Google and I have grown (separately) since January 2019

I walked into PUB802 expecting to learn to code and walk away with being able to comprehend the backend working of technological magic. However, this class helped me gather vocabulary about publishing technologies and create opinions about the implications of feudalism on the internet.

 

I always figured there was lots going on at the back of the internet, but it was always a vague curiosity and not something I actively tried to figure out. This course helped me answer many random unanswered questions while equipping me with the vocabulary and confidence to speak about technology.
I never had the opportunity to actively try and figure out how digital technologies evolved so quickly and entered seamlessly into our lives. The front end of technology (hardware, the advertising of products) is so glamorous, flashy and attractive that, growing up, I never really thought it was important to keep up with the back end advances in the field.

The physicality of all things internet was an eye-opener: we, as a generation, use the internet as a common everyday feature without most of us diving into the back end working and logistics. I feel it is like using a refrigerator: very few people actually go out and learn how one works and yet it is an absolute necessity in this time and age.

There were some topics covered in class, that had a profound impact on how I think about technology. Understanding all the consent we have given to big companies (google and facebook) and the amount of control it gives them over our online experience is mind-boggling. I wish I understood the perils of over-sharing online, earlier in life.

I did NOT realize how cool and helpful metadata can be: the idea of having a system that collects key information about published content and makes it easy to search, reference and store blows my mind.

My previous experiences with publishing technologies

I had worked with WordPress beforehand, writing articles and editing for a digital magazine, so it was not a completely new experience. However, tagging (metadata!!!) was a new idea and I saw how easy searching and compiling became after the use of careful tagging.

I did not know the real way to write/edit a Wikipedia article and it was neat to know that it is a very collaborative platform with people who check and make sure everything is up to standard and format.

My thoughts and opinions now

Alex Singh’s twitter thread taught me the metaphor of nomadism and feudalism. Growing up with technologies that gradually grew in power, at an accelerated pace, and took over everything (online advertising, networking, maps, even online versions of word, excel, and powerpoint) was something I had never consciously registered. The early classes set the premise for a new understanding of tech giants.

I also understood the struggles and challenges faces by publishing platforms and crowdfunding: it is not easy to come up with ways to earn money online for providing quality content.

I feel that technology is a tool that greatly improves human life in every aspect imaginable. What unsettles me, however, is the uninformed intervention of third powerful party which swoops in and uses the (seemingly private) information to make money. My main takeaway from the course is that data privacy and the consequences of over-sharing online should be taught to children in schools.

 

Mission Complete…

Like most of the cohort members, I walked in this class at the beginning of the term with an expectation to learn about some actual technology-related skills such as coding. I was surprised to find out that this class was mostly philosophical. Honestly speaking, part of me was relieved because I did not want to learn to code (I just feel that I need to do that because of the trend); part of me was also curious about the big picture topics we were going to discuss. In the end, I did enjoy most of the readings and discussions we had. I would like to elaborate on the objectives listed below.

  1. To whet your appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, especially as it relates to the content we consume.

This course has 100% whetted my appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies. As I mentioned in my first blog, I had terrible experiences with some Chinese social media before, so I was aware of my behaviours on any Chinese social media. However, I did not apply the same degree of consciousness when using Facebook, Google or Amazon. This lack of awareness was probably due to my biased perception of Capitalism. Before this course, I did not actively think about the shortcomings of Capitalism because as an immigrant, I wanted to believe that I am now living in a society with more respect to individual, freedom and transparency. However, during this course, I started to think about the relationship between Capitalism and digital technologies, especially during the week on data privacy and surveillance when Echo and I lead the seminar.

  1. To help you develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology-related events and trends.

This course has helped me to develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology-related events and trends. First, I learnt about where to find the technology-related content. I really like platforms such as Medium, the Guardian, Electric Lit, The Shatzkin Files and etc. I am considering choosing a platform to subscribe after this term so I will still be able to follow the recent technology-related news and trends. Second, I learnt about how to critically think about technology-related controversies and apply it to my personal life. For example, I used to turn on my ad blocker all the time without any second thought, but after we talked about advertising and Internet business models on Week 5, I became aware of the importance of advertising to some websites and started to adjust my use of ad blockers accordingly.

