Posts Tagged ‘lifestream’

Lifestream Summary

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

The lifestream is intended to:

  1. Map (and demonstrate) the path of learning.
  2. Collate the ‘chaos’ of the course.

1) was stated in the course outline.

2) became obvious only once we began the week 10 reading. The design of the course structure was to disorientate us to facilitate a deeper engagement with our own learning. However balance must be maintained between order and chaos – and this is the second (though not secondary) role of the lifestream.

One of the decisions I had to make is how the lifestream should appear. How authentic do I want it? For example, many early items demonstrated a tussle with technology:

Am struggling with twitter and delicious. have added them to my lifestream. doesn’t show reply tweets or any tagged pages. ideas? 22nd September Twitter.

However, I decided they should remain because they demonstrated what we later called the ‘uncanny’ nature of the digital experience. They show the struggles as well as the successes, and we must demonstrate the whole of the journey, not just the highlights where we stopped and took a virtual photograph of the local sights!

I have managed to provide “evidence of new material every day or so” but only at a considerable amount of stress. The problem has been to maintain the quality of material, as well as quantity. When editing the lifestream I have removed many entries not pertinent to the course, deciding if a ‘full’ day with tenuous entries was preferable to a ‘sparse’ day with pertinent content.

The ‘live’ state of the lifestream effectively removed the power to ‘catch up’ and the readings could take a week to complete, so comments I made were often at the end of that week. To manage that I wrote ‘initial thoughts’ entries without having finished the reading, sometimes meaning I was commenting on incomplete understanding, and I was not able to satisfactorily comment on Haraway and cyborgs until I had read the core and secondary reading, but not to remark  would create a definite gap. Conversely, reading back it is interesting to watch my developing understanding at various stages of the reading. For example, the cyborg reading was quite difficult for me:

finding Haraway so frustrating! is it just me or is she a bit ‘whiney’? 11th November Twitter

Nonetheless this is the topic that I posted the most blog entries and comments about. In this case my lifestream truly demonstrates my (sometimes erratic) path of learning.

The lifestream has also acted as a consolidating tool in that it has successfully brought together and maintained all my sources and the differing technologies. As a learner not used to using VLEs, the concept of studying without one was daunting;

Studying without a vle feels like tightrope walking without a safety net! 22nd September Twitter

However, the lifestream meant that I could easily maintain and then re-engage all of the sources I collected as I journeyed through the course.

Without the lifestream this course would not be possible.

Week 11 Summary

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Well we are into the final week of the lifestream so I imagine that this will be my last summary before the ‘final’ entry next weekend, and I  have to say that I will be rather sad to see this end.

At first I did not respond well to the lifestream. I found it fiddly to set up (whilst also suffering from a bout of the flu) and I thought it was a bit ‘gimmicky’ for my liking; simply an example of introducing the ‘latest thing’ to show how terribly modern this course is. (no offence intended to Jen & Sian!)

However as I have moved on through the course I can see how incredibly useful it is as a learning tool. This course has been designed (we have discovered over the last week or two) to unnerve we poor learners, and take us out of the warm, comforting embrace of the VLE, and set us free (or simply unleashed) in the uncanny, haunted realm of cyberspace. And all to see if we sink or swim! ( my apologies for mixing a few metaphors there).

I have spent some time going through the early entries on my lifestream to prepare or the close next weekend and it has reminded me of some of the great content we have discovered, as well as recording the path of my own learning. Often links are added because they are simply in the news that week, but often they reflect the topic of discourse for that week.

So the content in my lifestream this week has mainly been in preparation for my assignment. Again I have been making extensive use of Tumblr to collect together quotes applicable to my assignment as I re-read some of the earlier papers for this module. It is strange how only a difference of a few weeks can put a completely different slant on some things that I thought I understood earlier in the course. Looking back at them through the lens of additional reading gives some of it a whole new meaning!

I have been reading up on our uncanny digital pedagogies, as well as collecting tutorial and tips for possible media I may be using in my assessment. I have also published details of my assignment- though I was initially unsure of the appropriateness of this early on, but as others seem to be happy to do it I felt it would be rude not to join in! It looks like there are going to be some interesting work done across the course and I hope we will get to see some of it at a later date. I have also posted a blog on whether my delivery method would be considered academic enough. I had initial thought about producing a hypertext essay, but I wanted to push the boundaries a little more on this uncanny course. This may of course turn around and bite me!

