Digital Democracy – The tools transforming political engagement

Democratic institutions today look much as they have done for decades, if not centuries. The Houses of Parliament, the US Congress, and some of the West’s oldest parliaments are largely untouched by successive waves of new technology. We still live in a world where debates require speakers to be physically present, there is little use of digital information and data sharing during parliamentary sessions, and where UK MPs vote by walking through corridors. The UK Parliament building, in particular, is conspicuous for the absence of screens, good internet connectivity and the other IT infrastructure which would enable a 21st century working environment comparable to the offices of almost any modern business.

At the same time almost every other sphere of life – finance, tourism, shopping, work and our social relationships – has been dramatically transformed by the rise of new information and communication tools, particularly social media or by the opportunities opened through increased access to and use of data, or novel approaches to solving problems, such as via crowdsourcing or the rise of the sharing economy.

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Posted in Democracy, Digital citizenship, Digital culture, Digital democracy | Tagged , , ,

The Ethics of Algorithms: Mapping the debate

In information societies, operations, decisions and choices previously left to humans are increasingly delegated to algorithms, which may advise, if not decide, about how data should be interpreted and what actions should be taken as a result. More and more often, algorithms mediate social processes, business transactions, governmental decisions, and how we perceive, understand, and interact among ourselves and with the environment. Gaps between the design and operation of algorithms and our understanding of their ethical implications can have severe consequences affecting individuals as well as groups and whole societies. This paper makes three contributions to clarify the ethical importance of algorithmic mediation. It provides a prescriptive map to organise the debate. It reviews the current discussion of ethical aspects of algorithms. And it assesses the available literature in order to identify areas requiring further work to develop the ethics of algorithms.

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Posted in Algorithms, Big data, Ethics | Tagged , ,

The New Mobile Learning Landscape

Only a few years ago mobile was thought to be a realm solely populated by Millennials. But this is rapidly changing, and the new mobile landscape is ripe for application across all demographics. Millennials, those ages 18-34, only a few years ago had the largest cell phone use by far, and showed a willingness to ditch traditional internet-accessible devices such as desktops and laptops for the newer handheld technology. As a result it was thought that the use of mobile learning was suited as a specialized tool to reach those who had excluded themselves from traditional forms of learning and considered them outdated. But the new mobile landscape, and thus the mobile learning environment, is ripe for application across all demographics.

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Posted in Mobile learning | Tagged

The Internet Has Become the External Hard Drive for Our Memories

For millennia humans have relied on one another to recall the minutiae of our daily goings-on. Now we rely on “the cloud”—and it is changing how we perceive and remember the world around us. Remembering is traditionally a social enterprise. One person knows how to cook a turkey. A partner recalls how to fix the leak in the sink. The Internet changes everything. With nearly ubiquitous online access, many people may first perform a smartphone search rather than calling a friend. Being online all the time changes the subjective sense of self as borders between personal memories and information distributed across the Internet start to blur.

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Posted in Brain, Internet, Memory | Tagged , ,

College transformed

Higher education leaders today confront a bevy of criticisms ranging from worsening affordability persistent socioeconomic disparities to a lack of relevance in the ever-changing economy. Institutions by internal challenges and external pressures. Business models are cracking under enormous pressure appropriations decline and net tuition growth wanes. Business as usual simply can’t continue.

The nature of competition in higher education is changing—presenting both challenges and opportunities. For decades—centuries, even—higher education has been on a continuous trajectory of developing more complex and comprehensive institutions to build and disseminate knowledge and educate students. But technology is enabling a new, disruptive path: simpler, more affordable, more accessible educational experiences, built in alignment to the needs of the workforce. Leaders can look to examples of institutions that are successfully innovating in the new environment, some along this new disruptive path, and others by incorporating disruptive technologies to move forward along the traditional trajectory:

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Posted in Higher education, ICT, Innovation, Pedagogy | Tagged , , ,

CORE and the Commons: Digital Scholarship, Collaboration, and Open Access in the Humanities

This week it was reported that Berlin-based ResearchGate, a social networking site designed for scientists to share research, received $52.6m in investment funds from a variety of sources, including BIll Gates (previous investor), Goldman Sachs, and The Wellcome Trust. This news is another development in the a continuing saga and conversation surrounding commercial services (i.e., ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Mendeley) and the companies that own them, managing the scholarly profiles and content of researchers. While ResearchGate promotes a mission of connecting “the world of science and make research open to all,” open access advocates and those working in scholarly communications are quick to point out that these platforms are not open access repositories.

