Category Archives: Cyberspace Sociology

Playful Gamification?

In part because of this EdTechTeam badge (and because we’ve been working on badges), I’m encouraged to write something about my involvement in using “game principals” to motivate learners positively. This despite the fact that I’ve been quite critical (on the record, on more than one occasion) about gamification, especially in education. (In this context, “Serious Games” are a separate issue.)

So here’s what I did last night, which does relate to game mechanics, in some ways, and did sound like it was quite motivating…

Prepping for the final exam, students in Cyberspace Sociology course http://learn.enkerli.com/category/coursenotes–2/cyberspace-sociology/ had to create lists of threads and themes from the semester. Nothing gamified about this, though (as with every activity in this class) learners were posting their lists to a peer-rated forum.

Made a scattered map out of all of these items, to serve as a master list of sorts. As per my own policy, exam questions may only come from these items.
SOCI221 Threads and Themes

So… here’s the playful and game-like part: I allowed students to take off some items, but they had to team up and select only two items per team, for elimination.

After teams debated list items for a while, we went through all the teams and tallied the “votes” for those items which should be avoided on the exam. One item had the largest number of team votes, so I deleted it right away (after discussing it). Three items had the same number of team votes so we did a quick raised hand poll and noticed that one of the terms could stay (only a few hands went up to eliminate it). Chatting with the class, we eventually decided to eliminate both of the two remaining terms.

Here are the other terms which had at least one team vote:

  • Cyberasociality
  • Algorithm
  • Centrality
  • Cyborg
  • Recursive Public
  • Intersectionality
  • Onground

How does this qualifying as using game mechanics, if individual students didn’t receive extrinsic motivators, individually? That’s where it becomes somewhat subtle. I did use a type of “Carrot & Stick” approach, in that they had to go through the classroom activity or get stuck with things they didn’t want to have on the exam. But the real effect of the activity is that students were discussing most of the items in the list, explaining things to one another. Sneakily getting students to do a bit of peer instruction isn’t something I’m ashamed of.

One effect of the activity was similar to gamification effects. Members of a team who had been the only one to vote for “centrality” to be eliminated were experiencing the small frustration of having “lost”. Given my empathy levels, it didn’t feel extremely good at first. But after a quick explanation of the concept, the teammates sounded relieved.

The major effect, in my observation, was that the atmosphere became remarkably playful. To me, playfulness in the classroom brings a lot to the rapport established between people involved. As with rapport, it has to do with mutual respect. And I really care about playful living.

To me, playfulness (open play) is the mirror image to gamification (game mechanics). I’d go as far as to say that gamification is “gaming without playfulness”.

After that very informal “team vote” activity, students had to discuss items which still weren’t clear, identifying some things which were obscure to everyone in their team. We then discussed those items with the whole class, getting people to provide explanations.

Something to note about that “team vote” activity is that in no way does it ensure appropriate representation of diverse voices. In other words, it wasn’t really meant to be “democratic”. But it did allow for diverse forms of participation. Some learners involved did a lot more peer-teaching than they had ever done during the semester. The extrinsic motivation (to show off, to get a good grade…) is already there, so I didn’t need to add much of an incentive.

The resulting list is the basis of a collaborative study guide, to which students are contributing in diverse ways. And it helps me prepare an exam which many might consider fair.

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace, Meeting 12

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 12: December 1, 2014
Posthumanism to Facebook

Posthumanism

Facebook Man, by Maxo CC-BY–3.0

Logistics

  • Class meeting tomorrow (same time and place)
  • Exam in one week: Monday, December 16, 7–10p
    • H–1011 AL—HAF
    • H–820 HOR—ZAF
  • Exam prep together

Last Week

Posthumanism

Is the human condition a problem to be solved?

Activity: Project Plan

  • What interests class members? Any pattern?
  • What would be outcomes of research on online groups?

Required Texts

Chapters 1–2 in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705

Cool, Jennifer. “The Mutual Co-Construction of Online and Onground in Cyborganic: Making an Ethnography of Networked Social Media Speak to Challenges of the Posthuman.”
Tufekci, Zeynep. “We Were Always Human.”

