference  and/or to the competition! If you have any questions or comments about the Social Media in Education track, do let me know.

Nov 212016
 
The band Cassia play at TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016.

Last Wednesday, I had the absolute pleasure of being part of the TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016, which had the theme of “Identity. I had been invited along to speak about our Managing Your Digital Footprint work, and my #CODI2016 Fringe show, If I Googled You, What Would I Find? The event was quite extraordinary and I wanted to share some thoughts on the day itself, as well as some reflections on my experience of preparing a TEDx talk.

TEDxYouth@Manchester is in it’s 8th year, and is based at Fallibroome Academy, a secondary school with a specialism in performing arts (see, for instance, their elaborate and impressive trailer video for the school). And Fallibroome was apparently the first school in the world to host a TEDxYouth event. Like other TEDx events the schedule mixes invited talks, talks from youth speakers, and recorded items – in today’s case that included a TED talk, a range of short films, music videos and a quite amazing set of videos of primary school kids responding to questions on identity (beautifully edited by the Fallibroome team and featuring children from schools in the area).

In my own talk – the second of the day – I asked the audience to consider the question of what their digital footprints say about them. And what they want them to say about them. My intention was to trigger reflection and thought, to make the audience in the room – and on the livestream – think about what they share, what they share about others and,hopefully, what else they do online – their privacy settings, their choices..

My fellow invited speakers were a lovely and diverse bunch:

Kat Arney, a geneticist, science writer, musician, and author. She was there to talk about identity from a genetic perspective, drawing on her fantastic new book “Herding Hemingway’s Cats” (my bedtime reading this week). Kat’s main message – a really important one – is that genes don’t predetermine your identity, and that any understanding of there being a “Gene for… x”, i.e. the “Gene for Cancer”, a “Gay Gene”, a gene for whatever… is misleading at best. Things are much more complicated and unpredictable than that. As part of her talk she spoke about gene “wobbles” – a new concept to me – which describes the unexpected and rule-defying behaviour of genes in the real world vs our expectations based on the theory, drawing on work on nematode worms. It was a really interesting start to the day and I highly recommend checking out both Kat’s book, and the The Naked Scientists’ Naked Gentics podcast.

Ben Smith, spoke about his own very personal story and how that led to the 401 Challenge, in which he ran 401 marathons in 401 days. Ben spoke brilliantly and bravely on his experience of bullying, of struggling with his sexuality, and the personal crises and suicide attempts that led to him finding his own sense of self and identity, and happiness, through his passion for running in his late 20s/early 30s. Ben’s talk was even more powerful as it was preceded by an extraordinary video (see below) of the poem “To This Day” by performance poet Shane Koyczan on the impact of bullying and the strength in overcoming it.

VV Brown, singer, songwriter, producer and ethical fashion entrepreneur, gave a lovely presentation on identity and black hair. She gave a personal and serious take on issues of identity and appropriation which have been explored (from another angle) in Chris Rock’s Good Hair (2009). As well as the rich culture of black hairdressing and hugely problematic nature of hair relaxants, weaves, and hair care regimes (including some extreme acids) that are focused on pressuring black women to meet an unobtainable and undesirable white hair ideal. She also spoke from her experience of the modelling industry and it’s incapability of dealing with black hair, whilst simultaneously happily engaging in cultural appropriation, braiding corn rows into white celebrities hair. V.V. followed up her talk with a live performance, of “Shift” (see video below), a song which she explained was inspired by the gay rights movement, and particularly black gay men in New York expressing themselves and their sexuality.

The final invited speaker was Ben Garrod, a Teaching Fellow in evolutionary biology at Anglia Ruskin University as well as a science communicator and broadcaster who has worked with David Attenborough and is on the Board of Trustees for the Jane Goodall Institute. Ben spoke about the power of the individual in a community, bringing in the idea of identity amongst animals, that the uniqueness of the chimps he worked with as part of Jane Goodall’s team. He also had us all join in a Pant-hoot – an escalating group chimp call, to illustrate the power of both the individual and the community.

In amongst the speakers were a range of videos – lovely selections that I gather (and believe) a student team spent months selecting from a huge amount of TED content. However, the main strand of the programme were a group of student presentations and performances which were quite extraordinary.

Highlights for me included Imogen Walsh, who spoke about the fluidity of gender and explained the importance of choice, the many forms of non-binary or genderqueer identity, the use of pronouns like they and Mx and the importance of not singling people out, or questioning them, for buying non gender-conforming, their choice of bathroom, etc. Because, well, why is it anyone else’s business?

Sophie Baxter talked about being a gay teen witnessing the global response to the Pulse nightclub shooting and the fear and reassurance that wider public response to this had provided. She also highlighted the importance of having an LGBT community since for most LGBT young people their own immediate biological/adoptive family may not, no matter how supportive, have a shared experience to draw upon, to understand challenges or concerns faced.

Maddie Travers and Nina Holland-Jones described a visit to Auschwitz (they had actually landed the night before the event) reflecting on what that experience of visiting the site had meant to them, and what it said about identity. They particularly focused on the pain and horror of stripping individual identity, treating camp prisoners (and victims) as a group that denied their individuality at the same time as privileging some individuals for special skills and contributions that extended their life and made them useful to the Nazi regime.

Sam Amey, Nicola Smith and Ellena Wilson talked about attending the London International Youth Science Festival student science conference, of seeing inspiring new science and the excitement of that – watching as a real geek and science fan it was lovely to see their enthusiasm and to hear them state that they “identify as scientists” (that phrasing a recurrent theme and seems to be the 2016 way for youth to define themselves I think).

Meanwhile performances included an absolutely haunting violin piece, Nigun by Bloch, performed by Ewan Kilpatrick (see a video of his playing here). As brilliant as Ewan’s playing was, musically the show was stolen by two precocious young composers, both of whom had the confidence of successful 40 year olds at the peak of their career, backed up by musical skills that made that confidence seem entirely appropriately founded. Ignacio Mana Mesas described his composition process and showed some of his film score (and acting) work, before playing a piece of his own composition; Tammas Slater (you can hear his prize winning work in this BBC Radio 3 clip) meanwhile showed some unexpected comic sparkle, showing off his skills before creating a composition in real time! And the event finished with a lively and charming set of tracks performed by school alumnae and up and coming band Cassia.

All of the youth contributions were incredible. The enthusiasm, competence and confidence of these kids – and of their peers who respectfully engaged and listened throughout the day – was heartening. The future seems pretty safe if this is what the future is looking like – a very lovely thing to be reminded in these strange political times.

Preparing a TEDx talk – a rather different speaking proposition

For me the invitation to give a TEDx talk was really exciting. I have mixed feelings about the brilliantly engaging but often too slick TED format, at the same time as recognising the power that the brand and reputation for the high quality speakers can have.

I regularly give talks and presentations, but distilling ideas of digital identity into 14 minutes whilst keeping them clear, engaging, meeting the speaker rules felt challenging. Doing that in a way that would have some sort of longevity seemed like a tougher ask as things move quickly in internet research, in social media, and in social practices online, so I wanted to make sure my talk focused on those aspects of our work that are solid and long-lived concepts – ideas that would have usefulness even if Facebook disappeared tomorrow (who knows, fake news may just make that a possibility), or SnapChat immediately lost all interest, or some new game-changing space appears tomorrow. This issue of being timely but not immediately out of date is also something we face in creating Digital Footprint MOOC content at the moment.

As an intellectual challenge developing my TEDx talk was useful for finding another way to think about my own presentation and writing skills, in much the same way that taking on the 8 minute format of Bright Club has been, or the 50 ish minute format of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, or indeed teaching 2+ hour seminars for the MSc in Science Communication & Public Engagement for the three years I led a module on that programme. It is always useful to rethink your topic, to think about fitting a totally different dynamic or house style, and to imagine a different audience and their needs and interests. In this case the audience was 16-18 year olds, who are a little younger than my usual audience, but who I felt sure would have lots of interest in my topic, and plenty of questions to ask (as there were in the separate panel event later in the day at Fallibroome).

There are some particular curiosities about the TED/TEDx format versus other speaking and presentations and I thought I’d share some key things I spent time thinking about. You never know, if you find yourself invited to do a TEDx (or if you are very high flying, a TED) these should help a wee bit:

  1. Managing the format

Because I have mixed feelings about the TED format, since it can be brilliant, but also too easy to parody (as in this brilliant faux talk), I was very aware of wanting to live up to the invitation and the expectations for this event, without giving a talk that wouldn’t meet my own personal speaking style or presentation tastes. I think I did manage that in the end but it required some watching of former videos to get my head around what I both did and did not want to do. That included looking back at previous TEDxYouth@Manchester events (to get a sense of space, scale, speaker set up and local expectations), as well as wider TED videos.

I did read the TED/TEDx speaker guidance and largely followed it although, since I do a lot of talks and know what works for me, I chose to write and create slides in parallel with the visuals helping me develop my story (rather than writing first, then doing slides as the guidance suggests). I also didn’t practice my talk nearly as often as either the TED instructions or the local organisers suggest – not out of arrogance but knowing that practicing a few times to myself works well, practising a lot gets me bored of the content and sets up unhelpful memorisations of errors, developing ideas, etc.

I do hugely appreciate that TED/TEDx insist on copyright cleared images. My slides were mostly images I had taken myself but I found a lovely image of yarn under CC-BY on Flickr which was included (and credited) too. Although as I began work on the talk I did start by thinking hard about whether or not to use slides… TED is a format associated with innovative slides (they were the original cheerleaders for Prezi), but at the same time the fact that talks are videoed means much of the power comes from close ups of the speaker, of capturing the connection between speaker and the live audience, and of building connection with the livestream and video audience. With all of that in mind I wanted to keep my slides simple, lively, and rather stylish. I think I managed that but see what you think of my slides [PDF].

  1. Which audience?

Normally when I write a talk, presentation, workshop, etc. I think about tailoring the content to the context and to my audience. I find that is a key part of ensuring I meet my audience’s needs, but it also makes the talk looks, well, kind of cute and clever. Tailoring a talk for a particular moment in time, a specific event or day, and a particular audience means you can make timely and specific references, you can connect to talks and content elsewhere in the day, you can adapt and adlib to meet the interests and mood that you see, and you can show you have understood the context of your audience. Essentially all that tailoring helps you connect more immediately and builds a real bond.

But for TEDx is the audience the 500+ people in the room? Our audience on Wednesday were mainly between 16 and 18, but there were other audience members who had been invited or just signed up to attend (you can find all upcoming TEDx events on their website and most offer tickets for those that are interested). It was a packed venue, but they are probably the smallest audience who will see my performance…

The video being during the event captured goes on the TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016 Playlist on the TEDxYouth YouTube channel and on the TEDx YouTube channel. All of the videos are also submitted to TED so, if your video looks great to the folk  there you could also end up featured on the core TED website, with much wider visibility. Now, I certainly wouldn’t suggest I am counting on having a huge global audience, but those channels all attract a much wider audience than was sitting in the hall. So, where do you pitch the talk?

For my talk I decided to strike a balance between issues that are most pertinent to developing identity, to managing challenges that we know from our research are particularly relevant and difficult for young people – ad which these students may face now or when they go to university. But I also pitched the talk to have relevance more widely, focusing less on cyber bullying, or teen dynamics, and more about changing contexts and the control one can choose to take of ones own digital footprint and social media content, something particularly pertinent to young people but relevant to us all.

  1. When Is it for?

Just as streaming distorts your sense of audience, it also challenges time. The livestream is watching on the day – that’s easy. But the recorded video could stick around for years, and will have a lifespan long beyond the day. With my fast moving area that was a challenge – do I make my talk timely or do I make it general? What points of connection and moments of humour are potentially missed by giving that talk a longer lifespan? I was giving a talk just after Trump’s election and in the midst of the social media bubble discussion – there are easy jokes there, things to bring my audience on board – but they might distance viewers at another time, and date rapidly. And maybe those references wouldn’t be universal enough for a wider audience beyond the UK…

In the end I tried to again balance general and specific advice. But I did that knowing that many of those in the physical audience would also be attending a separate panel event later in the day which would allow many more opportunities to talk about very contemporary questions, and to address sensitive questions that might (and did) arise. In fact in that panel session we took questions on mental health, about how parental postings and video (including some of those made for this event) might impact on their child’s digital footprint, and on whether not being on social media was a disadvantage in life. Those at the panel session also weren’t being streamed or captured in any way, which allowed for frank discussion building on an intense and complex day.

  1. What’s the main take away?

The thing that took me the longest time was thinking about the “take away” I wanted to leave the audience with. That was partly because I wanted my talk to have impact, to feel energising and hopefully somewhat inspiring, but also because the whole idea of TED is “Ideas worth sharing”, which means a TED(x) talk has to have at its core a real idea, something specific and memorable to take from those 14 minutes, something that has impact.

I did have to think of a title far in advance of the event and settled on “What do you digital footprints say about you?”. I picked that as it brought together some of my #CODI16 show’s ideas, and some of the questions I knew I wanted to raise in my talk. But what would I do with that idea? I could have taken the Digital Footprint thing in a more specific direction – something I might do in a longer workshop or training session – picking on particularly poor or good practices and zoning in on good or bad posts. But that isn’t big picture stuff. I had to think about analogy, about examples, about getting the audience to understand the longevity of impact a social media post might have…

After a lot of thinking, testing out of ideas in conversation with my partner and some of my colleagues, I had some vague concepts and then I found my best ideas came – contrary to the TED guidance – from trying to select images to help me form my narrative. An image I had taken at Edinburgh’s Hidden Door Festival earlier this year of an artwork created from a web of strung yarn proved the perfect visual analogy for the complexity involved in taking back an unintended, regretted, or ill-thought-through social media post. It’s an idea I have explained before but actually trying to think about getting the idea across quickly in 1 minute of my 14 minute talk really helped me identify that image as vivid effective shorthand. And from that I found my preceding image and, from that, the flow and the look and feel of the story I wanted to tell. It’s not always the obvious (or simple) things that get you to a place of simplicity and clarity.

Finally I went back to my title and thought about whether my talk did speak to that idea, what else I should raise, and how I would really get my audience to feel engaged and ready to listen, and to really reflect on their own practice, quickly. In the end I settled on a single slide with that title, that question, at it’s heart. I made that the first stepping stone on my path through the talk, building in a pause that was intended to get the audience listening and thinking about their own digital identity. You’d have to ask the audience whether that worked or not but the quality of questions and comments later in the day certainly suggested they had taken in some of what I said and asked.

  1. Logistics

As a speaker there are some logistical aspects that are easy to deal with once you’ve done it a first time: travel, accommodation, etc. There are venue details that you either ask about – filming, photography, mics, etc. or you can find out in advance. Looking at previous years’ videos helped a lot: I would get a screen behind me for slides, there would be a set (build by students no less) and clear speaker zone on stage (the infamous red carpet/dot), I’d have a head mic (a first for me, but essentially a glamorous radio mic, which I am used to) and there would be a remote for my slides. It also looked likely I’d have a clock counting down although, in the end, that wasn’t working during my talk (a reminder, again, that I need a new watch with classic stand up comedy/speaker-friendly vibrating alarm). On the day there was a sound check (very helpful) and also an extremely professional and exceptionally helpful team of technicians – staff, students and Siemens interns – to get us wired up and recorded. The organisers also gave us plenty of advance notice of filming and photography.

I have been on the periphery of TEDx events before: Edinburgh University has held several events and I know how much work has gone into these; I attended a TEDxGlasgow hosted by STV a few years back and, again, was struck buy the organisation required. For TEDxYouth@Manchester I was invited to speak earlier in the year – late August/early September – so I had several months to prepare. The organisers tell me that sometimes they invite speakers as much as 6 to 12 months ahead of the event – as soon as the event finishes their team begin their search for next years’s invitees…

As the organising team spend all year planning a slick event – and Fallibroome Academy really did do an incredibly well organised and slick job – they expect slick and well organised speakers. I think all of us invited speakers, each of us with a lot of experience of talks and performance, experienced more coordination, more contact and more clarity on expectation, format, etc. than at any previous speaking event.

That level of detail is always useful as a a speaker but it can also be intimidating – although that is useful for focusing your thoughts too. There were conference calls in September and October to share developing presentation thoughts, to finalise titles, and to hear a little about each others talks. That last aspect was very helpful – I knew little of the detail of the other talks until the event itself, but I had a broad idea of the topic and angle of each speaker which meant I could ensure minimal overlap, and maximum impact as I understood how my talk fitted in to the wider context.

All credit to Peter Rubery and the Fallibroome team for their work here. They curated a brilliant selection of videos and some phenomenal live performances and short talks from students to create a coherent programme with appropriate and clever segues that added to the power of the presentations, the talks, and took us on something of a powerful emotional rollercoaster. All of us invited speakers felt it was a speaking engagement like we’d never had before and it really was an intense and impactful day. And, as Ben G said, for some students the talks they gave today will be life changing, sharing something very personally on a pretty high profile stage, owning their personal experience and reflections in a really empowering way.

In conclusion then, this was really a wonderful experience and a usefully challenging format to work in. I will update this post or add a new post with the videos of the talks as soon as they are available – you can then judge for yourself how I did. However, if you get the chance to take part in a TEDx event, particularly a TEDxYouth event I would recommend it. I would also encourage you to keep an eye on the TEDxYouth@Manchester YouTube channel for those exceptional student presentations!

Oct 062016
 

Today I am again at the Association of Internet Researchers AoIR 2016 Conference in Berlin. Yesterday we had workshops, today the conference kicks off properly. Follow the tweets at: #aoir2016.

As usual this is a liveblog so all comments and corrections are very much welcomed. 

PA-02 Platform Studies: The Rules of Engagement (Chair: Jean Burgess, QUT)

How affordances arise through relations between platforms, their different types of users, and what they do to the technology – Taina Bucher (University of Copenhagen) and Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam)

Taina: Hearts on Twitter: In 2015 Twitter moved from stars to hearts, changing the affordances of the platform. They stated that they wanted to make the platform more accessible to new users, but that impacted on existing users.

Today we are going to talk about conceptualising affordances. In it’s original meaning an affordance is conceived of as a relational property (Gibson). For Norman perceived affordances were more the concern – thinking about how objects can exhibit or constrain particular actions. Affordances are not just the visual clues or possibilities, but can be felt. Gaver talks about these technology affordances. There are also social affordances – talked about my many – mainly about how poor technological affordances have impact on societies. It is mainly about impact of technology and how it can contain and constrain sociality. And finally we have communicative affordances (Hutchby), how technological affordances impact on communities and communications of practices.

So, what about platform changes? If we think about design affordances, we can see that there are different ways to understand this. The official reason for the design was given as about the audience, affording sociality of community and practices.

Affordances continues to play an important role in media and social media research. They tend to be conceptualised as either high-level or low-level affordances, with ontological and epistemological differences:

  • High: affordance in the relation – actions enabled or constrained
  • Low: affordance in the technical features of the user interface – reference to Gibson but they vary in where and when affordances are seen, and what features are supposed to enable or constrain.

Anne: We want to now turn to platform-sensitive approach, expanding the notion of the user –> different types of platform users, end-users, developers, researchers and advertisers – there is a real diversity of users and user needs and experiences here (see Gillespie on platforms. So, in the case of Twitter there are many users and many agendas – and multiple interfaces. Platforms are dynamic environments – and that differentiates social media platforms from Gibson’s environmental platforms. Computational systems driving media platforms are different, social media platforms adjust interfaces to their users through personalisation, A/B testing, algorithmically organised (e.g. Twitter recommending people to follow based on interests and actions).

In order to take a relational view of affordances, and do that justice, we also need to understand what users afford to the platforms – as they contribute, create content, provide data that enables to use and development and income (through advertisers) for the platform. Returning to Twitter… The platform affords different things for different people

Taking medium-specificity of platforms into account we can revisit earlier conceptions of affordance and critically analyse how they may be employed or translated to platform environments. Platform users are diverse and multiple, and relationships are multidirectional, with users contributing back to the platform. And those different users have different agendas around affordances – and in our Twitter case study, for instance, that includes developers and advertisers, users who are interested in affordances to measure user engagement.

How the social media APIs that scholars so often use for research are—for commercial reasons—skewed positively toward ‘connection’ and thus make it difficult to understand practices of ‘disconnection’ – Nicolas John (Hebrew University of Israel) and Asaf Nissenbaum (Hebrew University of Israel)

Consider this… On Facebook…If you add someone as a friend they are notified. If you unfriend them, they do not. If you post something you see it in your feed, if you delete it it is not broadcast. They have a page called World of Friends – they don’t have one called World of Enemies. And Facebook does not take kindly to app creators who seek to surface unfriending and removal of content. And Facebook is, like other social media platforms, therefore significantly biased towards positive friending and sharing actions. And that has implications for norms and for our research in these spaces.

One of our key questions here is what can’t we know about

Agnotology is defined as the study of ignorance. Robert Proctor talks about this in three terms: native state – childhood for instance; strategic ploy – e.g. the tobacco industry on health for years; lost realm – the knowledge that we cease to hold, that we loose.

I won’t go into detail on critiques of APIs for social science research, but as an overview the main critiques are:

  1. APIs are restrictive – they can cost money, we are limited to a percentage of the whole – Burgess and Bruns 2015; Bucher 2013; Bruns 2013; Driscoll and Walker
  2. APIs are opaque
  3. APIs can change with little notice (and do)
  4. Omitted data – Baym 2013 – now our point is that these platforms collect this data but do not share it.
  5. Bias to present – boyd and Crawford 2012

Asaf: Our methodology was to look at some of the most popular social media spaces and their APIs. We were were looking at connectivity in these spaces – liking, sharing, etc. And we also looked for the opposite traits – unliking, deletion, etc. We found that social media had very little data, if any, on “negative” traits – and we’ll look at this across three areas: other people and their content; me and my content; commercial users and their crowds.

Other people and their content – APIs tend to supply basic connectivity – friends/following, grouping, likes. Almost no historical content – except Facebook which shares when a user has liked a page. Current state only – disconnections are not accounted for. There is a reason to not know this data – privacy concerns perhaps – but that doesn’t explain my not being able to find this sort of information about my own profile.

Me and my content – negative traits and actions are hidden even from ourselves. Success is measured – likes and sharin, of you or by you. Decline is not – disconnections are lost connections… except on Twitter where you can see analytics of followers – but no names there, and not in the API. So we are losing who we once were but are not anymore. Social network sites do not see fit to share information over time… Lacking disconnection data is an idealogical and commercial issue.

Commercial users and their crowds – these users can see much more of their histories, and the negative actions online. They have a different regime of access in many cases, with the ups and downs revealed – though you may need to pay for access. Negative feedback receives special attention. Facebook offers the most detailed information on usage – including blocking and unliking information. Customers know more than users, or Pages vs. Groups.

Nicholas: So, implications. From what Asaf has shared shows the risk for API-based research… Where researchers’ work may be shaped by the affordances of the API being used. Any attempt to capture negative actions – unlikes, choices to leave or unfriend. If we can’t use APIs to measure social media phenomena, we have to use other means. So, unfriending is understood through surveys – time consuming and problematic. And that can put you off exploring these spaces – it limits research. The advertiser-friends user experience distorts the space – it’s like the stock market only reporting the rises except for a few super wealthy users who get the full picture.

A biography of Twitter (a story told through the intertwined stories of its key features and the social norms that give them meaning, drawing on archival material and oral history interviews with users) – Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology) and Nancy Baym (Microsoft Research)

I want to start by talking about what I mean by platforms, and what I mean by biographies. Here platforms are these social media platforms that afford particular possibilities, they enable and shape society – we heard about the platformisation of society last night – but their governance, affordances, are shaped by their own economic existance. They are shaping and mediating socio-cultural experience and we need to better to understand the values and socio-cultural concerns of the platforms. By platform studies we mean treating social media platforms as spaces to study in their own rights: as institutions, as mediating forces in the environment.

