Lesley's E-learning and Digital Cultures Blog

December 13, 2009

End of LIfestream Summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 8:48 pm

So, lifestreaming…. Mmm – interesting, challenging, unnerving are just a few words that spring to mind. In the first few weeks of the course I just didn’t get it. In part due to trying to get to grips with the technology ie, setting up the feeds etc but also I because I felt really pressurized from the onset to contribute and add items and information even although I didn’t feel ready to do so.

Consequently, I felt insecure and even questioned my ability and wondered if I had chosen the right module. I found Twitter a mightmare. Why would I want to talk to myself? Who would be interested in whether I was tired and stressed or having a glass of wine?

coming across some really ‘random’ posts when browsing in those initial weeks only added to my insecurity. I thought I was missing something – perhaps there was a space in cyberworld I had not managed to find yet. a space where there were conversations going on about topics that might clarify the meaning of some of the tweets. I later realised – this was the nature of tweeting – often random and perhaps at times only coherent to the author!

I felt quite disillusioned and wondered what this lifestreaming thing was really about. The irony is I had been looking forward to this module because I felt it would help me in my work- bring all the disparate elements of my life and work together. But I felt even less in control of my environment and couldn’t explain why.

The issue of retrospective posting became important . I had an eye operation 8 weeks ago and developed some complications which had an impact on my ability to contribute consistently and regularly. So I found myself having to“ catch up”
Everyone seemed so organised and ‘current’ and I was having to jump back and forth. To be honest I would have worked in this fashion anyway but it became more of an issue because of the problems I was having with my eyes and that I couldn’t contribute in a timely manner. Everything I did was visible and could be ’seen.’ Did it matter? I don’t know, but it felt like it mattered.

So I felt this environment, because it recorded chronologically, was quite inflexible and restrictive and meant that i couldn’t pretend I had completed week 7 summary in week 7.
OK you could set up a blank post which would record date and time and return to this at a later date. however all dates would be recorded so this might defeat the purpose. The key question from this is, is this important and would I have been penalised for doing so?

What can I say about Twitter. I really struggled with the idea of talking to myself. Yeh, ok, I wasn’t really talking to myself but rather talking to my peers, my tutors, and, well, the world! But I was, talking to myself wasn’t I? I still can’t figure out what I was doing with twitter.

I had this overriding thought, who on earth would be interested in what I was doing. I also believe this kind of thinking is tied up with self esteem and would be an interesting theme to explore in the future.

I have to say whilst this is an end of course summary I really feel I am only just beginning my journey into the often surreal experiences that seemed to be such a core part of exploring the virtual world.

There are still so many topics to explore that a part of me just wants to continue but also there is the part of me that is saying thank god I’ve finished but above all “I have had to learn to engage so that I can engage to learn” (Ferguson, Lesley 2009) – couldn’t resist this one!

Note – Oh and I have found some links I forgot to add so am going to do it now


more retrospective posting….mmm

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 5:03 pm

Have decided to use this weeks summary slot as an opportunity to discuss things, concepts and issues I never quite managed to explore.

Reflecting on all previous lifestream entires I have realised just how far I have come, I feel quite excited about this because in the beginning I could not get my head around lifestreaming.
The volume, diversity and quality of my entries has over time, very much improved. Can I even go as far as to say I feel quite excited at how coherent and interesting the content looks and perhaps more importantly how it tracks my progress. Or perhaps I am experiencing an hallucination or even an illusion of visuality.

Naturally I could have done better as is always the case but feel I have achieved such a lot but also missed opportunities to explore topics which emerged as of interest such as the effect that using sound can have when conveying meaning using images alone.

The connection between cyberspace and religion – which I hope to explore and investigate for my assignment. so won’t say too much about this one.

The public-nes of the environment we worked in was both beneficial and intimidating . I often peeked for ideas, comfort and reassurance and found all of this but also realised there were always going to be people who just had it completely sussed – I could not compete, so learned to do my own thing and ask for help when needed. perfect it is not but I firmly believe it has documented and illustrates my progress and also highlights themes I would still like to explore.

