Feed on

Initially, I considered how my Lifestream would be set up, what would be relevant to the course and what wouldn’t. Although the course handbook suggests pruning some of the personal aspects of the lifestream, I have not done this too much. I think these parts are important and whenever I have questioned this, I keep returning to the word Lifestream. I feel that the addition of personal data in lifestreams has helped build a sense of who people are. To quote from James on the Visual Artifacts course blog post:

“I’m really fascinated by getting an brief glimpse into the lives of my fellow EDC-ers in a break-the-ice-and-get-a-sense-of-the-person-behind-the-avatar kind of way…This is a good thing isn’t it, getting a sense of other folk? I think so.”

In that spirit, I add here a video of me rambling about the course. I have never recorded myself on a webcam before, believe it or not. I am incredibly shocked at how northern my accent is now…

YouTube Preview Image


I have made it a bit easier for you to filter my personal (t)witterings on twitter, however, by having 3 twitter accounts:

@marieatuni – I have used this almost like note-taking, live-tweeting my thoughts about readings as I have been reading them. These comments are extensions of what i’d highlight, scribble in the margins of a reading, or in a notebook as I go along. Sometimes the ideas have been fleshed out into blogs, sometimes not…
@marieiram this is my pre-course, personal twitter account. I do tweet a lot and although it’s not all directly course related, what happens in my life does impact on the course.
@booksaregood – this is an experimental twitter book club i’m cultivating. Capturing or logging the discussion is a challenge. As activity is between the members as well as from this account, it doesn’t all show in the lifestream. However, I feel it shows an interesting use of twitter and serves as a good example of digital culture and the genesis of an online community.

On the face of it, music i’m listening to doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship with the course, but discussion with others on the course has frequently turned to music. Most videos created and shared had a specifically chosen musical soundtrack.

Now, of course, we have our own ededc music station on last.fm with which songs we all like can be added and I feel that this has added an extra dimension to the course.

As with Last.fm, I added this feed not really knowing how this would be relevant. As my ethnography project was based on flickr, it was really a nice touch to see my Project 365 pictures pop up when i’d gone into the world of 365. Observant types will notice they no longer pop-up. It turns out I don’t have the commitment for 365 days of pictures. Unlike my friend (and supplier of my blog picture) Christian Cable, who finishes this project today.

Now we have the edcspace group in Flickr where we are sharing pictures of our workspaces…

Blog Postings
Along with the use of Twitter, Blog postings have been my main method of reflecting on the readings on the course. Given the busy nature of the course and the amount of posting and commenting going on, posting a blog has been interesting to see what discussions it would provoke and where they would lead..

Blog comments on this course have been pivotal for us, in both forging relationships and for discussing, clarifying and cementing ideas; providing inspiration too. I’ve really engaged with both the prescribed readings and others’ interpretations of them, here.

Readings or interesting sites that I have bookmarked have appeared in the lifestream, i think of this and the twitter stream as ‘showing your workings out’. Like a window into what else is going on…

Facebook, Youtube
Though I linked Facebook, there are not many entries here as I don’t tend to make any solely in this application. Same with Youtube – I think there is one entry from Youtube in my lifestream.

I will miss my lifestream – I like it as an aggregated diary of things I have done…

all tomorrows parties

I have to do this early as I go on holiday tomorrow for the weekend and will be largely sans Internet access. Don’t panic! I will have my iPhone, I won’t be completely cut off from civilisation :)

So this week I have been pruning my lifestream and writing my thoughts about it, ready for submission. My lifestream shows a flurry of activity as firstly the @booksaregood twitter book club picked up pace with choosing the second book. I’m really enjoying the book club and the mix of real life and online relationships it involves and is forging. Some friends I know who live in London recently started conversing with a friend of mine who I know locally (actually nearly arguing about politics). It’s an interesting role for me as the person who created the account and i’m keen that any role I take isn’t one of enforcing any rules. Let’s see how that unfolds!! You will see from my lifestream that the book we have chosen to read is Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science. Anyone interested, please join in!

