Author Archives: nadiadresscher

‘Prensa mester ta un spiel cu ta refleha e comunidad’

I was interviewed by the journalist Luis Villegas of the local news paper Bon Dia Aruba on the occasion of Aruban press day where I elaborated broadly on the role of social media and news consumption in Aruba. The Interview was originally published here in Papiamento (local language): Aruban newspaper ‘Bon Dia 24’ on September 1st, 2017

Relaciona cu dia di prensa, Bon Dia Aruba a acerca Nadia Dresscher-Lambertus, kende ta un sociologo na Universidad di Aruba pa combersa riba temanan manera e rol di prensa tradicional den un sociedad contemporaneo y polarisacion di medio di comunicacion.

 Sra. Dresscher ta traha conhuntamente cu University of Amsterdam y ta specialisa den investigacionnan sociologico relaciona cu social media y media digital. Su trabou ta pa duna les na e universidad relaciona cu topiconan di sociologia, media y analisis di social networks. En particular sra. Dresscher ta haciendo investigacion pa su PhD relaciona cu politica riba Facebook na Aruba.

”Mi ta siguiendo politiconan riba social media desde cuminsamento di 2013 te cu fin di 2016. Dus mi tin un bista den e tempo cu politica riba Facebook tabata algo relativamente nobo te cu awo, unda cada politico y partido tin nan presencia riba social media.”

Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu e ta studia en particular e networks politico cu ta wordo forma riba social media, pero tambe cua ta e problemanan cu ta wordo treci dilanti den politica, e actornan cu ta trece esaki dilanti y e manera con nan ta trece e problemanan dilanti.

Rol di prensa tradicional den clima contemporaneo
Cu evolucion den tecnologia nos ta wak un cambio den diferente area, y seguramente den area di comunicacion y prensa. Medionan tradicional manera corant, radio y television ta haya nan mes den un situacion unda mester adapta na e clima of core riesgo di bira irelevante. Sinembargo, sra. Dresscher ta di opinion cu e medionan tradicional ta y lo keda importante. “Mi ta kere cu e contexto den cual e medionan tradicional ta opera a cambia”. Segun e sociologo, ta papia kinan di e concepto di hybrid media systems. Esaki el a splica cu ta ora medionan tradicional ta traha den medio digital tambe.

Sra. Dresscher ta duna un ehempel di un corant cu tin su grupo di persona como objetivo, pero cu por yega tambe na personanan cu no ta lesa corant via social media, y vice versa cu personanan cu no tin social media. Ademas, den e clima contemporaneo cu social media e noticia no ta bin cu e intencion preciso cu e autor a pone p’e. Sinembargo e ta expresa cu ‘nunca e noticia tabata wordo ricibi exactamente cu e intencion di e autor, tur hende ta percibi cosnan na diferente manera y nos tur ta formula nos opinion di e noticia’.

“E noticia ta bin cu ful un aura for di tur e hendenan cu a comenta riba dje. Dus bo por bisa cu bo ta lesa e noticia hunto cu otronan. E ta un experiencia hopi mas interactivo”.

E mesun dinamismo aki, sra. Dresscher ta splica, ta influencia e ciclo di noticia. “Den pasado por tabata e caso cu e prensa ta determina e agenda y prioridadnan di noticia, pero awendia nos ta wak cada biaha cu nos tin mas influencia riba esaki. Nos tambe ta construi media.”

Un manera cu por ilustra esaki di un manera humoristico, ta e varios remixnan cu a wordo crea di e segundo debate politico na Kamer van Koophandel. E importancia y percepcion di e debate aki a wordo forma tambe pa e diferente perspectiva humoristico riba esaki. Te hasta na e conferencia di prensa como respuesta riba e controversia di e debate, presidente di Camara di Comercio mes a toca su jingle crea pa un persona riba internet. Pa e reportero aki, e momento ey tabatatin un elemento di surrealismo, pero e por refleha di algun manera e estado di medionan di comunicacion awendia.

