Channel 4 – In The Wild / Living On Line

by danhon

Living On Line
Matt Locke, Commissioning Editor, C4 Education

Bronwyn Kunhardt, Director of Citzenship, Microsoft
Rachel O’Connell, Chief Safety Officer, Bebo, exCyberspace Research Unit,
Ewan McIntosh, blogger (edublogs) and social media specialist

Pretty much liveblogging/transcribing this, so apologies for transcription errors, typos, etc.

Matt Locke – joined C4 ten days ago: what we’re talking about today is the future of C4 education; Matt’s going to be hugely important to that.

ML: “never talk after lunch” – everyone’s just had carbs, had fun outside, so expecting third to half of the audience to start slipping into slumber, but hopefully got speakers who’ll make sure you don’t, otherwise I’ll knock something over loudly!

This is hopes and fears: having been involved in media and tech for a while now, have a fantasy of how to proejct technology and social change: two knee jerk responses: Victorian Internet, that look at the way people int he 19th Century talk about the new electrical and telegraph technologies. Hopes and Fears for this session is apt: we project two futures; utopian – where all our problems are solved and we have a perfect society, where robots do all the work; and then there’s the dystopian vision with more drugs, rock and roll and sex and murder.

But what normally happens is more interesting: people use technologies to solve problems in their lives, but as a result of all those small problems being solved, really big things happen. We’re going to explore how young people are using technology to solve problems in their lives and how to draw emerging patterns from that: as interesting and catacylsmic of those of the 19th Century.

First speaker: BK is cofounder of two things: social media consensus (see also panel coverage), not for profit that raises discussion on value of internet and community, and polecat – proves value of social innovation online.

BK: was talking to mum about conference and she’s really proud of the job that I do and she really believes that the itnernet is a great place if you’re a morbidly obese paedophile. ANd you look at the no of children on line: stand up, then sit down if messenger, buddies, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, if child: 50/50.

55% of online teens have profile on myspace/facebook, only 25% of adults do. 39% of kids use internet use things to share things, 26% use to remix and present to friends, 9% of adults do that. Shows that these youngsters, multitaskers, incredibly connected, are shrewdest users of technology. It’s the tourists that have all the levers of power and policy in this domain, they have trouble articulating, understanding. When they’re faced with pressure/concerns, they shoehorn behaviour into our own hopes and fears: attention deficit, plagiarism, but not the whole picture at all even though worthy.

Chris Anderson’s Long Tail: wired kid, vs him x amount of years ago. Kids are using online time to differentiate themselves frfrom their friends. Highly individualistic: commodity and gift ehange. Japanese lessons are on the rise, because kids want to read manga in original language before their friends do. But positive examples are highly anecdotal, but there’s a mass body of evidence of negative behaviour, e.g. paedophilia. Our role as resonsiblit tourists is to respect the natives. This conference is only in the wild to us tourists, it’s not to people who live there. In not creating a meaningful dialogue with kids will also fall on deaf ears about risks if we don’t talk about benefits, too.

Just talking with our cultural baggage won’t work: value online isn’t stated, it’s inferred. The latest research from Pew Internet/American Life: of all internet users in US : 91% use email, 30% use to find religious support, but only 4% use to share adult content. Fascinating given that porn is most succesful industry online. So what do we do?

Tried and tested way of mediating tech and science and culture: find a damn good group of anthropologists. People will help us get rid of our cultural baggage and get behind mask of children present of behaviour online to find out the real value of being there and help us communicate meaningfully with them. Mum will think of internet as less of place for miserable fat kiddy fiddlers and instead of innovative…

ML: DK and Ewan McIntosh: DK not hairy welshman: founder of media snackers: how young people consume and create media across the globe, but trains young people and corporates, and Ewan McIntosh: one of most blogging/blogged person I know, social media networking and participation researcher, and teacher, and he blogs. Helps kids and adults explore learning online.

