Social Media Workshop on Professionalization and Pedagogy, May 12, 2015, 3:00-4:00PM

Twitter_logo_blueToday, I’m leading a workshop on social media as a tool for professionalization and as a tool for pedagogy. I am including some of the details from the workshop flyer below. You can download the flyer here: ellis-jason-socialmedia-workshop and my workshop notes here: ellis-jason-social-media-workshop.

Social Media Workshop on Professionalization and Pedagogy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Namm 321 Conference Room

Organizer: Jason W. Ellis | Email: jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu | Twitter: @dynamicsubspace

Social media is an increasingly important communication tool for our students and us. We are integrating it into our daily practices, and it, like any new communication medium, is changing the way we think and connect with others.

As scholars, we can leverage social media to promote our research, share ideas with colleagues, and collaborate on projects and network building. As educators, we can guide and mentor our students in responsible and meaningful ways of using social media.

In this workshop, we will discuss several popular social media platforms that we can use in our professionalization and pedagogy, and develop rhetorically grounded strategies for using social media as scholars and educators.

Some of the professional strategies discussed will include: sharing and promoting our work, and establishing and maintaining professional networks. Some of the pedagogical areas addressed will include: composition, and professional and technical writing.

Please bring your questions, ideas, and experiences, or if you can’t make it, let’s continue the discussion online!

Discussion topics and other resources are listed on the reverse side.

Some Topics for Discussion:

  • Rhetoric and Multimodality (WOVEN: written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal)
  • Audience(s)
  • Network Building (breadth versus depth)
  • Risk Assessment
  • Online Identity, Metadata, and Commodification of the Self
  • Managing an Emergent Online Identity
  • Social Media Assignments for Composition and Technical Communication
  • Personal versus Professional Spheres, or Is There a Division?
  • Assignment Ideas
  • Reflection Exercises

Some Social Media Platforms Discussed:

Resources Discussed:

Social Disconnection: Choosing the Online Networks that Suit My Needs without Causing Excessive Distraction

The decision to disconnect from some social networking sites is what I call social disconnection. The commitments–time, social capital, and energy–of social media can take away from real life work and personal commitments. Furthermore, there are addictive qualities to some of these networks that require energy to resist and this can create other kinds of anxiety beyond your own use of these social networks. Social disconnection is about finding the networks that suit each of us best instead of connecting to the most popular or as many as possible.

Social disconnection for me is about finding the right balance and types of social networking to support my personal and professional relationships. My thoughts in this post concern my experiences and are in no way meant as a prescription for others to simply disconnect themselves from social media. I believe that we all have to find the networks where we feel comfortable, contributing, and supported.

Over the years, I have tried out different forms of social media including earlier forms like AIM, Friendster, and MySpace. Most recently, I had accounts on Google+, Facebook,, Flickr, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Over the past few weeks, I have culled this list to only three: Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn. I have included my thoughts below on why I deleted accounts on some sites and maintain accounts on others.

I began my social disconnection project by unplugging from Google+, because it was the most low stakes account to delete. Google+ was a virtual ghost town from my perspective (perhaps if I had Google Glass my perspective would be different). I rarely saw any updates from people in my Circles. Furthermore, the Google+ UI elements in Gmail and YouTube were a nagging distraction to me. I have now exited the ghost town and the irritating Google+ update indicators of nothingness are gone from my Google property experiences [instructions for downgrading from Google+ here].

Next, I disconnected from Facebook. This was more difficult for a number of reasons. First, I joined Facebook at the beginning of fall semester of 2005 and shortly thereafter my friend Tessa “broke my Wall virginity” on September 4, 2005. Two other friends at Tech had convinced me to signup for an account on, because it was cool and everyone else was doing it. In the beginning, it was an interesting experiment in keeping connected and staying in the know, but as time passed and more people joined Facebook, it increasingly became more annoying and distracting. There is the troubling semiotics of the “Like” button. There are many daily Facebook tasks of social convention. There are the time-consuming conversations (sometimes very rewarding while at others very draining) and going no where debates. There are the unending supply of accomplishments of others that make me feel like I have my foot on the gas but my tires don’t get traction. While these things might seem like trifles, they weighed on me in big and small ways. I would spend time thinking of the right way to respond to someone. I would research things to make sure that I could contribute to a conversation meaningfully. I would want to say the right thing, but agonize over how to say it. While I tried to curtail the time that I spent on these things or change my news feed settings to better suit my update needs, I couldn’t strike the right balance to keep Facebook from eating up too much time and energy. Finally, I held on to my Facebook account through my time as SFRA Publicity Director and SFRA Vice President. With those responsibilities removed, I didn’t see as strong a reason to stay connected through Facebook. So, I downloaded my data and deleted my account [instructions for permanently deleting your Facebook account are here].

