With a new Edinburgh Fringe show coming up, and lots of fun and interesting Digital Footprint and other work stuff to share I wanted to reflect back on the last few months – hence this post, originally shared on my EDINA blog:
As we reach the end of the academic year, and I begin gearing up for the delightful chaos of the Edinburgh Fringe and my show, Is Your Online Reputation Hurting You?, I thought this would be a good time to look back on a busy recent few months of talks and projects (inspired partly by Lorna Campbell’s post along the same lines!).
This year the Managing Your Digital Footprint work has been continuing at a pace…
We began the year with funding from the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme for a new project, led by Prof. Sian Bayne: “A Live Pulse”: Yik Yak for Teaching, Learning and Research at Edinburgh. Sian, Louise Connelly (PI for the original Digital Footprint research), and I have been working with the School of Informatics and a small team of fantastic undergraduate student research associates to look at Yik Yak and anonymity online. Yik Yak closed down this spring which has made this even more interesting as a cutting edge research project. You can find out more on the project blog – including my recent post on addressing ethics of research in anonymous social media spaces; student RA Lilinaz’s excellent post giving her take on the project; and Sian’s fantastic keynote from#CALRG2017, giving an overview of the challenges and emerging findings from this work. Expect more presentations and publications to follow over the coming months.
Over the last year or so Louise Connelly and I have been busy developing a Digital Footprint MOOC building on our previous research, training and best practice work and share this with the world. We designed a three week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that runs on a rolling basis on Coursera – a new session kicks off every month. The course launched this April and we were delighted to see it get some fantastic participant feedback and some fantastic press coverage (including a really positive experience of being interviewed by The Sun).
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The MOOC has been going well and building interest in the consultancy and training work around our Digital Footprint research. Last year I received ISG Innovation Fund support to pilot this service and the last few months have included great opportunities to share research-informed expertise and best practices through commissioned and invited presentations and sessions including those for Abertay University, University of Stirling/Peer Review Project Academic Publishing Routes to Success event, Edinburgh Napier University, Asthma UK’s Patient Involvement Fair, CILIPS Annual Conference, CIGS Web 2.0 & Metadata seminar, and ReCon 2017. You can find more details of all of these, and other presentations and workshops on the Presentations & Publications page.
In June an unexpected short notice invitation came my way to do a mini version of my Digital Footprint Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas show as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. I’ve always attended EIFF films but also spent years reviewing films there so it was lovely to perform as part of the official programme, working with our brilliant CODI compare Susan Morrison and my fellow mini-CODI performer, mental health specialist Professor Steven Lawrie. We had a really engaged audience with loads of questions – an excellent way to try out ideas ahead of this August’s show.
Also in June, Louise and I were absolutely delighted to find out that our article (in Vol. 11, No. 1, October 2015) for ALISS Quarterly, the journal of the Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences, had been awarded Best Article of the Year. Huge thanks to the lovely folks at ALISS – this was lovely recognition for our article, which can read in full in the ALISS Quarterly archive.
In July I attended the European Conference on Social Media (#ecsm17) in Vilnius, Lithuania. In addition to co-chairing the Education Mini Track with the lovely Stephania Manca (Italian National Research Council), I was also there to present Louise and my Digital Footprint paper, “Exploring Risk, Privacy and the Impact of Social Media Usage with Undergraduates“, and to present a case study of the EDINA Digital Footprint consultancy and training service for the Social Media in Practice Excellence Awards 2017. I am delighted to say that our service was awarded 2nd place in those awards!
You can read more about the awards – and my fab fellow finalists Adam and Lisa – in this EDINA news piece.
On my way back from Lithuania I had another exciting stop to make at the Palace of Westminster. The lovely folk at the Parliamentary Digital Service invited me to give a talk, “If I Googled you, what would I find? Managing your digital footprint” for their Cyber Security Week which is open to members, peers, and parliamentary staff. I’ll have a longer post on that presentation coming very soon here. For now I’d like to thank Salim and the PDS team for the invitation and an excellent experience.
