How  do  you  design  a  digital  research  project  that  has  substantial  labor  needs  with   few  staff

 members  to  fulfill  them?       Related  to  the  field  of  computer-­‐supported  cooperative  work,  crowdsourcing  has   become  a  way  to  leverage  contributions  from  the  public  to  create  a  more  substantial   collection  of  information.  The  promise  of  crowdsourcing  has  created  larger   questions  for  researchers  and  system  designers:  How  do  we  design  systems  to   facilitate  contributions  from  the  crowd?  What  motivations  can  system  designers  tap   to  engage  people  in  crowdsourcing  projects?       I  analyzed  26  digital  research  projects  that  were  sourcing  contributions  from  the   crowd  to  discover  what  approaches  designers  took  to  build  systems  and  motivate   contributors.  I  coded  them  according  to  elements  of  machine  labor  and  human  labor   in  an  iterative  process  that  revealed  that  motivations  behind  contributing  were   at  the  heart  of  system  design  issues.  The  coding  decisions  were  my  own,  not   based  on  existing  content  analysis  models.     Some  systems  relied  heavily  on  machine  labor—or  algorithms  written  by   programmers—to  entice  contributors  and  maintain  their  engagement.  Other   systems  relied  heavily  on  manual  labor  by  staff  members  to  process  contributions   and  maintain  progress.       Unsurprisingly,  systems  motivating  contributors  through  gaming  required  the  most   programming,  and  thus  formed  the  smallest  category  due  to  the  higher  need  for   programming  skills.  It  is  also  not  surprising  that  nearly  all  projects  marketed   themselves  to  potential  contributors  as  a  way  their  efforts  could  benefit  the  greater   good.  The  interesting  lesson  here  falls  in  the  middle,  where  learning  motivates   people  to  continue  contributing.  Learning  is  an  outcome  that  can  be  produced  at   all  points  along  this  labor  spectrum.     This  is  exploratory  research.  Future  progress  requires  having  multiple  coders  to   determine  inter-­‐coder  reliability.  That  stage  of  research  could  form  more  concrete   crowdsourcing  models  to  assist  digital  research  project  designers  in  planning  and   building  their  systems.      

Melody  Dworak  

April  13,  2012  

Master’s  Poster  Speech  

The  Public  As  Collaborator:   Crowdsourcing  Models  for  Digital  Research  Initiatives     Digital  research  projects  often  seek  out  large-­‐scale  data  sets  but  have  a  small  budget   to  achieve  them.  In  their  pursuit  of  using  technology  to  discover  something  new,  some   scholars  have  turned  to  crowdsourcing  strategies,  where  the  efforts  of  individual  volunteers   can  contribute  to  collective,  significant  data  outcomes.  How  can  examples  of  successful   crowdsourcing  projects  inform  future  digital  research  initiatives?  By  looking  at  current   examples  of  digital  research  projects  using  crowdsourcing,  this  research  proposes  new   models  for  amassing  data  through  the  assistance  of  engaged  publics.  Inspired  by  the   problems  posed  by  building  a  large-­‐scale  database  of  metadata  from  mid-­‐20th  century   small-­‐press  ephemera,  this  inquiry  explores  what  outreach  strategies  work  for  different   kinds  of  projects  and  with  which  publics.  This  research  performs  a  qualitative  content   analysis  of  more  than  thirty  digital  research  initiatives  that  rely  on  crowdsourcing   strategies  to  amass  data.  Through  their  project  websites,  the  initiatives  were  coded  to   determine  the  factors  that  motivated  contributors  and  the  electronic  interfaces  employed   for  digital  delivery.  The  models  created  from  this  research  fall  along  a  spectrum  with   minimal  requirements  for  technology  and  programming  capacity  to  deploy  strategies  at  one   end  and  sophisticated  requirements  at  the  other.  Motivational  factors  discovered  include   competition  and  reward  systems  inspired  by  games,  personal  contributions  to  discovery   and  historical  narratives,  and  the  pure  entertainment  of  interest-­‐driven  learning.  By   identifying  strategies  that  can  inform  approaches  to  scaling  up  digital  research  initiatives,   these  models  provide  a  guide  for  scholars  with  boundless  ideas  and  limited  budgets.  

