“Lost in the Clouds”

I don’t know if I’ll be including a unit on “cloud computing” per se in anything I teach in the near future, but I think Jonathan Zittrain’s “Lost in the Cloud” raises some really interesting and difficult questions about the down-side of everything being up online and off the desktop.  A useful  quote:

A hacker recently guessed the password to the personal e-mail account of a Twitter employee, and was thus able to extract the employee’s Google password. That in turn compromised a trove of Twitter’s corporate documents stored too conveniently in the cloud. Before, the bad guys usually needed to get their hands on people’s computers to see their secrets; in today’s cloud all you need is a password.

This might come up in 516 or 444, maybe even in the upcoming tech for teaching.

“A Facebook teaching moment”

In the NY Times Ethicist column “A Facebook teaching moment,” Randy Cohen responds to a query about an eighth grade teacher who has a Facebook account where she friends students and where she sees things about under-age drinking, drug use, and school cheating. He suggests that the teacher ought to make students aware that she is aware of their bad behavior and about the less than private nature of Facebook:

Strictly speaking, when these students gave her access to their Facebook pages, they waived their right to privacy. But that’s not how many kids see it. To them, Facebook and the like occupy some weird twilight zone between public and private information, rather like a diary left on the kitchen table. That a photo of drunken antics might thwart a chance at a job or a scholarship is not something all kids seriously consider. This teacher can get them to think about that.

I generally agree with this advice, though it seems to me that since these students are eighth graders, the teacher might a) have a different obligation to report bad behavior to the proper authorities, and b) not want to be Facebook friends with her students. It’s one thing for me to friend my college-aged and legal adult students; it’s quite another to friend tweens.

I also think it’s worth mentioning/remembering that this lack of privacy of Facebook is a two-way street, and some of the most explosive Facebook problems in K-12 schools in the last year or so have involved teachers who forgot that their Facebook accounts were public spaces.

This might be good for 516 in the winter term.

Facebook might not be so bad for you

This morning, I’m browsing Bradley Dilger’s delicious site this morning to mine links for my English 444 class— he’s got great links and resources there for me to borrow/steal (and of course, anyone and everyone is welcome to borrow/steal from my 444 class)– and I came across this from First Monday, “Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data.” I just skimmed it now, and it looks like it would be great reading for 516 and, if I ever teach it again, 621. Here’s the abstract:

A recent draft manuscript suggested that Facebook use might be related to lower academic achievement in college and graduate school (Karpinski, 2009). The report quickly became a media sensation and was picked up by hundreds of news outlets in a matter of days. However, the results were based on correlational data in a draft manuscript that had not been published, or even considered for publication. This paper attempts to replicate the results reported in the press release using three data sets: one with a large sample of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago, another with a nationally representative cross sectional sample of American 14– to 22–year–olds, as well as a longitudinal panel of American youth aged 14–23. In none of the samples do we find a robust negative relationship between Facebook use and grades. Indeed, if anything, Facebook use is more common among individuals with higher grades. We also examined how changes in academic performance in the nationally representative sample related to Facebook use and found that Facebook users were no different from non–users.

#cw09 and when I saw the point/power/danger of Twitter

I haven’t seen much about Computers and Writing 2009 from the usual academic/computers and writing blogs I read, I suppose because a lot of that crowd wasn’t there. There’s this Computers and Writing post at a blog called “NWP Walkabout;” there’s this post at “Amber’s UIWP Blog;” and Dennis Jerz has lots and lots of great stuff on his blog too. So, in an effort to procrastinate from wrapping up for the spring term and preparing for summer term, I thought I’d ramble on about my thoughts from this year in Davis (to build on my previous posts here and here).
Continue reading “#cw09 and when I saw the point/power/danger of Twitter”

If Twitter ever had a purpose, see #IranElection

Of course, I’m mostly interested in the idea that there is something resembling democracy and free elections in Iran, but as someone also keenly interested in new media and writing technologies, what’s been going on with Twitter and the Iranian Election is just fascinating.