The final big Digital Footprint project of the year is my forthcoming Edinburgh Fringe show, Is Your Online Reputation Hurting You? (book tickets here!). This year the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas has a new venue – the New Town Theatre – and two strands of events: afternoon shows; and “Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas by Candlelight”. It’s a fantastic programme across the Fringe and I’m delighted to be part of the latter strand with a thrilling but challengingly competitive Friday night slot during peak fringe! However, that evening slot also means we can address some edgier questions so I will be talking about how an online reputation can contribute to fun, scary, weird, interesting experiences, risks, and opportunities – and what you can do about it.
To promote the show I will be doing a live Q&A on YouTube on Saturday 5th August 2017, 10am. Please do add your questions via Twitter (#codi17digifoot) or via this anonymous survey and/or tune in on Saturday (the video below will be available on the day and after the event).
So, that’s been the Digital Footprint work this spring/summer… What else is there to share?
Well, throughout this year I’ve been working on a number of EDINA’s ISG Innovation Fund projects…
The Reference Rot in Theses: a HiberActive Pilot project has been looking at how to develop the fantastic prior work undertaken during the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Hiberlink project (a collaboration between EDINA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics), which investigated “reference rot” (where URLs cease to work) and “content drift” (where URLs work but the content changes over time) in scientific scholarly publishing.
For our follow up work the focus has shifted to web citations – websites, reports, etc. – something which has become a far more visible challenge for many web users since January. I’ve been managing this project, working with developer, design and user experience colleagues to develop a practical solution around the needs of PhD students, shaped by advice from Library and University Collections colleagues.
If you are familiar with the Memento standard, and/or follow Herbert von de Sompel and Martin Klein’s work you’ll be well aware of how widespread the challenge of web citations changing over time can be, and the seriousness of the implications. The Internet Archive might be preserving all the (non-R-rated) gifs from Geocities but without preserving government reports, ephemeral content, social media etc. we would be missing a great deal of the cultural record and, in terms of where our project comes in, crucial resources and artefacts in many modern scholarly works. If you are new the issue of web archiving I would recommend a browse of my notes from the IIPC Web Archiving Week 2017 and papers from the co-located RESAW 2017 conference.
A huge part of the HiberActive project has been working with five postgraduate student interns to undertake interviews and usability work with PhD students across the University. My personal and huge thanks to Clarissa, Juliet, Irene, Luke and Shiva!
You can see the results of this work at our demo site, http://hiberactive.edina.ac.uk/, and we would love your feedback on what we’ve done. You’ll find an introductory page on the project as well as three tools for archiving websites and obtaining the appropriate information to cite – hence adopting the name one our interviewees suggested, Site2Cite. We are particularly excited to have a tool which enables you to upload a Word or PDF document, have all URLs detected, and which then returns a list of URLs and the archived citable versions (as a csv file).
Now that the project is complete, we are looking at what the next steps may be so if you’d find these tools useful for your own publications or teaching materials, we’d love to hear from you. I’ll also be presenting this work at Repository Fringe 2017 later this week so, if you are there, I’ll see you in the 10×10 session on Thursday!
To bring the HiberActive to life our students suggested something fun and my colleague Jackie created a fun and informative gif featuring Library Cat, Edinburgh’s world famous sociable on-campus feline. Library Cat has also popped up in another EDINA ISG Innovation-Funded project, Pixel This, which my colleagues James Reid and Tom Armitage have been working on. This project has been exploring how Pixel Sticks could be used around the University. To try them out properly I joined the team for fun photography night in George Square with Pixel Stick loaded with images of notable University of Edinburgh figures. One of my photos from that night, featuring the ghostly image of the much missed Library Cat (1.0) went a wee bit viral over on Facebook:
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James Reid and I have also been experimenting with Tango-capable phone handsets in the (admittedly daftly named) Strictly Come Tango project. Tango creates impressive 3D scans of rooms and objects and we have been keen to find out what one might do with that data, how it could be used in buildings and georeferenced spaces. This was a small exploratory project but you can see a wee video on what we’ve been up to here.
In addition to these projects I’ve also been busy with continuing involvement in the Edinburgh Cityscope project, which I sit on the steering group for. Cityscope provided one of our busiest events for this spring’s excellent Data Fest – read more about EDINA’s participation in this new exciting event around big data, data analytics and data driven innovation, here.
