When not sharing is caring

I have had a piece of good news, but have been having an irreconcilable inner conflict about sharing it, online or otherwise. Initially I thought the reluctance had all to do with my Confucian upbringing, but after having been mulling over, my conclusion is that it has in fact more to do with my line of work.

I am aware that there are different schools on whether we can choose (certain) identities. Not sure if being a PhD student is an identity one is allowed to choose, especially after a decade since receipt of the award, but I certainly symphasise a lot with what PhD students are going through in the current HE environment. I have spent more than a decade surrounded by PhD students, first as a student myself and later as someone who walks alongside. As an apparent consequence of that, it sometimes feels like I haven’t really graduated emotionally. Not yet ‘ascended’, to borrow words from one of the former students.

So, when I noticed a recurrent theme in #ECRchat of how the social media announcements of new jobs, promotions, and grant wins by those already in secure positions make precarious early career academics feel, I thought the least I could do is not to add on.

Then where is my dilemma? I have been ‘archiving‘ my thoughts and experiences on this blog for more than a decade and I am intending to carry on. Well, I guess sharing it here should be okay as it has a minuscule readership. 🙂 

With all being considered, this post is a low-key celebration of the fact that this summer I have been promoted to a Senior Lecturer in Research Methodology [Associate Professor in the US] and that today one of the two modules that I have built with my bare hands from scratch has gone live. 🎉


Blast from the past

Saw an old friend and went down memory lane. He said what he remembers most vividly about me from our uni days are: my Smurf blue streaks in hair (a story for another time!) and my extraordinary love for birthdays. According to his observation, on someone’s birthday, people would normally say “축하해 [Congratulations]”, but my *reflex-like* response was “좋겠다 [Lucky you]”.

The oldest story in the book [2]

I am a big believer in the pedagogic power of narratives. So, unsurprisingly, I am always interested in how others narrate their points in their (online) courses and learning tools. Here are a few interesting examples that I have saved for my own reference. The blurbs are mostly in the developers’ own words. Hmmm, it feels like this summer I am just making mixtapes one after another here.

The Hero’s Journey in Higher Education (Robert Farmer, Innovative Practice in Higher Education): This paper outlines and makes the case for a new, twelve stage narrative approach to the design of university modules. The twelve stages in the narrative approach to module design mirror the twelve stages which comprise the hero’s journey in myth and legend, as discussed in the work of Campbell (1993) and Vogler (1985). See also “the quest for the PhD” (McCulloch, 2013).

Game of Research (LSE): This game functions like Snakes and Ladders in that players will roll a dice and count squares along the board. However, in this version the ‘snakes’ contain a research-related setback and the ‘ladders’ have a positive research-related activity. See also the PhD Game.

E-learning Training on Prevent (HM Government): This offers an introduction to the Prevent duty and explains how it aims to safeguard vulnerable people from being radicalised to supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists themselves.

Responding to Hate and Extremism (Centre for Hate Studies): A suite of digital training modules which will equip you with evidence of ‘what works’ in challenging hate and extremism and in supporting those affected by it.

Facing Facts Online: With this course you will explore what hate speech is and why it is difficult to define. You will get an understanding of the harm of hate speech on individuals and on society.

Bad News (DROG): In this game, developed as a publicly accessible media literacy tool, you take on the role of fake news-monger. Your task is to get as many followers as you can while slowly building up fake credibility as a news site.

NRKbeta: Norwegian news site that has made readers take a quiz before commenting

UnBias Awareness Cards: News feeds, search engine results, and product recommendations increasingly use personalisation algorithms to help us cut through the mountains of available information and find those bits that are most relevant, but how can we know if the information we get really is the best match for our interests? The EPSRC-funded project team have developed an educational toolkit, including the said Awareness Cards, to help (young) citizens learn how to assess the trustworthiness and fairness of systems that heavily rely on algorithms.

The Legislator: License to Bill (Daily Show): In this game, released in the aftermaths of the 2019 El Paso shooting, your objective is to get gun control legislation passed by the Congress. It basically involves navigating through a series of decisions in order to get your bill passed — culminating in an intense showdown with Mitch McConnell himself as the final boss.

Terms and conditions apply.

I have recently come across, with only a day apart, two brilliant phrases: “monochrome diversity” and “multi-coloured conformity“.

