September 1, 2010

Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking (Part 2)

Category: Digital Citizenship
teacher helping students with work

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a great job mining the 24/7 flow of resources coming out of the digital media and learning field. They share some of their favorites each month. Please tell us what you’re reading or watching and why others should as well!

How do we pick what to put on this list? Often, when we come across something more than once, from different sources, we usually know we’re on to something fast becoming a meme. A video, “Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” is one of them. The author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future gave a talk on the nature of motivation, a subject that in and of itself is interesting. However, the video is someone illustrating the audio of the talk, as if in real time. The presentation is as intriguing as the subject matter.

Skin Whitening, Tanning, and Vaseline’s Controversial Facebook Ad Campaign (blog)

Global Kids recently read an email sent around the office about the racism inherent within Vaseline’s Facebook App for virtual skin whitening, targeted at Indian men, as global racism is a common topic within our educational work. danah boyd wrote an insightful and personal analysis about the challenge of making such a critique, asking: “How do we combat racism and classism on a global scale when these issues are locally constructed? How do we move between different cultural frameworks and pay homage to the people while seeking to end colonialist oppression? I don’t have the answers. All I have is confusion and uncertainty. And confidence that projecting American civil rights narratives onto other populations is not going to be the solution.”

“What’s Wrong with Linden Lab” New World Notes (blog)

Virtual world journalist Hamlet Au writes a provocative opinion piece on his site “New World Notes” called “What’s Wrong with Linden Lab,” the makers of Second Life. Hamlet argues that Linden Lab (and others) have been misdirecting their energies towards making a case for the real-world applications of virtual worlds. Instead, they should be making sure that these worlds are actually entertaining and fun, which will drive traffic, engagement and popular acceptance. Hamlet concludes that “in the next couple years, what really matters is making Second Life fun, developing it to serve the extremely large market of consumers who already use virtual worlds for play and games, not real world work. Only then will Second Life gain a mass market, and only then may it be feasible to turn SL into a full-fledged platform for real world work that people who are not already well-versed in SL can use.” It’s a powerful argument that relates directly to how Global Kids thinks about digital media tools and our young people. That is, how do we utilize the playful, immersive aspects of virtual worlds, games, music, etc to promote civic engagement and community service? In related reading, Michael Fergusson of the gaming company Ayogo recently did an interesting interview with the news site, Fast Company, on how games can motivate positive behavior in their players.

The Future of Teens and Second Life  (blog)

On Aug. 20, Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life made the sad announcement that they will be closing “Teen Grid” – the youth-only virtual space supported by the Lab since 2005. As Terrence Linden expressed, “In the five years since it opened, the Teen Grid has been a space of incredible creativity for teens and also home to a number of innovative educational projects. However, supporting and developing for two separate grids has been a challenge for us, and has slowed progress on improvements that benefit all Residents.” As the first youth development organization to work in the “Teen Grid,” Global Kids was especially saddened by the news, lamenting the loss of a virtual community where young people could develop their technical, civic and entrepreneurial skills apart from adults.

“The Creativity Crisis” (article)

This fascinating Newsweek magazine article makes a strong argument for creativity as a prime educational objective and explains how our institutions are taking us in the wrong direction. “For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining,” it reports, then asks, “What went wrong—and how we can fix it?” For an organization that does so much youth media work, both on- and offline, it’s exciting for us to see some accessible research data about the importance of young people’s Creativity Quotient.

“Online Bullies Pull Schools into the Fray” (article)
The New York Times weighs in with an interesting article on how schools are responding to incidents of “cyber-bullying” that happen among their students, whether or not it occurs on school grounds. It’s obviously a difficult issue for educators, parents and youth workers to deal with, since it involves actions that can occur anywhere and anytime that a young person is online or on their cell phone.  For us at Global Kids, this is a challenge to develop programs that ensure teens are able to respond in positive ways to bullying behavior, wherever it occurs in their lives, whether it be in the classroom, the Facebook group, or in an MMO, and to do so not from a fear-based but strength-based approach.

22 Amazing Social Media Graphics  (Data visualizations)

Do words fail you when you are presented with an opportunity to explain the meaning of social media or Web 2.0? Then check out these great visual responses. “Sometimes it is easier to see concepts visually to get a basic understanding and then do further research on the topics that are most relevant to your business. In today’s post we collected some great visualizations of social media concepts including monitoring and content distribution.” These have been really useful to us, not only providing a wide variety of ways to explain social media but also challenging us to think about our own frames.

Moms’ Tech Concerns & Countermeasures (survey analysis)

Anne Collier from her always excellent blog analyzes the findings from a recent BlogHer/Parenting magazine national survey of moms: “the most interesting slide…is the one about the difference between their fears vs. their kids’ experience of what they fear: Mothers’ biggest concern, quite naturally, is inappropriate communications with an adult online (62% share this concern), but only 1% of moms surveyed said their kids had experienced such communication. Next were cyberbullying (57% concerned, 1% had kids who’d experienced it) and sexting (56% vs. 1%). The rest were online pornography (55% vs. 4%); ‘addictive online behavior’ (53% vs. 5%); identity theft (51% vs. 0%); and that their children might interact with hate groups online (52% vs. 0%).” Equally important is Anne’s take on the whole thing: “The bottom line from BlogHer and Parenting was that moms worry, but they’re not afraid…(They) are not shy about setting limits or keeping watch. We worry because we have always worried about our kids, and we always will. But here’s why we’re less and less afraid, I think, based on the survey’s findings: Parents use technology themselves, to talk about their lives, to keep their families connected 24/7, to bridge generational gaps, to get insights into their kids’ thoughts and activities. This is the writing on the wall, I think – why the worst online-safety fears are part of a transitional time when policymakers and news people view technology and youth through a mass-media, analog technology lens. Parental worries and youth risk will always be part of the landscape, but thankfully fear of the unknown is slowly getting replaced by experience and solid research.”

Image credit: Holy Meatballs

Global Kids’ NYC-based programs address the need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process. GK’s Online Leadership Program integrates youth development, public policy issues, and media into programs that build and promote digital literacy, meaningful online dialogues, resources for educators, and civic participation.