Mastodon: Fossil or Future?

The richest man [1] on earth bought the most influential social media platform. The richest man on Earth told millions of Twitter users to vote Republican. The richest man on earth proclaimed the reign of absolute freedom, then closed down accounts that parodied him. The richest man on earth sacked half his staff. [2] There are many reasons to dislike Elon Musk’s public persona and his actions. There are many more reasons to leave Muskworld. It’s not clear to me whether Musk bought Twitter as an investment, as a propaganda unit, or a plaything. Perhaps he really does believe he can rescue it through innovation. However, the fear that content moderation and authentication were being jettisoned has sparked fears of a racist, misogynistic, fascistic free-for-all. The highly-principled and often nomadic members of the Wokerati began to experiment with rumoured alternatives, such as Mastodon, and were suddenly aware of something radical called The Fediverse . Although the free Masto

The Comedy of Community Film

Comedy is often associated most strongly with laughter, with those 'laugh out loud' moments. However, comedy also often includes elements of sentimentality and anguish. On the darker side, the underbelly of comedy is a response to cruelty and dehumanization. Accordingly, how a comic production is to be classified or placed along a spectrum is a difficult task, not least because tastes vary with different people. Brigsby Bear (2017) provides an intriguing case study. In this blog, the film also provides an opportunity to discuss the role of community film making that is depicted in this poignant and sometimes absurd story. At the outset, geeky James Pope (Kyle Mooney) is leading an infantilized life that is safely insulated from the outside world. His obsession is a children's show called Brigsby Bear , hundreds of episodes of which he has watched on VHS tapes. However, [SPOILER ALERT] his 'parents' are actually his kidnappers; they had snatched

The 32 Dangers of Collaboration

In all walks of life collaboration is very fashionable: as a practice, a theory, or a goal. But do we ever really think through the dangers or disadvantages of collaboration? If it really works, why does it so often encounter cultures of resistance ? If we are to believe its main exponents and its evangelistic supporters collaboration unlocks creativity; improves inclusion; reduces costs; increases efficiency; delivers more effective and responsive services. It sounds like a win-win scenario. Collaboration is a fashionable way of doing business and it is the rallying cry for governments and public service reformers. Being more networked, connected, co-operative, joined up… the collaboration industry is the dominant mode of discourse in the participatory world of Web 2.0. In a circular motion, new media and social media is built upon - and leads to - more collaboration. Is collaboration sometimes a downward spiral of depreciating values? Or sometimes a virtuous cycle of

Vocabulary Learning - Warm-Up Exercises

This is a warm-up exercise. Test your word power! How many words start with "T" and finish with "R" ? (You can find the answers here ) Perhaps a wide vocabulary is one part of intelligence? Intelligence takes many forms: understanding and applying rules, ability to generate patterns, lateral thinking, inter-personal, intra-personal etc. Granted: word skills are certainly not a test of emotional stability or spiritual values or ethical awareness. Use this exercise in pairs — as a group exercise — for the best results. Ideally use this game as a warm-up exercise at the start of a class. You can use a whiteboard, or just practise as an oral/aural activity. It can be time-limited. Try 1, 3, 10 or 15 minutes, and compare results. Actually, it's most effective as a collaborative social media game that might help to bring less frequently used words to the surface. When I posted this verbal mind-game on Facebook it went viral, with l

Tate values and Community theory

I was delighted to read that Maria Balshaw has been appointed as the new director of the UK's most famous art galleries: the Tate . I had the pleasure of working alongside Dr Maria Balshaw at “Nene” or “University College” in the late 1990s, which was  an immensely exciting time to be a Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies.  The undergraduate course was very ambitious in terms of its academic complexity and its diversity of ideas about the relationship between Theory, the Arts, and Society.  As collaborators in an innovative institution we felt liberated to take risks and to embrace creative challenges within the “Combined Honours” degree programme. At the same time, tutors such as Maria played an influential personal and academic support role with students who were sometimes surprised to find that they had been fortunate to have been awarded an opportunity to study for a degree.  As a tutor, Maria inspired students to have the confidence to exp

Digital Storytelling and Mind-weaving Women

The words 'textus' and 'contextus' in Latin were associated with weaving, plaiting, interlacing, wrought together, interwoven ... Weaving was a complex process that was often the work of women as part of their domestic duties. The most famous weaver in Western classical culture was Odysseus's wife Penelope. To fend off unwanted suitors during her husband's absence, she tells them that she will marry only when she has finished weaving a funeral shroud for her husband's father Laertes. But each night she undoes part of her completed work in order to delay being forced to accept one of the suitors. Her 'cunning' ( metis ) is a form of knowledge, a kind of artifice, and therefore demonstrates the relationship between the craft of the storyteller and the weaving of the narrative cloth. She is similar to and different from the character role of Helen, who also weaves; but in this case the heroic deeds depicted are a representation of her story. T

21 Symptoms of Social Media Addiction

A recent article argued that Social Media should be banned for those under 16. Outrage! What are the warning signs that we have been imprisoned by our screens? Is it possible that the addiction to social media could be harming our physical, mental and spiritual world? I would be the first to admit that there are worse activities such as mindlessly TV channel-surfing.But I have noticed the addiction in others ! You all make so many excuses for spending so much time online. For many people this is not a cause for anxiety at all. We are increasingly cyborgian, and any wish to return to the old ways (3-5 years ago) is nothing but a futile, hopeless and romantic nostalgia. Having allocated myself a timetable that now stipulates a progressive increase in my time away from the screen I have noticed an improvement in my general health and sense of well-being. Perhaps the experience of having recovered from cancer last year has led me to rethink the primacy of direct interacti