The final post: a reflection and a farewell …
The end of the module and time to reflect on the lifestream.
I’ve already made some summarising comments in an earlier post in which I describe the course as an example of ‘loosely coupled teaching’ and, to a lesser degree in an even earlier one on my tweet cloud. However, I don’t think I’ve taken the time to reflect on my lifestream proper.
I understand the broad idea of a lifestream – aggregating content from dispersed sites – a favourited YouTube video, an annotated Delicious bookmark, blog posts and tweets – into a single news feed-style stream as a record of twelve weeks of engagement with digital culture and e-learning.
The lifestream might be viewed as an unmediated record of participation (as reader, writer, bookmarker, commenter, creator of multimodal texts) over a particular period of time. However, I’m always suspicious of the word ‘unmediated’ and however artless a lifestream may seem in its streaming of data, it too is a construction. I allow interactions from some sites to be made visible but not others. For example, I’ve been quite selective and, in some ways, secretive – creating a new Twitter account – digitalanthony – instead of using my anthonymcneill account, excluding the Delicious account I use for work and so on. I’ve kept details of my iTunes purchases hidden too. My lifestream is as carefully an arranged selection of artefacts as anything else on the web (e.g. my blog or my Facebook profile page).
Rebecca Black, writing of identity performance in the context of young people’s fan sites writes of the importance of being recognised as a particular ‘kind of person’ within a particular social context (2008). I think this is what we do online all the time: project a preferred identity through a performance that involves selective omissions and inclusions. I’m tempted to go back to a now old essay by Paul de Man called ‘Autobiography as de-facement’ (1979) I first came across when doing a PhD on French autobiography. In stablising identity through textual (also visual?) representation we simultaneously create a ‘face’ (or, indeed, a Facebook profile) but also ‘de-face’ by creating a false front. Self-representation “deprives and disfigures to the precise extent that it restores” (de Man 1979: 930)
mallix: My Twitter class of ’08
As my belated retrospective weekly summaries suggest, I see the blog as being the dominant tool in my lifestream with other technologies in walk-on roles (Twitter to advertise blog posts, YouTube, Slideshare and Flickr to host the media I will embed in them etc.). Does this reveal a tendency in me to view Masters-level work as primarily textual and of more than 140 characters in length? Is there a residual reluctance – in spite of my love for Twitter – to view microcontent as no more than notes that will be later developed into more expansive prose rather than as text that is valuable in itself?
It seems fitting that I should end my summary and, indeed my lifestream for this course, with questions.
Black, R.W. (2008). Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction. New York: Peter Lang.
de Man, P. (1979). Autobiography as de-facement. Modern Language Notes, 94(5): 919-30