I’m also thinking about my final assignment – my main area of interest is around Privacy and the implications of giving up privacy. I think it links nicely with themes of identity, authenticity and a lot of our readings around technological change. I keep coming back to Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, which is interesting as I wasn’t initially sure I understood it…

This weekend I am going to Minehead to the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, curated by Belle and Sebastian. The organisers provided us with a spotify playlist of bands that are playing which i have been listening to, it has been useful in helping me decide who to see. Any recommendations, please speak now!

privacy cartoon

I have been thinking about James’ post about using SMS messaging to directly communicate to students, getting them to register on a course much more quickly than through snail mail. For me, this is about meeting people’s information needs smartly – this musing happily coincided with a talk I saw online today by George Siemens on Connections, Clouds, Things & Analytics, where he made the point “Openness increases accessibility, which increases the volume of information” (Siemens 2010)

There are many ways in which people make sense of the wealth of information that is now available to us on the Internet. It’s not only impossible to keep up (personally, I find that the count on my RSS feed makes me feel very stressed…) it’s hard to filter and find what you are interested in and more difficult to spot patterns unless you filter smartly. People are currently making sense of information using a variety of means; twitter, hashtags, alerts, aggregators, RSS feeds and lists. With so much information available, it’s tempting to opt for (or not opt out of) filters that don’t necessarily help us make sense of this information overload, but that filter it in the first place to prevent it from becoming overwhelming; based on assumed preferences (built from our personal profile..)

I have noticed that recent updates to applications, both on the Internet and on smartphones, are going for ‘push’ notifications. That is, there is no need to refresh. You don’t need to go looking for information, if you agree to it at one point when downloading an app to your phone or signing up to a website, the information will come to you. I think this has tremendous implications for communication. James mentioned in his post that he’d met the needs of people who were able to just get online and register exactly at the point where they were interested in doing so. I think we’ve probably all been in situations where we’ve had an interest in something – made a mental note or bookmark – then later forgot all about it. I’ve also been in situations where i’ve actually tried hard to find out how to sign up for something, independent of the promotional details and found it almost impossible.

I think this is where Haraway’s warnings about the invisibility of technological change come into play. The technology and those using it (those selling or promoting things) want us to sign up for things based on our interests. I want information that’s relevant to me to find me. It’s efficient. It’s not necessarily sinister; they want us to tell them our interests so they can tell us what will be useful to us; or provide a service that meets our needs. On the face of it, I have no problem giving people this information. However, this data is being actively used to market to us, at the least. In the future, who knows what this data could be used for…

Mark Zuckerberg recently said that privacy is no longer a social norm – is this because the benefits of giving up some privacy are that life suddenly seems a lot easier? Less confusing..? Or just that we can’t – yet – see any reasons why we should restrict access to our personal information or opinions? If, to these applications, we are just data to be mined and assimilated, are they creating our Cyborg selves?

Seimens, George .(2010). Connections, Clouds, Things and Analytics http://www.slideshare.net/gsiemens/glasgow-6087863 [date of access 09 December 2010]

Haraway, D. (2000). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. in D Bell and A Kennedy, The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge.



One of the things I really enjoy about this course is how far away it is from distance learning i’ve experienced before. In the past, I have found distance learning to be a very lonely experience, not totally unfruitful, but not anything like fun.

I have sometimes struggled on this course, but there is support there – not just from the tutors to get me through that. I had a real difficulty with the concepts of PostHuman and Cyborg and really did stall at the ‘troublesome knowledge’ stage identified in Bayne 2010. I saw them as the same thing and entirely theoretical and struggled to relate them to either digital culture or technology enhanced learning. I found the uncertainty unsettling and initially, tried to resolve this with my own reflections.

From the course blogs, seeing that other people had struggled with the Haraway reading but had chipped away at is as I had, was heartening. I also saw people getting on better with the other readings, meaning that I felt better about putting aside this one and moving on. I also took part in a couple of discussions on people’s posts that really helped me understand what PostHuman meant, why it was relevant and how it fits in with everything else we have studied.

What I liked about the Bayne (2010) reading is the recognition, that I sometimes forget, that learning is actually quite hard; something Sue also mentioned on my Posthuman Pedagogy post. There’s definitely a point in reaching understanding where you hit a wall and have to find your own way over or around it. I think how we have all done this at points over the course is fascinating; that in future we’ll be happier in ‘intellectual uncertainty’ – that strange area between not knowing and knowing…

29 Nov – 5 Dec

This week has mostly been spent thinking about what the final assignment will be based on. I’ve been on holiday this week so have been swimming lots, eaten lots of cake and watched lots of films. I also spent some time going through the blogs of other people on the course and commenting. I’ve found other people’s blogs a real help and inspiration during this course, something I intend to blog about more later today.

