Ethnography – arrival: Understanding street art

I have started researching this whole domain of Street Art: I googled the word street art and street art documentary yesterday. Today I am looking at the development of street art from the perception of vandalism to art and hoping to ‘arrive’ at the idea of a community today.

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Street art – Short graffiti documentary feat Banksy

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Street art view

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Week six summary

My first post was on potentially interesting online communities. Soon, it became clear that those which permissions have to be sought will not fall into the time frame of this piece of work.

I found the article on the Lemmings vs Kant which had a critique on Facebook Graph Search.  It explained the issues surrounding the commodifying of personal data, and the view that Facebook take of its users.  It was necessary to  understand the criticism on Facebook, a social media platform used by so many, and to consider if Facebook is a good representation of an online community.

I also posted a link to the controversy of Banksy’s street art which is auctioned in the USA, which touches on authorship and public space.  When I did not hear back from the various support groups which I have written to, I gravitated towards the street art community.

The core materials reveal that online ethnography is quite different from the traditional ethnography that I was familiar with.

Hine (2000) on Virtual Objects of Ethnography presented  a reasonable approach to researching the online communities: its emphasis on connective ethnography; how to make the invisible visible without the physical presence of the ethnographer; and the reflexivity methodology providing as much information as looking at the cultural processes rather than the physical space.

Bell (2001) raised interesting issues on what we naturally think of as communities, and how online communities choose to recreate a similar concept, despite the fact that the medium used allows for a creative transformation of communities.  The characteristics of contemporary communities as a result of the disembodying, detraditionalised, globalised and uncertainties could give a new way of finding belonging.  He reintroduces the idea of Bund, an elective grouping, bonded by affective and emotional solidarity, sharing a strong sense of belonging. He describes how the benefits of membership are often described in terms of the member’s quality of life, rather than in the quality of relationship between subjects, and that the internet could be a place of emancipation as well as one of suppression.

I started with trying to find my way to an online community but stopped to comprehend what makes the online community and the views on ethnography which would frame the process of these two weeks’ study.


Hine, C (2000) The virtual objects of ethnography, chapter 3 of Virtual ethnography. London: Sage. pp41-66

Bell, David (2001) Community and cyberculture, chapter 5 of An introduction to cybercultures. Abingdon: Routledge. pp92-112 [e-book] [PDF]

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Community and cyberculture, Bell (2001)


Bell, David (2001) Community and cyberculture, chapter 5 of An introduction to cybercultures. Abingdon: Routledge. pp92-112

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Virtual objects of ethnography

This week I have been trying to make sense of what a online ethnography means and what an online community entails.

From reading Hine (2000), some of the following points stood out
a) the difference between a physical immersive experience, the online study will be one of reflexivity where the ethnographer’s own experience of arriving at the filed site and collection of data becomes part of the ethnographic material
b) the relationship between the ethnographer, the reader and the researched subjects – how the ethnographer arrive as an authority on the subject, what he can gain access to and the analytical position he is in, and the question of multiple or partial identity assumed by online subjects and how to allow the subject to judge what is authentic
d) the question of triangulation in online ethnography, as this might threaten the experiential authenticity of understanding the world of the informants
e) text analysis is an important part of the study, and it should be looked at within the context of the author – “a situated author producing text within a cultural context and a situated audience interpreting text from within other cultural contexts” (p52)
f) question of applying discourse analysis on online text and interactions: how to make the invisible visible
g) Writing ethnography is a constructive act rather than a reflection of reality (Denzin, 1997) (p56)
h) “The field site of ethnography could become a field flow, which is organized around tracing connections rather than about location in a singular bounded site” (p61)
i) “Online ethnographies despatialize notions of community, and focus on cultural process rather than physical place.” (p61)
j) Connective ethnography turns the attention from ‘being there’ to ‘getting there’ (p62) – “connection could as well be the juxtaposition of elements in a narrative, the array of pages thrown up by a search engine, or a set of hyperlinks on a webpage as an instance of communication between two people”

This view of ethnography presents a whole new way of approaching my study on the Street Arts community.