 

Melody  Dworak  

 

SLIS  Master’s  Candidate  

 

Literature  Review   Use  &  Users   Melody  Dworak   March  20,  2012     Finding  Without  Seeking,  Or,  I’ll  Take  Some  Empathy  with  that  Information,  Please:   A  Review  of  the  Literature  Review  on  Online  Social  Support  Networks     for  Parents  of  Children  with  Special  Health  Care  Needs   Introduction   As  online  social  networking  sites  reach  their  golden  age,  people  turn  to  them   to  both  actively  seek  and  passively  find  information  to  enhance  their  individualized   experiences.  People  who  have  experiences  that  are  uncommon  in  their  real  world   communities  can  gain  benefits  by  turning  to  online  communities  to  build  weak  ties   and  share  information.  Some  parents  of  children  with  special  health  care  needs  may   be  required  to  stay  at  home  more  to  care  for  their  children,  and  online  social   networking  sites  and  personal  blogs  may  connect  them  to  others  who  share  their   experiences.  Besides  such  physical  isolation,  it  may  not  be  as  easy  for  parents  of   children  with  disabilities  to  find  parents  with  similar  experiences  in  their  real  world   community,  as  only  about  six  percent  of  the  U.S.  population  have  disabilities.       In  order  to  study  how  parents  of  children  with  disabilities  find  information  

through  informal  online  social  networks,  the  author  conducted  a  review  of  the   relevant  literature  such  a  study  must  form  a  foundation  on.  The  author  located  key   findings  in  three  areas  of  research:  literature  on  the  information  behavior  and  needs   of  parents  of  children  with  disabilities;  literature  on  the  new  frontier  of  online  social   network  analysis  and  social  media;  and  literature  on  health-­‐related  online  support  

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groups,  whether  those  groups  were  formed  by  formal  organizations  or  blossomed   organically.  At  the  center  of  these  overlapping  areas  lies  the  heart  of  this  study’s   primary  concern.  

Informa(on  Behavior   and  Needs  of  Parents   of  Children  with   Disabili(es  

Health-­‐Related   Online  Support   Groups  

Online  Social   Networks  

    Information  Behavior  and  Needs  of  Parents     Parents  want  to  learn  from  other  parents.  Adults  without  children  may  

appear  as  less  trustworthy  information  sources  due  to  their  lack  of  personal   experience  and  ability  to  verify  the  accuracy  of  advice.  Several  studies  confirm  that   parents  of  children  with  disabilities  want  to  hear  from  other  parents  of  children   with  disabilities,  making  such  like-­‐experienced  individuals  more  trustworthy   sources  of  information  and  potentially  rich  sources  for  empathy.  Mackintosh’s  2005   study  on  the  information  sources  of  parents  of  children  with  autism  found  that   parents  believed  that  the  best  sources  were  other  parents,  and  that  individuals  with   lower  incomes  and  socio-­‐economic  status  had  fewer  information  resources.   Mackintosh’s  study  identified  websites  as  a  source  of  information  but  did  not   identify  social  media  sites  explicitly.  Statically  published  websites  provide  a   controlled  flow  of  information,  whereas  social  media  sites  provide  a  space  for  

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dynamic  interaction  and  exchange  of  information  in  a  many-­‐to-­‐many  forum.   Mackintosh’s  study  also  found  misinformation  was  a  concern  of  such  parent-­‐to-­‐ parent  exchange  of  information,  with  no  mediation  from  authoritative  health   information  professionals.       Pain  (1999)  found  that  personal  communication  is  the  preferred  method  for  

information-­‐gathering  parents  of  children  with  disabilities,  with  one  parent  stating,   “There  was  no  substitute  for  real  people,  written  information  is  nice  to  have  as  a   comfort  factor,  but  you  really  get  your  information  from  people,  talking  face  to  face   with  them”  (p.  303).  Pain  concluded  the  purposes  for  information,  regardless  of   source,  were  the  following:  “to  enhance  management  of  the  child,”  where  certain   information  improves  working  with  the  child  on  a  day-­‐to-­‐day  basis  (1999,  p.  305);   “to  help  parents  cope  emotionally,”  where  empathy  from  other  parents  adds   comfort  to  a  diagnosis  from  an  authoritative  source;  and  “to  access  benefits  and   services,”  where  information  shared  leads  to  new  opportunities  (1999,  p.  308).   How  do  these  preferences  transform  in  a  world  where  more  and  more   personal  communication  becomes  computer-­‐mediated?  Huber  et  al.  (2005)  and   Tillisch  (2007)  both  found  the  Internet  cited  as  the  most  common  information   source  for  parents  of  children  with  disabilities.  Tillisch’s  survey  of  1,000  parents   found  support  groups  rivaled  the  Internet  for  most-­‐used  sources  of  information,   with  Huber  adding  that  information  seeking  is  greatest  at  the  time  of  diagnosis.   Personal  communication  through  online  social  networking  may  be  the  next  fruitful   place  to  study  information  behavior  of  parents  of  children  with  special  health  care   needs.  

