How I’m using social media for troublemaking, part 2: twitter

Last Monday, I discussed how I’m using Pinterest for my troublemaking. Today I want to discuss twitter. I’ve written a lot over the past few years on how I’m using twitter to make and stay in trouble. Luckily, so far I haven’t been in trouble by using it…yet. I noticed the other day that my “twitter” tag is one of my largest tags. Actually, with 28 posts, it’s second only to my “Judith Butler” tag, which has 40 posts. Here are a few highlights from those posts:

on live-tweeting 
tweeting your thesis? good. rethinking purpose of thesis? better
more twitter hatin’ and conflatin’
twitter and feminist pedagogy
the undisciplined self via twitter

While there are all sorts of ways to use twitter for making/staying in trouble, like sharing sources, posing/answering questions, connecting with other users, I use twitter primarily to document my notes, thoughts and reflections on the various ideas I encounter everyday. Sometimes I tweet my notes and questions as I’m reading an article. Sometimes I tweet my thoughts as I’m watching a show. And, while I haven’t really done it yet, I’d like to start tweeting my process of creating digital stories.

In addition to using twitter, I also am researching it. I’m particularly interested in how people/organizations are using it to practice an ethic of care. Imagining twitter as a space for deep and meaningful engagement (and care) is troubling for many; the general consensus (based on both anecdotal evidence and popular and academic articles on twitter/twitter and ethics) is that twitter is bad for our souls.

While many folks dismiss twitter as destroying (or at least weakening) our ability to be ethical, many (maybe some of the same folks?) encourage it as good for business and promoting our self-as-brand. I like the idea of people using social media for their businesses and for connecting with clients/communities, but in ways that are meaningful and more than just promotion.

Here’s an infographic that I came across (and pinned on my “Troubling Infographics” board last week) that seems (at least to me) to illustrate twitter-as-tool-for-promotion:

Okay, this infographic isn’t really that useful (well, isn’t that true of most infographics?) because there isn’t that much difference between the best and worst types of tweets and it’s organized very poorly. The more I look at it, the more confused I am about what I’m actually supposed to be learning about good tweeting practices. But, regardless of how bad this infographic is, it still is a helpful starting point for thinking through how many people use twitter to promote their own cleverness (“random thought”), their self-as-brand (“self-promotion”) and their expertise (“information sharing”). And this infographic is helpful in thinking through how my own practices of and reflections on/about twitter trouble these popular uses. In looking at the “worst types,” I am not surprised to see that many of my favorite twitter practices–“opinion/complaint,” “me now,” and “conversation”–are on there.

Studying this infographic closely makes me want to do my own dis/infographic with Pixelmator. Look for it soon, along with more analysis of how my tweets trouble the best/worst types on this graphic. 

Thanks Mom! Banksy Beside JennyHolzerMom

epic win photos - WIN!: Hacked IRL: Thanks Mom
see more epicfails

Thanks to Susannah for this image and her question about the link between troublemaking and care. I really like the idea of envisioning encouraging kids to make trouble (well, maybe not always or often in the forms represented in this image) as part of a parent’s caregiving practices. I’d like to read/reflect on this beside JennyHolzerMom’s tweets about the tension between rebelling and following rules:

Word Count: 71 words

Trouble Role Models: some early thoughts

Right now, I’m experimenting with converting parts of this blog into a pdf with Anthologize. I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately do with it, but it seems like a helpful exercise in thinking through how to (finally) turn my reflections on/engagements with trouble into a more tangible product. Plus, after discussing how much I’ve written on my blog with STA on our podcast yesterday, I’m interested in finding out how many pages my 288+ posts equals.

I tried out anthologize about 2 years ago and wasn’t that impressed. Since then, they’ve updated it and I’ve found new ways that it might be useful. When I first got the idea for this project yesterday, it seemed like it would be pretty easy. All I had to do was drag my posts into different parts of my “book.” Ha! Today, as I become increasingly overwhelmed by the number of posts I have and by the various ways in which I might organize them, I realize that this project is not going to be easy. Useful? Probably. But easy? Definitely not. Oh well.

In order to not get too overwhelmed, I’ve decided to approach the project in chunks. Today’s chunk: Trouble Role Models.