Cool

Cool, Jennifer. “The Mutual Co-Construction of Online and Onground in Cyborganic: Making an Ethnography of Networked Social Media Speak to Challenges of the Posthuman” in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch, 11–32. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705

  • Post-/Transhumanists
  • Phatic communion
  • Liberal subject
  • Embodiment

Tufekci

Tufekci, Zeynep. “We Were Always Human” in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch, 33–47. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705

  • Identity formation, online
  • Cyberasociality
  • Third digital divide
  • Digital Natives?

Tomorrow

Facebook

What can sociology learn from online social networks?

Activity: Themes and Threads

  • To help everyone prepare for the final exam, list some themes and threads for the semester as a whole.

Required Texts

Lim, Sun Sun, Shobha Vadrevu, Yoke Hian Chan, and Iccha Basnyat. “Facework on Facebook: The Online Publicness of Juvenile Delinquents and Youths-at-Risk.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56, no. 3 (July 2012): 346–361. doi:10.1080/08838151.2012.705198.
Madge, Clare, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens, and Tristram Hooley. “Facebook , Social Integration and Informal Learning at University: ‘It Is More for Socialising and Talking to Friends About Work Than for Actually Doing Work’.” Learning, Media and Technology 34, no. 2 (June 2009): 141–155. doi:10.1080/17439880902923606.

Lim et al.

Lim, Sun Sun, Shobha Vadrevu, Yoke Hian Chan, and Iccha Basnyat. “Facework on Facebook: The Online Publicness of Juvenile Delinquents and Youths-at-Risk.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56, no. 3 (July 2012): 346–361. doi:10.1080/08838151.2012.705198.

  • Singapore at-risk or delinquent youth
  • Link to social work, criminology…
  • Face work
  • Facebook diversity

Madge et al.

Madge, Clare, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens, and Tristram Hooley. “Facebook , Social Integration and Informal Learning at University: ‘It Is More for Socialising and Talking to Friends About Work Than for Actually Doing Work’.” Learning, Media and Technology 34, no. 2 (June 2009): 141–155. doi:10.1080/17439880902923606.

  • British (pre-)undergraduates
  • Link to education
  • Informal learning
  • Tracing links

Ethnography

Descriptive approach to cultural diversity. – Alex

  • Fieldwork
  • Establishing rapport
  • Insider and outsider
  • Participant-observation
  • Cultural translation (making exotic familiar and familiar exotic)

Surveillance Society

  • Panopticon
  • Sousveillance
    • Surveillance, sousveillance and PRISM – an op-ed for Die Zeit | … My heart’s in Accra http://lar.me/2zk
  • Internet Bill of Rights

Coursenotes, SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace, Meeting 11

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 11: November 24, 2014
Cultural Contexts to Posthumanism

Posthumanism

Self portrait for LinkedIN profile picture. SteveMann with EyeTap, by Glogger (CC-BY-SA–3.0))

Last Week

Cultural Contexts

Activity: Online Interview

  • How easy was it to find an interviewee?
  • How did you prepare?
  • How did you conduct the interview?
  • What kind of insight did you gain?
  • Would a face-to-face interview be preferable?

Required Texts

Horst, Heather “Free, Social, and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 437–462.
Kelty, Christopher. “Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics.” Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 185–214. doi:10.1525/can.2005.20.2.185.

Horst

Horst, Heather “Free, Social, and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 437–462.

  • Unexpected uses
  • Networked sociality
  • Similar experiences?
  • Different Internets?

Kelty

Kelty, Christopher. “Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics.” Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 185–214. doi:10.1525/can.2005.20.2.185.

  • (Re)constructing the Internet (links to Leiner et al.)
  • Science and technology studies
  • Technology and law (copyright…)
  • Dense network of influential people
  • Transhumanism

Next Monday

Activity: Project Plan

  • Based on your experience with an online group (field entry, interview), what type of research could you do in this context?
  • What type of insight would you try to gain?
  • Which methods would you use?
  • How would you explain your project to others?

Required Texts

Chapters 1–2 in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705
Cool, Jennifer. “The Mutual Co-Construction of Online and Onground in Cyborganic: Making an Ethnography of Networked Social Media Speak to Challenges of the Posthuman.”
Tufekci, Zeynep. “We Were Always Human.”