I have also been working on two rather awesome Edinburgh-centric projects. Curious Edinburgh officially launched for Android, and released an updated iOS app, for this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival in April. The app includes History of Science; Medicine; Geosciences; Physics; and a brand new Biotechnology tours that led you explore Edinburgh’s fantastic scientific legacy. The current PTAS-funded project is led by Dr Niki Vermeulen (Science, Technology & Innovation Studies), with tours written by Dr Bill Jenkins, and will see the app used in teaching around 600 undergraduate students this autumn. If you are curious about the app (pun entirely intended!), visiting Edinburgh – or just want to take a long distance virtual tour – do download the app, rate and review it, and let us know what you think!
The other Edinburgh project which has been progressing at a pace this year is LitLong: Word on the Street, an AHRC-funded project which builds on the prior LitLong project to develop new ways to engage with Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage. Edinburgh was the first city in the world to be awarded UNESCO City of Literature status (in 2008) and there are huge resources to draw upon. Prof. James Loxley (English Literature) is leading this project, which will be showcased in some fun and interesting ways at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August. Keep an eye on litlong.org for updates or follow @litlong.
And finally… Regular readers here will be aware that I’m Convener for eLearning@ed (though my term is up and I’ll be passing the role onto a successor later this year – nominations welcomed!), a community of learning technologists and academic and support staff working with technologies in teaching and learning contexts. We held our big annual conference, eLearning@ed 2017: Playful Learning this June and I was invited to write about it on the ALTC Blog. You can explore a preview and click through to my full article below.
Phew! So, it has been a rather busy few months for me, which is why you may have seen slightly fewer blog posts and tweets from me of late…
In terms of the months ahead there are some exciting things brewing… But I’d also love to hear any ideas you may have for possible collaborations as my EDINA colleagues and I are always interested to work on new projects, develop joint proposals, and work in new innovative areas. Do get in touch!
And in the meantime, remember to book those tickets for my CODI 2017 show if you can make it along on 11th August!
Just before Christmas I was saddened to learn that my friend, Keith Hennessy Brown, had passed away at the horribly young age of 44. Many reading this will know Keith from his exceptional film writing including his many insightful and accessible film reviews (see Eye for Film, Rotten Tomatoes) and his academic film work, most notably his PhD thesis Deleuzean hybridity in the films of Leone and Argento (Brown, 2013).
I have very fond memories of working with Keith on insideout/IOfilm (now Eyeforfilm), covering the Edinburgh International Film Festival and picking through the programme’s coded summaries (and I do always think of Keith when cynically spying the phrase “hypnotically beautiful” in a film summary). Indeed, to see the quality of his writing I would invite you to compare several of the films we both reviewed – my own inexperience very much evident when compared to Keith’s deeper film knowledge and concise impatience with lackluster film making.
It had been several years since I’d last spoken to Keith, but he had been a friend for a long time, since I first moved to Edinburgh in 1999. One of my very first acts as a student was to join the Edinburgh University Film Society, where I found a wonderful group of what have proved to be lifelong friends, most of whom I knew through their love of films: lively advocacy for unlikely programme choices when it came to programming for the society; the sharing of much loved films (from mainstream to thoroughly obscure) through social movie nights; the annual scramble to write reviews for the Filmsoc Programme. And so when I think about Keith, it is inevitably the films he was passionate about, the curios and he would recommend, and those shared experiences of cinema, sharing and impassioned argument and analysis of film.
When I heard the news of Keith’s death – on a day I was due to meet friends at The Filmhouse, a space I strongly associate with planned and accidental meetings with Keith – the first thing I wanted to do was to watch something strange, and odd, and appropriate to his eccentric range of film taste. And so, it feels like the most appropriate tribute to him is to reflect on some of the strange films I had only seen at his suggestion whether through gifts of DVDs (Keith was generous in a quiet random way), or in cramped living rooms full of people open to the strange films he would appear with. I won’t pretend that all of those films were good, or to my taste – Keith spent several years immersed in Giallo, a movement where the misogyny and violence leaves me pretty cold, even when the outlandish plots and eye catching visuals have their appeal – but his selections were always so much more interesting than whatever was playing at the local multiplex.