As I skimmed through an entry in tribute to Mary Daly, I came across these lines:

In my dissertation, Feminist Ethics and the Project of Democracy, I argue that we urgently need feminist role models who aren’t saints, but are moral exemplars of the resisting spirit and who don’t necessarily show us how best to resist, but that resistance is always possible. These role models inspire us, providing us with the hope that we can transform oppressive institutions and live better lives. Their specific methods may not always be effective but, through their writing/teaching/activism/daily experiences, they encourage us to keep working and fighting and questioning.

I was inspired to return to my dissertation and my chapter on role models/radical subjectivities (which was written way back in 2004). Here are some things that I wrote about the importance of feminist role models:

Instead of developing new master narratives or searching for ways to guarantee success, feminists can find guidance and inspiration by looking to role models within their feminist communities. Through these role models, feminists can witness and engage with (oftentimes) living examples for how to survive and thrive within the dangerous and exhausting practice of democratic feminism. Feminist role models play an essential role in educating us on how to theorize about oppression, to practice our politics and to maintain our sanity. They also inspire us to keep going, even when we feel our actions might be hopeless.

In different ways, bell hooks, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Patricia Hill Collins all argue for the importance of feminist role models. In “Theory as Liberatory Practice,” bell hooks reflects on the value of  “women and men who dare to create theory from the location of pain and struggle, who courageously expose wounds to give us their experience to teach and guide, as a means to chart new theoretical journeys” (74). She argues that is was because of these individuals and their willingness to risk theorizing about their own pain that she was able to begin (and continue on) with her own struggle against oppression in its many forms.

In “Coalition Politics: Turning the Century,” Bernice Johnson Reagon argues that, in order to keep their principles intact, feminists need to ensure the survival of those rare political individuals who refuse to reduce their political involvement to one issue, such as sexism or racism. These individuals not only keep up with and actively resist the ever-shifting ways in which oppression functions, but maintain their sanity as they do it. They “hold the key to turning the century with our principles and ideals intact. They can teach us how to cross cultures and not kill ourselves” (Reagon 1983, 363).

Finally, in Fighting Words, Patricia Hill Collins promotes the legacy of women and men who have dared to question and speak out against oppression or who were able to transform their rage into resistance. For Collins, this legacy includes those women, such as her mother, who lived on her block in her “African-American, working class Philadelphia neighborhood” (187). In spite of their unending struggles against a system that discouraged and actively tried to crush their dreams of a better life, these women were able to create and sustain hopeful visions of the future for themselves and their daughters by preaching self-reliance and independence. In so doing, they not only served as important role models for Collins; they also served as valuable sources of caring and encouragement, loving her “when no one else did and as no one could” (200).

I like this idea of role models as examples and sources of inspiration; they aren’t perfect experts, but wise (and often flawed) mentors who can give us advice, hope and support. This last line reminds me of a discussion I just had with STA on his blog about valuing guides over experts. 

How I’m using social media for troublemaking, part one: Pinterest

Since January, I’ve been experimenting a lot with social media, partly because I’ve really interested (theoretically/practically, personally/professionally/academically) in social media and partly because I’m working as a social media specialist/educator at Room 34 Creative Services and want to be familiar with different forms of social media. My approach has been to pick out a limited number of media that look promising (which means that I might be able to use them for meaningful engagement in making and staying in trouble) and experiment with them.

One media that I’ve, perhaps stubbornly, refused to experiment with is Facebook. I have seen it used effectively, like by my grad students, but I just can’t get past the privacy issues + overall tone of site + the games + over-controlling of user experience by Facebook admin, in order to experiment with it. My twitter feed does get posted on Facebook, so I do use it a little. And, I do like seeing what my friends/family are up to on it. 

Yesterday, I finally convinced STA to add social media buttons to this blog (see upper righthand corner of this blog). In honor of this occasion, I want to offer up a series of brief descriptions of how I’m using social media right now for making and staying in trouble. Today’s description: Pinterest

I’m using Pinterest for critical and creative experimentation. So far, I have 11 boards and 95 pins. Almost all of my boards are related to troublemaking, like my trouble role models, apps I want to trouble and troublemaking books for kids. I’m also experimenting with a Beside/s board. So far, I haven’t done too much with that board, but I see it as having some interesting potential.

