Mar 282018
 
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For the last week or so, John and myself have been in Cambodia doing some teaching and research work with the American University of Phnom Penh. We met some fantastic students and experienced Cambodian life and culture. It was my first time in Cambodia and it was completely different to how I expected it. We chat in this edition of the DIY-DMU podcast about scratching the surface, not making any assumptions and honoring the proud traditions of Khemer life, both in the city and at Angkor Wat.

Mar 152018
 

It’s often thought that anything goes when it comes to social media, and that we are free to do and say pretty much whatever we want because there is no control. Obviously, this is an unfounded assumption. When we post material online we are subject to the same laws and standards as any other form of publishing – liable and advertising standards being just two. Ben Chapman writing in The Independent describes how the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recognises that:

Lines are now blurred between advertising and editorial content, leading to uncertainty for consumers and for influencers themselves, who may not know what is and is not allowed.

And that

Under industry rules, ads must be obviously recognisable as such so that people know when they’re being advertised to. The ASA said that when people are not sure what is advertising and what isn’t, trust in the whole sector is damaged.

So if you are planning on using your social media activities to generate some cash, do yourself a favour and check out the ASA rules first and stay on the right side of the law.

Mar 132018
 

This is an overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty third lecture for TECH1002 Social Media Innovation.

Mar 062018
 
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This evening’s podcast saw John Coster, Ben Archer, Rob Watson and Jim Russel get together for a discussion about Hollywood and the changing nature of the film industry, and how online media from Netflix and Amazon are changing the way we consume and access movies and documentaries.

Mar 052018
 

Community media isn’t just about programming, it’s also about the access that we have to different media. The death of Trevor Baylis is perhaps a moment when we can reflect on the contribution that his invention made to understanding, conflict resolution and disaster management around the world, allowing people to listen to radio when they have no access to reliable power sources. Far sighted and innovative people like Trevor are few and far between.

 

Mar 052018
 

According to Jamie Bartlett writing in The Guardian, in our rush to embrace all things technological, we are failing to account for the human costs and the consequences of the development of automation, artificial intelligence and everything being networked. Jamie asks if 2018 will be the year when of the Luddite comes to prominence again?

“The downsides of technology’s inexorable march are ​now becoming clear – and automation will only increase the anxiety. We should expect the ​growing interest in off-grid lifestyles to be accompanied by ​direct action and even anti-tech riots.”

I’m not such a pessimist, but with every move forward with technology there is both a positive and a negative impact. Having open forums in which we can share our concerns seems to me to be the initial response to our anxieties, and learning to express our anxieties without fear of being shamed for them, however unfounded they may seem to others, should be something we use socialised media to achieve. Talk and learn is probably the best response to these anxieties.

Mary Shelly taught us two hundred years about that we have to learn to adapt to changes in our culture brought about by science and technology, the question is how and in what way we respond – as a Luddite smashing things up, or as an optimist embracing change as a way of promoting diversity and inclusivity?

Feb 272018
 
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In today’s podcast John and I met up with Emily Wallis and Karl Letten who are DMU’s Fairtrade champions, and we talked about the relevance and importance of ethical and accountable trading.

Fair Trade is about offering a fair deal to the producers from across the world that grow, make and produce the products we all enjoy.

Perhaps the best known fair trade label is the Fairtrade Mark, which can be found on over 4,500 different Fairtrade certified products in the UK – including: coffee, cotton, flowers and a variety of skincare products.

The Fairtrade Mark certifies that a product has met international Fairtrade standards. These standards ensure better prices, decent working conditions, sustainable practises and fair terms of trade for farmers. It also signifies that a Fairtrade premium – an additional sum of money on top of the Fairtrade minimum price – has been paid. This premium is used to invest in social, environmental and economic projects, as decided democratically by the business or the community.

Put simply, the Fairtrade Mark certifies that the farmers and workers involved in the production of an item are treated and paid fairly.

Feb 212018
 

There are two articles about community and community media that are worth reading from today’s Guardian. The first is a brief account by Anna Bawden of the role of community media in the UK, and the potential for a not-for-profit focus on the new Small Scale DAB proposals.