So…final assignment wise, I had a few ideas, mainly around identity, but specifically Authenticity; the site that was the genisis of this has been bookmarked. I’m interested in Identity issues, but also what people hold back when online, why that might be and if it’s perceptible. I think it links into what Jeremy and Michael are doing at the IT Futures Conference in the ‘does Michael exist’ experiment and I look forward to seeing how that unfolds!

Lifestream Summary

build a robot

Week 9 – 15 to 21 Nov
From the 15th I started with the Cyborg Manifesto by Haraway. I live-tweeted this, finding the concepts quite hard to grasp. I posted a blog about it a couple of days later. I also published a lifestream summary for the previous two weeks and then caught up on everyone’s blogs for the week, adding my comments.

In preparation for going to see The National, i inflicted them on my housemate. She approved and said they reminded her of someone she couldn’t think of. A few days later, she remembered and we spotified (!) them – if you are interested, you might be able to see who that was..!

Week 10 – 22 to 28th Nov
The real-life meeting of my twitter book club (@booksaregood) was cancelled as people couldn’t make it. Just reminded me of one of the reasons why doing it online was such a good idea in the first place!

I enjoyed the readings on Posthuman Pedagogy this week, though only got to them late due to work. I’ve taken off just under 3 weeks at once; preparing for this was a huge task (making me need the time off even more!). I already had the idea for my Posthuman Pedagogy task, I just had to make sure I could describe way and I found both the Bayne and Edwards reading really interesting; not least as they’ve been the first in a while to bring this back around to the real world. I’ve felt like we’ve been almost philosophising for a while, but applying this Posthuman thinking to teaching and learning really has felt like a jigsaw piece being put into place.

Posthuman Pedagogy

An experience of Posthuman Pedagogy I recently had was Learning to Swim Using YouTube.

YouTube Preview Image

I sought this out as I was having trouble with breastroke. I felt initially that swimming lessons weren’t really for me, I just want to build upon my own existing knowledge at my own pace. I set my own goals, I have no pact with my teacher, he doesn’t even know he is teaching me. I watch a video online, then I go swimming and try to put into practice what i’ve learned.

This is problematic, in some ways, I don’t have an expert to give me feedback on what i’m doing. This ‘intellectual uncertainty’ could be a stumbling block if I don’t figure out how to get around it. I could contact him via his youtube page or website and ask for advice, and you can see in both locations that he does respond. I could try looking at other ways of getting the information I need (my main problem is that I can’t see what I am doing; I could ask someone to describe my movements..) However, as I have set my own goals (swimming a certain distance in a certain timeframe) I can measure success in my own terms. And, ultimately, it has worked; Next stop: Front Crawl.

I think it’s interesting to note why I chose this particular instructor, out of the hundreds that come up when you search Youtube for ’swimming breastroke’. I watched a few and found that some were too fast, some used a bit too much jargon (suggesting that i’d need more prior knowledge) and some just didn’t look right. The one I chose had the following characteristics:

  • Well paced
  • Good use of repetition (of visual and key points)
  • Authenticity: This was shown to us by Steven Shaw – a quick google search shows him to be an expert..; Also ‘Swimming without Stress’ is run by a swimming instructor; you can read all about him here.
  • Personality; a regional accent I identify with (not sure how much this was a factor in my choice, but it’s worth mentioning that i’m from the west midlands and this is where the tutor’s accent originates…)

On the surface this fits with lifelong learning as “a world of gathering things together and experimenting”. According to Edwards (2010) Posthumanism, technology and ‘how the information is gathered’ however, has made this more complex.

I still see Lifelong learning as still significant in a Posthuman age. The essence of Lifelong learning, for me, is the focus on the individual – something I see technology enhanced learning supporting hugely. I’m not just expecting to ‘be taught’ in my Posthuman Pedagogy example, but to structure my learning myself, according to my own needs; technological enhancement/ advancement serves to gives me many more options. I can see how Edwards (2010) notion of ‘Responsible Experimenting’ and the trouble of the fast changing pace of the world is important here, too; Lifelong learning seems perhaps too stable a term for such a chaotic world…

cyborg book

Week 7 – Nov 1st – 7th

In Week 7 I published my ethnography. I was aware of how quiet i’d been while endlessly editing my video (lifestream full of music) & posted a few times about communities while finishing editing my video. It was amazing to me how much you can do with a free programme on the Internet, though I found the whole editing process so difficult – especially knowing when to stop. Once posting mine, I felt free to then peruse and comment on other people’s and during this week there is a lot of engagement on that. As with all projects so far, the depth of thinking and brilliance of imagination really made me feel proud to be part of this group.

