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More than just passing notes in class: Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice


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Presentation for the Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices conference. Lancaster University, United Kingdom, 10-12 April 2013

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More than just passing notes in class: Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice

  1. 1. More than justpassing notes in class?Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice Tony McNeill (@anthonymcneill) Kingston University, UK
  2. 2. funny how conferences now havea soundtrack - tic tic tic tic tic tictic
  3. 3. My core question:Do Twitter-enabled backchannelsconstitute a ‘new literacypractice’?
  4. 4. To answer it we need:•descriptions of practice•theorisations of practice
  5. 5. Backchannel: my definitionThe digital communications spaceused for primarily textualinteractions alongside live spokenpresentations generally deliveredin a physical environment.
  6. 6. Jurgenson’s critique of the term… there will not be separateonline and offline conferenceshappening, […] Twitter isn’t abackchannel and the sessionroom isn’t the front.
  7. 7. Theoretical frameworks1.New Literacy Studies2.New Mobilities Paradigm
  8. 8. 1. New Literacy Studies (NLS)Literacies are:•plural•socially embedded•about identity and power
  9. 9. ‘New literacies’• new digital technologies = new literacy practices?• do Twitter backchannels involve both “new technical stuff” and “new ethos stuff”?
  10. 10. Types of backchannels tweets:• minute-by-minute/live tweeting• note taking/resource sharing• personal commentary• dialogue• banter
  11. 11. Backchannel conventions• use of event-specific hashtag• @ messages• retweets (RTs)• direct messages (DMs)
  12. 12. One backchannel exchange (1)articulatedesign:I really *want* to like this talk. ButI dont. Not "speaking" to me
  13. 13. One backchannel exchange (2)articulatedesign:judgng frm twts, im not alone inmy discomfort. my neighboursreading a blogpost on "why i hateApple" (cos of the lock in!!!)
  14. 14. One backchannel exchange (3)articulatedesign:salespitch suckfest with tinklepiano
  15. 15. One backchannel exchange (4)janefrand:@vilnius @articulatedesign@rdtechie must... eat... wait... buy... apple... products
  16. 16. One backchannel exchange (5)articulatedesign:@[janefrand] mmm brains nomnom nom (note to self; sell youripod, time to stand firm)
  17. 17. 2. The new mobilities paradigm• social life no longer about physical proximity• technologies enable remote connections
  18. 18. Critique of sedentarismSedentarism treats as normalstability, meaning, and place, andtreats as abnormal distance,change, and placelessness.(Sheller and Urry 2006: 208)
  19. 19. The ‘sedentarist’ conference• face-to-face encounter• bounded in time and space• impermeable (delegates only)• backchannels a “distraction”
  20. 20. Backchannels challenge binaries• virtual/physical• digital/analogue• then/now• not here/here• interloper/delegate
  21. 21. Early ethnograpnic perspective… we need to treat Internet mediaas continuous with andembedded in other social spaces(Miller & Slater 2000: 5).
  22. 22. A (tentative) conclusionBackchannels constitute a newliteracy practice and support:•the “augmented” conference•the “cyborg” delegate
  23. 23. anthonymcneill McNeill