Rich Reflection: Personal Cyberinfrastructure

1. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

I completed a rich reflection for this article by using, which was easy to use and share! Highly recommend. My annotations/rich reflection on Campbell’s article can be found here. (Just click on the “<” on the right-hand side of the screen if you can’t see the annotations).

2. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisited,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

Campbell expands on his ideas of a personal cyberinfrastructure. I particularly liked the following excerpts from the video:

This is about the network as an artifact… It’s not simply a matter of technical skill… it’s also about the ability to externalize a model of one’s own conceptual framework.

I think it’s interesting that Campbell emphasizes this idea of “artifact.” Later in the video, he says that creating a personal cyberinfrastructure gives us the opportunity to create an “artifact that is an external representation of your own internal frameworks.” I’d always thought of blogging or informal publishing as primarily focused on sharing a particular message. But, I hadn’t considered that, in the process of sharing a message, we’re actually also sharing how we think the world works; we’re expressing our own “internal frameworks.” Conceptualizing digital citizenship in that way makes it seem less about pure information sharing, and more about artistry and expression.

3. “No Digital Facelifts,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

In this final Gardner Campbell reading, Campbell expands on the idea of moving beyond “digital facelifts.” When I opened the link to this video and saw the title, I was particularly pleased because the Clay Shirky phrase, “digital facelift” was a phrase that I had annotated in my first rich reflection, and so it was definitely a term that caught my attention. According to Campbell, “digital facelift” just refers to this idea that, we’ll keep doing whatever we did before, but now, we’ll just put it on the web. We’ll teach the way we always have, we’ll just use Blackboard or another LMS to help us out (that’s the college classroom version of a “digital facelift.”) We won’t let digital tools or the internet actually transform how we do things or how we think about things.

The part of this video lecture that was most meaningful to me was the three practices that Campbell suggests in place of a “digital facelift.” Instead of merely “doing what we’ve always done, but just put it on the web,” he suggests:

Narrating, curating, and sharing. Narrate: have students think out loud, and “tell the story of the learning.” Curate: arrange and take care of your ideas and your work; begin your life’s work when you begin learning or first start college. Share: put your work out there since it may be valuable to someone or you may make a connection with someone else.

I appreciate this section of the lecture because it was very practical. The previous two readings from Campbell built the case for the benefits a personal cyberinfrastructure, but this part of this video outlined how to actually complete this task, and I found it particularly relevant for the higher ed classroom.

Campbell also quotes Shirky as explaining that “we are living in the middle of the largest increase in the expressive capability of the human race,” and Campbell explains that he believes that “expressive capability” should be the “abiding” and “transforming” concern, especially in higher education. While I agree that this “expressive capability” should be a concern in higher education, I would be curious to explore what else should be an “abiding” and “transforming” concern in higher education. Is expression really the goal of education? Or is a tool we use on our journey towards education? If expression isn’t the goal of education, what is? Truth or accuracy? Discovery or innovation? Moral or personal development? Is expression more important when you’re educating journalists or artists, and less important when you’re educating engineers and physicians? At any rate, I appreciate the conversation Campbell’s personal cyberinfrastructure encourages and his holistic explanation of “disruptive” technologies.

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Rich Reflection: “As We May Think”

Rich Reflection

Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”

Thus far we seem to be worse off than before—for we can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it. This is a much larger matter than merely the extraction of data for the purposes of scientific research; it involves the entire process by which man profits by his inheritance of acquired knowledge. The prime action of use is selection, and here we are halting indeed. There may be millions of fine thoughts, and the account of the experience on which they are based, all encased within stone walls of acceptable architectural form; but if the scholar can get at only one a week by diligent search, his syntheses are not likely to keep up with the current scene.

According to Bush, “one needs not only to make and store a record but also be able to consult it.” This seems quite true: we write papers and do research not only for our own benefit, but also so that others will read them and benefit from our work. We create records and archives and data repositories because we believe that, by gathering information, we can better put it to use. We don’t just want to compile knowledge; we want to use it. However, as Bush states, we have “enormously” extended the record of human knowledge–so much so that the knowledge we have isn’t easily accessed or fully put to use.