  1. To better understand (but not necessarily fully comprehend) how different technologies work.

This course has helped me to better understand how different technologies work. I appreciated that at the beginning, Juan told us about the origin of the Internet which was maybe a basic knowledge but very helpful. I also like the mini tech lessons on topics such as XML, HTML or DRM. I did have a better understanding but also felt that my knowledge of these different technologies was still very minimal. I wish we could spend more time on elaborating these topics or we could have more readings on how these technologies work and fewer readings on the big picture concerns.

  1. Give you practical experience with three digital publishing tools and formats: blogging (WordPress), wikis (Wikipedia) and annotations (Hypothes.is)

I enjoyed using Hypothes.is. because usually I am not used to talk in class but with Hypothes.is, I am able to participate in discussions and engage in conversations with my cohort members. I really appreciated their input. Also, if someone mentioned something I am interested in, I would be able to keep a record, reflect upon and go back to the topics afterwards. In retrospect, I realized I may have asked too many questions in the annotations, but I was happy when my questions were answered. I also like sharing my thoughts via blogging and reading what my cohort members had written. I like this chance to research, practice my writing and learn something new about my classmates. However, I found that sometimes, it was difficult to keep blogs every week. I was not sure if each blog should be research-based, but for those are research-based, I ended up spending a lot of time on researching and it was especially time-consuming when something else from other classes was also due in the same week.

  1. Allow you to develop and express your own thoughts about various aspects of technology.

As I mentioned previously, I appreciate that I can express my own opinions with Hypothesi.s and blogging. I was very happy to write about my own experiences with Chinese social media in the first two blogs because those were unique experiences that my cohort members may not have. When I read the comments from Avvai and Juan under my second blog, I was very glad that I could contribute something to this class and motivated to keep exploring the cultural differences of technology.

Mission Complete!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, I think this class is definitely inspiring to me. I did learn a lot from every topic and I enjoyed the assigned readings. This course does not only change my perspectives on digital technologies but also affects my views on Capitalism and western societies. This class will end soon but my life will still be full of technologies and I will think about what the class had taught me whenever I encountered any controversy regarding digital technologies.

 

 

Pub802 Reflection

Me, looking forward to my new relationship with technology

Before taking Pub802, I had a fairly good understanding of a slice of many of the issues surrounding technology and media, but I wasn’t able to express my opinions nearly as coherently as I can now. I also did not have or use information from both sides of arguments to draw upon for my understanding and discussion. In this essay, I will draw upon the objectives stated in our course syllabus to reflect on my experience and growing relationship with technology. 

Objective One: To whet your appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, especially as it relates to the content we consume

This course whet my appetite in that it made me more aware of the effects of digital technologies. This was particularly relevant during Week 6: Copyright! and Week 10: Digital Reading which both focused on the ways in which the internet enables information (especially copyrighted information) to spread more freely and unrestrictedly through the digital space. I am particularly interesting DRM after Week 10, as I have a deep interest in audiobooks and their growing role in the publishing industry. I found Linda Flanagan’s How Audiobooks Can Help Kids Who Struggle With Reading particularly fascinating.  

Objective Two: To help you develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology related events and trends

This course laid out the current events and trends surrounding technology in a more approachable and in-depth way than I’d previously been exposed to in my own reading. I found that Alex Singh’s twitter thread On the Web’s transition from nomadism to feudalism particularly thought-provoking. I often used this twitter thread as a “historical” lens to view other topics we covered in class. 

Objective Three: To better understand (but not necessarily fully comprehend) how different technologies work

Nothing illustrated this objective to me more than our discussion of how the internet actually works in Week 2: The Web Changes Things. Before this, I never thought of the internet as a physical technology. I also liked the introduction to the intricacies of Youtube in Week 4: Internet Business Models. I’m very interested to see how this particular technology develops and affects society, in both positive and negative ways.