December 12, 2009

Utopia, Dystopia, Cyberspace?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — lesleyf @ 2:49 pm

Cyberspace – a real space? can it be a utopian one? or even represent dystopia?

Exploring some literature other than prescribed I found similar views, why? Why does it have to be categoriesed in this way? Is it becuase writers and academics want us to consider the possibility that a cyberworld does actually exist? what does it mean to exist anyway?  why can it not be described in a way that explains its origins which are to me not magical and do not evoke any sense of mystery.

Interestingly William Gibson cited by Kevin Robbins(1) describes cyberspace as a ‘ consequential hallucination. ‘  Moreovever according to Kevin Robbins(1), the debate surrounding virtual reality is also a consequential hallucination and comes form the notion that a vision of  the future which might be more desirable is always better. I suppose something to look forward to. Disalusioned by life are we as a society clinging on to what we might perceive as being a panacea? Can it ever be proved though?

I suppose this might explain the popularity of second life?  Are we as a society then just looking for a utopia, any kind of utopia and  are being guided toward the the possibility that cyberspace may offer us a kind of better life depending on your view that is, you might want to believe the opposite but crucially whichever stance you take you are considering wither a possibility and this is significant.


1. Cyberspace and the World We Live in
ROBINS Body Society.1995; 1: 135-155


November 30, 2009

week 6 summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 12:25 am

communitiesWhat is the nature  of a virtual community, mulling this over it suddenly struck me that I didn’t feel part of the community I was currently engaging with; the MSc e learning group studying e learning and digital cultures. Why?

I hadn’t really thought about it before this week but then began to piece together some of the reasons why and also noted that this had been a contributory factor to my general feeling of being in  psychological chaos –  and one of the reasons why I did not fully engage with all course environments.

Adding more feeds to my lifestream was tempting becuase it would possibly look as if I had loads of information to share but I felt this was a bit overwhelming and that in real life I would not use all of the feed options provided. I had to consider what would be best for me quantity or quality and hopefully I made the right decision and opted for what seemed to suit me.

I felt daunted by the fact that things were moving really quickly and I even thought at one stage I had missed discussions or something or interactions about topics I had no clue about because as people were wizzing along at great speed with their life streams – posting and tweeting madly, the nature of some of the posting was quite obscure and dare I say random. which were in some cases to me often quite random. Consequently, I resisted contributing – ok you might think I ‘chickened out’ well you are right, I did.

This was a fatal error(pardon the computer related pun) because I did not engage enough to make friends. Whether online or real life I believe you must give what you expect to get back. It seems so logical now , now that I am in a different frame of mind. Now that my psychosis has passed. Nevertheless a lesson learned  I suppose connecting with people was not really my main concern so it took second place but on reflection it was part of what formed the basis of the module. Whilst I am probably exaggerating it is true that I have only really had contact with a couple of my peers.

However, there is security in the knowledge that you have no knowledge of your peers. Using these types of environments is so public , you can feel so vulnerable. I think you need really top notch confidence to survive unaffected by the experience. Either that or you are a born exhibitionist and love the attention and have the confidence not to care.

So, what is a virtual community? According to Bell(1); cyberculture debates centre around the notion of community, virtual community that is. The popularity of  social networking and numerous other online social and professional activities have at their core the notion of community.

Is a community just a collection of people who have a common interest? Is a virtual community different from a community based on physical presence and participation? I’m tempted to say yes to the first and no to the second quesiton but then this is too simplistic a response. So I will attempt a more sophisticated one.

Bell in his introductory paragraph states that he wants to look at the arguments and research that ” attempt to shed light on the kinds of communities seen to be forming in cyberspace ”  he sees this as controversial because of the “existing tensiopns betweeen different standpoints on the promises and limitaitons of cyberculture” (pg 92, Bell, David 2001)  which also encapsulates the relationship between an online and offline life.

As globalization gives us more choice of community  it also seems that the perception of this globalization  makes us more aware of our sense of self and this can become disembedded and  the temptation to create an imaginary persona is more likely to happen with participants of an online community.  I can see the logic in this but I don’t think it is always the case.