Hine, C (2000) The virtual objects of ethnography, chapter 3 of Virtual ethnography. London: Sage. pp41-66

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Street art community

I think this will be my ethnography focus. I have had no response to my request for permissions to study support groups like IVFers. It would have been interesting to understand this very interesting community created by forums and also bloggers. Hence the next group in mind is the street artists.

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Banksy’s art attack

What happens if this was an online mural? This raises the question of ownership and authorship in a public space.

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"...there’s no online communities, there’s only communities with their local contexts, live events, which in turn can fuel online interactions."
Martin Pasquier

Wonder how true this is?

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Facebook Graph Search: the Lemmings vs. Kant

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Virtual communities that are potentially interesting

I am starting to write to ask permissions from potential sites for my study on virtual communities. If I hear anything back today, I will go ahead with my plan, if not, I will choose another area of study which may be more on the public domain.

In the past I have spent considerable amount of time looking at some of the support sites for various information either for my interest or for friend’s needs. Some of these demonstrate a strong sense of a virtual community and to the point that it became a place where I was checking it to touch base with the things that are being posted on these particular sites.

Then there are other forums which are advertised on Linked in which I have signed up to but had never had the time to post or even lurk. Partly most of these contain some advertising agenda, or news which I had little use of at the moment in time.

Another site which came to mind which had a particularly strong community was a course in Life Writing with Oxford University. However this was three years ago. This was particularly interesting as the course participants were really supportive of each others writing and life stories, and some still kept in contact after the course.

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Week five summary

After an intense week of creation of the edcMooc response, followed by close monitoring of Twitter post, it was time to take stock of the course so far.

I wanted to get to grips with Rose’s article on Researching visual materials and  other reading materials, so I could have a framework for critique of the artefacts created by all in the course.

I also experimented with other tools such as Prezi and Voicethread, and review Pinterest.  I made a response to Amy’s work by creating a voicethread visual and audio artefact.  And I  tried the same with Rose’s article.  I created a Prezi presentation of the automobile culture, with the visuals I have collected from my visit to the Autoworld museum in Brussels. It made me think of how I could define eLearning and digital culture, and consider the differences between the two technologies.

I revisited my coursemate’s EDCMooc response and these are some thoughts reviewing the tools:

a) Phil’s multilayering, reflects the adobe tools.

b) Amy brings home the fact that one can’t quite escape the use of text.  However, manipulating font sizes, and breaking them up in short phrases  is effective.

c) Steph’s thinglink presentation, as she pointed out, it is not a platform that invites discussion as much as we would have like it to be.  The choice of image, and decision on what is linked is critical.

d) Candance made effective use of Prezi,  introducing the brilliance of glass, and surprisingly the sound of glass too.

e) Nikki’s glogster: the title, the image of the frame reminds me of Roses frame for cultural thought, in this case of surveillance.

f) Anabel made good use of the  culmination of nominated songs, and the continued invite to add to the artefact.

g) Gina’s Pinterest board has generated a lot of discussion.  Her response to each comment is key to building up communities based on the visuals on the board.


Rose, Gillian (2007) Researching visual materials: towards a critical visual methodology, chapter 1 of Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. London: Sage. pp.1-27

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Stepping out of digital culture…

This is another piece of work, while taking stock of the few weeks into the EDEC course.  I started out unsure what culture was, and then the plethora of images and sounds from edcMooc and edec colleagues on eLearning and Digital Cultures presented each day helped build the picture.  Reading the core materials over the weeks, I am being sensitised to many terminologies, concepts.  As part of the detox, I am looking at cultures from a different lense.