Bush introduced his “memex” (predecessor to the internet?) as a way to effectively manage the body of knowledge and address the “enormously extended record.” While the internet and digital tools have clearly achieved some of the things Bush described (speed, condensing information, etc.), I still tend to agree with him that it is difficult to put to use all of the knowledge that we have; it is still difficult to find the right piece of information at the right time, and still difficult to make appropriate connections. Whenever I write a paper or assign a paper to students, the primary problem usually isn’t a lack of resources– the problem is that there’s too many! Consequently, I believe Bush’s article accurately summarizes a significant problem that we still face today, even 70 years after he wrote “As We May Think,” which is: “information overload.” We are still “being bogged down today as specialization increases.” (Which also made me think of a TED Talk I referred to in a previous Search & Research assignment on technological determinism).

Similarly, Bush’s article made me think of a lecture I heard at the beginning of my previous graduate program. I don’t remember the exact context, but the basic point was, if you spend your whole life as an academic researcher, you drill down to a specific research topic, and you push the boundaries of that specific topic, then you are going to have the opportunity to add to the world’s body of knowledge. Things will be known, that, before your work, were not known. However, to put those contributions in perspective, the lecturer offered a diagram like this:


The main takeaway was: stay humble. Just because you’re expanding the body of human knowledge by pushing out and expanding the circle, there are still a whole lot of things that you don’t know. Like Bush’s work, I think the diagram above also emphasizes the importance of knowledge management. If you’re expanding your side of the circle, but no one from the other side of the circle knows about it, what’s the point? Especially if your two “expansions”/life’s research actually intersect? Without a way to manage human knowledge or connect to others who are studying what you’re studying, the vast amount of information and knowledge that has been created will not be useful.

I do disagree with Bush on one point, though. He says:

“Thus far we seem to be worse off than before– We can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it.”

I don’t think we are “worse off than before,” simply because we have too much information to manage our own sum of knowledge or consult all of the relevant resources (and that applies whether we’re talking about Bush’s era or contemporary times). As each individual researcher pushes the boundaries of knowledge in their individual field, the circle grows. That’s good. While not being able to access or connect our knowledge is problematic, that new knowledge isn’t less valuable. It just means collaboration becomes more important than ever, and it means we should continue “pushing out the circle” in the field of managing human knowledge. And, of course, we should continue to seek out new and innovative ways to use digital tools to manage our “enormously extended record” so that they work in the ways first envisioned by Bush’s memex.

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Exploring Digital Citizenship

In my previous post, I outlined a few elements that I think are critical components of both traditional citizenship and digital citizenship: rules, rights, identity, community/group membership, and public works. But what do other people and other sources have to say about digital citizenship?

1. Digital Citizenship: Rules and Rights

9 Rules to Good citizenship include things like respecting the rights of others, treating others courteously, and communicating with empathy.
This common infographic from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) lists 9 “rules” to “good digital citizenship.”

The very first google search result (which, of course, is always a responsible way to conduct research) for “digital citizenship” is, tagline: “using technology appropriately.” According to this site:

Digital citizenship is defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.”

This is a basic definition of digital citizenship, and a good place to start. According to this initial conceptualization of “digital citizenship,” to be a digital citizen, you follow the rules. You act respectfully, you follow copyright and intellectual property laws, you protect your personal information, etc. The infographic to the right from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) lists 9 “rules” to “good digital citizenship,” all of which I think are reasonable and useful guidelines for proper internet etiquette.

