Thoughts at Half Time at the Transliteracy conference.

I caught up with a couple of the attendees here, as well as Josie Fraser who's amplifying the event with Brian and I, and we had a chat about the day so far: 

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5 thoughts on “Thoughts at Half Time at the Transliteracy conference.

  1. Here’s a transcript of the first:
    >>STEVE LAWSON: Hello, [inaudible] at the Transliteracy Conference, and it’s lunchtime, and I have a mouthful of crisps, sorry, please excuse any strange munching noises.
    I’m here with @johnpopham again — that’s, I’m with him again, not that his surname is “Again”, and @lis4g33. And we’ve just been chatting over the day so far. Lisa, what have you made of it so far?
    >>LISA G: It’s been really fascinating, there are a few things I’ve come away with. I’m not going to say how many, because I might think of more as I go along and then I’d be inaccurate.
    The first one is, in a way, the way that text’s position in the hierarchy of ways of recording and communicating things is challenged, which I think is Judith Aston’s talk in which she was talking about how the ethnologist or anthropologist Wendy James was talking about the limits of text in communicating context and in giving, really, a three-dimensional picture. So that was the first thing.
    The second thing was the centrality of subjectivity. How the subjective experience becomes much more recognized and privileged in a way, so I think I’ll stop there.
    >>STEVE: Do you think that, in a sense, that we’ve got to move beyond this fairly blunt edged instrument of the idea of things being multimedia, and that actually what we have is a single environment in which there are lots of ways to say things and we are encouraged to choose the best one for what it is we want to say, or the kind of interaction we’re trying to foster?
    >>LISA G: In a way, but in a way, I think the idea of multimedia becomes much richer, because there’s rarely just one medium that communicates the whole of what you want to do.
    So you do need to use a whole range of them together in a way to create a three-dimensional whole.
    >>STEVE: Sounds good. John?
    >> JOHN: Yeah, I think Lisa used the word “fascinating”; fascinating is the right word. Because to me, there’s been a mixture of things here. One: we’re actually listening to people thinking out loud, really about some of the first stages of fleshing out this concept.
    And that’s quite challenging for me as a non-academic, to sit there and watch people who are obviously stumbling towards a conclusion, and there are some good things to get there along the way, but they obviously haven’t reached a conclusion yet.
    And then there were some other speakers who had obviously got to the position where they had thought it through and they were really performing, what conclusions — what they had come to so far.
    So there was a bit of a contrast there, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far!
    >>STEVE: There does seem to be a contrast between those who were sort of batting around the philosophical potential, of seeing this as a new way of describing a process, and those who have a slightly more fixed idea of it, and they’re trying to come up with a taxonomy that works to label those bits of the process. And the intersection between the two is kind of interesting.
    There seemed to be, at the end, a bit of a dialogue between the practitioners, the guy with the cartoons, Gareth Doodle, I’m assuming “Doodle” isn’t actually a surname, thought hat would be kind of fun, and the guy Drew who was on before him, who was very much looking at the limitations between the idealism of saying “all media is good, and it’s a flat hierarchy and we don’t need to favor text as our primary source, but saying that in reality, all of us have dispensations toward the ones that we’re most comfortable with, and that actually that’s going to weight it in a way that isn’t just about some sort of objective measurement of it’s appropriateness, but it’s actually that “I just don’t like being on vide, therefore I’m not going to use video.”
    >>LISA G: I think peoples’ comfort zones will change. I mean, mine certainly has. I’ve come from a point where I can’t — like Wendy James, if you can’t say what you want to do in the medium you usually operate in, that’s when you have to say “okay, I don’t like video particularly, my visual sense is pretty crap, but I’m going to have to have a go because otherwise I can’t say what I want to say in the way that I want to say it.”
    >>STEVE: It seems to me that social media in particular, as a kind of aggregate space for this kind of stuff, is fundamentally about being a practitioner. It’s a fairly crap space to try to be a theorist from outside.
    >>JOHN: I think you’re very right there. I think things work best if they are formed opinions, if they are formed sound-bites or formed films. (but I’m not doing very well at forming a sound-bite here), but as Lisa says, it’s about starting to be comfortable with a different way of putting things across. For some people, it takes quite a long way for them to get there.
    >>STEVE: Thanks very much!

