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Case Study: Scaffolding Outline

OoS: Google Analytics

  • Activities addressed in my OoS: Collection, Collation, Processing, Reporting
  • GA Data Model: User (Visitor), Session (Visit), Interaction (Hits)
  • Data Model Collections and Reports: Dimensions (“descriptive attribute or characteristic of an object”) and Metrics (“Individual elements of a dimension that can be measured as a sum or ratio”) (Google, 2014).

Theories & Selection Rationale

  • Ecosystem Ecology (Bateson, 1972/1987; Gibson, 1972/1986; Guattari, 1989/2012; Spellman, 2007)
    • Boundaries are difficult to define: Mirrors struggle to define GA boundaries
    • Inter-relatedness to neighboring ecosystems: GA connects and measures incoming & outgoing links
    • Limits analysis to groups of (rather than individual) living and/or nonliving things: GA only reports aggregated behaviors, even though it collects user data
  • Neurobiology (Annenberg Learner, 2013)
    • Demonstrates interconnectedness of various nodes and frameworks: GA data model reports metrics interconnected with dimensions to reflect user behaviors; GA also enables both SPCS account and UR roll-up account
    • Uses hippocampus as server metaphor: Google data center as input/output hub for GA data collation and processing
    • Affirms difference between input and output: GA collects data via data model (input) and reports results via aggregated data tables and visualizations (output)
  • Network Society  (Castells, 2010)
    • Limits analysis to groups rather than individuals: GA only reports aggregated behaviors, even though it collects user data (cf. Ecosystem Ecology, above)
    • Addresses movement of data through the network: GA focuses on movement of data from website server (collection) to Google data centers (collation & processing) to administrative accounts (reporting), although this movement is entirely serial rather than parallel
    • Provides hierarchy of nodes: GA endows administrators with creative, destructive, and manipulative authority in relation to data; other nodes have far less agency
  • Social Network (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987; Scott, 2000; Rainie & Wellman, 2012)
    • Recognizes value of social capital in network growth: GA enables measurement of increased or decreased engagement and provides help to increase engagement (social capital)
    • Reveals rhizomatic (and unpredictable) character of network connections: GA visualizes network connectivity in myriad visualizations, tables, and downloadable files (which can also be visualized)
    • Values growth and sustenance of weaker ties: GA sets up goals that seek to measure and value increased engagement on less-engaging content

Similarities

  • Focus on flattened network
  • Emphasis on rhizomatic rather than hierarchical connections
  • Address difficulties of establishing boundaries
  • Recognize value of grouping in discussing large-scale network systems
  • Focus on nodal groupings rather that individual nodal identities
  • Define network as mediator rather than intermediate (Latour, 2005)

Minding the Gaps

  • Localization: Neurobiology and Network Society affirm the value and influence of local conditions on global networks that Ecosystem Ecology and Social Network either undervalue or do not address.
  • Activity and Flow: Ecosystem Ecology, Neurobiology, and Network Society address movement of data and value across or through the network that Social Network does not directly address.
  • Agency: Social Network and Neurobiology ascribe local agency to nodes that Ecosystem Ecology (focused on instinct) and Network Society (focused on hierarchical relationships among managerial elites) do not accept or address.

My Position as Scholar

These theories align with the following statements of my theories of scholarship and pedagogy:

  • I embrace the flattened, rhizomatic character of the 21st-century classroom as a (possibly the most) valid model for preparing students for the world of the 21st-century networked workplace.
  • I embrace composition as social and situated within a larger global context, and I embrace and value local and global aspects of the composing experience as preparation for both academic scholarship and professional management.
  • I embrace scholarship as collaborative and networked, and revel in the breakthroughs made more likely and/or possible through collaborative, rather than individual, scholarship.
  • I embrace pedagogy as joining with a group of students in a flattened community of learners in which, to the extent possible, hierarchical teacher-student relationships are replaced by flattened learner-learner relationships.
  • I embrace and seek connections between scholarship and utility, between theory and praxis, and between academic and alt-academic pursuits and theorizing.
  • I embrace Yagelski’s (2006) “troublemaking collectivity” as a mantra for the disruptive role of my own and my collaborative scholarship and pedagogy in institutions entrenched in antiquated, outdated theoretical paradigms.
  • I embrace as vital the role of network activity in learning activities.
Satellite image - night

U.S Atlantic Seaboard at Night: May 23, 2011. Original image from NASA Earth Observatory.