The need to create an imaginary persona is a psychological pathology not unique to the internet user so I think this would certainly become a moral dilemma if and when the transgression became important. Does it matter therefore? well the answer is , yes it does matter but only in certain situations. one of these situations would be in a learning environment where integrity is essential. how this can be guaranteed I do not know.

Back to the issue of Bells assertion as to the existence of cyberspace I really am not sure if this has any useful bearing on his argument. Online communities can be discussed with no reference to cyberspace, for me it doesn’t add any value to the argument. It seems to me that it is quite possible to  analyse, evaluate  and reach a conclusion about virtual communities without any mention of cyberspace. On reading Holmes he provides a really interesting way of articulating this thought. He suggests that ” the geographical metaphors for the internet quite literally(or perhaps virtually) set themselves up as a place, providing a topological ‘ground’ beneath the ‘information superhighway’ that allows for travel, distance and speed.(Holmes,D)(2)


1. Bell,David(2001) Community and Cyberculture. chapter 5

2. Virtual politics:identity and community in cyberspace. Holmes, David


November 23, 2009

week 9 summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 11:10 pm

KAtherine Hayles give quite an accolade to Donna Haraway by suggesting she  has become a legend of the “late 20th century scholarship” This is quite a statement to make and I ‘m perhaps a bit sceptical but can’t help wondering why? she can’t surely be the only academic sho has had works translated into several languages and been cited  thousands of times?

What makes her so special then?  well it seems she was quite a visionary when 20 plus years ago she was talking about the cyborg – ” a  human body that could be modified with cyber mechanical devices.” (pg 160) Well I have to say this does sound quite visionary and whilst the idea of mechanical implants of a variety of sorts wasn’t entirely new – we had the Bonic Man(tv programme)even although  it was considered a bit science ficitonesque  we did kind of imagine the possibility some time down the line.

It seems we have moved on from the cyborg to something much more interesting something that I have to say fills me with wonderment and that is the notion of “distributed cultural cognitions embodied both in people and their technologies” being a possible reality! Woah!! this is quite a statement to make!

What are we really talking about ? Cultural cognitions which can be embodied in people and technology. My first question has to be why cultural? what about ordinary everyday cognitions? Moreover if these cognitions can be embodied it has to follow that they could also be disembodied? Perhaps one day you will be able to purchase the personality type of your choice. I could think of several people who might benefit from this advancement.

Now it is one thing to consider that body parts can be replaced with mechanically constructed parts, parts which are essentially physical to be replaced by other physical parts. however the problem here is that cognitions are not a physical entity they are a function of a physical entity – the brain. A wee bit like walking, this is a function of legs  but you can’t walk without legs, yes they can be mechanical but they are essentially legs. Similarly, arms can wave, if you have no arms you can’t wave. Mechanical arms can wave also. so walking is what legs do and waving is what arms do.

thinking, waving, walking are essentially non physical functions attributed to physical body parts like the brain, the legs and the arms. they cannot be considered as interchangeable.

Refering to the posthuman I can’t quite get my head around the idea of the possibility that two spatially different elements can be intertwined. Hayles argues that the posthuman is “construed as an informational pattern that happens to be instantiated in a biological substrate” what does this mean?  Is the posthuman purely a state of mind?  is it a physical entity?

There are so many aspects of this reading that are extremely interesting and equally confusing but that  I would  really want to explore more deeply but have neither enough experience to know the right questions to ask.

week 8 summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 11:07 pm

The human form in all it’s eternal representations may be changing and must be re-visioned suggests Ihab Hassan from Hayles (cptr 1)

Consciousness is a state of mind, a state of mind is a description of brain activity just as walking is – what legs do and waving is – what arms do. Consciousness is not  a physical attribute as is waving and walking.

candle“The human form may be changing radically” says Ihab Hassan in his statemnt quoted by Hayles. but can it ever change from a physical entity to an abstract concept?  Is it possible to have a human form which has no physical attributes? does the word ‘form’ not imply a physical structure? Can the consciousness and physical attributes of the brain ever be separated?

