Browsing the archives for the Blogging tag

Hackademic Guide to Networking: Share and Share Well
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 SHARE AND SHARE WELL. Be good at sharing useful content via the social media platforms you choose to use. This may sound obvious but it’s easily forgotten and it ties in with our tip about being a good listener. Don’t take to Facebook or Twitter just to announce the paper you published. You want people interested in you and to friend/follow you if they value you as a useful source of information. So find out what’s going on in your academic world and pass it on. A great tool that can help you with keeping a steady flow of interesting information flowing through your social media accounts is Buffer. Buffer allows you to quickly select meaningful content from around the web and queue it up to be published at selected intervals — even when you’re away from you computer. This means that if you have very limited time to catch up with your accounts, you’ll still come across as an active user. Another useful tool can be IFTTT. IFTTT allows you to automate lots of content gathering/sharing. There are some people who use it to automatically tweet content selected by a Google or Talk Walker alert for a particular subject area. But ultimately this will make your Twitter account seem like a bot and you’ll frustrate followers who want to hear from YOU! Far better to use it as a way of making sure your blog posts automatically get tweeted, or to allow the same piece of content to be shared across all social media platforms at once, or even to retweet content from your favourite blogs. In short, automation can be good but only when it’s set up carefully and deliberately.

 

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Be Easy To Schedule a Meeting With
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

ALWAYS BE THE EASIEST PERSON TO SCHEDULE A MEETING WITH. Certainly, there is a benefit to seeming like your time is in demand; however, the hassle of scheduling a meeting is a bear you shouldn’t let loose upon a new collaborator. Even if your schedule feels incredibly full, we recommend trying to offer as many possible times for a meeting. And, when in doubt, offer to meet somewhere that’s convenient for your colleague. In brief, fighting for the front seat of the car is not a game you should figuratively play with a potential collaborator. We both think of our schedule like a Rubik’s Cube, something constantly shifting as we move through the week to accommodate the various relationships we’re trying to develop.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Hone Your Elevator Pitch
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 

HONE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH. Learn how to describe what’s very broadly at stake in your work. This can take years of practice to get good at — and it’s especially hard to do straight after completing your PhD — but we don’t have years (we usually need to hone a pitch before the PhD is even finished), so here’s a cheat. Imagine you have to convey the life or death importance of your work (and that your life actually does depend on getting the message across). What would you say? Instead of being lost in the intricacies and jargon of your field, you have to tell someone — anyone — just why your work matters. This sort of thing is often described as an ‘elevator pitch’, a short teaser you could recite to the most important person within or outside your field in a short elevator trip.

 

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Have a Privacy Policy
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 

HAVE A PRIVACY POLICY. Being an academic often means doing public work. Even if you see yourself as more of an introvert, research is about sharing and opening up dialogues in the classroom and beyond. Social media intensifies this so it’s worth working out how to approach social media platforms in advance and maybe devising a clear policy for yourself. For example, a Facebook post about LOLcats or a casual comment on Twitter about a heavy weekend’s drinking might not be things you want to add to your professional persona. Whether you have friended colleagues on Facebook or not, even with privacy controls, you can never guarantee these things won’t come to light elsewhere. With that in mind, you might like to consider firstly which platforms you are likely to use to communicate with colleagues and peers and which are for close friends only and second, lock down the privacy on the ones you want to be personal. Then decide what you are happy to talk about in public. Savvy social media users appear to be very open and friendly but are often extremely careful about what they do and don’t share. It might be useful to brainstorm a policy for yourself on paper, which you can keep handy to periodically remind yourself what you’re comfortable with.

 

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Don’t be a Stalker
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

DON’T BE A STALKER. While social media networks encourage us to watch each other and to jump into conversation with complete strangers, there are ethical limits. It’s important to learn the conventions of a professional space (whether physical or virtual) before engaging too rampantly in that space. It is not okay, for example, to use Twitter to follow one single person (and only that person) while using it for nothing else. That’s just creepy. It is also not okay to keep pushing people to engage with you. If someone is not responding, you need to respect their boundaries and/or how busy they are. Finally, social media channels are all about sharing, so make sure that you are contributing to your network, as much as (if not more than) they are contributing to you. If someone sends a message to you asking for help or for your thoughts on something, return the favor.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Stalk Yourself
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

STALK YOURSELF. Or rather, Google yourself. It’s a really useful exercise and will help you begin to think about ways to hone what Jesse calls your “Googlesume.” Know that potential employers, editors, and students are Googling your name, so what shows up is a part of your identity whether you’re aware of it or not. Buying your domain and creating professional profiles on social media are the best ways to harness what shows up in a Google search for your name but so too are making sure substantial work is well linked-to. In brief, when you google yourself, think carefully about what you see and the message it is conveying about you. You’ll be surprised about how much of what you see, you actually have direct control over.

