week 6 – summary

This week was a shift in direction from previous weeks, with preparing for the task of deciding on a topic for a virtual ethnography. I looked at a number of examples and also finally managed (being inspired) to refresh the look of my blog.

I cast the net far and wide (excuse the pun) and researched all sorts of potential ideas: a graffiti blog, an American Indian blog, an art website,  a 1980s band… but in the end I settled for the idea I have had for quite some time: looking at You Tube.

As a case study the artist Mark Rothko has been a fascinating subject for me. I would like to look at how Rothko, or rather, his paintings have been represented online. [The underlying question for me is to what extent do we experience art online? Can online art  spaces (and how we interact with these) contribute to an aesthetic experience? The representation of space in YouTube is mostly a recording of real life space. Can online discussions about viewing a TV documentary extend into an online art space?]

There are many websites that offer information on Rothko: some have a commercial interest (selling posters or prints), others are run by museums and galleries (the Tate is a fine example). Not long ago Rothko was in the news when one of his painting in the Tate Modern was de-faced. This act sparked a lot of of internet topical news activity. I even came across an extreme right wing internet forum, illustrating that internet opinion can be diverse and shocking.

For most of the week I used search engines to build up a picture of where Rothko can be found. (I even wondered how Google in a nitty-gritty sense actually works?) There are many social media platforms such as Flick’r, Vimeo, Twitter, Pinterest, even Google Maps and indeed of course YouTube which all offer a dynamic ‘Rothko’ view: pages are retrieved and aggregated, unlike the static articles that are published on various websites, including newspapers, galleries and in an academic  context.

I started a new Pinterest board to keep track of some of these websites.

The readings of Hine, Clari and Kozinets gave a better idea of the context of what I will be doing in the next 2 weeks.

I checked the ethical considerations and looked at Timetoast as a timeline (but I don’t expect to use the latter one)

On the eve of the anniversary of Rothko’s death (25/2/1970) I feel I am ready to find out how the BBC programme by Simon Schama, opinion on Rothko and YouTube contextualisation will mix.


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MOOC pinterest board – final pin

I have made a final pin (and updated the anchor image) on my board explaining the activity would no longer be monitored (thanks to Jen for the advice on this). Having been set up for a particular purpose which had now more or less expired, I felt I could no longer give the board my  full attention.

As I was surveying all the comments made, it struck me that due to the board’s layout of having the first pins appearing at the bottom of the screen, and the newest ones appearing at the top of the screen, the image that was most appropriate for this activity is that of a loom.

Indeed, I feel Pinterest can be compared to a digital loom with patterns appearing, spread around the selected photos, reflecting the discussions and interactions.

I think this is a metaphor that works very well, reflecting the smooth/striated analogy that Sian Bayne’s refers to in her paper, when discussing Deleuze & Guattari:

The technological model Deleuze & Guattari provide as illustrative of these two types of space is one of textiles. Here, woven fabric is necessarily a striated space, with its gridlike form consisting of intersecting warp and weft. It is a space of closure: ‘the fabric can be infinite in length but not in width, which is determined by the frame of the warp; the necessity of a back and forth motion implies a closed space’ (p. 475).

I think this is such a beautiful metaphor, it totally appeals to my imagination!

With regards to Pinterest itself: although it is a creatively engaging platform, getting any analytics from it, is actually not that easy. Pins are listed individually and monitored against re-pins and likes. To get figures for the MOOC board, I know there are 71 followers and 24 pins. But for the comments for  each, I need to do a visual check, i.e. no graphs nor anything like getting the statistics. Perhaps the business model let’s you sign up for this…. (?)  It is something I would need to check in the FAQ (I had a quick look but like anything in this area takes hours to unravel…another nice fabric metaphor!)

So, taking final stock, here are my analytics (as per 16/2/2013):

Top for comments the pin on ‘sustainable learning’: 2 likes, 19 comments and 2 re-pins:






Top for re-pinned and likes:  the pin on Feedback with 6 likes, 9 comments, 5 re-pins






The pin on ‘why posts (on the discussion board) get rated’  interestingly receives 6 comments, but no likes, nor re-pins itself.