E efectonan cu clima contemporaneo di medionan por causa tin su parti negativo y positivo, sra. Dresscher a splica. Algo positivo cu por surgi di esaki ta e manera con grupo di hende ta organisa nan mes. Sra. Dresscher ta duna e ehempel di ‘e debate rond di amienda pa permiti parehanan di mesun sexo pa registra nan relacion y pa esaki wordo reconoci’. Esaki ta un movemento cu a wordo mobilisa y cu a busca sosten riba plataforma di social media. Alabes, sra. Dresscher ta remarca cu e contrincantenan di esaki a organisa nan mes tambe. “Esaki por claramente ilustra con diferente networknan ta mobilisa pa un causa”.

Filter bubble of echo chamber effect
Un efecto negativo cu e clima di medionan digital por tin ta un tipo di isolacion y un echo chamber effect, segun sra. Dresscher. “E filter bubble of efecto di echo chamber ta ora bo ta haya opinion y articulo riba internet of social media cu ta sirbi pa confirma bo mesun opinion. E ta impedi pa bo haya diferente perspectiva di un manera of otro.”

Aunke e fenomeno aki ta sirbi pa dramatisa e efecto di isolacion, sra. Dresscher ta splica cu esaki semper tabata e caso, te hasta prome cu social media. “Semper e personanan cercano na bo ta hunga un rol importante pa formacion di opinion y perspectiva riba e mundo rond di nos. Esaki ta un fenomeno humano, y nos ta yam’e homofilia.”
Awendia tecnologia ta hunga un rol hopi grandi den esaki. Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu: “e algorithm di servicionan manera Facebook ta dicidi p’abo cua noticia of informacion bo ta haya. Pa medio di studia ken bo amigonan ta, cua opinion tin entre boso, e algorithm por determina cua noticia bo ta haya.”

Un algorithm ta e manera con un computer ta programa pa colecta y procesa informacion. E algorithm por wordo programa pa rasona cu informacion y identifica esaki di cualkier manera. Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu den e caso di Facebook, cua ta e social media mas uza riba Aruba, ‘e algorithm ta pone un balor riba tur post. Ora bo wak un post tin ful un proceso den e background cu ta tuma luga’.

Segun sra. Dresscher, “e postnan ta wordo sortia a base di con nobo nan ta, cuanto reaccion tin riba dje, pero en particular si e hende cu a post esaki ta un persona cu bo conoce. Tur esaki Facebook ta calcula den e background. Asinaki Facebook ta dunabo noticia of post di un amigo cercano hopi mas lihe cu algo di un persona desconoci.”

Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu si bo no sa e procedura aki y con e ta traha, ‘bo por kere cu ora bo wak bo news feed e ta algo neutral. Pero esaki no ta berdad.’

Cu medionan tradicional manera corant, pa por ta un persona literato ta importante pa tene cuenta cu diferente pregunta. Entre otro, ken a skirbi e articulo, ki perspectiva nan ta duna, kico ta e meta di e articulo, ken ta esnan cu ta paga pa propaganda, e corant tin un ideologia, etc. Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu ‘esaki tur ta keda hopi relevante. Pero tambe mester tene cuenta cu loke nos ta yama e network effect’. Sra. Dresscher ta splica cu esaki kiermen cu mester analisa tambe unda bo a wak e noticia online prome.

Si un persona ta desea di sali di e filter bubble aki, sra. Dresscher ta recomenda pa trece mas diversidad den bo network. “Si ta trata di politica, like tur e politiconan y tur partido. Pero tambe si bo tin un amigo of amiga cu tin un opinion diferente na bo, purba wak kico e mes ta post. En general mester evita pa keda den un grupo cu ta laga bo isola cu un perspectiva.”

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Notes on Ethnography as part of a mixed methods research process

This post is a short wrap-up on ponderings on combining ethnography in a more focused form as part of an assemblage of other methods

I’ve been reflecting the last couple of days on what makes ethnography distinctive in practical terms as a method. How does it differ from its other sister methods in their family of qualitative methods. For me the core of what makes ethnography different from other qualitative approaches is that you engage in firsthand research employing yourself (yes yourself!) as the primary research instrument. Your own and direct experiences with the object/phenomenon you are studying becomes the lens through which data is gathered and interpreted. That is why I find ethnography a bit intimidating, as you can imagine, this comes a with a lot of ethical responsibilities (okay all research methods do, but with ethnography you have to be more aware of how you write your subjects into texts).

When thinking about traditional ethnographic texts the first ones that come to mind are monographs in the style of Levi Strauss’ ‘Savage Mind’, or, to name a more contemporary example, ‘Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist takes to the Streets’ by Sudhir Venkatesh. And when thinking about these examples I can’t help by getting a bit intimidated by their ‘thickness’ (Glifford, 1973) in description and the self-assurance that splashes from their writing. The authors are truly ethnographic craftsmen; They sketch the setting with such descriptive intensity and skilled nuance by delving into the complexities of their object of study without fear. They do this in such a sincere way, justifying the interpretation of the data carrying the flow of experience that was caught by their agile senses which were constantly aiming at unobtrusively letting the subjects be, at keeping their voices intact. And all this in a methodological accountable manner: while describing how they as ethnographers systematically and carefully went about the detangling of complexity and how they have arrived at their interpretations.

As a sociologist (with a quantitative upbringing), I’ve been trained to always start with the research questions and let these be your guide when approaching empirical instances. But I have been lingering for the last couple of years too long in the realm of pure data, (data-driven) and have somehow let loose of questions, to purely marvel at what data -in my case social media data- is available. And from here let the data speak, (or scream, sing, cry to me) and listen…and see…and in this intimate interaction with the data, trust the process in which the questions and themes will emerge (organically) in a ‘grounded theory’ kind of way (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Chamaz, 2014). In other words, I have been re-educated and now I can’t even think of a research design whereby I’m not combining the strengths both an quantitative as qualitative research. This is my attempt at shedding some light on how to approach ethnography in a context of combined methods.

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ponderings…


 

So what do I want out of ethnography?

Instead of wanting to address ethnography in its pure (time-consuming) form as a separate method standing on its own as Levi Strauss or Geertz Clifford did-, I just need ethnography as a starting point, as a way of making sense of the data available, for the familiarization with the setting and its particularities. As a researcher I develop a sensitivity for the uniqueness of my data. Resulting from this, is the arrival at a set of ‘sensitizing concepts’ (Blumer, 1954; Charmaz, 2014) that can further act as conceptual points of reference that can help me further combine the right methods with each other in order to continue the (mixed methods) research process.

Even if ethnography is just the starting point, it is an integral part, it has an important responsibility in the total research design and a core job to do: ‘getting real close to the data’ with a sense of openness that is also somehow slightly focused (let’s say: focussed in an open way). This focused part brings me to the first point I think is important, when conducting ethnography in such a way; To clearly state the objectives of why you have decided to conduct an ethnographic study (in such a way), and how this relates to your overall research design: what is its contribution, weight and priority (Creswell, 2003) of this part of the study in relation to the overall mixed methods design (Assuming here that we are talking about a mixed method design)

Articulating the objectives of the ethnographic part of your research process clearly
So even if ethnography is just a starting point, it can be an immensely important one, to a research process that will be also conducted through the different lenses of other methods. In other words, ethnography here is the prelude to your mix methods and contributes to your study of the phenomenon at least in the following important two ways:

in relation to other methods in a research design mix:

  • Its findings (preliminary but still ‘thick’ enough in format) will inform the rationales for the next steps you will take methodologically and help justify the further construction of a particular research design for the whole study. (In my case specific, a mixed methods approach). You consider the data that is available, the challenges and opportunities of this data, in order to strategize and choose from your methodology toolbox (e.g. by combining  ethnography with social network analysis, surveys and content analysis, just to name a few other possibilities methodological wise). The choice for starting with a brief ethnographic description is precisely because the objects/setting/actors (etc.) of study are complex, variable, and contested.

in relation to an emerging conceptual formation

  • In addition to that, conducting a brief ethnographic analysis of the phenomenon under study, helps awaken and further cultivate a theoretical sensitivity you need to further advance the study in a later more conceptually articulated way. With emphasis on sensitivity instead of a premature and harming theoretical contamination before the data had the chance to speak to you loud enough. Here ethnography is kind of your first ‘speed date’, but ‘thick’ and ‘slow’ enough to handle the data afterwards with much more strategic care and love. Or, in the language of Grounded Theory, ethnography as method  is conceptualized here as an ‘open coding’ kind of exercise.