However, as I mentioned in my last post, the institution of “citizenship” encompasses far more than rights-protection and rule-following. When you are a citizen of a country, you know that involves more than paying your taxes and exercising free speech. It involves more than the protection of your personal property or your obligation to obey the speed limit. Similarly, digital citizenship involves more than this list of 9 rules and rights outlined by Which leads me to my next definition…






2. Digital Citizenship: Rules and Rights… Oh, But Also, Community and Identity

An Atlantic article entitled, “Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web?” challenges the basic definition of digital citizenship as being merely the “norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.” According to this article, most digital citizenship efforts focus on “simply teaching kids appropriate online behavior; of teaching them how to use gadgets, and how to use those gadgets appropriately.”

An infographic created by the author explains that 50% of teachers rate students' digital citizenship skills as fair or poor, while only 1/4 teachers say digital citizenship is taught at their schools. According to a 2012 Pew Research Survey of parents, 8/10 are concerned about kids' internet privacy, 7/10 worry about kids interacting with strangers, and 5/10 have monitoring devices or parent controls.
This infographic explains the common focus (or lack thereof) of digital citizenship education.

The article argues (and I am inclined to agree) that while we need to practice appropriate online behavior, this does not represent the complete scope of digital citizenship. More is needed.

In particular, this article focuses on a project by teacher Reuben Loewy called the “Living Online Lab.” Not the, “be-smart-when-you’re-online” lab, but the living online lab. Digital citizenship involves following the rules and exercising your rights, but, as in my original conceptualization of “citizenship,” digital citizenship also involves issues of identity and community.

This article argues that education should not stop “at the hardware.” Kids–and adults–need to do more than understand how to use these digital tools, or even how to use these digital tools “responsibly.” According to the article, “Kids not only need to be proficient in how to use digital technology…they also need to deeply, holistically, and realistically understand how the digital world works behind the scenes.”

Digital citizenship requires an understanding of how we’re using digital tools, why we’re using these tools, and the outcome of using these digital tools.

Digital citizenship influences our identity, and provides opportunities for group membership and community. Consider these questions related to digital identity and social implications:

  • How do digital interactions shape our identity? Our values? Our political opinions?
  • Do you think that spending time online pushes you to be a pessimist? An optimist? Neither?
  • What goes on “behind the scenes” online? Do you think that what we see on the internet is primarily an expression of people in power, or does it democratize information?
  • What kinds of power relationships influence the messages we hear, share, and internalize?
  • How do we interact with others (or not interact with others) and create community or tension online? proposes that good digital citizens observe the rules and exercise their rights when it comes to digital tools. The Atlantic article “Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web?” adds to this definition: good digital citizens also understand and consider the impact of online interactions on personal identity formation and social interactions.

3. Digital Citizenship: Rules, Rights, Identity, Community… and also, the Work?

Another common conceptualization of citizenship is the “public works” view of citizenship. This is an energized vision of citizenship in which citizens work side-by-side to accomplish social change. This leads to my third and final conceptualization of digital citizenship:

Digital citizenship encompasses digital/online activism, in which individuals use digital tools to draw attention to issues in order to accomplish social or political change.

You probably recognize these political or advocacy hashtags: #BringBackOurGirls, #ICantBreathe, #icebucketchallenge, #BlackLivesMatter, #JeSuisCharlie, #Kony2012. What situations are they referencing? Even more importantly, did any of these hashtags influence real political or social change? Whether or not social media and online tools are effective forms of advocacy or activism is hotly debated. Some say no, governments can just monitor or influence citizen behavior using digital tools, rendering those tools ineffective (like here). Others argue that online activism just amplifies the voices in politics that are already loud, and doesn’t really offer new opportunities for the marginalized voices to be heard (as in here). Maybe online activism doesn’t even effect real change (see this article).

In particular, an NPR article by Evgeny Morozov explores the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of digital activism. According to Morozov, while digital tools have opened up new avenues of participation and increased the number of people who could partThis poster from UNICEF states, "Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio." It demonstrates the importance of pairing "liking something" with actual action.icipate, the quality/effectiveness of participation has declined as a result. Morozov argues that online activism erodes traditional/offline participation, and it is doubtful that online activism can impact true change. If you can click “like,” why would you put yourself into a potentially risky situation and go to a protest march?

Morozov describes the term “slactivism,” which many use in place of “digital activism”: “Slacktivism” is an apt term to describe feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact. It gives those who participate in “slacktivist” campaigns an illusion of having a meaningful impact on the world without demanding anything more than joining a Facebook group.” Is liking something on Facebook or tweeting something on Twitter truly “online activism,” or is it “slacktivism” or “clicktivism”?

Like Morozov, I am skeptical of the power of online activism/”hashtag activism” to influence real social or political change. Can it bring attention to a cause? Absolutely. Can it educate people about unfamiliar problems? Sure. Does it motivate people to actually donate, protest, or get involved? Maybe, but probably not. Does online activism alone- without any other tools- cause social or political change? I really doubt it.

So what do you think? #powerful or #pointless?

Putting the Pieces Together… 

So, how do these three conceptualizations of digital citizenship (and their respective supporting resources) relate to one another? The pyramid below represents my “working” definition of digital citizenship. The “rules and rights” definition of digital citizenship serves as the foundation; it is the most basic definition, but I believe you must have this definition in place to build up to the other definitions. As you move up the pyramid, you move into the definitions of digital citizenship that challenge us even more. The middle layer challenges us to consider how digital tools can be used to form and build community, and to think about how the mediums we use can shape the messages we hear, share, and internalize. Lastly, the top layer challenges us to think about how we can use digital tools (or not) to shape social and political change. Rights, rules, identity, community, and public work. Where do you think the definition of digital citizenship begins and ends?

This image created by the author illustrates a "pyramid" of digital citizenship. The rights and rules form the foundation, community and identity is in the center, while activism is at the top.


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What is digital citizenship?

To help understand a term like this, I like to break it down into its component parts. First, what does “citizenship” mean? I’ve taught political science courses and a civic engagement course, so “citizenship” is a pretty familiar concept to me. (Of course, even though the term is “familiar,” that doesn’t mean I have it all figured out!) To me, citizenship can be understood in at least the following ways:

  • A “citizen” is someone who meets the requirements for legal membership in a state (born or naturalized in the U.S., for example)
  • A “citizen” is a bearer of rights in a society
  • A “citizen” is someone who embraces the legal and political principles of a country
  • A “citizen” is someone who commits to carry out the duties of citizenship
  • A “citizen” is someone who is part of the national or ethnic “spirit” of the country

How you define “citizenship” will change based on culture. In the U.S., we’re a lot more likely to define citizenship in the “public works” sense. If you ask someone in the U.S. what makes a “good citizen,” they’ll probably say a good citizen does certain things, like votes, is educated about politics/society, helps solve community problems, respects laws and leaders, etc. U.S. culture also really emphasizes individual rights and freedoms as a key component of citizenship. In other words, in the U.S., citizenship is primarily about rights and duties. In other countries, being a “good citizen” may have more of a social meaning. “Citizenship” may mean putting the good of society/group above yourself. Or, “citizenship” may be based on ethnic or national identity; so, again, it may be more about a social identity than a legal-political identity.

To me, adding “digital” in front of “citizenship” changes its meaning significantly. Since “citizenship” infers a certain identity and group membership, I think “digital citizenship” infers group membership as well. Practicing digital citizenship means we engage with other people and form groups. Individuals can use technology to form groups with like-minded people they’ve never met. Individuals can also use technology to interact with people who are not at all like-minded. Traditional “citizenship” does the same thing; it connects us with like-minded people, but also gives us opportunities to interact with people with whom we disagree.

Logically, it follows that if citizenship is about certain rights and duties, then digital citizenship is also about digital rights and duties. We have certain rights and certain duties when it comes to our online presence and engagement. We have the right to participate online; we have the right to free speech and free expression. We have the right to safety and privacy. We also have duties–the duty to engage responsibly, the duty to treat others with respect online, and the duty to use digital participation to seek positive change (and not for harm).