Finally, pins that have received no comments, nor repins at all:







I was quite surprised for the grasshopper metaphor: I thought that was such a visually engaging pin, yet nobody  seemed taken by it….

This has been an exciting activity, useful for evaluating an online platform which is both visually stimulating and participatory.

I believe it can be a great tool for classroom and MOOC engagement, but one must consider that, not surprisingly, the element of ‘feedback’ (itself a discussed pin) is a highly demanding activity and part of the opinion that supporting dialogue is such an important aspect of learning.



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Authorship (follow up)

In one of my previous posts, I questioned the position of the ‘author’ in the context of academic discourse, extended to the visual authorship in case of images.

On checking the FAQ page of Pinterest, below is their policy, and having signed up for this through usage, would of course cover all material:  user content would include images and comments, both mine and the MOOC participants.

A sobering thought…. where lies intellectual property?

b. How Pinterest and other users can use your content

You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict other legal rights Pinterest may have to User Content, for example under other licenses. We reserve the right to remove or modify User Content for any reason, including User Content that we believe violates these Terms or our policies.

c. How long we keep your content

Following termination or deactivation of your account, or if you remove any User Content from Pinterest, we may retain your User Content for a commercially reasonable period of time for backup, archival, or audit purposes. Furthermore, Pinterest and its users may retain and continue to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute any of your User Content that other users have stored or shared through Pinterest.

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I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of what I have been discussing and writing on the various platforms.

Over these past few days, there seems an exponential growth of comments. One of the buzzwords in my head is aggregation. In order to be efficient, I need to be using my tags better…

I realise I should check:

  • Pinterest board
  • WordPress main page
  • WordPress course participant pages
  • Tweetdeck
  • The week 4 MOOC overview page and all its spin offs
  • the EDEDC MOOC and the discussion forum

My coffee breaks, lunch and evening are increasingly spent checking status and adding comments.

I check my mobile phone for incoming messages about various accounts but know that not all are notified through my mailbox.

I am looking for visual clues that can give a better understanding of how to interact on the course.

I check YouTube and my Flickr account

I have a story in my head that needs to be followed up.

I would like to try out all the other platforms I haven’t had a chance to look at yet: thinglink (signed up for an account), Glogster (not yet)…

Is this utopia or dystopia?

Am I (becoming) post human?

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In my recent Pinboard activity, I noticed that on occasion pins get a ‘like’. Other platforms such as Facebook have pages with ‘likes’. Indeed, Pinboard activity is encouraged  to be liked on Facebook, distributing (augmenting?) the effect.

I am not a digital markteer, but having used Facebook for many years, I have a certain understanding  what ‘like’ means.

Yet looking at my Pinboard, I was not entirely sure, especially with regards to the MOOC activity, what the ‘like’ actually entails. Indeed do ‘likes’  across platform indicate the same meaning and associations?

Checking Pinterest FAQ it mentions that ‘Liking a pin adds the image to your profile’s Likes section; the image does not get added to one of your boards.  ’

But perhaps one could like a pin, because one likes the image (an immediate reaction, and very much my visual usage)… and thus why ‘like’ and  not ‘re-pinning’… ?   FAQ mentions ‘A repin maintains the source-link of the image no matter how many times it’s repinned.’…. a complex strategy seems involved.  A picture seems a thousand words. And all these pictures are tracked endlessly.

So here again we have the interchange of visuality, the de-coupling, de-territorialising, de-situating.  Images linked, become unlinked, relinked, re-sited, new narratives ensue.

I then discover that underneath all of this (of course) is the business model, a  commodifcation of our liking.


http://business.pinterest.com/         and this model, as an encouragement, as a way of remembering what we love…

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Re-pin and MOOC forum

What are the implications of re-pinning and switching between the MOOC forum and other platforms, such as Pinterest, but also all the other ones that have been used to build artefacts?