Then, I disconnected from I never spent a lot of time on, but I always felt uneasy with this social network for sharing your work with others in your field. While I like the idea of open sharing of research and tracking the use of your research, I know that these things cannot happen for free. While the site was founded by Richard Price, about as academic an academic you can be with a PhD in Philosophy, it is a business funded by venture capitalists. It will only continue to exist if it makes money, and I wonder what role the data supplied by academics sharing all of their published and unpublished work on the site will play in the eventual ramp-up of monetization as the site continues to mature. Even though it has a grandfathered “edu” domain name, it is not an educational institution and it is not affiliated with any. Then, there’s the issue of time commitment. To use effectively, you need to build your profile and upload your research. This takes time and energy away from working on publishable papers–still the hallmark of getting hired. While I see that the possibilities of communication and collaboration are great in a system like that provided by, the time and effort investment has an uncertain return on investment. The site has a lot of potential, but it has an uncertain future. I deleted my account following these instructions.

I don’t mean to sound like a social networking recluse, but I am concerned about how much time and energy I expend on these sites. I believe that by social disconnection from some sites I can remain focused on my work and better use the remaining social networking sites that I remain connected to. These include Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

I chose to stay with Twitter for sharing information with others and creating reminders of data for myself, because it is a public platform. Facebook and are largely private networks–you have to have an account to access them. While you can use Twitter privately, I have almost continuously used it as a public platform since I signed up. For me, it is easier to keep up with information relevant to my work and follow my friends on Twitter than on Facebook. However, if I ever change my mind, it is relatively easy to deactivate my account by following these instructions.

I have been using Flickr for a long time to share and backup my photos online. In the past, I have paid for a Pro account, but Yahoo’s changes to Flickr’s storage space have opened up even more options for using their service. I have also connected Flickr to my WordPress blog so that I can easily post updates with photos/sets from Flickr, which in turn is publicized on Twitter. However, it is easy enough to delete my Flickr account by following these instructions if things change.

LinkedIn is a site that I have only been using since late last year, and I have not been using it nearly as much as I feel that I should be. Unlike the other social networks that I have used and those that I continue to use, LinkedIn focuses on business and professional relationships. It might come in handy when seeking work. For folks in the humanities, it is particularly important to consider keeping an up-to-date profile and building appropriate connections to others through the site in addition to keeping a version of your multipage CV as a one-page resume. For these reasons, I am keeping myself plugged into LinkedIn. However, it is easy enough to delete a LinkedIn account by doing this.

My choices were governed by what I can and cannot do on a daily basis. They are not motivated by my colleagues, friends, or family on these different networks. If you want to connect with me, you know how.

The Social Network and Science Fiction

Y and I finally saw The Social Network (2010) for the first time thanks to a recent free rental from Family Video. I thought it was a very fine movie about the troubles of creating a big company that monetizes identity and “privacy” (with big quotes).

I am interested in the way that the film corresponds with the cyberpunk theme of being wired-in and its relationship to real autism (regardless if the real Mark Zuckerberg has autism or not).

Also, I got a good laugh at the Winklevoss posthuman joke: “I’m 6-5, 220 pounds, and there are two of me.”

Disable Facebook’s Facial Recognition Feature to Prevent Autotagging provides a heads-up about a new “feature” in Facebook: facial recognition autotagging here: How to Stop Facebook from Using Facial Recognition on You – Lifehacker. This built-in feature allows Facebook to search photos for faces and automatically tag you in those photos. If you are like me, you need to use social media, but you also like to control your information on social media. Luckily, you can disable this new autotagging feature by following this chain: Facebook Privacy Settings > Customize Settings > Suggest Photos of Me to Friends > Disable. Going Offline on June 3, Loss of Nearly 10 Years of Star Wars Fan Conversations

Topher Kohan of CNN wrote an open letter to George Lucas regarding the shuttering of the fan forums: Mr. Lucas, the 4th is not to be trifled with –

Apparently, Lucasfilm recently decided to remove the forums on June 3, 2011. They have already placed the forums in read-only mode as of May 3.