Objective Four: Give you practical experience with three digital publishing tools and formats: blogging (WordPress), wikis (Wikipedia) and annotations (hypothes.is)

My experience with digital publishing tools prior to this course was very limited. I feel like I’m now fairly well versed in word-press and hypothes.is, particularly with the later. I’ve also learned that my online style of annotation is to write many annotations that are on the medium to shorter side, which also mirrors my physical annotation style. One note on hypothes.is; I would like to see an easier way to integrate GIFs. I used them often, but it was difficult to implement them. I have not yet finished my Wikipedia article, but I have finished all of my training and have edited on Wikipedia, which demystified the Wikipedia process a lot for me. 

Objective Five: Allow you to develop and express your own thoughts about various aspects of technology

The blog posts, in particular, were a way for me to thoroughly develop my ideas before expressing them online, as they took a bit more distilling to make them coherent, in comparison to in the class discussion. I do wish that there was a little more direction early on in the blog post assignment. The title was misleading and I felt that it was difficult to express my thoughts in a way that met the assignment requirements. However, as the class progressed I think that my writing about technology became clearer. 

Conclusion

Overall, I thought that the class expanded my understanding of digital technologies and ideas. There were some weeks where I felt that there was a strong overlap of information that perhaps should have been touched on a little less in class. I feel like we discussed data privacy a lot in this class, which is fine, but it meant that we didn’t get to focus as much on other subjects I personally found more interesting. This class did give me a new framework and lenses in which to interact with and view digital innovations. 

I’ll miss these GIFs…

Bibliography

Flanagan, Linda. 2016. How Audiobooks Can Help Kids Who Struggle with Reading. KQED

Singh, Alex. 2018. On the Web’s transition from nomadism to feudalism. Twitter.

Time to Say Goodbye: A Review of PUB802

Before taking this class, not only did I not think critically about anything involving the digital technology in my day-to-day life, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to talk about anything tech-related in a serious way. Now, at the end of the semester, I can hold my own in a casual conversation about technology-related events and trends, drawing on the various lenses through which we looked at the digital technologies to do so.

Objective One
This class has definitely whet my appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, and how they relate to the content I consume. Learning about the Web versus the Internet in our first class immediately captured my interest. In the future, I’m curious to learn more about some subjects than others—as a fan and frequent remixer, I’m still very interested in learning about copyright as laws continue to change—whereas I have less interest in online business models. In short, my eyes have been opened with regards to critically thinking about technology and the tech industry; the way the Web has evolved over time, the way we think of data collection and privacy versus what’s being collected and how that data is used, the dangers of using only one business model both on and offline, and the web as a space as it pertains to design were all of special interest to me.

Objective Two
As I said in my first blog post, this course has provided me a vocabulary and framework to analyze and talk about technology-related concepts, events and trends. I’ve become much more cognizant of how I interact with technology in the digital spaces I frequent, and now have the framework to be critical of them. I can analyze any platform through multiple lenses: business model and data privacy, measuring and tracking user behaviour, design as an integral part of the online experience, etc. As such, I’ve been able to develop my own thoughts regarding various aspects of technology—especially concerning the issue of data privacy, and user measuring and tracking. After reading and discussing in class, I’ve managed to better understand what my comfort level with regards to these things are, and why I feel the way I do.

Objective Three
While I have a very good grasp of copyright law, XML, various online business models (subscriptions services, the Patreon model, advertising, etc.), and how the Internet works, I wish we had learned more about how to implement a lot of the technologies we talked about, such as spending time learning to code. That being said, I definitely understand how the technologies we covered work, and can implement this knowledge in my future endeavors. My knowledge of metadata comes to mind, here; knowing how it works as well as its function permits me to understand why it’s important and how it can be better used to help publishers in the future.

Objective Four
After completing all required blog posts, annotating all the readings, and posting my Wikipedia assignment, I can confident say that I have experience with all three of these digital publishing tools. I really enjoyed annotating all the readings—I feel that they helped me grasp the material, and the sense of community created within the annotations was a welcome addition to the class, and provided further learning opportunities through links, explanations, and anecdotes. I’ll continue to use them. I found the blog posts to be extremely difficult to keep up with—they were very time consuming and the expectation for the assignment was unclear until later in the semester, which I found frustrating. That being said, I think I’ve hit my stride with regards to the assignment objectives and requirements; I’m linking, tagging, and adding gifs to my posts and have balanced the narrative reflection with information and analysis.

I’m very happy the Wikipedia assignment was optional; the weekly blog posts and annotations are a lot of work by themselves, but combined with that assignment and my other classes, the class workload was impossible to keep up with. It was still very difficult—I wish there had been fewer blog posts with longer word counts, and that they had been presented as mini-essays or articles.

All told, this class provided me with a solid framework to understand, use and analyze various digital technologies, and I’ve come out of it better equipped to be critical of the online world.

Reflection of Learning

After having spent the past several days moving out of my apartment in Vancouver it feels like PUB 802 was so long ago. The content of this course was something that I was already enthusiastic about and had a basic working knowledge of many concepts, however the discussions that occurred both in class and within the online annotations certainly pushed my thinking and challenged my beliefs.

I spend a considerable amount of my leisure time watching educational YouTube videos including video series about the history of the internet, intellectual property, and machine learning. As these were topics that were discussed within the course, this prior exposure to concepts allowed me to contribute during class discussion as well being able to share these resources with classmates within annotations as well as in the MPub facebook group. The fact that I regularly seek out this type of information for fun shows that this content is something that I have a keen interest in and am consistently looking to further expand my understanding. This course provided additional resources to continue to learn about these topics and to build upon my existing knowledge.

There were times throughout the course that my opinions and believes were challenged. There were two areas that pushed my beliefs the most, the first was digital tracking. Prior to this course I was aware of digital tracking however I was not of the opinion that this digital tracking was wrong, something to be alarmed by, or that this data could be used in malicious ways. After news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal first broke it caused me to reflect on how this information could be used and for what purposes. I had previously thought of digital tracking to be solely for the purposes of marketing and advertising. While it is sometimes unsettling to see an ad for the pair of shoes you were just browsing for on Amazon, there is nothing inherently nefarious about Google Ads. I was surprised by the sheer number of my classmates that had installed different ad blockers on their web browsers because I firmly believed that ad blockers were morally repugnant and punishing online content creators for not wanting their content to be placed behind pay walls. What pushed my thinking was the sheer number of trackers that were installed on websites and how the information they were harvesting could be used to influence politics. This use of digital tracking is something that I find much more unsettling than Google Ads and while I am not about to install an ad blocker onto my web browser, the discussions in this course have resulted in me installing Ghostery and thinking more critically about the potential for digital tracking. Another topic in the course that has challenged my thinking is the idea that companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple (GAFA) alter people’s consumption habits. While I was willing to admit that these companies had a tremendous amount of influence over people I had not considered how Amazon opening a physical retail location was for the purpose of shaping people’s shopping habits to better suit the business model of Amazon. Unlike my thoughts on digital tracking this was nothing something that I had a firm stance that was contrary to the course discussions, but rather that it was not something that I had considered as motivation prior to PUB802.

Both of the topics that challenged my thinking the most within the course are areas that I would consider to be the somewhat alarming reality of how technology (and giant tech companies) shape and influence individuals. My first blog post in this course rejected Adam Gopnik’s categories of  “Never-Betters”, “Better-Nevers”, and “Ever-Wasers”. While I did not align myself within a particular category, and I still believe that people’s interactions with technology is a spectrum and cannot be easily fit into three neat categories, I would consider myself to be between the Never-Betters and the Ever-Wasers at the start of the course. I still maintain a level of optimism that I think it a defining feature of the Never-Betters, however this course has caused me to reconsider certain areas and as a result I have moved more towards a more realist understanding of technology and therefore am closer to the Never-Betters on the spectrum that I was in January.

Pub 802 Reflection

As I sit here at home, munching on an apple, reflecting on my experience in Pub 802, trying to boil an entire semester down into a couple of talking points, I realize how hard it is to put my take away into words. So I’m going to try to speak to it through what I liked and didn’t like about the structure of the class.