Cool

Cool, Jennifer. “The Mutual Co-Construction of Online and Onground in Cyborganic: Making an Ethnography of Networked Social Media Speak to Challenges of the Posthuman” in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch, 11–32. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705

  • Post-/Transhumanists
  • Cyborganic ethnography
  • Liberal subject
  • Who decides?

Tufekci

Tufekci, Zeynep. “We Were Always Human” in Human No More: Digital Subjectivities, Un-Human Subjects, and the End of Anthropology, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Wesch, 33–47. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. doi:10.5876/9781607321705

  • Technology and society
  • Facebook ethnography and surveys
  • Responding to media
  • Embodiment
  • Cyberasociality

Ethnography

Descriptive approach to cultural diversity. – Alex

  • Fieldwork
  • Establishing rapport
  • Insider and outsider
  • Participant-observation
  • Cultural translation (making exotic familiar and familiar exotic)

Surveillance Society

  • Panopticon
  • Sousveillance
    • Surveillance, sousveillance and PRISM – an op-ed for Die Zeit | … My heart’s in Accra http://lar.me/2zk
  • Internet Bill of Rights

Coursenotes, SOCI221 Meeting 10

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 10: November 17, 2014
Ethnography to Cultural Contexts

Diversity

Diversity-Discrimination by Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany (CC-BY–2.0))

Last Week

Ethnography

Activity: Field Entry

  • Which groups?
  • Expectations?
  • Entering the group?

Required Text

Coleman, E. Gabriella. “Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39, no. 1 (October 21, 2010): 487–505. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104945.

  • Diversity
  • Almost historical
  • Anthropology and sociology
  • Global inequalities

Next Week

Cultural Contexts

Activity: Online Interview

  • Find someone from your new online group who’s willing to serve as an interviewee.
  • Prepare a few questions to gain her/his insight on the online group, the importance of technology to group members, or any other topic you find interesting.
  • Conduct a brief interview through whichever means you find appropriate (email, Skype, chat…).
  • Post one thing you find insightful about the exchange.

Required Texts

Horst, Heather “Free, Social, and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 437–462.
Kelty, Christopher. “Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics.” Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 185–214. doi:10.1525/can.2005.20.2.185.

Horst

Horst, Heather “Free, Social, and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 437–462.

  • Understanding Brazilian society offline and online
  • Digital inclusion
  • Technological appropriation
  • Distinct usage

Kelty

Kelty, Christopher. “Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics.” Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 185–214. doi:10.1525/can.2005.20.2.185.

  • Geek culture
  • Distinct fieldwork experiences
  • Public sphere: Habermas
  • Recursivity
  • Ron Eglash on African fractals (TEDtalk) http://lar.me/ig

Ethnography

Descriptive approach to cultural diversity. – Alex

  • Fieldwork
  • Establishing rapport
  • Insider and outsider
  • Participant-observation
  • Cultural translation (making exotic familiar and familiar exotic)

Surveillance Society

  • Panopticon
  • Sousveillance
    • Surveillance, sousveillance and PRISM – an op-ed for Die Zeit | … My heart’s in Accra http://lar.me/2zk
  • Internet Bill of Rights

Coursenotes: SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace, Meeting 9

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 9: November 10, 2014
Generations to Ethnography

Digital Natives?

Bronislaw Malinowski with natives on Trobriand Islands in 1918. (Public domain)

Last Week

Generations

Activity: Knapsacks

  • Features of privilege
  • Intersectionality
  • Online privilege

Required Texts

Digital Natives?

  • Us/Them
  • Birthyear
  • Early access and comfort?
  • Residents and visitors

Next Week

Ethnography

Ethics

Ethnography

Descriptive approach to cultural diversity. – Alex

  • Fieldwork
  • Establishing rapport
  • Insider and outsider
  • Participant-observation
  • Cultural translation (making exotic familiar and familiar exotic)

Activity: Field Entry

  • Select an online group (forum, network, service, community) of which you’re not a member.
  • From the outside, take some notes about features of that group, how it works, what seem to be unspoken rules, etc.
  • Enter the group, introducing yourself to everyone. Notice reactions. Are you able to establish rapport?
  • Post a description of the group and your fieldwork

Required Text

Coleman, E. Gabriella. “Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39, no. 1 (October 21, 2010): 487–505. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104945.

