Week 12: Reflections, Refinements and Reality Checks

Throughout this course I have tried to get a sense of exactly what “Digital Cultures” might mean – the very slipperiness of the term indicates the currency and breadth of possibilities encompassed. Whilst it may refer to a notion such as “digitally mediated cultures and communities”, what is included in such groupings and how that mediation or social element occurs will be ever changing as long as there is a “digital” culture to describe. The texts we have encountered recently – on cyborgs, the uncanny, the future – all point to this fluidity of both term and practice.

When I found the changing nature of the topic challenging in terms of knowing how to collate my lifestream. Looking at the Wikipedia entry for “Commonplace Books” referred to in the course guide I particularly noted that “such books were essentially scrapbooks… Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests.”

I therefore chose to focus on my own particular personal and professional experience of being part of various digital cultures and specifically cultures around social media spaces in which my job role, my personal interest, and this module converge. In part this was a pragmatic decision as I was already using many suggested lifestream tools but it was primarily because it is – as I found out during work on my digital ethnography – time consuming and difficult to authentically participate, understand or reflect upon an unfamiliar digital culture. I also saw the definition of the Commonplace Book as a sort of literary sketchbook and therefore felt this was as much about gathering together inspiring materials from everyday life as about seeking out much more specific material (e.g. the more sketchbook-like image collations for my visual artefact).

I could see that I had collected materials very personal to my interests in social media and academia although I was disappointed to see that I had not added as much metadata as I could have to all my postings. This was one of the disadvantages of assimilating the curation of my lifestream into all aspects of my online day in which many events go into forming ideas, thoughts and serendipitous links.

My weekly summaries were, throughout the module, rather long but in attempting to go back and edit these down I found it difficult to separate thoughts and ideas from references out to the lifestream as this is very much how I feel my weekly reflections aided my progression through the concepts encountered on the course. Reflecting on those feelings and thoughts also allowed new ideas to emerge and, though this meant longer postings, I think it was a representative way to share how encounters with even a few lifestream items was a catalyst for wider thinking about the implications of cybercultures, virtual communities and critical perspectives for my own work in higher education and for some pedagogical elements.

Having entered the course curious of what might be a “digital culture” I finish blogging here with a new found comfort with the idea that any understanding can only be based on experience and observations of an always shifting loose cultural and community space.

My Lifestream can be found here (it takes a little while to load): http://digitalculture-ed.net/nicolao/nicolas-lifestream/

The weekly summaries can be found here: http://digitalculture-ed.net/nicolao/weekly-summaries/

Please Note: This is my 500 Word submission for the Lifestream hand in. It has also been submitted via WebCT.

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