“Lucinda Guy, chair of the Community Media Association, says: “Not-for-profit media is appallingly underfunded”, despite doing “astoundingly important and brave work to heal divided communities, tackle extremism, and boost participants’ mental health. We know that the best foil to divisive rhetoric is to increase the power of moderate voices in those communities to be heard, and yet we see station managers around the country struggling to eat and pay the bills while doing this excellent and essential work to support their communities.” While the government is considering whether the new licences should reserve digital radio capacity for existing and new community stations, the CMA does not feel this goes far enough. Guy adds: “Unless SSDAB is in the ownership and control of communities, which can curate a range of stations that are interesting for local people, we fear that small-scale local radio will deliver profit, not social benefit.”

The second is a piece from George Monbiot, in which he describes how the scourge of loneliness that affects people’s health in many of our communities can be challenged with a greater focus on a sense of community.

“The evidence strongly suggests that social contact should be on prescription, as it is in Frome. But here, and in other countries, health services have been slow to act on such findings. In the UK we have a minister for loneliness, and social isolation is an official “health priority”. But the silo effect, budget cuts and an atmosphere of fear and retrenchment ensure that precious little has been done.”

I wonder when news organisation’s like the Guardian are going to join the dots and realise that community media and better social well-being are connected? I’m sure we can be providing them with a lot of evidence to demonstrate how community media works to improve communities health and well-being in practice.

Feb 212018
 

We live in a culture of so-called achievement, in which our jobs and our life experiences are accounted for in terms of the impact that they have and the results that we get from what we do. This can be measured in terms of cash that we earn, research papers that we produce, or the number of students who pass our modules. The pressure is on for us to do more with less, to move up league tables and to raise the standard for what we do. The problem, however, is that more of us are suffering from social anxiety and burnout as a result.

This increasingly common problem is discussed in some detail in this article by Moya Sarner writing in The Guardian. It’s well worth reading:

Beyond the workplace, we live in an age when society itself seems to be burning out, with austerity, rising poverty and the uncertainty caused by Brexit pushing people to and beyond their limits. “Burnout could be seen as a condition of our times,” Andrew agrees, as cuts to services are making it harder and harder for people to cope: “Alongside cuts to social care, there are cuts to the voluntary sector, projects around domestic violence, for parents, for older people. Stopping a group for carers of people with dementia might seem like a tiny thing, but we have reached a critical point of extremely limited support, and if you’re in that situation, over a period of time, it makes complete sense that your body and mind would shut down. I see strong, capable, independent people who have reached a stage where there is no other option.”

There are certain factors that protect a workplace from burnout, says Vesey – a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and a management style that finds “a balance between clarity and presence, but also offer people autonomy to allow them to get on with what they need to get on with”. Without these, a business and its employees are more vulnerable. Rock is realistic that businesses need to prioritise performance, but says: “It’s about thinking how you get the best performance out of your people. We should not move the way a charity operates into the financial sector – it would lose its competitive advantage very quickly – but there are things managers can do to support their staff, such as creating an environment where people can talk about what’s happening in the organisation, what’s happening for them.” What Cox suggests a boss should say is: “We recognise you’re having a tough time. What can we do to help you?”

I suppose the question is, what can we change about our own working practices that will help to avoid or minimise this sense of burnout? This is one of the reasons I actively minimise the use of email at work, because there is nothing more depressing than full email in tray. A face to face conversation, maybe over a cup of tea is so much more effective for building and sustaining relationships. It’s just a pity that the modern workplace strips away these opportunities for social contact and pushes less-human forms of communication on us.

It would be interesting to explore how we can turn the essential tasks that we have to do in our working lives back into something that is creative and empowering. Anyone got any ideas or example of how this is being done? Moya cites the Thriving at Work report, which might be a good checklist for assessing how we need to rethink work-based practices and how social media can contribute to well-being and not just leave us with techno-stress?

Feb 202018
 
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Another vibrant and absorbing podcast again this evening, with a range of views and opinions from Mike, J, Ben, Tina, John and myself. The theme tonight was the UN Sustainable Development Goals, that is being promoted by the National Union of Students across the UK, and what we might do to incorporate the sustainability objectives into our courses and learning opportunities.