Hi! I'm an academic in Australia. I teach English Education and my research interests include new literacies, digital fiction, fan fiction, blogging, identity, pop culture, computer games, systemic linguistics, feminism and young people online. Recently I have been teaching and researching in the virtual world of Second Life, where I am known as Anya Ixchel.
Call for Proposals: NMC Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video
March 21-22, 2007
Proposals for presentations for the NMC Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video, a special 2-day, live, online event to be held March 21-22, 2007 entirely via the Internet, are being solicited through February 23.
Video as we know it, produced by experts and consumed by viewers, is metamorphosing into a different genre altogether, blurring the lines between producers and audiences. New video-based forms of self-expression are emerging, with notable examples like video mashups, jumpcuts, and video blogging. Nonlinear narratives abound in this format, in which stories unfold across a series of 1 to 3-minute clips and web viewers are drawn into mysteries such as the story of Lonelygirl15. Brand-new forms like machinima are emerging that bridge virtual worlds, gaming, and storytelling, all through the medium of the small video.
We are seeing the emergence of a production culture, one where, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 48% of American adults have published content on the Internet. For this generation, video is becoming the medium of choice for content and expression, and as the video shrinks in both program length and physical size, the way we think about video is changing significantly. The 100 million-plus examples on YouTube (and the company’s $1.65 billion price tag) and the nearly 1 million videos on Ourmedia are, for the most part, nowhere near the quality of professional video, but the sheer numbers of viewers who watch them is clear evidence of the compelling nature of the form.
A key factor in the rise of the new video is that production, access and distribution are easier than ever before. A variety of new viewing devices, including Internet-enabled mobile phones, easily record digital video, and posting those videos to the web has become a trivial matter. The explosion of new content is enabled by cheap and easy- to- use equipment as well as new web-based editing and production software.
Join keynoters Henry Jenkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Angela Thomas, University of Sydney, and Cynthia Calongne, Colorado Technical University, for this 2-day examination of the convergence of web culture and video.
The singular focus of this gathering is to consider how these developments are impacting our lives, and how they are affecting the ways we work, learn, collaborate, and even socialize. The conference is designed to spark an examination that explores both the positive and negative aspects of this phenomenon on learning, social interaction, self-expression, and more.
The conference will be conducted entirely online. Sessions, which will be conducted live, can incorporate a variety of visuals and rich media, and are generally about 45 minutes in length, with about half that time devoted to dialog with participants using voice over IP.
Proposals are encouraged on the topic in any of the following areas, but this list is not exhaustive and selections will not be limited to these categories:
* Cultural impacts and trends
* Reflections on identity, self-image and new forms of expression
* Tools and techniques
* Learning applications
* Student-produced content
* Pedagogical potentials and implications
This event is the ninth in the ongoing series of specially focused online gatherings that explore new ideas and issues related to technology and learning. The NMC Series of Online Conferences is itself an exploration of emerging forms of collaboration and tools, and this particular conference will focus on ways in which the conference sessions can each be highly interactive, in real time.
Larry Johnson from the New Media Consortium has invited me to participate in an online conference in March. I am thrilled that I will be presenting in any context with prolific writer and expert on all new media and culture phenomena, Henry Jenkins!
Here’s my title and abstract - comments welcome while I construct my talk over the next couple of weeks!
Evocative Spaces and Aesthetic Grabs: How youtube and video blogging are redefining self expression
I will begin this talk with a discussion of how youtube and video blogging have become a mediating space for what Sherry Turkle calls “evocative objects”: objects, or in this case spaces, that we use to think about ourselves. I argue that the act of viewing ones-self in public performances, and acknowledging public commentary on those acts, provides dual reflective lenses which serve to reconstruct, reinvent and redefine one’s identity. To demonstrate I discuss a number of examples in which the nature of the autobiographical is countered and transformed through the performance of self for the public.
