Module 1B: History

There are two main takeaways from this set of panels:

  • Notice the lack of clear relationship between technology and social change;
  • The tremendous acceleration in technological change in extremely short periods of times—we move from changes over hundreds of years; down to changes in generations; down to changes in 2-5 years—the norm now.

Remember—when you were in Elementary School, you didn’t have Facebook because it wasn’t built yet.  You might feel like a dinosaur, but you’re not that old—it’s just that the changes are happening so fast.

Feel free to send in other contributions to add to this timeline, especially in regards to social games, since that’s not an area I’m into or familiar with.

1AB: Changing Social Patterns


JUMP TO PANEL 3—  don’t worry, we will get back to Panel 2 [self-ego diagram] later

Module 1AB Reaction Paper Part 1:

Look over each line in Panel 3 [social change evidence] through Panel 5 [pervasive nature].  Ponder over a couple of critical thinking points on each, such as A) am I a part of this statistic and behavior?  B) how many of my friends and other people I work with are part of this group?

Then fast-forward to 2025—given these behavior patterns, how will our social patterns have changed by then (if at all)?

HOLD ONTO YOUR ANSWER until you answer Part 2 below.

This apparent contradiction of massively increased social networking and increased individual perceived isolation is quickly becoming one of the major unanticipated consequences of digital media today.  While everyone accepts the data, predicting trends are all over the chart, generally clustering around the two nodes of “Tech is Good” and the opposing node of “Digital World of Doom”.  Ironically, both can be accused of reflecting the PERCEPTUAL BUBBLE definition—that of seeing and reinforcing a very particular point of view.

This same data-trend dichotomy can also be seen when you move on to Panel 6-7 [app gen specifics].  All of you fall at the fringe of this group, since you’re essentially digital fossils, but the contingent right behind you—currently just starting High School, are full dues-paying members of the App Generation.

Module 1AB Reaction Paper Part 2:

Do the same critical thinking points on each, such as A) am I a part of this statistic and behavior?  B) how many of my friends and other people I work with are part of this group?  But this time only looking at the “under-20” group.

Then again, fast-forward to 2025—given these behavior patterns, how will our social patterns have changed by then (if at all)?

OK, send me the Reaction Paper, adding the following—which of those stats/numbers did you find the most compelling?  The most shocking?

Keep in mind these social data points and your answers, as we will be referring back to them through the semester.

Last but certainly not least, Panel 2 [self-geo diagram]

This is a visual to help you understand the following concept-heavy post.

If you want to see a very detailed discussion of this topic take a look at Mathews, Gordon  1996.  What Makes Life Worth Living?  How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds.  Berkeley: Univ. Calif Press.  This is also the central theme of post-1964 Americans in Twenge, Jean  2006.  Generation Me.  NY: Free Press.

There are several paired opposing concepts that are central to understanding perception and self-identity.  One is internalized vs. externalized sense of self.  The other is group-collective self orientation vs. individual-self orientation.

Internalized Sense of Self: Your world view, self-identity, perception of what you are, your relationship with others and the world around you, are largely based on a set of parameters that you have developed internally.  From various sources, you have built up your unique sense-identity.  Normative in Japanese society, this is ikigai in Japanese.  There really isn’t a good English translation for the term.  In this framework you have only limited interest in how strangers view and/or judge you.

Externalized Sense of Self: Your world view, self-identity, perception of what you are, your relationship with others and the world around you, are largely based on how others view and react to you—the judgments they make of you.  Their external opinions are central to your self-identity.  The parameters you use for your world view and self-identity are largely the result of a compilation of the opinion of others—of external input.  In this framework you are extremely interested in how strangers view and/or judge you.

Group-Collective Orientation: Your sense of self and world view are largely driven by your group of association, the collective of those that are important to you.  Individual choice will take back seat to what the group wants.

Individual-Self Orientation: Your sense of self and world view are largely driven by your self-perception and identity, not that of the group or collective that is important to you.  Your individual choices are more critical than the wishes of others.

Critical Thinking: Where would you place yourself in this chart?  Kanye West or Kim Kardashian?  Pope Francis?  Why? Where would you put a group that is consumed by the need to follow Facebook trends?  Why?

Module 1A-Definitions-Part 2

Apps and Avatars:

Think for a second about a “free” app you use—whether it be Facebook, YouTube, whatever…  At some point they have software coders and designers, a ton of expenses relating to digital storage, web development, customer service…  If you’re using the “free app”, then who pays the bills?

This is the term MONETIZE—to come up with a way to make something generate money—to make it pay for itself (and show a profit).  This is why there are banners and side-bar advertising in Facebook, pop-up adds in your video on YouTube, etc…  These are all ways to pay the bills.  More subtle is the collection of all your personal data—the infamous “big data” that is such a hot topic in biz tech circles.  Many Apps, from the moment you clicked the “I agree” when you first downloaded the App, collect everything that you put on your device–texting, pics, checking websites, online purchases…  You might only use the app to text or send pics (say Snapchat), but their data collection is going on all the time your phone/tablet/computer is on, not just when you’re using the app.  This is “data mining” and it’s a very lucrative business.  You see it in the very targeted adds you see.

This brings up the second concept, to COMMODIFY.  This has been a ‘hot button’ topic here in Hawaii for generations, especially related to tourism.  If you market “aloha”, but you do so to make sales, or get a tip, you have placed a cash value on both the term and the attached behavior and/or value.  In fact the larger discussion of service tips and the fact that they have become largely involuntary in many industries in the U.S. is the same issue.  If generosity is given cash value, are you being generous because you morally-socially should, or for the cash?  Who decides?  For social media Apps to be successful today they not only have to find out a way to monetize their service—but they also have to do so while making the App appear “free” to the end user.

But if they want to stay around they need persistent use and growth and this usually involves the commodification of behavior in some way.  The more they can make the App a social necessity, the more ways to make money off of it—not only for them, but also for selected users.  Miller talks about this with Facebook users who have made Facebook their business.  This is a common pattern in Second Life, when commodification of a range of objects, behaviors, and other things have become a full-time job for a number of residents.  The last two panels—the “like” button and like vs. want are views of this shaping of behavior by profit-driven companies.

Since you have already been wandering around Second Life, the VIRTUAL WORLDS concepts should be pretty obvious—though as we will see later, that can sometimes seem like the tip of a very large iceberg of hidden social identity and meanings.  A real key concept to keep in mind both while wandering in Second Life, but also in the larger context of how you present yourself in social media such as Facebook or Instagram, would be that of the AVATAR.  As we will see, the minute that you make communication asynchronous, you are in the business of ‘avatar-building’, as you are able to share how you are presented to the digital world—you have the ability to shape your image.



As you flip through this slide set, you should notice that most of the terms are in common use—one of the main purposes of this set is to clarify and specify what the terms mean.  A good example would be CULTURE—used (and misused) all the time, but we want to keep to the narrow professional definition.  Note the built-in tension—on one hand all cultures are innately conservative, as people teach the young generation based on their past (“when I was growing up…”)—but at the same time cultures are constantly in a state of change, as conditions and the larger world change.  This can be seen with the discussion about “proper phone etiquette” and other aspects of social media.  Do old social norms/rules apply to new technology, or does new technology demand new social norms?  Who says?  Who decides?  Who has to follow the rules?

Note how dominant PERCEPTION is to all this discussion.  ETHNICITY is perceived—there are no strict criteria needed to be ‘ethnic’, just the 2 factors.  The same is true of COMMUNITY.  A lot of our quickly-changing world is based on what appears to be consensus, but again, consensus of whom?  Who’s left out?

Second Life is an excellent case in point, if you’ve started reading Boellsdorff—there are fairly consistent social norms in SL, but the program is only 14 years old, and most residents have only been in-world for 1 year or so.  So how did the norms develop?  How do new members learn the norms?  Why do they follow them?  What are the consequences of breaking them?  This is the central part of his study of Second Life, and applies to much of Digital Realities.

This brings us to the first of our Critical Thinking questions [called KOAN here]:


Is music more real is you hear it at a live concert with a live band? [live band, live audience, real time venue]

Is it just as real at a Hatsune Miku concert where the band is live, but the song and singer are digital? [digital singer, live backup band, live audience, real time venue]

Is it less real (how much) if you watch the Hatsune Miku LA concert grabbed by phone on youtube? –[at]

KOAN II: Trance State Clubbing:

You and some friends go out to a club featuring a famous Trance-mix DJ.  You find yourself dancing and so caught up in the music, especially the beat, that you start to forget where you are.  You haven’t had much to drink, and no drugs.  All the sudden you find yourself dancing with a rather cute [kawaii] pink elephant.

What part of this experience is real?

What part isn’t real?


Part 2–REALITIES:  As you thought over the Koan above you should have had to separate the “real” from the “unreal”.  It seems straightforward until you look at your world and how you interact with others, and then it gets complicated real quick.

Thinking of your assignments so far, draw a diagram that shows what you consider the overlap to be between physical and digital reality.

Now add in virtual worlds; virtual reality; augmented reality

Where does a Hatsune Miku concert fit in your diagram?

Sitting in my classroom in SL during our Wednesday class session?

VIRTUAL REALITY has become the hot topic in tech circles in the last 3-4 years, especially with Facebook’s purchase of the Oculus Rift VR system.  When a large number of people will be willing to stick headsets on for extended periods of time remains to be seen, especially because at it’s core VR assumes opposition to physical reality—so the two have to be isolated from each other.