In this sense, the ethnographic prelude as I’m conceptualizing it here matches what Knoblauch (2005) calls focused ethnography, these are:

(…) ethnographies that deliberately chose an approach which can be called focussed. As a peculiar form of ethnography, it is characterized by relatively short­ term field visits (i.e. settings that are “part­ time” rather than permanent). The short duration of field visits is typically compensated for by the intensive use of audiovisual technologies of data collection and data­ analysis. Length (extension) of data ­collection as it is common in conventional ethnographies is substituted for by the intensity of data ­collection. In addition, the lack of intensity of subjective experience in conventional ethnography is compensated for by the large amount of data and the intensity and scrutiny of data analysis. Writing is increasingly complemented by recording, solitary data collection by collective data collection and subsequent data analysis in collective data sessions. Instead of social groups or fields, studies focus on communicative activities, experiences by communication  (2005, p.3)

 

If you think of it, the benefits ethnography brings to the mixed method research design (Creswell, 2003) and mixed methods process are incredibly valuable and unique, it is your powerful ‘slow method’ or the ‘close reading’ swiss knife in your toolbox of methods. Because of this, you could also (in addition to conducting it at the beginning of the research phase or instead of starting with ethnography) close the research process circle with an ethnographic prologue and reflect on your findings with a real reflective ‘close reading’ (to borrow the term from literary criticism) of the data.

Bottom line is, be as precise as possible in articulating the added value -in terms of the focus- it brings to the research process.

 

I’m joining #AcWriMo

This year I’m joining Academic Writing Month, aka #AcWriMo.

November is the writing month!  Academics have their own version of National Novel Writing Month called ‘Academic Writing Month’, better known in the twittersphere as #AcWriMo. The idea was announced here by the academic writing website PhD2Published.

studying#AcWriMo revolves around the following principles:

Formulate a goal. Put time in your calendar (days of november) to work on it. The essence is having a concrete goal you commit to and work towards achieving. This concrete goal is in GTD terms a ‘project’ that you break down into smaller actionable (manageable) pieces (e.g. write 350 words a day, edit or revise a piece you have already written down, write for 2 hours a day, or say 4 pomodoros etc.). It’s important for you to state daily accomplishable goals.

Declare it to the world! There is an accountability factor to #AcWriMo. You are not alone, there is a whole public revolving around the twitter hashtag #AcWriMo. That’s how I came across the phenomenon; on twitter.  In a google doc spreadsheet  you can state your overall goal, plan (strategy) and actual achievement progress. What makes the experience special, is the feeling that you form part of a community. A writing community comes into being thanks to the hashtag/spreadsheet. You are part of a community of academics around the world all working towards a writing goal. On the meta level we are more aware also of the writing process on itself. This accountability factor works for me very well. At work I’m part of a small phd accountability group and you can’t imagine how awesome it is to discuss your progress with others; we support each other. Even if I don’t know the people using the hashtag, or the ones who have written down there names in the spreadsheet -personally-, you can read about their progress, you feel connected to them. This makes the writing process a more humane and social process.