Pabawan, a site admin, offered this anti-explanation explanation: “At, we are always evaluating the various features of the website in order to provide the best experience to our users. As we review new community-based interactive features for the future, we have decided that the Official Message Boards at will no longer be part of the site” [read the full announcement here while it is available].

Instead of hosting fan conversations on, Lucasfilm has opted for Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter are very good at doing what they do, but they do not offer the same experience or conversation that an online forum provides. Forums allow people to write longer conversational pieces that are searchable and archived within a theme delimited hierarchy. Facebook allows for conversations, but they are not easily searched and may not be archived indefinitely. Twitter facilitates conversation, but you may only write 160 characters at a time including hashtags (for thematic or subject linking), user references, and links.

Online conversations need a rich ecosphere of different Internet facilitated modes of conversation rather than relying on those that seem the most popular at this time. I believe that it for this reason that the Taiwanese embrace multiple modes of communication including BBS servers, Plurk, and others in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

I realize that Star Wars fans will likely shift their conversations to fan-operated forums. It is unlucky however that the many conversations on the now defunct will be lost forever on Friday, June 3. Perhaps someone will write a script to archive the forums before that date, but I do not know if Lucasfilm’s servers will permit such an archiving to take place.

Protect Your Online Privacy and Take the Battle to Facebook’s Turf

All of the recent explosive disclosures about the changes to Facebook‘s privacy policy–something that has been an ongoing and procedural erosion of our privacy (see here for a graphical representation of the changes) by acceptance of their terms of service and privacy policy changes–had begun to make me think strongly about quitting Facebook all together. It can be a time wasting website, and it can give you too much information about some folks who you don’t really want to know that much about. However, it allows you to reconnect with old friends, and more importantly, stay connected with professional colleagues. It is primarily for this latter reason that I have decided to stay on Facebook and take the fight to their turf. The reason that Facebook is so insanely popular is that it facilitates social networking and communication in a a very streamlined and generally snappy website. There are no other players on the near horizon that can do the things that Facebook does that I can switch to and bring all of my friends and colleagues with me. I have pitched my tent in the Facebook frontier, and I intend to fight for my tiny share of profile space and the inroads that I and my friends have made there. It is a good land with a lot of possibilities that I don’t want to give up on just yet. I know that we can use Facebook and protect ourselves, but we will have to be proactive and ever vigilant to the changes instituted by Facebook that may conflict with the way we want to use the service and the way Facebook may take advantage of us using their service. Also, I should note that I have no problem with Facebook making a buck off of my using their service, but I believe that I should not be made into a commodity rather than a potential consumer (via ads, add-ons, etc.). Give me respect as a person, and I will be happy to play ball. As it is now, Facebook sees me and my information as so much stuff to be bought and sold, so I am offering the following tactics (there’s some de Certeau for you guys in the know) to fight back against Facebook’s strategies.

  1. Suit up with an updated version of Firefox. Then, go to Preferences > Privacy > Uncheck all except Clear History when Firefox Closes. Click on Exceptions for Cookies and manually add the domains for the sites that you want to accept cookies from (Facebook might not be one of those sites you want to list).
  2. Yield a mighty sword: Install AdBlock Pro. Inside Firefox, go to Tools > Add-Ons > Search for AdBlock Pro and choose to install it. After installing and restarting Firefox, click on the ABP icon in your navigation bar and choose preferences. Click on Filters > Add Subscription > Choose EasyList to add, and then add Fanboy’s List. You will also want to manually add the following filters one-by-one:
    [Thanks to Andrew and pfc.joker’s comments on Lifehacker for these.]
  3. Store your gear when you’re not using it. When you’re not using Facebook, make sure that you logout. This is probably a generally good rule of thumb when it comes to other sites accessing cookies saved by your web browser.
  4. Secure your stable door. This is where you adjust your Facebook privacy settings. First, go to Account > Privacy Settings. Here, you need to go through each page and adjust the settings. Personal Information and Posts > Set to Friends Only for all. Contact Information > Friends Only (you can allow Everyone to add you as a friend or contact you, but hide your email addresses by setting to Only Me). Friends, Tags, and Connections > Friends Only. Search > Uncheck Allow Public Search. Applications and Websites > What Friends Can Share > Uncheck All. Applications and Websites > Instant Personalization > Uncheck Allow.
  5. Clean up your stable. This is where you cut the new “Connections” that enable the flow of information between you and your friends to companies that Facebook sells your info to. Navigate to your Profile > Info. You have to leave your basic info, but you want to remove all of your interests, likes, education, work info, etc. You may also want to go into your photos and profile pictures and delete anything that you don’t want circulated (this is just good sense). You can use your bio to include the parts about you that you want people to know about. I only include SFRA and IAFA in my Likes and Interests, because these are professional affiliations that I use Facebook for.
  6. Ride off on a new adventure. If you’re really fed up with Facebook, you can create a new account and reconnect with your friends. There is a procedure to follow for this that you can find on Lifehacker here. They also have a nice set of 10 privacy tweaks that will generally improve your privacy online here.
  7. There be dragons in every cave and a troll under every bridge. The important thing to remember is that for every new and creative way of protecting our information and online identity from exploitation, there are corporations out there looking for equally inventive ways to make a buck on the information that we make freely available. Even our browsing habits can be tracked according to the way we configure our web browser (read about a project by the EFF regarding this on Slashdot here). You have to educate yourself about how your software works, and how you can use it to be prepared for unexpected onslaughts against your privacy. Check in on the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read Lifehacker is good (even though its part of Gawker), and has some good info along with other wonderful things.
  8. Leave your own tips and favorite electronic privacy links in the comments, and let’s let Facebook know how we feel about their new policies before more of our online rights are eroded by big business.