There indeed are so many ‘fine prints’ when we discuss diversity and inclusion. The silver lining is that we see many pithy attempts to call them out. “오빠가 허락한 페미니즘” is another fascinating one. This controversy surrounding Olafur Eliasson’s ongoing exhibition, In Real Life, at Tate Modern is an embarrassing case in point that artists and museums “only produce, curate, exhibit art for certain bodies“, even for an exhibition that claims to be about agency and co-creation.

And the illustration below.

((c) 2015-2019 kevinbolk, original here)

Hammers and nails

On two occasions I went on record and stated that digital technology has hit women and men so differently that South Korean women’s experience of being online has more commonalities with that of women at the other end of the world than that of South Korean men living next to them. I am mindful of how sweeping this statement could sound. As a researcher, I am also mindful of the possibility of everything looking like a nail to me because I have a hammer that is gender.

I have been pondering a lot about this and at least two things are certain to me. First, this hammer came to me – How Thor! – without me even seeking it out. Second, well, I stand by the statement.

For my own continuous pondering, here is a mini collection of studies and stories on gender, technology, and borders, which I have been gravitating towards lately.

# South Korea’s online trend: Paying to watch a pretty girl eat (Frances Cha, CNN, 3 February 2014; see also “새터민 먹방” and “탈북미녀 먹방”)

# The price of shame (Monika Lewinsky, TED, March 2015; see also trolling and cyberbullying particularly prolific against female politicians, journalists, and academics)

# My first virtual reality groping (Jordan Belamire, 20 October 2016)

# #ThanksForTyping spotlights unnamed women in literary acknowledgments (Cecilia Mazanec, NPR, 30 March 2017; see also Hadley Freeman, a woman who shed light on the issue a decade earlier)

# What Google bros have in common with medieval beer bros (David M. Perry, 22 August 2017; see also “life hacks”, “selfies”, “gossips”, and “nagging”)

# Thermostats, locks and lights: Digital tools of domestic abuse (Nellie Bowles, The New York Times, 23 June 2018)

# Donna Zuckerberg: ‘Social media has elevated misogyny to new levels of violence’ (Nosheen Iqbal, The Guardian, 11 November 2018)

# Online consequences of being offline: A gendered tale from South Korea (yours truly, r@w, 21 January 2019)

# Our incel problem: How a support group for the dateless became one of the internet’s most dangerous subcultures (Zack Beauchamp, Vox, 23 April 2019; see also Ilbe transgressions such as this)

# Female voice assistants fuel damaging gender stereotypes, says a UN study. (Charlotte Jee, MIT Technology Review, 22 May 2019)

# Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism, leaked papers reveal (Alex Hern, 6 September 2019)

# The guy who made a tool to track women in porn videos is sorry (Angela Chen, MIT Technology Review, 31 May 2019)

# These North Korean defectors were sold into China as cybersex slaves. Then they escaped (Julie Zaugg, CNN, 10 June 2019)

# RT @JamieJBartlett Sadly I can well imagine that deep fakes will not be confined to famous figures & political disinformation – but a way for jealous co-workers & ex-partners to degrade women. (26 June 2019; already been happening! see also “지인능욕”)

# For recording her boss’s lewd call, she, not he, will go to jail (Richard C. Paddock & Muktita Suhartono, The New York Times, 5 July 2019)

# Protecting migrants at borders and beyond (Privacy International, 2019)

# A million refugees may soon lose their line to the outside world (Hannah Beech, The New York Times, 5 September 2019)

# Inside the secret border patrol Facebook group where agents joke about migrant deaths and post sexist memes (A. C. Thompson, Pro Publica, 1 July 2019)

# Race in the digital periphery: The new (old) politics of refugee representation (Matthew Sepehr Mahmoudi, The Sociological Review, 3 July 2019)

# Korean media coverage of Yemeni refugees and their digital footprints, such as thisthis, and this (2018; see also the Feminism Without Borders project)

# ‘베트남 여성 폭행’ 반전…아내는 왜 3일만에 비난대상 됐나 (박사라, 중앙일보, 12 July 2019)

# Marriage immigrants in S. Korea meet with their family members online (Korea Bizwire, 19 July 2019)

# Ars Praxia series, such as this, this, this, and this

# To learn about the far right, start with the ‘manosphere’ (Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 7 August 2019)

# The misogyny of climate deniers (Martin Gelin, The New Republic, 28 August 2019)

# Attacked for gender, not views: Hong Kong women protesters facing troll army (Rose Troup Buchanan, AFP/The Jakarta Post, 2 September 2019)