This is a result of a visit to the Autoworld Museum in Brussels. It certainly has helped me streamline my thoughts on eLearning and Digital cultures.  There is more to consider especially the impact on schooling and education but this will have to come later.  All picture copyright belongs to T.Meckenstock.

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A non-digital artefact: a distant memory?

I am taking this weekend to think about what a digital culture means after starting this course. It is starting to dawn on me that I might find it easier to define the eLearning and Digital Culture by looking at things which are not. This picture of a pencil sharpener with the shavings is one example.

Will this be a distant memory?

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Review of edcMooc – Sol Le Witt Line Installation

This is the statistics of the digital response of edcMooc week 1 and 2 from Thinglink after a week.

Below are some of the feedback received which provide some engagement, though I failed to create an artefact which removes the reader as a passive spectator, as discussed by Rose. If I had been brave enough to allow people to add links to it, the effect might have been different. I need to consider how thinglink might satisfy the ‘design culture’ criteria.

“This is more meaningful and accessible to me than other types of expression that are pure image. You show how I have been moving through the course myself, using bookmarks and diigo to collect the bits that are more important to me. What I like about your artefact is you have added a layer that shows the pathway of movement outward, connecting and hopping in ways that are both organized and random, leading to unexpected points. This is a quick way to see the overview and to trace forward and backward. Kudos!” Martell Linsdell

“I really liked the use of lines and intersections–rather rhizome-ish! It struck me as a very good example of curatorship–obviously much more than being a ‘digital librarian’.” Candance Nolan Grant

“This image really begins highlight the possibilities of DATA mapping – what is hiding in learner activity? What knowledge will be uncovered when data is visualised big scale?” Phil Devine

On the whole, I think this is too much of an exhibit. If I were to do it again, some of the following questions I would like to ask myself:
a) how would my audience see this? Would they be able to interact with the material, change it, own it? Can this image be de-territorialised (Deleuze, 1972)?
b) can this image change the relationship of a spectator to something else? Does it flatten the hierarchies of class, ‘race’, gender, sexuality, able-bodiedness and so on? (Haraway, 1991)
c) Which would be the most appropriate technology for the particular purpose?
d) What would be the compositionality for the purpose of the image creation? (Rose, 2007:13)
e) Does the artefact act as a frame for cultural thought?

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There are different ways of seeing the world, and the critical task is to differentiate between the social effects of those different visions.
Rose, Gillian (2007:6)

Should you like to add to this or comment, please do so using the comment facility provided by Voicethread.

Rose, Gillian, (2007) “Researching visual materials: towards a critical visual methodology” from Rose, Gillian, Visual methodologies : an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials pp.1-27, London: Sage

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Post Week 4 – a response to Amy’s Mooc artefact

I have entitled this post week 4 as a play of words on post human, and also post week 4 edcMooc digital artefact response to Amy Woodgate’s brilliant audio summary.  Could a journey be more relaxed as demonstrated by the inclusion of a live performance at St Pancras and the inviting sound of the sea?

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Week four summary

This week’s posts have been in preparation for the response for the edcMooc.

Julier highlights the distinction of Visual Culture and Design Culture. It was interesting to read how the visual culture has developed and changed over time, and what it means to interpret an image.

I found the following interesting:

“Culture is no longer one of pure representation or narrative, where visual culture conveys messages. Instead, culture formulates, formats, channels, circulates, contains, and retrieves information. Design, therefore, is more than just the creation of visual artifacts to be used or “read” It is also about the structuring of systems of encounter within the visual and material world.”
I wondered how my digital artefact will fit into the description above or rather how can I create something which reflects all these?  At the same time I want to try to stay away from my readers being the “passive” spectator, or using John Urry’s conception of the “tourist gaze”.  What would be the embodied engagement for a digital artefact? Would my readers ‘step into the object and make it their own’?

I also reviewed Spalter and Vandam (2008) Digital Visual Literacy.  It highlights the existence of this type of literacy which is something that need to be taught.

