Friday, March 15, 2013

NMN Collective Intelligence - Assignment 2

  image shared by Jeannette Jackson

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The Philippino prisoners represent community/collective action that Henry Jenkins describes that we have seen spread rapidly on sites like Youtube. The power of reforming criminals by using Youtube as a medium seems very extraordinary to me. In a positive and proactive approach to keeping the prisoners physically and mentally fit, the the prison chief got the inmates to collectively dance to a number of famous songs replicating the dance moves from the artists videos. Although the prisoners are identified only by numbers, and they perform as a mob, essentially foregoing their identity ,they are well known (collectively) on an international scale, juxtaposing their anonymity. The prison chief posted their first video online, ("Thriller") in 2007, and since then they have had over 50 million views. That success has led to more videos being made and posted and an international following.

You can watch the video here:

The Idle No More movement also represents the power of smartmobs. A recent movement intended to protect Canadian aboriginal sovereignty and land claims, the use of social media has brought national attention to the cause. As Idle No More utilizes social media through Facebook, text messages, and other platforms, it has gained more and more protesters, and picked up steam in organized gatherings. The movement began with a hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence who coordinated her actions through social media platforms. Rheingold talks about accessibility to the masses as people move from fixed desktop computers to devices that are smaller, and handheld, influencing the ability to assemble quickly and without immediate police intervention. It is an example of how we are using social media tools outside of the realm of novelty.

Read more about the Idle No More movement at:

Jeannette Jackson's image spoke to me mostly through her title. Her "Wordle" creates a tangible image of our activity within new media, and relates directly to our participatory literacy. The words in the image form a continuous connection similar to hyper text, and reinforcing our need to be transliterate in new media. I found that it reflected Jenkins new media skills and the necessary competencies that a person requires to be a successful digital learner in the 21st century.

Works Cited:

Jackson, Jeannette. Pondering on Participatory Culture and Digital Literacy. Digital image. Jeannette's Ponderings. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

News, CBC. "9 Questions about Idle No More." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 05 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Villason, Clee. Philippines Dancing Inmates. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.


  1. Gail,I am not one of the 52.4 million people who have not seen this video. So, thanks for sharing this entertaining example. It inspired me to learn more. With a Google search I learned the prisoners are in a maximum security prison – so serious offences. The warden implemented a dance program for fitness in 2007. What a cool prison program. I think it is a wonderful way to rehabilitate constructively. I am sure the prisoners take pride in their viral recognition. I noticed they have a new one for Gangnam Style which inspired a the broadway production “Prison Dancer” for the New York Musical Theatre Fesitval! In my mind it is the internet being used constructively – building esteem for the inmates in terms of its viral recognition, inspiring ideas in other correctional facilities and even as the seed of an idea to inspire other creative works. Some people may have ethical concerns – the people dancing have raped, murdered, and robbed, I might take exception to their “fame” if I had been personally impacted by one of them.

    The Idle No More Movement is also an excellent timely example. I used this news event in my PR class and insisted my students learn more about it from a community/communications strategy perspective. The more awareness one has about the concerns at the heart of this movement (Bill C-45)– the more you realize that aboriginal groups and frankly all Canadians have very good reason to get behind this movement. The challenge has been to sustain the momentum of this collective action, the movement is still ongoing because the issues behind it are and they are important issues. It is a great example of how the media really sets the agenda in deciding what gets attention in the media and how it gets covered.

    Jeannette Jackson looks to have a very interesting and relevant blog, she’s getting cutting edge thinking in the Educational Technology graduate program. This is a great resource. I wish all my kids instructors would dive into learning and applying these skill sets in the classroom. Henry Jenkin’s would be happy – he could use this Wordle in one of his presentations. Seriously, I recall him in a YouTube video where he uses a slide (showing his image and key messages) that he admits someone else has created and put on Google. He says it was better than his so he started using it. Practicing what he preaches – sharing and building on ideas.

    1. Teresa, I would hope that Jenkins could make use of this "Wordle". It would support the practices that he's teaching especially if he re-mixed it! I found myself really contemplating using Jeannette Jackson's work because it is not academic. However, her work is a piece of collective intelligence; composed, organized, shared by students also in a similar field of study. Her "Wordle" appears to reflect ways in which our behavior in new media are connecting us. Interestingly her "Wordle" did not include Aarseth's elements of transliteracy (reading, writing, and stability), or Jenkins list of transliterate skills based on participatory literacy. Held up to an academic model of participatory literacy it may not be as developed as Jenkins or Aarseth, however, I find that it is a reflection and navigation tool of my own behavior and collective behavior that we have engaged in within this class.

      The Idle No More Movement and the role of new media are extremely timely. I think back to the Oka crisis in Quebec as one of the most memorable protests of Aboriginal Canadians opposing the Canadian government. News media reported on the activity that took place, and it seems in retrospect, there were very few voices heard from the Aboriginal community until after the fact, (maybe in a CBC documentary or an anniversary special). A collective voice is emerging as Aboriginal communities are spreading their messages on a variety of social media platforms. The use of portable devices to mobilize and protest, simultaneously, and spontaneously by First Nations seems to be catching the public and law enforcement off guard. It further seems to be heating up tensions as we have not seen a collective action from First Nations groups on a national level taking place like this before. The politics of this issue are interesting and complex, however, the mobilization of First Nations people to protest is really interesting. I have had some great discussions in my Social Studies classes, and asked my students how British rule India would have responded to Gandhi if social media were present. Funny to hear their responses (their memes were even funnier!). One thing I contemplate on smart mobs and collective action is how we will see our next great leader emerge? With so much collective action, and mob mentality adopting hooliganism, how will we know when a true movement, by a true leader is worth rallying behind. Will there be another Gandhi, MLK, JFK, Mandela or Mother Teresa that we can identify. Will they emerge from a social media platform, or will they be buried by it? Or will the rise of the world's most influential people still be found on YouTube and chased by teen aged girls?

  2. Thanks Gail-Ann. Fun examples. I remember when that clip was spreading virally across the web - while most people were thoroughly amused and delighted by it, a few did frown on it for the exact reason Teresa mentioned. It was just so unusual to see a meme like this one rise to the surface. Flash dances in general are great examples of smart mobs - the notion that people practice dance moves via a Youtube clip, and then come together disturb, perform, and film it. It's almost like a pop-up, creative collaboration.

    Social tools and communication technologies certainly make it easier for advocacy groups like Idle No More to organize, come together, and make a statement. I've been seeing more of the hashtag (#idlenomore) surface on Twitter, which is helping spread and echo stories from the media.

    Also really like your third example of Wordle. I've used it as a tool many times (especially when I can't find an appropriate graphic for a presentation). I didn't think of this as an example of participatory literacy before - but it does relate well and there is an interaction there between users and the system that generates your customized graphic.

    Interesting how we all choose very different examples for this assignment!

    1. Sylvia, I really liked this mob dance as well. I had seen it a few years ago, and thought about how remarkable it was not just as a rehabilitation tool, but as a collective action. I became more exposed to flash mobs after viewing this video, so I wasn't sure who came first in this chicken/egg scenario. The dance was fun to watch, but how it blew up as a viral video was really cool to see, and the reason I selected it for this assignment. Obviously there is a community of followers on the internet that have inspired the prison to continue to dance and make more videos. Collective action in motion I guess!