Week 4: How do we study online communication? And why should we?
I enjoyed hearing your summaries of (and disagreements with) Networked, and I hope our first two weeks of readings have helped us consider some big, societal trends that affect our digital lives. We’ll come back to Networked at the end of the semester, as we try to predict the next round of technological revolutions. Our whirlwind tour of social media analysis tools should have given you a few ideas for your Online Identity Analysis project, and we’ll examine a few more tools next Wednesday. If you haven’t received my feedback on your proposal, don’t worry—it’s coming soon. For now, just start collecting anything that might be remotely relevant to your analysis. (It’s easier to discard artifacts later on than it is to recreate ephemeral social media interactions.) Next week, we’ll dive into our second book and start discussing specific genres and subgenres that are unique to the internet.
To read before class:
- Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Chapters 1–3 (pp. 1–71)
- “How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network: Tips from Howard Rheingold,” by Chuck Frey
To do before class:
- Devote one of your blog posts this week to a “workflow” essay of some sort. I’ve added several samples of this genre to the Resources page, so read through a few of them before you work on your own. The simplest approach for this mini-assignment is to use the four-question template from The Setup (and the editor of that site has suggested he would love for us to submit our posts to him), but if you’d like to go a different direction with your workflow post, that’s fine, too.
- Collect as much raw “data” as you can for your Online Identity Analysis project and bring it to class in a format that you can work with. (Hint: store your screenshots, archived tweets, etc., in a Google Drive folder, and if you prefer to work on your own laptop, bring it to class.)
- Follow five new people on Twitter, with the specific goal of building your own personal learning networking.
- Read several of your classmates’ posts on the Motherblog, and if the mood strikes you, try responding to one or two of them.
Bonus reading (as time and interest permit):
- “Twitterology: A New Science?“, by Ben Zimmer
- Bamboo DiRT (a massive list of digital tools for academics, arranged to help users find help with specific research tasks)
As always, let me know if you have any questions about these plans. Otherwise, happy reading, writing, and observing!