In regards to the structure, for the most part I thoroughly appreciated the unusual way of doing things. Student-led syllabus and discussions, readings and blog topics worked out to let us have more say in what we wanted to learn. It was a unique way to give us students more agency, and therefore feel more engaged, in the course content. What I found to be the best aspect of the course structure was the annotated readings. I do disagree with how it factored into marks–mainly that there is an arbitrary requirement to comment enough times to get a satisfactory for a week, which to me encourages superficial engagement with a topic but doesn’t actually represent the time or thought put into a reading–however I found it to be the most helpful portion of the course. I’m a slow thinker and generally spend a lot of time doing something that most people do at a fraction of my time, including putting my thoughts into words. The online annotations allowed me to participate in discussion around the readings in a capacity I cannot achieve in seminar discussions. It allowed me to read, reread, comment, reply, and think about what external source to bring into the conversation. It also played into the psychology of social media notifications through emails about replies, which made it kind of exciting to participate and leave a comment.

What I didn’t like, and mostly because I found it more difficult to engage with or care about, were the weekly blog posts. I’m the type of person to prefer few big projects over consistent small projects, as I have a binge-work ethic. The requirement to write a bunch of small blog posts meant I had to force myself to write for a topic I didn’t care about, which I never think is a good thing, or force myself to write short for a topic I had a lot to say about, which I also don’t agree with. Both result in me feeling like I just submitted a rushed work for the sake of submitting. Factor in the fluctuating workload of other courses throughout the term and the “consistent” workload of 802 became more and more of a burden. I would have much preferred a system of choosing fewer topics from all available and being able to write a more detailed blog post. While I understand that that would create an imbalance in the amount of blog posts each peer would be saddled with to give feedback on, I ultimately think that would be a more productive form of learning, at least for me. (What if students signed up for topics much like we signed up for weeks to lead the class, in order to balance the blog post to response ratio workload?) Even as I read the blog posts for my week that I need to give feedback on, a lot of them read like they are just going through the motions to answer the prompt. Perhaps that is also because it is the last week, too, but I also think it is because they are too short for students to go into enough depth, and the fact I’m reading through 10+ of these short bursts of thought, and it leaves me feeling like, as the feedbacker, I’m just saying the same things over and over again on each post. “Oh this is your opinion? Did you think about this part, though?”. In summation: I do not feel engaged or that my time is being used productively. (Note that this is what it feels like and is not a reflection of the actual quality of the blog posts).

I have spent most of my words on the structure and how it worked for me because I honestly do not think the content of this course changed my idea of the role of technology in our lives. That is not to say the class was not valuable, as it certainly deepened my understanding, but I have not come out of the class with a different approach to my future than before the class. No, I will not be taking away new information about the ways in which technology is changing our society and blurring the roles of the people within. My relationship with technology has not changed because of this course, my opinion on tracking has not changed. What I will be taking away are questions, thinking points about the implications of technology that will, in the future, continue to influence my changing understanding of the effect of technology on society. A couple years down the line I will look back and be like: “You know what? I wouldn’t have had this current perspective on technology without those thinking points given to me in that pub802 course so long ago….”

PUB802 – final essay

Coming into PUB802, I was worried that I would have to have programing knowledge of some kind. It’s not like I don’t think practical knowledge of programming or coding is important, but very often that gets prioritized over actual discussion about the role of technology and I am glad this course gives preference to theory over application. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the required reading for any other course like I did for this one. I felt like each reading of each class opened my mind to something I either did not know before or knew about but had not thought about it in a certain way. For instance, I knew that people’s internet activity was tracked. That’s the reason I have Ghostery on my browser. But I did not know the details about how it works, what it tracks and what implications that has on my personal information. The extent to which data is tracked these days, especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica case, is truly astounding and I am glad I got to study this.

I also did not know much about AI, beyond that yes, it exists! And so, to learn about AI and its various offshoots like Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing, was extremely fascinating. Both tracking and AI have a huge role to play in the publishing industry. As someone who is about to enter the book industry, it was very useful to know the ways in which these technologies can impact and change the publishing landscape. I also really enjoyed annotating each article. I am glad that this was enforced. Sometimes just annotating an article required me to read more articles so that I could offer some meaningful food for thought, and there were times that this, no doubt, felt like a chore, but I am still glad this was enforced. It forced me to read carefully and not skim over the articles. It was also the first time ever that I was using Hypothes.is. It seemed intimidating to me at first. But I am amazed at how you can install it within minutes and start annotating. Like others, I have been tempted to annotate other articles I read on the web, just because Hypothes.is gives me the option to do so. I think the annotations played a huge part in creating a sense of community within our cohort. I liked reading what my class mates had written and responding to them. I also enjoyed the class discussions. Most of us – and I might be wrong here – don’t usually read the kind of articles that we did for this course. I had a lot of apprehension about writing an essay each week and compulsorily annotating 5-6 articles. The “contract” only heightened this apprehension. But the workload was doable because the articles were short and manageable reads. I thought the discussions in class were helpful and important. Writing the blog every week was tough at times, especially because some research was needed to be able to write a thought-provoking piece, but I think this was a worthwhile exercise. I had never written about technology before, so the blogs helped me expand my writing vocabulary.