Evidently, to do a summary of the edcMooc, it would involve immersing myself into the discussion forums, blogs and twitters.  Like a miner, I went digging for hidden gems.  My encounter with Amy Buvall’s blog was a turning point. Her practical but creative examples led me to try out the thinglink tool.


Julier, G (2006) From visual culture to design culture, Design issues, 22 (1), 64-76.

Kress, G (2005) Gains and losses: new forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition. 22(1), 5-22.

Thomas, S et al (2007) Transliteracy: crossing divides. First Monday. 12(12). [web site]

Spalter, A M and van Dam, A (2008) Digital visual literacy, Theory into practice, 47, 93-101.

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Digital Artefact: The process

When given the task of making a summary of the edcMooc, I was in a little panic mode because it all seemed too ominous. I have to present a multimodal digital artefact along with it.  Both of these are skills which have gone a little rusty.

So I started by browsing through the discussion forum, and then stumbled on the edcMooc news which contained the blogs from participants.  I soon realised how much talent and skills already being exhibited by the edcMooc community.  I was reflecting on the films they have to watch and comment and the gargantious task of  the Mooc organisers to cater to so many.

Sol Le Witt’s work came to mind.  It was the perfect one to use to display some of the best work that I have seen from the participants.  Then the question of the tool.  There were too many to choose from and I was tempted to use the Prezi but was unsure about the zooming in and out effect.  I clicked on a few and I thought I would give Thinglink a go and see if it does the job for me.

It was easy enough to use and quite perfect for what I need.  I was hoping I could stream in some sound but first it did not permit embedding of sound, but secondly, there was no need for this particular artefact.  I think silence could be more effective, as there was already so much data to see and investigate.

I spent the rest of the week monitoring the various discussion groups, twitter and watching some of the films on edcMooc, while dipping in and out of my own reading on Digital and Design Culture.  I will discuss the reading on another post.  Suffice to note here, that I had not expected to read so much on design on the course!  It seems like my inner desire and childhood dreams of studying design is being realised in EDEC!



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edcMooc artefact: Intersections

Intersections – the edcMooc community is made up of individuals with different needs and interests.  Here, in edcMOOC, their lives somehow intersect with each other, and create a vibrant community.  How the lines or sticks drop and pile up determine the strength of connectedness, and eventually, if the connections fuse with each other, it becomes an organic connection rather than just piles of lines or sticks.  This piece of wall installation is by Sol Lewitt.  (photo taken by T.Meckenstock in Aug 2013, at Mass MOCA, USA) Please move your mouse over the image to see links.

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Digital visual literacy

Four things that stood out from reading Spalter and Dam (2008) on Digital Visual Literacy:

a) The different disciplines involved in the creation of Digital Visual Literacy such as Vision Science, Computer and Graphics Visualization and Art and Design.

b) Critical viewing is underdeveloped compared to critical reading (p95)

c) Intuitive, creative thinking associated with visual art and design becomes at least as valued in the market place as the sequential left-brained-style analysis that had dominated in previous centuries (p97)

d) Historical suspicion of images can be allayed by better understanding of how visual materials are made and interpreted. (p98)


Spalter, A M and van Dam, A (2008) Digital visual literacy, Theory into practice, 47, 93-101.


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Learning from edcMoocers

This week I will be picking out outstanding examples of digital artifacts from the EDMOOC blogs to be collated at the end of the week.   I entitled this series as learning from EDMoocers as there are some really amazing work posted in either the forums or blogs.  While I am wrestling with concepts of modality, it is just easier to see images than academic text!  Here is one excellent example by Amy Buvall.

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Week three summary

My first post was a commentary on Tears in the Rain. It raised questions about being human and the parallel one can draw from fiction to reality.  My second post was a visual on the evolution of communication. This cartoon illustration brings out the issue of superiority of text, and neglects the creativity and ingenuity of human beings to adapt to technological tools. It has linkages with the focus this week on multimodality and image over text discussion.