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Analyzing  Computer-­Mediated  Online  Social  Networks     As  more  parents  seek  information  online  to  help  them  manage  day-­‐to-­‐day  

needs  of  their  child  with  disabilities,  cope  emotionally,  and  find  services,  the  scale  of   computer-­‐mediated  communication  and  information  is  growing  rapidly.  No  longer   does  the  computer-­‐mediated  role  of  information  provider  rest  squarely  on  the   bandwidth  of  static,  one-­‐way  communicating  websites.  With  the  birth  of  a  new   genre,  Web  2.0  and  social  media,  online  social  networking  sites  such  as  Twitter   (launched  2006)  and  Facebook  (launched  2004  and  opening  to  the  public  in  2006)   have  spurred  computer-­‐mediated  communication  and  information  sharing  into  a   new  era.  Facebook  has  more  than  845  million  user  accounts  (Protalinski,  2012),  and   Twitter  has  more  than  300  million  user  accounts  (Taylor,  2011).  The  people  behind   those  accounts  may  not  all  be  active  users,  but  the  data  amassing  on  social  media   servers  is  enough  for  the  Library  of  Congress  to  enter  into  an  agreement  with   Twitter  executives  to  create  an  archive  of  all  public  tweets  (Raymond,  2010).  Such  is   the  value  of  that  publicly  contributed  data—a  status  update  being  a  unit  of  data—to   the  future  of  research.  Researchers  have  already  begun  to  conduct  empirical  studies   on  the  large-­‐scale  datasets  these  online  social  networking  sites  can  provide.  Dodds   et  al.  (2011)  used  more  than  46  billion  words  comprising  roughly  five  percent  of   tweets  posted  between  September  9,  2008,  and  September  18,  2011,  to  determine   the  happiest  days  of  the  seven-­‐day  week  were  Friday  through  Sunday,  the  happiest   hour,  between  5  and  6  a.m.       Researchers  of  social  networks  are  also  turning  their  attention  to  the  data  

available  on  social  media  sites.  Huberman  et  al.  (2009)  cautions  that  counting  the  

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mere  number  of  friends  and  followers  does  not  give  an  accurate  portrayal  of   influence,  a  much-­‐debated  term  among  online  social  networking  researchers.   Huberman  et  al.  believes  networks  hidden  among  networks  can  be  found  by   studying  who  talks  to  whom,  a  metric  not  easily  discoverable  through  public  profiles   alone.  Burgess  (2009)  argues  that  online  social  networks  can  be  leveraged  to   empower  women  in  learning  environments,  emphasizing  that  networking   function—linking  people  together—to  build  social  capital  that  facilitates  access  to   information  and  resources.  Burgess  warns  against  believing  online  networks  escape   established  privilege  structures,  cautioning  those  wanting  to  turn  to  a  digital   environment  to  be  mindful  of  how  power  reinvents  itself  online.       Scholars  researching  information  behavior  and  cultural  communication  

patterns  find  the  data  embedded  in  online  social  networking  sites  to  be  rich  and   informative,  as  well.  Lerman  and  Ghosh’s  study  (2010)  tracked  how  information   spreads  through  Twitter  and  Digg.  Digg,  a  user-­‐submitted  news  aggregator,  became   the  “denser”  platform  for  these  researchers  due  to  the  ease  of  tracking  comments   and  measuring  popularity  of  submissions.  Digg  users  vote  on  stories  by  clicking  a   thumbs-­‐up  icon  or  thumbs-­‐down  icon  so  visitors  to  the  website  can  see  how  each   submission  ranks  in  popularity.  Lerman  and  Ghosh  found  that  network  structure   affects  the  dynamics  of  how  the  information  flows  from  one  person  to  the  next.  Digg   makes  following  the  popularity  of  posts  on  the  Wild  West  of  Twitter  seem  like   herding  and  wrangling  cats.       But  those  retweets  can  be  wrangled.  boyd  et  al.  (2010)  argue  retweeting—

where  a  post  by  one  Twitter  user  is  seen  by  another  Twitter  user  and  reposted  to  