Suspiria | Italy, 1977 | dir. Dario Argento | 98 mins
I had heard about Suspiria before I met Keith but the DVD of the film was one of his generous but random gifts – he would appear with a DVD or CD at random, and without any expectations of reciprocity. His recommendations were always tailored, although he would also champion his own favourites. Suspiria, being largely female and quite a queer movie, whilst also beautifully executed fit one of the odd overlaps of our film taste which is why it was the first film that came to mind on learning of his death (which also feels appropriately in poor taste).
Suspiria is the story of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), an American student who arrives at a prestigious German ballet school where she witnesses a terrified student running away to a grim fate. It quickly becomes apparent that the ballet school is even more sinister as Suzy begins to explore the strange goings on.
As a film the plot is really secondary to the atmosphere of Suspiria: it is shot in alarming reds and greens with a spine-chilling score by Goblin, shot through with whispery voices. As Suzy is drugged with wine the audience also falls into a confused stupor, stumbling through the strange happenings in a haze of bewildering images and beautiful repetitive musical themes. It may have the plot similarities and strange out of step dubbing of other Giallo movies but it is rightly regarded as a horror classic, with visual, musical, and tonal influence felt in many other movies. The sense of fear and foreboding builds continuously and absorbingly to an appropriately terrifying ending.
Death Laid An Egg / La morte ha fatto l’uovo (aka Plucked aka A Curious Way to Love) | Italy, France, 1968 | dir. Giulio Questi | 86 mins
Keith’s outlandish DVD contribution for film nights were sometimes met with delight, sometimes with derision, and sometimes disquieted silence. Occasionally they were even met with a little snoring… Death Laid an Egg pretty much covered all of those bases…
The title is, I am sure you’ll agree, incredible and immediately raises many questions. The title sequence shows a chicken foetus gradually developing under a microscope… As is appropriate, but you almost certainly won’t have guessed, the plot focuses on extraordinary murder and perversion on a recently industrialised chicken plant. Yes, really. You know that you want to have seen this film, if only to say “I saw this amazing film about battery hens and sex and murder called Death Laid an Egg!”
I shall leave the summarising to user Count_Fistfulldollars on the IMDB (whilst you are there marvel at the classy 5/10 review that mainly focuses on the disappointment that Gina Lollobrigida (playing Anna) is not nude enough):
A love triangle develops between three people who run a high tech chicken farm. It involves Anna (who owns the farm), her husband Marco (who kills prostitutes in his spare time) and Gabriella (the very beautiful secretary).
Yes, the film is as bonkers as it sounds, although like many poorly dubbed Italian movies (which I have watched many of amongst Keith’s recommendations) Death Laid An Egg managed to be titillating and exploitative (witness the glamorous calendar shoot amongst the industrial plant and baby chicks!) whilst also yawn-inducing (dubbed discussion of animal husbandry!), horrifying (crunch, there goes a character into the machinery!) and yet deathly dull… But I am being unfair because Death Laid an Egg is an enjoyably weird example of the Giallo genre. And I suspect a deeper reading also says a great deal about Italian politics, and the importance of food and traditional farming in Italy. In any case, it will certainly convince you to go free range…
The thing about watching a genre piece like this is that part of the fun is seeing how all of the required components slot into place… Indeed, watching the clever self-reflexive, horrific Christmas special of Inside Number 9 a few weeks back, I couldn’t help but think how much Keith would have enjoyed the ridiculous attention to detail – from film stock, to props, to casting and child phobic plot – and it’s dark cynical conclusion and framing.
The Phantom of the Paradise | USA, 1974 | dir. Brian de Palma | 92 mins
The last film I remember watching with Keith was the excellent and relatively little known Phantom of the Paradise. Keith arranged a special screening to mark his 40th birthday and selected this crowd pleasing 1974 oddity from Brian de Palma. In many ways this was a quintessential “Keith Movie”: full of recognizable people, full of interesting ideas, mainstream in many ways, yet tongue in cheek, flecked with body horror and critiques of social norms and populism.
The Phantom of the Paradise sees Winslow Leach (William Finley), a gifted composer whose romantic ambitions far exceed his charisma or success, become embroiled with Swan (Paul Williams), a music industry tycoon… Leach is besotted with Pheonix (Jessica Harper) and sells his soul to Swan (who is also the devil) to ensure that she will sing his music.