DK: before we start, I’d like to invite – lots of kids – who’ve been invited!, want you to get up, wander about, and get on stage as well, because you’ve cameras and it’s really crap being out there, but it’s really cool here, get a really good photo. Just walk up and I’ll shut up, we’re just media whores, don’t worry about them in your face, just come up. We’re going to take on what kids’re doing online with new media and technology. Me and Ewan just met today and we’re doing a presentation.

EM: noticed that everyone had ten minutes today, and that you’re 2 people and you get 15 but everyone else gets ten. That’s maths at Channel 4 today. I just tried to bluetooth video to you and you’re not looking at your phones. What we’re going to talk about are those media snackers, those young people, it’s DK’s gig, it’s the best named, titled gig around, describes perfectly the young people here today. Bit of VT.

Presentation: “The world has changed and it’s not turning back!”

Showing 90 second video.

What’s it all about? The world’s changed and it’s not turning back. No set menu of mass media anymore. Print, radio, TV is now push the red button and go interactive, text in your request and let us tell your story. Digital tv, mobile phones, ipods, weblogs, IM, social networks, the media landscape is shifting from linear to many landscapes. Whenever, wherever, and whatever they like. Everything is multi. Multi screen, channel, tasking. Totally connected. Creating as much as they consume and using free sites to display it all. Snackers have access at home, school and in libraries: for free. They play games at home and off the world. Media snackers are young people.

The Youth of Today
16 year olds in 1991: Tim Berners Lee was busy inventing the web. First SMS in ’92. ’95, Amazon and Ebay. Hotmail in ’96. ’97, Pay As You Go mobiles. Napster and Blogger in ’99. Wikipedia and iPod in ’01. Social networking ’02. Skype in ’03. YouTube in ’05. ’07?

EM: Some of you who know me will know why I think 2007 is most important year in millennium. Why? Clue: Was anyone here born in 1991? Yes. They are the reason why this is the most important year of the millennium. They were born in the same year as the internet was born. (The Web). They’re the 16 year olds who right now are considering what college, university, job, and what has school done to prepare them for that? Resounding silence. School will have done some stuff for this internet world. How many have children, or who have children born in 2001? Those kids were born in the year that anyone could start publishing what the hell they wanted in one click. They’re the kids entering primary school in August. Are our primary schools ready for that? Ish.

Something has changed, in a big way. Something has to change. Here is an example why: cup stacking world record video on Youtube. 7.43 seconds; she’s won the cupstacking world record! I want you to watch it again, watch the mother in the back of the shot. Mother does nothing. Everyone laughs. She has no idea what’s going on, has to ask someone. There is a difference between the mother and the child. You think that’s good, there are sites dedicated to cup stacking. And I’ve started to learn how to do it myself. This video takes the biscuit for me.

This is the world record for doubles cup stacking.

Everyone applauds :) You think, I think that’s really cool. It’s going to make me learn to stack cups. Have you any idea how long it takes to learn? Stupid? Waste of time? Useless? This is the important thing: first people: 153k, second video, 25k. These kids are used to having huge audiences, bigger than some channel 4 shows. Normally it’s MS I have a dig at, but…

They’re used to these huge audiences; it’s about communicating, but it is. The amount of video feedback they get, comments, (DK: it’s a conversation, not a consultation – it’s about conversation, they comment, video comment, it’s a loop, not a one-way medium). Someone asked a question earlier on: this tech’s great, but it’s all about people, leave tech to the side, don’t get swamped by it. I’ve never had as many strong relationships, friendships as I’ve had using social networking. I’m sure people with blogs, networks would agree. You might not if you don’t have them: and that’s the difference, that’s why something’s changed.

This is what happens when we channel it into a school. This is from Stephen Heckel. Be very afraid is a programme where teachers just tood back and let the kids do something on a very large scheme – this is in communication. Ravensburn college, took all her IM data, and put it into a database and then turned that databse into a program connected to a contraption behind her: a private garden, when a bit of info received, it quivvered and swayed when it went out. Made a living sculpture out of it. Been channeled, unlike cup stacking, into education, into something adults understand.

