#WEB206 – An interesting conundrum

In this new subject, we are all required to create some kind of online presence within which to post our writing exercises. The first thing we had to do was pick a topic for this presence (I chose to create a blog for this exercise) and it seems that our contributions to that presence must revolve around the topic we have chosen.

As is evident in my previous blog-post, we discussed the role of avatars and how they can affect us in anticipation of creating our new online presences. We had to select or create an avatar to represent our identities as well.

Here’s the problem… I like to maintain a record of my study experiences on this blog. Anyone who stumbles upon this site will know my first name and a little about the subjects I am studying. The other new presence I have just created is about one of my passions outside of work/study and is therefore, anonymous. I also wish for it to remain anonymous until I reach a goal I have set for myself. So… if anyone reads this blog, I will still be posting here, but my posts may seem less detailed than usual, as I do not yet wish to divulge any details of the new blog I am creating for this subject.

The writing activities I will post on my new online presence may be paraphrased and transcribed to suit this blog, but I’m pretty sure that they will be quite brief, even uninteresting, in places. It’s not too hard to track the exact same piece of writing to another place on the web. Hence, my reluctance to post everything I will do there on this blog.

Perhaps I can just use this space to reflect on what I have completed in my anonymous space?

Time will tell…

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#WEB206 – #Avatars

TUTOR:

Avatars – How much or to what extent do user avatars affect your perception of the people behind them?

MY RESPONSE:

Avatars greatly affect my perception of the people I am dealing with online. In the olden days of IRC, MUDs and MOOs, people relied on an avatar to pass on a certain impression of what they were about. As scanners were so expensive and not as easy to use/access back then, people chose or created images that represented their persona, fantasy, alter-ego (e.g. vampires, symbols, animated gifs, cartoon characters, etc.).

As time wore on and people started using their real pictures in a variety of online contexts, I unconsciously make assumptions about someone based on their appearance… as, I suspect, we all do at some stage or another when we meet new people in face-to-face situations.

From a personal perspective, an avatar can attract, repel me, or simply make me feel indifferent – those that attract me or pique my curiosity, I will approach to interact with; those that I find less appealing, I will just let them to approach me. However, this is a subconscious process. An avatar may act as an elevator pitch in the first instance but, ultimately, I seek out what words are used by that person and the kind of presence they wish to represent themselves with online.

I also find that I will not pay too much attention to an avatar that is blank, or not added to one’s online profile. Here’s an example I can refer to in today’s world… I’m a moderately heavy Twitter user. When one starts using Twitter, they are asked to add a thumbnail image of who they are and what best epitomises them. If a Twitter user has the stock standard egg image, I may not stick around to find out more, as I will hastily pre-judge them and deem them to be newbies or apathetic about how they choose to present themselves in their little corner of cyberspace. However, if I have a few moments and I see that an egg has already made over 100 tweets and has more than a handful of followers, I will dig deeper to look at their profiles. I guess I like to see if I can glean what they’re generally about.

Having said all that, it really comes down to a combination of all the elements of one’s online presence which attracts me to follow or interact with someone. The avatar is like a business card for me… the name one selects might also make me curious to find out more. But if someone’s profile is uninteresting, I deduce that they’re a dud in my book and I get on with my life.

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#WEB206 – #Copyright vs #CreativeCommons

TUTOR:
Copyright vs Commons: What are the positives and negatives of these two formats for regulating ownership over content?

MY RESPONSE:
Due to the nature of my work history, I am quite comfortable with this week’s topic. Therefore, I’m going to mention some worthwhile resources regarding this question for others to watch/read if they choose to and hope that our tutor will not penalise me for avoiding directly answering this question. The last thing I want to do is dominate the discussion and will happily read others’ contributions to this thread as they pop up.

REFERENCES

Legally Free Films. (2013, September 2). Good Copy Bad Copy [Video podcast]. Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/ByY6j0qzOyM

Longzijun. (2013, April 4). Creative Commons Licenses: Advantages and Drawbacks [Blog message]. Retrieved from the WordPress website: https://longzijun.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/creative-commons-licenses-advantages-and-drawbacks/

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TUTOR’S RESPONSE
RE: Copyright vs Commons

A great place to start Maha 🙂

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#WEB206 – Do you agree with the Creative Commons peeps who argue that copyright is restricting culture? Justify your answer.

TUTOR:
Do you agree with the Creative Commons peeps who argue that copyright is restricting culture? Justify your answer.

MY RESPONSE:
I completely support the rationale driving the Creative Commons. To quote Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” I also firmly agree with this concept expressed by Newton.

I believe that the human race has evolved because we have been able to build upon the ideas of those that went before us. We used to believe the world was flat and that sailing ships could fall off the edge of the world if they weren’t careful – science has proven that to be untrue.

The nature of research and analysis of how others ideas can be further developed, or even dismissed, technically builds upon the intellectual property of another or others. How can we keep evolving as a species if we become stagnant and do not strive to learn and know more about the spaces which we inhabit, both physically and mentally, and how we can improve upon them?

