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Fig.1. We’re no longer trying to sell magic potions out the back of a tub-trap.
Still playing catch-up after the Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA)
Through week six writing and most activities (a few hours left to wrap)
I’m on my seventh Open University Postgraduate module – six on e-learning, one from the MBA programme.
I’m familiar with week 7 as we begin week 8.
I’ll catch up over the weekend.
If it rains a good deal and my son’s football is off (again). This will come back to haunt me – with all the bad weather they are moving to two matches a week. The Daddy Taxi might be busy.
For H809 conjured up the ‘Perfect Storm of Online Research’
- Young people, including minors
- Online – gamified if not virtual worlds, with social aspects (whether wanted or not)
- Medical – not a medical market research but ostensibly an ‘intervention’ of sorts that would require expertise, training and sign off for everyone involved.
- Global – what isn’t if it is accessible online?
The good news?
- They haven’t found life on Mars yet so I can keep it contained to Earth.
- Set further parameters.
I’m looking at use of e-learning to improve uptake of preventer medication by young people with severe moderate asthma (i.e. they are supposed to take a daily preventer inhaler, like me, I do – they don’t).
I may ‘contain’ the research to a group where in some cases a step has already been taken to ameliorate the situation – swimming. I’ll talk to the ASA (hypothetical) and have participants as UK swimmers with asthma
This on ethics and permissions relating to research will be of value.
By entering medical research I have entered a minefield!
There are pages of protocols and procedures, training and checks with personnel and so on from the universities, the NHS and UK Government legislation.
Fig.2 A foothill just turned into climbing Olympus Mons, the 21000m largest mountain on Mars.
A picnic just turned into a medieval banquet for Henry VIII and all his six wives … (I’m off to walk the dog).
If I’m burying my head in sand then it is the red sand of Mars. In any case, why climb Olympus Mons when I can land on it in a Twitter / PayPal sponsored Mars Rocket.
In truth I am reassured by the scope and comprehensive nature of the guidelines, protocols and legislation.
Blogging breached the guidelines a bunch of us followed in 2002 – now anything comes and goes on e-folded origami paper we call a blog
Fig. 1 Blogging brings like minds together – through their fingertips
I did a search in my own blog knowing that somewhere I cited an academic who described blogging as ‘whatever you can do on electronic paper’.
Chatting about this at dinner my 14 year old son trumped my conversation with his mother as I tried to define a blog and what can go into one with one word ‘anything’.
For me there has been a slow shift from text (the weblog-cum-dairy journal thingey), to adding pictures (which have become photo / image galleries, photostreams of Flickr and concept boards of Pinterest), to adding video … to adding ‘anything’ – apps, interactivity, grabs, mashups, music …
My starting place is here.
This ‘eportofolio, writers journal, aggregating, dumping ground, place for reflection and course work’.
You see, is it a blog at all? This platform, I’m glad, has its design roots in a Bulletin board.
The limitations of our OU Student Blog platform works in its favour.
I can only put in two search terms. In Google I might write a sentence and get a million links, in my wordpress blog it might offer have the contents.
Less is more.
Here I search ‘blog paper’ and get 112 posts that contain both words.
I’ll spin through these an add a unique tag. My starting place.
But to study blogging would be like researching the flotsam and jetsam that floats across our oceans – after a tsunami.
Starting with a book published in 2006 ‘Use of Blogs’ I want to read a paper ‘Bloggers vs. Journalists’ published in 2005. A search finds richer, more up to date content. Do I even bother with this first paper? (ironic that we even call them papers).
I can’t read everything so how do I select?
- Toggle through the abstract, check out the authors, see where else such and such a paper has been cited.
- Use RefWorks rather than my habit to date of downloading papers that MIGHT be of interest.
Whilst storage space is so inexpensive it is virtually free there is no need to clutter my hard drive, Dropbox or Google Docs space.
Which makes me think of one of my other favourite metaphors – kicking autumn leaves into the breeze. That or drowning in info overload, or as the Robert de Nero character in Brazil, Archibald ‘Harry’ Tuttle, who vanishes in a pile of discarded paper … my mind wanders. We do. It does.
I stumble in the OU Library as I find I am offered everything under the sun. I am used to being offered academic papers only. So far all I’m getting are scanned images of articles in newspapers on blogging. All feels very inside out.
Where’s the ‘turn off the printed stuff’ button?
I fear that just as I have never desired to be a journalist, preferring the free form of your own diary, letters, and of course blogging and forums online, I will struggle to write within the parameters of an academic paper. I’m managing assignment here, so I guess I’m learning to split the two. A useful lesson to have learnt.
Is this a research methodology?
