Group 4 panels

Section 3 // 9:30 a.m. // #activism

Panel members:  Reilly, Britt, Amira

Hashtag: #activism

Twitter questions:

Q1: Do you think #activism is effective in its campaigning? Why or why not? (Reilly)
Q2: Did you hear about the #metoo campaign before reading these articles? If so where/ who did you hear it from? (Britt)
Q3: Why are progressive activists using hashtags on social media as a tactic to form popular phenomenons– Do you see this as a positive or negative form of expression? (Amira)


Counter-technology: Go on Twitter and search #Activism. Find another activism phenomena other than #MeToo and provide a one sentence summary on what the hashtag is used to promote, or speak out against, and what it means.

Section 4 // 12:30 p.m. // #onlinedating apps

Panel members: Dana, Ellie, Stephen, Melanie

Hashtag: #onlinedatingapps

Twitter questions:

Q1: If you’ve ever used an #onlinedatingapp like #Tinder, what types of info did you allow on your profile? If not, what info WOULD you allow?
Q2: Has anything about these #onlinedatingapps ever raised some safety concerns for you?
Q3: What types of #data do you think #onlinedatingapps might have access to?



Defining phenomena and managing online sources

We have a lot planned for today, including getting you up to speed on Twitter, developing strategies for defining the topics and phenomena for your project, and introducing you to some tools for managing sources.

Twitter, cont’d

On Tuesday, some of you had unexpected trouble with Twitter requiring your phone number. As you might know based on the reading for today, Twitter is trying to boost its verification procedures to block abusive accounts (from the Russian state, for example). If you’re still having trouble, these seem to be your options:

  1. Try again. Try making an account using your real name, but from a different device, machine, browser, etc. until it lets you make one. The problem here is that you need another email address.
  2. Create a phone number in Google Voice. Although Google Voice will require you to provide your real number (which Google will store in its database), at least Twitter won’t. You can then use the GV number for Twitter. See this page for help.
  3. Just use your phone number. This is not ideal, but this would be the easiest thing to get you in — plus, you can probably remove it once you have created an account. FYI, their privacy policy for your phone states this: “If you provide us with your phone number, you agree to receive text messages to that number from us. We may use your contact information to send you information about our Services, to market to you, to help prevent spam, fraud, or abuse, and to help others find your account, including through third-party services and client applications.” You can change this in your privacy settings and Twitter agrees that it will not include this identifier in its Log data. 
Once all is well and you’re online, please be sure to add your username (aka handle) to our blogroll.

Counter-technology project: a case study

By now you should have:

I mentioned on Tuesday that this process models (on an admittedly smaller scale) what I’m asking you to do for your project. Take 5-10 minutes to talk with your panel about this set of readings and via the following tasks. Have someone tweet out your answers (or share the task) using our hashtag #WRTf17.

  1. Describe or characterize certain phenomena, forces, technologies, or bad actors in these texts that require new digital literacies.
  2. Suggest additional readings that would deepen your understanding of these phenomena.
  3. Provide a list of search terms and keywords for such a search.
  4. Explain how these provoke certain counter-technologies, literacies, practices, or strategies.

Defining phenomena 

On Tuesday each section brainstormed some of the possible negative phenomena that requires new digital literacies:

These were generally good starting points, but they could be more specific. The next step is to learn more about how these phenomena could be more narrowed and complicated, just as we did in the example above. This means taking similar approaches, trying to better understand and define them. For each, you might:

  • Start with Wikipedia to evaluate the scope of a phenomenon — especially how it is defined, structured, and linked to other phenomenon.
  • Brainstorm and keep track of additional keywords or search terms as you read. By reading the Wikipedia entry for clickbait, for example, I see that “listicles,” “Buzzfeed,” or even “yellow journalism” might be good search terms. More importantly, I notice that “viral marketing” is listed as a “See Also,” which means perhaps my phenomenon is actually more broad than just “clickbait.”
  • Search Google News to see how the phenomenon is being discussed today. These might be the articles you assign our class when it is your panel’s turn.
  • Search Google Scholar and Campbell Library for books and other scholarly materials on the subject.
  • As you search also be on the lookout for counter-technologies — again defined as tools, strategies, or literacies that help us manage, expose, disrupt, or otherwise limit the malfeasance these phenomena cause us online and IRL.

Collecting sources with Pocket and Zotero

Reading online is fundamentally different than other kinds of reading, especially as we have grown to become more mobile with our devices. Hence, I want to introduce you to two apps that help manage reading and tracking sources, both of which have Chrome extensions.

  1. Pocket. Pocket is a read-it-later service (like Instapaper) that allows you to save readings as you go. I often save readings my friends share on Twitter or Facebook to Pocket and read it at a more convenient time. Pocket also allows you to tag and archive readings, making it handy for organizing readings. Pocket also makes apps for Mac, iOS, and other devices.
  2. Zotero. Zotero is a bibliography manager capable of sharing citations. Like Pocket, you can save readings, but unlike Pocket, Zotero will keep track of bibliographic info (authors, publishers, etc.). Zotero Groups also allow you to collaborate in ways that will be helpful for a project like this. In fact, your panel will be required to share your bibliography with the class using our course group, WRTf17.