By contrast AUGMENTED REALITY [key player is probably Microsoft Hololens] overlays physical reality with digital aspects—a Hatsune Miku performance is augmented reality.  This Hololens review gives a good idea of current thinking [at:] which discusses the differences between AR and VR.

The VR-AR Koan is looking at this dividing line—in your view which one is personally more compelling?

Introduction Module

1/19: Module 1: Introduction

I would suggest that you put two panels up: one with the powerpoint, the other with this commentary—that way you can use it as a narrative.  When I get my Facerig setup back up (don’t ask) I will try and provide verbal commentary, but for now we’ll just do text.

As you look through the first slides—the “What We Know” set, look at the numbers and think about each for a few seconds, remembering that none of this existed when you were in Kindergarten, and for the older ones, while you were in Elementary School.  What we take as normal has existed for a stunningly SHORT period of time.

This has all sorts of implications as we’ll see during the semester, probably the main one being the we [collectively and individually] have had no time to process these changes into our social world and fit them into our world.  In the past these technological changes have usually been single points, like the telephone 100 years ago—so the process is a lot less disruptive.  But the myriad of changes we are currently bombarded with, without any breaks or time-outs, has led to massive social disruption—witness the polarization in the U.S. related to the recent election cycle, “false news”, mistrust of traditional media, etc.

At a personal level, think of the lack of any clear etiquette guides on appropriate use of phones/social media on dates—is it OK to text while going out with someone?  Check on their social media posts?  If they leave it lying around unlocked, check to see who/what has been tweeted or snapped recently?  All this is symptomatic of people being increasingly at a loss as to whether the digital is their friend, their enemy, or their nightmare—or more likely all of the above at the same time.  Individuality and freedom are interesting concepts, and are central to those who drive social media usage, but at what price?

If you look at the first panels, we are most connected population in world history.  We also look like we are becoming the loneliest—scroll down to the Facebook specific panels and think about what all those mean, on something that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Basic Premises Slides—these are presenting the set of assumptions central to our examination of this subject.  All of the assumptions [premises] are based on the data presented—of course all of these are “a work in progress” since the subject is constantly morphing in new ways.

A really key assumption is the shift from synchronic—say a face-to-face conversation or a phone call, towards a-synchronic interaction—such as a tweet or a post.  Many researchers are starting to link the loneliness, drop in social engagement and narcissism are being linked to a-synchronic interaction.  One author made what I thought was a real good point—in a-synchronic interaction you get to look over how you self-present, check out how you look-sound before hitting “send”.  You can filter out the bad-embarrassing pieces and so present your ‘best’ self to the world.  But then authenticity becomes ambiguous.  When you combine with private-becoming-public, the need to present best self is really critical with re-tweets, likes and forwards, so it seems you end up in a feedback loop where the idea that you may be seen by a number of people you don’t know really puts pressure on image and presentation vs. casual conversation.

A fascinating aspect of this which has gotten almost no discussion has been the replacement of voice with text, especially when you remember we are lugging around smart PHONES.  This is an individual/collective choice rather than technological.  When you combine this with the huge growth in selfie videos (Snapchat, Facebook…) [again, a-synchronic] we are back to imaging and interaction choices that people are choosing to make.

All of this leads to the ‘Blind Men and the Elephant’ cartoon [pulled from Google] as a parable about the difficulty of making sense of our digital world.  In the following slides we have the questions you have to keep in mind when looking at any of these issues:

Is it causative—something that implements change—such as Facebook?  If so, what are the effects or impacts?

Or is not causative, but rather just the effect?  If so, why this effect or impact?  What triggered it?  Where is it going?

How does it impact individuals?  The collective?  The social group?  What does it say about individuals?  The collective?

OK, now apply all this—do the Hatsune Miku assignment.  Use the Critical Thinking factors while you watch this video.

The last set of slides were pulled from a very well done presentation—he did a real good job of showing some of the potential unplanned consequences to new technology, so just quickly look them over—I think you’ll find them very interesting.

Next Up: Definitions & Concepts

Learning, Distraction, Focus and Social Media

I have been involved with several colleagues working on ways to train folks in self-regulation techniques.  This based on an ever-growing body of research (some pretty good, some pretty dubious) which sees the generation which has grown up with social media as having increased problems with many aspects of learning and staying on-task.  Much of this falls under the umbrella of ‘self-regulation’, a set of learned skills such as critical thinking, time management, prioritizing and self-discipline.

Your initial set of materials are a reflection of what we have found to date both as specifying the issues but also providing some initial exposure to self-regulation skills.