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Digital Humanities

Defining “Digital Humanities”

When we study humanities, we study “how people process and document the human experience” (“Digital Humanities,” Stanford Center for the Humanities). The humanities encompass a wide range of fields, such as literature, religion, art, music, history, language, and philosophy. Humanities scholarship helps us to understand and record our world, and encourages us to feel more connected to humans of the past and present. According to Shaw (2012), “The work of the humanities is to create the vessels that store our culture.” Digital humanities add an extra dimension to traditional humanities’ studies. In digital humanities, technology is used to document, process, and explain the human experience. Techniques such as 3-D mapping, digitization, visualization techniques, electronic literary analysis, and online publishing/archives are all common tools of digital humanities.

Like “digital citizenship,” no consensus exists as to what “digital humanities” actually means. According to Kirsch (2014), “The term can mean anything from media studies to electronic art, from data mining to edutech, from scholarly editing to anarchic blogging, while inviting code junkies, digital artists, standards wonks, transhumanists, game theorists, free culture advocates, archivists, librarians and edupunks under its capacious canvas.” Clearly, “digital humanities” encompasses a wide range of activities; these activities can primarily be divided into the minimalist approach or the maximalist approach. In the minimalist approach, technology is applied to traditional scholarly pursuits; for example, paper archives are exchanged for digital archives. The maximalist approach is much more extensive and “represents a paradigm shift in the way we think about culture itself, spurring a change not just in the medium of humanistic work but also in its very substance” (Shaw, 2012).

The Potential of Digital Humanities

By applying technology to the humanities, researchers and scholars are afforded new opportunities. Data collections and online archives allow scholars to interact with source materials in new ways and potentially reach new conclusions. In some ways, digital humanities can be imagined as a new robust form of data management (Shaw, 2012). Similarly, by interacting with data collections and online archives, new knowledge communities and connections among researchers can be formed.

For example, digital humanities researchers are mapping Civil War battlefields to better understand how topography and geography influenced victories and defeats. Researchers are creating databases of music to see how collaboration influenced jazz, and they are archiving texts/books to identify when specific scientific concepts first appeared (Cohen, 2010). By introducing digital tools into humanities scholarship, data becomes more accessible and interactive for researchers. As Shaw explains, the “digitization of archives and collections holds the promise of a grand conclusion: nothing less than the unification of the human cultural record online, representing, in theory, an unprecedented democratization of access to human knowledge” (Shaw, 2012).

Digital Humanities and Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship explores how we participate in community through technology; digital humanities seeks to use technology to document and process the human experience. In some ways, by maintaining a blog to meet the requirements of ED 654, we are documenting and processing our own human experience (which could loosely be considered an actual application of digital humanities). Similarly, one of the benefits of digital humanities is that it allows researchers to easily collaborate and contribute to each others’ data collections and research. For example, researchers are able to add to online archives and interact with the work of other researchers—even though they have never met. This creation of online knowledge communities bears a strong resemblance to the type of digital online community that is inherent to the concept of digital citizenship.

For Further Study on Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities. Stanford Humanities Center. Retrieved from

The Stanford Humanities Center maintains this informative website that Includes 8 short videos discussing practical applications of digital humanities. For example, one video explains a project that is documenting and mapping the development of post offices in the pioneer American West, because post offices reflect the spread of communities. Another short video explores an application called “Palladio,” which is an analytic tool / “historical viewfinder” that makes it easier for humanities scholars to upload data and produce different forms of data visualizations. Overall, the Stanford Humanities Center argue that digitization has changed how humanities scholars interact with information.

Kirsch, A. (2014, May 2). Technology is taking over English departments. New Republic. Retrieved from

This extensive article critiques the impact and value of digital humanities. The author claims that the move towards digital humanities reflects technological determinism, as, “right before our eyes, options are foreclosed and demands enforced; a future is constructed as though it were being discovered.” The author urges us to be cautious amidst the hype of digital humanities, argues that humanities scholars have an “intellectual responsibility” to not “embrace the momentum of the digital, the tech tsunami, but to resist it and critique it.”

