Just for the likes?

Using Facebook and Twitter today, like we do these days, liking and sharing and retweeting, it again came to me how complex these basic actions actually, fundamentally are. We click an update to express support, to say “me too”, or just to send a social presence (phatic) style of update: our connection is still working. I am reading what you are saying. In some cases a like or retweet is an endorsement, sometimes not. Sometimes we spread the word because we cannot get our mind around a particular issue or piece of news: could some of you take a look at this, and say if this makes any sense, or not? Many of shared and circulated items are there just for the joke. Tension release and laughing together is important for creating feeling of community.

At the same time, much of these nuances go unnoticed. We just judge the communicative situation, evaluate our social contexts, possibly tweak a bit the distribution range (a closed group, just the closest friends, just the family, all friends, public, etc.) – and then go with the flow. Media is social and our social world is media these days. However, I think it would help to teach, educate and engage more in discussion about “algorithmic literacy”: about our strategies and abilities to read the system that supports, delimits and underlies our media-merged existence today.

This is just a short, late-night note, but I spent a minute trying to find a good primer to contemporary, social media and games related algorithmic literacy, and could not find one. Maybe you can point me to relevant direction? (Blog comments are closed, but my contact details in all leading platforms are readily available.) There are plenty of studies that focus on media literacy, computer literacy, even some on game literacy – but algorithmic literacy focused studies and popular presentations are apparently still harder to come by.

What I mean by everyday algorithmic literacy relates to, for example, how people may strategically follow, like or access social media updates of others, in order to tweak their automated news stream or filter settings: by communicating to the system that I am interested in messages of certain topics, or coming from certain persons, groups or organisations, I am able to influence how my “social graph” develops – until the system logic is again changed, of course. I am not sure how common such “theorycrafting of social media” is these days, but I suspect that pretty much everyone who actively uses these systems instinctively develops some silent knowledge about how their actions produce consequences in their info-sphere, or communicative spaces. Getting that discussion into more self-aware and public ground would be useful. I am sure there are several smart people and teams on social data analysis and information or games literacy fields, at least, who must have much to say on this topic.

Sanna Malinen’s PhD defence

2016-01-08 14.31.49Today researcher Sanna Malinen defended her PhD thesis in the University of Tampere. The opponent in the public defence was professor Pekka Räsänen from the University of Turku, professor Frans Mäyrä acted as the custos. The abstract and download link to the full, PDF version of the dissertation, titled Sociability and Sense of Community among Users of Online Services, are below:

The dissertation explores a current and popular phenomenon referred to as ‘online communities’ from both theoretical and empirical viewpoints. Online communities are discussed in the context of a wider development in social life from small geography-based units to large and dispersed social networks, which can be mediated by technology. In this study, online communities are understood as fluid objects that are created and maintained through users’ social interactions and actual social practices. Therefore, they are not stable and fixed groups but, instead, a social process that transforms over time.
The empirical portion of this work illustrates the multifaceted nature of the research subject and consists of five case studies exploring the usage of software intended for various purposes: an online photo-sharing service, an online exercise diary, online auctions, and social-media applications for smartphones. In addition, there is a research article consisting of a literature review that synthesise research into online community participation conducted over the past 12 years. The findings from the empirical sub-studies show that community-evocative feelings and behaviors can emerge within various online settings, including dispersed networks and content-oriented sites focusing on artefacts that users produce, such as photographs. However, users can have very different orientations with respect to their interest in social networking and community-building within the context of the same site. The literature review shows that the majority of previous research on user participation has focused on the quantity of their activity. Instead of dividing users into active and passive on the basis of the amount of content they produce, research should acknowledge that there is greater variety in the ways of participating and belonging to an online community.
The dissertation vividly illustrates that online communities are a constantly changing and developing phenomenon. In recent years, the most notable technological changes have been the surge in popularity of large-scale social network sites and increased usage of the Internet via mobile devices. In order for the concept of community to be applied in description of online sociability within current technological settings, the meaning of this term and the criteria for community needs to be rethought.

The full dissertation: http://tampub.uta.fi/handle/10024/98292.

Master’s Degree Programme in Internet and Game Studies

Note that there are still a few days left to apply to study in our Games and Internet Studies master’s degree programme, see:

http://gamelab.uta.fi

Master’s Degree Programme in Internet and Game Studies (120 ECTS credits)

Programme: Internet and Game Studies

Specialization: Information Studies and Interactive Media

Admission criteria in 2015

Please see the UTA Admissions website for the IGS admission criteria.

Programme profile

The programme aims to provide an in-depth view to the fundamental character and development of games and Internet. Games have grown into an important form of culture and human interaction, expanding from entertainment to other areas of life. Internet and social media form an increasingly vital part of communication, social life and distribution of media and services.

The programme is particularly targeted at the questions of analysis, design and application of online services and digital games from user- and culturally focused perspectives. The programme directs students to develop academic skills like critical thinking, scientific writing and carrying out research projects while encouraging active and comprehensive involvement with the practical processes and phenomena related to games and Internet.

The programme is offered by the School of Information Sciences. The school has high profile research groups that are focused on Internet and game studies. There has also been a long history of education in hypermedia and in information studies and interactive media that form the basis of this degree programme.

Graduates’ jobs

Graduates typically combine the skills and knowledge derived from the programme with studies and proficiencies that enable them to work as experts of games and Internet in various professional roles, in research, in public sector as well as in industry. The need for knowledgeable workforce is growing in the fields related to games and interactive media, but the students should adopt an active attitude in fashioning their own specific area of expertise and professional profile.

The possible jobs of graduates include researchers, developers, critics and specialists working with the interpretation, evaluation or implementation of games and social media.

The degree also gives a strong basis for and eligibility to take Doctoral studies in the field (available at UTA).

Structure of studies

80 ECTS of advanced studies including the Master’s thesis, 40 ECTS of other studies (including language and complementing studies).

Studies

Studies consist of lectures and seminars on theoretical and methodological questions, and supervised individual research for a Master´s thesis. Studies require active attendance and participation in classes. Some of the course units are organised only once during the programme period. Teaching takes place during daytime and is on-campus contact teaching.

Complementing studies may be required depending on the student’s previous studies.

Language studies in Finnish and English must be included in the programme studies.

With the long tradition of academic freedom at the University of Tampere, students are free to include in their programme studies some course units also in other fields than their specialization, thus enabling a multidisciplinary degree.

Usually there is no need to buy any course books.

The programme requires approximately two years of full-time studies.

Degree awarded

The degree awarded is the Master of Science degree. The degree is a second cycle degree; for more information on Finnish degrees, please see the page on Degrees.

Contact information

If you have questions concerning the admission requirements, study related issues, or programme specific enclosures, please contact the SIS admissions contact person, Ms Kirsi Tuominen.

Applications open for Master’s Degree Programme in Internet and Game Studies

The application round for the master’s degree programmes given in English at the University of Tampere is now open. The application deadline is 31 January 2014. One of the open programmes is the Master’s Degree programme in  Internet and Game Studies; you can find more information about it from here: http://www.uta.fi/sis/en/iti/mastersprogramme/igs.html.

Information on the master programmes and on how to apply is available at http://www.uta.fi/admissions/degreeprog/applying.html.

More information from Ms. Kirsi Tuominen http://www.uta.fi/sis/yhteystiedot/henkilokunta/kirsimarjatuominen.html.