Travis Holland

Jan 17, 2017

3 min read
Flickr/interestedbystandr

Responsibilities, Practice, and Domains (of your own)

I’m about to mix up three different things, so bear with me, I think there’s a point to it.

  1. Mid-last year, I managed to land on my feet in a permanent academic role. Since then, I’ve coordinated one first year subject and one masters subject, which is about two weeks from being wrapped up. The remaining couple of weeks have been designated the topics ‘responsibility’ and ‘practice’, neither of which is a helpful designation for deciding what literature to suggest, what to discuss, and how best to incorporate it into the remaining assessment tasks as the rubric suggests it must.
  2. I’m re-reading discussions about the fabric of what owning a domain versus renting it versus borrowing it from a university means for students (and, really, anyone who writes anywhere on the web). See, For now, our own’; A domain of one’s own in a post-ownership society’; I don’t own my domain: I rent it’; and Do I own my domain if you grade it?’
  3. I’m trying to keep up with rapidly moving interlinked discussions on media literacy, trust, and web publishing, much of which has been spawned by the postmortem of the US election. See here: The lost infrastructure of social media’; Medium, and the reason you can’t stand the news anymore’; Did media literacy backfire?’; We can fix this f*cking mess’.

1a. The masters subject is titled ‘Multiplatform Communication’, and takes a broad tour through the (largely business-oriented) practice of integrated or linked communications activities taking place across many different platforms. Perhaps it would have been better to start with responsibility and practice, in a way, but then we wouldn’t have had a reasonable understanding of what technologies, tools, and strategies those concepts were being deployed to service. It’s a chicken and egg question.

2a. The wondering about who owns, controls, manages, massages and benefits from student-created work raises questions of practice and responsibility across multiple platforms, though not in the way we’ve discussed it so far in my subject. Who takes responsibility? For what? How do they practice this responsibility? How is their practice responsible? To whom? These are pedagogical and ethical questions that need to be repeated, discussed and considered by everyone asking students to produce stuff, especially online, and especially if it’s about other people and their practices and responsibilities.

3a. Those same questions can be asked here of people who aren’t students nor teachers, but publishers and makers in other fields and for other purposes. Who are you writing for? Why are you writing for them? What do you owe them? What do they owe you?

I’ve pulled together this post in response to the questions I’m asking about all of these conversations. A student also asked for the suggested readings for the week, a few days ahead of when I’d usually release them, and I suddenly found I didn’t have a good answer. Ultimately, I think they’re in here, and they’re probably not in yet more journal articles.