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Towards the Light

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For me, UOSM2033 has been more of a learning experience than simply a university module. As it draws to an end, I look back on how this experience has changed my attitude to the online world – for the better.

 


 

That’s just a quick snapshot of what some of my key social media accounts look like now. Before I go into details, though, take a quick look at this slideshow, which highlights where I feel I’ve made the most progress during the course of UOSM2033:

Where did I start?

Before the beginning of the UOSM2033 module I considered myself to be a very technology and digital-literate person. I’m active across almost the full range of social media and I love finding the next step towards digital progression. I’d even used social media to create and promote my own content, such as this fieldtrip montage on my YouTube channel:

However, I was quite content to sit back and let this be the extent of my understanding. Why would I need to know more about the online world when I was already such an avid user? The Living and Working on the Web module has allowed – even forced – me to tap into that side of the digital world that I hadn’t even really been aware of, and begin to use the internet to maximise productivity, communication and interaction.

A journey through UOSM2033

This slideshow gives an overview of some of the key features of each topic on my blog:

I started strong on the assessed work, with very positive feedback from Lisa Harris, one of our module coordinators:

I found throughout the module that the most widely-received and thought-provoking of my posts were those that included both interesting forms of media and particularly insightful or contentious opinions. Should I continue blogging – and I certainly hope to do so – I will ensure to make these the foundation of my blogging style and hopefully see the same results that I did during UOSM2033.

Delightfully, each topic also taught me something new about my own social media; I have improved my LinkedIn profile dramatically and now use Twitter for far more relevant and engaging conversation.

Where did I end up?

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I would refer to my experience of UOSM2033 as an unprecedented success. I mean this not simply in terms of what I have learned, but also what I’ve been able to create, and the skills I’ve been able to apply in my own experience of the digital world. This infographic breaks down some of the most fascinating stats about my blog:

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For me, the most incredible part has been learning the art of blogging, a skill that I hope to embrace and make excellent use of. Not only this, but I’ve significantly improved my online identity professionally and am already reaping the rewards. The fact that I have been able to gain this unique experience purely through online learning is something that I never thought possible, and it proves beyond doubt that digital learning is the future.

A special thank you to our excellent coordinators Lisa Harris, Nic Fair and Sarah Hewitt, and to my fellow bloggers.


 

Words: 510

All media produced by myself.

Works used:

BBC News. (2013). Job hunting: How to promote yourself online. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25217962. (Accessed: 6 January 2017).

The Employable (2014) How blogging can help you get a job. Available at: http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/ (Accessed: 5 January 2017).

 

 

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Reflection: Opening Up

Open access is an incredibly broad topic, and one that can incorporate almost every field of media production. I chose to use the music world to give perspective to the main issue that I discussed – open access in academia – and I felt this was effective, although it may have been slightly confusing as I had to explain my comparison to Joe.

Claire wrote one of the better posts that I’ve read over the course of the module this week, taking ¬†a superb chronological and engagingly visual approach to the concept of open access in academia. Her colourful graphic and handy video were backed up by a great structure to the piece and it really demonstrated the effects of what we’ve learned about creating a good blog post during module.

The piece that Gus wrote was slightly more factual than my own, and he managed to find an excellent graph to summarise the crux of the matter. I may have included this in my own post had I been able to find such a graph, but our posts were in different styles so this also could have appeared out of place. It’s become clear that there is a fine line between the productive use of such media and including media just for the sake of it.

I’ve come to understand the importance of effective media in my posts, and the fact that it’s particularly crucial to include my own created media, such as Linkshare presentations, as these can make or break a post. I also discovered last week that it is important to think outside the box, and by adding a musical twist to my post this week I feel I was able to make it stand out from the crowd somewhat.


 

Click here to read my comments on Gus and Claire‘s posts.

Taylor Swift and Pay-per-View

I don’t listen to Taylor Swift. This means, in essence, that if I want to listen to music, I can probably find it on Spotify.

And that’s great. As a student I pay a mere ¬£5 every month for commercial-free listening to every song in Spotify’s extensive catalogue. Unfortunately, some people enjoy Folk-Pop and that’s where there’s an issue, because Taylor doesn’t agree with the way Spotify, and other services, value her craft. While it is, obviously, very cheap for me to listen to unlimited music where and when I want, there have been serious disputes over whether or not this is contributing to the destabilisation of the music industry.

Now, flip it around and you have the ‘open access in academia’ debate. Below is a chirpy little video by Wiley, explaining the apparent merits of open access and encouraging academics to consider its benefits, rather than conforming to the whims of expensive journals.