So, why “biography” here? First we argue that whilst biographical forms tend to be reserved for individuals (occasionally companies and race horses), they are about putting the subject in context of relationships, place in time, and that the context shapes the subject. Biographies are always partial though – based on unreliable interviews and information, they quickly go out of date, and just as we cannot get inside the heads of those who are subjects of biographies, we cannot get inside many of the companies at the heart of social media platforms. But (after Richard Rogers) understanding changes helps us to understand the platform.

So, in our forthcoming book, Twitter: A Biography (NYU 2017), we will look at competing and converging desires around e.g the @, RT, #. Twitter’s key feature set are key characters in it’s biography. Each has been a rich site of competing cultures and norms. We drew extensively on the Internet Archives, bloggers, and interviews with a range of users of the platform.

Nancy: When we interviewed people we downloaded their archive with them and talked through their behaviour and how it had changed – and many of those features and changes emerged from that. What came out strongly is that noone knows what Twitter is for – not just amongst users but also amongst the creators – you see that today with Jack Dorsey and Anne Richards. The heart of this issue is about whether Twitter is about sociality and fun, or is it a very important site for sharing important news and events. Users try to negotiate why they need this space, what is it for… They start squabling saying “Twitter, you are doing it wrong!”… Changes come with backlash and response, changed decisions from Twitter… But that is also accompanied by the media coverage of Twitter, but also the third party platforms build on Twitter.

So the “@” is at the heart of Twitter for sociality and Twitter for information distribution. It was imported from other spaces – IRC most obviously – as with other features. One of the earliest things Twitter incorporated was the @ and the links back.. You have things like originally you could see everyone’s @ replies and that led to feed clutter – although some liked seeing unexpected messages like this. So, Twitter made a change so you could choose. And then they changed again to automatically not see replies from those you don’t follow. So people worked around that with “.@” – which created conflict between the needs of the users, the ways they make it usable, and the way the platform wants to make the space less confusing to new users.

The “RT” gave credit to people for their words, and preserved integrity of words. At first this wasn’t there and so you had huge variance – the RT, the manually spelled out retweet, the hat tip (HT). Technical changes were made, then you saw the number of retweets emerging as a measure of success and changing cultures and practices.

The “#” is hugely disputed – it emerged through hashtag.org: you couldn’t follow them in Twitter at first but they incorporated it to fend off third party tools. They are beloved by techies, and hated by user experience designers. And they are useful but they are also easily coopted by trolls – as we’ve seen on our own hashtag.

Insights into the actual uses to which audience data analytics are put by content creators in the new screen ecology (and the limitations of these analytics) – Stuart Cunningham (QUT) and David Craig (USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism)

The algorithmic culture is well understood as a part of our culture. There are around 150 items on Tarleton Gillespie and Nick Seaver’s recent reading list and the literature is growing rapidly. We want to bring back a bounded sense of agency in the context of online creatives.

What do I mean by “online creatives”? Well we are looking at social media entertainment – a “new screen ecology” (Cunningham and Silver 2013; 2015) shaped by new online creatives who are professionalising and monetising on platforms like YouTube, as opposed to professional spaces, e.g. Netflix. YouTube has more than 1 billion users, with revenue in 2015 estimated at $4 billion per year. And there are a large number of online creatives earning significant incomes from their content in these spaces.

Previously online creatives were bound up with ideas of democratic participative cultures but we want to offer an immanent critique of the limits of data analytics/algorithmic culture in shaping SME from with the industry on both the creator (bottom up) and platform (top down) side. This is an approach to social criticism exposes the way reality conflicts not with some “transcendent” concept of rationality but with its own avowed norms, drawing on Foucault’s work on power and domination.

We undertook a large number of interviews and from that I’m going to throw some quotes at you… There is talk of information overload – of what one might do as an online creative presented with a wealth of data. Creatives talk about the “non-scalable practices” – the importance and time required to engage with fans and subscribers. Creatives talk about at least half of a working week being spent on high touch work like responding to comments, managing trolls, and dealing with challenging responses (especially with creators whose kids are engaged in their content).

We also see cross-platform engagement – and an associated major scaling in workload. There is a volume issue on Facebook, and the use of Twitter to manage that. There is also a sense of unintended consequences – scale has destroyed value. Income might be $1 or $2 for 100,000s or millions of views. There are inherent limits to algorithmic culture… But people enjoy being part of it and reflect a real entrepreneurial culture.

In one or tow sentences, the history of YouTube can be seen as a sort of clash of NoCal and SoCal cultures. Again, no-one knows what it is for. And that conflict has been there for ten years. And you also have the MCNs (Multi-Contact Networks) who are caught like the meat in the sandwich here.

Panel Q&A

Q1) I was wondering about user needs and how that factors in. You all drew upon it to an extent… And the dissatisfaction of users around whether needs are listened to or not was evident in some of the case studies here. I wanted to ask about that.

A1 – Nancy) There are lots of users, and users have different needs. When platforms change and users are angry, others are happy. We have different users with very different needs… Both of those perspectives are user needs, they both call for responses to make their needs possible… The conflict and challenges, how platforms respond to those tensions and how efforts to respond raise new tensions… that’s really at the heart here.

A1 – Jean) In our historical work we’ve also seen that some users voices can really overpower others – there are influential users and they sometimes drown out other voices, and I don’t want to stereotype here but often technical voices drown out those more concerned with relationships and intimacy.

Q2) You talked about platforms and how they developed (and I’m afraid I didn’t catch the rest of this question…)

A2 – David) There are multilateral conflicts about what features to include and exclude… And what is interesting is thinking about what ideas fail… With creators you see economic dependence on platforms and affordances – e.g. versus PGC (Professionally Generated Content).

A2 – Nicholas) I don’t know what user needs are in a broader sense, but everyone wants to know who unfriended them, who deleted them… And a dislike button, or an unlike button… The response was strong but “this post makes me sad” doesn’t answer that and there is no “you bastard for posting that!” button.

Q3) Would it be beneficial to expose unfriending/negative traits?

A3 – Nicholas) I can think of a use case for why unfriending would be useful – for instance wouldn’t it be useful to understand unfriending around the US elections. That data is captured – Facebook know – but we cannot access it to research it.

A3 – Stuart) It might be good for researchers, but is it in the public good? In Europe and with the Right to be Forgotten should we limit further the data availability…

A3 – Nancy) I think the challenge is that mismatch of only sharing good things, not sharing and allowing exploration of negative contact and activity.

A3 – Jean) There are business reasons for positivity versus negativity, but it is also about how the platforms imagine their customers and audiences.

Q4) I was intrigued by the idea of the “Medium specificity of platforms” – what would that be? I’ve been thinking about devices and interfaces and how they are accessed… We have what we think of as a range but actually we are used to using really one or two platforms – e.g. Apple iPhone – in terms of design, icons, etc. and the possibilities of interface is, and what happens when something is made impossible by the interface.

A4 – Anne) When the “medium specificity” we are talking about the platform itself as medium. Moving beyond end user and user experience. We wanted to take into account the role of the user – the platform also has interfaces for developers, for advertisers, etc. and we wanted to think about those multiple interfaces, where they connect, how they connect, etc.

A4 – Taina) It’s a great point about medium specitivity but for me it’s more about platform specifity.

A4 – Jean) The integration of mobile web means the phone iOS has a major role here…

A4 – Nancy) We did some work with couples who brought in their phones, and when one had an Apple and one had an Android phone we actually found that they often weren’t aware of what was possible in the social media apps as the interfaces are so different between the different mobile operating systems and interfaces.

Q5) Can you talk about algorithmic content and content innovation?

A5 – David) In our work with YouTube we see forms of innovation that are very platform specific around things like Vine and Instagram. And we also see counter-industrial forms and practices. So, in the US, we see blogging and first person accounts of lives… beauty, unboxing, etc. But if you map content innovation you see (similarly) this taking the form of gaps in mainstream culture – in India that’s stand up comedy for instance. Algorithms are then looking for qualities and connections based on what else is being accessed – creating a virtual circle…

Q6) Can we think of platforms as instable, about platforms having not quite such a uniform sense of purpose and direction…

A6 – Stuart) Most platforms are very big in terms of their finance… If you compare that to 20 years ago the big companies knew what they were doing! Things are much more volatile…

A6 – Jean) That’s very common in the sector, except maybe on Facebook… Maybe.

PA-05: Identities (Chair: Tero Jukka Karppi)

The Bot Affair: Ashley Madison and Algorithmic Identities as Cultural Techniques – Tero Karppi, University at Buffalo, USA

As of 2012 Ashley Madison is the biggest online dating site targeted at those already in a committed relationship. Users are asked to share their gender, their sexuality, and to share images. Some aspects are free but message and image exchange are limited to paid accounts.

The site was hacked in 2016, stealing site user data which was then shared. Security experts who analysed the data assessed it as real, associated with real payment details etc. The hacker intention was to expose cheaters but my paper is focused on a different aspect of the aftermath. Analysis showed 43 male bots, and 70k female bots and that is the focus of my paper. And I want to think about this space and connectivity by removing the human user from the equation.

The method for me was about thinking about the distinction between human and non-human user, the individual and the bot. Eminating from germination theory I wanted to use cultural techniques – with materials, symbolic values, rules and places. So I am seeking elements of difference of different materials in the context of the hack and the aftermath.

So, looking at a news items: “Ashley madison, the dating website for cheaters, has admitted that some women on its site were virtual computer programmes instead of real women.” (CNN money), which goes onto say that users thought that they were cheating, but they weren’t after all! These bots interacted with users in a variety of ways from “winking” to messaging, etc. The role of the bot is to engage users in the platform and transform them into paying customers. A blogger talked about the space as all fake – the men are cheaters, the women are bots and only the credit card payments are real!

The fact that the bots are so gender imbalanced tells us the difference in how the platform imagines male and female users. In another commentary they comment on the ways in which fake accounts drew men in – both by implying real women were on the site, and by using real images on fake accounts… The lines between what is real and what is fake have been blurred. Commentators noted the opaqueness of connectivity here, and of the role of the bots. Who knows how many of the 4 million users were real?

The bots are designed to engage users, to appear as human to the extent that we understand human appearance. Santine Olympo talked about bots whilst others looking at algorithmic spaces and what can be imagined and created from our wants and needed. According to Ashley Madison employees the bots – or “angels” – were created to match the needs of users, recycling old images from real user accounts. This case brings together the “angel” and human users. A quote from a commentator imagines this as a science fiction fantasy where real women are replaced by perfect interested bots. We want authenticity in social media sites but bots are part of our mundane everyday existence and part of these spaces.

I want to finish by quoting from Ashley Madison’s terms and conditions, in which users agree that “some of the accounts and users you may encounter on the site may be fiction”.

Facebook algorithm ruins friendship – Taina Bucher, University of Copenhagen

“Rachel”, a Facebook user/informant states this in a tweet. She has a Facebook account that she doesn’t use much. She posts something and old school friends she has forgotten comment on it. She feels out of control… And what I want to focus on today are ordinary affects of algorithmic life taking that idea from ?’s work and Catherine Stewart’s approach to using this in the context of understanding the encounters between people and algorithmic processes. I want to think about the encounter and how the encounter itself becoming generative.

I think that the fetish could be one place to start in knowing algorithms… And how people become attuned to them. We don’t want to treat algorithms as a fetish. The fetishist doesn’t care about the object, just about how the object makes them feel. And so the algorithm as fetish can be a mood maker, using the “power of engagement”. The power does not reside in the algorithm, but in the types of ways people imagine the algorithm to exist and impact upon them.

So, I have undertaken a study of people’s personal algorithm stories, looking at people’s personal algorithm stories about Facebook algorithm; monitoring and querying Twitter for comments and stories (through keywords) relating to Facebook algorithms. And a total of 25 interviews were undertaken via email, chat and Skype.

So, when Rachel tweeted about Facebook and friendship, that gave me the starting point to understand stories and the context for these positions through interviews. And what repeatedly arose was the uncanny nature of Facebook algorithms. Take, for instance Micheal, a musician in LA. He shares a post and usually the likes come in rapidly, but this time nothing… He tweets that the algorithm is “super frustrating” and he believes that Facebook only shows paid for posts. Like others he has developed his own strategy to show posts more clearly. He says:

“If the status doesn’t build buzz (likes, comments, shares) within the first 10 minutes or so it immediately starts moving down the news feed and eventually gets lost.”

Adapting behaviour to social media platforms and their operation can be seen as a form of “optimisation”. Users aren’t just updating their profile or hoping to be seen, they are trying to change behaviours to be better seen by the algorithm. And this takes us to the algorithmic imaginary, the ways of thinking about what algorithms are, what they should be, how they function, and what these imaginations in turn make possible. Many of our participants talked about changing behaviours for the platform. Rachel talks about “clicking every day to change what will show up on her feed” is not only her using the platform, but thinking and behaving differently in the space. Adverts can also suggest algorithmic intervention and, no matter whether the user is profiled or not (e.g. for anti-wrinkle cream), users can feel profiled regardless.

So, people do things to algorithms – disrupting liking practices, comment more frequently to increase visibility, emphasise positively charged words, etc. these are not just interpreted by the algorithm but also shape that algorithm. Critiquing the algorithm is not enough, people are also part of the algorithm and impact upon its function.

Algorithmic identity – Michael Stevenson, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Michael is starting with a poster of Blade Runner… Algorithmic identity brings to mind cyberpunk and science fiction. But day to day algorithmic identity is often about ads for houses, credit scores… And I’m interested in this connection between this clash of technological cool vs mundane instruments of capitalism.

For critics the “cool” is seen as an ideological cover for the underlying political economy. We can look at the rhetoric around technology – “rupture talk”, digital utopianism as that covering of business models etc. Evgeny Morozov writes entertainingly of this issue. I think this critique is useful but I also think that it can be too easy… We’ve seen Morozov tear into Jeff Jarvis and Tim O’Reilly, describing the latter as a spin doctor for Silicon Valley. I think that’s too easy…

My response is this… An image of Christopher Walken saying “needs more Bourdieu”. I think we need to take seriously the values and cultures and the effort it takes to create those. Bourdieu talks about the new media field with areas of “web native”, open, participatory, transparant at one end of the spectrum – the “autonomous pole”; and the “heteronomous pole” of mass/traditional media, closed, controlled, opaque. The idea is that actors locate themselves between these poles… There is also competition to be seen as the most open, the most participatory – you may remember a post from a few years back on Google’s idea of open versus that of Facebook. Bourdieu talks of the autonomous pole as being about downplaying income and economic value, whereas the heteronomous pole is much more directly about that…

So, I am looking at “Everything” – a site designed in the 1990s. It was built by the guys behind Slashdot. It was intended as a compendium of knowledge to support that site and accompany it – items of common interest, background knowledge that wasn’t news. If we look at the site we see implicit and explicit forms of impact… Voting forms on articles (e.g. “I like this write up”), and soft links at the bottom of the page – generated by these types of feedback and engagement. This was the first version in the 1990s. Then in 1999 Nathan Dussendorf(?) developed the Everything2 built with the Everything Development Engine. This is still online. Here you see that techniques of algorithmic identity and datafication of users, this is very explicitly presented – very much unlike Facebook. Among the geeks here the technology is put on top, showing reputation on the site. And being open source, if you wanted to understand the recommendation engine you could just look it up.

If we think of algorithms as talk makers, and we look back at 1999 Everything2, you see the tracking and datafication in place but the statement around it talks about web 2.0/social media type ideas of democracy, meritocracy, conflations of cultural values and social actions with technologies and techniques. Aspects of this are bottom up and you also talk about the role of cookies, and the addressing of privacy. And it directly says “the more you participate, the greater the opportunity for you to mold it your way”.

Thinking about Field Theory we can see some symbolic exclusion – of Microsoft, of large organisations – as a way to position Everything2 within the field. This continues throughout the documentation across the site. And within this field “making money is not a sin” – that developers want to do cool stuff, but that can sit alongside making money.

So, I don’t want to suggest this is a utopian space… Everything2 had a business model, but this was of its time for open source software. The idea was to demonstrate capabilities of the development framework, to get them to use it, and to then get them to pay for services… But this was 2001 and the bubble burst… So the developers turned to “real jobs”. But Everything2 is still out there… And you can play with the first version on an archived version if you are curious!

The Algorithmic Listener – Robert Prey, University of Groningen, Netherlands

This is a version of a paper I am working on – feedback appreciated. And this was sparked by re-reading Raymond Williams, who talks about “there are in fact no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses” (1958/2011). But I think that in the current environment Williams might now say “there are in fact no individuals, but only ways of seeing people as individuals”. and for me I’m looking at this through the lens of music platforms.

In an increasingly crowded and competitive sector platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Tidel, those platforms are increasingly trying to differentiate themselves through recommendation engines. And I’ll go on to talk about recommendations as individualisation.

Pandora internet radio calls itself the “music genome project” and sees music as genes. It seeks to provide recommendatoins that are outside the distorting impact of cultural information, e.g. you might like “The colour of my love” but you might be put off by the fact that Celine Dion is not cool. They market themselves against the crowd. They play on the individual as the part separated from the whole. However…

Many of you will be familiar with Spotify, and will therefore be familiar with Discover Weekly. The core of Spotify is the “taste profile”. Every interaction you have is captured and recorded in real time – selected artists, songs, behaviours, what you listen to and for how long, what you skip. Discover weekly uses both the taste profile and aspects of collaborative filtering – selecting songs you haven’t discovered that fits your taste profile. So whilst it builds a unique identity for each user, it also relies heavily on other peoples’ taste. Pandora treats other people as distortion, Spotify sees it as more information. Discover weekly does also understands the user based on current and previous behaviours. Ajay Kalia (Spotify) says:

“We believe that it’s important to recognise that a single music listener is usually many listeners… [A] person’s preference will vary by the type of music, by their current activity, by the time of day, and so on. Our goal then is to come up with the right recommendation…”

This treats identity as being in context, as being the sum of our contexts. Previously fixed categories, like gender, are not assigned at the beginning but emerge from behaviours and data. Pagano talks about this, whilst Cheney-Lippold (2011) talks about “cybernetic relationship to individual” and the idea of individuation (Simondon). For Simondon we are not individuals, individuals are an effect of individuation, not the cause. A focus on individuation transforms our relationship to recommendation systems… We shouldn’t be asking if they understand who we are, but the extent to which the person is an effect of personalisation. Personalisation is seen as about you and your need. From a Simondonian perspective there is no “you” or “want” outside of technology. In taking this perspective we have to acknowledge the political economy of music streaming systems…

And the reality is that streaming services are increasingly important to industry and advertisers, particularly as many users use the free variants. And a developer of Pandora talks about the importance for understanding profiles for advertisers. Pandora boasts that they have 700 audience segments to data. “Whether you want to reach fitness-driven moms in Atlanta or mobile Gen X-er… “. The Echo Nest, now owned by Spotify, had created highly detailed consumer profiling before it was brought up. That idea isn’t new, but the detail is. The range of segments here is highly granular… And this brings us to the point that we need to take seriously what Nick Seaver (2015) says we need to think of: “contextualisation as a practice in its own right”.

This matters as the categories that emerge online have profound impacts on how we discover and encounter our world.

Panel Q&A

Q1) I think it’s about music category but also has wider relevance… I had an introduction to the NLP process of Topic Modelling – where you label categories after the factor… The machine sorts without those labels and takes it from the data. Do you have a sense of whether the categorisation is top down, or is it emerging from the data? And if there is similar top down or bottom up categorisation in the other presentations, that would be interesting.

A1 – Robert) I think that’s an interesting question. Many segments are impacted by advertisers, and identifying groups they want to reach… But they may also

Micheal) You talked about the Ashley Madison bots – did they have categorisation, A/B testing, etc. to find successful bots?

Tero) I don’t know but I think looking at how machine learning and machine learning history

Micheal) The idea of content filtering from the bottom to the top was part of the thinking behind Everything…

Q2) I wanted to ask about the feedback loop between the platforms and the users, who are implicated here, in formation of categories and shaping platforms.

A2 – Taina) Not so much in the work I showed but I have had some in-depth Skype interviews with school children, and they all had awareness of some of these (Facebook algorithm) issues, press coverage and particularly the review of the year type videos… People pick up on this, and the power of the algorithm. One of the participants emails me since the study noting how much she sees writing about the algorithm, and about algorithms in other spaces. Awareness is growing much more about the algorithms shaping spaces. It is more prominent than it was.

Q3) I wanted to ask Michael about that idea of positioning Everything2 in relation to other sites… And also the idea of the individual being transformed by platforms like Spotify…

A3 – Michael) I guess the Bourdieun vision is that anyone who wants to position themselves on the spectrum, they can. With Everything you had this moment during the Internet Bubble, a form of utopianism… You see it come together somewhat… And the gap between Wired – traditional mass media – and smaller players but then also a coming together around shared interests and common enemies.

A3 – Robert) There were segments that did come from media, from radio and for advertisers and that’s where the idea of genre came in… That has real effects… When I was at High School there were common groups around particular genres… But right now the move to streaming and online music means there are far more mixed listening and people self-organise in different ways. There has been de-bunking of Bourdieu, but his work was at a really different time.

Q4) I wanted to ask about interactions between humans and non-human. Taina, did people feel positive impacts of understanding Facebook algorithms… Or did you see frustrations with the Twitter algorithms. And Tero, I was wondering how those bots had been shaped by humans.

A4 – Taina) The human and non-human, and whether people felt more or less frustrated by understanding the algorithm. Even if they felt they knew, it changes all the time, their strategies might help but then become obsolete… And practices of concealment and misinformation were tactics here. But just knowing what is taking place, and trying to figure it out, is something that I get a sense is helpful… But maybe that is’t the right answer to it. And that notion of a human and a non human is interesting, particularly for when we see something as human, and when we see things as non-human. In terms of some of the controversies… When is an algorithm blamed versus a human… Well there is no necessary link/consistency there… So when do we assign humanness and non-humanness to the system and does it make a difference?

A4 – Tero) I think that’s a really interesting questions…. Looking at social media now from this perspective helps us to understand that, and the idea of how we understand what is human and what is non-human agency… And what it is to be a human.

Q5) I’m afraid I couldn’t here this question

A5 – Richard) Spotify supports what Deleuze wrote about in terms of the individual and how aspects of our personality are highlighted at the points that is convenient. And how does that effect help us regulate. Maybe the individual isn’t the most appropriate unit any more?

A5 – Taine) For users the exposure that they are being manipulated or can be summed up by the algorithm, that is what can upset or disconcert them… They don’t like to feel summed up by that…

Q6) I really like the idea of the imagined… And perceptions of non-human actors… In the Ashley Madison case we assume that men thought bots were real… But maybe not everyone did that. I think that moment of how and when people imagine and ascribe human or non-human status here. In one way we aren’t concerned by the imaginary… And in another way we might need to consider different imaginaries – the imaginary of the platform creators vs. users for instance.

A6 – Tero) Right now I’m thinking about two imaginaries here… Ashley Madison’s imaginary around the bots, and the users encountering them and how they imagine those bots…

A6 – Taine) A good question… How many imaginaries o you think?! It is about understanding more who you encounter, who you engage with. Imaginaries are tied to how people conceive of their practice in their context, which varies widely, in terms of practices and what you might post…

And with that session finished – and much to think about in terms of algorithmic roles in identity – it’s off to lunch… 

PS-09: Privacy (Chair: Michael Zimmer)

Unconnected: How Privacy Concerns Impact Internet Adoption – Eszter Hargittai, Ashley Walker, University of Zurich

The literature in this area seems to target the usual suspects – age, socio-economic status… But the literature does not tend to talk about privacy. I think one of the reasons may be the idea that you can’t compare users and non-users of the internet on privacy. But we have located a data set that does address this issue.