This is an ambitious very funny, very dark satirical rock opera version of the Phantom of the Opera. Paul Williams is gloriously weird as Swan and de Palma has all kinds of fun with the variety of bands Swan manages, always desperate to tap into the latest fad that will sell well. Williams’ also contributes much of the score – a reminder that he had some strange awesome work under his belt long before Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Meanwhile Finley has huge fun with his tortured role as Leach, making a virtue of his unconventional physicality – using his tall gangly frame and his dramatic post-disfigurement costume to beautiful effect. Harper has much less to do but she is a perfect innocent foil for the corrupting music industry, channelling her best troubled Karen Carpenter impression for the singing scenes.
Like much of the best cult film treasure The Phantom of the Paradise seems so obviously like it should have been better known, maybe even as a much more mainstream hit (if Grease can be, this funnier cleverer film surely could?). Whilst some of the scenes have dated (mainly the romping Bedazzled-ish scenes of Williams’ hareem), The Phantom of the Paradise‘s core morality story of talent corrupted by the music industry remains just as relevant and very enjoyable. And indeed ripe for a remake… (Might I suggest Louis Walsh as a suitable modern counterpart for Swan?)
And so those are three films that capture some of what I will miss about Keith. Although I haven’t done him justice here as he had a throughly diverse taste in films – I am confident he would watch absolutely anything once. He recommended early cinema, obscure queer classics, and all manner of films to me, and a whole range of other titles to the many people who benefitted from his knowledge and generosity.
That diversity of film knowledge also meant Keith was infuriatingly good at film quizzes – usually knowing many more of the answers than the rest of us – but it wasn’t just film, he had an equally eclectic range of music taste (including some terrible nordic metal that I remembering joyfully head banging to many years ago). Sometimes his enthusiasm for sometimes very bad taste cinema and his impish critiquing and intentional ignoring of social norms could make him challenging company but Keith was always a very kind and gentle soul.
In recent years I know Keith contributed hugely to the Edinburgh Film Guild, and continued to provide friendship and wonderful weird film knowledge to a diverse and international group of friends (not to mention his much loved cat). Even those of us who had not seen him in a while will very much miss him and both his insights and provocations. I am particularly sad that Keith will not be around to write more as I was always sure he had several brilliant film books in his future.
Thought I would share this very lovely update from my Digital Footprints colleagues about #jisc50social – click through to “Nicola blogs…” at the end of the post to read my original post on my work blog.
Nicola Osborne (EDINA), lead collaborator on the Digital Footprint campaign (2014-2015), member of the research team and actively supporting students, researchers and staff at the University of Edinburgh, has just been listed in the Jisc 50 most influential HE professionals using social media.
Congratulations Nicola! It’s fantastic to have your expertise and involvement with the Digital Footprint service and research.
I am immensely proud to have been part of this inquiry, and really recommend giving the final report a read. Comments and follow up discussion welcomed, and we will have a series of dissemination and discussion events coming up over the coming months.
Consultation on the Interim Report has allowed us to refine the conclusions and recommendations that were set out on affordable access, motivating people and organisations to get online and equipping them with the skills they need to do so confidently, safely and creatively. To this we add further analysis of the picture of the digital divide in Scotland; and comment on the responsibilities of a digital society.
You can access Figures and Code associated with the report here.
The Report sets out two key principles for digital participation:
1. That the Scottish Government must recognise that every individual has an undeniable right to digital…
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Yesterday, for Halloween, we had a baking challenge to meet. My partner’s work were having a festive competitive bake off and she was expected to do seriously well so, what to bake?
We decided to combine our trademark bloodied gingerbread men with something more cakey and thus were “Halloween Meats Christmas” born!
The cakes are a dark moist chocolate cupcake topped with a pool of strawberry jam blood, vanilla butter cream lips and vampiric gummy teeth into whose ghoulish jaws have fallen our pool little gingerbread men with missing legs, arms or heads. So much royal icing gingerbread blood has been spilled to make these…
Not only did the cakes win Heather’s workplace prize but a preview bake also won much love at our friends’ Halloween film night. And then, the bloodied icing on the creepy cake, not only have the cakes been retweeted by the Great British Bake Off but today they also made it onto the Guardian’s Life & Style page. Awesome!