PUB802 is a unique course in that it forces us as students to do nothing but immerse ourselves in thinking and philosophizing about technology. I feel like this is a luxury, one that when we start working, we will no longer have.

“Daunting no more?”- PUB802 Reflection

I remember speaking to Professor Alperin briefly in the fall semester about how much the Technology syllabus looked difficult. I was nervous going into the course because of the lack of knowledge I thought I had. The grading system, which I have now come to understand, was initially a big shock. With all of that in mind, now that I am at the end of the semester with the help of hindsight, I can finally say that I am confident to have conversations about technology and its evolving forms. I know what Big Data is, I know what the different business models on the internet are. I can talk during the “eBooks vs print” debate and give a nuanced opinion. The ability to articulate my stance clearly is something I have learnt from the class discussions but especially the Hypothes.is annotations. Never have I been more engaged with academic readings (seriously I actually looked forward to reading them). I set aside entire mornings and afternoons to leave my comments and reread articles because I knew that my opinion would be valued.

A week that made me realise that we cannot live in an opinion vacuum was the week on Copyright Law. The issue of copyright restrictions in relation to the publishing industry is contentious. The class discussion on it,  which happened quite early on in the semester, set the precedent for how I handled subsequent discussions. I am generally a leftist person, a liberal, I would say. However, when it comes to copyright law in the creative sector, I take more of a conservative stance: one that states that the laws should be extended for the benefit of the author and subsequently the publisher. This is a stance different to the majority of the class but I at least felt that my reasoning and opinion as much as it was contested, was listened to. And on that note, I stand by it.

I would have preferred more classes or mini-lessons from Professor Alperin. The student-led system of teaching is interesting but I sometimes missed an overriding voice of experience. That being said, I was happy to lead the class with my colleague, Octavio. The reactions and feedback from our peers was a confidence boost and if ever we have the opportunity to lead discussions or classes again, we have learnt how to engage an audience (for three hours straight). A few recommendations for the future based on my personal experience in the class: When assigning blog prompts, the students leading the class should discuss the topic with peers beforehand. This is something I wish Octavio and I had done and I feel like other weeks could have benefitted from this too. The language in the syllabus could be changed to be more inclusive – this was mentioned earlier during the semester but “Incomplete and Complete” ring better than “Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory”. More guests from the publishing industry, working with evolving technological forms could be invited to add dimension to the range of opinions we have access to (kind of like when Jamie Broadhurst came in week 8).

In conclusion, I believe that my biggest takeaway was the perspective I gained on audio books and audio production. This has shaped my thinking regarding where I want to go in my career from here on out. I am grateful that this class gave me a chance to explore this further, with thoughts on how to incorporate it into my business plan.

I will miss annotating the same articles with my peers but be sure to find my opinions in public forums. (Daunting no more).

Reflections on the Class

When I started the MPub, I thought I was going to end up in editorial. It wasn’t until John’s Text and Context class and my own self-led research into scholarly communications that I realized I might want to go into tech. This class, Tech Theory, was really important to me as I prepared for an industry that I didn’t have as much background in as I would have had I gone my original route. Though I understand PUB802 was more theoretical where PUB607 would balance out the practical technology, I do wish both courses had been running the entire semester concurrently.

What worked for me

1) Hypothes.is annotations

We’ve talked a bit about digital reading behaviors, but I think annotating via Hypothesis really helped me concentrate on the content and get something out of it. It was helpful that reading the articles was incentivized beyond being able to successfully participate in class discussion the next day. Though I do think it could have been rewarding to have our annotations publicly visible, I understand why we didn’t. Perhaps for future classes, there could be a consensus requested. Engaging in the reading and knowing I had to contribute to a building conversation also helped me stop from skimming. I’ve started annotating pages that weren’t for class, and I think it’s a plug-in that I’ll keep installed and use in the future.