DK: Was at 5th world media summit, worked with kids – african kids, created digital journals, 4 day media conference. All over Africa, Mozambique, Burundi, digital journalists. All african kids, never blogged before, only 2 ever held video camera, took 2 hours, then digital journalists. Kids don’t mind failing, know there’s a back button, don’t mind having a go. Can empower these kids to have a go, to show off. They’d never done this before, ina couple hours, they got it, they’re naturals.

That’s just a show off, that I was in Africa.

What one online phenomenon illustrates the power young people now have?

DK: It’s ugly myspace pages. The fact that these kids can create abominations like these, this is what they want them to look like, kids have the power to do this stuff. I’m bemused, but the point is, the kids have the power to do it, they might produce crap, but they’ve got the power to do it. Kids have that power.

One ofthe big reasons kids have the power nowadays. This is a lovely graph from Ofcom UK media literacy audit May 2006. Tweens in blue, teens in red. Shows what they own, have access to.

Internet: halfway down. Internet is 61/67%. Convergence tech: mobile that’s a digital camera, mp3 player, video camera, DAB player, whatever. Convergence of tech. It’s going to explode, with one piece of hardware, it’ll do it all. That graph will be one, and it’ll be 86%+. Kids have this stuff.

EM: Tech is everywhere, this is my phone, I can immediately take a photo of you and put you on my blog so everyone can see. Let’s just do that. Go to edublogs.com and you’ll see it on my photo account.

77% of gamers are married.

What’s that got to do with the price of cheese? What it’s got to do is gaming consoles are the number one thing that kids like to have, play on. But they’re also incredibly powerful internet tools. The other thing about games is that they’re incredibly powerful for learning. The thing abotu the guardian article Pat referred to, it said that gaming was “a more complciated matter” it’s a shame we can’t control it as much. We want to enter this point: games, internet capability offer: levelling up, cheat sheets – collaboration, encouragement, improvement, validation – ideas employed. They take 200 hours to complete, they take hundreds of levels, they share cheat sheets, because it’s collaboration, they have to trade answers. THAT’S HOW WE LEARN! Shakespeare: you need a cheat sheet to understand what the hell he’s on about. Gaming: you get encouragement, you get comments, you get people saying: are you sure, why not try this? You can see how well you’ve done, where you’ve got to go next. Using games, using the internet, the way kids use it, is employing their ideas to learn better. It’s a very simple phrase to say, but it’s incredibly complex for teachers to take on.

I think it’s possible. I’m fed up saying in tomorrow’s education, in tomorrow’s classroom. I’m seeing it in classrooms already. I’m just waiting for everyone else to get it.

ML: Last speaker: Rachel O’Connor, set up forensic, investigative science, pan-european research projects, designed programmes for educatiors: currently, chief safety officer, Bebo.com.

RO’C: Going to start with video: bebo safety video. Showing picture on billboard that keeps reappearing as people take it down. “Once you post an image online, you can’t take it online. Anyone can see it. Family, friends. Anyone. Remember: think before you post.”

My background is forensic psychology, investigating criminal acrtivity ont he internet. However, I’m extremely passionate about social networking, it’s an extraordinary information revolutoin that these guys have demonstrated to us. Let me take you through: I’ve changed presentation slightly. Going to talk about safety and how come there’s so much about the scary stuff, but hardly ever journalists interested in positive stuff.

What I’m going to raise today: users have to be 13 years old to go on social networking sites. But our safety, advice needs to start when they sit down at a computer. Seeing as we had some slides with myspace, I’m going to show you Bebo. It’s a community that lets you expres yourself, allows you to share moments of your life with your friends. You can put your photos up, your blogs, communicating, sharing, finding out about other people, it’s incredibly immersive, here’s an example of a profile with interchangeable modules. You present who you are and what you’re about that day. You can have polls, a blog, you can choose/create, this is a paradigm shift, never before has the power to create, disseminate, criticse, receivce, been in the hands of people so young. It is an extraordinary so young.