I suspect you’ve heard (probably any number of times) that over 60% of the jobs that will be around by 2025 haven’t been invented yet, and that many current jobs will be largely extinct.  The main takeaway from this is that you are need to keep on learning new stuff constantly: <the days of getting a degreeàgetting a jobàhanging on until retirement> are long gone.  Some of what you’re learning now will be useless in less than 10 years—but more importantly, much of what you learn will be useful 10 years in ways you can’t imagine right now—so just going through the motions to get the degree is a stunningly bad idea.

Look over the materials from a very self-centered POV, especially with the assumption that 7 years from now your ‘career’ has just morphed into something very different.  REMEMBER you can still be working in an area that you really like and feel good about, but the nature of the job is likely to be very different.  This online course vs a traditional sit-down course from 10 years ago is a good example.

As you can see from your first assignment, think through the whole idea of Cost-Benefit Analysis from your personal point of view and send in your responses.  As an FYI, we used the same exercise last semester and got some very interesting results, which I will share later in the semester with you.  We are interested in any variation between the two semesters.  If you did the assignment last semester, please do it again—you’ve now a semester older and wiser—but mention in your response that you did it before.

Grading for Digital Realities

Much of the grading is the same as the sit-down courses.

There are 2 Competency Measures during the semester.  The goal of these assignments is to assess whether you have grasped the content and concepts covered in that portion of the course.  Both will take-home(?), with 1 week to work on the answer.  I will be posing 1-3 scenarios/questions that I want to do a critical analysis of—so it’s your opinion backed up with evidence.  You get graded on the evidence cited [40%]; logic-clarity of your answer [40%]; critical thinking in your answer [20%].

There will be 2 Critical Analyses due during the semester-one in the first half, the second later.  I want to take one of the concepts (from the concept list) and develop a critical review of the concept and how it is used (and maybe also how its misused or abused).  You get graded on the evidence cited [40%]; logic-clarity of your answer [40%]; critical thinking in your answer [20%].

I would like you to develop a slide presentation (or YouTube video) on a concept where you explore some aspect of the concept outside of how we are covering it in class.  I would suggest you check with me when you get an idea so I can see if it will work.  The presentation will be sent to your classmates for consumption.  I will grade it based on the criteria in the syllabus.

There will be a number of Learning Assignments during the semester, all designed to help you develop or improve self-regulation skills (as seen in the next post).  You get graded on completing them, not on length or detail.

There will two types of Reaction Papers during the semester—the first are my normal RPs which are reactions based on questions that you answer while watching assigned video clips.  The second are the reactions to module material—short opinion pieces as mentioned in the first post.  These will be shared among the course members as we work through these topics.

Attendance/participation is obviously central to the course—if you don’t do the React Paper ops then we’re missing your opinion and insight into the materials, so you must post something to the course assignments.

So that’s the work you have to do for a grade—No exams, no research paper.  But critical thinking about the topics and some input.

First post for Digital Realities Course

For the Digital Realities Class Participants:

As you have figured out this is an online course.  Despite the fact that Chaminade bases their online materials on Canvas we are going to use Google Groups.  This wasn’t done just to mess with you—while Canvas if OK as an educational platform, you’ll never see it after university.  Google Groups has become a standard for the corporate world, especially between corporations as it is a very robust, FREE sharing platform.  It is highly likely you already use Groups in your workplace—if not this is a low-risk way to get used to it.

The key is to CHECK YOUR CUH EMAIL.  I realize for some students emails are an ancient, formal form of communication that has been almost completely replaced by texting, tweeting etc., but the reality is it is how the university communicates with you.  Since you pay them money, want grades-degrees and other cool things, play their game and use the email.  The corporate world plays by the same rules.

This course is looking at a number of different aspects of the digital ‘realm’ in 2017.  I have grouped the topics into modules which reflect much of the current opinions or points of discussion.  As we’ll see these divisions are arbitrary in many ways, and much of the course content merges.

Please look over the presentation I will send out at the start of the week—I will try to have a blog up to go over some of the content in the slides.  I think you will quickly note that much of the material presented is either data or guesstimates rather than more formal content—this area is just coming into investigation and it’s the Wild West out there in terms of What It All Means.  An example would be the post-mortems on the last U.S. elections.

This course is almost unique in U.S. universities at this time [though a version is taught in several UK universities—see Open University UK] so feel free to be on the cutting edge of current social issues research.  As far as I can tell this material is taught at the grad level elsewhere.

As such we are going to look at each module theme as a research topic.  I will present the evidence and some of the current assumptions/predictions along with several readings [many are blog posts] and video clips.  I want you to look over the material and come up with your interpretation of the social impacts and then find some material that reflects your assessment of the situation, which you will then post so that the rest of the group can see what you think.  I will give more specific guidance at the beginning of each module but I think you will find that this approach makes the material more useful, especially as you look at your colleague’s analyses.

All this is just a heads up—I will send you the details in a day or two.  For now go over the intro material sent through Google Groups to you for this course.

Aroha, RB