  • Review article (like annotated bibliography or metastudy)
  • Recent research
  • Diversity
  • Program for future research

Coursenotes: SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace, Meeting 8

SOCI221 – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 8: November 3, 2014
Identity to Generations

Generations

Digital Natives?

First Nations CEF soldiers: By Canada. Dept. of the Interior. (Public domain)

Last Week

Social Identity

Activity: Online Reputation

  • Expectations
  • Factors in ease of finding
  • Public/private

Required Texts

Halford & Savage

Halford, Susan, and Mike Savage. “Reconceptualizing Digital Social Inequality.” Information, Communication & Society 13, no. 7 (2010): 937–955. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2010.499956.

  • Inequalities vs. divides
  • Links to other texts

Berman & Bruckman

Berman, Joshua, and Amy S. Bruckman. “The Turing Game: Exploring Identity in an Online Environment.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 7, no. 3 (September 01, 2001): 83–102. doi:10.1177/135485650100700307.

  • Playing with identity
  • How is identity constructed?

Next Week

Generations

Activity: Knapsacks

  • Go through one of the following checklists.
  • For your own benefit, document the process. Any discomfort? Any realization?
  • Based on the exercise, post something more general about privilege. In other words, no need to share about your own privilege, but go from that experience to something broader.
  • Feel free to add something about online interactions, but that may not be necessary.

Required Texts

Alternative

Digital Natives?

Online Traces

If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” – blue_beetle http://lar.me/2zh

“I’m Not The Product, But I Play One On The Internet.” –Derek Powazek http://lar.me/2zi

Coursenotes, SOCI221 Meeting 7

SOCI221 –Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 7: October 27, 2014
Digital Inequalities and Reputations

Reputation

Reputation Management

By Lindsay Wheeler (Own work) [CC-BY–3.0],

Second Half

Doing Sociology in Cyberspace

Meetings and Texts

  • October 27: Social Inequalities (Kendall and van Dijk)
  • November 3: Social Identity (Halford and Berman)
  • November 10: Generations (Prensky, Bennett, Selwyn)
  • November 17: Ethnography (Coleman)
  • November 24: Cultural Contexts (Horst, Kelty)
  • December 1: Posthumanism (Cool, Tufekci)
  • December 2: Facebook (Lim, Madge)

Since Last Class Meeting

Networks and Inequalities

Activity: Network Graph

  • Identity
  • Types of connections

Required Texts

Van Dijk

Van Dijk, Jan AGM. “Inequalities in the Network Society.” In Digital Sociology: Critical Perspectives, edited by Kate Orton-Johnson and Nick Prior, 105–124. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

  • Digital Democracy?
  • Egalitarian
  • Public Education

Kendall

Kendall, Lori. “Meaning and Identity in ‘Cyberspace’: The Performance of Gender, Class, and Race Online.” Symbolic Interaction 21, no. 2 (May 1998): 129–153. doi:10.1525/si.1998.21.2.129.

  • Social Constructs
  • Identity Play

Next Week

Social Identity

Activity: Online Reputation

  • Take a few quick notes on what you expect to come up in your online reputation.
  • Pair up with somebody else from the class. It’s easier if it’s someone you don’t know so well.
  • Each of you will do searches for publicly available information about the other person. (i.e. “Google” one another…)
  • Report back to one another and post something about the results (not the information you gathered).

Required Texts

Halford & Savage

Halford, Susan, and Mike Savage. “Reconceptualizing Digital Social Inequality.” Information, Communication & Society 13, no. 7 (2010): 937–955. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2010.499956.

  • From divides to inequalities
  • Constructs and essentialism
  • Some ANT
  • Bourdieu and “capitals”
  • Link Van Dijk

Berman & Bruckman

Berman, Joshua, and Amy S. Bruckman. “The Turing Game: Exploring Identity in an Online Environment.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 7, no. 3 (September 01, 2001): 83–102. doi:10.1177/135485650100700307.

  • Alan Turing
  • Turing Game
  • Humanness
  • Who has agency in identity play?
  • Linked Kendall