Homework for Tuesday, 10/17

  • Make an account in Zotero, and download both Zotero Connector (for Chrome) and Zotero 5.0 (the desktop application) to your laptop.
  • Join our Zotero group, WRTf17 and find your group folder, which is labeled by section and group number (i.e. Section 3, Group 2 has the folder labeled “3.2”).
  • Have each member of your group add a reading or two to your group folder on a phenomenon they’re interested in (or one you are already pursuing together).
  • Tweet out one of these readings with a comment. Use both the course hashtag (#WRTf17) and the hashtag(s) of the phenomenon.[Example: “Here’s an op-ed from the @washingtonpost about the role of #clickbait in politics. #WRTf17]
  • Respond to a classmate’s post using the same hashtags.[Example: “Skimmed this article quickly. Why did @facebook install a #clickbait filter when we need literacies! #WRTf17”]

Introduction to Unit 2

Today we’re talking about Unit 2 and Twitter, but before we do that, let’s review what’s due tonight:

  • Post your final Truth-o-meter fact-check as a new post. That is, do not overwrite the DRAFT post; instead create a new post so that I can compare the changes. This post is due by midnight tonight, unless you go to the Writing Center. If you do that, and you email me the client report form, you may turn in your work on Thursday (10/12) instead.

Unit 2 overview

Let’s look at Unit 2, the schedule, and get you into your panels for the unit:


Section 3 (9:30)Section 4 (12:30)
Group 1Tori
Amanda S.
Group 2Darien
Group 3Amanda B
Group 4Brittany
Group 5Gia
Alexis E.

Trackers and nefarious hackers: why we need critical digital literacies and counter-technologies

You’ve had a lot of experience practicing basic web literacies using fact-checking sites like Snopes, Politifact and Wikipedia; going upstream for original source material, and assessing credibility by reading sources laterally. Although we dabbled in the reasons why we need such literacies when we discussed filter bubbles, much more can be said of the kinds of technologies that require these literacies. In other words, we need to ask questions like:

  • Who or what are we trying to sidestep in using these skills? What traps exist for users trying to find pure info on the web? What is the worst that can happen? What stories do we know of people having a terrible experience online?
  • What are some of the trackers and hackers that make the web a potentially dangerous place? Who are these bad actors and what are their interests?
  • What are some ways you already avoid these traps? What critical digital literacies do you already have?

 Twitter: An Introduction

In this unit we move from readers of social media to readers and writers of social media, specifically Twitter. As your readings for tonight suggest, Twitter has become an important — and problematic! — tool in the attention economy. My hope is that you’ll understand this better as you use it. To get started we’ll create an account:

  1. Go to and click the “sign up” button or load the app from your phone.
  2. Use your real name or a pseudonym and enter a valid email address.
  3. Before you accept the option to “Personalize Twitter based on where you’ve seen Twitter content on the web,” click “Learn More.”
  4. Also before you accept everything and sign up, click the advanced tab (which is purposefully hidden) and decide if you want “others” to find you by your email address or phone number. Now that you’ve decided on these privacy measures, you probably also want to skip entering your phone number on the next screen.
  5. Decide on a username. Usernames do not have to reflect your name in real life (IRL) and – above all – should be memorable. Use this username generator especially since twitter is sensitive to nonconforming names that look like bots (i.e. wrt_799). NOTE: if Twitter locks you out and asks you for you phone number, you can try this procedure with Google Voice or start over and see if you can get an account without one.
  6. Confirm your account by checking your mail and clicking “confirm now.”
  7. Once you’ve decided on a username, add it to our blogroll and link it to your Twitter page. (example: @futureofwriting)
  8. Feel free to customize your experience, but you should know that the more info you give Twitter, the more its algorithm will assume about you.

Getting Started: 3 moves

  • Follow. Once you’re in the interface, find and follow @futureofwriting, your classmates on the blogroll (especially your fellow panelists), and possibly other good sources of info we discussed in the 1st unit (Snopes, Wikipedia, Politico, etc.).
  • Customize. Upload a profile pic and banner image, and write a bio for others to see. Still: be protective of your privacy, as your default setting is not private (and switching your account to private would lock us all out).
  • Tweet. Posting to the general public is as simple as entering a message in the “What’s happening?” field, but you can also post to specific users using the “@” sign at the beginning of your message (example: “@futureofwriting Here are 3 discussion questions…”).
  • # (hashtag). You should use the course hashtag, #wrtf17 for all tweets, which will help us organize our conversation and give you points. But feel free to use other hashtags and tag users too (example tweet: “Reading about twitterbots on @NYTimes for HW. #Russia def played a role in #2016election.” Tagging another user will notify them in their “mentions” tab.

Homework for Th, 10/12