2) Student-run classes

I appreciated the opportunity to educate myself really well about a certain topic and have to be responsible for knowing as much as I could about it. In the future, however, I wish that this aspect of the course was better structured and laid out in advance.

3) Industry guest: Jamie Broadhurst

Jamie’s presentation on the data involved with Fire and Fury was super enlightening. Having recent, real-life examples of how the tech we’re learning about is used in the industry was helpful to orient our perspectives on the way things may work.

What I think could change

1) Shorter student-run segments of class

Though we didn’t always know how long we’d have that day to lead the class we structured, it was often upwards of two or two and a half hours. In the future, I think it would be better to have students lead for about an hour and a half, after which we would have instructor-led or industry guest-led lessons to fill in the gaps that students may have a bias against or be missing.

2) More industry guests

I noticed an overall trend that when comparing fall semester to spring semester, fall semester had far more industry guests. Because half of our classes in the spring semester involve tech, I think it would be helpful to invite more tech-focused industry guests into the classroom. I feel that as students we have a more limited network of acquaintances in magazines and tech than we do of Vancouver’s book publishing scene. More industry guests could also help students who are, in the spring semester, still struggling to find places to apply for their career placements, as I believe many of our cohort chose placements with guests that had visited throughout the program.

3) Cross-over classes?

It might be neat to occasionally cross the practical and theoretical between PUB607 and PUB802. If crossover classes aren’t an option, it would at least be nice to structure 802 to have parallel components with 802.

Overall, I enjoyed the course and learned a lot. I feel much more ready to embrace a role involving publishing technologies. My fellow students did a good job of preparing their classes, and my perspectives on the industry has changed a lot

Reflections on PUB802

Each student will write a final essay (approximately 500-750 words) that outlines their experience in the course, and the ways in which their thinking about the roles of technologies in publishing, and in our lives, has changed as a result. Students can focus on a single takeaway, on several, or discuss the course as a whole. The takeaway need not be about a specific piece of knowledge, but rather about the experience as a whole.

Technology, in general, has never been my strong suit. I’m interested in learning more about technology and how it works, but, much like science, I’ve never really been able to wrap my brain around how a lot of it works. I was excited and nervous to start the technology course because I knew I would learn a lot, but I was worried about having little prior knowledge. I came into the first class of PUB802 assuming that the class would be a practical lab and we would be learning how to use various publishing technologies, so I was surprised when I found out that it would be mostly lecture style. Given that the media and tech projects were done differently this year, I would like to offer a suggestion to combine the technology and tech project courses—starting both in January—instead of combining the media and tech project courses. I think combining the lecture style learning (like PUB802) and practical lab learning  (like the workshops in tech project) would be beneficial to students, especially those with different learning styles.

Now that I’ve offered a suggestion for future classes, I will focus on how the class was run and how it helped my learning. This class can be broken up into a few sections: annotations, blog posts, class lead, and other assignments.

Annotations:

Using annotations for our online readings was brilliant. MPub has been difficult and time consuming, and some readings end up not being read because work takes priority. Having the annotation requirement ensured that I read everything for every week, which improved my participation in class and overall learning. The only thing I would suggest for this is to ensure the people who are leading that topic are still participating in annotations by answering and asking questions and prompting further discussion and threads in the annotations.

Blog Posts:

I’ll admit that it was tough to get these done every week. The blog post questions weren’t hard or time consuming, it was just another thing to do every week that usually got pushed to the end of the week. That being said, I found them incredibly valuable. For the weeks I wasn’t leading the class, I was still encouraged to participate in the discussions and come up with my own ideas and thoughts about every topic. This definitely contributed to my learning about technology in publishing because I was forced into deep thought about every topic, but I could focus that topic around the things I’m interested in: small presses, speculative fiction, short fiction, etc. Putting things into a perspective that I enjoyed and understood was a great way to think about new things.