The increasing monetisation of intellectual property and the imposition of copyright restrictions is, in my view, becoming increasingly restrictive and, in some ways, creating more of a divide. We can violate such copyright if we can afford to do so, or with the cooperation of the intellectual property owner. But what happens to those who cannot afford such pursuits? They can become discouraged from chasing their creativity and exploring the opportunities that could drive us forward as a global community. They are ostracised from the world of the elites.

This moral, ethical and economic dilemma was particularly highlighted when Aaron Swartz recognised the need to make information free. Because of his endeavours to liberate such information behind paywalls, he paid the price – the US government charged him with so many violations of copyright, he ultimately gave up fighting and took his own life. Those who knew him personally, Lawrence Lessig included, continued the fight and the Creative Commons was born.

Lessig made a particular statement that resonated with me in the first chapter of his book: “Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so” (2004, p. 30).

Conversely, there are those that believe copyright restrictions are necessary to preserve the monetary value of an author’s intellectual property rights. However, it is difficult for me to sympathise with such notions when authors usually are only partly recompensed for others using or accessing their works. The neoliberal machine is in motion and the capitalist system entrenched – money is the god ruling such copyright laws. The more those laws are enacted and legislated for, the greater the digital divide between those who have access and can pay for such information, and those who can’t. It’s a Huxwellian nightmare.

REFERENCE LIST

Full Documentaries Films. (2014, July 25). The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz [Video podcast]. Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/dU5JWT0hFlc

Huxley, A. (1977). Brave new world. London, London: Chatto & Windus.

Lessig, L. (2004). Creators. In Lessig, L., Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (pp. 21-30). New York, New York: Penguin Books.

Orwell, G. (2003). Nineteen eighty-four: a novel (Centennial ed.). New York, New York: Plume.

Posted in #WEB206, Aaron Swartz, Aldous Huxley, Copyright, Creative Commons, Creativity, Digital Divide, Free Culture, George Orwell, Intellectual Property, Lawrence Lessig | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#WEB206 – What type of license do you think you will use for your non-academic work?

TUTOR:

What type of license do you think you will use for your non-academic work?

MY RESPONSE:

I think I’ll be using an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. (I haven’t fully decided yet.) This means that I will allow others to remix, transform and build upon my work, give me attribution and credit as the source of inspiration. I’d also like others to use whatever they produce for non-commercial purposes. As much as I like to share information, I think if I was creating work professionally online, I’d rather that re-use/remix of my work should not be used for commercial ventures. Sounds selfish, but also can be altruistic in some contexts.

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#WEB206 – Reading: ‘The Phenomenology of Space in Writing Online’

Just wanted to mention that I am interested in the notion of cyberspace in this reading. The authors mention Bruce Sterling’s referral to cyberspace as “the place between”. They also ask the question, “When we connect to the Internet, are we in some space, cyberspace?” (Van Manen & Adams, 2009, p.14).

I remember a time when I used to ask this question of cyberspace and what it referred to. But, reading this piece in 2015, I no longer concur with the notion that cyberspace is the place between. It’s everywhere, it’s in our pockets, at work, anywhere we want it to be…

I also remember connecting to the internet, using a 14.4, 28.8, 56k modem, listening to the buzzing and whirring as my phoneline tried to connect me to cyberspace. I remember how much I freaked out when the line I was connected to for hours dropped me out. Now, I no longer have such fears… the mere suggestion of such a thing happening is almost anathema to me. Yet still, my desire for increased connectivity persists. I want it in my person – I guess I recognise that I want to be part of the machine, so to speak.

If anyone else has such thoughts, or would like to offer further comments, I’d be fascinated to hear of others’ perspectives on this notion of cyberspace. I am older than some of you… I’d also be interested in hearing thoughts from those who don’t even remember what I have described. It’s always been a part of your lives. What does “cyberspace” mean for you?

REFERENCE

Van Manen, M., & Adams, C. (2009). The Phenomenology of Space in Writing Online. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41(1), 10-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00480.x

A FELLOW STUDENT’S RESPONSE:

I found the reading quite difficult to understand, and I’m not sure how much I took from it. But, I find the idea of cyberspace interesting too. I haven’t reached a conclusion on what I think about a space created when we enter the Internet though, I think space is an odd word to use but I think there is no other real way to describe it. I definetly identify that there is a different psychological place that I go to when I’m on the Internet or when I’m reading a book, and even when I write, because when people call me it feels like I’m coming back from a place far away. Oddly though, I don’t get the same feeling from other media such as tv or movies.

Your idea of cyberspace being all around us is interesting. Certainly there are connections everywhere you go, mostly, but when you get out of the city it’s harder to understand that sort of idea because the connection becomes more tenuous, and certainly there are places in the world where there is no connection at all.

I also think that culturally the concept of cyberspace is different as well, for example, in a wealthy western country where the connection is perpetual and becoming more and more unnoticed, it has become a part of our culture and how we live, and thus is everywhere. However, in other cultures, even cultures within Australia where the Internet is either unaffordable, or the actual physical connections haven’t reached, or as a culture the Internet is of no interest at all, it could be considered quite alien, and therefore a very conspicous space.