The basis of the problem is that scientific progress has a tendency to delay itself as a result of the extortionate prices of scientific journals. This video from PHD Comics goes into more detail of the average cost of journals to libraries, but the crux of the matter is that journal prices (particularly in the sciences) can reach averages of over £4,000 each because of their reputations.

And the outlook is bleak. Very few people (few, but not none) expect the availability of online content to go anywhere but down until serious changes are made to the way academic journals in particular are distributed, to make education more available. It is clear that there are advantages for academics who want to publish in these big, well-known journals. Exposure can be garnered and reputations made via journals that have an air of gravitas in the academic community.

However, there are actually advantages to open access in the academic world. As Wiley and PHD Comics have explained, it’s not necessarily an issue of funding, as research is often government-funded. While Taylor Swift doesn’t make her music completely exclusive just by removing it from Spotify, the same can’t be said for journals asking up to $40,000, such as Tetrahedron. It’s more an issue of where an academic can earn respect, and the main advantage of open access in the academic community is their contribution to progress, meaning that with great work will come great respect. Knowledge will become cyclical without finding some way to integrate those thinkers on the periphery who don’t have the resources to access exclusive work.


 

Works used:

Business Insider article on Taylor Swift leaving Spotify

The Drum article on the future of content availability

EurekaAlert article on Evolution Letters

Forbes article on education innovation by social entrepreneurs

PHD Comics video on open access

 

Image from Boomsbeat.com

Words: 422

 

 

 

Reflection: The law on our side?

I did not feel as engaged with this week’s topic as I had the previous three. I chose to continue exploring the theme of employment, and specifically the legality and morality of Facebook screening employees, prospective or otherwise. Some of my colleagues chose to take an entirely new approach to this topic, and, in hindsight I might have done the same, as I felt I perhaps limited the scope of what I could discuss. This week’s post also received the lowest number of responses and comments on my blog thus far, which would suggest that I was not the only one to pick up on this.

Despite this, it was refreshing to consider the debate from a new angle. Instead of focusing on how we should censor ourselves I was able to explore the other side of the debate, and found a great deal of multi-media and information supporting the idea that companies should not necessarily have the right to judge us by our online profiles, something which many of my fellow bloggers have proposed in their work during the course of the module. I found that videos were the best form of media to help illustrate my points in the post, as they efficiently and articulately summarised many key concepts.

As I’ve mentioned, there were a variety of approaches to this topic. Two posts that I particularly enjoyed were Arthur’s¬†and Chris’s, which discussed the ethics of cookies and the privacy of digital celebrities respectively. Both of these subjects are features in my own life, and so it was fascinating to read about their investigations into the ethics of these integral parts of the digital society. Interestingly, both posts incorporated self-generated info-graphics, a medium which I am yet to use but am slowly beginning to see the appeal of and may try to incorporate next week.

The main message from this topic is that I should perhaps think outside the box when it comes to exploring a topic, as versatility seems to be the best way to garner interest and stimulate debate.


 

Click here to read my comments on Arthur and Chris’s posts.

Wait a second…

Over the course of this blog thus far I have spoken at great length about the best way to present oneself to the melee of prying eyes in the digital world. However, one aspect of the discussion that we appear to have chosen to skirt around is the ‘ethics‘ of this barrage of scrutiny, and that’s because it’s a whole new can of digital worms.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, there is no doubt that employers will explore every corner of the Internet to try to learn a little bit more about you. But we should not necessarily simply grumble to ourselves and accept our online self-censorship (even though I say it pays to be careful).

The issue of the ethics of ‘screening’ via social media is that nobody really knows where the line should be drawn, as it has only come to the forefront since the global uprising of social media itself. Given that we choose to make our lives public, should employers be able to use this against us?

Officially, there’s no reason why not, and that’s because, as I said, you’ve chosen to make your information public. There are some obvious ways to put off an employer, or even get yourself fired, over social media. Just take a look at these examples rounded up by GMM:

However, the lines become blurred when it comes to exactly which aspects of your life a potential employer considers a deterrent. For example, hiring (or not hiring) on grounds of race, religion or sexuality, to name but a few, is not legal in any aspect of society, including via your online profile. There are, in fact, extensive criteria in ensuring the legality of screening employees online, which if neglected, can result in a lawsuit.

The fact that there are so many pitfalls¬†for employers when it comes to using social media to find out more about someone would suggest that it’s probably not worth their time and effort, but given that there are so few ways of actually proving such activity or enforcing the implications in the current technological climate, it’s up to us to take responsibility for our profiles.