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Crossing Disciplines – From Fashion Undergrad to Geography PhD by Emma Waight
Posted by Linda Levitt

Bronze_bowl_pink_flowersEmma Waight (@EmsWaight) is a third year PhD student in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She blogs at emmawaight.co.uk.

If there’s one thing I do a lot of, it’s write. Everything from my diary (which only I read), to my PhD thesis (which if I’m lucky three people will read) to my blog (which is open to all). I’ve always rather enjoyed writing; a helpful quality in a social scientist.

I haven’t always wanted to be a social scientist though. Growing up, I was dedicated to a career in fashion and planned my subject choices and work experience around being a fashion journalist. In my sixth form leaver’s book my English teacher wrote that he looked forward to seeing me as a future editor of Vogue. Now my main ambition is to publish a social theory text on consumption or material culture. Sometimes people find it difficult to comprehend the path I’ve taken to date, but actually, is a fashion journalist all that different to a scholar of material culture?

I recently attended a career and leadership development course and completed a MBTI psychometric questionnaire. The report suited me perfectly (apparently I come across as mysterious, which I like, so I won’t spoil it by saying which type I was) and matched me up to jobs such as writer, sociologist, teacher, artist, counsellor. I’m a conceptual thinker, creative and value driven. Being a fashion journalist would have suited the creative part, but perhaps didn’t fit with my values. This is clearly the case, as I directed my undergraduate dissertation to ethical fashion, followed by an MPhil on the same topic, leading to a PhD on consumption and its social role. I am very fortunate to have had the space to explore this; I doubt fashion could have ever fulfilled my inquisitive nature and desire to make a difference.

So now I’m able to do the two main things that I enjoy—I’m writing up my PhD in human geography and planning an academic career in the social sciences, whilst I continue to blog about ethical fashion for my own blog and others. Both roles stem from a desire to investigate the wider world, to find out about stuff that interests me. Both involve desk-based research as well as getting into the field for interviews and observation. Both involve writing up that research in order to communicate on a broader platform. And both allow others to engage with my ideas, provide feedback and become part of a wider conversation. Clearly, there are huge differences too and I’m sure many academics would be livid to hear me comparing academia to journalism, but I do believe many of the processes are the same.

Starting a PhD in human geography was a steep learning curve, simply due to the change in subject matter, not in the way I approached writing. Yes, I had to learn some new lingo but now I’m nearing the end of my PhD, I can see that an interdisciplinary background has helped rather than hindered in the long term. It allows me to draw on a broad range of literature, using them as I see fit to build up my argument. One thing I did struggle with at the start was the use of first person. I had been trained before to take a more report-like, business style approach to writing which becomes difficult when you need to discuss and highlight reflexivity as a researcher. My cultural/social geography PhD research draws strongly on ethnographic techniques; hence I had to learn to adopt a narrative approach to my writing and not be afraid to situate myself within my topic.

The fact that I was blogging in a fashion role before my PhD meant that blogging about academia was a natural progression. Not only do I write about PhD life for our departmental postgrad blog, but I also use my academic work as a basis for popular writing on consumption and shopping issues. I’ve found a happy medium where I can have two interlinked elements of my life, and both feed into each other. I hope in the long term my broad networks will lead to interesting collaborations both inside and outside of academia, and mean that my research has a use outside the ivory towers (which is happening more and more across academia anyway). Sometimes I still feel like I have a lot of catching up to do in the social sciences, but no academic knows everything and I intend to make the most of my interdisciplinary background as a strength rather than a weakness.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Be a Good Hackademic
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 BE A GOOD HACKADEMIC. Hackademia is all about honing your academic skills. It’s about thinking holistically about what it takes to be a good professional academic — which doesn’t end with simply being really quite clever. In our other tips we’ve helped you think about things like how to focus, collaborate, and critique your own work, but we produced these tips by being good at something else: researching and reflecting on our own methods. Therefore being a good hackademic means taking time out to regularly research everything from how you grade your students papers to whether papers are the best form of assessment and even what impact the tools you and your students use to write and grade papers might have on their learning. It means scouring professional development outlets like the Chronicle and Hybrid Pedagogy for debates on grading, or whatever other topic is keeping you up at night. It means keeping abreast of all the new tools out there you can deploy to grade and teach and research. And most of all it means sharing this information: good hackademics conduct their own professional development programmes and make them public!

