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Stefani Relles

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Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Aca-Fan

By Stefani Relles

Two weeks ago, I announced the “Thursday is TechDay” objective of developing an active 21st Century Scholar blogroll. This week, I spool out the first blogger on our register. As a reminder, a blogroll is a list of other blogs that a blogger (or collaborative blog such as 21st Century Scholar) recommends by providing links, usually in the sidebar. Minimally, the purpose of the blogroll is an acknowledgement of community. It’s a neighborly gesture, but it’s also an opportunity to stimulate cyber relationships between bloggers and readers, especially when one or both blog’s “stream” each other’s content (as we are doing today).

So. With that, I am pleased to introduce to the 21st Century Scholar audience, “Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins.”

In a more formal scholarly context, this blogger’s academic credentials might be paramount to his initiation, but in our blogroll capacity, I am placing principles before personalities, hence if you’d like to read a conventional bio, you’ll find one here or here. Otherwise, know that an “aca-fan” is an academic and a fanatic. According to the wiki Fanlore: “An aca-fan (plural: aca-fen) or scholar-fan is an academic who identifies as a fan.” As such, the aca-fan perspective is participant-observer-esque in it’s dualist insider/outsider status. The object of fandom for this aca-blogger is all things media related (with an intrinsic “aca” twist, of course). The blog focuses primarily on culture and cultural practices surrounding digital communications technologies. It’s about people, not gadgets, and Jenkins regularly features prominent media and education thinkers either via interviews or excerpts. It’s a hub of informal conversations about the impact of digital media while it’s happening. But don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself:

Via:

“The following text was written as part of the original draft for the MacArthur white paper about educating young people for a participatory culture. It was cut due to length considerations but it provides useful background for people reading the  report.

Most often, when people are asked to describe the current media landscape, they respond by making an inventory of tools and technologies. Our focus should be not on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices. Rather than listing tools, we need to understand the underlying logic shaping our current moment of media in transition. These properties cut across different media platforms and different cultural communities: they suggest something of the way we live in relation to media today. Understanding the nature of our relationship with media is central to any attempt to develop a curriculum that might foster the skills and competencies needed to engage within participatory culture.

The Contemporary Media Landscape is:

1. Innovative. We are the midst of a period of prolonged and profound technological change. New media are created, dispersed, adopted, adapted, and absorbed into the culture at dramatic rates. It is certainly possible to identify previous “revolutions” in communication. The shift from orality to literacy, the rise of print culture, and the emergence of modern mass media in the late 19th and early 20th century each represent important paradigm shifts in the way we communicated our ideas. In each case, a burst of technological change was followed by a period of slow adjustment. If, as Marshall McLuhan (1969) has suggested, “media are often put out before they are thought out,” then there was ample time to think through the impact of one media before another was introduced. As historians and literary scholars have long noted, the explosion of new technologies at the end of the 19th century sparked a period of profound self-consciousness which we now call modernism. Modernism impacted all existing institutions, reshaped all modes of artistic expression, and sparked a series of intellectual breakthroughs whose impact is still being felt today. If anything, the rate of technological and cultural change has accelerated as we have moved through the 20th century and shows no signs of slowing down as we enter the 21st century. The turnover of technologies is rapid; the economic fallout cataclysmic; and the cultural impact unpredictable.”

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Want to recommend a blog for the 21st Century blogroll? Your comments and ideas will be very much appreciated.

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