Week 8 lifestream commentary: Haraway, Feminism and the war on boys

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Most of my time this week has been taken up trying to fathom the work of Haraway thought the aid of YouTube and various commentators (plus a dictionary or two). It was one of those occassions where I really missed face to face interaction with my collegues or my tutors so that someone could explain her work to me. However, with some external Internet sources and some helpful comments from Sian and assorted co-studiers through Twitter, I think that I finally got my head around it. It is times like these when the lifestream becomes such a useful resource because it has enabled me to track these sources as I find them, to be revisited at my leisure. Other people’s lifestreams can also prove to be a mine of useful links. I am considering continuing my use of the lifestream beyond the scope of this course onto my future modules.

Cyborgs and feminism

The basic premise is that cyborgs are sexless, colourless and free of prejudice. Therefore they allow us to imagine a ‘Star Trek’ like world where there are no constraints on who you can become. Nice idea and and interesting way of playing around with gender politics. Haraway seems to think that the age of the cyborg will be liberating for women, but it made me wonder if it would also be liberating for men too.

I have 2 brothers and a partner and they lament the fact that they often feel marginalised as men, because there is very little that modern women cannot do on their own (even the obvious area of reproduction doesn’t necessarily require a man to be physically present).

They argue that everything that had been associated with being male is being undermined in the name of feminism. Some men are derided for being too “macho” and are called “male chauvinist pigs” if they have old fashioned manners and hold a door open for a woman.

This can leave young boys with their own gender confusions over what it ‘means’ to be a man.

This led me to read two interesting pieces:

The War Against Boys, How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers and

Feminism Shames Young Boys by Pelle Billing March 18th 2009

Both of these articles lament the long term effect that denigrating men will have on future generations of young boys. If we do indeed look forward to a cyborg generation, it may not just be the girls who will benefit from a brave new genderless world.

week 7 – lifestream commentary

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The lifestream this week has been almost entirely made up of comments and readings for my ethnography and those  of my colleagues.

The ethnographies were all fabulous and led me to really think about communities in a new way. They were necessarily short because of the time constraints but this was not too restirctive because as Hine states (2000)

“ethnographic stories are necessarily selective”

One thing that quite surprised me is how that many of the communities studied fell quite neatly into the Utopian and dystopian views of the Internet that we were considering a few short months ago – even those that seemed harmless on the surface. For example, the disturbing sexual connotations arising from Silvana’s research into Davesfarm to the social disassociation of Sibylle’s sleeping cats which bubbled beneath what appears to be two outwardly friendly  communities. I wonder if this negative aspect would have come to light if the ethnographer had been more involved with the community? Members of a group have their own ideas about what makes that community ‘tick’ because they themselves have a vested interest in that group.

Hine paraphrases Van Maanen when she says that there is an issue with

“ethnographers taking their own analytic frameworks with them, and therefore failing to address the field site they visit on its own terms”

The Utopian communities appeared to be ones that maintained a skills that would possibly die out otherwise, like the Irish music in John’s The Session, actually connected people virtually and in reality like the swapping in my quilting community, and to empower expression with Nicola’s Torchwood group.

Apart from that I have added an RSS feed to Digital Revolution – a blog  from the BBC which is producing some interesting content. What I like is that many of the posts are available as video interviews, with the transcript below for those occassions when my internet connectivity is not good enough for viewing film.

All in all another constructive week.

week 6 lifestream commentary

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

This week has been a very full one, both work wise and course wise, so it has been a real juggling act to keep everything ticking over. However I have managed to maintain my lifestream, often late at night in hotel rooms, and during lunch breaks in internet cafes. This is taking some getting used to but I think I am getting used to it all quite well. I have added a few more feeds this week including Tumblr which I had never used before.

The lifestream this week has mainly been concerned with the ethnography research on our chosen community. I have chosen a quilting community because I wanted so look into something that used to be a community activity, almost died out and has now been resurrected in the virtual world.

Another decision has been how to present the research. I initially started with Prezi but as I worked through it the medium wasn’t really suitable. Then I decided at a web cam and screen capture might be interesting, however this has led to a frustrating day with technology and all I have managed to do so far is record a test – at least it has sound!

So it has been a productive week, and unproductive Sunday but I thought I would upload my test piece anyway.

YouTube Preview Image

Never having used a web cam before I found it a disconcerting experience, but now my face is out there for all the world to see as I struggle to find the FINISH button!

Week 5 – Lifestream commentary

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

This week I have really used my lifestream to collate sources related to the ethnography project. It has proved invaluable for this purpose because it has been a very busy week workwise, and I haven’t had a great deal of time to do the reading. The lifestream has enabled me to save the links and revisit them in my hotel room when I have time to go through them at my leisure. It also allows me to follow hyperlinks without getting too lost!