 

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Get a Mentor
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

GET A MENTOR. In some universities you might be lucky enough to be assigned a mentor and this may already be working well for you. Perhaps your PhD supervisor is still in the picture. Either way, it’s always worth trying to establish further relationships that will support your career growth. Try to identify someone in your field who you admire. Don’t start by approaching the biggest name in your field, because they probably won’t have time. Look instead for someone a few rungs higher up the career ladder and who you would like to be in regular contact with. Approach them by making it clear how the informal mentoring might operate — for example, you might agree to Skype for half an hour once a month. They’re likely to be really flattered you’ve asked and if you both set out some sort of schedule from the start, then neither of you need worry about taking up too much of their time. You might even decide to collaborate on a project together further down the line. Help lighten your mentor’s workload by providing a few questions/prompts in advance of your meetings. For example you might ask them about the major turning points in their career and invite them to help you reverse engineer the steps involved. Always be ready to help them in return. And as soon as you are ready, take on some mentees of your own!

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Buy a Domain Name
Posted by Linda Levitt
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

BUY A DOMAIN NAME. This is relatively simple. If you don’t own your own domain, buy it now. You don’t necessarily even need server space or a website to put up. In lieu of anything more elaborate, simply forward your domain to your work profile or Academia.edu page. Eventually you might build a blog or substantial website and use the domain for that. The point is to start laying claim to your online identity. You’ll be glad you did as your career grows, because you’ll have an easy-to-find web presence with some history that will help your work show up in google searches.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Be a Good Blogger
Posted by Charlotte Frost
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

BE A GOOD BLOGGER. Blogging is a genre and so it has certain conventions. On the other hand, while we’re full of tips, we’re also both fans of experimentation. Here are some suggestions on how to get started with blogging, but these are only a jumping off point, from which you should carve your own path:

  1. Make it as easy as possible to post to your blog. Many blogging sites allow you to email your content and add an image as an attachment. Or there are sharing widgets you can add to your desktop or smartphone so you can add content at the click of a button. This means you don’t have to login anywhere to write full blog posts. It also means you can recycle content. For example the usual email announcement about your upcoming talk can be speedily repurposed into a blog post.
  2. Help readers share your content. Most people can copy and paste a link from your blog post to their Facebook wall, but if you’ve added some sharing buttons (which can be done in seconds using a WordPress plugin) then you make it even easier. Likewise, consider setting up a ‘recipe’ tool like IFTTT so that when you upload a blog post you automatically post it to your own Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.

  3. If it’s too big a commitment to blog alone, set up a group blog with some friends/colleagues. This can be an even better idea than blogging alone because you’ll bring more readers to your site with the increase in volume and variety of content. It’ll keep the blog fresh and full of interest and take the pressure off each of you to be highly productive.

  4. Schedule staggered content. If you’ve got four big things planned in a month, write four posts and schedule them weekly. This will stop you ever having to even think about apologising for not posting. Likewise, if you’re suddenly feeling prolific, by all means write a whole bunch of posts, but spread out their publication. You might also bank a few posts in advance for quiet times.

  5. Plan ahead. Aim to feed your blog with varied content by keeping an eye out – in advance – for what that content is going to be and by taking advantage of every opportunity. For example, if you know you’re going to a conference, why not arrange to interview someone or report on a particular paper or session?

  6. Comment. Take time to read other people’s blogs and add your own comments to their posts. This will help you get a better idea of what other people are blogging about (and how) as well as directing them and their audience back to your own blog.

  7. Have a piece of stock content as your fall-back. It could even be light-hearted. Why not post a relevant video every Friday, or ask another academic the same set of questions every Wednesday? The goal is consistency, and what might otherwise feel like “filler” can actually help create bridges from one substantive post to the next. And sometimes its the stock content that draws in the bigger crowd, meaning more people will eventually discover the meat of your research.

  8. Other bits of regular content can include: book reviews; summaries for newcomers to the field; posts about your latest paper presentation, guest lecture, or journal article; profiles of your students and their work; and championing of contingent colleagues that might not otherwise have time to write about their own work.

  9. Recycle and reshare. As your blog grows popular pieces of content will become less visible. Periodically review your content and re-share (through Facebook and Twitter et al) good posts over a period of time. You might consider writing a new post that updates or expands on the older one (but definitely visibly links to it). Also, when reviewing your past content, notice which posts are thematically connected and take a second to add links back and forth between each post. Again this will make burried material more findable to new visitors.

  10. Look at your stats. Google Analytics will tell you how many people are visiting your website/blog and from where. Initially this might just be a nice ego boost and a way of forcing yourself to continue blogging when you feel stressed and over-stretched but eventually this is the type of data that can be used on grant applications and even CVs.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Set Up a Blog
Posted by Charlotte Frost
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

SET UP A BLOG. Having a blog or a website as a platform for your career is a really good idea. So often these days people will just plug your name into Google and work with whatever results come up. Having your own site allows you to have more control in how you’re perceived. It’s great for job-hunting as it can be your online dossier and you can also use your blog when you teach to communicate with students and share course materials. With a blog as part of your site, you can regularly broadcast what you’re doing, including posting abstracts for conferences and papers or sharing notes for lectures you’re giving. It’s also a really good way to reflectively share the work of your peers and work out ideas for forthcoming publications.