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the  latter  user’s  profile—can  be  studied  as  a  conversational  practice.  The   researchers  found  that  Twitter  users  retweet  posts  for  specific  purposes.  The   retweet  shows  engagement  in  a  conversation  and  shares  information  among  the   listeners.  A  retweet  in  and  of  itself  sends  the  message  that  the  user  is  listening.  boyd   et  al.  found  the  other  two  purposes  for  retweeting  a  post  are  to  indicate  agreement   publicly  (or  publicly  to  one’s  approved  list  of  followers  if  that  user  has  a  private   account)  and  to  validate  others’  thoughts.  This  study  of  retweeting  as  a   conversational  practice  demonstrates  that  attribution,  relationship-­‐building,  and   community  appreciation  are  important  aspects  of  participating  in  online  social   networks.         Chen  (2011)  came  to  a  similar  conclusion  that  retweeting  acts  to  mediate  

relationships  on  Twitter.  Chen  found  that  the  more  hours  users  spent  on  Twitter,   the  greater  the  need  those  users  had  to  connect  with  others.  Chen  confirmed  this   need  for  “we-­‐ness”  by  participants  in  online  social  networks,  and  that  the  more   active  users  were,  the  more  likely  they  were  to  also  feel  connected.  Chen’s  study   focused  on  uses  and  gratification  theory  (U&G)  to  explore  Twitter  users’  need  to   connect  with  others.  Psychological  needs  direct  communication  goals,  according  to   Chen’s  explanation  of  U&G  theory,  which  requires  purposeful  decisions  on   participating  with  communication  media.  Chen  states  (2011,  p.  757),     U&G  focuses  on  social  and  psychological  needs,  which  generate   expectations  that  lead  to  different  patterns  of  media  use  to  gratify   these  needs  (Katz  et  al.,  1974).  It  is  important  to  note  that  Internet   communication  has  in  some  ways  nullified  the  traditional  sender-­‐

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receiver  model,  which  makes  using  U&G  even  more  relevant  to  online   media  (Ko,  2000).  People  online  can  choose  what  media  they  want  to   use  (Singer,  1998)  with  a  simple  click  of  the  mouse.  They  can  both   send  and  receive  messages  simultaneously  through  media  such  as   Twitter.   Which  parents  of  children  with  disabilities  are  turning  to  strangers  in  online  social   networks  to  satisfy  their  information,  emotional,  and  psychological  needs?   The  Beating  Heart  of  It     The  third  area  of  literature  that  informs  a  study  on  online  social  support  

networks  and  information  uses  by  parents  of  children  with  disabilities  is  literature   on  health-­‐related  online  support  groups.  This  area  does  not  strictly  cover  online   social  network  or  the  information  behavior  and  needs  of  parents  of  children  with   disabilities  but  overlaps  them  both.  This  area  of  research  covers  any  number  of   computer-­‐mediated  communication  vehicles  (email  lists,  chat  rooms,  online   discussion  forums,  wikis,  blogs,  or  the  online  social  networking  sites  that  have   already  been  discussed)  and  different  mental  or  physical  special  health  needs.     Miller  (2006)  conducted  a  study  on  social  networking  sites  focused  on   mental  health  issues  like  RealMentalHealth.com  (now  HealthyPlace.com),  and  found   anonymity  and  connections  with  other  mothers  were  among  the  sites’  benefits.   Miller  also  stressed  that  the  information  on  such  sites  were  not  a  substitute  for   professional  help;  the  need  to  be  adept  at  computers  was  another  limitation.    Baum   (2004)  focused  on  Internet  Parent  Support  Groups  (IPSGs)  and  found  several   outcomes  that  affect  the  well-­‐being  of  care  providers  of  children  with  special  health  

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care  needs.  Those  benefits  included  finding  people  with  similar  challenges;  finding   information  and  guidance;  experiencing  anonymity;  helping  others;  venting;  and   finding  hope,  gratitude,  and  experiencing  a  change  in  perspective.  Baum’s  study   found  parents  who  participated  in  IPSGs  felt  empowered,  and  these  parents  strongly   recommended  the  approach  to  other  parents  and  care  givers  of  children  with   special  health  care  needs.  The  participants  in  Baum’s  study  were  mostly  female  and,   like  Miller,  Baum  found  that  some  needed  to  adapt  to  computers  but  such  a  learning   curve  was  not  impossible  to  overcome.  Trust  was  also  a  critical  aspect  in  successful   IPSG  experiences.  Although  ninety  percent  of  Baum’s  participants  in  the  study   recommended  joining  an  IPSG  as  soon  as  possible,  Baum  warns  against  problems   with  relying  on  them  exclusively.     Potential  dangers  include  misinformation,  expression  of  intense  feelings  that   could  overwhelm  those  struggling  with  pain  and  fear,  different  needs  related   to  different  stages  of  adaptation,  untrained  people  who  may  offer  therapy  or   untested  products,  and  occasional  pressure  to  adopt  excessive  or  distorted   group  beliefs.  (p.  388)   With  these  warnings  taken  to  heart,  Baum  found  clear  support  for  connecting  with   other  parents  of  children  with  disabilities  in  an  online  environment.       Margarlit  and  Rashkind  (2009)  performed  a  content  analysis  on  reactions  of  

mothers  of  children  with  learning  disabilities  and  attention  deficit  hyperactivity   disorder  as  they  mourned  the  potential  closing  of  a  website  that  facilitated  online   community  support.  Their  analysis  also  found  the  interactions  through  the  site   empowered  mothers  through  information  seeking  and  community  support.  The  

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analysis  in  this  study  found  the  mothers  believed  the  following  was  facilitated   through  this  site:  information  shared  was  valid  and  reliable,  information  could  be   adapted  more  easily  to  their  needs,  current  information  and  research  could  be   translated  into  a  format  accessible  to  them,  information  was  validated  by  personal   experience,  and  information  could  provide  different  perspectives.  Their  statements   expressed  that  they  benefited  from  the  online  community  through  emotional   support,  empathy,  companionship  and  prevention  of  loneliness,  immediate  support   and  help,  privacy  and  safety,  and  through  the  withholding  of  judgment.  The  findings   from  this  area  of  literature  support  the  need  for  more  research  on  the  use  of  online   social  support  networks  for  parents  of  children  with  special  health  care  needs.     Conclusion   These  studies  overlap  around  the  topic  of  using  an  online  social  network  like   Twitter  to  organically  create  a  community  where  parents  of  children  with   disabilities  may  share  their  information  as  well  as  their  empathy.  No  studies  were   found  to  address  this  subject  directly,  suggesting  a  gap  in  the  literature  worthy  of   study.  By  gleaning  these  key  findings  from  the  three  areas—literature  on  the   information  behavior  and  needs  of  parents  of  children  with  disabilities;  literature  on   the  new  frontier  of  online  social  network  analysis  and  social  media;  and  literature   on  health-­‐related  online  support  groups—such  a  study  could  begin  to  discover  how   parents  of  children  with  special  health  care  needs  find  serendipitous  information   and  build  weak  ties  through  social  media.  

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Works  Cited     Baum,  L.  S.  (2004).  Internet  Parent  Support  Groups  for  Primary  Caregivers  of  a  Child   with  Special  Health  Care  Needs.  Pediatric  Nursing,  30(5),  381-­‐401.   boyd,  d.,  Golder,  S.  &  Lotan,  G.  (2010).  Tweet,  tweet,  retweet:  Conversational  aspects   of  retweeting  on  Twitter.”  HICSS-­‐43.  IEEE:  Kauai,  HI,  January  6.   Briceño,  A.  C.,  Gospodarowicz,  M.,  &  Jadad,  A.  R.  (2008).  Fighting  cancer  with  the   internet  and  social  networking.  The  Lancet  Oncology,  9(11),  1037-­‐1038.   doi:10.1016/S1470-­‐2045(08)70275-­‐4   Burgess,  K.  R.  (2009).  Social  networking  technologies  as  vehicles  of  support  for   women  in  learning  communities.  New  Directions  for  Adult  and  Continuing   Education,  2009(122),  63-­‐71.  doi:10.1002/ace.335   Chen,  G.  M.  (2011).  Tweet  this:  A  uses  and  gratifications  perspective  on  how  active   Twitter  use  gratifies  a  need  to  connect  with  others.  Computers  in  Human   Behavior,  27(2),  755-­‐762.  doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.023   Dodds,  P.  S.,  Harris,  K.  D.,  Kloumann,  I.  M.,  Bliss,  C.  A.,  &  Danforth,  C.  M.  (2011).   Temporal  Patterns  of  Happiness  and  Information  in  a  Global  Social  Network:   Hedonometrics  and  Twitter.  PLoS  ONE,  6(12).   doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026752   Huberman,  B.  A.,  Romero,  D.  M.,  &  Fang,  W.  (2009).  Social  networks  that  matter:   Twitter  under  the  microscope.  First  Monday,  14(1-­‐5).  Retrieved  from   http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewA rticle/2317/2063  

