My Lifestream for this introductory week is a work in progress to say the least. It is a combination of multiple channels and more that I attempted to include, but failed at doing so. Despite the seeming disconnectedness of the multiple channel experience, I have already seen the efficacy of channeling discussions into whatever form they desire to take, to let the message dictate the medium. That is already evident to me.

For this introductory week, I have relied on the following channels:

  • Twitter
  • WordPress Blog
  • Blog Comments
  • Delicious
  • YouTube
  • Flickr (which has yet to appear, still troubleshooting)

I have yet to employ my tumblr blog into the equation due to my lack of a mobile phone at the moment ( I find myself desperate to try the audio podcast from a mobile phone call function as that is incredibly useful for dictating notes and even attempting an automated transcription). However, the channels I did use provided me with a wide enough forum to both explore and articulate my take on digital culture. It is a many tiered, multimodal recreation of my physical one, even an augmented version of my physical one.

That is why I found the Hand chapter so invigorating and frustrating at the same time as it established its narratives on the macro level rather than the more intimate micro one. While it is incredibly important to revisit these narratives when discussing a framework for analyzing the effects of digital culture on national, international, and communal entities, it does little to explain why we invest in these as individuals. Yes, there is a strong narrative for the democratization of the world and I do nominally subscribe to that. I participate in my respective communities, I support my charities, my altruistic efforts are well documented, and generally find the use of digital technologies (especially for education) to be liberating. Yet, that is not why I participate.

I participate to engage in social collaboration, to identify peers, exchange ideas, and grow from the experience, a salon without limitations. I point to my experiences on the Edinburgh elearning program as evidence of this. I sat in Paris, chatted over the Bendito Machine in real time with colleagues from the UK, US, the Caribbean. I watched my nephew live in Ohio on a screencast from my brother’s Android phone. I talked to my wife via Skype. I attended a few work meetings via GoToMeeting, I conducted a webinar. All from my hotel bed,  a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens (not sure where that wifi was coming from), a desk at the Museum National d’histoire naturelle. Even from Charles de Gaulle Airport. I needed restaurant recommendations and I used the Lonely Planet application via my iPod. I was hyperlocal, both present, participative, and receptive in several worlds spanning a few continents. This is the rewards for my participation in digital culture and the fuel for my utopian vision of it (not entirely utopian, just generally so).

I advance a theory in an exchange of comments on blog posts about the notion of augmented reality and hyperlocality, the possibility that we never again have to experience absolute foreignness. While we may revel in the refreshing inexactness of experiencing novelty, being foreign itself can be mediated by my parallel participation in a digital culture. My Lifestream to date reflects my (perhaps naive) notion that digital culture is indeed utopian to an extent. It endlessly rewards my participation with layers of context applicable to both my digital and physical lives. I suspect that the dystopian tinges of digital culture will fade with me as I am able to master foreignness

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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