Digital portraits for academics

digital profile musings

The Research Whisperer

This post started life as a comment on Yammer at RMIT (thanks, Hans).

Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher, 1948, (via Wikimedia).

Recently, Hans Tilstra was talking about digital twins – online identical models for offline objects. He talked about our personal digital twins, the representations of ourselves online. It is an intriguing idea, but not one that I really buy into.

Our various digital personas are too fragmented to be considered real twins. I think of online personas more as digital portraits. Some are pointillist – search results composed of tiny points of information. Some are abstract – the array of data that retailers collect about you, never fully realised, never really seen. Some, like Instagram, could be self-portraits. Others, like Facebook, may be family portraits.

Of all of these digital portraits, I think that there are three that are vital for any academic:

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Having faith in the university

worth a read and ponder!


by Søren SE Bengtsen and Ronald Barnett

A heightened gap between the university and society is now evident. On the policy level, discourses of excellence, world-classness and value-for-money press upon universities while, on the societal level, there are calls for impact, skills, employability and marketable knowledge. Additionally, in a post-truth and fake news era, universities struggle to establish their legitimacy, and some students even report that they may actually be doing themselves a disfavour by taking a higher education degree. All this is symptomatic of a wide societal, and even worldly, sudden loss of faith in the university.

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Giving Voice: Reflexivity in Qualitative Research

inspiring researchers make the invisible and voiceless visible and loud

Research Design Review

Homegoing, the debut novel by Yaa Gyasi, is a moving tale of slavery and its translation across generations. At one poinMinority voicet, we read about a descendant in Ghana who teaches history and on the first day of class stumbles on a lesson concerning “the problem of history.” The problem he refers to is that history is constructed from stories that are handed down over time yet “We cannot know which story is correct because we were not there.” He goes on to say to his students

We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to…

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Liberating the Young Scholar

Its hard work and we can do it

The Activist History Review

Whether I am teaching undergrads or high school students, one of the first things I tell my classes is that it is OK to struggle. This idea cuts against the meritocratic messaging that dominates our society—that the best among us will always succeed and that failure is a result of personal shortcoming. Perhaps there are situations where this is the case, but the classroom is certainly not one of them. Education is, at every level, defined by an opportunity gap in which neighborhood and income level track most closely with long term student outcomes. These boundaries are clear, but they do not have to determine success or failure for our students.

I always share that I am a student who struggled. My kindergarten teacher told my parents that I would never pass the first grade. By the time I started eighth grade, I never dreamed that I would go to…

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The Implicit Data Pedagogy of Platform Academia

Brilliant musings from the academy. Data dopplegangers and surveillance and pedagogies of formation

the social thinker

Universities are have become dependent on digital information infrastructures, bringing them into the domain of what Nick Srnicek describes as platform capitalism. Learning Management Systems, MOOCs, teleconferencing facilities, database management systems, and a host of other networks are constructed and often contracted from private companies, such as Google and Microsoft. When academics at Monash University and a number of other Australian universities committed to industrial action over the past few months, it occurred to me: striking academics might bring management to the bargaining table, but a striking IT department would bring them to their knees. (Fortunately for senior managers, IT services can be sub-contracted from other firms, so that any “strike” action would be a mere failure to deliver services with no benefit for the “strikers”.)

What I will explore in this post is not the impact of formally contracted ICT infrastructure and services, but rather those forms of…

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