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Lamberg,  L.  (2003).  Online  Empathy  for  Mood  Disorders  Patients  Turn  to  Internet   Support  Groups.  JAMA:  The  Journal  of  the  American  Medical  Association,   289(23),  3073-­‐3077.  doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3073   Lerman,  K.,  &  Ghosh,  R.  (2010).  Information  Contagion:  an  Empirical  Study  of  the   Spread  of  News  on  Digg  and  Twitter  Social  Networks.  arXiv:1003.2664.   Retrieved  from  http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.2664   Mackintosh,  V.  H.,  Myers,  B.  J.,  &  Goin-­‐Kochel,  R.  P.  (2006).  Sources  of  Information   and  Support  Used  by  Parents  of  Children  with  Autism  Spectrum  Disorders.   Journal  On  Developmental  Disabilities,  12(1),  41-­‐52.   Margalit,  M.,  &  Raskind,  M.  H.  (2009).  Mothers  of  Children  with  LD  and  ADHD:   Empowerment  through  Online  Communication.  Journal  of  Special  Education   Technology,  24(1).  Retrieved  from   http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ861045   Miller,  J.  (2006).  Finding  Support  Online:  Parents  are  Finding  Comfort  and  Support   in  Virtual  Hugs.  Exceptional  Parent,  36(10),  42-­‐44.   Pain,  H.  (1999).  Coping  with  a  child  with  disabilities  from  the  parents’  perspective:   the  function  of  information.  Child:  Care,  Health  and  Development,  25(4),  299-­‐ 313.  doi:10.1046/j.1365-­‐2214.1999.00132.x   Protalinski,  E.  (2012,  February  1).  Facebook  has  over  845  million  users  |  ZDNet.   Retrieved  from  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/facebook-­‐has-­‐over-­‐ 845-­‐million-­‐users/8332   Raymond,  Matt.  (2010,  April  14).  Library  to  acquire  ENTIRE  Twitter  archive  -­‐-­‐  ALL   public  tweets,  ever,  since  March  2006!  Details  to  follow.  @librarycongress.  

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microblog,  .  Retrieved  March  19,  2012,  from   https://twitter.com/#!/librarycongress/status/12169442690   Taylor,  C.  (2011,  June  27).  Social  networking  “utopia”  isn’t  coming.  CNN.  Retrieved   from  http://articles.cnn.com/2011-­‐06-­‐ 27/tech/limits.social.networking.taylor_1_twitter-­‐users-­‐facebook-­‐friends-­‐ connections?_s=PM:TECH   Tillisch,  D.  (2007).  New  Research  Provides  a  Snapshot  of  Parents  with  Children  Who   Have  Special  Needs.  Exceptional  Parent,  37(11),  43-­‐44.  

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Literacy  &  Learning  Midterm   November  3,  2011   Melody  Dworak     Guiding  quote  for  my  term  thus  far:   The  inclination  to  learn  from  life  itself  and  to  make  the  conditions  of  life  such   that  all  will  learn  in  the  process  of  living  is  the  finest  product  of  schooling.   —John  Dewey  in  Democracy  and  Education       Question  1:  Among  other  things,  literacy  is  about  social  power.  Being  literate  allows   people  to  exercise  control  and  direction  over  their  lives.  From  the  readings  this   semester,  provide  an  explanation  for  how  that  power/literacy  connection  works.  In   what  ways  might  libraries  and  librarians  modify  their  practice  to  address  the   concerns  that  this  connection  raises?       Literacy’s  connection  to  power  has  firm  historical  foundations.  Wysocki  and   Johnson-­‐Eilola  elaborate  on  how  the  dominant  group  oppresses  the  languages  and   literacy  behaviors  of  the  subordinate,  using  the  rejection  of  their  dominant  belief   system  as  a  blessing  to  slaughter.  Their  inclusion  of  the  story  of  Atahaualpa   dropping  the  Bible  to  the  ground  in  front  of  a  Spanish  missionary,  which  give  the   Spanish  a  holy  order  to  massacre  the  Incans,  shows  this  (p.  357).  Pawley  explains  in   the  early  U.S.  colonial  period,  both  boys  and  girls  were  taught  to  read,  but  only  boys   were  taught  to  write  (p.  438).  Street  elaborates,  “…it  becomes  apparent  that  literacy   can  no  longer  be  ,addressed  as  a  neutral  technology,  as  in  the  reductionist   ‘autonomous’  model,  but  is  already  a  social  and  ideological  practice  involving   fundamental  aspects  of  epistemology,  power,  and  politics:  the  acquisition  of  literacy   involves  challenges  to  dominant  discourses  (Lewis),  shifts  in  what  constitutes  the   agenda  of  proper  literacy  (VV  einstein-­‐Shr;  Carmetti;  Shuman)  and  struggles  for   power  and  position  (Rockhilt  Probst).  In  this  sense,  then,  literacy  practices  are   saturated  with  ideology”  (p.  435).     In  the  present  day,  we  see  struggles  of  power  and  class  play  out  in   1   Dworak   standardized  testing  data.  The  No  Child  Left  Behind  Act  (reauthorization  of  the   Literacy  &  Learning  Midterm  

