Category Archives: In the News

DataRescue Philly

Since its inception in 2014, the aim of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) has been to create “a more permanent place for environmental dialogue across disciplines.” Amid growing fears of federal climate change data erasure, PPEH’s manifesto has never been more relevant.

To help mediate any tampering with data repositories, PPEH hosted volunteer archivists, librarians, hackers, and concerned citizens for a DataRescue event, one in a series of creative coding workshops across the country. These workshops are a collaboration between the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative and the DataRefuge project, which itself brought together PPEH and Penn Libraries.

The event, a code-a-thon, teach-in, and discussion session about Pullquote 2.pngpreserving environmental data sets, took place in the Kislak Center on the 6th floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center on Friday and Saturday, January 13th-14th. A second, shorter DataRescue Philly 2 event was held on Wednesday, January 25 to continue the work of the first – again, hosted in Van Pelt.

DataRescue Philly was not centered in the library purely for reasons of space. Librarians and archivists put data at the center of the information science field. Librarians and archivists are quite literally in the business of preserving and organizing data. The library, in its essential role as storehouse for knowledge and information, is the perfect backdrop for the work of emergency data curation.

While coders and hackers were brought in to do the essential technical work of Bagging and Tool Building, librarians were integral to making the data accessible. They served chiefly as Describers, adding metadata to the captured datasets. All participants were also able to function as Storytellers and Long Trail members or do the work of Seeding and Sorting.

As new threats to data sets emerge, more DataRescue events pop up nationwide and work
continues throughout the librarypullquote3 as well. Departments like Teaching, Research, and Learning (TRL) Services, which includes the Weigle Information Commons, are actively involved in efforts to plan and organize future events. TRL’s own Laurie Allen Assistant Director for Digital Scholarship at Penn Libraries, for example, is one of the co-organizers of Penn’s DataRescue events.

Scholarly Communications and Data Curation Librarian as well DataRefuge team member, Margaret Janz, is now working with other library staff and WIC interns to further spread awareness and involvement in data preservation efforts. Advising future librarians to be sensitive and responsive to data threats reflects the current core values of librarianship and reveals how library professionals would like to shape the field for the future. Librarians recognize that data needs to be secure and are leaders in taking active steps now to ensure it is protected indefinitely.

Social Media Outside of the Classroom

As the graduate intern for social media, I’ve been teaching social media workshops for Penn students, faculty, and staff at the Weigle Information Commons for over two years now. When I first started, it still was not clear what the purpose of social media was in the classroom or in academic life for that matter. However, more and more people are now buying into the idea of personal/professional branding and using social media platforms as learning tools.

In the last two years, we have all noted the rise of social media usage and how the lines between personal, professional, and useful are blurring. With the close of election 2016, the beginning of 2017, and the resurgence of using social media to organize in-person gatherings and protests, there is absolutely no doubt that social media will continue to rise in importance for college-age Americans and those who serve them as educators, mentors, colleagues, and support staff.

Here at the Penn Libraries, January has been an exciting time. On Saturday, the 14th, a hundred or so librarians, scientists, coders, hackers, and interested parties gathered to scrape data from NOAA.gov and other websites prior to the new administration potentially removing it from those sites. In addition, we have a series of workshops on identifying and avoiding “Fake News.” Individually, neither of these events is about “social media” in the way that my social media workshops are, but they are inherently linked to how undergraduate, graduate, and professional students use social media in their everyday lives on-and-off campus, in-and-out of the classroom.

Fake news is often perpetuated through news feeds on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. In addition, accessing real news, and learning about real “threats” such as losing valuable information about climate change or other public scientific data, also occurs on social media sites. Most of us access our news digitally and many of us access our news on social media platforms.

For many years, I’ve heard concerns from older generations that millennials and younger generations consume news and “real information” differently and perhaps less intentionally. This quote from the Media Insight Project’s study on how millennials get their news is illuminating:

The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.

This has been the concern of older generations of educators since I started working professionally with social media in college in 2010 and continues through to today. From my experience, students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are very concerned that they are accessing and publishing the right information. There is a lot of social anxiety around what our brands look like online and building those brands requires a certain level of familiarity and comfort with using social media. For intellectual spaces like Penn, it also means that there is growing concern among active users of social media that their intellectual growth and learning empowers them to understand what they read and take action on it. Here are some of that 2014 study’s findings about how millennials consume news:

  • While Millennials are highly equipped, it is not true they are constantly connected. More than 90 percent of adults age 18-34 surveyed own smartphones, and half own tablets. But only half (51 percent) say they are online most or all of the day.