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Collaborative and Public Writing Techniques for Google Docs by Charlotte Frost and Jesse Stommel
Posted by Angson Chow

Charlotte Frost and Jesse Stommel met (as they often do) in a Google Doc to do some writing. This time, however, they invited a group of people to join them, and they demonstrated how and why they write together in Google Docs. In the blog post below, you can read the text they generated, but the original Google Doc they used can also be viewed as can the video of them writing together (which we’ve included below). If you have any further questions ask away in the comments section of this post.

My name is Charlotte Frost and I am a Visiting Assistant Professor here at SCM in Hong Kong. I run lots of projects looking at writing in an academic context including PhD2Published and AcWriMo. My other work is focused on digital and new media arts and the history of net art (the latter of which was the subject for my thesis). Jesse and I regularly work in Google Docs together on all manner of things because apart from anything else its fun.

My name is Jesse Stommel and I’m a teacher and researcher working in the US. I teach Digital Humanities and Digital Literacies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m also the Director of Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. I’ve been working closely with Charlotte for quite a while, and we have begun to inhabit each other’s writing in such a way that we often finish each other’s sentences.

In this session we’re going to:

  • Use a Google Doc to show how we work together and discuss what works for us
  • Describe and give examples of public writing.
  • Show which parts of a Google Doc we use for what.
  • Address some of the difficulties we encounter as we work in this way.
  • Demo all of this in a meta-sort of way, so you can watch it unfold before your very eyes.
  • (And hopefully film this demo so you have something to look at and refer to afterward)

Why Write Collaboratively?

Accountability: Writing together is a huge procrastination crusher. There’s safety in numbers and it makes it much less daunting to look at a blank screen with someone else there – you are NOT alone! (cause someone else is right there with you, prodding your sentences into life!)

Camaraderie: Having someone to talk to and write with and even ask questions about all sorts of things helps (especially questions about writing and academia of course!). It can make it easier to get started (see above) and make the whole process a lot more enjoyable.

Instant Proof-reading and Peer-review: Your partner can read for sense AND mistakes – if they don’t get it, others won’t either. But also, let them find your mistakes and save your blushes later on.

Less Work: If you work on something like this together in a Google Doc (whether it’s a blog post, article, outline, etc.) you halve the work. And, if you’re working with someone like Charlotte [says Jesse] it’s even less than half, because she’s very very prolific.

Progression: It will move your thinking and writing forward AND fast. There’s a difference between ‘thinking writing’ and ‘doing writing’ the former helps you work something out, the latter helps you show what you’ve worked out. A collaborative document can be used for either, but if nothing else, use it for ‘thinking writing’. It’s a sandbox for making sense of something of something.

Why not? Learning is social and doing this kind of work with collaborators helps improve your work and your partners. Writing does not have to be solitary. Sure, some writing prefers to live alone, but sometimes writing wants to live right alongside its readers.

 

How to Write Collaboratively?

(there’s lots of stuff to consider as you get started, but sometimes the best thing to do is just start putting words on the screen and work the details out as you go). Here are some strategies we’ve found work well:

Time and Place:

Set up a Google Doc and a specific time to meet – as well as the duration of your meeting.

Your work can continue asynchronously outside the scheduled time (especially if you’re working in different time zones) but writing together at the same time is key – so try to do that regularly.

But perhaps only do it for an hour at a time, it’s a tiring practice if you’re working very collaboratively.

Permissions:

Establish the ‘permissions’ you’ll set for the document, who can edit, who can comment, who can read, etc.

Decide whether you want your document open to the web.

If you’re inviting more people to work with you, make sure that you make them ‘editors’.

[currently this document is set up to only allow folks aside from Jesse and Charlotte to view the document -- or participate in the chat -- though we often open up our documents to a wider group of editors at some point during our process.]

The Google Doc Spreadsheet for AcWriMo for example is public and open to anyone to write on.

Types of Writing:

As well as writing your main body of text you’ll also be:

Using the chatbox for live discussion about all things writerly/academia and to arrange what you’ll achieve in your joint writing sessions.

Using the ‘comment’ function to select parts of the document to provide targeted feedback.

Navigation:

Decide how to navigate the various writing spaces together.

We meet in the chat box to get started and to arrange what we’ll do during a writing session, and we’ll often pop back into the chat box when we need to confer about our process.

We’ll also use the chat box as a space for dividing up what each of us will do during a writing session.

Sometimes, we will write in different colors just for fun to distinguish our voices. But we usually take that out as we polish the document.

 

Other examples of how you can use a Google Doc to work publicly and collaboratively:

Writing Buddy:

Partner with one other person and both use the same GoogleDoc to each work on a different project but so that your progress is witnessed and/or so you can get someone else to periodically review your work and comment on it, etc. (There are anxieties associated with writing in public in this way, so doing this work helps build trust.) Sometimes, Charlotte will work at the bottom of a Google Doc while I work at the top. This gives us some amount of privacy but the ability to “call each other” into our section of the document.

