Posts Tagged ‘social media’

I’m in two minds about scribbling this, and may change my mind about publishing it by the time I’ve finished; something that has always, quite irrationally, infuriated me about academics on social media is the way that some of them just use it to celebrate their successes and forthcoming media appearances. Non-specific sighs and laments in search of sympathetic responses are entirely forgivable in comparison… (more…)

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One of the incidental benefits of researching the piece I’m currently trying to finish, exploring my attempt at turning the Melian Dialogue into a ‘choose your own adventure’ game, has been the discovery (courtesy of an article by Shawn Graham) of the concept of the ‘creepy treehouse’. To quote a definition from Jared M. Stein (cited from this blog, as the original page seems to have disappeared from the internet and links are broken):

Any institutionally-created, operated, or controlled environment in which participants are lured in either by mimicking pre-existing open or naturally formed environments, or by force, through a system of punishments or rewards. Such institutional environments are often seen as more artificial in their construction and usage, and typically compete with pre-existing systems, environments, or applications. Creepy treehouses also have an aspect of closed-ness, where activity within is hidden from the outside world, and may not be easily transferred from the environment by the participants.

A concrete example: the blog or discussion board facilities on Blackboard and similar Virtual Learning Environments. We look at these and see a useful tool for our teaching, encouraging students to engage with the topic and with each other outside class, hoping to draw on the fact that they allegedly spend all their time online anyway; they see somewhere that is trying to look welcoming and familiar but isn’t, because they didn’t build it, and so at best this is a bit creepy, and most likely it’s some sort of trap… (more…)

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“We are either kings among men, or the pawns of kings”: Thucydides. Or not. It’s the first time I’ve seen this one on the Twitter, and it’s easy to track down its immediate source: Smallville, season 5 episode 10, Lex Luthor speaking: “Thucydides said, ‘We are either kings among men… or the pawns of kings.'” January 2006, so it’s actually surprising this hasn’t surfaced before. More interesting is the origin of the quote, which certainly isn’t anything to do with Thucydides. Various internet sources attribute a variant to Napoleon Bonaparte: “In this life we are either kings or pawns, emperors or fools.” Doesn’t appear to be authentic – and quite a lot of the citations note that this actually comes from the 2002 film of The Count of Monte Cristo, except that there it recurs in several different, shortened versions – “In life, we’re all either kings or pawns”; “Kings and pawns, Marchand. Emperors and fools”; “We are kings or pawns, a man once said” – that someone has drawn together into a single line. No trace of this in the original Dumas novel, so it does indeed seem to have been invented for the film, and elevated to a sort of theme. Really not the sort of thing that either Napoleon or Thucydides would say… (more…)

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Signing off Twitter for the next couple of days – anything I say on there could easily be misinterpreted, even rants about UKIP-supporting badgers destroying my entire parsnip crop. Ditto Facebook; too many academic ‘friends’, some of whom I’ve forgotten I ever befriended. I *think* Spotify is safe; even if I didn’t manage to disable all the settings that wanted to share my listening with the rest of the world, the fact that 58% of the songs I listened to last year were in the post rock genre means that only ardent Mogwai fans will have any hope of deciphering my mood from the specific choice of feedback-laden drone.

Yes, it’s the day when Unit of Assessment co-ordinators for the Research Excellence Framework get sent the results, and have to avoid giving the slightest hint to anyone else of whether these are a cause for celebration, relief or despair. The ‘total share mode’ encouraged by social media is not really conducive to such secrecy…

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One of the interesting side-effects of spending a reasonable amount of time on Twitter is the sense it gives you of the rhythms of global activity. Of course one gets an inkling of this from the way that the internet gets unmistakably slower from mid-afternoon in the UK, when the bulk of the US East Coast has woken up, and almost unusable by the time California logs on, but it’s far more noticeable when you follow a decent number of people and can get a sense of the timing of their bursts of activity. I’m sure there must be exciting ways of rendering my Twitter feed in graphical form (albeit well beyond my technical capabilities), so I could see shifting colours and patterns as the twittering line follows the dawn westwards, with new voices waking up and then fading away fourteen hours or so later – until the dead hours, around 5 am, when most of the US people I follow have gone to bed and the Europeans haven’t got started yet. Which is really a sign that I need to start following more people in Australasia and Asia, to keep the feed ticking over and give me something to read once I’ve finished catching up on the Yanks – any recommendations?

Of course, the dead hours are not wholly dead in the UK; they’re roamed by those whom I decided some time around 6.30 this morning, two hours after giving up on trying to sleep, to name the insomniacademics (more…)

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New Year, New Me

Despite all appearances – only two comments, one of them from me – my musings on the demise of Uwe Walter’s Antike und Abendland have sparked a certain amount of online discussion about the current state of the classical blogosphere – see for example David Meadows’ Rogue Classicism and Liz Gloyn’s Classically InclinedOne upshot of this is that I’m going to have to find some time over the next few weeks/months to consider whether I’m going to do anything more than bemoan the lack of serious research-focused debate and discussion of ancient matters on the internet, and if so what. Another is that I’ve had to embark on another of my periodic catching-up-on-what-tech-savvy-people-have-been-doing-for-years sessions, not least trying to improve my use of Twitter (I’d actually failed to notice that people were discussing what I’d said). This has already inspired one change for the new year, which you may or may not already have noticed at the head of this post…


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