So my lifestream this week began with some basic research into what ethnography means and how it differs from anthropology.

“The Objective of anthropology, I believe is to seek a generous, comparative but nevertheless critical understanding of human beings and knowing in the one world we all inhabit. The objective of ethnography is to describe the lives of people other than ourselves, with an accuracy and sensitivity honed by detailed observation and prolonged first-hand experience. “Tim Ingold “Anthropolgy is not ethnography” Aug 2008

According to Tim Ingold anthropology is a much broader topic than ethnography, with ethnography being a more focused beam of light shed onto an element of individual existence rather than the entire culture.

I also enjoyed the work of Michael Wesch at Kansas Sate University – there were some very usefull resources made available on youtube and using NetVibes which was a resource I had never seen before!

Face to Face research

Another issue that I have been examining is how we can undertake research into digital culture when it cannot be undertaken face to face. Does the anonymous nature of the internet and the lack of physical contact between participants mean that members of the digital communities are more inclined to lie than if they met researchers face to face? Hine asked the question; can non face to face interactions be considered authentic when the researcher cannot confirm the details communicated to them? This also made me ask the question; are the participants lying, or is there a different view of authenticity when the world inhabited is a digital (and largely unauthentic) environment? This is a question that I am still asking myself and I think it is a big one!

Therefore can textual research studies really be considered valid in the same way that field research was considered academically viable?

“Traditionally, oral interactions have been foremost for ethnographers, and texts have taken a somewhat secondary role as cultural products, worthy of study only as far as they reveal something about the oral settings in which culture resides.” Hine The Virtual Objects of Ethnography 2000

However the existence of the world wide web & the virtual world mean that the idea of the spoken word representing a more authentic statement of reality has to change. Therefore ethnographers will need to look at text as neither truth or lie, but should “draw on their own ‘socialized competence’ in reading and writing to interpret them as culturally situated cultural artefact” (Hine 2000). Therefore in our own research we should consider the value of text but not immediately ‘believe everything we read’!

Week 4 Lifestream Commentary

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This week has been a very busy one! My lifestream has been very much in use commenting on the visual artifacts through my colleagues blogs. I had some issues when posting comments on Flickr and youtube because these didn’t show in my lifestream. Once I noticed I added these comments to their blogs as well so they did appear. The artifacts have been great – some incredibly imaginative and creative people on this course. I was pleased that I went text free on my artifact, but some chose to use text to great supporting affect.

On the rest of my lifestream, I have had a couple of great RSS feeds coming through this week including a podcast of a radio show on the World service called digital planet which included an interview about studying the Internet (web science) – which will probably be quite useful in the next block. This programme also discussed the case of a law firm slapping an injunction on a newspaper to stop the publication of a question asked in Parliament. This injunction was useless when the question was blogged and twittered around the world – this demonstrates the democratization of Internet media as discussed by Hand in the core reading in week 1, but it could be a dangerous thing in the ‘wrong’ hands.

So could Lifelogging; a concept that I discovered yesterday where you video your whole life with a camera hung around your neck. I don’t know about democratizing, it may simply bore us to death!

(Update – 07/12/09 – the links to Digital Planet have all been removed as the website now appears to be unavailable)

Week 3 Lifestream commentary

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Much of my lifestream this week contains twitter comments about the reading we have been doing.  I am still getting used to using Twitter and often find it dififcult to find a thread – but I am not the only one!

“the chronological order does not necessarily guarantee a linear reading sequence*. There is no way to thread sub-discussions within a particular #hashtag discussion and if you post 3-4 tweets within a short period of time and someone replies, you can’t always be sure to which tweet s/he is referring.” Bill Babouris via Twitter 7th October

Too true Bill!

I found Kress to be quite frustrating this week with his insistance on the power of image over the word and that the future has to be graphical:

“Kress – true that language develops over time but so do images – is why it is hard to read hieroglyphs cos the meaning has been lost. ” Sarah Payne via Twitter 5th October

However I have already blogged about that this week and will not go into it further here.

I have been collecting some links on using image instead of words to support Kress and my digital artifact. This included a tweet:

“sarahp @andym3112 #ededc Kress. ‘depiction shows the world’- but open to different cultural interpretation that language avoids [sezpayne2].”

This tweet link goes to an article called Ad Analysis – The HSBC campaign which discusses the dangers of using non-verbal communication instead of words. Something that Kress does not seem to consider!