Public Peer-Review:

Write in a Google Doc and make it public for viewing and reviewing (you might allow people to comment but not rewrite the text itself). Offering up a piece of work to a specific group in this way is a great technique for obtaining instant peer review.

Example: Arts Future Book is one of Charlotte’s research projects and in this instance she wrote a paper and left it open to public peer-reviewing (using a blog rather than Google Docs though)

Sandbox:

Use one Google Doc for a large group as a sort of central repository for content.

You can brainstorm in the same doc and share ideas. and shape it up into something later. An Extreme example: of this is DigiWriMo Novel in a Day (which had about 100 people working in one Google Doc.)


Collaborate:

Write collaboratively with one or more people. Take turns to draft sections of the doc (perhaps its an article you’re writing together) and use the comments to discuss each other’s sections and how to combine them better.

Take turns to draft sections but then work on the same paragraph at the same time to review, comment AND edit.

Example: A document that started with 4 authors, evolved to 12, and the rest of the web to contribute to the creation of a Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age:

What Difficulties Do We Encounter When We Write Collaboratively?

Stage Fright: It will expose how many times you change a sentence before you finish it (or how many typos you make ;-) Charlotte likes to make typos, as do I. Luckily, we both find typos immensely charming.

Solution: If you see the other person writing at the speed of light you can lose your train of thought. Just carry on in your own way at your own pace until you feel comfortable. One of the most important things you can lean is that we all write differently and we have to find our own practice for ourselves.

Disagreements: It’s easy to get attached to your writing and hard sometimes to let someone else into your process. Occasionally, you will find yourself unable to share a common voice.

Solution: Decide in advance how you’ll resolve your writing issues with your writing partner. Agree to Skype, meet, or just agree to differ on what ever the issue is. Sometimes, you might decide that you want to write certain sections of a document independently, while continuing to collaborate on others.

Technical Problems: Technology can be temperamental. Occasionally, the gods of technology just don’t rule in our favor.

Solution: If you lose more than 15 mins to lost connections/Google Docs not refreshing it might best to just give up and work alone or on something else. But work out the next time you CAN meet and stick to it.

Ownership: Who owns this document? Who gets to decide its boundaries? When we work together in this way, who is the “author” of a document like this?

Solution: While we have both clearly been co-composing this particular example, what if one of us were writing and the other were primarily editing and offering feedback? If you set out to work on something together, even if one of your writes more of it, we think it’s probably best to just agree from the start that the work will be collaborative. This kind of work can’t be quantified in a cut and dry fashion. The production of one word is sometimes more difficult than the production of 10. Actual writing isn’t the only thing you bring to the table when you collaborate and we find that the balance of the work evens out in the end.

Looking for some more tips for working with Google Docs?

 This Google Doc workshop was offered as part of the Improving Your Academic Writing workshop series Charlotte gave at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong as part of AcWriMo 2013.

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OMFG! I just got re-tweeted by Justin Beeber!?!?! Social Media Academia by Ben
Posted by Charlotte Frost
Image from Mochimochiland.com

Image from Mochimochiland.com

This blog post by Ben (author of the Literature HQ blog) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

Today’s celebrities are more accessible than ever before. It’s not uncommon for me to see my friends gushing after being mentioned by a minor (or sometimes major) celebrity on Twitter. While this may seem trivial, for me it’s amazing. I think it represents the shrinking of oceans between us and people who we thought were totally inaccessible. This includes vacuous celebrities, but more importantly, it also includes the greatest minds of the 21st Century. This incredibly powerful phenomenon has become the new focus of my growing blog.

So where did it all begin? Well, I suppose my site is first and foremost an experiment. Now I have some idea of how I want it to progress but at the start I certainly didn’t. I just wanted to make a “complete” resource for people doing an academic literature review. By complete I mean that I didn’t just stop half way through but made it into something that someone could ultimately use to succeed with their own project.

Based on my early goal and the vision that I had the site has far surpassed my initial expectations. However, as the site has grown so have my ideas hopes for the future of the project. It has been a great vehicle for me to experiment and learn about communicating useful information through digital media such as Twitter, You Tube and Webinars.

Initially it was just me rattling around on the blog, not much of a community or input from others. Now I think that the community and the other contributors are the most important part. Perhaps the most influential section of the blog is a podcast that I use to talk to experts from all different academic fields to try and help my readers/listeners with their literature review. This was popular when it first started but I’ve recently been hosting the podcasts live with input from the audience which has been a huge success. I think it highlights the changing tide of media in general. It is no longer acceptable to just preach to crowds from a pulpit. Our audiences expect to be engaged by the people who are providing them with information.