Metaphors we bond by

Skills and literacies, everyone’s favourite words

# Skills is not a dirty word (Leonard D. Pertnoy, Missouri Law Review, 1994)

# Hacking is a mindset, not a skillset (Tanya Snook, LSE Impact Blog, 16 January 2014)

# Effects of postgraduate medical education “boot camps” on clinical skills, knowledge, and confidence: A meta-analysis (C. Blackmore et al., Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 2014)

# In conversation with Sir Ken Robinson (August 2015)

# UK Engagement Survey: universities have limited impact on students’ ‘soft’ skill development (THE, 10 December 2015)

Responses of more than 24,000 undergraduates indicate limited development in areas such as creativity and citizenship over course of degree.

# Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions (Rachael Pitt & Inger Mewburn, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 2016)

# Null effects of boot camps and short-format training for PhD students in life sciences (David F. Feldon et al., PNAS, 2017)

# “Students should encounter research or activities linked to research and innovation at all levels of higher education to develop the critical and creative mind-sets which will enable them to find novel solutions to emerging challenges.” (Paris Communiqué, 2018)

# Media literacy – everyone’s favourite solution to the problems of regulation (Sonia Livingstone, LSE Impact Blog, 8 May 2018)

# Future graduates will need creativity and empathy – not just technical skills (Natalie Brett, The Guardian, 20 December 2018)

# Our soft skills can keep robots in their place (Ed Conway, The Times, 18 January 2019)

# RT @timeshighered It’s time to start calling soft skills “power skills” @RBC CEO Dave McKay tells #TeachingEx (5 June 2019)

# Digital literacy demands new thinking from higher education (THE, 2019)

Students have a heightened confidence in the digital space that is not necessarily matched by their competence.

The writing must go on.

The new session is approaching, and I am planning to do more on the writing front this year, especially for the benefit of post-fieldwork students. This post is simply to keep in one place bits and bobs that have inspired my plans. You can think of this post as a sequel to my ‘productivity hacks‘ and ‘big qualitative data‘ posts.

# Reverse outlining (Rachael Cayley, 2011)

# Living in a writing dystopia (Joli Jensen, 2013)

# Do you have quotitis? (Nick Hopwood, 2014)

# Writing together by the fireplace (2014)

# Importance of managing the logistics of writing (Jamie Bartlett, 2018)

# The vicious circle of overwork in academia (Ryan Cordell, 2018)

# Painting the town red (Anthony Ocampo, 29 January 2019)

# Snowflakes, crystals, fractals, and other metaphors for thinking creatively about [nonlinear] writing (Annette Markham, 2019)

# RT @AcademicsSay Being an academic is basically just saying “I’ll finally get that paper written this summer” until you die (9 July 2019)

# Writing over the holidays (Chris Smith, 2019)

# RT @Used_For_Glue I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the aim of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written. (22 July 2019)

# 곽재식의 어떻게든 글쓰기 (2018)

On bodilessness

Speaking of space and place, here is something that I have been following and meaning to document for a while: bodiless protests. I am afraid I can’t afford to write it up in a more synthesised manner at the moment, but I thought I’d at least put everything in one place.

# “iPhone candles(March 2010)

# Patent for “robots for picketing” (March 2013)

# Julian Assange featuring in a US conference in hologram form(September 2014)

# Snowden hologram replacing a removed statue of his in Brooklyn park (April 2015)

# World’s first hologram protest in Madrid against the country’s new “gag law(April 2015)


(Image from International Society for Presence Research, 13 April 2015)

# Amnesty “ghost rally” in Gwanghwamun (February 2016)

# Projection of “@jack is #complicit” on Twitter HQ (Jan 2018)

# Projection of “This is not normal” and “sh*thole” (with emojis!) on the Trump Hotel in Washington DC (Jan 2018)

# #WeAreWatching project against institutionalised racism (September 2016)

# The internet is mostly bots (December 2018)

# Shut it downbeamed on the Chosun Ilbo building (July 2019)

# Hong Kong protesters use lasers to block facial recognition tech (2 August 2019; see also the “asymmetric haircuts” tactic and “garments covered in license plates“)

# Wearable face projector (from 2017, but I came across via a pushback against a 2019 #AntiMaskLaw in Hong Kong)