Elementary  and  Secondary  Education  Act  under  President  George  W.  Bush)   mandated  disaggregating  of  NAEP  data,  which  gathers  test  scores  to  focus  on  the   literacy  and  math  achievements,  to  specifically  focus  on  achievements  at  the  Fourth   and  Eighth  grade  levels—the  interims  of  which  are  believed  to  be  critical  growth   stages.  Disaggregating  test  data  was  imperative  so  that  schools  could  no  longer  hide   non-­‐achieving  students  under  an  average.  It  was  intended  to  “shine  the  light”  on   racial  disparities  in  education  and  in  this  way  became  a  late-­‐20th-­‐century  Civil   Rights  struggle.  Brown  and  Black  children  are  consistently  “left  behind”  their  White   peers,  and  many  have  pointed  to  the  lack  of  education  as  a  determining  factor  in   who  will  spend  time  in  prison.  Davidson  and  Goldberg  state,  “Seventy-­‐five  percent   of  those  imprisoned  tend  to  be  illiterate,  earning  under  $10,000  per  year  at  the  time   of  arrest”  (p.  21).  Being  convicted  of  a  felony  is  directly  related  to  one’s   disenfranchisement.  What  makes  this  relationship  between  literacy  and  power  an   extremely  troublesome,  moral  issue  is  the  idea  that  descendant  of  slaves  are  at  great   risk  being  un-­‐emancipated,  and  that  the  U.S.  system  of  education  might  be  playing  a   role  in  that.     How  might  school  libraries  and  teacher-­‐librarians  re-­‐imagine  their  own  role   in  this  mess?  The  readings  from  this  semester  suggest  two  potential  options:   promote  learner  agency  through  subverting  not-­‐learning  and  binding  together  with   the  learner  in  the  contact  zone.  According  to  Kohl,  “Not-­‐learning  and  unlearning  are   both  central  techniques  that  support  changes  of  consciousness  and  help  people   develop  positive  ways  of  thinking  and  speaking  in  opposition  to  dominant  forms  of   oppression.  Not-­‐learning  in  particular  requires  a  strong  will  and  an  ability  to  take   the  kinds  of  pressure  exerted  by  people  whose  power  you  choose  to  question”  (p.   23).  This  is  a  kind  of  agency  for  not-­‐learners,  but  not  the  kind  that  will  allow  them  to   thrive  in  the  current  education  system.  Teacher-­‐librarians  cannot  take  the   traditional  authority/subordinate  strategies  traditionally  found  in  education.   Instead  they  must  re-­‐examine  motives  for  not  learning  and  be  creative  in  subverting   the  subverter.  Kohl  did  this  by  manipulating  the  situation  and  being  shaped  by  the   Literacy  &  Learning  Midterm   2   Dworak  

not-­‐learner’s  challenges  to  be  more  flexible  to  the  not-­‐learner’s  needs.  They  grew  to   become  allies,  bound  together  in  the  pursuit  of  mutual  learning.     Being  bound  together  through  mutual  learning  is  the  condition  of  the  contact   zone.  The  contact  zone  is  “...social  spaces  where  cultures  meet,  clash,  and  grapple   with  each  other,  often  in  contexts  of  highly  asymmetrical  relations  of  power,  such  as   colonialism,  slavery,  or  their  aftermaths  as  they  are  lived  out  in  many  parts  of  the   world  today”  (Wolff,  p.  4).  But  each  interlocutor  is  affected  by  the  experiences  of  the   contact  zone.  If  individuals  walk  away  untouched,  they’re  burying  something  deep   within  themselves.  Teacher-­‐librarians  can  learn  to  recognize  the  literate  arts  of  the   contact  zone—transculturation,  autoethnography,  critique,  collaboration,   bilingualism,  mediation,  vernacular  expression,  parody,  denunciation,  and   imaginary  dialogue  (p.  11)—to  meet  learners  up  close  and  in  the  middle,  rather  than   be  separated  by  the  distance  that  planes  of  power  enforce.        