Is this novel? Am I feral, hybrid and outstitutional? When Charlotte asked me this I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve never really thought about it before but yes, this is how I feel at the moment. I feel that what I do is provide an alternative to the way that a lot of skills training (especially writing) is done in universities. I feel like I’m providing an education that I needed myself about 3 years ago! I’m ok with this. It’s certainly not that the academic institutions are doing a bad job, but it’s very difficult to cater to everybody. That’s why I like what I do and I like providing an alternative resource and an alternative point of view. I think it’s ok to be feral as well. This way we are all a little bit leaner and meaner, ready to adapt to the ever-changing tides as larger institutions simply can’t be.

How would I describe Literature Review HQ now? Well I’d say deep down it hasn’t really changed. I still want to make a “complete” resource for anyone doing an academic literature review. However my definition of “complete” has changed. Now it’s not just about me sharing my experiences and advice. I feel like now it is my responsibility to find the very best experts in the world and to try get them to impart their wisdom to my audience. In the future I also want to focus even more on engagement. I think it’s really exciting how we can deliver information online. I also think it’s exciting how accessible people genuinely are. We really have the best information within reach. If we want we can talk to experts and learn an awful lot. I feel that it is my responsibility to use my blog as a platform to aggregate all this information for the benefit of anyone who wants to really write an amazing literature review.

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On Independent Arts Scholarship – by Hasan Niyazi
Posted by Charlotte Frost

DURERSPThis blog post by Hasan Niyazi (independent art history blogger/originator of the ‘3 Pipe Problem’ blog) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

In the year 1500, the German artist Albrecht Dürer inscribed the following on a self-portrait:

“I, Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg portrayed myself in everlasting colours aged twenty-eight years.”

Writers of art history view this work as a significant turning point, or “moment” in Western civilisation.[1] The wildly gifted artist portrayed himself in not only a manner resembling traditional depictions of Christ, but added the force of his own presence to the work with the inscription, including his own “AD” monogram, which to many reading (to this day) recalled “Anno Domini” – the Year of Our Lord. From a perspective perhaps best granted by hindsight, Dürer’s inscribed portrait heralded the age of the individual. Dürer may have been the possessor of a large ego, yet he was also a capable disseminator of his work. His engravings and etchings, mechanically reproduced as prints on paper traveled across Europe, spreading the fame of his skill, and often encouraging copyists.[2]

Dürer not only embraced technology to aid in the distribution of his work, he was also an able networker. Eager to reach out to others, Dürer traveled to meet and learn from other artists. He sought Martin Schongauer and Andrea Mantegna, missing both shortly after their death, but did meet an aged Giovanni Bellini in Venice. By 1515, Dürer sought to exchange gifts with the most celebrated Italian artist of the age, Raphael of Urbino, then at the height of his powers in Rome, his career overshadowing both Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.[3]

In whatever context one seeks to frame Dürer’s life and career, it is evident that he was successful at spreading an awareness of himself and his work across Europe. I wished to introduce Dürer’s use of technology to spread his work, and seeking personal connections to improve his knowledge as a precursor to a discussion about blogging. At the very least, Dürer’s example provides some interesting and relevant historical parallels.

I have been asked by Charlotte Frost to provide an account of my experiences in the blogosphere, exploring Renaissance art history in a level of detail than was not occurring in an open forum on the web. I presently spend my days working as a clinician and most nights reading and writing about art history. In late 2009, after having spent over a decade online, on message boards and advice forums dedicated to technology, I found my mind always wandering back to art history, a topic I had studied at a younger age. Hence, with little more than a vague notion of wanting to write about “cool art stuff” I began “art history blogging.” I created a free blog using Google’s “Blogger” platform, which I found favourable compared to WordPress as it allowed users full access to the blog’s underlying html code, allowing me to learn about this along the way.  Three years on, I find myself pleasantly occupied. My clinical work continues, yet my reading and writing in art history has wrought great changes to me and my writing. I maintain regular contact with important Renaissance scholars, and am working on an ambitious project dedicated to the artist Raphael.

My blog, 3 Pipe Problem (3PP), became a platform to disseminate the idea that a more detailed appreciation of Renaissance art history is not restricted to those who can access universities, expensive books and journals, or belong to a particular community. Many bloggers have a personal motivation. For some, this motivation comes foremost as an intellectual pursuit that captivates the mind. Applying it to art history, I sought to understand its narrative of the past, and the evidence that had formed the common perception of this period in history.

Raphael Uffizi in Frame

Raphael’s famous self-portrait at the Uffizi has a complex attribution history, with a number of scholars disagreeing on it author, and likely date of creation.