Save Your Privacy, Facebook Connection Block

If it weren’t for the ease of keeping up with friends and maintaining professional connections with Facebook, I would drop it faster than a Centaurian slug. As it is, Facebook has positioned itself as an essential part of contemporary computer technology-enabled social networking. As with so many social networks in the past decade, I can’t imagine Facebook holding on to its vaunted position forever, but it has a firm grasp on most of us for the time being. The unfortunate reality is that we exchange our use of the site for commodification of our online identity, social connections, and personal privacy.

It wasn’t until this morning that I decided to do something about the changes to Facebook had made to my information stored on their site. I knew about the new Connections feature, which allows your data to be available through the Connection links in certain parts of your profile. This also opens your data to dispersal through other people’s profiles who are similarly ‘connected.’ Also, it wasn’t too long ago that Facebook changed how much information was made available on public searches for your name.

It was when I began trying to change all of my privacy settings on Facebook to better control how I wanted my information made available and to who I wanted it made available that I discovered something rather unexpected. I raised an alarm on Twitter about some unusual applications authorized on my account, which I had not authorized–a problem that was discussed on here. I was in the process of deleting these applications from my Facebook profile when my buddy Andrew Pilsch at UPenn sent me a link regarding this ‘bug.’

Not too long after that, Andrew devised and posted an elegant solution to block the new Facebook Connection ‘feature’ or as I like to think of it: the privacy Nazi-death-rape-machine. The basics: 1) Browse with Firefox, 2) Install AdBlock Pro, and 3) Add http://*.connect.facebook.*/* to your filter. Read Andrew’s blog here for the full instructions.

Some related reading for recent Facebook privacy changes, concerns, and protection:

Earlier in the day, I was wondering how some apps got slipstreamed into my account without my knowledge. Andrew directed me to this Macworld article that explains what happened. Using Franken’s instructions below, I stumbled on to this problem that Facebook claims is now fixed.

Senator Al Franken posted some instructions on how to guard your privacy settings from within Facebook here.

The EFF has a nice timeline of the erosion of personal privacy on Facebook here.

And the EFF’s article on Facebook’s Evil Interfaces here is a fun read.

Twitter Widget

I made a small adjustment to Dynamic Subspace tonight by adding a widget to the left column that provides a link and displays the most recent posts to my Twitter feed. My plan is to use Twitter almost exclusively now, and pipe my updates from there into Facebook via the Twitter FB application.  If I didn’t use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and colleagues, I would drop it in light of the recent changes and Facebook’s promotion of applications in the news feed over the privilege of FB users to control what shows up in their feed.  

All of this talk of feeds makes me wish that I had access to a nanotech feed as described in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995).

Join the SFRA Group on Facebook

The tenacious and mostly harmless Stacie Hanes started the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) group on Facebook some time ago.  Recently, I signed on as an admin of the group with Stacie after I became SFRA’s Publicity Director.  Now, I would like to ask all SFRA members on Facebook (and there are a whole lot of you out there) to join the group.  It is a terrific way to put faces to the names of folks that you work with professionally, and it is another way in which we can all stay informed and connected about the going-ons of the organization and our fellow members.  Also, the group is not exclusive to SFRA members, so I would like to extend the invitation to curious passersby to find out more about SFRA.  You can find the group by clicking here, or you can search Facebook for “Science Fiction Research Association.”