Next I will draw on Senft’s notion of “the aesthetic of the grab” - a way of re-articulating the dynamics of spectatorship and participation in new video communities. I will discuss the notion of commodity fetishism and the ways in which “grabbing” bits and pieces of other people’s video performances is then being reconstituted into one’s own performances of identity. This includes but goes beyond one’s amusement at memes, desire for a shared cultural context and networked solidarity, in that it presents a “shopping for truth” about one’s place in the world. It also includes the notion that what is public and telepresent can be owned and manipulated for one’s own desires.
Finally I will raise the question about what it might mean for the millions of youth participants in youtube and videoblogging with respect to ethics, consequences and reputation management in an age where the personal is political.
Skyping at 2:45am for me, we begin to map out our workshop for this conference. Here’s the overview for the conference program…
Embodiment in Virtual Environments: Exploring Literacies, Identity, Research, and Community
Charles Kinzer, mathematics, science, and technology, Teachers College, Columbia University
Angela Thomas, University of Sydney
An increasing number of scholars, researchers, game/educational designers, and reporters in the popular press are writing about the economic, educational, and personal aspects of a virtual life online. Communities form and disband, individuals join or are excluded, and people can take very personally the virtual environments that they present, either intentionally or unintentionally, to others. With crossover from the “real” to the virtual (and the opposite) being an area of research and providing the underpinning for transfer of learning across real and virtual boundaries, educational opportunities and issues related to literacy, broadly defined, are being foregrounded.
Participants in this workshop will enter a virtual world, tour environments within that world, meet people and consider issues pertaining to research in such environments. The workshop format allows discussion and consideration of possibilities as well as presentation of some current activities. Thus, in keeping with the workshop format, the session will range from a presentation and consideration of issues related to virtual environments to hands-on tours and examination of applications in Second Life. We will meet others in-world, see how education might be facilitated, and consider embodiment and reality with spaces that exist electronically and perceptually.
See Rebecca, that’s how I manage to be involved in several projects at once, planning meetings at 2:45 am Who else here thinks I am crazy?
I am so thrilled to be in communication with Barry Joseph of Global Kids, and to be learning more about the work that is being done with teens in Second Life. Their site, Holy Meatballs, is truly inspirational, full of texts, images and machinima that the kids have created. UNICEF’s voices of youth project featuring these kids is explained here, and is the subject of the video above. My friend and colleague Danielle Mirliss first raised my awareness of Global kids in her Slatenight article, Henry Jenkins has been to visit the kids there (with the support of the NMC), and I’ve been excitedly following along, looking forward to becoming much more involved myself. So stay tuned
Today I was interviewed by the ABC news show The 7:30 Report about my teaching in Second Life! The filming took 3 hours - they interviewed me, some of my students, and filmed me teaching within Second Life. It was a little nerve-wracking I have to say, but hopefully it will turn out ok with some editing of the silly bits
So, stay tuned, if it turns out OK I might even blog the segment! They have already interviewed Christy Dena, and are interviewing Julian Dibbell next, so it will be a couple of weeks before it will be aired.
“My close friend and colleague thinks that since starting this course and spending time as Denver (my avatar), I have “blossomed” offline. My entire identity has changed – my perceptions about who I am, the way I think and interact, and the way I see the world now - has changed as a consequence of the journey Angela has encouraged us to take”
(Denver, a student in my SL New Literacies class, 2006)
otherwise entitled: “The View From My Office Window”
There is a sports field outside my office and I have a window that looks across the field. This afternoon, whilst busily working away, head down, engrossed in writing, I suddenly became aware of a “more-than-usual-noisy” lot of raucous sounds coming from the window. Roused from my work, I peered out of the window, and to my astonishment, saw the following:
My colleague in the office next door and I went outside to errrr…. go get coffee…. and had to … unfortunately … pass right by this spectacle!!! My colleague says “is this legal? it wouldn’t be legal in my country!” (she is from Greece) Another colleague suddenly decided she needed coffee as well and came outside and asked “Why?”. Not wanting to look like women engaging in perverted pleasures, we didn’t stop to ask questions (of course)… we just quickly walked on by to get our coffees. Somehow though, I managed to whip out my camera and take a few blurry shots (my hand was shaking so much because of my hysterical laughter) - and this is the evidence.