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s issued a National Consumer’s Broadband Service Capability Service in 2009 – when about 24% of Americans were still not yet online. This work is some years ago but our insterest is in the comparison rather than numbers/percentages. And this questioned both internet users and non-users.

One of the questions was: “It is too easy for my personal information to be stolen online” and participants were asked if they Strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed, disagreed. We looked at that as bivariate – strongly agreed or not. And analysing that we found that among internet users 63.3% said they strongly agreed versus 81% of non internet users. Now we did analyse demographically… It is what you expect generally – more older people are not online (though interestingly more female respondents are online). But even then the internet non-users again strongly agreed about that privacy/concern question.

So, what does that mean? Well getting people online should address people’s concerns about privacy issues. There is also a methodological takeaway – there is value to asking non-users about internet-related questions – as they may explain their reasons.

Q&A

Q1) Was it asked whether they had previously been online?

A1) There is data on drop outs, but I don’t know if that was captured here.

Q2) Is there a differentiation in how internet use is done – frequently or not?

A2) No, I think it was use or non-use. But we have a paper coming out on those with disabilities and detailed questions on internet skills and other factors – that is a strength of the dataset.

Q3) Are there security or privacy questions in the dataset?

A3) I don’t think there are, or we would have used them. It’s a big national dataset… There is a lot on type of internet connection and quality of access in there, if that is of interest.

Note, there is more on some of the issues around access, motivations and skills in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation in Scotland Inquiry report (Fourman et al 2014). I was a member of this inquiry so if anyone at AoIR2016 is interested in finding out more, let me know. 

Enhancing online privacy at the user level: the role of internet skills and policy implications – Moritz Büchi, Natascha Just, Michael Latzer, U of Zurich, Switzerland

Natascha: This presentation is connected with a paper we just published and where you can read more if you are interested.

So, why do we care about privacy protection? Well there is increased interest in/availability of personal data. We see big data as a new asset class, we see new methods of value extraction, we see growth potential of data-driven management, and we see platformisation of internet-based markets. Users have to continually balance the benefits with the risks of disclosure. And we see issues of online privacy and digital inequality – those with fewer digital skills are more vulnerable to privacy risks.

We see governance becoming increasingly important and there is an issue of understanding appropriate measures. Market solutions by industry self-regulation is problematic because of a lack of incentives as they benefit from data. At the same time states are not well placed to regulate because of their knowledge and the dynamic nature of the tech sector. There is also a route through users’ self-help. Users self-help can be an effective method to protect privacy – whether opting out, or using privacy enhancing technology. But we are increasingly concerned but we still share our data and engage in behaviour that could threaten our privacy online. And understanding that is crucial to understand what can trigger users towards self-help behaviour. To do that we need evidence, and we have been collecting that through a world internet study.

Moritz: We can imperically address issues of attitudes, concerns and skills. The literature finds these all as important, but usually at most two factors covered in the literature. Our research design and contributions look at general population data, nationally representative so that they can feed into policy. The data was collected in the World Internet Project, though many questions only asked in Switzerland. Participants were approached on landline and mobile phones. And our participants had about 88% internet users – that maps to the approx. population using the internet in Switzerland.

We found a positive effect of privacy attitudes on behaviours – but a small effect. There was a strong effect of privacy breaches and engaging in privacy protection behaviours. And general internet skills also had an effect on privacy protection. Privacy breaches – learning the hard way – do predict privacy self-protection. Caring is not enough – that pro-privacy attitudes do not really predict privacy protection behaviours. But skills are central – and that can mean that digital inequalities may be exacerbated because users with low general internet skills do not tend to engage in privacy protection behaviour.

Q&A

Q1) What do you mean by internet skills?

A1 – Moritz): In this case there were questions that participants were asked, following a model by Alexander von Durnstern and colleagues developed, that asks for agreement or disagreement

Navigating between privacy settings and visibility rules: online self-disclosure in the social web – Manuela Farinosi1,Sakari Taipale2, 1: University of Udine; 2: University of Jyväskylä

Our work is focused on self-disclosure online, and particularly whether young people are concerned about privacy in relation to other internet users, privacy to Facebook, or privacy to others.

Facebook offers complex privacy settings allowing users to adopt a range of strategies in managing their information and sharing online. Waters and Ackerman (2011) talk about the practice of managing privacy settings and factors that play a role including culture, motivation, risk-taking ratio, etc. And other factors are at play here. Fuchs (2012) talks about Facebook as commercial organisation and concerns around that. But only some users are aware of the platform’s access to their data, may believe their content is (relatively) private. And for many users privacy to other people is more crucial than privacy to Facebook.

And there are differences in privacy management… Women are less likely to share their phone number, sexual orientation or book preferences. Men are more likely to share corporate information and political views. Several scholars have found that women are more cautious about sharing their information online. Nosko et al (2010) found no significant difference in information disclosure except for political informaltion (which men still do more of).

Sakari: Manuela conducted an online survey in 2012 in Italy with single and multiple choice questions. It was issued to university students – 1125 responses were collected. We focused on 18-38 year old respondents, and only those using facebook. We have slightly more female than male participants, mainly 18-25 years old. Mostly single (but not all). And most use facebook everyday.

So, a quick reminder of Facebook’s privacy settings… (a screenshot reminder, you’ve seen these if you’ve edited yours).

To the results… We found that the data that are most often kept private and not shared are mobile phone number, postal address or residence, and usernames of instant messaging services. The only data they do share is email address. But disclosure is high of other types of data – birth date for instance. And they were not using friends list to manage data. Our research also confirmed that women are more cautious about sharing their data, and men are more likely to share political views. The only not gender related issues were disclosure of email and date of birth.

Concerns were mainly about other users, rather than Facebook, but it was not substantially different in Italy. We found very consistent gender effects across our study. We also checked factors related to concerns but age, marital status, education, and perceived level of expertise as Facebook user did not have a significant impact. The more time you spend on Facebook, the less likely you are to care about privacy issues. There was also a connection between respondents’ privacy concerns were related to disclosures by others on their wall.

So, conclusions, women are more aware of online privacy protection than men, and protection of private sphere. They take more active self protection there. And we speculate on the reasons… There are practices around sense of security/insecurity, risk perception between men and women, and the more sociological understanding of women as maintainers of social labour – used to taking more care of their material… Future research needed though.

Q&A

Q1) When you asked users about privacy settings on Facebook how did you ask that?

A1) They could go and check, or they could remember.

WHOSE PRIVACY? LOBBYING FOR THE FREE FLOW OF EUROPEAN PERSONAL DATA – Jockum Philip Hildén, University of Helsinki, Finland

My focus is related to political science… And my topic is lobbying for the free flow of European Personal Data – and how the General Data Protection Regulation come into being and which lobbyists influenced the legislators. This is a new piece of regulation coming in next year. It was the subject of a great deal of lobbying – it became visible when the regulation was in parliament, but the lobbying was much earlier than that.

So, a quick description of EU law making. There is the European Commission which proposes legislation and that goes to both the Council of Europe and also to the Parliament. Both draw up regulations based on the proposal and then that becomes final regulation. In this particular case there was public consultation before the final regulation so I looked at a wide range of publicly available position pages. Looking across here I could see 10 types of stakeholders offering replies to the position papers – far more in 2011 than to the first version in 2009. Companies in the US participated to a very high degree – almost as much as those in the UK and France. That’s interesting… And that’s partly to do with the extended scope of this new regulation that covers EU but also service providers in the US and other locations. This idea is not exclusive to this regulation, known as “the Brussels effect”.

In terms of sector I have categorised the stakeholders so I have divided IP and Node communications for instance, to understand their interests. But I am interested in what they are saying, so I draw on Kluver (2013) and the “preference attainment model” to compare policy preferences of interest groups with the Commissions preliminary draft proposal, the Commission’s final proposal, and the final legislative act adopted by the council. So, what interests did the council take into account? Well almost every article changed – which makes those changes hard to pin down. But…

There is an EU Power Struggle. The Commission draft contained 26 different cases where it was empowered to adopt delegated acts. All but one of these articles were removed from the Council’s draft. And there were 48 exceptions for member states, most of them are “in the public interest”… But that could mean anything! And thus the role of nation states comes into question. The idea of European law is to have consistent policy – that amount of variance undermines that.

We also see a degree of User disempowerment. Here we see responses from Digital Europe – a group of organisations doing any sort of surveillance; But we also see the American Chambers of Commerce submitting responses. In these responses both are lobbying for “implicit consent” – the original draft requested explicit consent. And the Commission sort of brought into this, using a concept of unambiguous consent… Which is itself very ambiguous. Looking at the Council vs Free Data Advocates and then compared to Council vs Privacy Advocates. The Free Data Advocates are pro free movement of data, and privacy – as that’s useful to them too, but they are not keen on greater Commission powers. Privacy Advocates are pro privacy and more supportive of Commission powers.

In Search of Safe Harbors – Privacy and Surveillance of Refugees in Europe – Paula Kift, New York University, United States of America

Over 2015 a million refugees and migrants arrived at the borders of Europe. One of the ways in which the EU attempted to manage this influx was to gather information on these peoples. In particular satellite surveillance and data collection on individuals on arrival.   
The EU does acknowledge that biometric data does raise privacy issues, but that satellites and drones is not personally identifiable or an issue here. I will argue that the right to privacy does not require presence of Personally Identifiable Information.
As background there are two pieces of legislation, Eurosur – regulations to gather and share satelite and drone data across Member States. Although the EU justifies this on the basis of helping refugees in distress, it isn’t written into the regulation. Refugee and human rights organisations say that this surveillance is likely to enable turning back of migrants before they enter EU waters.
If they do reach the EU, according to Eurodac (2000) refugees must give fingerprints (if over 14 years old) and can only apply for asylum status in one country. But in 2013 this regulation has been updated so that fingerprinting can be used in law enforcement – that goes again EU human rights act and Data Protection law. It is also demeaning and suggests that migrants are more likely to be criminal, something not backed up by evidence. They have also proposed photography and fingerprinting be extended to everyone over 6 years old. There are legitimate reasons for this… Refugees come into Southern Europe where opportunities are not as good, so some have burned off fingerprints to avoid registration there, so some of these are attempts to register migrants, and to avoid losing children once in the EU.
The EU does not dispute that biometric data is private data. But with Eurodac and Eurosur the right to data protection does not apply – they monitor boats not individuals. But I argue that the Right to Private Life is jeapodised here, through prejudice, reachability and classifiability… The bigger issue may actually be the lack of personal data being collected… The EU should approach boats and identify those with asylum claim, and manage others differently, but that is not what is done.
So, how is big data relevant? Well big data can turn non personally identifiable information into PII through aggregation and combination. And classifying individuals also has implications for the design of Data Protection Laws. Data protection is a procedural right, but privacy is a substantive right, less dependent on personally identifiable information. Ultimately the right to privacy protects the person, rather than the integrity of the data.
Q&A
Q1) In your research have you encountered any examples of when policy makers have engaged with research here?
A1 – Paula) I have not conducted any on the ground interviews or ethnographic work with policy makers but I would suggest that the increasing focus on national security is driving this activity, whereas data protection is shrinking in priority.
A1 – Jockum) It’s fairly clear that the Council of Europe engaged with digital rights groups, and that the Commission did too. But then for every one of those groups, there are 10 lobby groups. So you have Privacy International and European Digital Rights who have some traction at European level, but little traction at national level. My understanding is that researchers weren’t significantly consulted, but there was a position paper submitted by a research group at Oxford, submitted by lawers, but their interest was more aligned with national rather than digital rights issues.
Q2) You talked about the ? being embedded in the new legislation… You talk about information and big data… But is there any hope? We’ve negotiated for 4 years, won’t be in force until 2018…
A2 – Paula) I totally agree… You spend years trying to come up with a framework, but it all rests on PII…. And so how do we create Data Protection Act that respects personal privacy without being dependent on PII? Maybe the question is not about privacy but about profiles and discrimination.
A2 – Jockum) I looked at all the different sectors to look at surveillance logic, to understand why surveillance is related to regulation. The problem with Data Protection regulation is inherently problematic as it has opposing goals – to protect individuals and to enable the sharing of data… So, in that sense, surveillance logic is informing this here.
Q3) Could you outline again the threats here beyond PII?
A3 – Paula) Refugees who are aware of these issues don’t take their phones – but that reduces chance of identification but also stops potential help calls and rescues. But the risk is also about profiling… High ranking job offers are more likely to be made to women than men… Google thinks I am between 60 and 80 years old and Jewish, I’m neither, they detect who I am… And that’s where the risk is here… profiling… e.g. transactions being blocked through proposals.
Q4) Interesting mixture of papers here… Many people are concerned about social side of privacy… But know little of institutional privacy concerns. Some become more cynical… But how can we improve literacy… How can we influence people here about Data Protection laws, and privacy measures…
A4 – Esther) It varies by context. In the US the concern is with government surveillance, the EU it’s more about corporate surveillance… You may need to target differently. Myself and a colleague wrote a paper on apathy of privacy… There are issues of trust, but also work on skills. There are bigger conversations, not just with users, to be had. There are conversations to have generally with the population… Where do you infuse that, I don’t know… How do you reach adults, I don’t know?
A4 – Natascha) Not enough to strengthen awareness and rights… Skills are important here too… That you really need to ensure that skills are developed to adapt to policies and changes. Skills are key.
Q5) You talked about exclusion and registration,,, And I was wondering how exclusion to and exclusion of registration (e.g. the dead are not registered).
A5 – Paula) They collect how many are registered… But that can lead to threat inflation and very flawed data. In terms of data that is excluded there is a capacity issue… That may be the issue with deaths. The EU isn’t responsible for saving lives, but doesn’t want to be seen as responsible for those deaths either.
Q6) I wanted to come back to what you see as the problematic implications of the boat surveillance.
A6 – Paula) For many data collection is fine until something happens to you… But if you know it takes place it can have an impact on your behaviours… So there is work to be done to understand if refugees are aware of that surveillance. But the other issue here is about the use of drone surveillance to turn people back then that has clear impact on private lives, particularly as EU states have bilateral agreements with nations that have not all ratified refugee law – meaning turned back boats may result in significantly different rights and opportunities.
RT-07: IR (Chair: Victoria Nash)

The Politics of Internet Research: Reflecting on the challenges and responsibilities of policy engagement

Victoria Nash (University of Oxford, United Kingdom), Wolfgang Schulz (Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung, Germany), Juan-Carlos De Martin (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Ivan Klimov, New Economic School, Russia (not attending), Bianca C. Reisdorf (representing Bill Dutton, Quello Center, Michigan Statue University), Kate Coyer, Central European University, Hungary (not attending)

Victoria: I am Vicky Nash and I have convened a round table of members of the international network of internet research centres.

Juan-Carlos: I am director of the Nexa Center for Internet and Society in Italy and we are mainly computer scientists like myself, and lawers. We are ten years old.

Wolfgang: I am associated with two centres, in Humboldt primarily and our interest is in governance and surveillance primarily. We are celebrating our five birthday this year. I also work with the Hans-Bredow-Institut a traditional media institute, multidisciplinary, and we increasingly focus on the internet and internet studies as part of our work.

Bianca: I am representing Bill Dutton. I am Assistant Director of the Quello Center at Michigan State University centre. We were more focused on traditional media but have moved towards internet policy in the last few years as Bill moved to join us. There are three of us right now, but we are currently recruiting for a policy post-doc.

Victoria: Thanks for that, I should talk about the department I am representing… We are in a very traditional institution but our focus has explicitly always been involvement in policy and real world impact.

Victoria: So, over the last five or so years, it does feel like there are particular challenges arising now, especially working with politicians. And I was wondering if other types of researchers are facing those same challenges – is it about politics, or is it specific to internet studies. So, can I kick off and ask you to give me an example of a policy your centre has engaged in, how you were involved, and the experience of that.

Juan-Carlos: There are several examples. One with the regional government in our region of Italy. We were aware of data and participatory information issues in Europe. We reached out and asked if they were aware. We wanted to make them aware of opportunities to open up data, and build on OECD work, but we were also doing some research ourselves. Everybody agreed in the technical infrastructure and on political level… We assisted them in creating the first open data portal in Italy, and one of the first in Europe. And that was great, it was satisfying at the time. Nothing was controversial, we were following a path in Europe… But with a change of regional government that portal has somewhat been neglected so that is frustrating…

Victoria: What motivated that approach you made?

JC: We had a chance to do something new and exciting. We had the know-how and the way it could be, at least in Italy, and that seemed like a great opportunity.

Wolfgang: My centres, I’m kind of an outsider in political governance as I’m concerned with media. But in internet governance it feels like this is our space and we are invested in how it is governed – more so than in other areas. The example I have is from more traditional media work… And that’s from the Hans-Bredow-Institute. We were asked to investigate for a report on usage patterns changes, technology changes, and puts strain on governance structures in Germany… And where there is a need for solutions to make federal and state law in Germany more convergent and able to cope with those changes. But you have to be careful when providing options, because of course you can make some options more appealing than others… So you have to be clear about whether you will be and present it as neutral, or whether you prefer an option and present it differently. And that’s interesting and challenging as an academic and with the role of an academic and institution.

Victoria: So did you consciously present options you did not support?

Wolfgang: Yes, we did. And there were two reasons for this… They were convinced we would come up with a suggestion and basis to start working with… And they accepted that we would not be specifically taking a side – for the federal or local government. And also they were confident we wouldn’t attempt to mess up the system… We didn’t present the ideal but we understood other dependencies and factors and trusted us to only put in suggestions to enhance and practically work, not replace the whole thing…

Victoria: And did they use your options?

Wolfgang: They ignored some suggestions, but where they acted they did take our options.

Bianca: I’ll talk about a semi-successful project. We were looking at detailed postcode level data on internet access and quality and reasons for that. We submitted to the National Science Foundation, it was rejected, then two weeks later we were invited to an event on just that topic by the NPIA. So we are collectively drafting suggestions from the NPIA and from a wide range of many research centres, and we are drafting that now. It was nice to be invited by policy makers… and interesting to see that idea picked up through that process in some way…

Victoria: That’s maybe an unintended consequences aspect there… And that suggestion to work with others was right for you?

Bianca: We were already keen to work with other research centres but actually we also now have policy makers and other stakeholders around the table and that’s really useful.

Victoria: those were all very positive… Maybe you could reflect on more problematic examples…

JC: Ministers often want to show that they are consulting on policy but often that is a gesture, a political move to listen but then policy made an entirely different way… After a while you get used to that. And then you have to calculate whether you participate or not – there is a time aspect there.

Victoria: And for conflict of interest reasons you pay those costs of participating…

JC: Absolutely, the costs are on you.

Wolfgang: We have had contact from ministeries in Germany but then discovered they are interested in the process as a public relations tool rather than as a genuine interest in the outcome. So now we assess that interest and engage – or don’t – accordingly. We try to say at the beginning “no, please speak to someone else” when needed. At Humboldt is reluctant to engage in policy making, and that’s a historical thing, but people expect us to get involved. We are one of the few places that can deliver monitoring on the internet, and there is an expectation to do that… And when ministeries design new programmes, we are often asked to be engaged and we have learned to be cautious about when we engage. Experience helps but you see different ways to approach academia – can be PR, sometimes you want support for your position or support politically, or you can actually be engaged in research to learn and have expertise and information. If you can see what approach it is, you can handle it appropriately.

Victoria: I think as a general piece of advice – to always question “why am I being approached” in the framing of “what are their motivations?”, that is very useful.

Wolfgang: I think starting in terms of research questions and programmes that you are concerned with gives you a counterpoint in your own thinking to dealing with requests. Then when good opportunities come up you can take it and make use of it… But academic value can be limited of some approaches so you need a good reason to engage in those projects and they have to align with your own priorities.

Bianca: My bad example is related to that. The Net Neutrality debate is a big part of our work… There are a lot of partisan opinions on that, and not a lot of neutral research there. We wanted to do a big project there but when we try to get funding for that we have been steered to stay away. We’ve been steered that talking about policy with policy makers is very negative, it is taken poorly. This debate has been bouncing around for 10 years, we want to see where Net Neutrality is imposed if we see changes in investment… But we need funding to do that… And funders don’t want to do it and are usually very cosy with policy makers…

Victoria: This is absolutely an issue, these concerns are in the minds of policy makers as well and that’s important.

Wolfgang: When we talk about research in our field and policy makers, it’s not just about when policy makers approach you to do something… You have a term like Net Neutrality at the centre that requires you to be either neutral or not neutral, that really shapes how you handle that as an academic… You can become, without wanting it, someone promoting one side sometimes. On a minor protection issue we did some work on co-regulation with Australia that seemed to solve a problem… But then after this debate in Germany and started drafting the inter-state treaty on media regulation, the policy makers were interested… And then we felt that we should support it… and I entered the stage but it’s not my question anymore… So you have opinion about how you want something done…

JC: As a coordinator of a European project there was a call that included a topic of “Net Neutrality” – we made a proposal but what happened afterwards clearly proved that that whole area was topic. It was in the call… But we should have framed it differently. Again at European level you see the Commission funds research, you see the outcomes, and then they put out a call that entirely contradicts the work that they funded for political reasons. There is such a drive for evidence-based policy making that it is important that they frame that way… It is evidence-based when it fits their agenda, not when it doesn’t.

Victoria: I did some work with the Department of Media, Culture and Sport last year, again on minor protection, and we were told at the offset to assume porn caused harm to minors. And the frames of reference was shaped to be technical – about access etc. They did bring in a range of academic expertise but the terms of reference really constrained the contribution that was possible. So, there are real bear traps out there!

Wolfgang: A few years back the European Commission asked researchers to look at broadcasters and interruptions to broadcasts and the role of advertising, even though we need money we do not do that, it isn’t answering interesting research questions for us.

Victoria: I raised a question earlier about the specific stakes that academia has in the internet, it isn’t just what we study. Do you want to say more about that.

Wolfgang: Yes, at the pre-conference we had an STS stream… People said “of course we engage with policy” and I was wondering why that is the main position… But the internet comes from academia and there is a long standing tradition of engagement in policy making. Academics do engage with media policy, but they would’t class it as “our domain”, but they were not there are part of the beginning – academia was part of that beginning of the internet.

Q&A

Q1) I wonder if you are mistaking the “of-ness” with the fact that the internet is still being formed, still in the making. Broadcast is established, the internet is in constant construction.

A1 – Wolfgang) I see that

Q1) I don’t know about Europe but in the US since the 1970s there have been deliberate efforts to reduce the power of decision makers and policy makers to work with researchers…

A1 – Bianca) The Federal Communications Commission is mainly made of economists…

Q1) Requirements and roles constrain activities. The assumption of evidence-based decisions is no longer there.

Q2) I think that there is also the issue of shifting governance. Internet governance is changing and so many academics are researching the governance of the internet, we reflect greatly on that. The internet and also the governance structure are still in the making.

Victoria: Do you feel like if you were sick of the process tomorrow, you’d still want to engage with policy making?

A2 – Phoebe) We are a publicly funded university and we are focused on digital inequalities… We feel real responsibility to get involved, to offer advice and opinions based on our advice. On other topics we’d feel less responsible, depending on the impact it would have. It is a public interest thing.

