Thursday, 29 May 2008

a life online: digital ethnography today

OK, now I am on Pownce, and when I have finished my todo list for today I will get round to using it with all my other web 2.0 feeds. It has bumped Plaxo off of the top of that particular todo list.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

IBWiki Innovation Base - a working semantic wiki

Excellent seminar all about FREMA which became a domain model for the community. I really like the fact that it is an example of a working CoP. The fact that the project is at the interface of two domains make the content of the seminar linguistically interesting as well. 

The ideas and output are the cumulation of a whole range of projects in our Lab here in Southampton, the latest of which come from work funded by the JISC. Yvonne Howard and Dave Millard are the drivers of this development. basically it has grown from our work and expertise in the assessment domain, but beefed up by the particular software engineering strengths which Dave and Yvonne have in spades. 

Interesting use of language during the seminar, software engineers talk about domains, and people working in the domain. Community of Practice belongs way away with the social scientists, even if we are talking about the same thing!

Part of the account revisits the paradox of reuse vs learning (people need to do to learn, but if someone else has already learnt it, do we need to go through all the pain yet again!!). This is a big factor for discussion in the critical success factors, and what went wrong communities. cf "stop people continuously re-inventing the wheel". 

One topic of discussion included the downsides of the semantic wiki compared to the knowledge base. Difficulties of implementing concept maps, lists, networks, it all seems to be about whether you organise before or after. 

Semantic Wikis are more likely to grow, but with the Knowledge Base you alienate the potential/existing Community of Practice; experts are needed to manage the structure. So the challenge is can we couple a KB with a wiki to get the best of both worlds.

Observations (definitions from the domain) inevitably come from different perspectives (think Korzybski here, the map is not the territory). Turns out that Hugh Glaser (also in ECS but in DSSE) has a seminar on work which he is doing in a similar area this very afternoon!

Facts on current work: IBWiki is at Southampton, IBMap is Manchester (modelling and mapping - Hilary Dexter and Tom Franklin) 

There is some considerable mileage in the recognition/analysis of how regular people interact with formal systems (in both senses of the word!!) 

Language notes: domain, artifacts, model, personas, scenarios, reference models ( and the fact that these are not tags, but could be)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Attended really interesting workshop at COOP-08. My presentation is titled "Scanning the Horizon: Towards a Theory of Education 2.0

All a bit reflexive because its about academic 2.0, and I have been trying to immerse myself in the digital world in the spirit of a latter day Margaret Mead - coming of age in the ether ;-)

My twitter feed has been going full tilt, and I am trying to get to grips with Plaxo. I am using, blogger, emailing from my mobile phone (and browsing) but that's so expensive I won't be doing that long term.

I signed up for a blog to post from my mobile, and I have read that I can post to blogger from my mobile. Its practical for sharing pictures, but not sure about anything more than stubs.

I have a NetVibes account, will be running a workshop using CrowdVine, think that SimpleSpark to keep track of the growth of 2.0 applications. I have a picassa account (but have not put much on it yet), and a Flickr account although I am pissed off that I had to get (yet another) Yahoo Mail a/c because they lost my old one :-(

When I get into the office I find that my university has just established a ning group called sotoneducators (the title of which I keep misreading).

For quality assurance purposes we have a shared university repository for QA evidence and documents (no 2.0 aspects yet). For research outputs, we mandate that academics use a repository, and continue to add further Web 2.0 functionality with each revision.

In my free time I run with Southampton Running Sisters, and we use Google Groups and Facebook to keep in touch with each other. I use Fetch Everyone intermittently.

We have a project called EdShare which is based around tagging educational materials. Our project funders expect us to blog as well as write reports, our research group has its own set of blogs for external and internal purposes, and I find myself beginning to wonder when we will be able to do anything aside from writing.

My school has a media wiki for the students, uses a knowledge base for FAQs, and a repository for important and shared documentation which sits alongside our intranet where we have many pages which allow dynamic editing.

In writing this account I become aware that the term/perspective I prefer to 2.0 is "a life online"; the account of the role of 2.0 in any users' experience, I think, has to encompass all aspects of technology interactions (justification also for the seamless integration of my mobile experiences into this account)

So now I am realising that some of the tagging which takes place is actually just in my mind, and that the rest of the sharing and publishing is much more visible! So it must be for the rest of humanity - most of what people think is not on the web, it is in an ether, but its another ether!

I have been reading The Ghost Road by Pat Barker. Rivers who worked with many 'shell shocked' soldiers from the 1914-1918 war, had been an anthropologist in Melanasia.

The accounts of the Ghosts in the book, and the differences in perspectives between the various societies (south sea, western european, upper class, working class, milatarist, pacifist, soldier, civilian....) seem to be relevant to some insights on knowledge and understanding, and therefore, inevitably what we understand about 2.0 - what it means for the web, and what it means for academia.

COOP is a well established european CSCW community, this workshop has attracted a significantly wide range of participants which reminds me of the inevitability of inter-disciplinary approaches.

the act of writing makes me realise that my own processes of reaching conclusions is somewhat chaotic (but not to say that the perspectives which emerge are not valid)

Tech to do:
This is meant to track my journey, not sure what margaret would call it!
Get onto last FM
Get to grips with Plaxo
Get rss feeds into my web page
Put up the recent web page which I revised ages ago, but have not got round to doing

Tech gripes, notes (as above)

Been trying to paste material into the page, but it does not seem to work - hey ho, what do I know??

Internet is good here, but the recurrent issue is down to maintaining power - all grist to the mill of the current argument about how 2.0 technologies impact on academic and higher education. Another part of the ethnographic perspective. I observe that via twitter, some people are online big-time, and others are intermittent. Motivations will vary with time.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Problems with the class system: what's in a name?

Friday is EdShare day. EdShare is a website for storing and sharing educational resources. We are growing the collection and refining the interface at this moment. 

EdShare is a place which can be used to collaborate with fellow academics. It can also showcase educational materials which are used in teaching and the support of learning at the University of Southampton.

Today we are grappling with metadata - in particular the way in which deposits are categorised by topic/subject.

The issue is that all of the established codes are problematic, we started off using library of congress codes, and that is fun :-) we are looking at the JACS codes - but they are not quite right (too limited) conclusion: subject to further discussion.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Running Sisters do it in the Forest :-) Hampshire RR10s

Another fab run last night from Deerleap for the RR10 series. Southampton Running Sisters turned out in excellent numbers.  Its really good to see the established running sisters out and having a good time. Its an excellent complement to the SRS Beginners' Course which is now in its third week (and maybe 17th year). This year our numbers are holding up really well. We have 60 new runners, and the publicity for the course has prompted quite a few exisiting members to pull on their trainers and rather belatedly send off their membership forms.

We now have a web site, a set of google groups mailing lists, and a Running Sisters Facebook presence. 

Towards a Theory of Education 2.0

I'm very excited about the workshop at the COOP '08 conference I am attending late in May. I went along to the eduserv symposium because I thought it would help focus me on what's happening right now.

The symposium was quite wide ranging and it has helped me think about how I need to make some aspects of my argument more specific and associated with curriculum 

Wanting to pull some ideas together for towards a theory of education 2.0.

Think I will address it specifically from perspectives of situated learning, authentic learning, and informal learning.

Also need to take a view which comes from Gaver's classic perspective of technology affordances

Sort of ties up with the VLE is dead perspective from Martin Weller

Also takes some guidance from Dave Millard's work on 2.0 applications

Needs a few diagrams to map the space