In the IDEL module, we were introduced via Sian Bayne’s article to the idea of smooth and striated places (referring to Deleuze and Guatarri)

It struck me that the MOOC activity of ‘grasshopping’ * between the various platforms (i.e. forum to Pinboard, to other blogs, to websites etc…), each digital territory folding into the other one,   reminding me of

… a local integration moving from part to part and constituting smooth space in an
infinite succession of linkages and changes in direction. It is an absolute that is
one with becoming itself, with process. It is the absolute of passage’ (Deleuze &
Guattari, 1988, p. 494). (quoted in Sian’s article)

The striated spaces, are however, also inherently part of this experience, with Pinboard constraining activity within a structured, engineered interface, that although giving the user some control, is very manufactured. However, the option to link to any images allows the user to de-territorialise, to make engaging collages and juxtapositions and extending the narrative and the audience.

In addition, this visual pinning is supported by personal commentary.

Sian mentions ‘Electracy’ (after Greg Ulmer) which is a new type of literacy, that takes the symbolic representation of knowledge into account. Where the Coursera forum is based on traditional writing, a platform such as Pinterest allows for this new means of expressiveness.

‘if literacy focused on universally  valid methodologies of knowledge, electracy focuses on the individual state of mind within which knowing takes place’ (quoting Ulmer, 2003).

The Pinterest Board is similar to Ulmer’s ‘mystory’:

‘The act of composing online to that of curating an  exhibition, in which largely ‘readymade’ or pre-existing elements are arranged
together through an intellectual act  which consists less in exposition or
argumentation than in the appropriate and meaningful use of linkage and collage.’



(some more digging for this is required)

[* a term borrowed from one of the the pinboard comments]

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MOOC response, the week after

The MOOC vs. Pinterest board has given me a new perspective, allowing me to raise more questions:

  1. are the Pinterest images offering anchor points for discussion, giving a sense of direction to the topics covered?
  2. does the Pinterest board build a community where interaction is more conducive?
  3. does the Pinterest board operate independently from the Coursera discussion board?
  4. how does the re-pinning affect my perception of intellectual ownership (question thanks to Candace’s prompt)
  5. will the Pinterest board be maintained through the concept of re-pinning, ensuring digital remake.
  6. how do re-pins on other boards continue the narrative?
  7. Can the Pinterest board be seen as an incorporated element of the coursera course, and any of the other newly created platforms that have sprung up since the start of the course?

On the MOOC Dutch group, this tool was suggested and so I tried it out. It’s great fun, but time consuming….


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in my reflection on the MOOC, I questioned the position of the ‘author’ in the context of academic discourse, extended to the visual authorship in case of images.

Commenting on Steph’s post regarding the Scottish Clan, I quoted Roland Barthes, whose article THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR  offers an interesting perspective.

‘We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture’

The diffuse nature of the internet offers a challenge and opportunities for authenticity and originality.

For the Pinterest board I did not feel particularly strongly  associated with the contents, both visual and textual. However, some good metaphors appeared. For instance the metaphor of digital agora or the idea of grasshopping are very strong ones. If I were to use this metaphor in any further writing, how could I refer to it? How would I refer to the original forum entry?

Could I use the Pinboard reference? Is this academically stable? is this of a scholarly content? Does it matter?

(to follow)

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MOOC digital artifact





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Love sick: a story continued

 I thought I would continue with my story, if you remember, the  graffiti image of a heart.

In a previous comment, I let the story end (Page not Found). I felt this was a symbolic move, poetic almost reflecting the emotional tension in the artefact.

Today I was considering a link to another website, until I received an alert via my mailbox to inform me that my photo has now taken it’s own internet course, through Pinterest.

You can check the link here.

In my continuous attempt to link the image to a narrative, emerging from its online presence, I looked for further evidence, through Google maps and noticed, not surprisingly, that love sick is absent from the Google wall.

Internet spaces and real life spaces are in a continuous flux

(to be continued)

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