One important caveat: apart form the audience here, generally people over 35 are unaware of the massive change taking place. bebo has 31m users, huge in ireland, such an amazing tool because not just about talking to friends, but to people all over the world, there’s an irish diaspora over the world. We were the number 1 google search term in 06. 8m+ uk internet users, bebo users have 41 average minutes per user per day, 804 monthly mintues uk users spend on bebo, vs 495 on myspace. The i-generation, only known the internet, only known a world with the internet, for adults, the older generation, it’s hard to understand, hard to appreciate being connected all the time, having access to information all the time, creating a collaborative environment. The Gov’s e-strategy, the silver bullet is having kids have e-portfolios, collaborative learning environments. But those things are happening on sites like Bebo, changes in patterns of media consumption, creation and dissemination.

One of the ideas that we’re pushing at Bebo, an extrodinary postiive behaviours on bebo – connections between parents who have children with autism, that grass roots level to end world poverty organisations. How do we move social networking to the next chapter? It’s difficult to discover all those networks, people, how do we create a central hub for people to connect their networks with other networks and create super networks so that young people, young adults have the opportunity to affect the world around them – tap into activism, the need to support other people. Participation, innovation – promoting inclusion, and how do we measure the positive impact? Bebo Be One is one mechanism: be inspired, be cause, be enriched, be well. Be inspired: showcase your talents, slam poets, like rap – it’s amazing, to get theatre space is difficult. Be enriched; discovering career paths, a fulfilling life, etc.

We’re getting graphic designers, increased opportunity for creativity and innovation. In Be Well, 1 in 6 children have an emotional issue at some point in their lives, a psychological issue in their lives, we’re giving access to a wellbeing centre, working with organisations to provide them with emotional support. We need to take a holistic approach of keeping people safe online – it’s about understanding the whole person from a holistic point of view – why are they vulnerable? Because some big thing is happening in their lives? Having a holistic approach to ensure peoples’ wellbeing certainly minimises vulnerability to risks.

Be Enriched; work ethic not’s going to match when people leave school – why not start a dialogue? E-Citizenship is something that we’re pushing as part of Be Cause – undersatnding roles and responsibilities in society. How to get that dialogue started? Opportunity to listen to lots of views to be heard by many to be heard.

Bebo Safety and Content and Moderation Policies
We’re trying to minimise inappropriate content and inappropriate contact. Risks people are concerned about: porn, inappropriate and contact from teens bullying other teens, bullying teachers. How are we trying to minimise those risks: there’s a Home Office group trying to work out how to minimise those risks, since June, putting best practice guidelines together, relationships with police, we’re implementing all of those best practice guidelines. Images are reviewed with a technical solutions when they’re uploaded, anything flagged inappropriate are viewed by humans, and we’re adhering to a self-regulation model. If anyone wants any more information abotu actual safety features, all profiles are private by default, limited search, report abuse links on every page. All of this will become more complex as we move into a mobile environment. We also provide tools that enable user moderation, pre-screening of comments, deleting comments and report abuse link.

Bebo be One is the way Bebo will differentiate itself and I would be eager to get any feedback from you guys: contact rachel@bebo.com.

Q&A session:

Q: Graham Duncan from Caspian Learning. Totally understand need and desire to understand what young people are doing with tech, and with games tech. But wonder if the language we’re using in sessions like this, and whether language reinforces differences. But then Secondlife, age goes up to mid 30s, WoW, Runescape gets older, phrases of “media savvy generation”, stop defining it by age, collaborating sharing, creating, that could bring generations together.