I am looking at a book on blogging, ‘Use of Blogs’ (Bruns & Jacobs, 2006). I have it open on p.31 Notes (i.e. references) for the chapter Journalists and News Bloggers.
As I pick through these articles, papers and reviews written between 2002 and 2005 I find several of the authors, a decade on, are big names in the Journalism/Blogger debate. It’s as if I am looking at a tray of seedlings.
It strikes me as easier to start in 2006 with 27 starting points when the field of debate was narrow, rather than coming in from 2013 and finding myself parachuting into a mature Amazonian jungle of mixed up printed and digital, journalism and blog content.
Courtesy of the OU Library and RefWorks I have nailed this article after a decade of searching:
Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age — It’s a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.
Reading this around 23rd /24th September 1999 prompted me to start blogging
Then I’d been reading blogs for a few months but had a mental block with uploading HTML files and then along came the first ‘ready made’ DIY blogging platforms.
The last 12 years makes amusing reading – particularly the battle between journalists and bloggers. And who has won? Is there a difference anymore? Journalists blog and bloggers are journalists and entire newspapers are more blog-like from The Huffington Post to the FT … which within three years will close all its print operations.
To be used in learning and to be a genre to study blogging needs to be part of formative assessment
A blog therefore becomes ‘an active demonstration of learning’ with cumulative feedback. I’ve only received ONE Tutor comment in my OU blog and that was to say why was I blogging and not getting on with my TMA. This person had their head so stuffed inside primary school education of the 1960s it made me feel like tossing my cap in the air.
Why MAODE students blog (Kerawella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:
- an audience
- the utility of and need for comments
- presentational style of the blog content
- overarching factors related to the technological context
- the pedagogical context of the course
‘Bloggers vs. journalist: The next 100 year War?’ 2011, Public Relations Tactics, 18, 4, p. 17, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.
Bruns, A. Jacobs, J. (2006) Use of Blogs.
Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) ‘An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education’, Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 1, pp. 31-42, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.
Rosen, J. (2007) ‘Web Users Open the Gates’, Washington Post, The, n.d., UK & Ireland Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.
- Driving learning through blogging: Students’ perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task. (mymindbursts.com)
- The Ultimate Guide to Advanced Guest Blogging (seomoz.org)
- NaBloPoMo Soup: Add Your January Posts (blogher.com)
- The Neverending Debate: Who is a Blogger? (zemanta.com)
- blogging, or look out February, DaBloPoMo is coming! (espressococo.wordpress.com)
‘As with writing, blogging is not simply formulating in words an idea already developed in one’s mind. It is also about connecting, developing and redefining half-baked ideas. When writing, I often go through the weblog archives to explore connections with what is already there. Reading and rereading what I wrote before shapes and changes what I’m about to write: I often find something unexpected or see patterns only in retrospect’.Efimova (2009. p 70)
Fig. 1. Dr Lilia Efimova – her Phd thesis is on blogging to support knowledge management in the workplace.
- Somewhere to “park” emerging insights until the moment they are needed. Efimova (2009. p 75)
- Doesn’t require much effort
- Somewhere to park ideas
- Reading and engaging with others to become aware of issues and themes
- Topics accumulate and connections grew and things become clearer.
- A set of sense-making practices
- “Everyday grounded theory” Efimova (2009. p. 75)
- Connecting multiple fragments
- Getting into the writing flow
- Strengthened by readers’ feedback
- A channel for distribution
- Publication additional motivation to document emergent ideas
- A legitimate place to share thinking in progress
- -ve when the need is to be extremely selective and focused. Efimova (2009. p. 80)
- To collect in one place the fragmented bits relevant to my thinking Efimova (2009. 3.5.4)
- Clusters of conversations
- Conversations unfolding
- A personal space and a community space simultaneously.
- A personal narrative used to articulate and to organise one’s own thinking. (conversation with self. p 90?) around 4.3
- An example of hypertext conversation. Efimova (2009. p. 129)
- Weblogs provide a space that helps both to develop one’s own point of view and discuss it with others.
- Bloggers present their ideas to the world, readers learn from them. Efimova (2009. p. getting things done. staying in touch)
- low-threshold creation of entries
- a flexible and personally meaningful way to organise and maintain them
- opportunities to retrieve, reuse and analyse blog content
- opportunities to engage with others.
- fitted in while working on something else
- providing a way to keep abreast of others ideas
- capturing ones’ own emergent insights
- clarifying matters for a public
- over time ideas on a topic accumulate and connections between them become clearer.
- feedback from readers turns blogging into a sense-making practice
- eventually an ideas is ‘ripe’ and ready to become part of a specific task.
Efimova (2008. p. 208)
Autoenthnography Or, how to write something of substance.