(P)interestingly enough (ugh…I need to stop doing this pun), I’m not really using Pinterest to connect with other pinners. I don’t follow that many boards or repin many items from other people. I also don’t comment and don’t receive many comments.

One of the only comments I received, on my pin for Mattilda Berstein Sycamore, still pisses me off every time I see it. I chose not to engage with the person (should I have responded?), but their response, especially the YOU in all caps made me think comments might not be useful for me on this site. Thinking about my reluctance to use comments or to engage that much with other pinners makes me wonder, what exactly makes a social media site social? 

My Pinterest Boards as of April 23, 2012

I really like using Pinterest for keeping track of some of my ideas and examples. I’m hoping that the various boards can serve as inspiration for current and future writing and video projects. As I write this description, I realize that I want to think and write more about how I use/want to use Pinterest.

2 Questions to return to later

What makes a social media site social? What sorts of engagement do social media offer, beyond sharing and communicating with other users?

Experimenting with Digital Stories, part 2

I’m continuing to experiment with using iMovie to create digital stories. I’m having a lot of fun and learning new techniques. While I created two videos in the early aughts with STA, he did almost all of the technical stuff on them (running the camera + editing the footage in iMovie, etc). It’s great to learn how to do it myself. Part of my feminist techagogy (Feminist pedagogies in conversation/beside online technologies) is a passionate belief in empowering/inspiring/encouraging a wide range of folks how to engage in their own digital multimedia projects for critical and creative expression. With easy to use and inexpensive tools like iMovie, lots of people who aren’t tech/media experts can create, produce and share compelling stories. There are also lots of storytelling apps for creating movies. I’ve created a Pinterest board with some that I’ve tried or want to try. 

I like using iMovie (as opposed to final cut pro) because it’s automatically built in to all macs and fairly easy to use. So far, I haven’t had that much difficulty figuring out how to import photos and video and edit them. I’ve also experimented with splitting video and audio clips and slowing down some footage. One thing that I haven’t spent that much time on is sound. iMovie seems to have some serious limitations when it comes to sound; it’s hard to get a consistent volume between clips. Even though iMovie has its limitations, I really like how it enables me, someone who is not a digital media expert (or interested in becoming one), to develop enough skills to experiment with various ways for creating, telling and troubling my stories.

Here’s my latest digital story project: Stories from the UP. I’m pretty happy with the various techniques that I tried out in the story. I’m also pleased with how I was able to use this story to trouble ideas of how stories, especially ones about family trips, can or should be told.

Technical note: I used iMovie + built-in MacBook Air microphone + Pixelmator for photo editing.

Here is the transcript from my voice-over:

Last summer, for the second year in a row, Scott, Fletcher, Rosie and I took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was born in the Upper Peninsula, Houghton to be exact. And although I haven’t lived there since I was 4 and a half, I still consider it to be one of my most important home spaces.

We remember our trips to the UP with great fondness and nostalgia, as we look through Scott’s beautiful stylized instagram photos, but I know that even as these trips are deeply important and fulfilling, they aren’t always…fun or easy or relaxing. Bugs, over-excited yet easily-bored kids, too much togetherness, bugs, too cold water, lots of driving, did I mention bugs?, and the difficult and ongoing negotiations of 4 different, all strong, personalities living together as a family makes any trip messy…and exhausting….and a lot of work. But joyful, nonetheless.

I want to craft and share stories that reflect a more troubling understanding of our trips to the UP, that convey the joy and difficulties, our fulfillment and exhaustion.

Before the Path I like messy stories; stories that don’t always erase our conflicts, that allow us to put our sometimes contradictory experiences beside each other.

Before the Place I like reverent stories; stories that allow me to express an ongoing love for a place that grounds me, that nurtures me, that inspires me and that reminds me of who I am always in the process of becoming.

Before Characters I like character stories; stories that describe who we are, more than what we do…that expose our quirks and flaws and that represent us as human, not heroic.

Before the Action I like small stories; stories that represent our everyday experiences and that help to reflect who we are in our habits. Not stories of grand or epic adventures, but everyday events, when we’re just hanging out and where the exciting ending is not reaching the top of a high mountain, but going to have mackinac island fudge ice cream at our favorite ice cream shop, The Berry Patch.