Networked Practices

This brief article is about Vine (an app we used to get media for interactive projects in a second year subject), what’s interesting for me is not the shortness (in an industrial age dominated and paid for by the 30 second commercial I don’t think anyone in media is in a position to point fingers about short duration works) but how this is an example of those ways in which access to audiences and big institutions is changing.

Reading 06

We are continuing for a bit on the hypertext, but shifting from the writing side to some introductory material on its implications for narrative, and readers. While this reading is about hypertext, the issues described here pretty much have relevance for all multilinear (nonlinear) media.

They are two extracts from:

Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

First reading, and the second reading)

Symposium Mentions

In passing, these were mentioned in the symposium:

  1. Arduino which is an open source electronics platform (popular in schools)
  2. Didn’t mention, but Raspberry Pi is a computer that you program (popular in schools and universities)
  3. Stephen Heppell is a British educator who has a very old school web site, he is in Australia regularly to talk to education departments and so on

Schools and Factories

I mentioned today that schools are modelled on industrial era and factories. Probably didn’t make a lot of sense. So here’s a simple way to understand this. You’re in Year 7. The Year 7 says the maths curriculum is x, English y, and so on. But most students are variable in their abilities and where they are up to. That 13 year old actually gets on better with 11 year olds. That 13 year old finds English easy (and so is bored), but the maths very hard, and so struggles and feels, well, incompetent. Ideally, this student isn’t a ‘Year 7′ student. They should be doing an english student with people at level whatever (higher than Year 7) and maths with people at level x, which is probably lower than the Year 7 average. But school’s can’t do this. At the end of they year you will find yourself in Year 8, with a new English and maths curriculum. You might still find English unchallenging, and end up even further behind in maths. The structure of the system just can’t accommodate how we actually learn, it’s designed around 4 classes of Year 7, 8, 9, etc, most progressing through, with no ability to let those doing really well in Maths do more, or even teach those struggling, and same for English and other subjects. It is, basically, a single speed system. Yet we all know that we learn different things at different speeds. Some schools can do this, they’re quite radical in their educational approach, but it is perfectly doable.


HTML is what is known as a declarative markup language, and it isn’t quite really ‘coding’ in that you don’t write anything in HTML that ‘runs’. But knowing some basic HTML really is a basic literacy if you’re wanting to do things on the Web. Ellen has been wanting to do this for a while, and would like to do more. Fair enough, let’s see where we end up. The essay you’re writing can certainly be HTML pages, and once you have done one page and realised it is just markup around text, it’s simple to find a list of the basics (begin here, progress to here.)

Nethaniel gets stuck since we’re using OS X (which is actually UNIX) and he’s on PC. This is simple network literacy at work, all FTP and SFTP clients work the same, they want a server address, a username, a password. Where they ask for them, how you do it, might vary, but these are given. The key here is knowing this. A google search on “recommended free ftp clients for windows” seems to give a good list. Writing code? You need a text editor. That is all. Not Word, a text editor. EVERY computer has one. On Windows it is Notepad. Just make sure you save the files as text (and name them with .html). Or again, Google ‘text editors for windows” if you want something fancier.

Rebecca is also enjoying it. Sounds fey, but knowing how to write HTML is empowering. Much more empowering than knowing how to set up a FaceBook account, or even change your theme in a blog. I’m hoping you’re all bright enough to begin to see why.

Content marketing is ruining the web. Its decline will be poetic justice | JR Hennessy | Comment is free |

Content marketing is ruining the web. Its decline will be poetic justice | JR Hennessy | Comment is free |

From The Guardian a little riposte on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which got mentioned last week. It is a tad bitter, but in general it is a good article in that it shows how the Web (remember Nelson’s enthusiasm) gets made odd by efforts to commercially exploit it. In this case the only thing being exploited is trying to make Google treat your stuff as more important than it is…

More Literacies

Lisha finds a definition of network literacy (which I find sort of uncanny as to the best of my knowledge Jill Walker and I were the first to coin the term when we wrote an abstract for a conference at RMIT in the early 2000s, the paper never got written unfortunately, a couldabeen moment).

Seonaid I think nails things pretty well about network literacy, and I think the Japanese example at the end is spot on. This is what we call critical thinking, not because it criticises but because it thinks through and with (for you newbie coders, that was the emphasis, aka em tag back there) the terms and implications of an idea.

Confusion Rains

From an email I have just read based on a recent The Chronicle of Higher Education comes:

Steve Kolowich, in “Confuse Students to Help Them Learn”, uses the example of a physics teacher who by trying out clear versus ambiguous presentations discovered that “if you just present the correct information, five things happen…. One, students think they know it. Two, they don’t pay their utmost attention. Three, they don’t recognize that what was presented differs from what they were already thinking. Four, they don’t learn a thing. And five, perhaps most troublingly, they get more confident in the ideas they were thinking before.”

Nelson and Prescience

Seonaid on Ted Nelson’s speculative and critical arguments for what computers could and should do. George on choose your own adventure and hypertext. Rachel likes linear (many of us do) and its rules. Unfortunately we won’t be getting very far into hypertext (I used to teach an entire semester of only hypertext), but it too has its rules, they’re just different rules. Caitlin is surprised by Nelson’s ideas, and surprised that her mum was taught typewriting at high school (yep, still remember the room full of typewriters and the sound of a class, it was a subject nearly only girls did back in them olden days)