Category: New Literacies (page 1 of 14)

Friends don’t let friends use Facebook

Facebook, on the other hand, only offers its users a forum to connect and share information. Facebook’s income derives from selling targeted advertising to be delivered to those same users, based on preferences the site has learned from their comments, friends, and preferences. It has no goods or services to sell, and its users don’t buy anything. Thus, its only product to take to market is, in fact, its users’ data. (source)

I don’t use Facebook. You shouldn’t either.

I scraped the trackers on these sites and I was absolutely dumbfounded. Every time someone likes one of these posts on Facebook or visits one of these websites, the scripts are then following you around the web. And this enables data-mining and influencing companies like Cambridge Analytica to precisely target individuals, to follow them around the web, and to send them highly personalised political messages. (Jonathan Albright, source)

Personalised advertising isn’t useful. It’s invasive, and it’s used to build a profile to manipulate you and your ‘friends’.

Using personality targeting, Facebook posts can attract up to 63 percent more clicks and 1,400 more conversions. (source)

There’s several pretty scary implications to where this could take us by 2020:

  1. Public sentiment as high-frequency trading — algorithms compete to sway the opinions of the electorate / consumers.
  2. Personalized, automated propaganda — not just lies by politicians, but auto-generated lies created by bots who know which of your ‘buttons’ to press.
  3. Ideological filter matrices — what happens when all of the other ‘people’ in your Facebook group are actually bots?

So, not only will I not use Facebook, but (like Dave Winer and John Gruber) I won’t link to it. Nor will I accept organisations that I’m part of setting up Facebook groups ‘for convenience’ or using a Facebook page in lieu of a website.

 Facebook is designed from the ground up as an all-out attack on the open web. (John Gruber)

The web is a huge force for good. We shouldn’t let inertia and a lack of digital skills turn it into a series of walled data mine.

Get a blog. If your ideas have any value put them on the open web. (Dave Winer)

From a business point of view, you’re mad to put all of your eggs in once basket. Get a website. Facebook’s content is, by design, not indexed by search engines. It’s invisible to search engines.

Look, I get that I’m the nut who doesn’t want to use Facebook. I’m not even saying don’t post your stuff to Facebook. But if Facebook is the only place you are posting something, know that you are shutting out people like me for no good reason. Go ahead and post to Facebook, but post it somewhere else, too. Especially if you’re running a business.

[…]

It’s 2017. There are a million ways to get a web site set up inexpensively that you can easily update yourself. Setting up a Facebook page and letting your web site rot, or worse, not even having a web site of your own, is outsourcing your entire online presence. That’s truly insane. It’s a massive risk to your business, and frankly, stupid. (source)

I feel more strongly about Facebook’s threat to the web than I did about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at the turn of the millennium. Scarily, it looks like Twitter might be going the same way. I blame venture capital and invasive advertisnig.

Individual actions build up to movements. Resist. Find alternatives. Don’t be a boiled frog.

Header image based on an original by rodrigo

My ebook, ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ is now pay-what-you-want (including nothing!)

As I promised when first making it available for sale, I’ve steadily reduced the price of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, until it is now effectively zero. I’ve given people the option of paying if they’d like to, but other than adding an email address at checkout, it’s free of charge.

For those not familiar with the origin of this book, it started life as my doctoral thesis, which I then updated and re-wrote in less academic language. People bought into it as I was writing using the OpenBeta process I devised (this was before Leanpub existed!). The earlier people bought into the writing process, the cheaper it was. They got updates all of the way up to version 1.0.

Once it was ready for general consumption, I sold it at full price (£7.99) and then steadily decreased the price around every six months. Although I don’t think it’s ‘dated’, I did have the idea of what George Siemens called the ‘half-life of knowledge’ in his 2006 book Knowing Knowledge. Another reason was that the financial aspect of the book was to motivate me to continue working on it: writing for an already-established audience is a great motivator!

I’ve been delighted that my ebook has been used as a core text in colleges and universities worldwide, including (quite awesomely) the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. University libraries have also ‘stocked’ it, making use of Creative Commons license I released it under.

So, what’s next? I haven’t really decided, really. I was planning to write a book including classroom activities for improving digital literacies but, for whatever reason, my heart wasn’t really in it. I’m still keen on doing work in the new literacies space, but am thinking of what kind of format would help people most. Perhaps a drip-feed email series? A series of webinars? A course? I don’t know. If you’ve got ideas, please do let me know.

All that remains is to thank those (hundreds) of people who believed in me enough to invest in the book before it reached v1.0, for those (500+) people who have bought it since, and for those who have given me feedback since it was published. If you’ve got comments / suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

If you’d like to use the ebook with your students, you might find the accompanying wiki helpful. It includes the hi-res diagrams I used, as well as space to be able to critique the contents with your students. For a great recent example of this in a Masters-level setting, check out this page on the wiki!

‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ is now £1.99!

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m delighted to announce that today, in line with my pricing strategy, I’ve reduced The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies to £1.99. The code gimme10 still works, giving you an extra 10% off!

Around 750 people have now purchased the book, including those that invested while I was writing it through the OpenBeta process I devised.

If you decide to go ahead and buy the book at this price point, be assured I won’t be reducing the book again for another six months.

Open Networked Learning webinar

Update: The recording can be found here.


Tomorrow evening I’m running a webinar as part of Open Networked Learning, an initiative of three Swedish institutions: Lund University, the Karolinka Institute, and Linnaeus University. I’ll be speaking on digital literacies.

The placeholder slide below links to to Slideshare, where I’ll share the full deck once I’ve finished it!

Update: slides now available below! (can’t see them? click here)

Happily, not only is the webinar recorded, but wider participation is positively encouraged. Here’s the details if you want to join in:

  • Date: Tuesday 28th April 2015
  • Time: 5pm UTC (10am Western US / 1pm Eastern US / 6pm UK / 7pm Western Europe)
  • Location: https://connect.sunet.se/onl

Wear your best trousers. 🙂

Towards zero: the pricing strategy for my ebook ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

Today I reduced the price of my ebook The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies from £7.99 to £5.99. The code gimme10 still works, giving you an extra 10% off!

I just wanted to take a moment to explain the pricing strategy for this work. As regular readers will be aware, I took a couple of years to write this ebook, starting it shortly after I graduated from my Ed.D. in 2012. My thesis was the academic starting point, with my aim to make my research more accessible and applicable to educators and other interested parties.

The first version of the book, v0.1, was literally the title and an indicative contents page. Those who bought the book at this stage were taking a bit of a punt – but were rewarded by getting every subsequent update for free after a small initial outlay. Each subsequent version (v0.2, v0.3, etc.) increased in price until v1.0 was released for £7.99. Doing it this way meant I got some great feedback from early adopters and meant I could shape the book to be as useful as possible.

The book is already Creative Commons licensed but, eventually, I want it also to be free. I’m going to reduce it in price until, two years after publication (~June 2016), it will be free of charge. I’ll make these price reductions approximately every six months.

I’m itching to write another ebook and so am considering a companion workbook to complement The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. It would probably take the ‘combination of elements’ approach I started to develop a couple of years ago (see slide 40+ of this presentation). I’d love to know your thoughts on this idea in the comments below. Would it be worthwhile? Is it something in which you’d invest?

A quick update on ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

It’s been three weeks since v1.0 of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies went on sale. 300+ people invested in the book as part of the OpenBeta process and, up to this morning, 121 people have downloaded it via Gumroad (the e-commerce platform).

Last week I met up with former colleague Zak Mensah, now of Bristol Museums at the E-Learning Development on a Shoestring event. He’s quite the ebook guru, and gave me some great tips on how to convert the PDF into ePUB and Kindle formats. I’ll be working on that when I get back from my summer holidays – so from mid-August onwards.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the process of working iteratively and openly on both my thesis (accessed 215,124 times as of this morning) and this ebook. Although important, digital literacies is a bit of a niche subject, so I’m delighted by the interest both have generated.

If you haven’t had a chance to purchase the book yet, the code ‘gimme10’ should still work for a while. Also, I’ve had people contact me about using The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies on a student course, with a MOOC, or with their staff for professional development. If you’re also interested in these kinds of options, do get in touch (mail@nulldougbelshaw.com).

Thanks to everyone who’s invested in the book so far. I very much appreciate your support and feedback – and look forward to seeing the wiki being used increasingly from next academic year onwards!

Announcing the launch of ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesTwo years and ~20,000 words later, I’m delighted to announce that The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies has now reached v1.0!

Over 300 people have already invested in the book as part of the OpenBeta process I devised. Many of them (too numerous to name individually!) have given invaluable feedback on everything from design to spotting typos.

I’ve put together a dedicated website where you can buy the book, read a sample, and visit the emergent wiki.


Take a look: http://digitalliteraci.es


This Sunday I’m running a live session to celebrate the launch. It will include a brief presentation, some fun activities to try out, a Q&A session, and an opportunity to buy the book at a 20% discount.

Date: Sunday 29th June 2014
Time: 8pm BST (what time is that for me?)
URL: http://goo.gl/hJOA7K

Launch preparations for ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

Introduction

Rocket

CC BY Steve Jurvetson

Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on an e-book entitled The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. While charging for the book, I’ve worked in the open as much as possible using the OpenBeta process I came up with back in 2009. In a nutshell, the earlier people buy into the process of the book, the cheaper it is for them. In return, I get feedback.

So far, and with 18 days until the June 27th launch, some 297 people have bought into the book. I’m incredibly grateful for the encouragement, ideas, and copyediting I’ve received from a good proportion of that number.

In this post, I want to outline briefly my plans for what happens at v1.0 launch and afterwards. I’m very much making it up as I go along, so feedback is welcome!

v1.0 launch

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m launching v1.0 of The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies on June 27th, commemorating exactly two years since the my Ed.D. graduation ceremony in Durham Cathedral. My doctoral thesis, started while a classroom teacher and completed while working in Higher Education, was entitled What is digital literacy? A Pragmatic investigation.

To accompany the launch, I’m planning:

‘Nice to have’ for launch, and definitely available at some point this year:

  • Kindle version
  • ePUB version
  • audiobook version

The tricky question of money

As I’ve said before, the main reason I decided to charge for this e-book was not actually financial. I wanted to further test the OpenBeta model but, even more importantly, asking people to buy into the book led to at least three benefits:

  1. I had an existing audience to write for
  2. I established a means of gaining valuable feedback
  3. People (perhaps) value content more when they have to pay for it

The launch price of The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies will be £7.99. Purchasers – new and existing – will get every version that’s available in DRM-free formats. That includes the audiobook when it’s available, read in my sultry northern accent(!)

After launch, I’m going to reduce the price regularly (perhaps every six months) until, on 27th July 2016, it will be free and the e-book released into the Public Domain. Doing this will make it easier to integrate the book and the wiki in a similar way to the example shown by Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.

Finally, on money, it’s worth saying that a proportion of what I’ve made so far – and what I will make – will go to good causes as part of our family’s planned giving.

Conclusion

I’ve very much enjoyed the process of writing The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and nurturing a small community around it. I’m very much looking forward to the reviews from people like you and finding out how people use the e-book as a resource for practical action.

If you’d like to get involved in the launch, you’re very welcome to do so. Version 0.99 of the e-book will be available until June 20th, and ways you can help with the launch are detailed on this wiki page.

Faking Cultural Literacy

Update: CBC were quick in posting the audio and further details to their site. Check it out!

Faking Cultural Literacy - NYTimes.com

Today I was a panellist on the CBC Radio One show The Current. The topic was a recent New York Times article entitled Faking Cultural Literacy:

It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything. We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them. Instead of watching “Mad Men” or the Super Bowl or the Oscars or a presidential debate, you can simply scroll through someone else’s live-tweeting of it, or read the recaps the next day. Our cultural canon is becoming determined by whatever gets the most clicks.

The host was Anna Maria Tremonti and my eloquent co-panelists were Alexandra Samuel (Vision Critical) and Theresa Moritz (University of Toronto).

You should see an embedded player below for the 22 minutes of audio – but, if not, please do click through.

v0.99 of ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ now available! [E-BOOK]

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m delighted to announce that the latest iteration of my e-book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies is now available. This takes us to v0.99! The text is 99% complete, with only a small appendix to write. I also need to work on some design elements.

Those who invested in previous versions have already received their free update, according to the OpenBeta process I devised (or at least they should have done – ping me if not!)

You can invest in v0.99 and then get the update to v1.0 by clicking below:


v1.0 is coming on June 27th!


What’s included in this version?

  • About
  • Preface
  • Contents
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: What’s the problem?
  • Chapter 3: Everything is ambiguous
  • Chapter 4: Why existing models of digital literacy don’t work
  • Chapter 5: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies
  • Chapter 6: Curiosity created the LOLcat
  • Chapter 7: Remix: the heart of digital literacies
  • Chapter 8: Coding and the web
  • Chapter 9: Conclusion
  • Appendix: What to do next

I’d like to thank Liesl Scheepers (South Africa), Vicky Teinaki (New Zealand via Newcastle), and Penny Wheeler (Australia) for their very quick feedback on this iteration. It’s much appreciated.

Got questions? I might have answered them in this post announcing the e-book! Please note: I’m exploring payment options other than Paypal for v1.0.

Book cover background CC BY pranav

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