Perhaps life at the University of Sydney is somewhat more colourful than I had ever imagined?
Following my talk was a special kind of fashion show, where people were invited to showcase their unique identities and discuss their decisions and reasons behind constructing the avatar that they did. The podcast of this event is here.
Next up was the incredible Dell Wilberg, who’s talk was entitled Future Perfect: Towards a Better Second Life. Using knowledge of trends in technology over the past several decades, Dell offered us an insight into what we might expect in our immediate future.
Finally we heard from Danielle Mirliss and Heidi Trotta who spoke about their work with Undergraduate students in Second Life: Engaging the Disengaged. It was fascinating to hear their experiences and to compare their thoughts with my own experiences with post-grads. The podcast is here.
In my closing remarks I mentioned that Christy was being interviewed in just a few hours time by the ABC media in Australia about Second Life, and here is the podcast for that (go Christy!!!).
The NMC blogging and recording of the four hour event was fantastic and my thanks go to Larry Pixel and CDB Barkley for inviting us to be a part of this very significant symposium. it was an honour and a thrill to be invited.
85 more photographs here, thanks also to Gary Hazlitt and NMC for many of the photographs in this set.
As part of the NMC’s 12 day symposium on the The Impact of Digital Media, last night (from midnight til 2am) I attended a live press conference run by the MacArthur Foundation. The press conference was held simulataneously in New York, and at the NMC campus in Second Life. It was a wonderful event and I felt privileged to be attending. I got to hear Mimi Ito and Henry Jenkins, and I even managed to get a question relayed from Second Life to the panellists in NY, which they generously responded to!! There’s two fantastic summaries of the event and what was said by Beth and Rik, a series of pictures taken from the NMC here, and a list of links to the audio and more media coverage at the NMC Observer blog. Meanwhile, here are a few of my favourite pics:
Listening to Mimi Ito:
Listening to Henry Jenkins:
The SL Crowd (That’s me sitting next to Christy in the front row!)
Listening to the President of the MacArthur Foundation, Jonathan Fanton, who announced a 50 million dollar funding roll out over the next 5 years to improve the research into the teaching of digital media, with the burning question: How is digital media changing the way that children learn and develop and what are the implications?
Tonight from midnight to 4am its my turn to speak! See my previous post for the list of events organised for this 4 hour session, it should be both stimulating and fun.
I have just returned from the ASFLA conference where I gave my first ever keynote paper. I have to say I was terribly anxious before my talk - I was sitting in the empty lecture theatre 2 hours prior to starting going over my notes (ummm and should I confess to the fact that I was still making notes right up til a few minutes before I started?!) and checking that all the technical things were working!!! Fortunately it went really well and I had lovely feedback from lots of people! PHEW!!
The loveliest feedback I had about my talk came from Len, who said it was the best talk he’d ever heard me give! Len has heard pretty much every talk I have ever given dating back to hmmmm… 1997 I think!! So I thought that was a great compliment. I also inspired several people to run off and sign up with Second Life and/or Kahootz - I think I should be on commission!
It was great to meet up with friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen for a while, not to mention the stimulating and inspiring sessions I managed to attend. I also got to meet several people who read my blog - HELLO!!! The comments ranged from: “Ohhh I recognise you from your blog”, “Hello, I’ve been reading your blog for ages!” and “You’re different to what I expected from your blog” (not sure how I should take that last comment!)
I was very excited to meet Jo’s mother, Rita (who gave me lots of great bribery material I can now use on Jo *grin*), and famous ed-tech blogger Scott.
Special thanks to my wonderful friend Brian who gave me lots of moral support, and my poor brother Matthew, who I called at 11:30pm the night before my presentation asking numerous musical questions to make absolutely 100% certain that the musical aspects of my multimodal analyses were accurate!!!
Now I have to finalise the paper for the proceedings - I can’t upload my slides because I don’t have copyright permissions for all of the images I used, but for anybody interested in my paper about machinima let me know and when its all done I’ll send you a copy.