EM: I have a thing with language as well, I don’t like confusing people, and at the same time, I like calling things what they’re called. At 6am at Edinburgh airport, the daily telegraph jumped out at me, “Free web page with the daily webpage – 5 minute web page” – this is a selling point for them, but anyone’s been able to make a webpage in 5 minutes, and it’s a blog. And on page 2, it’s about blogs, I think that’s what it’s about. I think it’s a shame they needed to . The younger generation has never gone back to the older generation, the older generation has always had to learn. Immigrants need to learn the language of the natives.

R’OC: Would talk to parents, increase undersatnding of what kids are doing online. Fascinated to have assumptions shifted because I would ahve to give them parent style content and not sure if they wanted it in a handbook, probably want it in hand, maybe not want to look at a video on the itnernet, stunned: give us the videos, give it to us bitesize, in a chunk, maybe a bit of help, that’s all we need. I agree with your point, we need ot be careful about distinctions and drawing lines – one group didn’t have laptops/computers at home, socio-econimically deprived home, they go to shopping centre/library and if you put a button like that, we’ll click on it. We need to empower people so they feel enabled and not assume they’re not going to do it in the first place.

Q: Elizabeth from the Roundhouse: wanted to ask you about games, describe value – educational value of gaming. There’s a gender discrepancy between engagement in games that I’ve observed. Not so much with social networking spaces. What I’ve seen is that young people enjoy those a lot. Consuming/creating games, we’ve run lots of gaming workshops at the roundshops.

EM: Interesting is that Brain training attracts girls, associate with being cool, 12-13 year old boys don’t like it. 13 year old boys love it because if they play it on the same machine they can compete against one another. They can do anythinng, spelling, etc. They can use wifi to play against each other. Games depend on how they’re exploited.

(Get kind of hijacked here into talking about boys games and girls games, about Perplex City, our gender split (50/50 and I wouldn’t be suprised if it were 60/40, and making the point that “games” aren’t just for boys, it’s like asking “do boys like television more?” – games are a media platform – boys and girls like tv, there are tv shows that boys like, shows that girls like, and shows that both like. Games are exactly the same. They’re just media)

Q: Tim from Newsround on CBBC: age, will it ever trickle down to younger ages?

BK: Could be as simple as audience penetration: the more 8 year olds who have access – have you seen Club Penguin and increasingly popular – they’re a trailing demographic – like silver surfers.

DK: You referenced media device ownership – some of those questions weren’t asked 5 years ago, they weren’t a point to ask: kids didn’t even have mobile phones back then, in 5 years time, it’s trickling down in terms of device ownership and I was going to make a point about was “Bring John Craven back!”

RO’C: Data bundles are coming down, devices getting cheaper, that’s going to fundamentally change how early kids get on the itnernet.

Q: Why does Bebo start at 13?

RO’C: Under US COPA legislation, you need parental permission before then.

Q: Watching allt hese people presenting, the environments you’re talking about are fascinating. As I was listening/watching, I was seeing people taking photos, texting, blogging. I was talking to 8 year olds, they had their DSs, eyes on tv, texting, I was being multiscreened. For a true exchange of meaning, can you not guarantee we’re decimating really important skills?

BK: What’s an authentic conversation when meaning is being exchanged: why does it have to be two people face to face in deep conversation? Kids are quick, their synapses are fast.

Q: Can you guarantee that that’s gthe case? That’s a risk, that we’re causing some potential damage to a person’s ability to concentrate. Something we should bear in mind in our design to keep existing skills.

DK: Through training: I say that nothing beats face to face. Tech, new media, augments communication, it’s as simple as that. Without verbalisation, people speak different ways.

EM: The stuff that was on inside institutions, schools, that what’s going on in schools is particularly good (assumptions). I’ve sat in a 50 minute lesson where a teacher spoke for 42 minutes – most teachers talk too much and kids don’t listen too much. Sesame Street research – as a research project. When something interest’s on, then I’ll come back to it. For me, it’s useful to log things as I go, to take things as I go.