My Biases and Background

These theories align with my own biases and background in the following ways:

  • I am now, and have been since 2000, employed in an alt-academic role as a full-time marketing web manager and part-time adjunct professor of liberal arts and scholar of English studies. This role influences the value I place on connections between theory and praxis, between research and application.
  • As former director of a summer residential governor’s school for gifted and talented high school students, I value pedagogical theory and praxis that views standards-based education as little more than a starting point for true academic excellence. This experience influences my preference for network activity in learning activities, especially over standardized assessment tools and products.
  • As a professional writer and marketer, I use academic skills like research and collaborative composing in non-academic settings. This experience influences my preference for collaborative, team-based solutions to professional challenges, including audience research.
  • As a third culture kid who grew up outside of the U.S., I embrace the global nature of communications, commerce, development, employment, and growth. This experience influences my desire to place local activities and culture within global networks.
  • As a web developer, I value and prefer platform- and system-agnostic open-source software solutions over commercial, and especially proprietary, software solutions. This influences my desire to flatten hierarchical structures, especially of proprietary commercial interests, in favor of open-source and open-access models wherever feasible.
  • I am a social media marketer. As a result, I value social networks beyond their community-building application; I value them for monetization via targeted advertising. My role as a social media marketer influences my willingness to find value in globally-accessible (but not open-access or open-source) products like Google Analytics while pushing for greater openness and access to these social networking products (see the troublemaking collectivity statement, above).
  • I measure web visit data, and my job as web manager exists because I can demonstrate value through higher visit rates, greater visibility across networks, and ultimately higher admissions and enrollment figures. In a professional and continuing studies unit, the value of individual admissions and enrollments is taken very seriously. This experience forces me to work with Google Analytics, which directly influenced by choice of Google Analytics as my object of study. I enter this study with an eye towards providing my team and my administration critical theoretical approaches to data measurement that result in better, clearer communication with prospective and current students.

References

Annenberg Learner. (2013). Neurobiology. Rediscovering biology: Molecular to global perspectives [Online textbook]. Retrieved from http://www.learner.org/courses/biology/units/neuro/index.html

Bateson, G. (1987). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc. Originally published in 1972

Castells, M. (2010). The rise of the network society [2nd edition with a new preface]. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.) Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. (Original work published 1980)

Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Originally published in 1979

Google. (2014). Dimensions and metrics. Google Analytics Help. Retrieved from https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033861?hl=en

Guattari, F. (2012). The three ecologies. Trans. Ian Pindar & Paul Sutton. London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group. Originally published in 1989

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies

Rainie, L., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked: The new social operating system. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Scott, J. (2000). Social network analysis: A handbook (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Spellman, F. R. (2007). Ecology for nonecologists. Lanham, MD: Government Institutes, 3-23; 61-84.

Yagelski, R. P. (2006). English education. In B. McComiskey (Ed.), English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s) (pp. 275-319). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

[ Feature image: Bamboo Scaffolding, Cambodia. CC licensed image from Flickr user Lorna ]

Re-proposing my Oos

 In my original proposal on Snapchat. I stated that I was interested in  Snapchat because it “encourages users to connect between 1 and 10 seconds at a time” instead of creating profiles akin to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I wanted to explore: What impact does this have on the concept of social networking? What does […]

Proposal: Object of Study

mzl.worsuyet My object of study for the course is SnapChat. SnapChat is a photo messaging application that allows users to take/record pictures and videos with texts and drawings. The users are able to set the time limit, controlling how long the recipients will be able to see the image. The time limits range from 1 to 10 seconds. Once this time lapses, the recipient will no longer be able to access the images. According to the SnapChat website, once the time lapses the recipient will be unable to access the image and it will be deleted from the Snap Chat’s server.

The design of SnapChat itself is simple. Once the application is open the users camera is activated. The user sees a screen with a large circle, outlined in white at the bottom center of the screen. The user can snap a photo by pressing this circle. The user has the option to hold the circle and record up to 10 seconds of video. To the right of the circle the user has a menu button, which lead to the “My Friends” list. To the left of the circle, the user is able to access a log of sent and received “snaps.” Once a “snap” is taken, the user can add a indexlayer of text by touching the image and typing a message. The user also has the option of selecting a pencil icon, choosing from a list of colors, and drawing on the image. After the user has taken the “snap” added text and/or drawing, the user can select the amount of time the recipient will have to view the image. Finally, the user hits a small arrow, shaped like a paper plane, to send the snap. Once this is selected, the user can decide who will receive the snap. The snap can be sent to as many individuals as desired.