Draft a strategy. Instead of ‘binging’ in order to accomplish a paper deadline and feel ‘fried’ afterwards (I have completed a couple of papers this way) you can spend some time thinking and reflecting in order to come up with a more sustainable writing strategy. It’s more than just planning. It’s also a mental preparation thing, envisioning yourself writing and preparing the physical and media-saturated environment for the cause (cleaning your desk of all distracting stuff or stop checking your Facebook newsfeed). It’s about setting time during the day, during the week, and in the month of November, in order to progressively accomplish your goal. PhD2Published emphasizes the importance of having a strategy as follow:

Don’t start AcWriMo without doing a bit of planning and preparation. Get some reading done, carve out time slots in your schedule to dedicate to writing, even buy your favorite coffee

Keep track of your progress (and talk about it with others!). You will see that writing is a labor of love, the more you invest in it, the better you will become at it. Academic writing on itself is a multifaceted process. it’s about developing writing habits and skills that can help you advance as a writer. This involves: planning, mind-mapping, drafting the structure of the paper, reading and taking notes, writing a specific part, feed-backing, concretizing your arguments, re-writing, (killing darlings) and did I say re-writing?! But also other ‘stuff’ like having more patience, dedication, discipline, a writing routine, structure, taking breaks and celebrating each step of the way. This article on 10 ways  you can write everyday taught me how to start perceiving academic writing in diverse ways than just putting words in a linear way on a blank paper/screen. Doing all this in a crowd is the added-value, it’s like being part of a cool party of writers.

Although November is a busy month for me full of other responsibilities, I will do my utmost in keeping my daily writing goals.

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Becoming: a moleskine full of dreams and anxieties

The story of a ‘creative’ but  stressed-out generation

Recently I’ve seen a documentary that was both confronting as comforting: The Dutch documentary: ‘Alles wat we wilden’ or translated in English: ‘All we ever wanted’ by Sarah Mathilde Domogala. It felt confronting, as I recognized the phenomenon as a member of this particular generation the documentary is all about, and comforting as it gave me the feeling that I’m not alone.

For an impression, watch the trailer below (in Dutch), or watch the entire documentary online here  (hopefully English subtitles will be provided soon as it is a must-see):

The documentary illustrates in an artistic way what I experience as the subtle struggles of  a (my) generation. Artistically the documentary is brilliant, as it captures the colors (beautiful visual editing) and sounds (dreamy soundtrack) of what it feels to come of age (ranging from 25-34 years) during these ‘liquid’ times and negotiate  “who you are” and “what you have/want to become”. Just as the generation itself, free-spirited, beautiful, dreamy and creative, as in the saying ‘the sky is the limit’, so are the lurking and ubiquitous anxieties and sleepless nights.

Documentary "All we ever wanted" read more on: http://www.allweeverwanted.com

The title ‘All we ever wanted’ refers to the notion of growing up in an era where you live out and become your ideal self, you follow your dreams, you ‘make it’. Not only has this been engraved deeply in the collective consciousness of our times, but it is also ‘expected’ of us. The far reaching meritocratic ideals that lurk at night, preventing some from falling asleep. This generation grew up in a household, were  parents provided a daily dose of self-esteem enhancers: “You can do it”, “You can become everything you want to be”. Higher education was (and still is) for the most of us (caution: I’m speaking for myself) not optional, but rather a natural path to take. Prolonged student years of explorations of ideas, friendships, relationships and dreams. A ‘state of the art’ study loan debt, that now has to be proven to the self and society to be ‘worth it’ every penny, as every penny was invested in the trampoline for the reaching of our fragile blossoming dreams. This generation thinks of itself as being ‘free’, and compared to other generations, can be seen indeed as relatively more free. A freedom that comes with a high psychological cost. This psychological cost materializes itself in many forms: as many experience anxieties, panic attacks at night, low self-esteem because of social comparison (comparing oneself to peers that ‘have’ accomplished ‘it’ (whatever that ‘it’ might be)), the fear of failure -one of the many carried irrational fears additional to all the myriad of “what if’s” vocations- the ever-going quest of finding one’s true self, the fear of binding oneself to an ‘ordinary life’, restlessness, mood-swings, hyperactivity, compulsive thinking, irrational sadness, perpetual daydreaming, depression, burn-outs, perfectionism, being freaking hard on oneself and the need of medication to calm all this,  just to name a few of the psychological paralyzing distresses the documentary zooms in. In this sense the documentary contributes to more balance in the array of existing discourses on the new generations and of our contemporary time (late Gen X, Gen Y, MTV Gen, Gen Millenium etc.) where the positive attributes are more highlighted (e.g. greater freedoms, education for all, talents, creative, participative culture, pro-sumers) and other archetypal struggles these new generations face are left in the dark (high rate of depression, insecurities, the feeling of  ‘not fitting in’ etc).  Continue reading