Here’s a link to but one article about it, a NYTimes piece, Social Networks Spread Iranian Defiance Online. Basically, the unwashed masses of the Twitterosphere (it hurts to type that word) have more than cleaned the clocks of Main Steam Media in keeping people in touch and involved. I don’t know if the Iranian election was rigged or not (I think it probably was though), but I have learned a hell of a lot more about what’s going on in 140 character bursts than I have listening to NPR.

So, if you haven’t done the Twitter thing yet because you thought it was a waste of time along the lines of Facebook (and, truth be told, it probably is a waste of time mostly), sign up and do a search for #IranElection. You’ll immediately see what I mean.

Just how does Twitter make money, anyway? (and a couple good Twitter links)

I came across– via Steven Johnson’s Twitter feed, actually– this article in the New York Times yesterday, “The Tweet Smell of Success.” The article is about how Twitter has in “the last few months it has plucked a few hundred users from a sea of more than 30 million and put them on its A-list, deeming them particularly worthy of being followed.” Johnson included, by the way: “It’s funny, everybody has been asking me, you got your Twitter ID on the cover of Time magazine, you must be getting an insane amount of followers,” he said. “And I say it’s nothing compared to the steady influx you get from being on the suggested user list.”

Also via Johnson’s feed this morning, I came across Andrew “The Daily Dish” Sullivan’s post about Iranian protesters using Twitter, and in this NYTimes article, I found the link to Johnson’s Time Magazine article on Twitter, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.”

Anyway, there was one paragraph in the NYTimes piece about how Twitter is not believed to be profitable, which made me wonder: how doe these people make any money at this? Do they make any money? Am I going to start to see 140 word ads pop up on my feed sometime soon? And if I do, will I (or anyone else) still use the service?

This is certainly something that will come up in 516 next winter, maybe in 444 this summer too….

Twitter is one of my summer projects

Via Shaun Slattery on Facebook, I came across two potentially interesting/useful Twitter links:

First, there’s “10 High Fliers on Twitter” from CHE is about some popular academic Twits– or Twitterers, I guess. The most active Twit(terer) is Sarah Evans, director of PR at Elgin Community College. Over 20,000 followers. Jeesh.

Second, there’s “Ten Handy How-To Resources for Twitter” by Traci Gardner on the Bedford Bits blog. Basically, a list of good links about what Twitter is and hwo to use it for teaching and beyond.

I’ve had a Twitter account for a while now, but I really have as of yet to see what the hype is about, even compared to something like Facebook (which, given the fluff factor of the book o’ face, is sathing something). Things weren’t helped much by my winter 2009 section of English 516, which was generally (and rather curiously) somewhat Luddite in terms of technology and teaching. They were pretty resistant to Facebook, actually, and we never got to Twitter because, well, we just had a lot of stuff to do.

Anyway, I know we’ll deal with Twitter next winter, and I might find a way to include it in 444 this summer and 505 in the fall term.

Two very cool movie making links

First off, there is Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video from the American University School of Communication Center for Social Media. How’s that for a mouthful? Anyway, the site includes a very handy video and lots of other resources to help academics/students/etc. navigate a bit through the world of social media. This will probably be must reading for 516 next year, maybe for 444 too.

Then there’s xtranormal “Text-to-Movie,” which is a site that allows you to make very simple animations quite, well, simply. Here’s my first effort:

I don’t know if this is a teachable moment or not; it probably is, actually. But beyond that, it’s a fun little site to play around with. This might even find its way into my 121 this spring.

White House Flickr Feed

Obama with football This is really cool: I found out via Doc Mara’s Twitter feed that the White House, which has really changed the rules on how candidates and now presidents use all kinds of different sorts of internet media, has a Flickr feed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/ If I signed up for an RSS feed, I could get all the Obama et al picts I could possibly see, I suspect. Anyway, besides being fun to browse, it is probably something I need to include in 328 as part of the comic unit.

Friday night link round-up

I’m having a relatively quiet evening here watching some TV and surfing the ‘net, so I thought I’d post a few links of stuff I’ve come across: