Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Final exam location

The final exam will NOT be held in our regular lecture room.  Instead, the final exam will be held in Humanities 1641.  This room DOES have all the necessary A/V requirements for presenting your final projects from a laptop, an iPad, or whatever.  So, to recap:

J 176 Final Exam
Tuesday May 15, 2012
Humanities 1641

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

J176 Artifact/Presentation Guidelines

J176 GROUP ARTIFACT/PRESENTATION GUIDELINES (Available as a Google Document here)


  • Media fluency definition. Define media fluency somewhere in the artifact/presentation
  • Media fluency content. Tie-in your artifact/presentation content to your defintion of media fluency.
  • Sources and article integration. Reference at least 4 articles from the course reader in your artifact/presentation. If you are able to reference and skillfully incorporate more than 4 articles, such effort will be rewarded. Properly cite any outside sources used.


  • Topic. Originality and approach to the theme or topic of your artifact/presentation.
  • Focus and Cohesion. Does the overall artifact/presentation have a clear focus? Do individual parts keep their focus? How do the “pieces” (each group member’s work) relate to the whole (the group artifact/presentation)?


  • Comments. Report on how eliciting and moderating comments turned out.
  • Facebook page. Report on how creating and integrating your Facebook page worked out.
  • Twitter feed. Report on how your Twitter feed worked out.
  • Marketing. Report on your thought-leader marketing and whether it led to greater blog activity.
  • Site statistics and analytics. Include a brief summary and analysis of your site statistics and analytics.


  • Group collaboration. Report on how your group divided labor. You may wish to Include a record of work, with each each group member noting their contributions.
  • Report on process. Include a reflection on the process of producing the blog in your artifact/presentation. For example, after reviewing the syallbus for each week, what tasks were more difficult or easier than you expected? What parts of the various tools were easier or more difficult to learn than you expected? What other parts of the process were noteworthy?


  • Design and graphics. Add some illustrations, graphics, patterns, charts, cartoons -- any kind of visual interest to your artifact/presentation. Original graphics and original photography are a great way to make your artifact/presentation stand out. You may want to design a unique logo for your group.
  • Clarity and uniformity. The design elements and formatting of your artifact/presentation should have some consistency.
  • Originality. If your artifact/presentation demonstrates artistic or intellectual merit or creativity beyond what was required for the assignment, such effort will be rewarded.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Discussion of our films today?

Anyone interested in offering some reactions to, or thoughts about, the two films we screened in lecture today?  I'm especially curious to know whether or not you thought they worked well together.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Think you can do better on social media than a 10-year-old?  Better consider the web site of "Super-Awesome" Sylvia first.  And even though it's advertising-free, she's using it to fund her (future) college education (with the help and approval of her parents).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unscientific media fluency class survey: Would you take a winter break course?

It sounds like UW-Madison is moving to institute a winter term of classes during the month-long break between fall and spring semesters.  I'm curious about how many of you would be interested in staying in Madison over the break and paying for an extra 3-credit course (probably taught in intensive three-week fashion where you're basically in class from 9am-noon every weekday, cramming a week of instruction into each morning).  Further, I'm curious if you would do this for a particular class that I developed a while back but haven't been able to teach in years: Video Games and Mass Communication.  Any interest?  (Even if you're not interested in particular -- and don't worry, I don't blame you if you're not -- given your thorough "media fluency" understanding by now, do you think this course would have relevance or appeal to your peers here at UW?)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Data on privacy for Facebook apps

Relevant to our lecture from today: A third-party vendor, PrivacyChoice LLC, has released a tool that rates Facebook apps with a score from 0-100 depending on how well they allow a user to understand and protect privacy.  The tool is rather complicated but their Frequently Asked Questions page helps to demystify it.  How does your favorite Facebook app rate?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Using social media to discuss a social media course

So I have a little blog of my own, called The Note on My Door, where I occasionally post professorly-type essays intended for students, faculty, and staff around UW-Madison to read.  Last month, after your J 176 assignment where you had to find an article on the Internet that was not online, I was so intrigued by the responses that I posted a little note on the experience.  

So far it's been viewed over 4,000 times.

Through comments and emails, this little post has led to contacts from educators and librarians from all over the world -- including a nice request from the folks at ProQuest to be able to adapt the assignment for their own education and training efforts.  

What do you think about having your classroom experience showcased for the whole world?  Is this something that would have been possible ten years ago?  Five?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Notes for this week's discussion

Facebook self-survey. Facebook self-survey. Survey the size and scope of your Facebook network — how many friends, how many close friends, how many degrees of separation between your friends. Then survey the homogeneity of your Facebook network — how many friends at same school, same town, same high school, same politics, same religion, same major, same age. Write a one-page, single-spaced self-critique of your Facebook network and turn it in to your TA. For one-half point extra credit, post it as a "Note" on Facebook for your friends to comment on.

*There are options to search friends by: current city, hometown, school, workplace, [tagged] interest, and friends of friends. For some of the above questions, you will need to manually look for the answers. An app like Friends & Profile Statistics can help, or to assess trends and influence, you might try the full site for the Swaylo app. (Free free to share tips for your peers as comments here.) However, it's not the numbers we are interested in, but what those numbers mean. We want you to think critically and interpret the significance of your findings.

Thought-leader marketing. Identify some key people around campus (fellow students, teachers, researchers, advisers, administrators) and try to get them to engage with your blog. You might invite someone to do a guest post, or ask them if you can repost something from their web writings. Or invite someone to comment on a discussion you are having on the blog. Or just ask their opinion and see if it leads to any greater blog activity.

Make some format choices about your final presentation and digital artifact. In discussion we will ask your group to share what you plan to do for your 1) artifact, 2) presentation, and 3) thought-leader marketing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to ask a question

Welcome back from break, everybody.  To get us thinking about media again, I wanted to post an excerpt of a nice little essay I discovered over the weekend in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Written by Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, it suggests some simple techniques for "How to ask a question" — a crucial part of civil dialogue and knowledge production that we all too often ignore:
You have not been invited to give a speech. Before you stand up, boil your thoughts down to a single point. Then ask yourself if this point is something you want to assert or something you want to find out. There are exceptions, but if your point falls into the category of assertion, you should probably remain seated. “Mr. Nixon, you are unworthy of being president,” is not a question. “Mr. Nixon, what else would you have done as president if Watergate hadn’t gotten in the way?” is a question.
Weigh the usual interrogatory words in English: who, what, where, why, when. If you can begin your sentence with one of these you are more than half-way to a good question.  “Who gave you that scar, Mr. Potter?”  “What is a black hole, Mr. Hawking?”  “Where is the Celestial City, Mr. Bunyan?”  “Why are you wearing that letter, Ms. Prynne?”  “When will our troops come home, Mr. Lincoln?”
You will discover that, if you think in terms of these simple interrogatories, you will be able to skip right over the prologue. The right question evokes its own context. If, having formulated a question, you still think you need to set the stage for it, try again.
Don’t engage in meta-speech. “I was wondering, Ms. Steinem, if I might ask you a question that I am really curious about.” Go directly to the question. “Ms. Steinem, who is the man you admire the most?”
Look at the person you are addressing. Speak your question directly; don’t read it. Wait for the answer before you sit down. Don’t try to ask a follow-up question. If the speaker evaded your question the first time, he will evade it again. If the audience applauds your question, you are grandstanding and have failed an important test of civility.
More tips and discussion at the original article.  I wonder, how often in your UW courses do you feel that you really get the chance in lecture or discussion to ask a substantive question?  I fear that we instructors might subtly (or not so subtly) discourage you from doing so.  If that is the case — be bold.  Ask good questions.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some New York Times articles that demonstrate a need for "Media Fluency" knowledge

Over the last two days, as I've been pondering what kind of exam essay questions to pose to you next week, I saw a couple of articles in the New York Times "Technology" section that I thought offered good examples of the kinds of issues that you should be able to analyze more effectively now that you've been through two-thirds of a "media fluency for the digital age" course.

The first article describes how the latest generation of stand-up comedians is beginning to use the Web in order to directly reach customers, rather than relying on other media outlets:
Stand-up comedians of a certain era knew they had arrived when Johnny Carson invited them to a desk-side seat on “The Tonight Show.” A generation later, the gold standard was getting a solo comedy special on HBO. But in the Internet era, the yardstick for success has been redefined.
A handful of top-tier performers have begun producing stand-up specials on their own, posting them online and selling them directly through their personal Web sites, eliminating the editorial control of broadcasters and the perceived taint of corporate endorsements.
While this straight-to-the-Internet strategy is far from ubiquitous in stand-up, it is already having a profound impact on the comedy landscape, enabling online content providers and individual artists to take more turf from television networks and empowering comedians to be as candid (and as explicit) as they want in their material.