Class Lead:

Again, this part of the class was beneficial because I dug deep into a specific topic and facilitated discussion with my peers. I tried to participate in the annotations more, as I suggested people should do above, but I think I could have done better if it was more suggested that I do so. I also think Juan should weigh in on the discussion a bit more than he did, especially during some weeks. Leading the class is definitely beneficial to everyone’s learning, but Juan knows more about every topic than we do and it would have been nice to have a bit more lecture from him.

Other Assignments:

I particularly enjoyed the open knowledge assignment. I think it was valuable for me to learn how to use Wikipedia, and I believe in contributing to open knowledge because it’s important for accessibility. I was less keen about the reflections assignment, though. It made sense to do something like this at the beginning of the semester, but doing the reflections essay and three forms of feedback (written, scantron, and the single question) in class seems to be a bit overkill. That being said, I appreciate that Juan is open to receiving feedback and it genuinely seems like he cares about improving his teaching style and his class for future years, which is never a bad thing.

Final Essay: Reflection on Learning (PUB 802)

Each student will write a final essay (approximately 500-750 words) that outlines their experience in the course, and the ways in which their thinking about the roles of technologies in publishing, and in our lives, has changed as a result. Students can focus on a single takeaway, on several, or discuss the course as a whole. The takeaway need not be about a specific piece of knowledge, but rather about the experience as a whole.

Three months after the start of PUB 802 – Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing, I can barely remember what I wrote on my cue card on that first day when we were asked to write out what we wanted to get from the class—but no matter what I wrote, I leave this class satisfied with the knowledge I have gained.

I remember feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fluid structure and the amount of autonomy we were given from day one. But coming from an educational background (I work for a school board), I understood the reasoning behind and the importance of letting students take control of their own learning. I understood that I would be more engaged in the course material if I had played a role in selecting in.

It has been an interesting experiment, seeing how these strategies that we encourage our teachers to use have played a role in my own life over the course of the semester. And I think that when looking back on my year in Vancouver, this course will stand out for me because of the forward-thinking structure it was delivered in, and because I will remember more of the content having made a conscious decision that this was information that I wanted to learn.

While I’ve taken many marketing, business, writing, and design courses before and have found much overlap with that content and the content in many of our other MPub classes, this tech class contained new information—information that will have a real and lasting impact on my life.

As much as I had hoped around the start of the class that I would leave with more concrete skills to navigate the ever-evolving world of tech, I understand now after our deep dives into the difference between the web and the internet, digital reading, tracking and measuring, and so forth, that having the background knowledge and the language to talk about these things is equally important (and has hopefully given me a solid foundation on which I can base future independent hard skills learning on).

I think a big part of the reason I have been able to take so much away from this course is because we used the hypothes.is plugin to annotate all of our readings. While I have always been a decent note-taker, being required to dig deeper and pull meaning, connections, and questions from the text on a public stage in front of my classmates lead me to think much deeper about the readings rather than take them at face value. I found in doing the annotations, I became more critical of the authors and was more likely to fact-check their claims, even if the articles came from reputable sources. I was also much more likely to seek out additional information to broaden my and my classmates’ understanding of the topics we were learning about. This sense of community, both between myself and the class, and the class and the author, has helped hold us all accountable to being engaged and doing proper research. If only this relationship dynamic showed up more throughout the online world, it would be a healthier place.

I also have a new appreciation for evolving and emerging technologies such as AI. Prior to this class, I was fearful and skeptical (and I think I still am, which isn’t a bad thing), but now I am able to acknowledge the problems rather than ignore them. I definitely can’t fix them, but I know that having an awareness and understanding of how they impact my life and my career is necessary. Furthermore, I understand that things like AI and metadata can benefit our lives, such as by leading to greater accessibility, knowledge, and connection. But that without proper regulation in place to hold big tech (and ourselves) accountable in this very real world, the results could be disastrous, as we have seen recently with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

I leave this class equipped with the tools necessary to understand technology, even as it shifts and changes. While we spent the last three months looking at things through a publishing lens, I feel that the background knowledge I have gained is applicable to many different fields and will be of benefit to me whatever career path I follow.

I could go on about my experience planning and leading a class, the weekly blog posts, or the contribution to public knowledge—all of which also challenged me to grow and learn—but I’m running out of space, so I will just say thank you instead.