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In the messy yet beautiful universe of data I’m searching for the “question” this time, not the answers

In my “scientific”  journey for a more sharp focus for my research en-devour, I try to be “open” for connections, for the emerging creative inquiry process. The art is now, how to define the edge (boundaries) of the circle of focus. I’m pondering on: how to be interdisciplinary in my approach without diminishing argument integrity?  Looking for a new balance between “solid foundations”  (deductive routine) and what  Feyerabend coins as “scientific anarchy” (my interpretation: new inductive chaos). I’m being pulled back and forth between the overwhelming new opportunities of new media (in this case: the possibility of abundant user-generated data) and the” back to basics” research questions. Tomorrow I will only try inductive reasoning and see where that takes me. It feels as if I have an answer, but I still don’t know what my question was in the first place. Inductive is more intuitive, it embraces complexities, it just feels right, but it is an overwhelming ride.

Paul Feyerabend

A quote I came across this week, when reading Bill Viola‘s essay “Will there be Condominiums” in Data Space?” for #nmfs_f11 (blog here)  keeps echoing in my mind:

Scientists always marvel at nature, at how it seems to be some grand code, with a built-in sense of purpose. Discoveries are made which reveal that more and more things are related, connected. Everything appears to be aware of itself and everything else, all fitting into an interlocking whole.”  (Bill Viola, 1982)

I will for now answer Bill Viola’s question he posed in 1982; “Will there be Condominiums in data space?”  with a No. Condominiums are fragmented, as he himself knew more than anyone else. I feel more for an ocean of data, where fluidity represents connectedness.  But the challenge with the more natural “everything is connected” approach is the question: from which angle do I have to look at this perpetual continuity, and what is enough for this project of mine? Or is “the ocean [indeed] without a shore” as the title goes of one of Viola’s art-projects?

Bill Viola’s “Raft” fits the feeling described here perfectly:

Questions, focus…please, do emerge soon…

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Cultivating Humanity: a Value Re-boot

Now half way the first academic semester, I’m reaching the end of the course I’m teaching on Sociology of Development. Where the concept of development and changing patterns in society are being explored from different angles. We have just started with the part where we creatively think about different futures. Yes, plural! because that is one of the main messages of this course, social change is about the pluralities of futures, we deal with a lot of the “what if’s”…and we have choices, we are agents of change and can choose wisely.

I named one of the themes the course deals with “Cultivating Humanity: a value re-boot”. The title of this particular theme was inspired by Martha Nussbaum‘s notion of  “Cultivating Humanity” and the unique challenges we as human beings face in our contemporary realities.

Martha Nussbaum

 Cultivating humanity: 3 capabilities

Nussbaum herself, a philosopher, delved into what it means to be human during different times in history and focuses on the meaning of humanity and its challenges in the 21st century, she explores the (crucial) role education plays in cultivating “humanity” and in specific the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The roots of the notion of cultivating humanity stems from the stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD). Seneca contemplates the capacities that makes us, according to him, human beings. Cultivating Humanity is seen through Seneca’s eyes as a true civilization project. Both philosophers -the classical Seneca and the more contemporary Nussbaum- explore what the particular role of education is in contributing to the ideal of humanity. In Seneca’s vision liberal education plays a crucial role, it not only helps to cultivate individuals with the capacity of critical self-reflection, but most importantly, with a “sense of belonging” to something larger than ourselves. Nussbaum, from a more humanistic liberalism perspective, weaves further on this notion and translates these “required” capacities in 3 golden capabilities for what is needed to become a true citizen of the world:

  1. Sympathetic imagination/empathy
  2. The Critical examination of one self/reflection
  3. The authentic feeling of belonging to humanity/solidarity.