The second article describes some of the pitfalls of linking your organization -- in this case, the government of the city of New York -- too tightly to social media:
On Twitter, he is @MikeBloomberg, a popular online avatar with more than 230,000 followers. His official Foursquare account leaves tips about Shake Shack and Kennedy International Airport. And his Facebook page energetically promotes the programs and values of New York City Hall.
But the actual Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg? When it comes to social media, he has a few concerns.
In a speech on Wednesday in Singapore, where he received a prize for urban sustainability, Mr. Bloomberg spoke about the difficulties of leading a city into the future amid a political culture that is often focused on the short term.
The mayor noted that technology, despite its benefits, can add new pitfalls to an already grueling process. “Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments” in cities, Mr. Bloomberg said.
“We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day,” he said. “And it’s very hard for people to stand up to that and say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do,’ when there’s constant criticism, and an election process that you have to look forward to and face periodically.”
You might be inspired to read through both articles in full.  What tools and ideas from your reader might help you to analyze either of these two cases?

Monday, March 19, 2012

State of the News Media 2012

A big event in the world of journalism & mass communication is the annual "State of the News Media" report issued by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.  Of particular interest for our course is the section on digital media:
Two numbers symbolize the intensifying challenge and opportunity the digital world poses for the news industry:  In 2011, social media giant Facebook grew to 133 million active users from 117 million in the U.S.1 And in the final months of the year, tablet ownership in the U.S. nearly doubled, to 18% of Americans.
Each is a threat and a promise. Facebook and other social media are additional distributors of content, but they are also are rivals for advertising revenues. The new tablets, smartphones and other mobile technologies represent new ways to reach audiences, but they are also a new wave of new technology that news companies need to react to. Even as traditional media institutions continue to struggle to find a sustainable model after more than a decade of declining advertising revenues and digital upheaval, the new wave threatens to shift the media landscape out from under them once more.
Check out the whole report if you like; there's lots to talk about on your blogs.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who owns online course materials?

In my discussion section this week, I asked my students who they thought should own online course materials of the sort that are found on iTunes University.  We pondered a number of different answers and the contradictions between different views of intellectual property, ownership, and commons.  These are not just philosophical discussions; an article in Inside Higher Ed today talks of a case hinging on just this question:
Jeff MacSwan and Kellie Rolstad, a husband-and-wife team at Arizona State University, heard rumors last year that courses they designed for an online program were being used without their permission.
So in the summer of 2011, MacSwan registered as a student in an English as a Second Language program for which the couple, both tenured professors, had developed courses. In his telling, he logged on to discover that the courses he and his wife, an associate professor of linguistics, had created were being used without attribution or authorization.
A lawsuit is now likely as MacSwan and Rolstad claim damages for alleged violation of copyright laws and university rules.
The couple left Arizona State and are now employed as tenured professors in the College of Education at the University of Maryland at College Park. Their lawyer sent a notice of claim, a legal notice that precedes a lawsuit, to the Arizona Board of Regents and the state’s attorney general in December, calling for $3 million in damages.
You can read the rest of the story, reported by Kaustuv Basu, here.   How do you think this case should be decided?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Group Facebook Pages

Email me your group's page so we can share. If you have suggestions for other groups on how to link your blog and Facebook page or how to set up the page, feel free to share them as comments.

Former Googler on "Why I left Google"

A former Google employee, now at Microsoft:
The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.
Read the whole letter here.   I think his post is more interesting for what it says about the overall state of new media and the web right now than for what it says about Google's current innovation strategy.  What do you think?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The contradiction between mission and revenue in new media

A good example of the contradiction between staying true to your mission (especially a public-service mission) and being able to bring in revenue to support that mission (and pay professionals for serious work) in new media: a founder of Facebook with capital to spare has purchased a majority stake in a venerable political magazine, the New Republic.
The newest owner of The New Republic magazine is Chris Hughes, a new-media guru who co-founded Facebook and helped to run the online organizing machine for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Hughes’s purchase of a majority stake in the magazine will be announced on Friday, once again remaking the masthead of the nearly century-old magazine that helped define modern American liberalism.  
His focus, he said in an interview in advance of the announcement, will be on distributing the magazine’s long-form journalism through tablet computers like the iPad. 
Asked how he would turn a profit for the money-losing magazine, Mr. Hughes said, “Profit per se is not my motive. The reason I’m getting involved here is that I believe in the type of vigorous contextual journalism that we — we in general as a society — need.”
He added that he hoped the magazine could be profitable. “But I’m investing and taking control of The New Republic because of my belief in its mission, not to make it the next Facebook,” he said.
You can read the whole article at the New York Times here.  There are positive and negative consequences to having media properties owned by single individuals or families, rather than by larger conglomerates with private or public shareholders.  Can you think of any?

(P.S. Notice that one of your readings for next week comes from ... The New Republic.)