Cohen, P. (2010, Nov. 16). Digital keys for unlocking the humanities’ riches. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Patricia Cohen argues that the next big trend in humanities will center on data and digitalization, but expresses fears that data-driven research may exclude some of the important nuances that are intrinsic to the study of humanities. She argues that humanities is about interpretation and questions of aesthetics and existence—none of which are necessarily quantifiable. The article discusses how “digital media are means and not ends,” but digitalization can lead to new discoveries. In some instances, large amounts of data would have prevented researchers from coming to specific conclusions, but, with digital tools, it becomes possible.

Digging into data resources. Digging Into Data Challenge. Retrieved from

This is the link to the website for the “Digging into Data Challenge,” which is an extensive project originally sponsored by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. National Science Foundation, Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the U.K. Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc). As the project grew, sponsors and projects were added from Netherlands, Argentina, France, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, etc. This particular project addresses how “big data” influences the research environment for social sciences and humanities, and explores how new technologies can be used in research. The link to the “Digging into Data Resources” page is particularly useful for practitioners of digital humanities as it offers a list of major repositories of digital information and explains how to access the collections of data.

Kaplan, F. (2013, June). How to build an information time machine. TED Talk. Retrieved from

Researcher and engineer Frederic Kaplan explains how research can be enriched by adding a temporal dimension to visual representation. For example, he uses visualizations to create a “digital time machine” that helps his audience understand how Venice has changed over the last 1000 years. This example demonstrates digital humanities in action, and shows how data and visualizations can help us understand historical and geographic changes over time.

Shaw, J. (2012, May-June). The humanities, digitized. Harvard Magazine. Retrieved from

This in-depth article discusses the pedagogical and collaborative impact of digital humanities. In the classroom context, Shaw argues that visualizations are better than videos, since videos are inherently linear. He offers the example of a 23-foot wraparound screen that projects a 3-D virtual world of the Giza Plateau in the year 2566 B.C. He also explains how digital archives can encourage epistemic communities. As you work your way through an archive, you are not just encountering data, you are interacting with the work of fellow archivists, “so in a way, you’re becoming part of a community of archivists whom you may never meet in person, but with whom you’re collaborating.” He closes by arguing that “the changes afoot in the humanities are about expanding the compass, the quality, and the reach of scholarship.”

NPR (2014, April 9). New age: Leaving behind everything, or nothing at all. All Things Considered. Retrieved from

This NPR article briefly discusses the work of archivists at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Primarily, it introduces some of the practical problems that can result from the digitization of data. For example, as technology changes, digital data archives may consist of obsolete technology (like floppy disks). The software and information within digital archives can also start to decay. Consequently, digital archives present different challenges than paper archives. However, digital collections offer precise time stamps which can be useful in building bigger picture of someone’s life, an event, etc.

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Mapping Social Sciences

I used MindMeister to create this map. I like the final products that I can create with MindMeister, but I had to restart my browser a few times because MindMeister kept freezing up while I was creating the map.

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Technological Determinism

 What is technological determinism?

Simply stated, technological determinism is the belief that, “A society’s technology shapes—determines—its social and cultural institutions” (Kte’pi, 2011, p. 404). It is generally accepted that being in a certain environment will change us, because we will adapt to that specific environment. According to technological determinism, as new technologies are introduced, our environment changes and consequently society is re-shaped. Threads of technological determinism can be identified in the historical and contemporary rhetoric on technological trends: for example, people used to fear that if books and literacy were widespread, people’s memories would be ruined. Now, we fear that texting will ruin young people’s ability to actually have a conversation.

Different perspectives on technological determinism

Strict or “hard” technological determinists believe that technology is not organized around society; rather, technology dictates the direction and construction of society (Kte’pi, 2011, p. 405). According to hard determinists, humans are essentially “tool-making animals,” and technology is the main or only force behind social change (Sullivan, 2009, p. 511). Soft determinists posit that technology is only one important factor among many in social change, so this perspective gives humans more influence and agency over how technology will impact society (Kte’pi, 2011, p. 405). A third perspective, anti-technological determinism, claims that technology is “neutral,” and the effects of technology are primarily or completely a result of social context (Adler, 2008, p. 1537). In this perspective, social forces can shape the development or implementation of technology.