A2 – Wolfgang) When we look at our mission at the Hans-Bredow-Institute we have a vague and normative mission – we think a functioning public sphere is important for democracy… Our tradition is research into public spheres… We have a responsibility there. But we also have a responsibility that the evaluation of academic research becomes more and more important but there is no mechanism to ensure researchers answer the problems that society has… We have a completely divided set of research councils and their yardsticks are academic excellence. State broadcasters do research but with no peer review at all… There are some calls from the Ministry of Science that are problem-orientated but on the whole there isn’t that focus on social issues and relevance in the reward process, in the understanding of prestige.

Victoria: In the UK we have a bizarre dichotomy where research is measured against two measures: impact – where policy impact has real value – and that applies in all fields; but there is also regulation that you cannot use project funds to “lobby” government – which means you potentially cannot communicate research to politicians who disagree. This happened because a research organisation (not a university) opposed government policy with research funded by them… Implications for universities is currently uncleared.

JC: Italy is implementing a similar system to the UK. Often there is no actual mandate on a topic, so individuals come up with ideas without numbers and plans… We think there is a gap – but it is government and ministries work. We are funded to work in the national interest… But we need resources to help there. We are filling gaps in a way that is not sustainable in the long term really – you are evaluated on other criteria.

Q3) I wanted to ask about policy research… I was wondering if there is policy research we do not want to engage in. In Europe, and elsewhere, there is increasing need to attract research… What are the guidelines or principles around what we do or do not go for funding wise.

A3 – Bianca) We are small so we go for what interests us… But we have an advisory board that guides us.

A3 – Wolfgang) I’m not sure that there are overarching guidelines – there may be for other types of special centres – but it’s an interesting thing to have a more formalised exchange like we have right now…

A3 – JC) No, no blockers for us.

A3 – Victoria) Academic freedom is vigorously held up at Oxford but that can mean we have radically different research agendas in the same centre.

Q4) With that lack of guidance, isn’t there a need for academics to show that they have trust, especially in the public sphere, especially when getting funding from, say, Google or Microsoft. And how can you embed that trust?

A4 – Wolfgang) I think peer review as a system functions to support that trust. But we have to think about other institutional settings, and that there is enough oversight… And many associations, like Liebneiz, requires an institutional review board, to look over the research agenda and ensure some outside scrutiny. I wouldn’t say every organisation or research centre needs that – it can be helpful but costly in terms of time in particular. And you cannot trust the general public to do that, you need it to be peers. An interesting question though, especially as Humboldt has national funding from Google… In this network academics play a role, and organisations play a role, and you have to understand the networks and relationships of partners you work with, and their interests.

A4 – Bianca) That’s a question that we’ve faced recently… That concern that corporate funding may sway result and the best way to face that is to publish methodology, questionnaires, process… to ensure the work is understood in that context that enables trust in the work.
A4 – JC) We spent years trying to deal with the issue of independence and it is very important as academia has responsibility to provide research that is independent and unbiased by funding etc. And not just about the work itself, but also perceptions of the work… It is quite a local/contextual issue. So, getting money from Google is perceived differently in different countries, and at different times…
Victoria: This is something we have to have more conversations about this. In medicine there is far more conversation about codes of conduct around funding. I am also concerned that PhD funding is now requiring something like a third of PhDs to be co-funded by industry, without any understanding from UK Government about what that means and what that means for peer review… That’s something we need to think about far more stringently.
Q5) For companies there are requirements to review outputs before publications to check for proprietary information and ensure it is not released. That makes industry the final arbiter here. In Canada our funding is also increasingly coming from industry and there that means that proprietary data gives them final say…
A5 – Bianca) Sometimes it has to be about negotiating contracts and being clear what is and is not acceptable.
Victoria) That’s my concern with new PhD funding models, and also with use of industry data. It will be non-negotiable that the research is not compromised but how you make that process clear is important.
Q6) What are your models here – are you academic or outside academia?
A6 – JC) Academic and policy are part of the work we are funded to do.
A6 – Bianca) We are 99% Endowment funded, hence having a lot of freedom but also advisory board guidance.
A6 – Wolfgang) Our success is assessed by academic publication. The Humboldt Institute is funded largely by private companies but a range of them, but also from grants. The Hans-Bredow-Institute is mainly directly funded by the Hamburg Ministry of Science but we’d like to be funded from other funders across Germany.
A6 – Victoria) Our income is research income, teaching income from masters degrees… We are a department of the university. Our projects are usually policy related, but not always government related.
Q7) I was wondering if others in the room have been funded for policy work – my experience has been that policy makers had expectations and an idea of how much control they wanted… By contrast money from Google comes with a “research something on the internet” type freedom. This is not what I would have expected so I just wondered how others experiences compared.
Comment) I was asked to do work across Europe with public sector broadcasters… I don’t know how well my report was seen by policy makers but it was well received by the public sector broadcaster organisations.
Comment) I’ve had public sector funding, foundation funding… But I’ve never had corporate money… My cynical take is that corporations maybe are doing this as PR, hence not minding what you work on!
Comment) I receive money from funding agencies, I did a joint project that I proposed to a think tank… Which was orientated to government… But a real push for impact… Numbers needed to be in the title. I had to be an objective researcher but present it the right way… And that worked with impact… And then the government offered me a contract to continue the research – working for them not against them. The funding was coming from a position close to my own idea… I felt it was a bit instrumentalised in this way…
A7 – Wolfgang) I think that it is hard to generalise… Companies as funders do sometimes make demands and expect control of publishing of results… And whether it is published or not. We don’t do that – our work is always public domain. It’s case by case… But there is one aspect we haven’t talked about and that is the relationship between the individual researcher and their political engagement (or not) and how that impacts upon the neutrality of the organisation. As a lawyer I’m very aware of that… For instance if giving expert evidence in court, the importance of being an individual not the organisation. Especially if partners/funders before or in the future are on the opposite side. I was an expert for Germany in a court case, with private broadcasters on the other side, and you have to be careful there…
A7 – JC) There is so little money for research in Italy… Regarding corporations… We got some money from Google to write an open source library, it’s out there, it’s public… There was no conflict there. But money from companies for policy work is really difficult. But lots of case by case issues in-between.
Q8) But companies often fund social science work that isn’t about policy but has impact on policy.
A8 – JC) We don’t do social science research so we don’t face that issue.
A8 – Victoria) Finding ways to make that work that guarantees independence is often the best way forward – you cannot and often do not want to say no… But you work with codes of conduct, with advisory board, with processes to ensure appropriate freedoms.
JC: A question to the audience… A controversial topic arises, one side owns the debate and a private company approaches to support your voice… Do you take their funding?
Comment) I was asked to do that and I kind of stalled so that I didn’t have to refuse or take part, but in that case I didn’t feel
Comment) If having your voice in the public triggers the conversation, you do make it visible and participate, to progress the issue…
Comment) Maybe this comes down to personal versus institutional points of view. And I would need to talk to colleagues to help me make that decision, to decide if this would be important or not… Then I would say yes… Better solution is to say “no, I’m talking in a private capacity”.
JC) I think that the point of separating individual and centres here is important. Generally centres like ours do not take a position… And there is an added element that if a corporation wants to be involved, a track record of past behaviour makes it less troublesome. Saying something for 10 years gives you credibility in a way that suddenly engaging does not.
Wolfgang) In Germany it is general practice that if your arguments are not being heard, then you engage expertise – it is general practice in German legal academic practice. It is ok I think.
Comment) In the Bundestag they bring in experts… But of course the choice of expert reflects values and opinions made in articles. So you have a range of academics supporting politics… If I am invited to talk to parliament, I say what I always say “this is not a problem”.
Victoria: And I think that nicely reminds us why this is the politics of internet research! Thank you.
Plenary Panel: Who Rules the Internet? Kate Crawford (Microsoft Research NYC), Fieke Jansen (Tactical Tech), Carolin Gerlitz (University of Siegen) – Chair: Cornelius Puschmann
Jennifer Stromer-Galley, President of the Association of Internet Researchers: For those of you who are new to the AoIR, this is our 17th conference and we are an international organisation that looks at issues around the internet – now including those things that have come out of the internet including mobile apps. And our panel today we will be focusing on governance issues. Before that I would like to acknowledge this marvellous city of Berlin, and to thank all of my colleagues in Germany who have taken such care, and to Humboldt University for hosting us in this beautiful venue. And now, I’d like to handover to Herr Matthias Graf von Kielmansegg, representing Professor Dr Elizabeth Wacker, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.
Matthias Graf von Kielmansegg: is here representing Professor Wacker, who takes a great interest in internet and society, including the issues that you are looking at here this week. If you are not familiar with our digitisation policy, the German government published a digital agenda for the first time two years ago, covering all areas of government operation. In terms of activities it concentrates on the term 2013-2017, and it needs to be extended, and it reaches strategically far into the next decade. Additionally we have a regular summit bringing together the private sector, unions, government and the academic world looking at key issues.
You all know that digital is a fundamental gamechanger, in the way goods and services are used, the ways we communicate and collaborate, and digital loosens our ties to time and place… And we aren’t at the end but at the middle of this process. Wikipedia was founded 16 years ago, the iPhone launched 9 years ago, and now we talk about Blockchain… So we do not know where we will be in 10 or 20 years time. And good education and research are key to that. And we need to engage proactively. In Germany we are incorporating Internet of Things into our industries. In Germany we used to have a technology-driven view of these things, but now we look at economic and cultural contexts or ecosystems to understand digital systems.
Research is one driver, the other is that science, education, and research are users in their own right. Let me focus first on education… Here we must answer some major issues – what will drive change here, technology or pedagogy? Who will be the change agents? And what of the role of teachers and schools? They must take the lead in change and secure the dominance of pedagogy, using digital tools to support our key education goals – and not vice versa. And that means digital education must offer more opportunities, flexibilities, and better preparation for tomorrow’s world of work. With this in mind we plan to launch a digital education campaign to help young people find their place in an ever changing digital world, and to be ready to adapt to the changes that arise. How education can support our economic model and higher education. And we will need to address issues of technical infrastructure, governance – and for us how this plays out with our 60 federal states. Closer to your world is the world of science. Digital tools create huge amounts of new data and big data. The challenges organisations face is not just infrastructure but how to access and use this data. We call our approach Securing the Life Cycle of Data, concerned with aceess, use, reuse, interoperability. And how will be decide what we save, and what we delete? And who will decide how third parties use this data. And big data goes alongside other aspects such as high powered computing. We plan to launch an initiative of action in this area next year. To oversee this we have a Scientific Oversight Body with stakeholders. We are also keen to embrace Open Data and the resources to support that. We have added new conditions to our own funding conditions – any publication based on research funded by us, must be published open access.
We need to know more about internet and society need to be known, and there is research to be done. So, the federal government has decided to establish a German Internet Institute. It will address a number of areas of importance: access and use of the digital world; work and value creation and our democracy. We want an interdisciplinary team of social scientists, economists, and information scientists. The competitive selection process is just underway, and we expect the winner to be announced next spring. There is readiness to spend up to €15M over the first five years. And this highlights the importance of the digital world in Germany.
Let me just make one comment. The overall title of this conference is Internet Rules! It is still up to us to be the fool or the wise… We need to understand what might happen is politics, economics and society do not find the answers to the challenges we face. And so hopefully we will find that it’s not the internet that rules, but that democracy rules!
Kate Crawford
When Cornelius asked me to look at the idea of “Who rules the internet?” I looked up at my bookshelf, and found lots of books written by people in this community, many of you in this room, looking at just this question. And we have moved from the ’90s utopianism to the world of infrastructure, socio-technical aspects, the Internet of Things layer – and zombie web cams being coopted by hackers. So many of you have enhanced my understanding of this issue.
Right now we see machine learning and AI being rapidly build into our world without implications being fully understood… I am talking narrowly about AI here… Sometimes they have lovely feminine names: Siri, Alexa, etc… But these systems are embedded in our phones, we have AI analysing images on Facebook. It will never be separate from humans, but it is distinct and significant, and we see AI beyond the internet and into systems – on who gets released from jail, on hospital stays, etc. I am sure all of us were surprised by the fact that Facebook, last month, censored a Pulitzer Prize winning image of a girl being napalmed in Vietnam… We don’t know the processes that triggered this, though an image of a nude girl likely triggers these processes… Now that had attention, the Government of Norway accused Facebook or erasing our shared history. The image was restored but this is the tip of the iceberg – and most images and actions are not so apparent to us…
This lack of visibility is important but it isn’t new… There are many organisational and procedural aspects that are opaque… I think we are having a moment around AI where we don’t know what is taking place… So what do we do?
We could make them transparent… But this doesn’t seem likely to work. A colleague and I have written about the history of transparency and that process and availability code does not necessarily tell you exactly what is happening and how this is used. Y Combinator has installed a system, called HAL 9000 brilliantly, and have boasted that they don’t know how it filters applications, only the system could do that. That’s fine until that system causes issues, denies you rights, gets in your way…
So we need to understand these algorithms from the outside… We have to poke them… And I think of Christian Salmand(?)’s work on algorithmic auditing. Christian couldn’t be here this evening and my thoughts are with him. But he is also part of a group who are trying to pursue legal rights to enable this type of research.
And there are people that say that AI can fix this system… This is something that the finance sector talks about. They have an environment of predatory machine learning hunting each other – Terry Cary has written about this. It’s tempting to create a “police AI” to watch these… I’ve been going back to the 1970s books on AI, and the work of Joseph Weizenbaum who created ELIZA. And he suggested that if we continue to ascribe AI to human acting systems it might be a slow acting poison. It is a reminder to not be seduced by these new forms of AI.
Carolin Gerlitz, University of Siegen
I think after the last few days the answer to the question of “who rules the internet?”, I think the answer is “platforms”!
Their rules of who users are, what they can do, can seem very rigid. Before Facebook introduced the emotions, the Like button was used in a range of ways. With the introduction of emotions they have rigidly defined responses, creating discreet data points to be advertiser ready and available to be recombined.
There are also rules around programmability, that dictate what data can be extracted, how, by whom, in what ways… And platforms also like to keep the interpretation of data in control, and adjust the rules of APIs. Some of you have been working to extract data from platforms where things are changing rapidly – Twitter API changes, Facebook API and Research changes, Instagram API changes, all increasingly restricting access, all dictating who can participate. And limiting the opportunity to hold platforms to account, as my colleague Anne Helmond argues.
Increasingly platforms are accessed indirectly through intermediaries which create their own rules, a cascade of rules for users to engage with. Platforms don’t just extend to platforms but also to apps… As many of you have been writing about in regard to platforms and apps… And Christian, if he were here today, would talk about the increasing role of platforms in this way…
And platforms reach out not only to users but also non-users. They these spaces are also contextual – with place, temporality and the role of commercial content all important here.
These rules can be characterised in different ways… There is a dichotomy of openness and closedness. Much of what takes place is hidden and dictated by cascading sets of rule sets. And then there is the issue of evaluation – what counts, for whom, and in what way? Tailorism refers to the mass production of small tasks – and platforms work in these fine grained algorithmed way. But platforms don’t earn money from users’ repetitive actions… Or from use of platform data by third parties. They “put life to work” (Lazlo) by using data points raising questions of who counts and what counts.
Fieke Jansen, Tactical Tech
I work at an NGO, on the ground in real world scenarios. And we are concerned with the Big Five: Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. How did we get like this? People we work with are uncomfortable with this. When we ask activists and ask them to draw the internet, they mostly draw a cloud. We asked at a session “what happens if the government bans Facebook” and they cannot imagine it – and if Facebook is beyond government then where are we at here? And I work with an open source company who use Google Apps for Business – and that seems like an odd situation to me…
But I’ll leave the Big Five for now and turn to BitNik… They used the dark net shopper and brought random stuff for $50… And then placed them in a gallery… They did
Iced T watch… After Wikileaks an activist in Berlin found all the NSA services spying on this and worked out who was working for the secret service… But that triggers a real debate… There was real discussion of being anti-patriotic, and puts people in data… But the data he used, from LinkedIn, is sold every day…. He just used it in a way that raised debate. We allow that selling use… But this coder’s work was not… Isn’t that debate needed.
So, back to the Big Five. In 2014 Google (now Alphabet) was the second biggest company in the world – with equivalent GDP bigger than Austria. We choose to use many of their services every day… But many of their services are less in our face. In the sensor world we have fewer choices about data… And with the big companies it is political too… In Brussels you have to register lobbists – there are 9 for Google, 7 used to work for the European Parliament… There is a revolving door here.
There is also an issue of skill… Google has wealth and power and knowledge that are very large to counter. Facebook have, around 400m active users a month, 300m likes a day, they are worth $190m… And here we miss the political influence. They have an enormous drive to conquer the global south… They want to roll out Facebook Sero as “the internet”…
So, who rules the internet? It’s the 1% of the 1%… It is the Big Five, but also the venture capitalists who back them… Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and you have Peter Thiel… It is very few people behind many of the biggest companies including some of the Big Five…
People use these services that work well, work easily… I only use open source… Yes, it is harder… Why are so few questioning and critiquing that? We feed the beast on an every day basis… It is our universities – also moving to decentralised Big Five platforms in preference to their own, it is our government… and if we are not critical what happens?
Panel Discussion
Cornelius: Many here study internet governance… So I want to ask, Kate, does AI rule the internet?
Kate: I think it is really hard to think about who rules the internet. The interesting thing about automated decision making networks have been with us for a while… It’s less about ruling, and who… And it’s more about the entanglements, fragmentation and governance. We talk about the Big Five… I would probably say there are Seven companies here, deciding how we get into university, healthcare, housing, filtering far beyond the internet… And governments do have a role to play.
Cornelius: How do we govern what we don’t understand?
Kate: That’s a hard question… That keeps me up at night that question… Governments look to us academics, technology sectors, NGOs, trying to work out what to do. We need really strong research groups to look at this – we tried to do this with AI Now. Interdisciplinary is crucial – these issues cannot be solved by computer science alone or social science alone… This is the biggest challenge of the next 50 years.
Cornelius: What about how national governments can legislate for Facebook, say? (I’m simplifying a longer question that I didn’t catch in time here, correction welcome!)
Carolyn: I’m not sure about Facebook but in our digital methods workshop we talked about how on Twitter content can be deleted, that can then be exposed in other locations via the API. And it is also the case that these services are specific and localised… We expect national governments to have some governance, when what you understand and how you access information varies by location… Increasing that uncanny notion. I also wanted to comment on something you asked Kate – thinking about the actors here, they all require engagement of users – something Fieke pointed to. Those actors involved in rulers are dependent on actions of other actors.
Cornelius: So how else we be running these things? The Chinese option, the Russion options, are there better options?
Carolyn: I think I cannot answer – I’d want to put it to these 570 smart people for the next two days. My answer would be to acknowledge distributedness to which we have to respond and react… We cannot understand algorithms and AI without understanding context…
Carolyn: Fieke, what you talked about… Being extreme… Are we whining because as Europeans we are being colonised by other areas of the world, even as we use and are obsessed by our devices and tools – complaining then checking our iPhones. I’m serious… If we did care that much, maybe actions would change… You said people have the power here, maybe it’s not a big enough issue…
Fieke: Is it Europeans concerned about Americans from a libertarian point of view? Yes. I work mainly in non-European parts of the world and particularly in the North America… For many the internet is seen as magical and neutral – but those who research it we know it is not. But when you ask why people use tools, it’s their friends or community. If you ask them who owns it, that raises questions that are framed in a relevant way. The framing has to fit people’s reality. In South America talk of Facebook Sero as the new colonialism, you will have a political conversation… But we also don’t always know why we are uncomfortable… It can feel abstract, distant, and the concern is momentary. Outside of this field, people don’t think about it.
Kate: Your provocation that we could just step away, and move to open source. The reality includes opportunity costs to employment, to friends and family… But even if you do none of those things then you walk down the streets and you are tracked by sensors, by other devices…
Fieke: I absolutely agree. All the data collected beyond our control is the concern… But we can’t just roll over and die, we have to try and provoke and find mechanisms to play…
Kate: I think that idea of what the political levers may be… Those conversation of legal, ethical, technical parameters seem crucial, more than consumer choice. But I don’t think we have sufficient collective models of changing information ecologies… and they are changing so rapidly.
Q&A
Q1) Thank you for this wonderful talk and perspectives here. You talked about the infrastructure layer… What about that question. You say this 1% of 1% own the internet, but do they own the infrastructure? Facebook is trying to balloon in the internet so that they cannot be cut off… It also – second question – used to be that YOU owns the internet that changed the dominance of big companies… This happens in history quite often… So what about that?
A1 – Fieke) I think that Kate talked about the many levels of ownership… Facebook piggy backs on other infrastructures, Google does the balloons. It used to be that government owned the infrastructure. There are new cables rolling out… EU funding, governments, private companies, rich people… The infrastructure is mainly owned by companies now.
A1 – Kate) I think infrastructure studies has been extraordinarily rich – work of Nicole Serafichi for instance – but also we have art responses. Infrastructure is very of the moment… But what happens next… It is not just about infrastructures and their ownerships, but also surveillance access to these. There are things like MESH networks… And there are people working here in Berlin to flag up faux police networks during protests to help protestors protect themselves.
A1 – Carolyn) I think that platforms would have argued differently ten years ago about who owned the internet – but “you” probably wouldn’t have been the answer…
Q2) I wonder if the real issue is that we are running on very vague ideas of government that have been established for a very different world. People are responding to elections and referenda in very irrational ways that suggest that model is not fit for purpose. Is there a better form of governance or democracy that we should move towards? Can AI help us there?
A2 – Kate) What a beautiful and impossible to answer question! Obviously I cannot answer that properly but part of the reason I do AI research is to try to inform and shape that… Hence my passion for building research in this space. We don’t have much data to go on but the imaginative space here has been dominated by those with narrow ideas. I want to think about how communities can develop and contribute to AI, and what potential there is.
Q3) Do we need to rethink what we mean by democratic control and regulations… Regulations are closely associated with nation states, but that’s not the context that most of the internet operates. Do we need to re-engage with the question of globalisation again.
A3) As Carolyn said, who is the “you” in web 2.0, and whose narrative is there. Globalisation is similar. I pay taxes to a nation state that has rules of law and governance… By denying that they buy into the narrative of mainly internet companies and huge multinational organisations.
Cornelius: I have the declaration of independence of the internet by Perry Barlow which I was tempted to quote you… But it is interesting to reflect on how we have moved from utopian positions to where we are today.
Q4 – participant from Google!) There is an interesting question here… If this question was pointing to deeper truth… A clear ruler, an internet, would allow this question of who rules to be answered. I would ask how we have agency over how the proliferation of internet technologies and how we benefit from them… ?
A4 – Kate) A great title, but long for the programme! But your phrasing is so interesting – if it is so diverse and complex then how we engage is crucial. I think that is important but, the optimistic part, I think we can do this.
A4 – Carolyn) One way to engage is through descent… and negotiating on a level that ensures platforms work beyond economic values…
Q5) The last time I was forced to give away my data was by the Australian state (where I live) in completing the census… I had to complete it or I would be fined over $1000 AUS – Facebook, Twitter, etc. never did that… I rule this kind of internet, I am still free in my choices. But on the other hand why is it that states that are best at governing platforms are the ones I want to live in the least. Maybe without the platforms no-one would use the internet so we’d have one problem less… If we as academics think about platforms in these mythic ways, maybe we end up governing in a way that is more controlled and has undesirable effects.
A5 – Kate) Many questions there, I’ll address two of those. On the census I’d refer you to articles
University of Cambridge study showed huge accuracy in determining marital status, sexuality and whether a drug or alcohol user based on Facebook likes… You may feel free but those data patterns are being built. But we have to move beyond thinking that only by active participation do you contribute to these platforms…
A5 – Fieke) The Census issue you brought up is interesting… In the UK, US and Australia the contractor for the Census is conducted by one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers… You don’t give data to the Big Five… But…  So, we do need to question the politics behind our actions… There is also a perception that having technical skills makes you superior to those without, and if we do that we create a whole new class system and that raises whole new questions.
Q6) The question of internet raises issues of boundaries, and how we do governance and work of governance and rule-making. Ideally when we do that governance and rule-making there are values behind that… So what are the values that you think need to underlie those structures and systems…
A6 – Carolyn) I think values that do not discriminate people through algorithmic processing, AI, etc. Those tools should allow people to not be discriminated on the basis of things they have done in the past… But that requires understanding of how that discrimination is taking place now…
A6 – Kate) I love that question… All of these layers of control come with values baked in, we just don’t know what they are… I would be interested to see what values drop out of those systems, that don’t fit the easy metricisation of our world. Some great things to fall out of feminist and race theory and values from that…
A6 – Fieke) I would add that values should not just be about the individual, and should ensure that the collective is also considered…
Cornelius: Thank you for offering a glimmer of hope! Thank you all!
Aug 102016
 
Nicola Osborne presenting the Digital Footprint poster at ECSM2016

It has been a while since I’ve posted something other than a liveblog here but it has been a busy summer so it seems like a good time to share some updates…

A Growing Digital Footprint

Last September I was awarded some University of Edinburgh IS Innovation Fund support to develop a pilot training and consultancy service to build upon the approaches and findings of our recent PTAS-funded Managing Your Digital Footprint research project.

During that University of Edinburgh-wide research and parallel awareness-raising campaign we (my colleague – and Digital Footprint research project PI – Louise Connelly of IAD/Vet School, myself, and colleagues across the University) sought to inform students of the importance of digital tracks and traces in general, particularly around employment and “eProfessionalism”. This included best practice advice around use of social media, personal safety and information security choices, and thoughtful approaches to digital identity and online presences. Throughout the project we were approached by organisations outside of the University for similar training, advice, and consulting around social media best practices and that is how the idea for this pilot service began to take shape.

Over the last few months I have been busy developing the pilot, which has involved getting out and about delivering social media training sessions for clients including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (with Jennifer Jones); for the British HIV Association (BHIVA) with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) (also with Jennifer Jones); developing a “Making an Impact with your Blog” Know How session for the lovely members of Culture Republic; leading a public engagement session for the very international gang at EuroStemCell, and an “Engaging with the Real World” session for the inspiring postgrads attending the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Summer School 2016. I have also been commissioned by colleagues in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to create an Impact of Social Media session and accompanying resources (the latter of which will continue to develop over time). You can find resources and information from most of these sessions over on my presentations and publications page.

These have been really interesting opportunities and I’m excited to see how this work progresses. If you do have an interest in social media best practice, including advice for your organisation’s social media practice, developing your online profile, or managing your digital footprint, please do get in touch and/or pass on my contact details. I am in the process of writing up the pilot and looking at ways myself and my colleagues can share our expertise and advice in this area.

Adventures in MOOCs and Yik Yak

So, what next?

Well, the Managing Your Digital Footprint team have joined up with colleagues in the Language Technology Group in the School of Informatics for a new project looking at Yik Yak. You can read more about the project, “A Live Pulse: Yik Yak for Understanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Edinburgh“, on the Digital Education Research Centre website. We are really excited to explore Yik Yak’s use in more depth as it is one of a range of “anonymous” social networking spaces that appear to be emerging as important alternative spaces for discussion as mainstream social media spaces lose favour/become too well inhabited by extended families, older contacts, etc.

Our core Managing Your Digital Footprint research also continues… I presented a paper, co-written with Louise Connelly, at the European Conference on Social Media 2016 this July on “Students’ Digital Footprints: curation of online presences, privacy and peer support”. This summer we also hosted visiting scholar Rachel Buchanan of University of Newcastle, Australia who has been leading some very interesting work into digital footprints across Australia. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with Rachel in the future – watch this space!

And, more exciting news: my lovely colleague Louise Connelly (University of Edinburgh Vet School) and I have been developing a Digital Footprint MOOC which will go live later this year. The MOOC will complement our ongoing University of Edinburgh service (run by IAD) and external consultancy word (led by us in EDINA) and You can find out much more about that in this poster, presented at the European Conference on Social Media 2016, earlier this month…

Preview of Digital Footprint MOOC Poster

Alternatively, you could join me for my Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2016 show….

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2016 - If I Googled You, What Would I Find? Poster

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas runs throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but every performance is different! Each day academics and researchers share their work by proposing a dangerous idea, a provocative question, or a challenge, and the audience are invited to respond, discuss, ask difficult questions, etc. It’s a really fun show to see and to be part of – I’ve now been fortunate enough to be involved each year since it started in 2013. You can see a short video on #codi2016 here:

In this year’s show I’ll be talking about some of those core ideas around managing your digital footprint, understanding your online tracks and traces, and reflecting on the type of identity you want to portray online. You can find out more about my show, If I Googled You What Would I Find, in my recent “25 Days of CODI” blog post:

25 Days of CoDI: Day 18

You’ll also find a short promo film for the series of data, identity, and surveillance shows at #codi2016 here:

So… A very busy summer of social media, digital footprints, and exciting new opportunities. Do look out for more news on the MOOC, the YikYak work and the Digital Footprint Training and Consultancy service over the coming weeks and months. And, if you are in Edinburgh this summer, I hope to see you on the 21st at the Stand in the Square!

 

Aug 092016
 
Notes from the Unleashing Data session at Repository Fringe 2016

After 6 years of being Repository Fringe‘s resident live blogger this was the first year that I haven’t been part of the organisation or amplification in any official capacity. From what I’ve seen though my colleagues from EDINA, University of Edinburgh Library, and the DCC did an awesome job of putting together a really interesting programme for the 2016 edition of RepoFringe, attracting a big and diverse audience.

Whilst I was mainly participating through reading the tweets to #rfringe16, I couldn’t quite keep away!

Pauline Ward at Repository Fringe 2016

Pauline Ward at Repository Fringe 2016

This year’s chair, Pauline Ward, asked me to be part of the Unleashing Data session on Tuesday 2nd August. The session was a “World Cafe” format and I was asked to help facilitate discussion around the question: “How can the respository community use crowd-sourcing (e.g. Citizen Science) to engage the public in reuse of data?” – so I was along wearing my COBWEB: Citizen Observatory Web and social media hats. My session also benefited from what I gather was an excellent talk on “The Social Life of Data” earlier in the event from the Erinma Ochu (who, although I missed her this time, is always involved in really interesting projects including several fab citizen science initiatives).

I won’t attempt to reflect on all of the discussions during the Unleashing Data Session here – I know that Pauline will be reporting back from the session to Repository Fringe 2016 participants shortly – but I thought I would share a few pictures of our notes, capturing some of the ideas and discussions that came out of the various groups visiting this question throughout the session. Click the image to view a larger version. Questions or clarifications are welcome – just leave me a comment here on the blog.

Notes from the Unleashing Data session at Repository Fringe 2016

Notes from the Unleashing Data session at Repository Fringe 2016

Notes from the Unleashing Data session at Repository Fringe 2016

If you are interested in finding out more about crowd sourcing and citizen science in general then there are a couple of resources that made be helpful (plus many more resources and articles if you leave a comment/drop me an email with your particular interests).

This June I chaired the “Crowd-Sourcing Data and Citizen Science” breakout session for the Flooding and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Network (FCERM.NET) Annual Assembly in Newcastle. The short slide set created for that workshop gives a brief overview of some of the challenges and considerations in setting up and running citizen science projects:

Last October the CSCS Network interviewed me on developing and running Citizen Science projects for their website – the interview brings together some general thoughts as well as specific comment on the COBWEB experience:

After the Unleashing Data session I was also able to stick around for Stuart Lewis’ closing keynote. Stuart has been working at Edinburgh University since 2012 but is moving on soon to the National Library of Scotland so this was a lovely chance to get some of his reflections and predictions as he prepares to make that move. And to include quite a lot of fun references to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾. (Before his talk Stuart had also snuck some boxes of sweets under some of the tables around the room – a popularity tactic I’m noting for future talks!)

So, my liveblog notes from Stuart’s talk (slightly tidied up but corrections are, of course, welcomed) follow. Because old Repofringe live blogging habits are hard to kick!

The Secret Diary of a Repository aged 13 ¾ – Stuart Lewis

I’m going to talk about our bread and butter – the institutional repository… Now my inspiration is Adrian Mole… Why? Well we have a bunch of teenage repositories… EPrints is 15 1/2; Fedora is 13 ½; DSpace is 13 ¾.

Now Adrian Mole is a teenager – you can read about him on Wikipedia [note to fellow Wikipedia contributors: this, and most of the other Adrian Mole-related pages could use some major work!]. You see him quoted in two conferences to my amazement! And there are also some Scotland and Edinburgh entries in there too… Brought a haggis… Goes to Glasgow at 11am… and says he encounters 27 drunks in one hour…

Stuart Lewis at Repository Fringe 2016

Stuart Lewis illustrates the teenage birth dates of three of the major repository softwares as captured in (perhaps less well-aged) pop hits of the day.

So, I have four points to make about how repositories are like/unlike teenagers…

The thing about teenagers… People complain about them… They can be expensive, they can be awkward, they aren’t always self aware… Eventually though they usually become useful members of society. So, is that true of repositories? Well ERA, one of our repositories has gotten bigger and bigger – over 18k items… and over 10k paper thesis currently being digitized…

Now teenagers also start to look around… Pandora!

I’m going to call Pandora the CRIS… And we’ve all kind of overlooked their commercial background because we are in love with them…!

Stuart Lewis at Repository Fringe 2016

Stuart Lewis captures the eternal optimism – both around Mole’s love of Pandora, and our love of the (commercial) CRIS.

Now, we have PURE at Edinburgh which also powers Edinburgh Research Explorer. When you looked at repositories a few years ago, it was a bit like Freshers Week… The three questions were: where are you from; what repository platform do you use; how many items do you have? But that’s moved on. We now have around 80% of our outputs in the repository within the REF compliance (3 months of Acceptance)… And that’s a huge change – volumes of materials are open access very promptly.

So,

1. We need to celebrate our success

But are our successes as positive as they could be?

Repositories continue to develop. We’ve heard good things about new developments. But how do repositories demonstrate value – and how do we compare to other areas of librarianship.

Other library domains use different numbers. We can use these to give comparative figures. How do we compare to publishers for cost? Whats our CPU (Cost Per Use)? And what is a good CPU? £10, £5, £0.46… But how easy is it to calculate – are repositories expensive? That’s a “to do” – to take the cost to run/IRUS cost. I would expect it to be lower than publishers, but I’d like to do that calculation.

The other side of this is to become more self-aware… Can we gather new numbers? We only tend to look at deposit and use from our own repositories… What about our own local consumption of OA (the reverse)?

Working within new e-resource infrastructure – http://doai.io/ – lets us see where open versions are available. And we can integrate with OpenURL resolvers to see how much of our usage can be fulfilled.

2. Our repositories must continue to grow up

Do we have double standards?

Hopefully you are all aware of the UK Text and Data Mining Copyright Exception that came out from 1st June 2014. We have massive massive access to electronic resources as universities, and can text and data mine those.

Some do a good job here – Gale Cengage Historic British Newspapers: additional payment to buy all the data (images + XML text) on hard drives for local use. Working with local informatics LTG staff to (geo)parse the data.

Some are not so good – basic APIs allow only simple searchers… But not complex queries (e.g. could use a search term, but not e.g. sentiment).

And many publishers do nothing at all….

So we are working with publishers to encourage and highlight the potential.

But what about our content? Our repositories are open, with extracted full-text, data can be harvested… Sufficient but is it ideal? Why not do bulk download from one click… You can – for example – download all of Wikipedia (if you want to).  We should be able to do that with our repositories.

3. We need to get our house in order for Text and Data Mining

When will we be finished though? Depends on what we do with open access? What should we be doing with OA? Where do we want to get to? Right now we have mandates so it’s easy – green and gold. With gold there is PURE or Hybrid… Mixed views on Hybrid. Can also publish locally for free. Then for gree there is local or disciplinary repositories… For Gold – Pure, Hybrid, Local we pay APCs (some local option is free)… In Hybrid we can do offsetting, discounted subscriptions, voucher schemes too. And for green we have UK Scholarly Communications License (Harvard)…

But which of these forms of OA are best?! Is choice always a great thing?

We still have outstanding OA issues. Is a mixed-modal approach OK, or should we choose a single route? Which one? What role will repositories play? What is the ultimate aim of Open Access? Is it “just” access?

How and where do we have these conversations? We need academics, repository managers, librarians, publishers to all come together to do this.

4. Do we now what a grown-up repository look like? What part does it play?

Please remember to celebrate your repositories – we are in a fantastic place, making a real difference. But they need to continue to grow up. There is work to do with text and data mining… And we have more to do… To be a grown up, to be in the right sort of environment, etc.

Q&A

Q1) I can remember giving my first talk on repositories in 2010… When it comes to OA I think we need to think about what is cost effective, what is sustainable, why are we doing it and what’s the cost?

A1) I think in some ways that’s about what repositories are versus publishers… Right now we are essentially replicating them… And maybe that isn’t the way to approach this.

And with that Repository Fringe 2016 drew to a close. I am sure others will have already blogged their experiences and comments on the event. Do have a look at the Repository Fringe website and at #rfringe16 for more comments, shared blog posts, and resources from the sessions. 

Jul 132016
 

Today I am again at the European Conference on Social Media 2016 and will be liveblogging the sessions. Today is a shorter conference day and I’ll be chairing a session and giving a poster so there may be a few breaks in the blog. As usual these notes are being taken live so any corrections, questions, etc. are very much welcomed. 

Keynote presentation: Dr Sue Greener,University of Brighton Business School, UK – Unlearning Learning with Social Media

I wanted to give you a topic this morning about my topic, which is learning. But not just learning in Higher Education, but also learning in the workplace. I encourage you to tweet throughout, do tweet me @suegonline.

Life is about learned behaviours. We learn habits and once we learn habits, they are hard to unlearn. But at the same time we also love new novel things – that’s why we love social media. You could call this a dichotomy – between habit and the new. A lovely aphorism from Maria de Beausarq: “The power of habit and the charm of novelty are the two adverse forces which explain the follies of mankind”. We see this dichotomy in psychology all the time.

Davis (1999) talks about habit as a barrier to creating thinking and innovation – the idea that “if someone did it this way, they must have had a good reason”. Glaveanu (2012) writes about “habitual creativity” – where expertise and master is brought about through the constant sharpening and adjusting of habitual practice to dynamic changes in context. As in learning a piano, or a language – practising all the time but gradually introducing flourishes and creativity.

Now, you may be wondering about whether this talk is about learning, or about skills… But I think both are very similar. Learning involves a whole range of skills – reading, note taking, evaluation, etc. Learning is a skill and has a degree of both routine and creativity. And learning is not just about those recognisable tasks… And I want to talk about “unlearning”, something that Alvin Toffler talks about in Future Shock, and he talks about 21st Century digital literacy, talking about learning and unlearning. I was started in elearning and the technology. The technology is what we fit around as habit, as mastery, but it’s all about learning. And when I was looking at Toffler’s work, when doing that PhD work, I was worried about learning theory – they all seemed over-engineered, too formal, too linear almost, too structured as pedagogy. I knew that the idea of learning styles – still in the literature and research – but I think of myself as having a learning palate – which I can pick and choose from, I pick the style of learning to suit the context. I personally learn best by learning by watching, by modelling from other people… Yesterday Britt Allan talked about “advertising literacy” and I hadn’t heard that before, but loved that phrase, it made sense to me, and that’s very much how I learn

Bandoura – triple reciprocal determinism – I found theories of learning I understood. He talked about behaviours, and learning from behaviours, and trialling ideas. That idea of not piling learning on learning, but instead about the idea of learning and unlearning, that makes sense. Hefler talks about organisational unlearning – giving it equal weight to learning. Yes, neural networks in the brain accumulates, but they also die away without use… And unlearning is something else.

So, what is unlearning? It is not negative. And it is not about forgetting/the unconcious giving up of knowledge – although it has been seen that way before in the 80s and 90s – we do forget things but that is not what unlearning is. And it is not just replacing the obsolete. But it is a purposive creative process as important as learning. Unlearning is about taking apart the pieces and reconstructing the meaning. It means we can build the foundations of our knowledge. Much under-researched as an area – therefore enticing. Rushmer and Davies (2004) talk about three things: Fading (over time); wiping (enforced from outside – often happens in the workplace, not comfortable); deep unlearning (from individual surprising experience producing inconsistency, changes of value). That deep unlearning can be gradual, or can be about “falling off a cliff” – when we find something surprising and need to decide to change.

And now to social media. Now, I don’t know about you but much of my unlearning takes place on social media. But why? If we go back to 1997, to the early social network 6degrees.com… Since then we have learned to communicate, to exchange information, assessing and evaluating information differently. Information is all around us, and we absorb it in a very social context. So, how much of our learning is from formal courses, and how much is informal learning? Formal learning is the tip of the iceberg, informal learning is bigger and is about rich tacit understanding. As educators we can try to overly control learning, even in e.g. closed facebook groups. But this is learning that benefits from space to work well.

So, informal learning is social and personal and often informal. Bourdieu (1992) talks about a habitus – a mindset – that is enduring but can be transformed by what takes place within and beyond it. Garrick (1998) and Boud (1999) suggested informal interactions with peers are predominent ways of learning at work. Wenger (1998) talks about social participation in the community as key to informal learning. Boud and Middleton (2003) talk about informal learning as being about mastery of organisational processes, negotiating the political and dealing with the atypical – those are things we don’t always embed in the degree process of course. So, how does this all fit with my idea of social media, this DIY media?

When this conference launched in Brighton in 2014 we had a Social Media Showcase with students, employers, academics, and school children. Last year we did a virtual showcase. And this year we did the Big Bang showcase – in a huge showground in Sussex. Over 8000 students from school children – and we were able to have conversations, have vox pops. Out of hundreds of conversations only 10 students did not use social media. And those that were active, they could write a long list (e.g. 8 or 9) of sites they use. My sense is that for this age range these presences are a little like stickers. For these kids informal learning is massive – from peers, from others, from celebrities. At that age perhaps causing a great deal of unlearning. They encounter information in schools but also from peers – which do they choose to trust and engage with? If ever there was a reason for teachers to understand social media, that was it.

At Brighton we have a “switch it on” policy – we ignore this stuff at our peril! You can always ask for devices to be switched off for a few minutes/a task. To exclude those spaces you are turning away and excluding that valuable informal learning, that bigger context. If we want to help people learn, we have to teach them where they are comfortable. And we must help people to evaluate what they see on social media – that is a critical thing for teachers. And social media is not just for kids… We are increasingly joining SnapChat and WhatsApp – less trackable conversations are appealing to older audiences too.

So, back to Rushmer and Davies (2004) and fading… Snapchat is about forgetting, fading. Wiping will be in place in all organisations but we have to think about how to deal more positively with resistance to change. Hislop, Bosley, Coombs and Holland 2013 – who I don’t totally agree with – have a typology of unlearning which is helpful. My thesis is that social media has some particular aspects – it is personal, ubiquitous and high speed. Data is transmitted in a hugely complex route, filtered through sites, through audiences… We have a huge dissemination of a (any) single story. Speed and serendipity are vital features of social media in action. And the experience is intimate – staring into a screen that makes it one-to-one even if in reality it is one-to-many. These interactions can change our mind. They can change our mind in referenda, they can change our mind in many ways. And they can be central to unlearning. That can be for good, and for bad. We will all have great examples of links, of ways we learn through social media. And it is less predictable than mainstream media, you can find surprises, you can catch enthusiasm – and I like to foster that even if I cannot control it!

So, can social media drive deep unlearning? I think all the signs are there. You should make up your own mind.

Q&A

Q1) I am not sure I totally understand what unlearning is… Learning is a process…

A1) I would relate this to the concept of cognitive dissonance – where there are two competing ideas that you must resolve and decide between. In social media I connect with people I like and trust, if they raise an idea that I didn’t previously agree or subscribe to, their raising of it has the ability to influence or change my mind, or at least means I reconsider that issue.

Q2) You talked about habitual creativity, and implied that as you get older you may forget/fade. I saw a presentation a few years back emphasising that you can learn by changing your habits – a walking route for instance.

A2) Absolutely. Things like changing your seat in a lecture theatre, changing a route etc. But social media can really shift your understanding.

Q3) I think you talked about two types of learning that don’t mix together. Many go to universities for the workplace to gather formal skills, that you call back on etc. But that requires some structure. And of course informal learning happens all the time. And the people I

A3) I agree that media stacking and multi tasking is not good… But at the same time in lectures, at conference, I find it useful to reflect, to engage with topics etc. that is very valuable.

Comment) In high school I remember girls knitting and learning too and doing very well.

A3) It is possible, and it is skills that we are developing. I’d agree that it can work, and that it can be helpful for students to be active and engaging rather than passively receiving.

Q4) Thank you for your interesting keynote. How can social media make real change?

A4) I’m not a politician – I wish I was. We have a tool that can strike at the heart of people. It can help form and shape opinion, but that can be bad as well as good…

Introduction to ECSM 2017 

The next conference will be in Vilnius, the capital city in Lithuania. Lithuania is one of three large modern Northern European baltic countries. We are part of EU, NATO, Euro etc. Vilnius has around 550K, and indeed Lithuania has 3 million people. We have a lovely old town, listed by UNESCO. We have technology sectors that we lead in, particularly green tech, and we have the fastest public wi-fi in the world, and third most affordable internet in the EU! People are lovely, well educated, and we speak many languages! We have 14 universities, we have research parks etc. Our campus is on outskirts of the city – but we have Uber and public transport – and the city centre is all walkable on foot. And our campus has excellent facilities and you are very welcome there. We have many researchers working on social technologies, and a journal for social technologies. And, to end, a short video…

And, on that lovely video, I paused the liveblog to give my poster on the Digital Footprint MOOC. 

Young Adults’ Construction of Social Identity on Facebook: A Structural Equation Model – Raheleh Barkhordari, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and MichaelWillemyns,University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE

I wanted to look at what impact developing identity in social media had a cognitive or behavioural impact on young people. So my work connects to Social Identity theory – a Social-Psychological theory that describes cognition and behaviour through group processes, across three areas: cognitive, affective, behavioural. Identity is complex as well, divided into Personal Identity – individual’s personal conception of themselves and feelings of uniqueness; and Social Identity – individuals’ knowledge of their membership o a social group and emotions and values of being a member of that group.  Our work on Facebook relates more to Social Identity, but both personal and social identity indicators are evident on Facebook. People define themselves, their demographics, their views etc – personal identity – but also join groups, follow football teams etc. which is about asserting their social identity.

My work is based on two classic works: Erikson (1964) talked about young peoples’ need for socialisation and identity development. We borrowed the idea from Erikson, and suggested that young people on Facebook could be interpreted as identity development. McMillan and Chavis (1986) talks about social identity, the development of sense of belonging or community, and we applied this idea to online group. We argued that online groups, like offline groups, develop ties over time and a sense of belonging. Another stream of research, which was very recent introduced the concept of self presentation – and researchers argued that young people are presenting themselves on Facebook. And in fact in our research we found that one of the most popular activities in Facebook was photo sharing, tagging, etc. and we argue that that could also be a claim on identity.

So we hypothosised that there is a Sense of Belongingness, Online Socialising, Implicit Self Expression all contributed to Online Social Identity.