The following short film entitled “Page 23” was made during The 48 hour Film Project 2011 in Utrecht. The film captured my attention as it radically contrasts Nussbaum’s capabilities for the cultivation of humanity. Page 23 not only refers to a page in the well known catalog of the Swedish IKEA, but illustrates the perpetual hedonistic emptiness of trying to buy life-fulfillment, the consuming of life. Relationships are shallow and individuals are being portrayed here as replaceable, just as products in the catalog.

Continue reading

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Awakening the Digital Imagination: Virtual Worlds #nmfs_f11

After participating successfully this summer in the Digital Methods summer school “Big Data”  in Amsterdam at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) lead by professor Richard Rogers and his wonderful team (a post on the theme and the experience will follow soon), I’m so excited to continue digging the theme of New Media in interesting and innovative ways…

This fall I’m participating in another innovative seminar #nmfs_f11. I was invited by one of the organizers of one of the groups, Liz Dorland from Washington University to participate this fall in the Virtual Worlds New Media Faculty Staff Seminar 2011. This seminar is very special since it not only contributes to the exploration of fundamental themes in new media but we translate the discussions and findings in the context of education: what implications do these developments have on education. I’m loving the readings, the syllabus for this course is The New Media Reader, by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. This collection of timeless essays is very popular and an often used reference work, for it lays the history, developments and applications in the field of new media. Since I live in Aruba, it would be geographically impossible for me to leave the island and my work behind for a whole semester in order to follow the seminar, but my SL avatar nadiagabriela kroll will “teleport” (I’ve always wanted to do what that verb implies) weekly to meetings at the NMFS campus, in the beautiful park Ars Simulacra under the starry sky, sit around a campfire and interact with interesting individuals from different countries on interesting topics. I hope to write more on some of the topics. The first topic I’ve experienced with the group is on Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics and Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis.

The #nmfs_f11 is a networked seminar. The seminar is being held in different groups in the United States. The seminar is the idea of Gardner Campbell who works at Virginia Tech. Our group is special because we meet in Second Life, making it possible for people like me -who live abroad- to participate. Here you can read more on the background and logistics of #nmfs_f11 and especially on our specific group. We also have a blog were participants can post their thoughts on the topics and the questions that emerge from the interactions. All the blogposts, links and tweets from the other groups will be sindicated in a sort of mothership blogroll by professor Campbell.

I’ve missed the first two sessions, but I’m getting on track with the readings of these and I can’t wait for the next meeting. I also look forward for the keynote we will have in SL on october the 10th of Howard Gardner, known for his theories on multiply intelligences.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Liz, for her passion that is contagious, her patience in teaching me some basic skills in SL (I’m kind of a late adopter of SL) and for giving me the chance to experience this great journey where I learn and connect with others. I know Liz from twitter and I follow her interesting curated page on Visualization in Science and Education

I see a lot of opportunities for Aruban students and my colleagues at the University of Aruba in Virtual Worlds. Teleporting is ideal for islands 😀

around the campfire @Ars Simulacra

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Digital Time capsules: Memory cultivation & preservation in the Digital Age (3 apps)

The digital age is like a fast lane, navigating it both as a consumer or as a producer of information can feel like riding the German Autobahn. Timelines are perpetual. We can’t grasp the past that easily, all is in the present-tense, but becomes past so rapid the moment the pieces of information dissappear for instance from your Facebook newsfeed screen.

There exists this massive, humongous,  beyond our wildest imagination archive of  collective human memory stored forever in the internet’s metaphorical brain.  All our activities are stored in theses archives. I imagine my information stored in digital manila folders, with the labels: “Nadia Dresscher”. We constantly leave footprints, like crumbles of bread, that one day can help us reconstruct our human memory. If a comet ever hits Earth and the hard-drives of the digital social infrastructure survives, we can tell the story of human culture just as digital cultural analyst Lev Manovich preaches.  Have you ever searched yourself on Google? And were you astonished with the findings? Did you come across that comment you posted in that specific Manga lover’s Forum in 1999?

