Monday, November 17, 2008

5 minute interview with Dr Julia Davies

Sam and I are conducting 5 minute interviews with interesting and famous people working in the world of digital literacies. Our first interview is with the wonderful Dr Julia Davies from the University of Sheffield.

For more, visit her blog:

What digital technologies do you have in your handbag/satchel/pocket?

1. Flip video camera
2. Sony cybershot
3. Mobile phone – has camera and mp3 palyer built in
4. Ipod touch– wireless connection; music player. Dvd player; stores images
5. Palm pilot – has diary, addresses, camera, note book & memo pad
6. 2 USB memory sticks

This is just in my handbag – I also always take my laptop to and from work.

Which one/s can't you live without and why?
This is VERY difficult as different ones are more important at different times. But on balance, it is the least technologically advanced item, and also the oldest. It is my palm pilot – because this is my diary and tells me what to do, where to be all the time. I can take a picture with it if I have not got my camera – but would rarely use it for this. I would rather use the ipod touch for my diary– but I cannot synchronise that diary software with the one work uses and so I stick with the Palm pilot. (My University likes to keep track of our whereabouts at all times and they do this through an electronic calendar – I suppose that actually tagging us might seem a wee bit too invasive of privacy). So the diary is not just a personal technology it is also about networking – people being able to book my time.

What's your current favourite blog/website/virtual world?
I am glad you specify ‘current’ as it changes a lot … but at the moment I love YouTube as I like to see the wide variety of people using this space for so many different reasons. To me it seems to house the most diverse set of users – and that is without even seeing the probably even greater diversity of those who merely view rather than upload or comment.

What are you finding fascinating in relation to technology/literacy/ text at the moment?
Hmmm difficult to pick out the MOST fascinating – but I am thinking a lot about what motivates people to participate online and am interested in how more and more groups of people as seeing it as including them – there is much less of a notion that there are those who do and those who don’t go online. People are beginning to incorporate the web into their lives and seeing it as part of what they do normally – whether it is ebay, instant messaging, facebook stuff or Youtube. People are seeing it as a social resource and as a channel of communication. In relation to this I am staggered at how often speak out against the dangers of our use of the Internet – so that whole more and more people are realising the usefulness of the Internet as a way of facilitating normal activities, this is triggering fears around social change. I think it is odd as in fact people seem to be using the Internet really to make what they normally do more efficient. I see all these issues as revolving around ideas about literacy as a social practice and about identity.

What do you predict will be a key issues in (digital technologies/literacy/) over the next 5 years?
I think issues are likely to include:
  • The need to educate people for critical literacy – managing vast amounts of data and being able to wade through it and read it carefully;
  • Convincing schools that the above is the case;
  • I think that more and more publishing companies will supply schools with software that can be run separately from the Internet and provide a ‘safe arena’ – equivalent to reading schemes of the past – these may not be all bad, but are not the best way forward in my view;
  • The Internet is getting increasingly ‘busy’ - different spaces will increasingly acquire social meanings that will attract different types of people to them – and which will have ways of gatekeeping to ensure that the ‘right people’ get in – I think we will see this increase and a different kind of digital divide happening online – to do with social and cultural capital; We will need to educate for this. What do I mean? I see that for example, Bebo and Facebook attracts different demographies – these are usually based on local ‘real world’ social groupings – such as who at my school uses facebook – who do I want to be with? This influences choice of software and then locks you into groups – unless you decide to keep up a range of gateways into your wider social frame. As these networks grow (and as the young Bebo users grow up) these I think will translate and transfer into career groupings and so on. Probably class based? At the moment you can already choose to pay to use software that is also available free through other providers – e.g. you can have a free blog, or pay for one. Obviously paying is a simple form of gatekeeping. I think this will be one way of gatekeeping, but then there will also be password protected spaces that will be powerful to belong to. This is different to the utopia some have described, seeing the internet as a great leveller and as a way of hiding identities and so on.


Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Victoria Carrington said...

Thanks - will look forward to chatting with you as time goes by.