We ran an online survey of UG and PG students in Dubai, and received 93 valid responses. The questions addressed demographics, the amount of time students spend on Facebook activities, their network and how that is comprised, and popular Facebook activities.

Our participants were mostly 30 years or younger. Facebook is a part of students daily routine – 80% logged into their accounts more than once a day and each time spend up to an hour. They feel out of touch when they don’t log in. They consider themselves to be a valuable member of Facebook community – a marker of social identity. Students belive that their identity of their facebook groups would overlap their personal identoty. Generally our participants was made up of friends and acquaintances rather than strangers (average 200 friends). There can be “fake” profiles on Facebook, but if your network is all people you know it is harder to fake your identity perhaps as there is a connection to offline life. Photo activities were the most popular activities – 70% mainly use Facebook for this purpose.

We analysed the validity for our hypothoses. For Sense of belongingness contributing to online social identity development was supported. Implicit self-presentation – through sense of belongngness – did contriute to online social identity and that was supported in that mediated relationship. For that last aspect of Online socialisation contributing to online social identity was not supported, but it may be that if we had explore this in more detail, with more factors, we may have been able to see some effect.

We found that students engage in online interactions on social media specifically in self-presentation activities to implicitly express themselves. Overtime they develop a sense of belongingness to Facebook and a positive community there. There were other aspects, like self-esteem, that we didn’t include but could/might have.

So, in terms of the cognitive and behavioural component we see a mixture of socialisation – self-presentation; communications; group activities – and knowledge of group membership. And we saw these feed into a sense of belongingness – the affective component. And that that contributes to a sense of Online Social Identity. And we hope that model can contribute to future research.

Q&A

Q1) What profile aspects did you use for “presentation of self”

A1) We didn’t look at profiles, we asked question. We asked about a list of popular Facebook activities – published by other researchers – and asked about preference/activities, and things like taking photos etc. were part of this.

Q2) I was interested in your comment about Facebook identity being consistent with offline identity… I was wondering if there had been any qualitative data that maybe suggested a lack of continuity, or of self-censorship, etc.

A2) The main argument we had in the paper about profile identities as reflective of offline activities, was about real life contacts and how that provides some continuity/assurance of identity. The paper reports all the questions. The majority of students said they wouldn’t use Facebook to make new connections, they prefer to maintain connections there.

Exploring the Relationship Between Imagination and Creation Performance Among Visual Arts Learners Under the Blended Learning Model in Taiwan  – LiuKuang-Hsia, University of Taipei, Taiwan

I am very excited to be here from Taipei, Taiwan to share my research with you. I’ll summarise my work, with some backgrounds, method of study, and some interesting results. I am a visual arts teacher with 9 years experience in Digital Image Creation, where our course objectives are about gaining photoshop skills, digital skills, and creation methods – it is a mixture of art creation guidance and technical skills. We have lots of challenges. We have 2 to 3 hours of face to face time with our students – which is challenging too.

So, there is never enough time to cover all of the course topics… Part of that is about the tool – Adobe Photoshop now has a huge amount of new features – added in every version. That’s a challenge. And students are keen to focus on skills based learning, and are not as focused on imagination, creativity, aesthetic aspects. And because of timing the tutors talk quickly, that can cause stressed and questioning students. So, blended learning provides a solution here – providing a way for students to learn online to augment the face to face teaching. And the Horison 2016 reflects HE adoption of blended learning. Since 2014 I have adopted a blended learning model, and that shows an impact on the creativity of the students improving.

My study was to understand the relationship between imagination and creative arts and blended learning. My participants are 37 students – 9 male and 28 female. They are all taking the Blended learning module. They had a questionnaire at the end of the course – and it was voluntary and specifically not tied to assessment. Thompson (2008) has an Imagination Scale for Spontaneous Imagining and Structure Imagining(?). We used a 5 pt Likert scale in our research. We also looked at assessing artwork based on four criteria, and three experts assessment of the work.

When we looked at Students imagination performance, we saw slightly higher levels than in the wider populace. Regarding overall performance – male students performed significantly better than female students. When we looked at the dimensions of Theme and Content; Aesthetic Design; Creativity and Use of Skills we see the only significant result between male and female students in the area of Use of Skills (with male students performing slightly better).

I found that visual arts learners have more creativity than a wider range of learners.

Male students have higher imagination performance than female students, but there is no significant difference between genders in creative performance. And in terms of use of skills – highly skilled students performed significantly better. There was no difference between low and medium.

I have ideas for future research: Develop a tool to objectively assess imagination.

Q&A

Q1) It’s strange to see imagination connected with performance and assessment. Can you say more about triggering imagination?

A1) There is more discussion in the full paper. Imagination in our culture includes: beauty, skill, precision. I agree with you that there is no perfect imagination scale at the moment, but maybe we need a scale for future research. There are many aspects to assess. We have scholars who have developed small scale imagination – but none are perfect. But this is an experimental study.

Q2) Are you planning further studies with a more general population – there are only 9 men here, so might have different results in a wider study.

A2) Yes, I agree. Our students are mostly female though.

Q3) You were comparing the questionnaire results to the students performance in assessment, so I was curious how you avoid gender bias in the marking – as that stronger male performance could be the result of a difference in marking potentially…

A3) It’s an interesting question. The students for the questionnaire were self selecting… And the imagination performance was stronger for those with higher skills – where the male students were significantly stronger. But it is interesting…

Q4) How do you design your blended learning?

A4) I have an 18 week curriculum, 9 weeks online, 9 weeks in person. The digital material, shooting etc. takes place over summer… They are happy to work from home to do that first half of the class of online learning materials. And I am available via online office time for students, especially ahead of assessments.

And not captured above: I had some interesting chat in the between-presentation break, about all of the other complexities with assessing creative arts and imagination. Including some discussion of the fact that those 9 male students may be more motivated or may feel more confident in their expression given their role as minority in the group/space. In particular we were talking about the difference in aesthetics, symbology, etc. which may exist across cultural backgrounds, age groups etc. Can we assess young people’s creativity if their own visual language and styles speak to their peers and not to their (older) tutors for instance? How do we do that and understand the meaning of the work? Interesting stuff. And now onto the next paper… 

Informal Learning Practices Among Academic’s in Malaysia – OmarSiti Sarah, SitiSarawati,Johar Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Zailin ZainalAriffin,National Defence University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This is a simple study that my undergraduate students undertook. And I would just like to share with you what I’ve found about informal learning processes amongst that group.

Learning not only prepares an individual to cope in life but is the most important factor for success (Harrison and English 2003). Both formal and informal learning have contributed to the growth of the education system. Informal learning has been adopted for a number of reasons. Marksick and Watkins (2003) have a model of the reasons for adopting informal learning which includes: it provides flexibility or freedom for learners; it involves the processes by which people learn; and acknowledges the social aspects of learning from each other.

So the purpose for my study was to identify the level of participation, purpose, content and methods used in informal learning among the faculty of technical and vocational education lecturers. We are one of 9 faculties in a public university in Southern Malaysia.

What is informal learning? It is learning outside of formal structures but has been endorsed and encouraged by organisations, including the European Union, as being beneficial for learning. Telecommunications and technology have dramatically altered the way educators do their jobs and the way students are engaged in learning activities and processes. They are internet based tools that facilitate creativity and information sharing and collaboration among users (Clough 2010). There is an emphasis on sharing and engagement (Lucas and ??).

So in this study I used a descriptive survey to identify how lecturers adopt informal learning in their workplace. It was sent to 100 lecturers and had a 65% return rate. It was analysed in SPSS.

The level of involvement was generally high – with “surfing the internet at work for information about teaching, interests and hobbies as well as general information” the most popular activity but amongst a wide range. In terms of the purpose of involvement in informal learning was spread across five areas: Knowledge of conducting research (top answer), obtain teaching materials, etc. And this is in-keeping with Othman (2005), as did participants use of particular content in online learning. In terms of method/medium, interactive media was most frequently used above other sorts of content.

In terms of conclusions: the level of involvement was high. The purpose was most prominent for research and publications, whereas content of informal learning was ranked the highest for the language of communication (English and Malay), with Areas of expertise in teaching the second most popular answer.

Q&A

Q1) What was the context of this study?

A1) It was conducted by my undergraduate students for their final project for their degree. They came up with the topic.

Q1) Can I look again at the questions here? I saw some questions here that start “I always…”, what does that mean?

A1) Very often. But yes, I can see that that is open to misinterpretation. The scores are based on the 5pt Likert scale by the way.

Comment) One way to do that is to not include “often” or “always”

A1) I should say that the questionnaire was asked in Malay, which may make it slightly different in terms of ambiguity/phrasing.

Q2) What was the languages of communication question about?

A2) The students wanted to know about the content the lecturers accessed.

Q3) Why did you think that the level of informal learning was high?

A3) The score was 3.87 on that 5pt Likert scale. Which is high since 5 is maximum.

Q4) What do you intend to do with this research next?

A4) Could be extended, to look at gender differences perhaps… Other ideas…

Comment) You could look at preferences across

Q5) A really interesting study for students to take part in… I wondered how you got the lecturers to take part and answer honestly! And what would you do if rerunning again?

A5) I definitely wouldn’t use the same questions and would want students to engage in more complex statistical analysis. This work was 2-3 years ago. But informal learning is definitely still of interest.

Q6) Did you give your students feedback on their work here?

A6) Yes, so learning for them and for me!

Comment) It might be good to compare informal learning to knowledge.

A6) Yes, that would be interesting, to have a look at tacit knowledge…

Comment) That’s a good question to ask as they may read or engage with all of these things, but it’s hard to know if they are learning from them.

And with that, it’s time for lunch… 

The Implementation of Social Media in an Open Distance Learning Context  – LedimoOphillia and NicoMartins,UNISA, Pretoria, South Africa

This is a theoretical paper proposed with my colleague Nico Martins. And really for doing our business we have to be involved in open distance learning, and social media is key to that. In health it is especially important to implement these tools in this environment.

When we look at the concept of social media it is imagined differently, to communicate differently, to engage. And they allow creation and exchange of information that is generated by the users themselves. In terms of the general principles that are required, you need internet and digital context. It is connected and collective. And it describes the way learners learn in the current era. One colleague before lunch talked about social media as a platform for informal learning, for learners to be autonomous in their learning.

So most colleagues would implement social media without looking at the context of their organisation. And we think that actually we think it is imporant to understand the nature of open distance learning in the 21st century, to look at attributes of an open distance learner in an era of technlohu. To consider learner access to tools and resources. And to understand the role of social media in a learning and teaching environment.

Students can’t post assignments to us anymore, our assignments are submitted online, notes are accessed online, that’s the environment we find ourselves in. And we are looking for learners to be engaged more through technology. And these tools allow reach to students in a variety of environments and locations. But social media also helps students acclimatises students into the world of work where they will be expected to engage in social media as part of their practices.

In terms of student attributes, we find the current generation want to study anywhere, at anytime. And irrespective of age – even older learners have embraced the technology and are willing to use it. When you look at current learners, the literature also reflects this, the learners are problem solvers and multi-tasking learners. They want to be, and need to be, active engaged learners. They are very self-regulated and they want to be autonomous.

In terms of access to tools and resources. In South Africa our government tried to introduce an elearning programme without taking into account the history or experience of learners before. You can have tools but without economic access to resources, to internet, it won’t work. So, if you provide social media it is crucial that you provide an equal playing field for all your learners, so that they are able to participate and engage on the same terms. We have a social media tool called My UNISA which all students use, but you need internet access –  but students privileged to have internet access participate, others struggle to engage in discussions and group sessions. So, when you want to make social media as a tool for learner centred approach, it’s important to think about learners access to tools and material.

We also have to talk about how you use it… You don’t just use it because it’s a trend. But looking at the literature we see it can be used for support, collaboration, it’s an easy platform for that. And we are moving from a trend of basic things… We are moving to assessement submission online, exam online, it allows us to teach a large group of learners across a diverse geography. Once your student is supported, able to engage and participate, to do well in their studies. But the content must be managed so that the learner doesn’t deviate too far, that they focus their discussions. Important for students to build understanding, to build confidence, to engage directly with each other and their teaching staff. And when students collaborate and engage with one another, they are encouraged to work harder – and students are more satisfied by group activities and learner activities.

So, in conclusion, we think it’s really important that we facilitate open distance earning through social media. When we think of going fully online it is important to look at those areas – access, usefulness for support and assessment. Although social media has its own limitations… And because contact isn’t person to person… And security of users can be of concern… But benefits versus risk have to be balanced. We as educators have to balance that out in our own approach. And if we use social media we can empower learners to depend on one other and to help one another.

Integrating Social Media into a MOOC: Lessons from the Course on Digital and Social Media Marketing – GatautisRimantas and ElenaVitkauskaite,Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

I’ll be reflecting on some experience we’ve had. We had a project called JEMMS: Joint European Marketing and Social Media – a very ambitious 3 year project. And out of the project we are publishing a book with Routledge: Digital and Social Media Marketing. And more ambitious still we are delivering a joint masters programme across partners in Europe: The University of Salford Business School; KTU in Lithuania; Lot? University, Poland; WALTT in; and University of Sheffield in the City College in Thessoloniki. And they have agreed to run a MOOC and a joint masters.

And we ran our MOOC – Digital and Social Media Marketing – on the “leading open online course platform in Europe” (apparently), Iversity. We had EC funding so wanted to use a European MOOC platform.

We divided the MOOC into six different topics – why digital and social media is imporatnt, nature of digital channels, buyer persona development, etc. And students could access the course, and continue to access materials for six months afterwards. We had an aim of having 3000 MOOC participants. We did some promotion, and the platform did some promotion too. We asked everyone to introduce themselves on Twitter – also to help market the course. We used the hashtag #passion4digital. We attracted 14,000 students. Un-enrollment level was very low. And the course attracted participants across the whole world.

The evaluation was done in  two methods: Iversity did some evaluation, but we also did some evaluation. This was evaluation of the course as a whole. The Iversity questions were standard. We had 175 participants in the Iversity evaluation questionnaire, the project team questionnaire had around 100 participants.

Our results showed varied acceptance of different MOOC tools and formats. Videos were most successful. Quizzes and additional materials were well accepted. P2P assignments were not as happily accepted. And Online office hours/webinars were not so popular. Discussion forums also not well accepted.

We used two external platforms alongside the course: Twitter and the blogging platform CreativeHive. These supported the course community, also for some tasks in the course. And throughout the course we tried to understand how to promote the course via social media tools. There are different social media tools. The team decided to use Twitter…. The hope was that it would force students to use these tools, and some students did that… This is also tricky part. Twitter is very popular in the UK, but in Lithunia it is not popular at all, not in Latvia either. But we managed to force some students to use new tools – but not all of the project team learned new platforms!

We wanted to limit ourselves in terms of where we, as a team, supported students. We found that students themselves set up presences on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as WhatsApp and SMOOCER – which explicitly supports MOOC completion. And the different content that students produced by participants was quite interesting, and some really interesting work. Overall we had nearly 1000 active users able to receive statement of participation. But they were spread about the world.

In conclusion, two important points. We were trying to limit ourselves to Twitter and CreativeHub. And to focus on active participants. And students actively created their own space.

We had the hashtag #passion4digital and we thought they would just use it on Twitter, but they used it on Facebook and Instragram etc. which let us find their discussions… etc. and consider which platforms to use.

And a good outcome of the MOOC – Iversity asked us to design a 12 week paid professional course (this one we ran was free) so we are going to be doing that.

Apologies, my chairing this session meant no capture of interesting questions and discussions. 

Summary of the Conference
Award to the winner of the Best PhD Paper and Best Masters Paper

Christina: We had really good presentations and papers so this was hard to select – there were so many interesting perspectives in these sessions. The PhD prize is jointly awarded to:

Britt Adams for: Improving Adolescents’ Advertising Literacy Through Education: The Perceptions of Secondary Education (TeachersAdamsBritt, TammySchellensand MartinValcke,Ghent University, Belgium).

And:

KarinHögberg for: The Interpretation of Social Media: Challenges of Adopting Social Media in Organizations (HögbergKarin, University West, Sweden)

And the winner of the Masters symposium is:

Organisational Context and Netiquette: Exploring the Paradox of Control Versus Chaos in Social Media Management CallinanSarah and EtainKidney,Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland (Masters).

The winner for the Masters colloquium is: Sarah Callinan: Organisational Context and Netiquette: Exploring the Paradox of Control Versus Chaos in Social Media Management (CallinanSarah and EtainKidney,Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)

The winner for the poster is Hanaa Namankani,University of Liverpool and King Abdulaziz University, UK – Social Media (SM) Adoption by Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Influential Factors in the Context of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

Sue Nugus: Two small announcements. Next year in Vilnius at ECSM2017 we will have a new competition which will be looking for good initiatives or applications of social media, where academia and business work together. It’s about the story of what happened, the challenges, and what happened at the end/where you are at. Teams of at least 2. And please keep an eye out for that, and tell your contacts and colleagues.

And with that, we are done!

 July 13, 2016  Posted by at 7:38 am Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jul 122016
 

This week I am at the European Conference on Social Media 2016. I’m presenting later today, and have a poster tomorrow, but will also be liveblogging here. As usual the blog is live so there may be small errors or typos – all corrections and additions are very much welcomed!

We are starting with an introduction to EM Normandie, which has 4 campuses and 3000 students.

Introduction from Sue Nugus, ACPI, welcoming us to the event and the various important indexing etc.

Christine Bernadas, ECSM is co-chair and from EM Normandie, is introducing our opening keynote Abi Ouni, Co-founder and CEO of Spectrum Group. [http://www.spectrumgroupe.fr/]

Keynote Address:Ali Ouni,Spectrum Group, France – Researchers in Social Media, Businesses Need You!!!

My talk today is about why businesses need social media. And that, although we have been using social media for the last 10-15 years, we still need some approaches and frameworks to make better use of it.

My own personal background is in Knowledge Manageent, with a PhD from the Ecole Centrale Paris and Renault. Then moved to KAP IT as Head of Enterprise 2.0, helping companies to integrate new technologies, social media, in their businesses. I belive this is a hard question – the issue of how we integrate social media in our businesses. And then in 2011 I co-founded Spectrum Groupe, a consulting firm of 25 people who work closely with researchers to define new approaches to content management, knowledge management, to define new approaches. And our approach is to design end to end approaches, from diagnostic, to strategy development through to technologies, knowledge management, etc.

When Christine asked me to speak today I said “OK, but I am no longer a researcher”, I did that 12-15 years ago, I am now a practitioner. So I have insights but we need you to define the good research questions based on them.

I looked back at what has been said about social media in the last 10-15 years: “Organisationz cannot afford not to be listening to what is being said about them or interacting with their customers in the space where they are spending their time and, increasingly, their money too” (Malcolm Alder, KPMG, 2011).

And I agree with that. This space has high potential for enterprises… So, lets start with two slides with some statistics. So, these statistics are from We Are Social’s work on digital trends. They find internet activity increasing by 10% every year; 10% growth in social media users; and growth of 4% in social media users accessing via mobile; which takes us to 17% of the total population actively engaging in social media on mobile.

So, in terms of organisations going to social media, it is clearly important. Ut it is also a confusion question. We can see that in 2010 70%+ of big international organisations were actively using social media, but of these 80% have not achieved the intended businesses. So, businesses are expending time and energy on social media but they are not accruing all of the benefits that they have targeted.

So, for me social media are new ways of working, new business models, new opportunities, but also bringing new risks and challenges. And there are questions to be answered that we face every day in an organisational context.

The Social Media Landscape today is very very diverse, there is a high density… There are many platforms, sites, medias… Organisationsa re confused by this landscape and they require help to navigate this space. The choice they have is usually to go to the biggest social media in terms of total users – but is that a good strategy? They need to choose sites with good business value. There are some challenges when considering external sites versus internal sites – should they replicate functionality themselves? And where are the values and risks of integrating social media platforms with enterprise IT systems? For instance listening to social media and making connecting back to CRMs (Customer Relationship Management System(s)).

What about using social media for communications? You can experiement, and learn from those… But that makes more sense when these tools are new, and they are not anymore. Is experimenting always the best approach? How ca we move faster? Clients often ask if they can copy/adopt the digital strategies of their competitors but I think generally not, that these approaches have to be specific to the context and audience.

Social media has a fast evolution speed, so agility is required… Organisations can struggle with that in terms of their own speed of organizational change. A lot of agility is requires to address new technologies, new use cases, new skills. And decisions over skills and whether to own the digital transformation process, or to delegate to others.

The issue of Return on Investment (ROI) is long standing but still important. Existing models do not work well with social media – we are in a new space, new technology, a new domain. There is a need to justify the value of these kinds of projects, but I think a good approach is to work on new social constructs, such as engagement, sentiment, retention, “ROR” – Return on Relationship, collective intelligence… But how does one measure these?

And organisations face challenges of governance… Understanding rules and policies of engagement on social media, on understanding issues of privacy and data protection. And thought around who can engage on social media.

So, I have presented some key challenges… Just a few. There are many more on culture, change, etc. that need to be addressed. I think that it is important that businesses and researchers work together on social media.

Q&A

Q1) Could you tell me something on Return on Relationships… ?

A1) This is a new approach. Sometimes the measure of Return on Investment is to measure every conversation and all time spent… ROR is about long term relationships with customers, partners, suppliers… and it is about having benefits after a longer period of time, rather than immediate Return on Investment. So some examples include turning some customers into advocates –so they become your best salespeople. That isn’t easy, but organisations are really very aware about these social constructs.

Q1) And how would you calculate that?

Comment) That is surely ROI still?

Comment) So, if I have a LinkedIn contact, and they buy my software, then that is a return on investment, and value from social capital… There is a time and quality gain too – you identify key contact and context here. Qualitative but eventually quantitative.

A1) There absolutely is a relationship between ROR and ROI.

Q2) It was interesing to hear your take on research. What you said reminded me of 20 years ago when we talked about “Quality Management” and there was a tension between whether that should be its own role, or part of everyone’s role.

A2) Yes, so we have clients that do want “community management” and ask us to do that for them – but they are the experts in their own work and relationships. The quality of content is key, and they have that expertise. Our expertise is around how to use social media as part of that. The good approach is to think about new ways to work with customers, and to define with our consulting customers what they need to do that. We have a coaching role, helping them to design a good approach.

Q3) Thank you for your presentation. I would like to ask you if you could think of a competency framework for good community management, and how you would implement that.

A3) I couldn’t define that framework, but I think rom what I see there are some key skills in community management are about expertise – people from the business who understands their own structure, needs, knowledge. I think that communication skills need to be good – writing skills, identifying good questions, an ability to spot and transform key questions. From our experience, knowing the enterprise, communication skills and coordinating skills are all key.

Q3) What about emotional engagement?

A3) I think emotional engagement is both good and dangerous. It is good to be invested in the role, but if they are too invested there is a clear line to draw beteen professional engagement and personal engagement. And that can make it dangerous.

Stream B – Mini Track on Empowering Women Through Social Media (Chair – Danilo Piaggesi)

Danilo: I proposed this mini track as I saw that the issues facing women in social media were different, but that women were self-organising and addressing these issues, so that is the genesis of this strand. My own background is in ICT in development and developing countries – which is why I am interested in this area of social media… The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which include ICT, have been defined as needing to apply to developing and developed countries. And there is a specific goal dedicated to Women and ICT, which has a deadline of 2030 to achieve this SDG.

Sexting & Intimate Relations Online: Identifying How People Construct Emotional Relationships Online & Intimacies Offline
Spurling – Esme, Coventry University, West Midlands, UK

Sexting and intimate relations online have accelerated with the use of phones and smart phones, particularly platforms such as SnapChat and Whats App… Sexting for the purpose of this paper is about the sharing of intimate texts through digital information. But this raises complexity for real life relationships, and how the online experience relates to that, and how heterosexual relationships are mediated. My work is based on interviewees.

I will be talking about “sex selfies”, which are distributed to a global audience online. These selfies (Ellie is showing examples on the “sexselfie” hashtags) purport to be intimate, despite their global sharing and nature. The hashtags here (established around 2014) show heterosexual couples… There is (by comparison to non-heterosexual selfies) a real focus on womens bodies, which is somewhat at odds with the expectations of girls and women showing an interest in sex. Are we losing our memory of what is intimate? Are sexselfies a way to share and retain that memory?

I spoke to women in the UK and US for my research. All men approached refused to be interviewed. We have adapted to the way we communicate face to face through the way we connect online. My participants reflect social media trends already reported in the media, of the blurring of different spheres of public and private. And that is feeding into our intimate lives too. Prensky (2001) refers to this generation as “Digital Natives” (I insert my usual disclaimer that this is the speaker not me!), and it seems that this group are unable to engage in that intimacy without sharing that experience. And my work focuses on shairng online, and how intimacy is formed offline. I took an ethnographic approach, and my participants are very much of a similar age to me, which helped me to connect as I spoke to them about their intimate relationships.

There becomes a dependency on mobile technologies, of demand and expectation… And that is leading to a “leisure for pleasure” mentality (Cruise?)… You need that reward and return for sharing, and that applies to sexting. Amy Hassenhof notes that sexting can be considered a broadcast media. And mainstream media has also been scrutinising sexting and technology, and giving coverage to issues such as “Revenge Porn” – which was made a criminal offence in 2014. This made texting more taboo and changed public perceptions – with judgement online of images of bodies shared on Twitter. When men participate they sidestep a label, being treated in the highly gendered “boys will be boys” casualness. By contrast women showing their own agency may be subject to “slut shaming” (2014 onwards), but sexting continues. And I was curious to find out why this continues, and how the women in my studies relate to comments that may be made about them. Although there is a feeling of safety (and facelessness) about posting online, versus real world practices.

An expert interview with Amy Hassenhof raised the issue of expectations of privacy – that most of those sexting expect their image to be private to the recipient. Intimate information shared through technology becomes tangled with surveillance culture that is bound up with mobile technologies. Smartphones have cameras, microphone… This contributes to a way of imagining the self that is formed only by how we present ourselves online.

The ability to sext online continues despite Butler noting the freedom of expression online, but also the way in which others comment and make a real impact on the lives of those sharing.

In conclusion it is not clear the extent to which digital natives are sharing deliberately – perceptions seemed to change as a result of the experience encountered. One of my participants felt less in control after reflective interviews about her practice, than she had before. We demand communication instantly… But this form of sharing enables emotional reliving of the experience.

Q&A

Q1) Really interesting research. Do you have any insights in why no men wanted to take part?

A1) The first thing is that I didn’t want to interview anyone that I knew. When I did the research I was a student, I managed to find fellow student participants but the male participants cancelled… But I have learned a lot about research since I undertook my evidence gathering. Women were happy to talk about – perhaps because they felt judged online. There is a lot I’d do differently in terms of the methodology now.

Q2) What is the psychological rationale for sharing details like the sex selfies… Or even what they are eating. Why is that relevant for these people?

A2) I think that the reason for posting such explicit sexual images was to reinforce their heterosexual relationships and that they are part of the norm, as part of their identity online. They want others to know what they are doing… As their identity online. But we don’t know if they have that identity offline. When I interviewed Amy Hassenhof she suggested it’s a “faceless identity” – that we adopt a mask online, and feel able to say something really explicit…

A Social Network Game for Encouraging Girls to Engage in ICT and Entrepreneurship: Findings of the Project MIT-MUT
–  Natalie Denk, Alexander Pfeiffer and Thomas Wernbacher, Donau Universität Krems, Ulli Rohsner, MAKAM Research Gmbh, Wien, Austria and Bernhard Ertl,Universität der Bundeswehr, Munich, Germany

This work is based on a mixture of literature review, qualitative analysis of interviews with students and teachers, and the development of the MIT-MUT game, with input and reflection from students and teachers. We are testing the game, and will be sharing it with schools in Austria later this year.

Our intent was to broaden career perspectives of girls at the age of 12-14 – this is younger than is usually targeted but it is the age at which they have to start making decisions and steps in their academic life that will impact on their career. Their decisions are impacted by family, school, peer groups. But the issue is that a lot of girls don’t even see a career in ICT as an option. We want them to show that that is a possibility, to show them the skills they already have, and that this offers a wide range of opportunities, possible career pathways. We also want to provide a route to mentors who are role models, as this is still a male dominated field especially when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Children and young people today grow up as “digital natives” (Prensky 2001) (again, my usual critical caveat), they have a strong affinity towards digital media, they frequently use internet, they use social media networks – primarily WhatsApp, but also Facebook and Instagram. Girls also play games – it’s not just boys that enjoy online gaming – and they do that on their phones. So we wanted to bring this all together.

The MIT-MUT game takes the form of a 7 week long live challenge. We piloted this in Oct/Nov 2015 with 6 schools and 65 actie players in 17 teams. The main tasks in the game are essentially role playing ICT entrepreneurship… Founding small start up companies, creating a company logo, and find an idea for an app for the target group of youth. They needed to then turn their game into a paper prototype – drawing screens and ideas on paper to demonstrate basic functionality and ideas. The girls had to make a video of this paper prototype, and also present their company on video. We deliberately put few technological barriers in place, but the focus was on technology, and the creative aspects of ICT. We wanted the girls to use their skills, to try different roles, to have opportunity to experiment and be creative.

To bring the schools and the project team we needed a central connecting point… We set up a SeN (Social Enterprise ?? Network), and we did that with Gemma – a Microsoft social networking tool for use within companies, that are closed to outside organisations. This was very important for us, given the young age and need for safety in our target user group. They had many of the risks and opportunities of any social network but in this safe bounded space. And, to make this more interesting for the girls, we created a fictional mentor character, “Rachel Lovelace” (named for Ada Lovelace), who is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, coming to Austria to invest. And the students see a video introduction – we had an actress record about 15 video messages. So everything from the team was through the character of Rachel, whether video or in her network.

A social network like Gemma is perfect for gamification aspects – we did have winners and prizes – but we also had achievements throughout the challenge for finishing a face, making a key contribution, etc. And if course there is a “like” button, the ability to share or praise someone in the space, etc. We also created some mini games, based on favourite genres of the girls – the main goal of these were as starting points for discussing competencies in ICT and Entrepreneurship contexts. With the idea that if you play this game you have these competencies, and why not considering doing more with that.

So, within Gemma, the interface looks a lot like Facebook… And I’ll show you one of these paper prototypes in action (it’s very nicely done!), see all of the winning videos: http://www.mitmut.at/?page_id=940.

To evaluate this work we had a quantitative approach – part of the game presented by Rachel – as well as a quantitative approach based on feedback from teachers and some parents. We had 65 girls, 17 teams, 78% completed the challenge at least to phase 4 (the video presentation – all the main tasks completed). 26% participated in the voting phase (phase 5). Of our participants 30 girls would recommend the game to others, 10 were uncertain, and 4 would not recommend the game. They did enjoy the creativity, design, the paper prototyping. They didn’t like the information/the way the game was structured. The communication within the game was rated in quite a mixed way – some didn’t like it, some liked it. The girls interested in ICT rated the structure and communication more highly than others. The girls stayed motivated but didn’t like the long time line of the game. And we saw a significant increase in knowledgeability of ICT professions, they reported increase in feeling talented, and they had a higher estimation of their own presentation skills.

In the qualitative approach students commented on the teamwork, the independence, the organisational skills, the presentation capabilities. They liked having a steady contact person (the Rachel Lovelace character), the chance of winning, and the feeling of being part of a specialist project.

So now we have a beta version, we have added a scoring system for contributions with points and stars. We had a voting process but didn’t punish girls for not delivering on time, wanted to be very open… But girls thought that we should have done this and given more objective, more strict feedback. And they wanted more honest and less enthusiastic feedback from “Rachel”. They felt she was too enthusiastic. We also restructured the information a bit…

For future development we’d like to make a parallel programme for boys. The girls appreciated the single sex nature of the network. And I would personally really like to develop a custom made social media network for better gamifiation integration, etc. And I’d like

Q&A

Q1) I was interested that you didn’t bring in direct technical skills – coding, e.g. on Raspberry PIs etc. Why was that?

A1) Intentionally skipped programming part… They have lessons and work on programming… But a lack of that idea of creative ways to use ICT, the logical and strategic skills you would need… But they already do informatics as part of their teaching.

Q2) You set this up because girls and women are less attracted to ICT careers… But what is the reason?

A2) I think they can’t imagine to have a career in ICT… I think that is mainly about gender stereotypes. They don’t really know women in ICT… And they can’t imagine what that is as a career, what it means, what that career looks like… And to act out their interests…

And with that I’ve switched to the Education track for the final part of this session… 

Social Media and Theatre Pedagogy for the 21C: Arts-Based Inquiry in Drama Education – Amy Roberts and Wendy Barber, University of Ontario, Canada

Amy is starting her presentation with a video on social media and performance pedagogy, the blurring of boundaries and direct connection that it affords. The video notes that “We have become a Dramaturgical Community” and that we decide how we present ourselves.

Theatre does not exist without the audience, and theatre pedagogy exists at the intersection between performance and audience. Cue another video – this time more of a co-presentation video – on the experience of the audience being watched… Blau in The Audience (1990) talks about the audience “not so much as a mere congregation of people as a body of thought and desire”.  Being an audience member is now a standard part of everyday life – through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Vine… We see ourselves every day. The song “Digital Witness” by Saint Vincent sums this up pretty well.

YouTube Preview Image

Richard Allen in 2013 asked whether audience actually wants conclusive endings in their theatre, instead showing preference for more videogame open ended type experiences. When considering what modern audiences want… Liveness is prioritised in all areas of life and that that does speak to immediacy of theatre. Originally “live” was about co-presence but digital spaces are changing that. The feeling of liveness comes from our engagement with technology – if we engage with machines, like we do with humans, and there is a response, then that feels live and immediate. Real time experiences gives a feeling of liveness… One way to integrate that with theatre is through direct digital engagement across the audience, and with performance. Both Baker and Auslander agree that liveness is about immediate human contact.

The audience is demanding for live work that engages them in its creation and consumption through the social media spaces they use all the time. And that means educators have to be part of connecting the need for art and tech… So I want to share some of my experiences in attempting “drama tech” research. I’m calling this: “Publicly funded social board presents… Much ado about nothing”. I had been teaching dramatic arts for many years, looking at new technologies and the potential for new tools to enable students to produce “web theatre” around the “theatre of the oppressed” for their peers, with collaboration with audience as creator and viewer. I was curious to see how students would use the 6 second restriction of Vine, and that using familiar tools students could create tools familiar to the students.

The project had ethics approval… All was set but a board member blocked the project as Twitter and Vine “are not approved learning tools”… I was told I’d have to use Moodle… Now I’ve used Moodle before… And it’s great but NOT for theatre (see Nicholls and Phillip 2012). Eisner (2009) talks about “Education can learn from the arts that form and content cannot be separated.How something is said or done shapes the content of experience.”. The reason for this blocking was that there was potential that students might encounter risks and issues that they shouldn’t access… But surely that is true of television, of life, everything. We have to teach students to manage risks… Instead we have a culture of blocking of content, e.g. anything with “games” in the name – even if educational tools. How can you teach media literacy if you don’t have the support to do that, to open up. And this seems to be the case across publicly funded Ontario schools. I am still hoping to do this research in the future though…

Q&A

Q1) How do you plan to overcome those concerns?

A1) I’m trying to work with those in power… We had loads of safeguards in place… I was going to upload the content myself… It was really silly. The social media policy is just so strict.

Q1) They’ll have reasons, you have to engage with those to make that case…

Q2) Can I just ask what age this work was to take place with?

A2) I work with Grade 9-12… But this work specifically was going to focus on 17 and 18 year olds.

Q3) I think that many arts teachers are quite scared by technology – and you made that case well. You focus on technology as a key tool at the end there… And that has to be part of that argument.

A3) It’s both… You don’t teach hammer, you teach how you use the hammer… My presentation is part of a much bigger paper which does address both the traditional and that affordances of technology.

Having had a lovely chat with Amy over lunch, I have now joined Stream B – Monitoring and Privacy on Social media – Chair – Andree Roy

Monitoring Public Opinion by Measuring the Sentiment of Re-tweets on Twitter – LashariIntzar Ali and Uffe KockWiil,University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

I have just completed my PhD at the University of Southern Denmark, and I’ll be talking about some work I’ve been doing on measuring public opinion using social media. I have used Twitter to collect data – this is partly as Twitter is most readibly accessible and it is structured in a way that suits this type of analysis – it operates in real time, people use hashtags, and there are frequent actors and influencers in this space. And there are lots of tools available for analysis such as Tweetreach, Google Analytics, Cytoscope. My project, CBTA, is combining monitoring and analysis of Tweets…

I have been looking for dictation on geographical location based tweets, using a trend based data analyser, with data collection of a specific date and using network detection on negative comments. I also limited my analysis to tweets which have been retweeted – to show they have some impact. In terms of related studies supporting this approach: Steiglitx (2012) found that retweets is a simple powerful mechanism for information diffusion; Shen (2015) found re-tweeting behaviour is an influencing behaviour from the post of influential user. The sentiment analysis – a really useful quick assessment of content – looks at “positive”, “negative” and “neutral” content. I then used topic base monitoring an overview of the wider public. The intent was to move towards real-time monitoring and analysis capabilities.

So, the CBTA Tool display shows you trending topics, which you can pick from, and then you can view tweets and filter by positive, negative, or neutral posts. The tool is working and the code will be shared shortly. In this system there is a keyword search of tweets which collects tweets, these are then filtered. Once filtered (for spam etc), tweets are classified using NLTK which categorises into “Endorse RT”, “Oppose RT” and “Report RT”, the weighted retweets are then put through a process to compute net influence.

So for my work has looked at data from Pakistan around terms: Zarb-e-Azb; #OpZarbeAzb; #Zerb-e-asb etc. And I gathered tweets and retweets, and deduplicated those tweets with more than one hashtag. Once collected the algorithm for measuring re-tweets influence used follower counts, onward retweets etc. And looking at the influence here, most of the influential tweets were those with a positive/endorsing tone.

But we now have case studies for Twitter, but also for other social media sites. We will be making case studies available online. And looking at other factors, for instance we are interested in the location of tweets as a marker for accuracy/authenticity and to understand how other areas are influencing/influenced by global events.

Q&A

Q1) I have a question about the small amount of negative sentiment… What about sarcasm?

A1) When you look at data you will see I found many things… There was some sarcasm there… I have used NLTK but I added my own analysis to help deal with that.

Q2) So it registers all tweets right across Twitter? So can you store that data and re-parse it again if you change the sentiment analysis?

A2) Yes, I can reprocess it. In Twitter there is limited availability of Tweets for 7 days only so my work captures a bigger pool of tweets that can then be analysed.

Q3) Do you look at confidence scores here? Sentiment is one thing…

A3) Yes, this processing needs some human input to train it… But in this approach it is trained by data that is collected each week.

Social Media and the European Fundamental Rights to Privacy and Data Protection – BeyversEva, University of Passau and TilmanHerbrich, University of Leipzig, Germany

Tilman: Today we will be talking about Data Protection and particularly potential use in commercial contexts, particularly marketing. This is a real area of conflict in social media. We are going to talk about those fundamental rights to privacy and data protection in the EU, the interaction with other fundamental rights, and things like profiling etc. The Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) are primary law based on EU law. There is also secondary law including Directives (requiring transposition into national law, but are not binding until then), and Regulations (binding in entirity on all member states, they are automatically law in all member states).

In 2018 the CFR will become legally binding across the piece. In this change private entities and public bodies will all be impacted by the CFR. But how does one enforce those? They could institute a proceeding before a national court, then the National Court must refer questions to the European Court of Human Rights who will answer and provide clarifications, that will then enable the National Courts to take a judgement on the specific case at hand.

When we look across the stakeholders, we see that they all have different rights under the law. And that means there is a requirement to balance those rights. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has always upheld that concerned rights and interests must be considered, evaluated and weighed in order to find an adequate balance between colliding fundamental rights – as an example the Google Spain Data Protection case in Spain where their commercial rights were deemed secondary to the inidividual rights to privacy.

Eva: Most social media sites are free to use, but this is made possible by highly profiled advertising. Profiling is articulated in Article 4 in the CFR as including aspects of behaviours, personality, etc. Profiling is already seen as an issue that is a threat to Data Protection. We would argue that it poses an even greater threat: users are frequently comfortable to give their real name in order to find others which means they are easily identifiable; users private lives are explicity part of the individual’s profile and may include sensitive data; further this broad and comprehensive data set has very wide scope.

So, on the one hand the users individual privacy is threatened, but so is the freedom to conduct a business (Art 16 CFR). The right to data protection (Article 8, CFR) rests on the idea of consent – and the way that consent is articulated in the law – that consent must be freely given, informed and specific – is incompatible with social networking services and the heavy level of data processing associated with them. These spaces adopt excessive processing, there is dynamic evolution of these platforms, and their concept is networking. Providers make changes in platform, affordances, advertising, etc. create continued changes of the use and collection of data – at odds with specific requirements for consent. The concept of networking means that individuals manage information that is not just about themselves but also others – their image, their location, etc. European Data Protection law does nothing to accommodate the privacy of others in this way. There has been no specific ruling on the interaction of business and personal rights here, but given previous trends it seems likely that business will win.

These data collections by social networking sites also has commercialisation potential to exploit users data. It is not clear how this will evolve – perhaps through greater national law in the changing or terms and conditions?

This is a real tension, with rights of businesses on one side, the individual on the other. The European legislator has upheld fundamental data protection law, but there is still much to examine here. We wanted to give you an overview of relevant concepts and rights in social media contexts and we hope that we’ve done this.

Q&A

Q1) How do these things change when Europe is outwith the legislative jurisdiction of most social media companies are – they are global
A1) General Data Protection Law 2018 will target companies in the EU, if they profile there. It was unclear until now… Previously you had to have a company here in Europe (usually Ireland), but in 2018 it will be very clear and very strict.

Q2) How has the European Court of Human rights fared so far in judgements?

A2) In Google Spain case, in another Digital Rights case the ECHR has upheld personal rights. And we see this also on the storage and retention of data… But the regulation is quite open, right now there are ways to circumvent.

Q3) What are the consequences of non-compliance? Maybe the profit I make is greater than that risk?

A3) That has been an issue until now. Fines have been small. From 2018 it will be up to 5% of worldwide revenue – that’s a serious fine!

Q4) Is private agreement… Is the law stronger than private agreement? Many agree without reading, or without understanding, are they protected if they agree to something illegal.

A4) Of course you are able to contract and agree to data use. But you have to be informed… So if you don’t understand, and don’t care… The legislator cannot change this. This is a problem we don’t have an approach for. You have to be informed, have to understand purpose, and understand means and methods, so without that information the consent is invalid.

Q5) There has been this Safe Harbour agreement breakdown. What impact is that having on regulations and practices?

A5) The regulations, probably not? But the effect is that data processing activities cannot be based on Safe Harbour agreement… So companies have to work around or work illegally etc. So now you can choose a Data Protection agreement – standardised contracts to cover this… But that is insecure too.

Digital Friendship on Facebook and Analog Friendship Skills – KordoutisPanagiotis, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens and EvangeliaKourti,University of Athens, Greece

Panagiotis: My colleague and I were keen to look at friendship on Facebook. There is a lot of work on this topic of course, but very little work connecting Facebook and real life friendship from a psychological perspective. But lets start by seeing how Facebook describes itself and friendship… Facebook talk about “building, strengthening and enriching friendships”. Operationally they define friendship through digital “Facebook acts” such as “like”, “comment”, “chat” etc. But this creates a paradox… You can have friends you have never met and will never meet – we call them “unknown friends” and they can have real consequences for life.

People perceive friendship in Facebook in different ways. In Greece (Savrami 2009, Kourti, Kourdoutis, Madaglou 2016) young people see Facebook friendship as a “phony” space, due to “unknown friends” and the possibility of manipulating self presentation. As a tool for popularity, public relations, useful acquaintances; a doubtful and risky mode of dating; the resort of people with a limited nnumber of friends and lack of “real” social live; and the resort of people who lack friendship skills (Buotte, wood and pratt 2009). BUT it is widely used and most are happy with their usage…

So, how about psychological definitions of analog friendship? Baron-Cohen and Wheelright (2003) talk about friendship as survival supporting social interdependence based on attachment and instrumentality skills.

Attachment involves high interdependence, commitment, systematic support, responsiveness, communication, investment in joint outcomes, high potential for developing the friendship – it is not static but dynamic. It is being satisfied by the interaction with each other, with the company of each other. They are happy to just be with someone else.

Instrumentality is also part of friendship though and it involves low interdependence, low commitment, non-systematic support, low responsiveness, superficial communication, expectations for specific benefits and personal outomes, little potential for developing the relationship – a more static arrangements. And they are satisfied by interacting with others for a specific goal or activity.

Now the way that I have presented this can perhaps look like the good and the bad side… But we need both sides of that equation, we need both sets of skills. What we perceive as friendship in analog life usually has a prevalence of attachement over instrumentality…

So, why are we looking at this? We wanted to look into whether those common negative attitudes about Facebook and friendship were accurate. Will FB users with low friendship skills have more Fb friends? Engage in more Fb “friendship acts”; will they use Fb more intensely; will they have more “unknown” friends than users with stronger friendship skills”. And when I say stronger friendship skills – I mean those with more attachment skills versus those with more instrumental skills.

In our method here we had 201 participants, most were women (139) from Universities and technological Institutes in metropolitan areas of Greece. All had profiles in Fb. median age was 20, all had used Facebook for 2 hours the day before, and many reported being online at least 8 hours a day, some on a permanent ongoing basis. We asked them how many friends they have… Then we asked them for an estimate of how many they know in-person. Then we asked them how many of these friends they have never met or will never meet – they provided an estimation. There were other questions about interactions in Facebook. We used a scale called the Facebook Insensity Scale (Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe 2007) which looks at importance of Facebook in the persons life (this is a 12 pt Likert scale). We also used an Active Digital Sociability Scale which we came up with – this was a 12 pt likert scale on Fb Friendship acts etc. And we used a Friendship Questionnaire (Baron-Cohen and Wainwright 2003). This was a paper exercise, for less than 30 minutes.

When we looked at stronger and weaker friendship skills groups – we had 44.3% of participants in the stronger friendship skills group, 52% in the weaker friendship skills group. More women had stronger friendship skills – consistent with the general population across countries.

So, firstly do people with weaker friendship skills have more friends? No, there was no difference. But we found a gender result – men had more friends in facebook, and also had weaker friendship skills.

Do people with weaker friendships skills engage more frequently in Fb friendship operations of friendship acts? No. No difference. Chatting wa smost popular, browsing adn liking were most frequet acts regardless of skills. Less frequent were participating in groups, check in and gaming. BUT a very telling difference: Men were more likely to comment than women, and that’s significant for me.

Do people with weaker friendship skills engage in Fb use it more intensively? Yes and No. There was a difference… But those with stronger friendship skills showed high Fb intensity, compared to those with weaker friendship. Men with stronger skills were more intensive in their use than women with strong skills.

