Welcome to the Digital CrossRhodes — the intersection of Vincent Rhodes' academic, artistic & professional lives.

Peering into Disaster with Liza Potts

Sunday, November 8th, 2009
Liza Potts, Old Dominion Uniersity

Liza Potts, Old Dominion Uniersity

Okay, so this is a little odd. We’ve been doing brief bios for the authors we’ve been reading throughout the semester. But, in this case, you all know the author. She’s our professor. In any event, here are some of the usual details: She’s clearly on Twitter, we’ve seen her Academia.edu page, and we’ve visited her LinkedIn account. You can see a link of selected publications on her ODU faculty page. Potts earned her undergraduate degree from Florida Atlantic University and her Masters and PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In Peering into Disaster: Social Softawre Use from the Indian Ocean Earthquake to the Mumbai Bombings, Potts defines social software as “any Internet-based networked system that provides a space for people to come together, share and exchange information, and build community, however temporary it may be.” She notes that interactions studied occurred across a variety of platforms/services including LiveJournal, BBC News, Craigslist, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blogs.

Potts uses Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a critical framework for evaluating interactions via these social networks. In her 2008 article Diagramming with actor network theory: A method for modeling holistic experience, she explains:

ANT suggests that we examine human and non-human actors equally, giving neither priority [7]. Thus people and technology are regarded as equal agents of action. According to ANT, actors are constantly in motion, creating and leaving networks and associations with other actors. Rather than pigeonhole these associations, ANT seeks to observe these traces and let the actors instruct the designer as to what the connections might mean (np).

You can review more about ANT on Wikipedia. Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social is an excellent resource for more in-depth study of ANT.

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Academia.edu

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

So, as part of our class exploration of social media tools, we dove in to Academia.edu. I created my profile as required. It was pretty straightforward. I was reminded as I perused lists to determine my research interests that different disciplines claim the territory we are studying. At some point, I should probably go back and review the lists more closely. My first reaction was to look for the category “English” since that’s the department I’m in, but it didn’t really offers the sub-categories/areas of interest I was looking for. I didn’t add a CV at this time because, frankly, I don’t have an academic CV. I have a resume… but this isn’t LinkedIn and I’m not sure what I have is appropriate for this venue since it is more focused on industry rather than academic endeavors. I enjoyed logging a few of the books I’ve read as part of Masters and PhD studies And, I enjoyed the department diagram.

One thing I’m not really sure I have the hang of is the KEYWORDS feature. I see it Dave’s and Liza’s pages, but I’m not sure how to make it active for mine. I searched for help, but didn’t really find what I was looking for. It’s possible I wasn’t using the right terms… or that the info I’m looking for wasn’t easily accessible. I ran a few Google searches for my name, but the football player of the same name from Baylor still ranks more highly than me (first two hits; no surprise there). My Facebook page comes in third, my Twitter page 5th, LinkedIn profile 8th, class blog 9th, and then various excerpts from news reports on Zoom Info that date from my stint as Communications Manager at Norfolk Public Schools rank 10th on the search. (That’s just the first page. Ironically, my portfolio site and Academia.edu listings didn’t appear until the third page of Google results.) [Side Note: It occurs to me, in light of our discussions of the Panopticon and participatory surveillance, that I’ve just connected quite a few “digital identity” dots for someone with this post. Oh well!]

In any event, I thought the site was fairly easy to use. I also can see how it would be helpful for academics looking to make connections. It’s clearly geared for a specific community (for example, there are no categories for administrators in higher ed) and it appears it can be pretty successful in serving that niche. With that said, I’m not sure how much I’ll use it. Perhaps I have social media fatigue, but I find I barely update my Facebook status anymore. I rarely have used LinkedIn. I tweet most regularly (but that could be because I have to use it for class). I’m just not sure I want to invest the time to update so many sites. I guess we’ll have to see…

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Virtual Panopticon?

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Meet Anders Albrechtslund

Anders Albrechtslund

Anders Albrechtslund

Our exploration of issues surrounding privacy and control relative to social media continues with Anders Albrechtslund’s First Monday article Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. On his website, Albrechtslund identifies his research interests as:

Persuasive design, persuasive technology, blogging, social networking, social software, web 2.0, surveillance studies, philosophy of technology, philosophy of science, computer ethics, trusted computing, values in design, human-computer interaction, interaction design, science technology society studies (STS), artificial intelligence (AI), electronic patient records (EPR).

He currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark. He received his PhD in Information Studies in 2008 from Aalborg University, his MA in Philosophy in 2003 from the University of Southern Denmark, and his BA in Philosophy in 1999 from the University of Odense in Denmark. His dissertation, In the Eyes of the Beholder: Introducing participation and ethics to surveillance, posits the concept of “participatory surveillance.” An English summary of his dissertation is available online. Albrechtslund has published and presented extensively and can be found on Twitter (@Albrechtslund), LinkedIn, and Facebook. (Given his take on participatory surveillance and online identity construction, I thought it appropriate to include these links.)

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Quality-tative Research

Sunday, September 27th, 2009
Image of NAncy Baym from her web site

Image of Nancy Baym from her web site

I enjoyed Nancy Baym’s chapter “Finding the Quality in Qualitative Research” from Silver & Massanari’s edited collection Critical Cyberculture Studies. Since Tami will be covering background info on the author in her blog, I’ll just be offering my summary of the chapter and some reactions to it here. [Note: You can find/follow her on Twitter. She replied to one of my tweets about her chapter. So, she seems fairly accessible.]

I think the reason I enjoyed the chapter so much is the fact that she directly addresses what makes me most uneasy about this topic:

“Perhaps the biggest problem facing all qualitative research is that the standards for what makes qualitative research good are very unclear” (79).

“How are we to determine what evidence is good enough to make a claim or how may subjects are enough?” (80)

The answers to these questions appeal to my rhetoric background: Qualitative research (like quantitative) is a means of making an argument. The counterarguments may be harder to predict than in quantitative studies, but they should be considered as the research design is constructed and the findings presented. Her challenge to qualitative researchers: Be prepared to answer the question: “Am I convinced by the evidence?” (81)

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