This search for understanding – to my mind at least – arrived in its purest form when examining the attribution of a Renaissance artwork. It is a magical experience to walk into a gallery and stand before a work on panel or canvas labelled to be by the great Raphael, Leonardo, Titian or Giorgione (etc). Purchasing the catalogues offered by museums and galleries for these works often brushes past attribution issues entirely. It is only when one is brave enough to wade into the scholarly literature that we find an almost endless procession of heated debate about the authorship of a work. In Raphael studies in particular, this discussion is protracted across many works attributed to an artist whose style dramatically changed across the short span of his professional life.

Because Raphael had acquired great fame during his own lifetime, we are blessed with a greater number of surviving sources on his movements and actions than can be found for other artists of the period. It is the evaluation of these sources, and the physical characteristics of the works themselves that enable us to describe a painting “by Raphael” in full. Indeed in the scope of Renaissance workshop, Raphael’s involvement in a particular work needs to measured against visual evidence gleaned from observation of the work itself, and related technical images and preparatory works  – a mode of analysis traditionally known as connoisseurship.

It is the distillation of these complex quantities of information that I attempt to bring to my posts at 3PP, and inform my work on the Open Raphael Online project. In doing this work online, I found I gained the most when openly sharing my learning experiences as they happened. The most efficient way to do this was via the social media platform twitter, where I encountered a range of individuals with similar interests, including professionals and students engaged in the study of art and history. This resulted in an ongoing exchange of information and resources, and a pleasing type of social interaction that occurs when one encounters kindred spirits.

In November 2012, I was pleased to be awarded the honour of representing “art history bloggers” at the Florens cultural heritage event in Florence. Traveling back to the heart of the Renaissance is a perennially emotional experience, and in my mind the city of innovation and endeavor that Florence once was seeks to regain its place again, with an increasing number of progressive online voices discussing the art and culture of the city.

Florens Reserved Teampic

Being part of the team of bloggers covering the Florens2012 event was a rewarding experience, providing insights into the great potential for new media to inform and promote a deeper experience of Italian culture than is presently being achieved.

What is blogging and where is it headed?

It is at times daunting finding oneself working in a space populated by very few others, and without a real sense of the activity being viable as anything other than an intellectual exercise. The blogs I admire the most are mostly written by academics as an independent exercise that fed off their experiences in teaching and research. Although I had started blogging “for fun” I quickly found myself wanting to occupy a similar space as far as the quality of detail and critical analysis being offered at blogs such as Thony Christie’s The Renaissance Mathematicus and Monica Bowen’s Alberti’s Window. Hence, each post became a research project in its own right. I would often start at scratch, or from an idea sparked by another blog post or discussion on twitter and develop a post from there. This process allowed me to further develop my own style, and improved my research skills – which of course are still evolving.

There is an increasing amount of discussion about the roles bloggers have in the space traditionally occupied by specialists and journalists. A recent post at the London School of Economics (LSE) Impact Blog specified “academic blogging” as defining a new space between academic writing and journalism.[4]

With specific reference to art history, the 2012 Kress Foundation report into digital art history and its research centers also identified the role of an “instigator”:

“A more radical suggestion is to bring in “instigators” or individuals from outside the research center who possess a unique set of technology, humanities, and people skills. Their role would be to push against institutional barriers without being intimidating to others nor easily thwarted themselves.”[5]

These descriptions seemed to describe blogging being recognised as a new space, and sought to address why blogging exists and whether it is important. It also became apparent that communicating ideas within the context of a blog also demanded a new mode of language, where the individual acting as “instigator” must be able to address both specialists and the interested public alike. This form of writing has no real precedent in art history, the closest analogues being reviews of exhibitions or publications penned by art critics/historians in newspapers and magazines.

Anthropological excursus

Of the various academic disciplines that are bravely experimenting with or observing blogging, that which tended to more completely grasp the “what and why” or meta of blogging was the field of media anthropology, and the related area of cyber-anthropology.[6] This relatively new branch of study, which seems to have forged its presence somewhere between media studies and the social sciences has burgeoned into a thriving discipline, with a proliferation of case studies demonstrating use of blogging and social media being used in social activism. The events around the Arab Spring and Occupy movements seem to be of most enduring interest to the media anthropologists I have encountered, with those tracing the impact of blogging in a broader, cultural sense quite rare.[7]

While many studies/books (of varying quality) can be found on the impact of blogging in a political sense, primarily in the American context, there is at present no study that seeks to track the impact of blogging on elements of cultural discourse, which is arguably the most globally inclusive human activity.[8] From art and archaeology, to regional variances in customs and language, the definition of “culture” is now so broad and complex, that such a study would be daunting to any investigator considering tackling its interaction with the forms of new media represented by blogging and social media. Until such studies are completed, this small excursus, embedded within this account of my role as an art history blogger, will hopefully be a marker for the consideration of new media’s impact on cultural discourse in an anthropological sense.