Do people with weaker friendship skills have more friends on facebook? No. Do they have more unknown friends? No. But there was a gender effect. 16% of men have unknown friends, ony 9% of women do. Do those with weaker friendship skills interact more with unknown friends? No, opposite. Those with stroger skills, interact more with unknown friends. And so on.

And do those with weaker friendship skills actually meet unknown friends from Fb in real life? Yes, but opposite to expected. If they have stronger skills I’m more likely to meet you in real life… If I am a man… The percentages are small (3% of men, 1% of women).

So, what do I make of all this? Facebook is not the resort of people with weak friendship skills. Our data suggests it may be advantageous space for those with higher friendship skills, it is a socail space regulated by lots of social norms – it is an extension of what happens in real life. And what is the norm at play? It is the famous idea that men are encouraged to be bold, women to be cautious and apprehensive. Women have stronger social skills, but Facebook and the dynamics suppresses them, and enhances men with weaker skills… So, that’s my conclusion here!

Q&A

Q1) Very interesting. When men start to see someone they haven’t met before… Wouldn’t it be women? To hit on them?

A1) Actually yes, often it is dating. But men are eager to go on about it… to interact and go on to meet. Women are very cautious. We have complimented this work with qualitative work that shows women need much longer interaction – they need to interact for maybe 3 years before meeting. Men are not so concerned.

Q2) You haven’t talked about quality etc. of your quantitative data?

A2) I haven’t mentioned it here, but it’s in the paper (in the Proceedings). The Friendship questionnaire is based on established work, saw similar distribution ratios as seen elsewhere. We haven’t tried it (but are about to) with those with clinical status, Aspergers, etc. The Facebook Intensity questionnaire had a high reliability alpha.

Q3) Did you do any comparison of this data with any questions on trolling, cyber bullying, etc. as the consequences for sharing opinion or engaging with strangers for women is usually harsher than for men.

A3) Yes, some came up in the qualitative study where individuals were able to explain their reasons.

Q4) Did your work look at perceptions by employers etc. And how that made a difference to selecting friends?

A4) We didn’t look at this, but others have. Some are keen not to make friends in specific groups – they use Facebook to sell a specific identity to a specific audience.

Q5) The statistics you produced are particularly interesting… What is your theoretical conjecture as a result of this work?

A5) My feeling is that we have to see looking at Facebook as an alternative mode of socialising. It has been normalised so the same social rules functioning in the rest of society do function in Facebook. This was an example. It sounds commonplace but it is important.

The Net Generation’s Perceptions of Digital Activism –  StochLouise and SumarieRoodt, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Sumarie: I will be talking about how the Net Generation view digital activism. And the reason this is of interest to me is because of the many examples of digital activism we see around us. I’ll talk a bit about activism in South Africa, and particularly a recent campaign called “Fees Must Fall”.

There are various synonyms for Digital Activism but that’s the term I’ll use. So what is this? It’s origins start with the internet, with connection and mobilisation. We saw the rise of social media and the huge increase in people using it. We saw economies and societies coming online and using these spaces over the last 10 years. What does this mean for us? Well it enables quick and far-reaching information sharing. And there is a video that goes with this too.

Joyce 2013 defines Digital Activism as being about “the use of digital media in collective efforts to bring about social or political change, using methods outside of routine decision-making processes”. “It is non-violent and civil but can involve hacking (Edwards et al. 2013). We see digital activism across a range of approaches: from Slacktivism (things that are easy to participate in); online activism; internet activism; cyber activism; hacktivism. That’s a broad range, there are subtleties that divide into these and other terms, and the different characteristics of these types of activism.

Some examples…

In 2011 we saw revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Occupy Wall Street;

2012-14 we saw BringBackOurGirls, and numerous others;

2015 onwards we have:

  • RhodesMustFall – on how Cecil John Rhodes took resources from the indigenous communities, and recent removals of statues etc. and naming of buildings, highly sensitive.
  • FeesMustFall  – about providing free education to everybody, particularly university – less than 10% of South Africans go to University and they tend to be those from the more privileged background – as a result of that we weren’t allowed to raise our fees for now, and we are encouraged to find other funders to subsidise education and we cannot exclude anyone because of lack of economic access, the government will help but…. a lot of conflict there particularly around corruption, but government also classified universities as advantaged or non advantaged university and distributes funds much more to non advantaged university.
  • ZumaMustFall – our president is also famous for causing havoc politically and economically for what many see as very poor decisions, particularly under public scrutiny in the last 12 months.

In the room we are having a discussion about other activist activities, including an Israeli campaign against internet censorship law targeted at pornography etc. but including political and cultural aspects. Others mention 38 degrees etc. and successful campaigns to get issues debated. 

Now, digital activism can be on any platform – not necessarily Facebook or Twitter.

When we look at who our students are today – the “Net Generation”, “Millennials”, “Digital Natives” – and characteristics (Oblinger and Oblinger) associated this group include: confidence with technologu, always connected, immediate, social and team orientated, diverse, visual, education driven, emotionally open. But this isn’t homogenous, not all students will have these qualities.

So, what did we do with our students to assess students view? We looks at 230 students, and targeted those looked at in the literature: those born in any year from 1983 to 2003, and they needed to be those with some form of online identit(ies). We had an online questionnare that ran over 5 days. We analysed with Qualtrics, and thematic analysis. There are limitations here – all students were registered in the Comms department – business etc.

In terms of the demographics: Male participants were 38%, female were 62%; Average age was 22, minimum was 17, maximum was 33. We asked about the various characteristics, using a Likert scale questions… Showing that all qualify suffiently to be this “Net Generation”. We asked if they paid attention to digital activism… Most did, but it’s not definitive. Now this is the beginning of a much bigger project…

We asked if the participants had ever signed an online petition – 145 had; and 144 believed online petitions made a difference. We also asked if the internet and social media have a positive effect on an activism campaign – 92% do, and that has huge interest to companies and advertisers. And 89% of participants felt the use of social media in these causes has contributed to creating a society that is more aware of important issues.

What did we learn? Well we did see that this generation are inclined to participate in slacktivism. They believe digital activism mades a difference. They pay attention to online campaigns and are aware of which ones have been successful – at least in terms of having some form of impact or engagement.

Now, if you’d like access to the surveys, etc. do get in touch.

Q&A

Q1) How does UCT engage with the student body around local activism?

A1) Mostly that has been digitally, with the UCT Facebook page. There were also official statements from the University… But individual staff were discouraged from reacting. But freedom of speech for the students. It increased conflict in some way, but it also made students feel heard. Hard to call which side it fell on. Policy change is being made as a result of this work… They had a chance to be heard. We wanted free speech (unless totally inappropriate).

Q2) I see that you use a lot of “yes” and “no” questions… I like that but did you then also get other data?

A2) Yes. I present that work here. This paper doesn’t show the thematic analysis – we are still working on submitting that somewhere. We have that data, so once the full piece is in a journal we can let you know.

Q3) Do you know any successful campaigns in your context?

A3) Yes, FeesMustFall started in individual universities, and turned then to the government. It actually got quite serious, quite violent, but that definitely has changed their approach. And that campaign continues and will continue for now.

At this point of the day my laptop lost juice, the internet connection dropped, and there was a momentary power outage just as my presentation was about to go ahead! All notes from my strand are therefore from those taken on my mobile – apologies for more typos than usual!

Stream C – Teaching and Supporting Students – Chair – Ted Clark

Students’ Digital Footprints: Curation of Online Presences, Privacy and Peer Support – Nicola Osborne and Louise Connelly,University of Edinburgh, UK

That was me!

My slides are available on Prezi herehttps://prezi.com/hpphwg6u-f6b/students-digital-footprints-curation-of-online-presences-privacy-and-peer-support/

The paper can be found in the ECSM 2016 Proceedings, and will also be shared on the University of Edinburgh Research Explorer along with others on the Managing Your Digital Footprint (research strand) researchhttp://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/students-digital-footprints(5f3dffda-f1b4-470f-abd4-24fd6081ab98).html 

Please note that the remaining notes are very partial as taken on my smartphone and, unfortunately, somewhat eaten by the phone in the process… 

How do you Choose a Friend? Greek Students’ Friendships in Facebook – KourtiEvangelia, University of Athens and PanagiotisKordoutisand AnnaMadoglou,Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Greece

This work, relating to Panagiotis’ paper earlier (see above) looked at how individuals make friends on Facebook. You can find out more about the methodology in this paper and Panagiotis’ paper on Analog and Facebook friends.

We asked our cohort of students to tell us specifically about their criteria for making new friends, whether they were making the approach for friendship or responding to others’ requests. We also wanted to find out how they interacted with people who were not (yet) their friends in Facebook, and what factors played a part. The data was collected in a paper questionnaire with the same cohort as reported in Panagiotis’ paper earlier today.

Criteria for interacting with a friend, never met before within Facebook. The most frequent answer was “I never do” but the next most popular responses were common interests and interest in getting to know others better. physical appearance seems to play a factor, more so than previous interactions but less so than positive personality traits. 

Criteria for deciding to meet a previously unknown friend. Most popular response here was “I never do so”, followed by sufficient previous FB interaction, common acquaintances, positive personality etc. less so.

Correspondence Analysis – I won’t go into here, very interesting in terms of gender. Have a look at the Proceedings. 

Conclusion is that Facebook operated as social identity tool. And supporting offline relationships. self involvement with the medium seems to define selection criteria compatible with different social goals reinforcing one real-life social network.

Q&A

Q1) I’m very interested in how FB suggests new friends. Did students comment on that. 

A1) We didn’t ask about that.

Q2) isn’t your data gender biased in some way – most of your participants are female.

A2) Yes. But we continue this… With qualitative data it’s a problem, but means and standard deviation cover that. 

Q2) Reasons for sending a request to who you don’t know. First work by Ellison etc. showed people connecting with already known people… I wonder if it is still true? 

A2) Interesting questions. We must say that students answer to their professor in a uni context, that means maybe this is an explanation… 

Comment) Facebook gives you status for numbers and types of friends etc. 

A2) it’s about social identity and identity construction. Many have different presences with different goals. 

Comment) there is a bit of showing off in social. For status. 

Professional Development of Academic Staff in the use of Social Media for Teaching and Learning – Julie Willems, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

This work has roots in 2012. from then to 2015 I ran classes for staff on using social media. This follows conversations I’ve heard around the place about expecting staff to use social media without training. 

Now I use a very broad definition of social media – from mainstream sites to mobile apps to gaming etc. Media that accesses digital means for communication in various forms. 

Why do we need staff development for social media? To deal with concerns of staff, students move there, also super enthusiasm.. 

My own experience is of colleagues who have run with it, which has raised all sorts of concerns. Some would say that an academic should be doing teaching, research, service and development can end up being the missing leg on the chair there. And staff development is not just about development on social media but also within social media. 

We ran some webinars within Zoom webinar, showing Twitter use with support online, offline and on Twitter – particularly important  for a distributed campus like we have. 

When we train staff we have to think about the pedagogy, we have to think about learning outcomes. We need to align the course structure with LOs, and also to consider staff workload in how we do that training. What will our modes of delivery be? What types of technology will they meet and use – and what prep/overhead is involved in that? We also need to consider privacy issues. And then how do you fill that time. 

So the handout I’ve shared here was work for one days course, to be delivered in a flipped classroom – prep first, in person, then online follow up. Could be completed quickly but many spent more time on these.

This PPT from a module I developed for staff at Monash university, with social media at the intersection of formal and informal learning, and the interaction of teacher-directed learning and student-centred learning. That quadrant model is useful to be aware of: Willem Blakemore(?): 4QF.

Q&A

Q1) What was the object among staff at your university?

A1) First three years were optional. This last year Monash require staff to do 3 one day courses per year. One can be a conference with a full report. Social Media is one of 8 options. Wanted to give an encouragement for folk to attend. 

Q2) How many classes use your social media as a result?

A2) I’ve just moved institution. One of our architecture lecturers was using FB in preference to LMS: students love it, faculty concerned. Complex. At my current university social media isn’t encouraged but it is use. Regardless of attitude social media is in use… And we at least have to be aware of that. 

Q3) I was starting to think that you were encouraging faculty staff to use Social media alone, rather than with LMS.

A3) At Monash reality was using social alongside LMS. That connection discouraged in my new faculty. 

Q4) I loved that you brought up that pressure from teaching staff – as so many academics in social media now, they are min more active and a real pressure to integrate.

A4) I think that gap is growing too… Between resisters and those keen to use. Students are aware of what they share – a Demi formal space… Have to be aware.

Q5) do you have a range of social media tools or just Facebook?

A5) mainly Facebook, sometimes Twitter and Linked In. I’m in engineering and architecture. 

Q5) Are they approved for use by faculty?

A5) Yes, the structure you have there had been. 

Q6) also encourage academic staff to use academic networking sites?

A6) depends on context. Depends… ResearchGate good for pubs, Academic.edu like bus card. 

Q7) Reward and recognition

A7) Stuff on sheet was for GCAP… Came out of that… 

Q8) Will we still have these requirements to train in, say, 5 years time? Surely they’ll be like pen and pencil now?

A8) Maybe. Universities are keen for good profiles though, which means this stuff matters in this competitive academic marketplace. 

And with that Day One has drawn to a close. I’m off to charge a lot of devices and replace my memory sticks! More tomorrow in a new liveblog post. 

 July 12, 2016  Posted by at 9:22 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Apr 202016
 

This is a very belated LiveBlog post from the CSCS Network Citizen Science and the Mass Media event, which I chaired back on 22nd October 2015. Since the event took place several videos recorded at the event have been published by the lovely CSCS Network folks and I’ve embedded those throughout this post.

About the Event

This session looked at how media and communications can be used to promote and engage communities in a crowd sourcing and citizen science project. This included aspects including understanding the purpose and audience for a project; gaining exposure from a project; communicating these types of projects effectively; engaging the press; expectation management; practical issues such as timing, use of interviewees and quotes, etc.

I was chairing this session, drawing on my experience working on the COBWEB project in particular, and I was delighted that we were able to bring in two guest speakers whose work I’ve been following for a while:

Dave Kilbey, University of Bristol and Founder and CEO of Natural Apptitude Ltd. Natural Apptitute works with academic and partner organisations to create mobile phone apps and websites for citizen science projects that have included NatureLocator, Leafwatch, Batmobile, and BeeMapp. Some of these projects have received substantial press interest, in particular Leafwatch (along with the wider Conker Tree Science initiative), and Dave will talk about his personal experience of the way that crowd sourcing and citizen science and the media work together, some of the benefits and risks of exposure, and some of the challenges associated with working with the press based on his own experience.  @kilbey252

Alastair (Ally) Tibbitt, Senior Online Journalist at STV, where he has been based since 2011 working both in journalism and community engagement. Aly’s background lies in community projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh, experience that informs his work writing both for STV and Greener Leith. He has particular interests in hyperlocal news, open data and environmental issues, giving him a really interesting insiders’ perspective on the way that citizen science and crowd sourcing can engage the press, some of the realities of media expectations, timings, etc. and an insight into effective ways to pitch a citizen engagement story. @allytibbett

My notes from the talks were captured on the day but, due to chairing, I wasn’t able to capture all of the discussion or questions that arose in the session. The video below captures the talks, with my notes from these below. 

YouTube Preview Image

Musings on Media and Communications for Citizen Science Projects – Dave Kilbey, Natural Appitude

I’m not an expert but I have been working in this area for some time so these are some musings informed by my work to date.

I’ve worked on a variety of projects, which started with a project called NatureLocator – all basically mobile apps, but also website. We try to make it as simple as possible for people to take part in these projects, and we try to do that working with experts so that the data we collect is useful and purposeful. So our projects include work on invasive species, work with the biological monitoring centre. So effectively we work with researchers, organisations, and engaging the public in what we do. And we do that with design of bespoke smartphone apps and websites. In theory Innovative but actually much of this is established – although BatMobile is an exception – as was never really good enough to launch. And public engagement is central to what we do, and from that naturally comes much of our engagement with media.

We spend a lot of time and money on design and usability, because if they aren’t easy to use and appealling then participants won’t use them or use them again. The apps are for contribution, the website is for looking at the data – that’s more of an unprovoked engagement…

So the content on media on communications is this bit, which I’m calling “Smurfs… and the wrong kind of conkers”.

So I thought about why we want media coverage in the first place? It’s obvious but it matters… And these are selfish through to altruistic…

We want this to get the project (and us) noticed – we want to share what we do, and to get the project out there (important for a business too). You want to engage an army of volunteers – you can’t have citizen science without citizen scientists, you need people engaged. You want to attract more funding – crucial in a university context. Success metrics – which include impact – we are measured on how many people took part, engaged etc. and as researchers we are also measured on media presence to an extent. But there is also the aspect of personal satisfaction, and that matters.

On a more altruistic basis is increase knowledge of a concept or problem – we’ve really had that feedback on our invasive plant species work. Citizen science is increasingly about finding solutions to problems – there are all sorts of things like examination of proteins being gamified, so participants contribute regardless of knowledge. We also want to inspire interest, perhaps even the next generation of researchers – we are all passionate about what we do, and want to share that…

But the crux of the matter is that media isn’t always as important in the ways you’d expect.

If your project isn’t ready, the media coverage will be a real pain. There is a project called Ash Town done more of less as a media stunt… The organisation using the data wasn’t ready, the data wasn’t ready… and they had a backlog of verification and that disillusioned participants… The feedback loop wasn’t there but they had to take advantage of that moment. So I tend to be quite conservative about when I share projects, I want them ready.

Quite a few of our projects have had mass media interest and that can be brilliant but they cause a big spike and are largely unfocused… Normally you want a focused set of interested participants. It can be helpful but long term it’s less clear how it is helpful for finding those participants. By contrast micro media and focused marketsing and events, such as conferences, lead to better engagement – and the data from targeted audiences tends to be much better. For example there was a big issue of giant hog weed in the media this summer – we had more records than ever before… but 80% of that data was incorrect. Normally the data in Plant Tracker is 90% accurate. That was due to lots of people finding out about giant hog weed and recording lots of false positive. NOt neccassarily a problem, but an issue for data centric projects.

So we find drip feeding/organic networking works best for us. But as they say “Any publicity is good publicity?”… Maybe…. Mostly we’ve had good coverage,

To use a fishing analogy I see the mass media as ground bating – causing a general feeding frenzy, but then you have to think about how you are baiting your hook to make use of this… So it’s all about how you follow up…

So, with our first app, Leaf Watch, we had loads of media coverage. This project was small scale before with maybe 500 records a year, without the photos or georeference. So we set up a smartphone app with that sort of data for verification interested… And we had 5000 records… But also a lot of noise… 3 bottom pictures, and worse… even a smurf!

So, how to attract publicity… Again, I’m no expert… Often it’s about finding an interesting story to tell that has relevance at this point in time – is there a hook to draw people in, trigger their imagination. For the Uni of Bristol it was often our Public Relations Office that often got us the gig. Me, on my own using my Twitter feed, is going to get the Times interested… So utilise your existing resources in your organisation, they have some great powerful contacts etc. to call on. And I have a colleague who does a good job of researching likely journalists and contacting them directly…

Really much of this feels random, but it’s about a lot of events coming together, and stuff in the outside world… Looking for those opportunities to tell your story to an audience that’s ready to listen… (And do get in touch).

Engaging the Media – Ally Tibbett, STV

I work at STV, and have a background in community projects and volunteering activities. I currently work at STV, also setting up a fledgling news site.

So I wanted to set the context of engaging with media… ANd I wanted to set the scene. Many newspapers are losing 10% circulation, broadcast TV are doing better, but still online transition. But most media company websites are booming – our STV pages collectively reach a few million people a day. So still a lot of reason to get word out there. And it’s worth planning that as you do your citizen science project. You need to think about where you will find the people you do want to engage with. More and more people get their news via social media. Many read news via mobile device. It’s getting more visual with vides, images, infographics. Big interactive graphics are great, but hard to scale to a phone so many media companies keep it simple..

So I’ve tried to set this up as a timeline… How you might engage the media… Before your project. When recruiting participants – who do you want to reach, is it a specific geography? Age greoup? demographic? that should influence both the scial media platfors and media companies you use. What is the benefit for participants? What is the long term goal. Is ther ean interesting back story – and what change will it bring about. And plan out a communication calendar – can you hook into, e.g. International Authors day. Editors are always looking for a new angle on events, or a local angle on a national news story. And even if that doesn’t fit your timing it can be helpful. The other thing to think about is what digital assets can you share/produce. A press release is nice, but a press release with bangs and whistle, with infographics or images etc. That is brilliant – helps journalists know why they should engage now. It’s about the infotainment, not just the data. And it could be as simple as a slideshow, or animated gifs, or data we could map. Thinking about citizen science projects I’ve already worked on, I thought of a project on happiness on different neighbourhoods – we persuaded them to share some data. If you do want help producing maps etc, then there are skilled journalists who can help. We’ll need a Shapefile. And we need that data to be open to support more open interactive stuff…

So, assuming you had a nice launch and a little publicity boost… How do you engage dring th eproject? Well citizen engagement can be more than just research – can they promote project fro you on social media. You need a #hashtga to generate social media buss and help you collate conversation. Can you give progress reports to journalists who covered the launch and those you hope will cover final results. And building that buzz from the outset, can mean there is a story, and help show th eimpact of your prokect. Also, thnk about things that cannot be shared – could be copyright or child protection etc. issues. And as you aggregate content around the hashtag and curate the best, remove anything with an issue. Tools like STorify let you do this.

From my point of view one of the best ways to engage the press is when there is a result, a discovery… The media thrives on a wee bit of controversy etc. So Neive Short from CRESH at Edinburgh looks at mapping alchohol etc. and social issues – she is a campaigning academic, taking her studies to policy makers, and that, for instance, is always of interest. So air quality or air pollution crowd sourcing project would certainly have some of those qualities, those cases to engage policy makers. Too often we get press releases about “we did a study… we might be able to do something in the future…” but we need a concrete story really…

A note on press releases… They are fundamentally quite useful. Do send them out. Keep them short. Include multiple short quotes. have a clear top line, be clear about what you’ve done. Comes with a variety of visuals in different formats – landscape, portrait, infographics, animated films etc. And supplying images in multiple formets – making our job to package it easier – makes a big difference. Is the story important enough for us to send someone out to take new images? Maybe not. BUt actually don’t send 6MBs of materials is not good – so send a press release linking to resources.

So, journalists. Do send releases etc to a generic news email addresses. Use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to find journalists with an interest in your subject, message them direct. Provide advance warning, reminders, photo and filming opportunities. Don’t do it at the weekend – no TV will come. Do it at a lunchtime on a weekday… PRactical stuff. If no one shows up, don’t worry about it, do send them pictures etc. And if there is one place that you really really want to be featured in, offer it as an exclusive and see it works. Obviously I’d like that to be me… BUt that’s something useful to hold back ni that way…

And, lastly, humour works. If you can find something daft, and can present it in a funny way… Our story “What if Back to the Future was set in Glasgow” is the second most ready story on our website having gone up yesterday. Most read story in the last year on STV was a very tall man who using the bathroom had a hand dryer calamity – that did great and almost made the front page of Reddit. We can be too serious… Be fun. Share the 15 things that happened in this project that were most funny, say… Humour works.

And with that we turned to some really interesting questions and discussion – huge thanks to all who came along and took part in this.

Whilst he was in Edinburgh for this event Dave Kilbey was also able to give an interview for the CSCS Network website, which you can watch there, or in the embed below:

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Huge thanks to Dave and Ally for making the time to come along and speak to the CSCS network who I know really appreciated their presentations and sharing of experience. Huge thanks too to the lovely CSCS network team for providing a space for this event and support for our speakers and their travel.