In a blog post from 2015, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association (MLA), pointed out academia.edu, for example, is in no way affiliated with an academic institution despite the .edu domain (they obtained the address prior to the 2001 restrictions). “This does not imply anything necessarily negative about the network’s model or intent,” Fitzpatrick said, “but it does make clear that there are a limited number of options for the network’s future: at some point, it will be required to turn a profit, or it will be sold for parts, or it will shut down.”

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Posted in Academic, Networks | Tagged ,

Horizon Report 2017 – Higher Education Edition

What is on the five-year horizon for higher education institutions? Which trends and technology developments will drive educational change? What are the critical challenges and how can we strategize solutions? These questions regarding technology adoption and educational change steered the discussions of 78 experts to produce the NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition, in partnership with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This NMC Horizon Report series charts the five-year impact of innovative practices and technologies for higher education across the globe. With more than 15 years of research and publications, the NMC Horizon Project can be regarded as education’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in educational technology profiled in this report are poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education. The three sections of this report constitute a reference and technology planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. These top 10 highlights capture the big picture themes of educational change that underpin the 18 topics:

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Read also: Challenges for Technology in Higher Education in 2017

Posted in Higher education, ICT, Technology | Tagged , ,

The Internet as Quantitative Social Science Platform

With the large-scale penetration of the internet, for the first time, humanity has become linked by a single, open, communications platform. Harnessing this fact, we report insights arising from a unified internet activity and location dataset of an unparalleled scope and accuracy drawn from over a trillion (1.5×1012) observations of end-user internet connections, with temporal resolution of just 15min over 2006-2012. We first apply this dataset to the expansion of the internet itself over 1,647 urban agglomerations globally. We find that unique IP per capita counts reach saturation at approximately one IP per three people, and take, on average, 16.1 years to achieve; eclipsing the estimated 100- and 60- year saturation times for steam-power and electrification respectively. Next, we use intra-diurnal internet activity features to up-scale traditional over-night sleep observations, producing the first global estimate of over-night sleep duration in 645 cities over 7 years. We find statistically significant variation between continental, national and regional sleep durations including some evidence of global sleep duration convergence. Finally, we estimate the relationship between internet concentration and economic outcomes in 411 OECD regions and find that the internet’s expansion is associated with negative or positive productivity gains, depending strongly on sectoral considerations. To our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind to use online/offline activity of the entire internet to infer social science insights, demonstrating the unparalleled potential of the internet as a social data-science platform.

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Posted in Internet, Social sciences | Tagged ,

From remote-controlled to Self-controlled Citizens

The digital revolution will make data abundant and cheap. Moving from a time of darkness into a digital age with information overload, we will need suitable filters. However, those who build these filters will determine what we see. This creates possibilities to influence people’s decisions such that they become remotely controlled rather than make their decisions on their own. Since omnibenevolent rule cannot be supposed and top-down control is flawed for several reasons, another approach is needed. It can be found with distributed control, collective intelligence and participation. “Nervousnet” will be presented as a feasible specimen of a Citizen Web.

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Posted in Citizens, Collective intelligence, Distributed computing, Distributed control | Tagged , , ,

Using online Technology to beat Hate

Hate is brewing in society, and its expression through online speech is real and corrosive. Internet companies and NGOs are now working with the EU to fight back. We all know people who are the victims of hate crimes and hate speech. They are people of colour. Perhaps from another country or ethnicity. Or with a distinctive religion. Maybe they are disabled people, or people who are gay or lesbian. Whoever they are, they are blameless people attacked for just being different. It is easy to assume that as time goes by we become smarter, kinder, and more decent to one another, but evidence around us today suggests otherwise. Hate is still a powerful political force, and sometimes even a winning one.

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Read also: Facing Facts

Posted in Crime, Hate, Online technology | Tagged , ,