Certainly a lot to think about.

J.

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MY RESPONSE TO J. (16/09/2015)

Hi J,

Yes, this reading is quite dense – I found myself reading a few passages twice to fully grasp some concepts.

Your comments are thought-provoking also. You said “when people call me it feels like I’m coming back from a place far away” – does that mean that you feel that entering cyberspace is separate from the space you physically inhabit? (Since you mentioned other media like TV and movies.)

Also, when people “call you” – is that on an internet-enabled phone, or people that call you from another room…?

I felt so narcissistic when I read your post! I’m embarrassed that I didn’t even pause to consider those who access the internet from rural areas in my post… I have heard that the connection can be quite unreliable in some places. However, my saving grace was that I was speaking from Australian contexts, not 3rd world nations who experience high poverty levels and access to the internet is a privilege. There’s that digital divide between the haves and the have-nots again! Can’t avoid it, unfortunately…  *sigh*

Thanks for your comments! Good fodder for further contemplation.

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TUTOR’S COMMENT:

Great stuff guys,

Remember though that there are still places in Australia where connectivity is tough. I just read one of my other student’s papers recounting stories of indigenous people in remote communities climbing up to the highest hill and pointing their phones towards the local mine to try and get reception.

But even though we do not physically enter another space – kinda like the Matrix – do we shift consciousness to an in between space? where we are both present and absent?

Lovely discussion guys.

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MY RESPONSE TO TUTOR’S COMMENT:

Yes, indeed. I think J gave me the impression that “coming back from a place far away” was a way of expressing precisely that – a shift of consciousness, as you said.

I know that when I’m using the internet to work, study, research, etc. – I’m in the zone… present in cyberspace, thinking, focusing, moving around it… whilst being absent from my physical surroundings.

If others feel that, it certainly goes some way to explain how 24/7 mobile phone users don’t always see where they’re going and bump into things… or worse.

Not quite related, but this absence and presence you speak of reminds me of how motorcyclists try to explain the act of riding. Riding “in the zone” means that you’re present, in the moment, performing the act of riding, completely conscious of your immediate environment, anticipating hazards, etc. – but, you are, in a way, absent too… not being distracted by things that could put you in a spot of bother. It might sound like a tenuous connection to some, but for me, it comes closer to what you refer to as that shift of consciousness to an in-between space.

Your mention about indigenous people having to climb to higher areas to get their mobiles to work also reminds me of when I first rode across the Nullarbor in 2005, from Melbourne to Perth and back. Mobile coverage? Hahaha… no way! The second time I did it in 2010, I was a little older and wiser and took a SatNav with me in case I ran into trouble. I wonder if our new PM will rectify those coverage issues we can experience in this wide, brown land?

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J’s 2nd RESPONSE:

I doubt it, it’s never been high on his priority list.

When I talk about being called I’m mostly referring to people in my physical presence, and I find I’m most distant reading a book. I can spend time on the net either fully immersed or just skimming the surface, I prefer water style analogies 🙂

I guess what I mean is the depth can vary, maybe we can be both physically present, and mentally absent depending on our focus and interest. I don’t think it’s necessarily a new concept though, thinking on the multiple dimension theories, and some cultures consider there to be a spiritual plane, would you consider those to be separate spaces? and are they physical or mental places?

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TUTOR’S FINAL COMMENT:

Great work guys.

We phase through presences constantly as we shift our attention. The presence of the internet and the web perhaps means there is more opportunity to move through these presences during the day (and night). This has consequences for how we understand our movement through physical spaces.

Posted in #WEB206, Cyberspace, Digital Divide, In-Between Spaces, Online Writing, Phenomenology of Space, Present & Absent, Shift of Consciousness, Time and Space, Web Publishing, Writing for the Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#WEB206 – Web site credibility. Which of these criteria do you feel you have typically relied upon to determine the reliability of a site in the past? Why?

TUTOR:

Warnick lays out five criteria cited by lay users as indexes of web site credibility. Which of these criteria do you feel you have typically relied upon to determine the reliability of a site in the past? Why?

MY RESPONSE:

The criterion I prioritise is: ‘Being able to trust the information on a site’.

This is the most important and oft-used criterion for me. I find that many aspects of the other criteria fall into place if this criterion is successfully addressed.

It must be said that because of the nature of my work history, I have developed a strong habit of triangulating my research (at least) around any information I find. In my case, I concur that, in my personal habits, website evaluation is connected to my user behaviour.

Even though I do pay attention to the other factors stipulated, “professionalism of design, usability, relevance and usefulness of site content, motivation…” (Warnick 2004, p. 7), I also agree that these factors can change depending on the type and subject of the site I am looking at, along with the type of information needs I have at the time I am looking for that information. Context is very important.

REFERENCE:

Warnick, B. (2004). Online Ethos: Source Credibility in an “Authorless” Environment. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(2), 256-265. doi:10.1177/0002764204267273

Posted in #WEB206, Information Gathering, Information Literacy, Information Sources, Online Research, Research, Web Publishing, Website Credibility | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment