Lurking? What’s that?

I was never much of a lurker. The internet arrived in Brazil (or in my house, at least) in 1996 and one of the first websites I visited was MIT’s collection of Shakespeare’s works (the site still has its 1993 look!). In 1998, I had already registered and was sharing my admiration for the playwright (playwrights?) while attempting to translate his sonnets. Attempting being the operative word.

Since then, I’ve blogged at TED4Schools (now defunct), spoke at and organized TEDx events, spoke and delivered workshops at conferences, and even contributed to discussions on the (also defunct) Online Curriculum Center (OCC). The craziest was probably participating in ISTE’s SecondLife gatherings, which I think I’ve done only once or twice back when SecondLife was a thing. Feeling the lack of reciprocity the same way respondents to Lloyd, Skyring and Fraser’s survey on online personas have felt, I consume/create online mostly on Twitter and private discussion forums for other online courses.

A key point from the MacArthur report, on how youth use new media, for me, was the notion that certain forms of media don’t automatically correlate to high-end or low-end levels of media literacy. That the genre, or commitment to media engagement, is what distinguishes the depth at which students are participating. Are they consuming or creating?

With that said, the paper made it clear that their ethnographic study was focused on the use of new media outside of a school setting. Edwin and Winston’s talk from Learning2 Asia, I think, makes the perfect anecdotal bridge on how this plays out between the academic and non-academic worlds.

The report from the MacArthur Foundation Living and Learning with New Media felt very contemporary, despite being authored in 2008. I couldn’t help but chuckle every time they mentioned iPods, though. Remember those?

Another brilliant exploration of the world of new media, and how participatory it has become. From TEDYouth 2011, by Youtube trends manager Kevin Allocca.

When creating and participating, does one become less reflective? If 20% of people are creating 80% of the content, what’s in the other 20% of the content? Are they missing out on it? Can you be an active online ‘listener’ if you’re intent on always creating? In other words: is balance possible? Desirable?

8 thoughts on “Lurking? What’s that?

  1. Hi Luiz, thank you for sharing the video of Winston and Edwin speaking at Learning 2 Asia. I believe in the power of peer learning and found it refreshing to hear students’ perspectives on the topic. When friends or groups of students share a passion or interest, they encourage and push each other to learn more about the subject, be it academic or not. These opportunities for “geeking out” are vital, but I sometimes find it hard to fit the necessary time into the day, due to our students’ busy schedules. It was inspiring to hear Winston and Edwin speak of learning that happens organically in cafes or libraries, where they met with peers and critiqued one another’s work. It’s up to us as teachers and facilitators to find the balance that allows students to be creators, consumers, and critics of their work and that of others.

  2. Hi Luis. I enjoyed Winston and Edwin’s presentation video you shared. They are adorable. I agree with you, it fit well with the new media ecology article. Edwin mentioned a quote by Einstein, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I really appreciated it but had never heard it before so I looked up to fact check and found several memes for it. There were several quoting Albert then I noticed one giving Bill Gates credit. I found that amusing.

    Could you explain how you added the Twitter feed as a sidebar to your blog? Thanks in advance.

    If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough,

    • On your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Appearance’ > ‘Customize’ > ‘Widgets’ > ‘Blog sidebar’.

      Einstein also famously said: “I didn’t say half of the things people said I did!”

  3. Hi Luiz!

    How did you know about websites when you first got the internet? My house got hooked up in ’95 and I didn’t know what to search for. I think the first thing I looked up was ‘weather’.

    You’re the opposite of me! I’m definitely a lurker/contributor. I have original content but haven’t shared it with my online learning groups because I’m unsure of myself. I need some of your confidence!

    If 20% create 80% of the content, what is the other 20% of the content like? When I think of my PLNs; there are a few people who always post content (the 20%). The other people (80%) post a variety of things that aren’t necessarily created by them. For example, in one of my Facebook groups, content could be self serving like venting, looking for advice, looking for jobs, looking for learning activities. Some people post media links (or memes!) that connected to their class that day or to something a student said. Sometimes there are survey posts because someone needs data for a course. That’s what I mostly observe, content that is focused on advice or a person’s need for information in the moment.

    I think if you’re always creating content, there should be a bit of reflection. If not, how do you know your content is quality or meets the needs of your PLN? If you’re posting things that aren’t quality, I think it’s a start but reflecting on it and trying to do better will yield better results. I don’t think reflection is the only way to get better either.

    In a couple of the articles, there was mention of learning from others. When you open yourself up online and share your ideas/work, you’re giving others the opportunity to give feedback. I think feedback is helpful with developing content and with feedback comes reflection. I think this feedback could create new ideas that would drive creation of new or improved content.

    I think being an active listener but also creating content is a balance sometimes or it’s one or the other! If I had time to scroll through my online groups and help answer questions or connect people, I would. If I also had time to keep up my network and post new content, I would. This sounds like a full time job. I wouldn’t leave my computer all day, which is less than desirable, so perhaps it depends on the content/conversations that are occurring and if I make time to share quality contributions or creations.

    • I think a magazine published a list of search engines. Or maybe it was the default page or bookmark on IE. Altavista was my homepage for many years. Then Yahoo! Once I got a hold of a search engine, game over. I think I still remember the first few searches:

      Rock n Roll Racing soundtrack (a SNES game)
      Heart surgery (when I found the Brazilian society of thoracic surgery and got myself into an OR to watch a valve replacement surgery after sending them an email — I wanted to be a heart surgeon).

      Good times!

      Your comment makes me think about a question my TOK students are grappling with this week. The role of an audience, and the criteria for quality. If a teacher reflects on a post, and there is no one there to read it, is it still valid?

  4. Hi Luiz,

    Firstly I would like to mention that I like your blog very much.
    It looks very fresh and unique with the contrast, and the colors that you are using and with your short funny animation, videos. (hyperlinks) that you posted.
    I must say I didn’t manage yet to hyperlink something in my text but I hope to be able to do that soon. So I am lurking or I become a “passive observer” in the meantime.
    Anyway, your “intuition” to technology is very good.
    I enjoyed very much the post about “Why Videos go viral” from Kevin Alloca (all the cat versions were so creative and funny) and your question: “When creating and participating, does one become less reflective?” was a very good one.
    I think there is a balance, but there are some people who have more power of expression creating, recreating, reshaping, refining, and in between there is a complex process of reflecting in your mind, but maybe physically without taking a break. I can compare with my practice as an artist because when I start to express an idea visually, I am very active and I cannot stop until I have a close vision of what I wanted to express. Especially when I am doing Aquatint etching, it has a long process( sketching, making the draft clear, transferring on the copper plate, etching in the acids, till hand made printing) but I am trying to reflect all the time and to refine it on my way, for several days. And maybe it is a balance of creating 80% and reflecting 20% or both at the same time 50% and 50%.
    I wish I could post artwork of mine, and to hyperlink a colleague of us, Erika, who defines herself as”passive observers” instead or “lurker”, which I like this new word very much:).

    • Check out an app called ScannerPro on the App Store (or OneDrive app if you’re using Microsoft Office at your school). You can snap a photo of your etchings and they’ll look like they’ve been digitalized through a proper scanner. They would look great on a blog! Thank you for the comments on the blog’s look and feel. Dark mode is the ‘new thing’, supposed to be easier on the eyes. I also used for the color scheme (it lets you pick a color and suggests appropriate complimentary colors that ‘jive’).

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