I am interested in examining SnapChat as a network because, currently, the most popular concept of network right now is a social network. Social Networks like MySpace, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are all networks that focused on the creation of profiles, sharing, and making lasting connections. What is interesting about SnapChat is that it encourages users to connect with their social network, but between 1 and 10 seconds at a time. SnapChat is interesting as it allows users to make connections with existing friends, but also open themselves up to send and receive chats from people unknown. An interesting aspect of Snap Chat, according to Liz Gannes in “Fast-Growing Photo-Messaging App Snapchat Launches on Android, a significant number of SnapChats are sent to groups instead of individuals. What impact does this have on the concept of social networking? What does this new, ephemeral form of communication mean for social networking and mediated communication?  These are the types of questions, I am interested in exploring in regards to Snap Chat.

Snap Chat is useful to English Studies because it offers a glimpse into rhetoric of messaging, networks, and the study of time/space in communication. SnapChat offers an exploration of kairos and spontaneity, privacy concerns, ephemeral nature of social media, and the role of body in communication.


Object of Study, MMO Guilds as Networks

Could World of Warcraft Survive Without Guilds? from Clever Musings

Could World of Warcraft Survive Without Guilds? from Clever Musings

Guild Wars 2 Poster from Love of the Gamer (LFG) Dating

Guild Wars 2 Poster from Love of the Gamer (LFG) Dating

For the Theories of Networks course, my proposed object of study is the guild system in Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, such as in World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. Guilds essentially allow players to form small to large groups, with smaller questing and dungeon parties being formed either on a need-basis or more permanently. Unlike more traditional Role Playing Games (RPGs) on video game consoles where a player usually ventures into the virtual world alone as a single character (like Assassin’s Creed) or as a group of controllable companions (like Final Fantasy games), MMOs create environments that encourage player-player interaction within the game as certain activities like raids and dungeon boss battles are easier to navigate when players take on different roles (the healer, the tank who draws enemy attention, and the character classes that do damage-per-second are some of these roles) in order to enhance the effectiveness of the group. Guilds are not only for questing and raiding, but are also ways for new players to be mentored by veteran players and come with a number of perks and opportunities that a lone player would not have access to, such as item trading. Though MMOs do have an underlying storyline driving the game world and creating overarching goals for players, it is the interaction between players that comes to embody the bulk of their experiences within the games, transforming individual gameplay from a solitary experience to one with a seemingly infinite number of connections. One of the biggest draws of guilds is the communication nexus that exists between members, as players find not only companions within the game worlds, but also connections outside of the games, through general discussion forums on official game websites, guild forums, in-game channel chats, social media like Facebook, and personal emails and phone calls.

Though MMOs and their player-centric guild networks lie outside of the realm of traditional English studies, I think they are useful for the discipline for two reasons: 1) the collaborative and mentoring environments established by guild members could help create cohesion among students in academic courses, and 2) the way guild members build narratives with and against one another over the course of the games could allow scholars to look more closely at how people, consciously or unconsciously, apply narrative elements when working together to enrich the overall experience for (almost) all of those involved.

In regards to the guild-style interactions being applied in gamified as well as in traditional academic courses, guild members become the framework or nodes of the network, with certain veteran players taking officer-style positions within the group, creating a fluid hierarchy. Each player who is invested then becomes a link to other players, taking on battle and questing roles and keeping in communication within their parties. The mentoring aspect of the guild network is also interesting in that players voluntarily form relationships that benefit new and more experienced players, creating connections to pass on knowledge, tips, and items like healing poultices, weapons, and armor so that the guild as a whole improves. Undergraduate students could benefit from this two-way connection that guild members can be very good at creating and maintaining, as the mentoring between not just teacher-student but also student-student could go a long way in building a more cohesive learning environment.

With the narrative aspect, guild members build upon the games’ overarching storylines and create a space for their own characters and guilds through interactions and activities, such as the creation of individual origin stories explaining how each character came to be part of the group, and completion of major and minor quests, which links the players further together because of mutual experiences. What happens in the games does not exist as a discourse only in the game; those players tend to communicate with one another in other channels outside of the official game space, making their experiences part of the connections that bind them together. Often, in-game companions become friends out-of-game, creating real world links that enrich player interactions because the players are no longer strangers but comrades. Their networked narratives, crafted by both in-game experience and more personal communications, happen in real-time as, together, they achieve game- and guild-driven goals.

Guilder Leaders Handbook by Scott F. Andrews

Guilder Leader’s Handbook by Scott F. Andrews