UOSM2008: Intro topic reflection

This post is part of a series published as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

Although it has involved completely different styles of university teaching and writing to what I’ve been accustomed, I feel I’ve been adjusting well to UOSM2008 throughout the intro topic. It certainly helps that WordPress, Twitter, and Google Docs are all services I’ve used on a daily basis for a number of years, although, as studying the work of David White in particular has made me realise, my typically consumptive tendencies on these platforms probably put me more towards the visitor end of the spectrum. Going forward, where time permits, I’m certainly keen to up the visual pizazz on this blog as I’m rather envious of some of the graphics that have popped up!

The tasks of mapping out my digital usage and undertaking the self-test in the main blog post challenged me to think in new ways about how and why I use technology, and the discussion generated by these maps across the class means that – even just a week later – my map would likely look very different if I were to construct it today. Tom Davidson’s comment, for example, encouraged broader thought about how I contribute to Spotify and use it for social engagement rather than just passive music consumption, Luke Gibbins prompted me to think about a wider spectrum of online services in all four quadrants and how the timeframe considered can be so critical, and Tom Paterson’s blog had me thinking more constructively about professional residential activities and learning and developing skills.

Going forward, I will definitely be considering my usage of the Web through the spectrum of White’s mapping, particularly following the discussion about the scope of the zeitgeist this captures, and, as discussed on Tom’s post, looking to combine aspects of Marc Prensky’s work into this process. Onwards to Topic 1!

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UOSM2008: Digital literacy and self-evaluation

This is the first in a series of posts to be published over the coming months as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

I have long regarded my digital literacy as strong, having used computers regularly from a young age and gone on to study for a Web Science degree. With sites like WordPress and Twitter, I have maintained online profiles and networks for many years both for personal use and institutionally, including this site, which is mainly used as a writing portfolio. This is reflected in the scores for my initial self-test, where the key elements I hope to improve upon are participation and collaboration.

Criterion Level (1-5)
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information 4
Participating in online communities 3
Building online networks around an area of interest 3
Collaborating with others on shared projects 3
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video) 4
Managing your online identity 4
Managing your online privacy and security 3

My personal experiences of digital literacy and skill divides would previously have aligned my thinking with Marc Prensky’s concepts of digital immigrants and natives, whereby younger generations are immersed into digital concepts from birth, rather than adapting experiences to them. However, as I discovered in researching this topic, David White’s conceptualisation of a spectrum between using digital platforms for active creation (residency) as opposed to passive consumption or utility (visiting) offers a more nuanced approach to assorted use cases.

Applying White’s mapping approach to my own Web usage made me closely analyse how and why I use what I use. For instance, for work I administer a number of Facebook groups and monitor incoming email closely, however my outgoing email is comparably infrequent and my personal use of Facebook is based around consumption rather than creation. Spotify and YouTube are services I use almost strictly in personal capacities, unlike SoundCloud, where I upload podcasts for work purposes.

Digital Identity Graph
10 of my most frequently-used online services, mapped on White’s grid structure

Historically, however, this picture would look very different. Today, most of my public posts on Twitter relate to work, however my account was far more active in previous years when used more for personal reasons. Nevertheless, I visit the service multiple times every day, keeping up with my curated feed of friends, journalists, artists, and so forth.

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“Does anyone know if Whitney Houston did a Christmas song?” – An interview with Peking Duk and Icona Pop

If you’re looking for video shoots where people set themselves on fire, these party specialists won’t ‘Let You Down.’

Originally published in The Edge

Coming five years and 10 platinum certifications since they first hit their native charts, the London debut of Sydney-based electronic duo Peking Duk feels long overdue. However, when speaking to The Edge on an open-top Original Tour bus on a crisp December lunchtime between sold-out nights at The Garage and KOKO, Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles already feel right at home. “We went to the West Ham vs. Arsenal game last night – had the time of my life,” Styles says. “It was a 0-0 boring game but there were a lot of loose eastenders out and it was fucking hilarious. It was sick.”

