Volume 4 [Issue 3], 2012
Tom Apperley and Christopher S. Walsh
An education in Facebook
For some years academics have debated the role in higher education of Facebook, the world’s most extensive social networking site. At first there was enthusiasm—it was a new tool that could be ‘repurposed’ for education; then, as Facebook became more widespread, its use seemed less than opportune. But now, with so many students already engaged before they even come to a university, perhaps it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Facebook is as natural to education as the commute, the computer, and everything else which students ‘bring’. This paper first presents a summary of what Facebook affords, by way of its design and use, for online communication and networking, demonstrating the central role of reciprocal acts of attention exchange in this system. It then analyses, through a critical reading of research into Facebook and education, the way Facebook challenges traditional understandings of university education and the relationships between teachers and students. It concludes that, however we might seek to use Facebook in higher education (and there are many reasons we might), its use will always be shaped by—and indeed give rise to—a blurring of the traditional boundaries between formal and informal education
YouTube viral videos and HIV prevention among African-Americans: Implications for HIV prevention
Jocelyn D. Patterson and Khiya J. Marshall
A viral video is a video which gains widespread distribution through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email, blogs, and other media-sharing websites, such as YouTube. Given the popularity of YouTube with African Americans, a content analysis was conducted to examine the characteristics, content, and YouTube member responses to viral videos featuring African Americans and focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention. The top two most frequently viewed videos elicited in our search generated strong viewer comments that were grouped under three major themes: threats and insults toward the maker of the video, questions about the authenticity of the video maker’s claims, and positive comments supporting the statements made in the video. The motivation to share HIV-related videos may be related to the video’s elicitation of emotions like anger and frustration or the inspiration of feelings of encouragement or support.
Promoting emerging new media literacies among young children with blindness and visual impairments
When applied to a particular disability, the terms “technology” and “literacy” take on many layered meanings. This complexity underscores the lack of empirical research on the combined areas of young children with visual impairments, emergent literacy, and assistive technology. This article specifically examines theoretical overlap between approaches to the early literacy education of children with blindness and visual impairments and the new media literacies (NML) framework (Jenkins, 2006) in order to better account for how expanding notions of literacy and pre-literacy are enmeshed with the affordances of specific technologies. After situating Braille and literacy in a transhistorical and multinational dialogue about children, technology, and innovation, I explore how the 21st century NML skill of “transmedia navigation” manifests in an ongoing methodological, philosophical, and cultural debate regarding the role of technology in potentially contributing to declining Braille literacy rates in the US. I conclude by suggesting future areas of research into best practices for promoting emergent traditional, technological, and new media literacies among children with visual impairments.
Book Review of Ian Bogost’s (2010) How to do things with videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
How To Do Things With Videogames is Ian Bogost at his most McLuhan-esque. The book, a collection of very short essays on a variety of deliberately diffuse topics to do with videogames, is a play with both the form and structure of intellectual writing and the form and structure of videogames themselves. It is ostensibly an examination of a medley of ‘things’ one can do with videogames, from “Empathy” to “Kitsch” to “Titillation” to “Disinterest,” each chapter briefly suggesting how videogames ‘do’ these things before moving on to the next.
Rebranding the platform: The limitations of ‘platform studies’
This article provides a critical account of Bogost and Montfort’s Platform Studies series, established in 2009 with their book Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System which aims to ‘promote the investigation of underlying computer systems and how they enable, constrain, shape, and support the creative work that is done on them’. The article begins with an overview of platform studies, seeking to define the term ‘platform’ within the contemporary digital media industry before outlining Montfort and Bogost’s methodological approach. It then examines the two latest books in the series: Codename Revolution by Steven E. Jones and George K. Thiruvathukal on the Nintendo Wii console; and Jimmy Maher’s The Future Was Here about the Commodore Amiga. It interrogates the extent to which these books continue the project begun by Racing the Beam, while at the same time highlighting some of the limitations of the series’ approach. Lastly it considers how the execution of the series to date might be counterproductive for its wider goal of promoting the study of digital platforms. The article concludes by considering how future books in the series—and indeed any researchers interested in adopting a platform studies approach more broadly—might address these concerns.
The game of educational teaching and research: Review of CCA-EDUCAUSE Australasia, 2011
In April 2011, I attended the CCA-EDCAUSE Australasian conference in Sydney, Australia. It brought together a mix of Australian and New Zealand education and related fields professionals with guest speakers in the fields of higher education teaching and research from the United States and United Kingdom. This conference was based on a metaphor: that the ‘game’ of learning and teaching has dramatically changed.
Reading regimes, orality and code: VilémFlusser’s Does writing have a future?
The appearance of Vilém Flusser’s Does Writing Have a Future? (2011) in English translation almost twenty-five years after its original publication is undoubtedly a seminal event for both media studies and scholarship on the future of the book, but— because of its very importance—the publication of Flusser’s text also feels strangely belated. Although Does Writing Have a Future? was inaccessible to English-speaking scholars, many books and essays influenced by Flusser’s have been available for years, and, as a result, the book no longer produces the shock that was surely intended upon its publication. Most of those reading it for the first time will inevitably find their reading shaped by the history of its reception—both explicit and implicit—over the last two decades. In this sense, the publication of Does Writing Have a Future? serves as an invitation to consider Flusser’s influence, as much as it encourages a response to the text itself.