  2. Transcript of #2 — has not been verified for accuracy; not for citation.
    >>STEVE LAWSON: And we’re back, because we ran out of time. John, you had said that you run “social media surgeries,” and that the range of responses you get from people coming in is fairly broad.
    >>JOHN POPHAM: Yeah, absolutely. We were talking about the need to play with these tools, to become proficient with them. And I’ve talked to people who are working through the process of persuading their employers that using these tools is a valid thing to do. And they need to find spaces where they can play with them, experiment with them, without being public about it. I’ve had requests for, “Well, can I do this anonymously?” Which of course you can, but what I’ve said is, “Don’t come back to me if you get discovered,” that is, I can’t guarantee your anonymity, you know, you can use different usernames or whatever, but I can’t guarantee that nobody will ever trace it back to you. Of course it also depends what you say and do, whether it will be traced back to you. I think there do need to be spaces where people can experiment with things, and not worry about who might see what they’re doing.
    >>STEVE: Josie Fraser’s here as well. You do a lot of stuff to do with kids and the Internet, where defining levels of access to information is far more critical than it is for most adults. Do you think that is a particular issue, that’s the way that social media communities tend to be, the ages of them tend to be quite porous? And that the understanding of that is pretty poor?
    >>JOSIE: Yeah, I’ll try and untangle that question a little bit there, because there’s a lot in that question. I think firstly, if you’re talking about kind of filtering and blocking practices, obviously that’s a really pertinent issue at the moment, with the national work going on in Australia, and the kind of legal issues around who is allowed to see what. Within schools, obviously, there is a duty of care, and there is a need to provide a level of filtering and blocking, and I don’t think anybody can complain about a level that prevents children, young people from stumbling across material that is clearly inappropriate for their age. There’s a whole other issue, though, around social media type activities, and around those kind of play issues too. When I talk about online identities in terms of adults, I very often talk about a kind of a fake division between identity as a very personal thing and identity as a much more professional, constructed view of how you would like to represent yourself to the world.
    Obvious children are in a very critical stage, especially young people as they get slightly older. They’re really reinventing themselves continually, and they’re using the web to do that now. They didn’t used to do that when I was a kid. In many ways I’m grateful for the fact that I wasn’t using the Internet to do that when I was younger, and there’s not a lot of stuff around me from that period.
    Okay, so there’s an element of identity formation and also of having the choice to make the connections and do the activities that you want to do as a child or as a young person. That’s kind of critical to how we support young people and also how they engage online.
    A lot of stuff around e-safety, and it is actually Safe Internet Day today for anybody that’s listening. A lot of the reactions at the level of school policies have been about stopping young people from being able to do a lot of things. But actually, what we know, and what is the safe approach to young peoples’ engagement, is to support them in those types of social activities that they want to do. And if you’re blocking and filtering things from schools, then young people are at a disadvantage in terms of being able to develop the skills that they need to use those things imaginatively, creatively, and safely.
    >>STEVE: And I guess you also have the cultural issue of: if you set up things as a line in the sand, then kids who want to be transgressive as part of their exploration of their own boundaries are going to do that, whereas if you teach them to be responsible, that can actually do the same thing, you hand them responsibility and ask them to live up to it. That you have to find the balance between adequate protection, but also not breeding either cultural fear, or a space where they go, “Great! Well, I’ll do that because nobody wants me to!”
    >>JOSIE: yeah, and I think there’s a whole very interesting discourse around actually, do those restrictions create dissidents and foster thoughts of activism…so in some ways, maybe we do need some restrictions!
    Although I would far rather see a rational and level-headed approach to e-safety and digital literacy within schools than think “well, at least we’re fostering a new generation of rebels who will be able to get around those things.” I think those kids will probably manage anyway!
    >>STEVE: Yay, Josie!

  3. Sure, no worries. Happy coincidence that I needed to gather metrics on transcription speed/accuracy rates. It’s a fascinating topic. Thanks very much for creating an intentional space for this conversation.

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