Another topic of Twitter conversation has been how we will create our digital artifact. I have the germ of an idea in my head and I will have to go away and play with it – but I plan to tie it in with Kress and his thoughts that the image has the power. Lets see how well it goes without the words to go with it!

Week 2 Lifestream commentary

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

This week I have been feeling the pressure of the reading and maintaining the lifestream. Sometimes this degenerates into ‘noise’ and I feel that I am loosing my focus. As a result some of my lifestream research this week has been into writers like Gloria Mark who researches methods  into dealing with the amount of information that we need to manage.

This week has also been about collecting resources and journals that I can refer to as the course develops including anteresting collection of articles at Digital Culture & Education, and an Open University course on Accessibility of Elearning with interesting ways of view how we make learning accessible.

I have also been continuing my Twitter conversations with reference to the films we have been viewing, as well as any other topics that spring to mind.

Another hard but interesting week.

Week 1 Lifestream Commentary

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This is the first week and using the multiple technologies has been an interesting and challenging experience. The lifestream entries this week have been varied and have not truely followed a theme apart from diarising my sometimes unsuccessful battles with the technologies and some early research into the dual images of the internet as a dystopian and utopian entity. This has included readings bout the digital divide and issues of access.

We have also been commenting on the first week of the film festival with a blog entry, and quite a few some tweets about the internet and sex:

“Sex as a species survival mechanism is surely behind many individual motivations so why not behind the internet?” SarahP September 23rd 2009

I have also had some tweets with @suchprettyeyes about HAL and whether he appears human because he is evolving, or because he is programmed to be so, and chats about whether it is human nature to destroy what we create!

A very interesting start to the course!

week 1 thoughts on technology and readings

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

The use of technologies during the first week has been interesting tthought my first experiences were a little uncomfortable to say the least. Using the course guide helped to a certain extent, but when I had teething troubles not having someone to turn to in person left me feeling a bit isolated. Some Twitter comments I made prior to the start of the course give a sense of how I was feeling:

twitter (feed #6)

sarahp Trying to set up all these bits and bobs is trying to wade through treacle!! [sezpayne2].
twitter (feed #6) sarahp Trying so put an RSS feed for Wallwisher into my lifestream is making my eyes bleed! I think coffee and a muffin is urgently required!

twitter (feed #6)

sarahp Studying without a vle feels like tightrope walking without a safety net! #ededc [sezpayne2].

twitter (feed #6) sarahp @damiendebarra working with barriers can be comforting as well as restrictive. total freedom can be a scary place!

Once I got TweetDeck installed I could see that I was not the only one have issues, so I began to feel better about my technotraumas. So after some initial struggles with configuration I am beginning to enjoy the choice of content and immediacy of the technology.


I think Twitter takes some getting used to, and have found the short, punchy entries to be both restrictive and liberating. On the plus side, reading a 140 character comment is much easier than a 2000 character blog entry! I have found it challenging to follow conversations using this medium, and am in danger of getting lost over a longer tweet chat, but for focusing the mind on the nuggets that you want to transmit it has been interesting.


The lifestream is turning into an incredibly useful tool that I wish I had discovered earlier. The ability to keep all thoughts and readings together in one place is goingto be incredibly useful going forward, easpecially as i regularly work from 3 different machines and therefore suffer from an occassional mismash when I can’t remember where I read something! So far I have been using Microsoft One Note and PC anywhere to getaound this, but Lifestreams are proving the way to go!


Hand’s “Narratives of promise and Threat” basically investigates the effect of technology and the Internet on the world we live in in terms of society, culture and politics from both Utopian and dystopian standpoints and Bell’s “Storying Cyberspace”  outlined the ‘mythology’ of cyberculture as a medium for white, middle income, middle class professionals based in the developed world. This I found to be a disturbing vision of the future  because the digital divide or “the  excommunication of the developing world” (Bell, pg 17)  is a concept that is detrimental to what we are educators are trying to achieve. It would all be for nought if the work we undertake is not freely available to all those that need it. I found Foster a very interesting read and all three of these authors have led me on to consider the role of ethics on the Internet, a well as the Internet as a source of pornography (reinforced by the video ‘the Internet is for porn’). These issues all come neatly back to the dangers of the Internet as an anonymous world where the normal moral and ethical codes of conduct that exist in face to face environments may often become corroded. This lack of physical presence and verifiable identity is a concept that we will be returning to throughout the course and quite frankly I can’t wait!