Social Annotation

An example of Viddler’s time-line commenting capabilities in Mark Pesce‘s 2008 talk, Hyperpolitics (American Style).

YouTube has recently made available auto-captioning for your videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube and we’ll see in today’s readings two different perspectives on this latest Google innovation. Educause’s 7 Things You Should About Social Bookmarking offers a basic overview for educators and its article on calibrated peer review might be of particular interest to those of you teaching W courses or working in large lecture courses. What connections do you make with this progress in light of our previous readings, discussions and your own evolving pedagogical philosophy and practice?


7 Responses to “Social Annotation”

  1. sondrus Says:

    I was struck by some of the information in this week’s reading and video which informed me about broad trends, such as half the planet being with mobile phones. I was not aware of the six year gap between Wikis being invented and between Wikipedia coming into being. Six years in the present moment seems like a long time, as technology is evolving at a quick rate. I also did not know that Google owns Youtube! I am curious about “the business side” of technology. Pesce’s talk furthers my interest as I wonder about how many companies own these different technologies. I did not understand the suggested alterior motive of Google captioning, perhaps it had something to do with indexing?

    Levi Strauss’ quote was very interesting and also resonates with Pesce’s talk. I was quite naive about the workings of Wikipedia. I had no idea that Wikipedia had “nontransparent channels.” It was disturbing to hear how Wikipedia saw its ole as to “hold the line against chaos” and to “keep things pure.” This knowledge really changes my perception of Wikipedia being a collaborative project. On the other hand, I am not surprised, as it seems that power is held in the hands of the few. Yes this sounds pessimistic, but often it seems this is the reality. Again it harks back to “writing favored the exploitation rather than enlightenment” of the “If:Book” piece.

  2. Blanca Says:

    The two perspectives on Youtube auto-captioning made me reflect on the economic interest behind new tools like this. In a certain way, they make us “slaves” of our words (“you’re slave of your words and master of your silence”), since they will be used by others to make money. However, thinking again about the auto-captioning feature, it may be so helpful for so many people and have so many possible uses that I think it is worth suffering those annoying Google ads Xander Becket warns us about (there is always a price to pay…). The only problem is, for my sometimes skeptical point of view, that it is still a lot of work to do to make this feature work properly, what would be achieved by the integration of more human interaction (in my opinion, essential, as in the case of translation).

    • chenwenh Says:

      Like Suzanne, I am surprised to know from Mark Pesce’s talk that Wikipedia is neither democratic nor transparent. I might be innocent to believe that Wikipedia, despite the fact that its value in scholarship is still equivocal, as a project carries the best attempt to democratize knowledge, which used to be a privilege to the elites. However, I share with Mark Pesce a feeling of optimism that the new cultural order created by ubiquitous technology empowers us more than enslaves us. I just read news from The Chronicle that a new project to preserve public art in an electronic form was launched successfully by an assistant professor at Indianna-Purdue with her forty students and a conservator at the Indiannapolis Museum of Art. Is this not the best example of “the mob rule” in academic settings? For an educator, it is disgraceful to ignore those students’ efforts on this digitization project of their own culture. It seems very hard to convince myself that such a project was merely the residue of the power behind Wikipedia.
      Undoubtedly, with the prevalence of digital media, new dynamics of power emerge. If the way we connect, communicate and create has changed, new perspectives of knowledge and different approaches to culture replace preceding ones. At an age when accessibility to knowledge was an issue, knowledge is the ultimate power. However, our era is a time when information overload surprises no one. Therefore, the question of who holds the power becomes one of how the power is being used. Of course, it is impossible to deny that this power, distributed to the mass, or more precisely, the “mob,” might take the risk of losing control or being appropriated. The concern over power abuse definitely breeds anxiety, which strikes out in Claude Lévi-Strauss’ hypothesis of writing, Tino Sehgal’s performance art piece and Dan Visel’s reflection on both.

      However, we might as well notice that Dan Visel ends his reflection on the anxiety over the enslaving dimension of technology with an encouraging message: we ourselves have the agency. We are the users who make use of those “enslaving” technology. Google and Youtube might be the new generation of technology titans, of whom we have never run out. They might conceal their economic interests behind an invention of new gadgets. Yet, it is we that determine whether to use those tools they promote, how to use them, when to use them and where to use them. Given the “dark force” by evil Wikipedians, we tailor our own Wiki projects to suit our own pedagogical purpose. Despite the downsides of social bookmarking done by amateurs, we select, filter and then locate useful information. One may argue that this feeling of reclaiming agency is a mere illusion of free will, but we do contemplate the use of those tools available in light of best learning and effective teaching. We do build a pedagogical purpose before we dive into digital media. Probably as Michael Wesch indicates, the Machine tries to use us, but can we not shift the power dynamics and turn it into our own use? The truth is we can, as long as we are cautious. I agree with Blanca’s point that sometimes we have to sacrifice for the sake of our own teaching. After all, technology, as a tool, is helpful for us to enhance student learning and to engage students.