My third post was a status on Facebook which exemplified how younger generations may perceive Facebook as ancient technology compared to Twitter.  Following this was a quote from Kress and a sound experiment. Kress’s positioning about image over text has been an interesting one: the explanation on the differences and how the web has challenged traditional reading pattern, and the place of the author is noteworthy.

And finally a review on transliteracy. The use of the term unifying ecology of all literacies was useful to think about its application in publications on or off line.   Here I also discussed the work of Sanford Biggers, which provided a new way of thinking about space, histories and representation.

At the back of these, I reread Bell’s and Stern’s article from Week 1 and 2.  There is now greater clarity over the terminologies of cyberculture, cyberspace, material, political economy story and material story. Stern’s Historiography of Cyberculture illustrates the difficulty of framing the studies of digital culture, and has brought awareness of where to start drawing the boundaries, and when it is crossed and what is to be included.   These place the discussion of the Film Festival in a whole new light!

I have made an attempt at responding to different posts of peers.  My introduction the EDMOOC on the Hangout on Friday was satisfying.



Bell, D (2001) Storying cyberspace 1: material and symbolic stories, chapter 2 of An introduction to cybercultures. Abingdon: Routledge. pp6-29. [e-book] [PDF]

Kress, G (2005) Gains and losses: new forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition. 22(1), 5-22.

Sterne, J (2006) The historiography of cyberculture, chapter 1 of Critical cyberculture studies. New York University Press. pp.17-28.

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Transliteracy: Crossing Divides – a response

“The concept of transliteracy calls for a change of perspective away from the battles over print versus digital, and a move instead towards a unifying ecology not just of media, but of all literacies relevant to reading, writing, interaction and culture, both past and present.”

This is refreshing as it tries to encapsulate media literacy and digital literacy, and applies to all modes, across different platforms, media and tools, culture.  It also considers how these interact with each other.  The use of the word ecology is really quite apt.  There is a whole eco-system of literacies that our students will need to have to be sufficiently equipped to function in their world.

Some case studies mentioned stood out and it leads me to think  if there is any way to introduce new technologies in a way that would respect the boundaries and rhythm of communication, the social network, preserving and at the same time enhancing the economic and political prospect of people’s lives?

I am drawn to the stories told of the Australian aborigines and the Asheninka where writing is seen as delimiting and ‘the interdependence of the spoken stories and the sensible landscape’ where auditory mnemonic and the sight of locations evokes particular memory of songs and stories.

Eco–philosopher David Abram uses of the term ‘seen as a peculiar form of violence’ when describing the act of having oral stories written down and published and disseminated, as this very act of preserving the voice and story of the Australian Aborigines, tears them from the ‘visible landscape and the topographical features that materially embody and provoke them.’

It is a sobering thought.

This also leads me to think of the ‘visible landscape and the topographical features’ not only of the past but of the present and the future.  The emerging and transforming landscape of the digital culture, and how this is impacting education in and out of the classrooms. There is a sense of fluidity, but also could be seen as ‘violence’ when the old is taken away, and quickly replaced by the new. But there again, it can be different.

This brings to mind Sanford Biggers: The Cartographer’s Conundrum.  This incredible installation defies the regular landscape, and represent multiple layers of meaning through the fragment of broken mirrors, instruments, and these are suspended in mid-air.  There are pews in front of what looks like an altar in a church.  Sanford Biggers combines science fiction, cosmology and technology to create a new folklore of the African Diaspora. To me this represents a not so violent way of bringing about cultural change.

Display at Mass Mocca














Consider the use of the space in the warehouse,  with this installation.   Read more about Stanford Biggers.

Reference: Thomas, S et al (2007) Transliteracy: crossing divides. First Monday. 12(12). [web site]

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A response to Candance on Kress

A response to Candance’s on Kress’ idea of image as a stronger modality over text as representation of meaning.

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