But it would appear that, despite all that we’ve covered in this module thus far about preserving our online identity, the ethical dilemma really lies with the employer in what they make of our profiles. Perhaps we shouldn’t feel persecuted and fearful of the ramifications of our online activity. The ethical responsibility should lie with the employer, who should be able to make impartial judgements about an individual without relying on Facebook, as many of us choose to separate these aspects of our lives.


 

Works used:

Fast Company article by Robert McHale

HR Zone article by Lauren Riley

New York Times article by Jon Ronson

Scientific American article by Roni Jacobson

Reflection: Professional, not boring

I’ll admit, I approached this week with a sceptical outlook. At first glance, it seemed to me that I would be repeating much of what I said in the last topic, and following a guideline on creating a professional profile that appeared to be predetermined. However, as I progressed through my research and formed my own opinion I began to see ways to inject my own style and spin into the discussion. As it’s clear to see from the comments I received, this approach divided opinion, which is more than I hoped for.

In Topic 2 I learned the merits of effectively using various forms of media to convey my points, and this is a technique I tried to carry forward in hope of embellishing a relatively simple concept. I also added to my own knowledge in my search for relevant media, as there are many aspects of creating the ‘perfect’ professional profile that I hadn’t previously come across.

I learned a great deal from both Tobie and Claire‘s posts this week. Both used excellent self-produced infographics to illustrate and present the data that they quoted, and this is a technique that I certainly expect to use in my own future posts, as I found it to be an excellent way of presenting what may otherwise have been dull or easy-to-overlook data. Claire chose to focus in particular on the ‘authenticity’ aspect of the subject and this is something that I had not covered in as much depth, so I was particularly intrigued to hear her opinions on being truly authentic.

The comments I received on my own work were a fantastic range of praise, opinions and suggestions. It appears that many of my peers interpreted my tendency towards a more reserved approach to online profiles as a rejection of the more social side to the online world, and I was fascinated to hear their opinions on the drawbacks of this. Nicole and Nikhil offered some very passionate responses, and I was relieved that my initial fear of the topic failing to generate discussion were completely refuted.


 

Clear here to read my comments on Tobie and Claire’s posts.

Professionally Digital

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In some ways I think we have an unfair advantage over the previous generation when it comes to employability. In another way, if everyone has the same advantage is it still really an advantage?

You’d think that being able to make your greatest skills, achievements and ambitions readily available to anyone waiting to snap up someone with your competitive skillset is a miracle of the modern age, but in reality the pitfalls of an unprofessional ‘professional’ digital profile can truly hinder the progress of a good professional reputation. We’ve all heard the tragic tale of Justine Sacco.

In a way this topic ties in nicely with last week’s discussion about online identity, as there are many key overlapping themes of digital responsibility and presentability. As I mentioned, it will always be important to monitor how you present yourself online, and this clearly applies to the professional world. Jobvite make it clear that social networks are one of the most important recruitment tools in the modern workplace.

This hopefully clarifies the obvious: that conducting yourself well online is the most basic foundation in creating and developing a professional online profile. Unsurprisingly, my approach differs from most. I still believe that if you are indeed a professional, this should be reflected in everything you do online.

However, if it was this simple then everyone would do it, and not everyone has an authentic, marketable digital professional profile. It is generally accepted that LinkedIn is the go-to platform for employability and more ‘professional’ social networking, which makes it a good place to start. The video below is a thrilling informative guide to establishing a successful and authentic representation of yourself.

Now that you’re on LinkedIn, you’ve unlocked the door to the magical garden of online professionalism. However, the garden will look rather lacklustre without some impressive¬†embellishments.

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Developing your professional online presence is not a series of defined instructions and rules because a good professional profile should be integrated with who you are. As you can see from my own about.me page, I ensure that all of my social media accounts come as a package deal, meaning they can be cross-examined to build confidence in the fact that I am who I say I am.

Coincidentally, blogging in a form such as this very outlet can also be a stroke of professional genius. The ability to engage articulately, knowledgeably and passionately about a range of topics is one of the most desirable (and dwindling) in any online professional’s arsenal. Not only that, but it’s hard not to offer a genuine, authentic opinion in such a refreshingly unfiltered medium.

Gone are the days of a paper CV handed out one-by-one to reluctant recipients. With everything at the fingertips there’s no reason not to make your digital professional profile immaculate.


 

Works used:

Counts, S. and Stecher, K. (2009) ‚ÄėSelf-presentation of personality during online profile creation‚Äô, ICWSM Conference. Redmond, Washington, March 2009. Available at: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/counts/pubs/icwsm_2009_selfpresentation.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

The Employable (2014) How blogging can help you get a job. Available at: http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/ (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

Qualman, E. (2009) Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Ronson, J. (2016) How One stupid Tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s life. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=2 (Accessed: 11 November 2016).