  • Email is the most common digital activity, but news is a significant part of the online lives of Millennials, as well. Fully 69 percent report getting news at least once a day — 40 percent several times a day.

  • Millennials acquire news for many reasons, which include a fairly even mix of civic motivations (74 percent), problem-solving needs (63 percent), and social factors (67 percent) such as talking about it with friends.

As we look forward into this new year, I plan to attend as many workshops and teach as many workshops as possible about how to continue to be a responsible consumer of media. Keep the Penn Weigle Information Commons and the Penn Libraries’ programming sites bookmarked as these are themes that we continue to explore as a university and a community.

If you’re interested attending our ongoing workshops relating to media consumption, digital, and social media, here are a few:

(Jan. 30) Shoddy News

(Feb. 8) Creating Meaningful Graphics

(Feb. 15) Creating Video Presentations

laptop computer displaying a news website with the heading "fake news"

Information Literacy Workshops

The phenomenon of fake news has become a hot topic, ironically, of major news outlets in recent months. News stories are being presented as fact without any substantial backing in truth. There are many reasons why fake news happens and is promulgated. They vary from personal monetary gain to accidental, well-intentioned spread of misinformation.

With so many reasons tempting so many people to promulgate fake news, how do you know what sources to trust? How do you know the supposed rise of fake news isn’t merely a fake news story itself, anyway? Penn Libraries can help with that.

During the month of January, Penn Libraries will be offering a three-part Information Literacy Workshop series about evaluating news sources. Each workshop will highlight a different kind of misinformation while preparing participants to recognize and mediate false information in their own news consumption.

A workshop entitled Fake News: Pinpointing Lies, Hoaxes, and Conspiracy Theories will kick off the series and takes place on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 from 3-4:30pm in the Weigle Information Commons Seminar Room. This installation focuses on evaluating false information.

The next two workshops feature strategies for identifying Slippery News and Shoddy News – distinctions that have recently become necessary. In brief, slippery news refers to stories that aren’t meant to maliciously deceive but are hotbeds for misinformation. The shoddy news workshop, on the other hand, will link news reports of research to the research itself in an attempt to decipher which stories are sourced with verifiable research and which utilize papers with unsound methodologies.

Attending any one of these workshops can help you sift through the massive amounts of ambiguous information available on the internet everyday. Attending the workshop as a series will give you nuanced insight into the different types of unreliable information out there and provide you with tools to think critically and avoid consuming that misinformation.

Why Social Media?

Why social media at Penn? Social media at Penn and in college, graduate school, and in the professional world is not about scrubbing all traces of who you are off the internet. It’s about creating content that you are “sincerely” passionate about engaging with and making connections online that will lead to IRL experiences like your next research project, a career, a new friend, or an amazing conference experience.

I’ve now had this conversation countless times. As the Saturday consultant at the Weigle Information Commons, I’ve taught social media workshops at the Penn Libraries for two years now. Now and then, I publish a blog post on a particular social platform or tool. Every few months, a friend, a patron, a colleague, or a stranger asks about my work with social media and says, “Oh, I should really do more online!”

Continue reading Why Social Media?

Social Media at the Commons: Facebook

Hi, there! I’m Jaime and I’ve been consulting/interning here at the Commons since 2014. My personal passion is helping students, staff, and faculty learn how to connect their personal and professional brands online by engaging with others on social media. This past Saturday, I worked with two long-time patrons dedicated to getting their social media game on point. Kemuel Benyehudah and Sandra Andino have been coming to the Commons since November 2015 to work on maximizing the effectiveness of their public Facebook accounts.

Continue reading Social Media at the Commons: Facebook

Commons’ Publications: Reviewed

CoverLearnerInteractionsOnlineThe Commons’ staff are no stranger to publishing and have written about technology, learning, collaboration, and teaching tools, all things we love at WIC. Recently, WIC Digital Projects Fellow Vickie Karasic and director Anu Vedantham wrote a chapter for Researching Language Learners Interactions Online: From Social Media to MOOCs (Dixon and Thomas). Their chapter, “Video Creation Tools for Language Learning: Lessons Learned” focuses on digital video creation tools and the benefit of using video assignments for language learning. Their chapter received a brief mention in a book review by Elena Martin-Monje this month:

 

“…video assignments enhance the understanding of other languages and cultures, while at the same time they enable students to be more aware of their own identity through this learning process.”

Vickie has written about this project before, including details of interviewing language faculty members at Penn. She has also showcased her workshop on using Audio and Video in PowerPoint for Beginning Japanese.

Read other reports and publications written about the Commons (the Educause article made 2014’s Top Ten Most Read list) and check out our monthly workshops if you are interested in learning some of the same tech tools referenced in the book!