Our digital self goes on, it is in a dynamic ongoing state, it doesn’t match your biological rythms. Even when we are sleeping, we have “an extension of ourselves” that is perpetual, as stated by media theorist Marshal McLuhan. When you are counting sheep in your dreams, people are still commenting on your Facebook profile, re-tweeting your tweets, checking you out on LinkedIn (etc!) and expecting something of you…

I won’t go into the public-privacy debate surrounding the data online, nor will I go into the question of data ownership. I just want to focus on how we are actively creating memories online every millisecond of our digital lives right now. We do this consciously, often strategically and even times unconsciously. I know with certainty that I can trace one day when i’m 90 years old, my footsteps back. My grandchildren will search for my information too and reconstruct who I was according to my digital self.  Henri Bergson once reflected on similar issues, he was fascinated by the radical changes in terms of how memories will be retrieved thanks to the invention of photography. By just looking at a photograph of that vacation in Paris, you revive it again. We become easily Prousts of the 21st century ‘In search of the lost time’, this time without smelling the sweet lemony Madelines.

Take a look at 3 applications that can help you start scrap-booking that digital memory lane right now. I came across these, thanks to some FB and Twitter friends (Thanks Zizi, Venessa and Benjamin). These applications use the data you have stored in social media platforms, such as Facebook, to accumulate  your memories (data=memories) and present it to you in an unique form. As a tangible book (Social Memories), in form of a Museum (The Museum of Me) or as a timeline of your activities on diverse social media platforms (Memolane). Continue reading

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How I’m finding back my Mojo

I’m visualizing the summer, and the break that comes with it before me. After some hectic months of teaching, consultation with students on their re-assessment projects and the constantly enlisting of “to-do” check lists of the thousands of activities that I have to get done before my summer starts and a cruel flu that took my body and soul literally over, I can say…

I’m thinking of new beginnings a new way to regenerate positive energies…

Life has been tough the last couple of weeks at the Faculty. Since we are a new faculty only operating for just two years, “changes” are the status quo. You have to be a real flexible dragon in order to survive. Sociologist Zigmunt Bauman‘s coined statement: “living in times of uncertainty” applies to these last two years. Uncertainty teaches you to be flexible and you have to anticipate and leave perfectionism behind and start embracing robust planning & visioning and authentic teamwork.  A wise man once told me that this context values the strategy of Feed-forwarding, rather than the more common “after the facts” feed-backing. Don’t get me wrong feed-back is still one of the greatest tools for learning and working together towards great things. Anyways, to get to the point, operating in a sphere of constant uncertainties has a dark side too, it can generate stress that can have its consequences on everything you do. Stress can sometimes trigger a constant state of fear that can be demotivating and can even paralyze the creative process. It encourages a negative spiral of fear of failure and it sucks you up. You become half the shadow of the woman you really are. Oops, there goes my honest self!

So the questions are: How to not drown in all this work? in all these uncertainties? How to keep your groove shining, or as Austin Power calls it, how to get  your “mojo” back when it slips away (mojo= a slang concept used to describe self-confidence, self-esteem or in the case of Austin his sex-appeal) ? Continue reading

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Goodbye Perfectionism! ‘not perfect’ is the new black (part 3 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 3 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .

After the classes Tito gave at the UA, I asked myself, why is it that I love to write, but sometimes have difficulty posting on my blog. The answer is: the sometimes agonizing believe that ‘it isn’t good enough’ to post yet that scares away all the inspirational creative energy I have. The underlying message is here: everything is good enough. The fear of not being good enough to go public (internet is a public place) paralyzes creation. Tito taught us that participation and trying  new things is better than having everything in a perfect way. For instance, when designing courses with the help of technology, the fear of  not doing it right away, can stop you of trying. I want to refer to my first post in this series of reflection on the course: Transforming education for the 21st century. I wrote that the education system has to be fluid, our minds and hearts have to be fluid, in order to create space for learning. This space will give the process of learning the freedom for it to emerge in its own unique way. Fluidity, self-adaptable, everything is just perfect as it is…

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