Technological determinism and ED 654

According to technological determinist Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message” (Sullivan, 2009, p. 511). In other words, the technologies we use influence how we perceive situations and information. While still a contentious and fluid topic, digital citizenship explores how we should personally engage with technology. Consequently, in this class, we will look at how “the medium” influences “the message,” which is clearly a concern of technological determinists. Too, since technological determinism is a philosophy that discusses to what extent technology changes society, technological determinists would probably argue that the fact that we have a whole class about digital citizenship supports the validity of their philosophy. Technology drives social change; in fact, technology has changed citizenship and society so much that we now have an entire course on something we call “digital citizenship.”


Adler, P. S. (2008). Technological determinism. In International Encyclopedia of Organization Studies. (p. 1537-1539). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Eds. Clegg, S. R. and Bailey, J.R.

Kte’pi, B. (2011). Technological determinism. In Green Technology: An A-to-Z Guide. (pp. 404-405). D. Mulvaney, Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Sullivan, L. E., Ed. (2009). Technological determinism. In The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. (p. 511). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

For Further Study on Technological Determinism

Kelly, K.  (2005, Feb.). What does technology want? TED Talk. Retrieved from

WIRED Executive Editor Kevin Kelly answers the question, “What does technology want?” in a 15-minute TED Talk. Kelly argues that technology is becoming more specialized and diverse as it develops, and it speeds up how we look for ideas. He also explains that it is difficult to get rid of technology once it has been introduced; it takes on a life of its own. In true technological determinist fashion, Kelly states that, “Our humanity is actually defined by technology. All the things that we think we really like about humanity is being driven by technology.”

BBC Radio 4.  (2015, Jan. 27). The medium is the message. Retrieved from

This short, informative YouTube video describes one of the slogans of technological determinism: “The medium is the message” (coined by Marshall McLuhan). According to this video, the “technology that transfers the message changes us and changes society, the individual, the family, work, leisure, and more.”

Lepore, J. (2008, May 12). On our own devices. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

This in-depth article written by a Harvard professor of history reviews a book by Maury Klein called The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men Who Invented Modern America. According to Klein, technology is primarily what drove social change from the 19th to 20th century. Conversely, Lepore takes a “soft” determinist position, arguing that, while technology has enormous influence, it is not the only factor driving social change. Lepore concludes, “Technology can be sublime, but machines aren’t something that happens to us; they’re something we make…you can teach them manners before they get to be bigger than you.”

Curious Catherine. (2011, Feb. 6). Technological determinism—or not. Retrieved from

This blog post by a PhD student studying digital and social change asks some intriguing questions regarding technological determinism. Particularly, she encourages us to explore the “reverse.” She asks her readers to consider what would happen if a particular technology was removed.  What would be the lingering societal changes? Would we feel a need to replace the technology? Or, will the effect already be beyond the reach of the technology?

Davis, J. (2015, Feb. 16). Theorizing affordances. The Society Pages. Retrieved from

This author puts forward a soft determinist position, arguing that, while technology shapes society and the people who use those technologies, humans still have control over technology.  She also introduces the concept of “affordances,” which are the specifications of a certain technology that can guide the use of that technology. For example, she describes the difference between a rope vs. privacy fence—both afford the same message (“stay out”) but do so with a different tone. Technology can request, demand, allow, or encourage certain actions/things from us, and consequently influence social change in different ways.

Chomsky, N. (2014, May 2). Technological determinism. CSPAN. Retrieved from

This short CSPAN video features preeminent American scholar Noam Chomsky discussing the topic of technological determinism. Chomsky is critical of technological determinism, and cautions his audience to be skeptical whenever a view is put forth that makes them passive and resigned. He points out that the same technology that can liberate can also control, and so we cannot draw clear connections between technology and specific social changes.