From Richardson (2000) via Lilia Efimova (2009. p. 39)
I’ve taken the view, with a lifetime of keeping a diary and 14 years blogging that I write whatever comes to mind as I put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard. There is a better way:
Does this piece contribute to our understand of social life? Does the writer demonstrate a deeply grounded (if embedded) human world understanding and perspective?
Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Does the use of creative analytical practices open up the text, invite interpretive responses? Is the text artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?
How did the author come to write this? How was the information gathered? Ethical issues? How has the author’s subjectivity been both a producer and a product of this text?
Is there an adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgements about the point of view? Do authors hold themselves accountable to the stands of knowing and telling of the people they have studied?
Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually? Generate new questions? Move me to write? Move me to try new research practices? Move me to actions?
Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of lived-experience? Does it seem “true” – a credible account of a cultural, social, or communal sense of the “real”?
Richardson, L. (2000). Evaluating ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 6 (2), 253-255
- In what way(s) will I be a knowledge worker in my field of interest in the future (aaronvbblog.wordpress.com)
- Blog Cases from 2005: Jack Vinson on Knowledge Management (billives.typepad.com)
- Mathemagenic blog networking study (billives.typepad.com)
Fig. 1. Current reading
Throughout Bell and Gemmel (2009) say there will be a revolution then on p.172 says ‘we will gradually adapt’. The shape of things is evolving, in different places at different rates.
The Arab Spring was a technology enabled revolution, the uptake of smartphone and tablets is not, it is a well defined diffusion of innovation (Rogers, 2005). The progress of lifelogging, if it can even be tracked as it is an ill-defined hotchpotch of concepts, kit and technology may already have come and gone, already surpassed by a myriad of services and behaviours related to these smartphones snd tablet and hundreds of thousands of Apps.
That a digital camera stamps the date and time – these for recall are the least important factors. What, where and who is far more important. What were you up to, where were you and who were you with?
Digitizing memorabilia is what this so called ‘revolution’ is all about, a kind of recycling with digitization in between. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 pp. 180)
I have emptied some shelves by chucking printed books and replaces those I read with eBooks.
The next step, courtesy of a Fujitsu ScanSnap will be to start to empty a lockup garage of books and papers – having a dozen unsold have written novels, screenplays and TV series will do my head in just to see them again, but ‘better out than in’ these unpublished and unsold pieces of work, certainly completed manuscripts, may even find a buyer. I’ve done one swoop through the garage with a digital camera just to see what is there – the hard back books will be tricky as ownership of shelves of books is something of a way of life in parts of our family.
I have bought eBooks so as not to be encumbered with some of my favourites and I find as a result I refer to them far more often.
This isn’t total recall or life-bits though, just a fraction, of the tiniest fraction. Enough to make a difference, but hardly innovative. What have law firms, management firms and accountancy firms sent the last 15 years doing? digitizing all their records and all their client’s records. Big time digital repositories already exist on a massive, professional, industrial and institutional level, with museums and libraries following. And if not already, someone like Barrack Obama perhaps, will have his life celebrated in a library or foundation which could very well contain more in digital form than in print.
Five seconds is all it takes to capture the ambiance of the moment, writes Bell some four years before Twitter launch their six second video service. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p.188)
Like needles in a hay bale, I used to think, a decade ago, naively as it turns out, that the best place to loose important content was in an untagged webpage.
I saw readership figures, but spoke only ever to a tiny number of people – only years later did I figure that of course plenty of the hundreds had read about a friend, or themselves. And out of the blue, 33 years after a the event, a girl I met on a French exchange trip found me and asked if I would delete a scan of a drawing I had done of her – I did so, but know that various archiving packages grabbed this and at the last count some 100 out of 1500+pages which will in all likelihood be somewhere forever.
We know now too that indiscrete idiots who Tweet or something that may be terrorist related, criminal or libelous will be identified, arrested and potentially fined or jailed. Putting content online is publishing, just as it was in the past to get over a dozen barriers to have yourself appear in print.
I have this bizarre image of a lifelog that actually records the where the molecules that are you are and how they will always have filled those places at a particular time throughout your life – tracking these molecules after life is perhaps a duller and less savoury affair.
Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, founder Intellectual Ventures, believes that only the software creator’s imagination limits what hardware can provide. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 215)
- I use dreams to dwell on a topic. (mymindbursts.com)
- The power to remember and the need to forget (mymindbursts.com)
- The value of keeping a diary is, for most people, entirely personal. (mymindbursts.com)
- The greatest value of extending our capacity to remember, but externally and internally will be to take a record and build on it, treat it is as living thing that grows into something more. (mymindbursts.com)
- Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out. (mymindbursts.com)
- The idea of a machine that acts as a perfect memory prosthesis to humans is not new. (mymindbursts.com)
- The diffusion and use of innovations is complex – like people. (mymindbursts.com)
- “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.” (mymindbursts.com)
- The memory is the mind process happening in your brain, it can never be the artefact that plays back footage of an experience. (mymindbursts.com)
- The idea of gathering a substantial part of one’s life experience fascinates me, as it has often inspired others (mymindbursts.com)
It’ll not come from one book, or two or many. Having blogged for 11 years and six months I should know some things. I share some ideas here alongside some thoughts from Argenti and Barnes’s 2009 book ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications‘ that I have read cover to cover these last few days courtesy of Kindle.
Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications
Blogs and social communities have sparked ‘a complete overhaul of the business environment, especially in the context of communication.’ Agenti and Barnes (2009:K168)
K = Kindle … they don’t give a page number. How could you in a e-Book?
Education is changing too, blurring the lines between school and the workplace, and encouraging workplace learning with distance learning specialists and online courses from members of the Association of Business Schools surely set to grow
The difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 – observation versus participation, status versus dynamic, monologue versus conversation. Agenti and Barnes (2009)
What is most relevant to corporate communications managers is as relevant to other institutions, whether government, education or charity.
You need to be using:
• Blogs (such as WordPress. Edublogs, Diaryland)
• Microblogs (Twitter)
• Social Networks (such as Facebook, MySpace)
• Video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)
• Search engine marketing and optimization
• Corporate web sites/ online newsrooms
• Wikis • Mash-ups • Viral/word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.
The trick is to find ‘a middle ground between a completely centralised and a wholly decentralised structure is the best way to maintain an effective communications strategy in today’s environment.’ K593
My take on this is that to succeed organisations need to be:
• Real (neither journalistic, corporate or academic in style)
• Passionate but not obsessive
• Media Savvy
• Tooled up
• With a give, take, try anything and receive mentality.
• Tag it all
• Optimise out of habit
• Have fun, be playful with surveys, questionnaires and polls.
The view Sir Martin Sorrell takes is ‘The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.’ Martin Sorrell (2008: K1520)
There are three skills sets required to take advantage of this:
1. Identifying influential bloggers 2. Building relationships with them 3. Engaging with them with the intent of receiving positive coverage
Points 1 and 2 was the experience I had in Diaryland.
Here from 1999 bloggers teamed up with designers, where the two functions were recognised as different, like the copywriter and art director in advertising. Here you could form groups and join groups, link to friends for a myriad of reasons, but best of, in the list limited to 70 friends you were/are updated constantly on the status – it helps to know that you’re in a group where people update regularly. It is largely from the community of those who write, that you find people who also read and comment, they are various consumers and emitters of content.
So much that I experienced here has migrated to other blogsites.
Things that work, as well as buddies and buddy updates, are the surveys and groups, creating engaging or fund questionnaires to share with others and forming groups too, where for example I set up lists for those to be the first to make 500, then 1000 and then 2000 entries … Fun too are the banner ads you can make and use to promote interest within the Diaryland community. Perhaps Andrew’s (its creator’s0refusal to allow advertising is what is causing a Diaryland demise.
‘Metaphorically speaking, RSS is the gateway drug of experiential online monitoring’. Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1183)
My view is GoogleAlerts does this better, it spread the net for you, whereas with RSS you need to have found the feed first. What is more GoogleAlerts feeds you snacks of information that are easy to consume, note, reference, keep, pass on or over.
In emails the authors interviewed Courtney Barnes and Shabbir Imber Safdar.
‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment. ‘ Thus said (Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1159)
Look, listen and learn … engage
To do this engagement is the first things, so blogs and Twitter, social networking and video, photographs … even some family history and reuniting with school and college friends. Then you tools like Technorati and Goole Alerts.
Search out appropriate keywords
Joined Linked In too.
Having been engaged with four/five groups I made the mistake of joining and dozen and will have to drop most of these. Some post several times and hour 24/7 and I have ceased to see the worth of reading that much from one group, especially if the same question is being answered a thousand times. Managing this maelstrom is a task in itself, being alert to the new, dropping the redundant, buying into and out of the right people and places as their influence and quality of comment waxes and wanes.
Most company blogs are ‘dull, drab and don’t stimulate discussion’. • 66% rarely get comments • 70% only contain comment on business topics • 56% republish press releases or summarise news that is already public.
Argenti P.A. and Barnes M.C. 2009 ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications’ McGrawHill.
Sorrell. M (2008) ‘Public Relations: The Story behind a Remarkable Renaissance,@ Institute for Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008.
Meanwhile I’ve got these two to read.
And why books cover to cover?
I’m sick of snacking from a smorgasbord. I want a consistent voice, something up to date, that leaves an impression. A book does this for me, an article never does.