I have continued with Project 365, taking and adding pictures to the group. I’m going to continue as long as I can…

I put out two ‘calls to arms’ on twitter during this week: Firstly, do any of my followers want to ‘come to class’? Secondly, under the identity: @booksaregood – don’t forget that next week we’ll be having a twitter discussion about Room by Emma Donoghue, the book we’ve read as our twitter book group.

Week 8 – Nov 8th – 12th

November 8th was a busy day for me on twitter. @booksaregood (which you are all free to join, by the way) is a twitter book club I set up, as sort of an experiment. Using an online survey tool, we selected a book from the Booker Prize shortlist to read. We set a deadline of the 8th November, on which date we’d have a twitter discussion on the book. It worked quite well. My well-researched questions were un-necessary, and there was just lots of general opinions given on thoughts and feelings about the book. The plan is to do it again, so I see that as a success!!

Oh, can I just say here, as i’ve tweeted it a few times but obviously nobody sees it: when i tweet as @marieatuni and use the hashtag #ededc, i’m not showing up on the course page. Am I using the right hashtag??

As I started the course readings for week 8, completely running aground on the Cyborg Manifesto, I realised i’d written down the wrong date for a holiday i’d booked. Cue frantic packing for the coming weekend, re-jigging of engagements and so forth.

Since @booksaregood started, i’ve been looking at how to summarise our discussion. RSS feeds to the hashtag work to some extent, but it wasn’t used by all. @booksaregood worked for some, but not for those chatting with each other. Do you know of anything I can use to capture it all?

Cyborg Evolution

cylon evolution

***contains a possible spoiler about Battlestar Galactica (BSG), so watch it all before you read****

I have, over the past couple of weeks, been reading the primary readings on Cyborgs. The warning that they were hard work wasn’t undue. I started with Haraway’s ‘the Cyborg Manifesto’ which at 33 pages, covering something quite complicated in really quite florid language, I stalled on several times. I’m still not sure I understand it. I live tweeted my attempts at reading it, but looking back I’m still not sure…I will come back to that one, I think…

The picture I chose for this post is from the remake of Battlestar Galactica and seems to reflect some of the discussions. This is perhaps unsurprising, as it’s a TV show about the fallout of a war between Robots (Cylons) & Humans, complicated by the addition of Robots who look (and increasingly, act) human.

The concept of a Cyborg is a construct which allows some interesting discussions on virtual realities, embodiment & identity; even evolution. It’s the good basis for a story, mostly a reconstructed story told about other mythical creatures such as Minotaurs as discussed in Shields (2006). Many of these stories are told to reflect humanity. The way we react to these hybrid, unusual creatures that threaten our views of what is normal (thinking of D.A.R.Y.L., A.I, Edward Scissorhands, Frankenstein, Pinnochio) reflects the best and worst in us. Are they monsters, to be feared? Are they just like us after all?

The discussion about where the Cyborg would come from is an interesting one. Would they represent a newly evolved human? In BSG the original Cylons were made by humans, eventually fought for supremacy and all but destroyed the Human race. At the end of the series, humans get an opportunity to have another go at building a society and the surviving humans decide to eschew all technologies and take their chances with nature. However, flash forward thousands of years and again, technology is everywhere (as, essentially, it comes from nature in the first place and reflects natural processes). This is clearly a warning – that if we will insist on “making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” (the Apple mission statement) then eventually, this technology will take us on, and might win.

Essentially a large part of these discussions are about embodiment. Are your experiences about where you are right now and what you consider to be ‘natural’? Unpicking what is natural is an interesting thread, something i’m not going to do now but has actually come up in other discussions. Lots of naturally occurring things aren’t good for us…

Or does it mean living, as Hayles discusses in ‘Embodied Virtuality’ (99) with the view that you are just information and this is downloadable? Essentially that an experience had without your body is as good as without, that there’s no difference.

They’re interesting concepts to play with; the answer to both being ‘Clearly not’. But where is the line…?

My Cyborg Name

Thanks Michael!

Mechanical Artificial Replicant Intended for Exploration

Get Your Cyborg Name

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