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 Question  5:  Research  in  Library  and  Information  Science  is  traditionally  based  on  a   “techno-­‐managerial”  model.  How  would  you  describe  that  model  in  practice?  The   techno-­‐managerial  model  tends  to  obscure  many  of  the  issues  related  to  literacy.   How  have  the  readings  illustrated  this  problem?  In  what  ways  might  libraries  and   librarians  modify  their  practice  if  they  began  to  base  their  knowledge  on  alternative   research  paradigms?       Two  scholars  inform  our  understanding  of  the  “techno-­‐managerial”  model  of   library  practice:  Prior  and  Pawley.  We  see  the  techno-­‐managerial  model  in  Prior’s   description  of  structuralism.  Structuralism  develops  the  observational  perspective,   where  scholars  can  transcend  out  of  the  swamp  and  peer  down  from  the  mountain   top.  Prior  states  the  structuralist  purpose  is  to  create  a  hierarchy  of  pieces,  which   Pawley  describes  as  “decontextualization.”  Prior  also  points  to  the  rule-­‐based   outcomes  of  the  structuralist  agenda.  And  we  all  know  how  traditional  library   science  practice  loves  rules.  One  may  quickly  imagine  the  following  signs  being   posted  around  a  library,  past  or  present:  “No  Talking”;  “No  Food”;  “No  Beverages.”   What’s  from  stopping  them  from  posting  a  “No  Patrons”  sign?     Pawley  elaborates  on  the  techno-­‐managerial  model  through  a  discussion  of   the  relationship  between  decontextualization  and  commodification  of  information.   Libraries  once  classified  books  according  to  their  “truthiness”—providing  the   preeminent  position  to  those  tomes  associated  with  God  and  the  dominant  belief   structure.  As  societies  evolved,  information  became  valuable.  Decontextualizing   information  allowed  its  pieces  to  be  allocated  a  certain  price  based  on  its  place  in   the  hierarchy  of  knowledge.  Pawley  states  that  the  commodification  of  information   gave  libraries  a  purpose,  and  organizing  those  pieces  by  the  alphabet  rather  than   pious  prominence  resulted.  It  was  almost  a  natural  evolution.     Stoddard  and  Lee  speak  of  the  librarian  as  a  custodian,  a  “protector  of  books”   (p.  9).  An  authoritarian  role  such  as  this  facilitates  the  storage  of  knowledge  in  tidy   boxes,  it  does  nothing  to  facilitate  literacy.  Pawley  links  this  to  the  Procrustean   model  of  having  one  box  that  each  individual,  no  matter  the  culture  or  background,   must  fit  into—colloquially  known  as  “forcing  a  square  peg  into  a  round  hole.”   Pawley’s  Procrustean  model  has  more  dire  consequences  than  the  more  common   Literacy  &  Learning  Midterm   4   Dworak  

idiom,  however.  In  Pawley’s  imagery,  learners  lose  pieces  of  themselves  through   violent  and  harmful  means.     Holland  and  Haraway  inform  our  understanding  of  what  cultural  identities   might  be  cut  away  through  this  techno-­‐managerial  model,  and  how  librarians  might   adapt  their  thinking  to  promote  a  more  culturally  open  and  communally  driven   practice.  Holland  states,    “From  a  Bakhtinian-­‐socio-­‐historic  perspective,  persons   develop  through  and  around  the  cultural  forms  by  which  they  are  identified,  and   identify  themselves,  in  the  context  of  their  affiliation  or  disaffiliation  with  those   associated  with  those  forms  and  practices”  (p.  33).  Rather  than  forcing  learners  and   their  needs  to  fit  inside  a  box,  this  statement  gives  hope  for  a  more  collectively   driven  approach.  Haraway  recognizes  the  role  of  situated  knowledges  and  our   construction  of  knowledge  through  our  identities,  which  we  can  apply  to  the   librarian-­‐learner  relationship.  “Situated  knowledge  require  that  the  object  of   knowledge  be  pictured  as  an  actor  and  agent,  not  a  screen  or  a  ground  or  a  resource,   never  finally  as  slave  to  the  master  that  closes  off  the  dialetic  in  his  unique  agency   and  authorship”  (p.  198).  Pawley  agrees  with  this  ideal  of  learner  as  consumer  and   producer,  and  that  librarians  can  recognize  this  and  strike  a  balance  to  supplement   their  traditional  techno-­‐managerial  model.       An  example  that  displays  such  efforts  may  be  seen  in  the  efforts  of  the  Read   Write  Library,  formerly  called  the  Chicago  Underground  Library.  This  is  an  effort  for   a  library  to  go  beyond  the  edgy  strategy  of  accepting  folksonomies  into  its   taxonomical  system:  It’s  working  to  gather  community-­‐created  and  curated   collections  within  its  own  digital  library  (readwritelibrary.org).  This  initiative  is  still   in  development,  but  it’s  a  system  with  much  vision  for  a  library  to  engage  its   community  in  shaping  the  identity  of  its  place.  This  solicitation  of  collection   materials  from  the  community  gives  that  community  direct  ownership  over  its   knowledge.      

Literacy  &  Learning  Midterm  

5  

Dworak  

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