Posts Tagged ‘digital citizenship’

Fake news: Teaching children the difference between Trump and truth

June 13, 2018


We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

March 22, 2018

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – Data and Society: Points

March 13, 2018

The below original text was the basis for Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd’s March 2018 SXSW Edu keynote,“What Hath We Wrought?” — Ed.
— Read on

A Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders

February 4, 2018

A Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders

Snowflake apologetics 

August 19, 2017

I am starting off this post with a series of disclaimers regarding my blog…

  1. Just as a reminder, this blog is a way for me to think things through, which I do best in writing. I wanted to make my thought processes public but semi-anonymous to have a dialogue with people I know, and to make generally available one person’s struggle in comprehending what’s going on. Despite occasional rhetorical posturing, I do not guarantee that I will agree with anything I say in a year (or month…or week…), and the brunt of the ‘shoulds’ are pointed back at me.
  2. This is especially true when it comes to the question of what can be done about the increasing popularity of certain attitudes, beliefs and courses of action. I’m muddling along wringing my hands about what I should do…I share my thoughts about it here, but don’t really mean to be recommending anything to anybody…except maybe me…
  3. Most importantly, I write with awareness (albeit only a mustard seed’s worth) that I do so from a position of privilege as far as race, religion, sexual orientation and socio-economics are concerned. I readily confess that I have no idea what it is like to be without that privilege, and no idea how clueless I am when it comes to the manifestations of this lack of privilege in different geographic or socially constructed contexts. Those who do know what this is like may see this blog as a curiosity, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be mistaken for suggesting that it contributes to the infinitely more experienced and knowledgeable dialogue that is going on in many other places.

So here’s the post for today.

Two ideas that I had been harbouring separately for a long time suggested themselves to each other this week.


I could go on about this for a long time, but I’ll do my best to get to the point. Being ‘sensitive’ is something I’ve often been criticised for, sometimes explicitly and oftentimes implicitly in cultural norms. As far as the former goes, it’s usually like this: person says something; I am visibly defensive or upset; person is annoyed or hurt at my reaction because that wasn’t their intention, so they tell me that I shouldn’t feel bad or be upset; I then feel guilty, weak and wrong as well as upset.

As for the implicit criticism, that’s woven through the fabric of socially unacceptable behaviours, like crying in public or telling someone that what they said affected you badly. It is best immortalised in the phrase ‘you shouldn’t care what other people think’. My fundamental problem with this (apart from the fact that people who really don’t care what others think are sociopaths) is that I don’t choose how I feel. I can choose whether to dwell on it or not; I can choose (and often do) to put my guard up in situations where I might be vulnerable; I can choose how I react; I can choose whether to write self-pitying blog posts about it. But if there’s a secret to being emotionally numb to certain things by choice, I haven’t found it yet.

I’m going on at length about this because I know some people aren’t as ‘sensitive’ as I am and they just don’t understand. They like a good argument with the rental car company if they’re overcharged, or a hearty Facebook battle, or a communal ribbing with co-workers. It’s these lucky people who wouldn’t think all day about one friend’s comment on a stranger’s tweet.

Which, of course, brings me back to my last post. If I think that anything I make public is going to have the opposite effect to the one I intend, I’m not going to post it. But am I judging this from my knowledge of the mindset that I would like to change (as I think I am) or of how I would react if my opinions were (to put it hypobolically) different? Another unanswerable question.

But the admission that you’re all waiting for is, yes, I’m not only avoiding making a bad situation worse, but I’m also saving myself. This is indeed rather cowardly. How do I know that, along with the alt-righters who are ruing the day I chose Berkeley, there isn’t someone who will be positively influenced by a thoughtful piece about the cultural portent of statues or a timely reminder that if you replaced ‘armed white supremacists with a permit’ with ‘armed ISIS supporters with a permit’ things might be a little different. (Which maybe shows that I’m not very good at this kind of thing anyway.)

Honestly, the answer is that I’m not quite ready for that yet. I’m also not sure if, as an unrecovered snowflake, this is the best way for me to resist. I have some friends who are total Old Testament prophets on social media, some who share vitriolic memes, some who try to handle things more serenely. Me, well, I share this blog to my bubble and do research into building empathy and teaching digital citizenship…


I think we’ve all been aware for quite some time that the (actual) fake news, alternative facts and information previously referred to as ‘lies’ but now freed from their modernist ‘meaningful’ definition in a way that would awake in Jacques Derrida a guilty schadenfreude…is all propaganda. Sometimes propaganda in an Orwellian ‘duckspeak’ kind of way, and sometimes propaganda in its more traditional forms, if insidiously masquerading as something else.

What I’ve always understood about propaganda is that it is emotional. What I hadn’t understood before is that the emotion doesn’t only affect those who believe the propaganda, but also those who reject it. And I’m afraid that I often overlooked the fact that everyone sees propaganda; Jews in Nazi Germany were assaulted by it just as much as any other Germans, and those of Japanese origin in the US were harassed by its racist imagery along with every other American. I can’t begin to fathom the alienation and fear that this kind of government-produced propaganda would create in its victims.

But I’ve just now realised that part of my intense emotional reaction to modern propaganda (although nothing compared to that of the targets of these campaigns, I am sure) is that its emotional reach is indeed to everybody. It presents a ridiculous image as fact, and challenges you to refute it, despite its absurdity. And that produces anger, insecurity, fear, hatred, feelings of powerlessness…

For someone like me, who seems to be susceptible this this kind of &@?!, this is emotional quicksand. But what keeps me getting sucked in is that I know that some people believe it! How can they believe that?! What would make you think that was true?? Here are five reasons that I thought of while trying to get to sleep that this is complete trash!!! (That I won’t post for fear of a DIY propaganda deluge the next day…)

And here it comes again: ‘you shouldn’t care about what other people think’.

Well, maybe not. But if they vote and carry weapons and drive cars, it doesn’t matter if I care or not. And I do care about that.


It makes me feel a little better to link up these two things.

Other than that…still thinking…

Two new(ish) ideas

July 12, 2017

Germs of ideas…could make good PhD theses for someone…

  1. ‘International Forum’ for each university department: all students are invited to (and maybe get credit for) a forum where they can openly discuss how questions, issues and ideas in their discipline are addressed in their own country or culture. This could start out with discussion of how the home country approaches the discipline and higher education generally, and then move on to topics in the discipline. Students would have ownership of the forum, but staff would also be involved to learn from what the students say and contribute their own insights.
  2. Pairing primary and secondary school classes up with other classes around the world: as a very big idea, this would be part of the national curriculum (and countries worldwide would be encouraged to take part by some likely international body). Each school year the class would be paired with a class in a different country, and perhaps be given a general type of interaction as befitted the age of the students; for example, younger students might exchange drawings and photos of their school, home, local shops, etc. while older students could talk about cultural events or explore social norms. It would be hoped that the regularity of the interactions would, over time, help the students to approach each other without judgment or preconception, and thus by the time they got to the harder topics would not need a lot of scaffolding to treat each other respectfully. As much of this interaction would be done online (live video, shared multimedia spaces, blogs, apps, etc.) this would also be an opportunity to develop digital skills and digital literacy, explicitly and implicitly. There are plenty of examples of this type of thing as a one-off, but a sustained approach would be very interesting…

Young people, digital media making and critical digital citizenship

June 14, 2017

Young people, digital media making and critical digital citizenshipD. McGillivray, G. McPherson, J. Jones, and A. McCandlish

Leisure Studies Vol. 35 , Iss. 6,2016

Digital Citizenship + Liberal Arts = Students Empowered for Life | EDUCAUSE

June 7, 2017

Digital Citizenship + Liberal Arts = Students Empowered for Life

Interesting examples of digital citizenship initiatives in liberal arts colleges. Also some links to resources…

Defining and measuring youth digital citizenship

May 28, 2017

This article introduces a survey for digital citizenship in 11-17 year olds. It seems to me a bit more nuanced, and realistic, than some others I’ve seen which just ask yes/no questions about political activism.

They also mention a couple interesting projects:

‘…websites like TakingItGlobal ( provide educators with opportunities to connect with other classrooms around engaging students to help solve global challenges.’

‘…organizations such as the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) ( provide tools for engaging youth in a range of civic learning opportunities.’

Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age

May 18, 2017

Kahne, J. and Bowyer, B. (2017) ‘Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age’, American Educational Research Journal, 54(1), p.3-34.

This article is right along the lines I’ve been thinking about (in the ‘digital citizenship’ strand of my rhyzome). They used social media style, politically polarised items to test respondents’ reactions. Three key findings were

  • Respondents (aged 15-27) reacted (to some degree) according to their personal political beliefs, not the likelihood of the item being true (even when it was clearly false)
  • They were not more likely to answer objectively if they were more knowledgeable about politics.
  • But they were more likely to react objectively if they (reported that they) had had media literacy lessons in school.

The study didn’t ask what the lessons were like, though…so that’s another question.

The bibliography should also be very useful.