      • christopherlaine Says:

        I think Chenwen’s optimism goes too far. It is not quite true that “we” still possess an agency with leverage over new technologies. I fear that this is about as democratic as credit card companies, where you have to spend on credit in order to gain credit. If you’re not part of the system, you’re nothing. This is already how it’s become with cell phones, etc. These are not neutral tools. They fundamentally rewrite our interactions with each other and with teaching materials. By indulging in the tastes of a generation with atrophied attention spans, we are guaranteeing the obsolescence of anything that requires time for rumination, and by reinforcing these ingrained habits we are doing the student a terrible disservice. The idea that the school environment must conform to the student’s extracurricular lifestyle is itself a symptom of a lifestyle in which one is always connected to the network, so that the line between public/private, home/work/school is eroded and this erosion made to seem normal.

        It gives me hope that schools are taking junk food out of cafeterias despite complaints from students. It means that educators still recognize that they are in a position of authority and might not have to cater to the students’ taste for the current trends.

    • kemen528 Says:

      I completely agree with everything Blanca has to say about Youtube auto captioning. If we think about the way the capitalist system is set up, very few companies present the general population with new technologies with out gaining an economic advantage. Aside from the economic advantage behind auto-captioning, I’d like to discuss another topic that Blanca brought up, which is that of translation. Clearly, from our readings we can see that the auto-captioning feature contains many bugs, meaning that it translates words incorrectly. This reminds me of the voice recognition software that some computers have, which provides an alternative to people who do not wish to type their papers out. I do not know if anyone has any experience with this software, but from the feedback that I have gathered, it has a lot of problems (ie. it misses some of the words you say, it inputs the wrong word, etc.).
      In terms of the auto-captioning feature with regards to foreign language translation, I am quite skeptical about it. The program already has problems trying to convert spoken English to English subtitles, and as the reading by Parr quickly mentions, they are in the process of including foreign languages in this feature, which I foresee generating quite a bit of translation problems.

  3. Lay Says:

    “The real value of these products may be that they require a reexamination of the nature of information presentation and sharing. Where they promote nonlinear thought patterns, they force a rethinking of the dynamic of teaching and learning and, in this way, support a creative new look at presentations in general.” (7 Things You Should Know About Next-Generation Presentation Tools)

    I am impressed with the many tools that exist for education. The interesting ways are indeed very interesting possibilities to our classrooms. Especially for my class, I believe that many could be used if adapted for my students level.

    However, interestingly enough, many students, who are part of the Net Gen and consider themselves knowledgeable with computer, are not so much as presented in the University of Minnesota video. This goes back to the development of the Net Gen-ready classroom discussed last week. Just as we ask the professors to prepare themselves and become “net savvy”, we must take the students to the next level of learning using these tools. We should challenge them to go beyond what they know, their comfort zone, and what they expect from our class (as stated in the video where one student commented on his teacher’s blog) and make them reach for all the tools that are available.

    Certainly, this is a two-way learning experience; but once applied, we can take a peek at the potential of our students and help them reach beyond.

  4. inasayyoub Says:

    I always tend to take the bright side of technology and focus on what are the benefits it has to offer to me. The readings under this topic, since I’m writing my comments here too late after presenting our projects it helps me understanding it better!! When people have the power to contribute and to classify and organize information on the web, things are made easier for everybody. For my example here again is going to be Arabic and our experience with Diigo, I think my students are helping a great community of Arabic learners with the process of bookmarking Arabic websites and tagging them accordingly. They have always complained about the limited results they find when searching in Arabic and now through that tool they are searching and when finding anything that is useful would tag it and bookmark it for others to find it easily.
    While helping others ,they are performing good exercises to practice their language as well.
    Referring to the captioning option that youtube provides, and again with my look to the bright side though amazed by the reason behind providing this service that has nothing to do with helping others,I would still say it is very useful. Again my class and students are my reference in judging that. They find it easy to use videos with subtitles on youtube and even though we didn’t find Arabic captions , it was useful to read the transliteration provided for the words in English!!!
    I still can help them with that even while being a way in Jordan!! Isn’t that amazing!!

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