Conclusion – evolving beyond the primordial ooze

We are still in the primordial ooze of blogging and social media acting to serve a mired field of study, which art history can unfortunately be described in certain contexts. In some cases, quality blogs are helping to demystify aspects of cultural discourse to a global audience.

It is always pleasant to hear from readers who have been to museums and have questioned the assigned label of a work, and have been unsatisfied with the explanations offered in their catalogues. This desire to seek more detail in an independent sense is the true blessing of the information age. This gift of access to knowledge the web can provide recalls the famous, if not grandiose point made by Timothy Leary in Pataphysics in 1990,

“Today the role of the philosopher [and the artist, we might add] is to personalize, popularize, and humanize computer ideas so that people can feel comfortable with them…In every generation I’ve been part of a group of people who, like Prometheus, have wrestled with the power in order to hand it back to the individual.”[9]

Comparisons to mythological titans aside, what can be taken from Leary’s statement is that those with experience navigating the seemingly disparate fields of technology and cultural historiography are ideally suited to analyse and interpret the seemingly rapid changes being experienced by all disciplines defined by large slabs of text and images, traditionally locked within the confines of books. Blogging is just one of many available means of re-purposing and amplifying these images and texts to a more global, and potentially dynamic audience.

I would like to emphasise that my example represents a combination of circumstances that has occurred naturally, and is only a snapshot taken at this point in time. At present, art history blogging exists because it does, and discussing it from the perspective of becoming a viable business model seems a point no one is yet prepared to deliberate on. For academics and students trying to figure out how a blog may fit into their workflow, there is no easy answer other than trying it and finding what works for you, and ruling out what does not.

Ultimately, blogging does not need to supplement anything else. It is its own form of expression,  requiring a mixture of skills. Blogging is a mode of communication where any individual with a passion to work hard and have their voice heard can participate in a global dialogue that attracts scholars and laypersons alike. Art, culture and knowledge transcends boundaries, and so does the web. As such, they are a perfect match.

References

1. Koerner, JL. The Moment of Self-Potraiture in German Renaissance Art. University of Chicago Press. 1997. pp.40-46 preview available at Google Books link ; the author is aware of the antecedent self portrait by van Eyck and its comparatively boastful frame inscription. Less is known about Jan van Eyck’s travels and how widely his work was disseminated.

2. Pon, L. Raphael, Dürer and Marcantonio Raimondi – Copying in the Italian Renaissance. Yale University Press. 2004. pp.62-68.

3. Nesselrath, A. Raphael’s Gift to Dürer. Master Drawings. Vol. 31. No. 4. Essays in Memory of Jacob Bean (1923-1992). Winter, 1993. pp. 376-389 JSTOR link

4. Carrigan, M. By opening up a distinctive space between academic research and journalism, a thriving academic blogosphere mediates between them. London School of Economics Impact Blog. February 4 2013. Accessed March 6 2013. link

5. Zorich, D. Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship. Kress Foundation website June 1. 2012. Accessed March 6 2013. link

6. Rothenbuhler, E. Media Anthropology as a Field of Interdisciplinary Contact. E-Seminar October 22 – November 05 2008, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), Media Anthropology Network. http://www.media-anthropology.net nb. An excellent overview of media anthropology and its history as a field of study. (pdf link) ; another recommended overview paper is presented by Mihai Coman (pdf link) ; A foundational article introducing the concept of “cyber-anthropology” was published in 2005 by Libin and Libin: Cyber anthropology: a new study on human and technological co-evolution. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics. 2005. 118. pp. 146-55. (link)

7. There are a number of well known blogs dedicated to anthropology – Savage Minds, and its blogroll is a great starting point (link). Less prevalent are blogs dedicated to media anthropology, with the site maintained by Dr. John Postill a notable source of information and resources (link). Blogs exploring specific examples of culture and their impact in a new media and anthropological context are more rare at this stage. Some quality examples include:

  • University College London has an project index(link) and blog(link) exploring the anthropology of social media.
  • Cyber Anthropology – a blog maintained by Diana Harrelson, exploring the anthropology of social media, gaming and online communities (link) ;
  • The Cultural Magazine (link), primarily in Italian, with articles in French and English, maintained by Melissa Pignatelli. Explores cultural anthropology and social media’s impact on contemporary society.

8. Baldwin, J. (ed.) Redefining Culture: Perspectives Across The Disciplines. Routledge. 2006. This landmark publication identified over 300 prevailing definitions of “culture”, highlighting the challenges in demarcating the parameters of culture as a field of study.  For more on this in a new media and reporting context see Niyazi, H. The convergence of culture and new media – Florens 2012. Posted at 3 Pipe Problem. November 22 2012. (link)

9. Leary, T. Pataphysics quote is included in premable of Chaos and Cyberculture. 1994 edition online at archive.org  (link)

 

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