‘Let You Down,’ their fizzy, self-deprecating new release, marks another first, with Hyde debuting his own vocals alongside those of Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo. His move comes as the logical next step from the band launching their full Weeknd-inspired live act over the summer at Splendour In The Grass, which one of their crew describes to me as Australia’s equivalent Glastonbury. The result was evidently successful – tastemaking radio station Triple J described the performance as “stepping things up to 11 without sacrificing the simple pleasures of a Peking Duk throwdown” – and, to feature on spring’s impending debut album, it made perfect sense to rekindle a friendship that began with some spilt orange juice in the air years prior. “We met on an aeroplane from Miami to LA,” Hjelt recalls. “We were like, ‘We saw some Australian dudes play last night,’ and you were like, ‘It was actually, kind of, us.’ That was the first meeting, and then we met in Sweden at the Northbound studios [in Stockholm].” Continue reading ““Does anyone know if Whitney Houston did a Christmas song?” – An interview with Peking Duk and Icona Pop”

101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all

Don’t worry, there’s no Lil Pump/Big Shaq/Katy Perry/Chris & Kem/Ed Sheeran here.

2017 has been quite a year. To celebrate three things – its musical goodness, me finally getting things in order on these pages, and a year of better playlisting that’s allowed me to bring all the best bits together without it taking approximately a million years – here’s a collection of 101 of the best songs it’s spawned. There’ll be many more words, playlists, and things appearing here over the coming months, especially if I can figure out how to make Spotify embeds look as nice on WordPress as they can elsewhere, so do say hello if there’s anything you think I’ve missed.

Continue reading “101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all”

Album review: Lorde – Melodrama

Our Lorde is 2017’s saviour

Originally published for The Edge’s album of the year countdown

Having gone from winning an Auckland school talent show and covering Pixie Lott in a radio session to selling 10 million copies of her debut single and being anointed by David Bowie as “the future of music” before she’d even had a moment spare to turn 17, it may come as no surprise that Ella Yelich-O’Connor opted to retreat towards normalcy as the Pure Heroine days wound down. Of course, sailing was not entirely plain: between incessant partying, herding idols like Kanye West and The Chemical Brothers for her Hunger Games soundtrack, taking helicopter rides into the wilderness to work on follow-up material, and covertly reviewing onion rings on Instagram came a painful breakup and a biting pop landscape eager to absorb her “incorrect” stylings.

Melodrama, the resulting Lorde record, comes rooted in that hedonistic habitat whilst trading the sprawling naïveté of (relative) youth for an affecting glare at heartbreak. A far cry from the days of ‘Tennis Court’ (“It’s a new artform showing people how little we care”), it is a remarkably bare concoction that pairs unorthodox pop competence with conscious overwrought feeling. Detail is superfluous to requirements, save for exposed piano ballad ‘Liability’ indulging in fame’s unceremonious responsibility for the theme (“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy / ‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me”), whilst the meeting of bitterness and a euphoric yearning for escape that is impeccable lead single and album opener ‘Green Light’ serves as a mostly upbeat red herring. Continue reading “Album review: Lorde – Melodrama”

Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth. For what it’s worth, I think that He might’ve created Dua Lipa’s live set first.

Originally published in The Edge

To anyone who had encountered her work in the 18 protracted months between amorous entrance ‘New Love’ and the release of her debut album, it wasn’t particularly hard to fathom Dua Lipa as a bonafide pop superstar just simmering gently before something truly massive. Eventually, it was the seventh single properly pushed from the record that proved to be said something – over the summer, the defiant breakup recovery jam ‘New Rules’ turned her from a perennial hope to one of the top ten most-streamed artists on the planet.

Thus, in the grand scheme of what is now almost certain to come, her autumn schedule feels like a bizarrely quaint juncture. Less than a week on from trying on arena life for size with Bruno Mars in North America, The Self-Titled Tour – which will now stretch to venues like Alexandra Palace and Birmingham’s Genting Arena in the spring after some exotic stadium dates in Coldplay’s company – kicked off earlier this month, including a chilly Friday night in an art deco Bournemouth hall nestled amongst a gaggle of fast food outlets. Continue reading “Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth”

“Hopefully it cements us as a band” – An interview with Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice

We talk Visions Of A Life, DJing dodgems, and gigs 9,800 attendees apart.

Originally published in The Edge

The way Ellie Rowsell speaks of her recent jaunt to DJ on the Brighton Pier dodgems at SlavesGreat Escape gig isn’t brimming with enthusiasm – imagine a miserable, rainy Thursday night with decks that don’t entirely work properly. Yet, although it was her only billing during her band’s first summer in five years without a festival tally in the double digits, things aren’t as relaxing as they might seem. Barely nine months on from concluding the run for 2015’s acclaimed debut My Love Is Cool with their first festival headline spot, Wolf Alice has five tour legs in as many months, reaching from Los Angeles to Osaka, lined up around the release of “personal” new record Visions Of A Life. Continue reading ““Hopefully it cements us as a band” – An interview with Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice”