BA in French Teaching; PhD in Educational Technology; Associate Professor of ICT at University of Kentucky School of Information Science

I am an transdisciplinary digital methods researcher studying meaning-making practices on online platforms.

My CV is available here.

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new publication: technology, naming, and legitimacy in the Latter-day Saint tradition

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I’m very excited to share that I’ve just had an article published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a historically and culturally important journal in Mormonism. My article is entitled “The correct [domain] name of the Church: Technology, naming, and legitimacy in the Latter-day Saint tradition.” The title is a riff on Russell Nelson’s use of the phrase “The Correct Name of the Church” when leading a renewed emphasis on the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in his ministry as President of the same church.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:03:40 on 'publish teachers on far-right social media study'

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I have not been good about logging writing progress recently, but I want to try to get back into it. Met with Dan today to work together on Discussion. Lots of wrinkles to iron out, but we’re very close to submitting this!

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Podcast Episode: So You Think You’re A Critical Thinker | Electronic Frontier Foundation'

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I’ve enjoyed reading Alice Marwick’s work in the past, and I really enjoyed her appearance on the EFF’s podcast here. link to ‘Podcast Episode: So You Think You’re A Critical Thinker | Electronic Frontier Foundation’

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One of these mornings where I hope 2022 Spencer put together good slides, because I have class in 20 minutes and haven’t had the time to review them until now.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

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I’m sure that I’ve read this before, and I expected to really enjoy a reread, so it was kind of a disappointment to, well, be so disappointed by it. The book is interesting for its interrogation of whether new technologies are less rich than old ones—an argument that has clear relevance today, as perhaps illustrated by Bradbury’s alleged reluctance to allow for an ebook version in the early 21st century. I’m not opposed to this kind of argument, but I think it’s easy for this kind of claim to get tied up in hand-wringing about civilizational decline and old/high culture being better than new/pop culture—and I feel like Bradbury ultimately has more to say about the latter than about the former.

a small victory for not policing students

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I’ve never been a fan of policing student behavior in my classes. I don’t take attendance, I’m pretty generous when it comes to late work and making up assignments, and I try to make participation in class something that’s organic rather than something structured and forced. In recent years, this hasn’t necessarily gone well. For example, the undergrad class I’m currently teaching has lousy attendance, and I struggle to get anyone except the 3-4 same voices to contribute to class discussions.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Twitter’s $42,000-per-Month API Prices Out Nearly Everyone | WIRED'

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RIP my Twitter research. Glad I have other irons in the fire… link to ‘Twitter’s $42,000-per-Month API Prices Out Nearly Everyone | WIRED’

high school class rankings and the value-laden non-objectivity of quantitative measures

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At the beginning of my senior year of high school, Tyler and I were neck and neck in class rankings—if memory serves, he was slightly ahead. This never got in the way of our friendship. We had spent too much time playing the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Roleplaying Game together, and a few years earlier, we’d even spent one memorable night with our mutual friend Chris hiking repeatedly back and forth between Tyler’s house and mine so that we could find the right hardware for hooking up someone’s GameCube to my family’s venerable TV so that we could play TimeSplitters 2.

rediscovering some comments on computational thinking

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I keep a journal using the Day One app for macOS/iOS, and while I have some lingering concerns about platformizing (and even digitizing) my journaling, there are also some pretty neat aspects to using an app like this. First, it’s very easy to copy text from other electronic sources into the app, and that really helps me capture things that made an impression on me from day to day. Second, it’s also easy to search for, read, and even be reminded of old entries.

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Over the past week, I’ve been called “Stephen” in two separate professional contexts by two people who ought to know my name. Starting to wonder if there’s something they know that I don’t.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'ChatGPT Is So Bad at Essays That Professors Can Spot It Instantly'

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Lots of helpful stuff in here. link to ‘ChatGPT Is So Bad at Essays That Professors Can Spot It Instantly’

📝 writeblog: spent 0:54:37 on 'publish religion in Gab communication study'

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Spent some time reading through Torba’s posts. It’s interesting how the pivot to hardcore Christian nationalism happened right around the 2020 election.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:25:53 on 'publish religion in Gab communication study'

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I’ve been interested for the past couple of years in how Andrew Torba uses religious rhetoric in his posts on the official Gab blog. This project is very much in the early stages, but I want to submit a proposal to a conference next week, so I’ve been going through data to try to get a fee for what’s happening—and what to use as my “sample.”

📝 writeblog: spent 2:02:16 on 'publish teachers on far-right social media study'

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Put together a conference proposal while my co-author kept working on his part of the findings.

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Outlook’s semi-new “reactions” are killing me; if it’s not accessible from another email client, it shouldn’t be a feature. Email is one of the few shared web protocols we’ve got, so let’s not ruin it through platformization.

📝 writeblog: spent 2:02:11 on 'publish ClassDojo and conflation of ed tech platforms study'

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Spent some time putting together a rough outline and some tables today. It still blows my mind what software students equate with ClassDojo.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:47:30 on 'publish scraping library online presence study'

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Spent some time manually reviewing websites today to prepare for later web scraping. I’ll have to figure out how to work with some Wix sites, which are structured oddly behind the scenes.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:45:11 on 'publish beliefs about Canvas study'

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Had a good meeting this morning to put together a survey instrument for the study. I think we’re close!

📝 writeblog: spent 1:36:18 on 'publish teachers on far-right social media study'

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Kept on writing! Had some productive conversations about tables and worked on an AECT proposal related to the project.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The End of Grading | WIRED'

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Somewhat meandering read, but I think there are interesting implications for both teaching and research. link to ‘The End of Grading | WIRED’

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Twitter's new data access rules will make research harder : NPR'

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Some good coverage of the consequences of API restrictions for researchers—though I think we still need clarification from Twitter about whether the academic dev status is being handled separately from primary dev status. link to ‘Twitter’s new data access rules will make research harder : NPR’

📝 writeblog: spent 0:34:08 on 'publish LDS Freedom Forum study'

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It’s been over a year since Levi Sands, Amy Chapman, and I started talking about doing a topic model analysis of the LDS Freedom Forum, an online space for far-right Mormonism. I’ve usually been the one slowing us down, but today, I finally checked off a task that’s been on my lost for a month and a half. I’m really excited about the project, I just need to stop dragging my feet.

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One of my academic pet peeves is when people use the word rigor as a validating synonym for something else, like “quantitative” or “giving out lots of Cs.” Rigor is important, but narrow definitions aren’t useful.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:55:21 on 'publish digital religion as international religion study'

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Instead of grading (😬), I spent some time grabbing links and then starting to build a web scraper, though that’s enough of a pain that I might ask a friend to borrow his CrowdTangle access.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:27:22 on 'publish Red Pill influences on DezNat study'

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Went through page proofs today! Excited that the paper is so close to publication.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:12:41 on 'publish digital religion as international religion study'

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I’m helping organize the Global Mormon Studies 2023 online conference, so I’ve been trying to figure out what (if anything) I would submit for myself. I’ve been wanting to do something about the online (and, thereby, intentionally international) Toronto Community of Christ congregation, but I’ve had trouble figuring out what exactly that would be. Today, an idea clicked. I was going through their YouTube and Facebook videos for some early data collection when I realized just how different the two platform experiences are.

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Pleased to see that page proofs I’m reviewing have preserved the emojis in quoted tweets. It’s frustrating for this social media researcher how many journal publication platforms do not support them.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'OpenAI Wants To Help You Figure Out If Text Was Written By OpenAI; But What Happens When It’s Wrong? | Techdirt'

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Just because some worries about ChatGPT are, indeed, moral panics doesn’t mean that there aren’t legtimate criticisms of the technology—including from an educational perspective. I happen to agree with Masnick that schools ultimately need to roll with the punches here, but given how much we already expect of our schools and teachers, it’s reasonable to resent being punched in the first place. Masnick’s point about the error rate for detecting AI-generated text is an important one, though: I don’t think plagiarism-detecting surveillance is at all the right response.

📝 writeblog: spent 3:01:14 on 'publish teachers on far-right social media study'

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Spent some time polishing the front end and some other finished bits of the paper.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:33:17 on 'publish ClassDojo and conflation of ed tech platforms study'

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Met with Sarah and Daniela today to review the data and discuss where to go from here. I have some new tasks, and we have some new ideas—looking forward to seeing where things go!

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Twitter to remove free API access in latest money making quest - The Verge'

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I presume this decisuon also cuts off academics; this is going to have a huge impact on research, and not in a good way. I’m glad I’ve pivoted to other platforms, but this is still infuriating. link to ‘Twitter to remove free API access in latest money making quest - The Verge’

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Florida Teachers Are Emptying Classroom Libraries to Avoid Going to Jail'

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What a dumb world we live in. link to ‘Florida Teachers Are Emptying Classroom Libraries to Avoid Going to Jail’

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Inside a US Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network With Thousands of Members'

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Well, this is horrifying. Another example of a news article I wish weren’t relevant to my research. link to ‘Inside a US Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network With Thousands of Members’

Cory Doctorow on behaviorism

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After bouncing off of it a year or so ago, I recently decided to restart Cory Doctorow’s novel Walkaway (which led NPR reporter Jason Sheehan to describe Doctorow as “Super-weird in the best possible way”). The audiobook is excellent, and since I started a couple of days ago, it’s displaced my podcast listening and given me another chance to wrestle with Doctorow’s ideas here. There is way too much going on (and I’m not far enough into the book) for me to engage with the underlying message of the novel (or even to be sure of what it is yet), but one passage stood out to me so much this morning that I have to write it down now.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:55:26 on 'publish ClassDojo and conflation of ed tech platforms study'

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Wrapped up categorizing apps/software into distinct categories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, students identified more LMSs (or SISs) and content/assessment software than behavior management or communication apps (the two main things ClassDojo does).