Feller, G. (2015, Sept. 25). Future technology: a force for good or a source of fear?  Telegraph. Retrieved from

Cyber-security expert Colin Williams is interviewed in this UK article. Interestingly, Williams introduces the concept of “fear” into technological determinism. He argues that one of the reasons people fear technology and focus on its destructive potential is because they believe they cannot stop or control the social changes that come with new technologies. He encourages us to look for the enlightening and engaging potential of technology, rather than being “obsessed with the concept of subordination—that we might lose the ability to control these machines.”

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Writing Tips Infographic

I used Piktochart to make the following infographic. I have used Piktochart once before, and find it really easy to use! I highly recommend it for making infographics, posters, reports, etc. Piktochart allows you to download the infographic as an image (for free).

Author creates an infographic that gives the following tips for paper-writing: 1) stay organized, 2) align your intro and conclusion, 3) mind your mechanics, 4) support your claims and be specific, 5) draw your own conclusions.

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 Public Web Presence

And a Brief Introduction…

I grew up in the cornfields of Illinois and did my undergrad in International Studies and Music in my hometown. After that, I worked for a year for the Illinois State Legislature as a researcher. I got married the summer of 2010 and moved with my husband up to Fairbanks right after that. We lived in Fairbanks for 10 months before he deployed to Afghanistan, and I put all of our stuff into storage and moved to Chicago for grad school. I got my M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago while my husband was deployed, moved back to Fairbanks for 3 months, moved to Georgia for 9 months, moved to Anchorage for 2 years, and now we have lived north of Baltimore, Maryland for the past 8 months. We’re moving again in July to Greenville, South Carolina. If you’re keeping track, that means my husband and I drove the Alaskan Highway to the East Coast (or the reverse of that) a total of three times. I developed a phobia of long road trips (just kidding, kind of) but I’m more or less over that now. I haven’t lived anywhere longer than 24 months in the last 6 years, but we should be in South Carolina for a full two years. That seems like a really long time for us, so we’re going to buy a house and really put down some roots!

Despite all these moves, I’ve been doing my best to maintain a career in higher education. I worked remotely for two separate companies developing college courses online. I taught political science and American government at a community college in Georgia for two semesters, and then I taught at UAA for five semesters. This past year, I’ve started UAF’s M.Ed. in Online Innovation and Design.

I am constantly starting new projects before I’ve finished old projects. I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest…so many ideas, but so little time and so many failures. I love decorating new houses every time we move and am looking forward to buying our first house so I can really dig in to home renovation projects. One of my favorite things to do is spend time in the kitchen—I like to experiment with recipes that use real and wholesome ingredients, and am thankful for a husband who’s willing to try pretty much anything I come up with. We live on the Chesapeake Bay, so I also spend a lot of time walking my dog by the water. I love farmer’s markets, sunshine, trying new things, and quiet nights at home. I hate rush hour traffic, when people are rude for no reason, and injustices both small and large. My favorite season is whatever season is coming up next, and so I love living in places that get to enjoy all four seasons equally.

A Couple of Lists

Things I cooked/ate this past week…

  • Cranberry almond granola
  • Sundried tomato and spinach quinoa salad
  • Lemon and dill halibut chowder
  • Grilled chicken and penne Caesar salad
  • Honey ginger lemonade
  • Dutch apple pancakes

Memorable travel experiences…

  • Seeing the DC cherry blossoms at peak bloom
  • Eating turkey and stuffing flavored potato chips on Thanksgiving Day in London
  • Watching a pod of orcas on an island off the coast of Washington state
  • Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Singing with a choir in St. Mark’s square in Venice, Italy
  • Taking a helicopter up to a glacier hike in Juneau
  • Whitewater rafting in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
  • Snorkeling in Hanuama Bay, Hawaii

Photograph of the author and her husband at the Jefferson Memorial with a view of the DC cherry blossoms

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