This week, for me, was about the exploration of perception, community, and connectedness. I found myself more invested in the process of interaction than ever before, desiring greatly to mediate what I understood through my interactions with others. I wanted to bounce ideas off my classmates, reflect, augmented, transform, work with that gooey putty of representation, mold it into something new. I have transformed the organic/botanical metaphor we have been using in our explorations of networks into goo. The silly putty of existence.

This week was spent exploring the supremacy of text as put forth by Kress and trying my darnedest to thwart that supremacy. The visual artefact that I created in Prezi was an attempt to mitigate text into purely supplementary roles, as an enhancement of the visual presentation I created. Yet, and this strikes me as significant, that even I, the creator of the work (I avoided using the term author there), upon rewatching the Prezi, found myself zeroing in on the text as more significant than the visuals that I used to accompany it. I had intentionally labored to create an artefact that deviated from this traditional form of textual storytelling, but found myself thinking that the visuals, while significant, were merely temporary detours from the textual road I was traveling on. However, I feel that the passivity of my merely watching the Prezi and not actively creating it, contributes to that observation. When merely observing, the text is a warm embrace of clarity, familiar. When actively creating, the text is a distraction, a footnote. The role of creator and observer that elicited these different perceptions will hopefully serve me well in the upcoming weeks of ethnography. I don’t often need much encouragement to pursue duality.


As for my Lifestream, the contributions this week were more collaborative than in weeks prior, with a much greater emphasis on comments to other’s posts. This was intentional as there are times to talk and times to respond and this felt like an opportune time for reflection and analysis as opposed to pure creativity. I see a learning lifecycle forming here. While not commenting on other’s posts, I spent time on Twitter, Tumblr, and, perhaps most importantly, in audio. Although merely a happy accident, it seemed fortuitous that I focused on audio this week as we approach our ethnographic bloc, where the “romantic legacy” of ethnography” which treats speech as more authentic than writing (Hines, 51). So, this week I will be relying quite a bit on sound cues from social networks and online learning, that is the feedback and associated symbols reflected in audio in online communities. I will explore further music as a primer for understanding, something that I have been investigating recently. Audio is the primer we use to apply clarity to noise (it is for me). Somewhat counterintuitively, when swimming in a sea of noise, the addition of possibly more noise (music) actually creates a greater container for focus. I will explore this further.


In addition, I hope to phone in many of my ethnographic field notes through Tumblr’s phone feature (quite clever, actually) adding as much audio to the equation as possible. If possible, I would like to try and include Audioboo into my Lifestream (perhaps through an aggregation of another service), because, as Audioboo says, “sound is social”. Indeed, it is.

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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