Descarte’s and his melting wax scenario where he tried to explain how it was possible for and object to change form and consistency bit still remain the same object. Crucially though the forms were both of a physical nature.

I suppose you can have a brain without having consciousness – consider the human who is in a coma for eaxmple. they have a brain but no consciousness. However can you  have a consciousness without a brain – mmm… not really and the reason is simple : the abstract and the physical can never be the cause of each other….  walking is done by legs. waving is done by arms… no arms no waving, no legs no walking.

I see it a bit like this – consciousness > disembodied consciousness > informational patterns > the circulation of such

Informational patterns which can be engineered to produce perfection. It might be possible to create the perfect personality to be embodied as and when required.

November 8, 2009

Link to my ethnography

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 6:21 pm


November 6, 2009

Illusion of linearity – or is it? (week 7 related)

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 12:07 am

Learning is messy, how often have we heard this or given this adivce to students in the hope we can encourage them to get through the stage when you think you have learned absoulutely nothing even although you have been slogging away at it.

Yes, learning is messy and seldom follows a linear path and there is no formula. If we can accept and deal with this it is likely you will be able to use it to your advantage. so what is this messy process?  Has been described as taking two steps forward and one back or just having a vague feeling of prevailing chaos.

A studylinear course listing by Sherry Chen  investigated the idea that students with different cognitive styles reacted differently to  a non linear, hypermedia learning environment.  learners have the freedom of navigaiton and have multi entry points  from which to accesss the learning material but this freedom can cause problems. They have to learn how to learn in this type of environment.

Learners can then make their way through an ” information -rich and highly interconnected porgramme in thier own self directed manner instead of having to follow passivley some form of pre defined linear access(farrell and Moore, 2000)Sherry Chen)

However this freedom can lead to difficulties such as feeling disorienated. Flexibiliy  inreases comlexity(Ellis and Kurniaman, 2000) and strategies need to be learned and developed to deal with such complexity.

I  suggest that it is feasibly possible that a further reason might be that there is conflicting  learning representations existing simultaneously multimodal and linear representations each requiring different learning apporaches.

Take for example the home page of our class blog. It is essentially an image, a wep page containing more images and text. However some of the text, (see screen print on the left),is presented in a linear style.  the course outlone, content, participants are presented in a linear fashion.

The simultaneous presence of multi modal and linear representations may cause cognitive confusion and disorientation as discussed by Chen above? each representation requiring different learning apporaches.

Are we trying to combine both modes of representation?

If so what are the implications for the learner?

my ethnograph is nearly ready I promise!!

November 5, 2009

Week 7 Summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesleyf @ 3:17 pm


This week was probably the most frustrating for me,whilst I was getting better at making lifestream entries I couldn’t find that much to say about them other than they represented what I was trying to do and find out about.

I found that when reflecting on the lifestream I tended to say the same thing – describing and re telling what I had been exploring but the entries demonstrated this anyway? Am not really getting this lifestream thing but will keep trying.

A bit like course participants feeling the need to use extensive description and explanation about their visual artefact when I would ahve thought the whole purpose of the exercise was for it to be a visual experience and experiment to see if the correct meaning can be construed visually.

I had serious doubts about my ability to tune into and really get to grips with the arguments being presented in this instance it was Gillian Rose who was causing me the most concern.

The task of constructing my ethnography seemed quite exciting and whilst I couldn’t understand what it was I was supposed to investigate. I was to construct an ethnograph and needed to find out exactly what this was.

There were loads of examples given on our website and there was lots of tweets – some quite random that’s another whole topic for dissection,  nevertheless there was lots of information flowing in cyberspace. However  there was something really getting to me and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was until I had a light bulb moment and reaslised I had no research question to guide me.  how can you research something and not know waht your looking for?

I turned to Hine,

and  thought he made the most sense. I would  consider this project as a naturalistic one which I was to document and I set about doing exactly this.  However there were lots of themes and imges swirling in my head causing me concern and muddling my thoughts.  I kind of  felt I was immersed in a surreal world of robots who could think for themselves and aliens who were trying to be human. – a bit of a sci fi experience really and I hate sci fi. Had I lost the plot? Yes I thnk I had.


It struck me at this point that it would never really be possible to establish what makes a virtual community a community because it is an abstract concept, as with religion or the existence of God – none of this can be proved so we must just take a leap of faith into the unknown and hope for the best. My views are that a virtual community is a place where where people have common interests and share common views but who want to explore and learn new things based on that  common interest.

In her introduction Rose talked about her intentions to discuss current debates surrounding using visual artefacts in the research process and that choosing a research methodology means you should develop a research question  and the tools to generate evidnece. I had just come full circle again. research question – yes! research question- no!

HIne offered me a little help with this one and I followed his suggestions to make the investigtion as naturalsitic as possible. begin the process from an objective standpoint.  What is a community? what can I doscover from this community? you just cannot help but generate questions when the intention is to investigate.  My strategy was to choose, observe and report and by doing just this I should says HIne maximise creativity.

you can view my transcript here.

I can’t help but be concerned about the fact that I may have missed the whole point of Rose’s arguments becuase I could not get past her initial assertions. This worries me. especially as she goes on to discuss the the cultural turn and I’m again off on a tangent about this becuase I don’t really understand what she means and she offers no further reference from which I can get to grips with her argument – you see why i’m worried?

This cultural turn refers to a change in investigative proceudres used by social scinetists pre modern society – now my head is saying how else can you study society other than by examining  society itself. But with no further clarification of what she means by this I am struggling to get past this assertion and how it affects my trying to figure out what a virtual community is and how visual images fit into this framework.  how does knowing about this cultural turn and the importance of visuality  help me establish what a virtual community is?  or should I just take a leap of faith?

Or am I making too much of this background information?  I did complete my ethnograph and did find out some intersting informtion – so must conclude that Hine’s advice did really work


Extra ramblings on Rose -

I cannot seem to concentrate on my ethnography because I’m having a hard time trying to make sense of some of the reading.

To be more specific and just focusing on one of the core readings – I’m having difficulty rationalising and making sense of some of the arguments presented by Gillian Rose

going mad

Her explanation of what she feels culture is according to other writers and herself are interesting and fairly transparent.
however as she continues her narrative  becomes more and more obscure to the extent she quotes what seem like random and nonsensical example given by a tourist board of people travelling on trains and that their experience of travel is described as a visual practice……totally random and doesnt make sense – what…..!! Everything that a person who has sight does them can be described a s a visual practice….so why choose a tourist board example!!

Moreoever she goes on to contradict herself when she explains that –  visual and visuality meaning different things ; one explains the physical act and the other describes the mindful process of interpreting what we see – which sounds OK and sensible. Culture is a combination of visual and visuality – yes this makes sense -  culture is dependent on participants interpreting meaningfully what is around them and making sense of the world( hall 1997)  but then goes on to suggest  - “ that looking, seeing and knowing are perilously intertwined(Jenks 1995). none of this makes any real and meaningful sense to me. semantics seem to play such a prominent role is these arguments that I feel I am reading so many words that don’t really say anything to me.

In relation to my current ethnograph –  It just cannot be created without subjective input  - it is the very nature of ethnogrphic investigation to be subjective.  So why am I trying to wade through texts which presents arguments, offering obscure and random examples intended to offer support and validity  but fail miserably becuase logic and truth are world apart. surely we shoould be concerned with truth? not just creating a logically valid argument.

I think I am losing the plot a bit. Anyone out there help?

I must return to my ethnograph……yes really.

that was good venting of frustration

October 30, 2009

An Insurmountable Irony?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — lesleyf @ 3:27 pm

Hine states, ethnographic enquiry  is a ” naturalisitc project of documenting a reality external to the researcher…..” but he goes on to say….”that this process ” has been brought into question.” because of a “pre existing cultural object” interfering ,I presume, with collection and interpretation of data. How can we eliminate this subjectivity?virtual data

Do we  need a cyber researcher to investigate a cyber world?? I wonder how we could create a cyber researcher??

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