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New Year, New Blog!

I’m moving!

flickr photo shared by patries71 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

For those of you who have read this blog in the past, and especially to those wonderful souls who have followed it, I have begun a new blog in line with my new career as student!

It looks very similar, but it is now self hosted, so please join me on my new adventures in linking learning at

I may be migrating some of the content from this blog over to the new spot…I haven’t decided yet.

Thank you so much for your support of this blog, and I look forward to seeing you at my new online home!





Somebody’s watching me…Who’s viewing your digital footprint?

One of the most important things we must impress upon students is the responsibility that is a digital footprint. We all have one nowadays – every time we pay for something on credit card, use an automated toll payment system, walk in front of a security camera – our actions are recorded digitally, and a little part of our identity is stored online.

Our online identity is added to further by our internet use. Websites use cookies to track our search habits in order to more effectively target us with advertising, or to better ‘tailor’ their services to us. Google knows a lot more about us than we would like to think; as do other websites that we frequent regularly.

We bring this digital identity to life when we share our thoughts, photos and videos online using social media. Where we ate out, who we are friends with, which football team we support; as well as major life events, such as a marriage proposal, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one.

All of this information paints an incredibly detailed picture of who we are, what we do and how we live our lives.

Last week, an employee of the American intelligence agency known as the NSA (National Security Agency) leaked information that revealed they can access information belonging to non-US citizens.   If the servers are held on American soil – and this includes Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Google, NSA can analyse this information for evidence of any activity that might lead to those planning criminal or terrorist acts. (You can read a thorough description of it here). Although these companies deny giving direct access to the American Government,  the evidence points to the fact that they have made it easier for this process to occur.

Why should this concern us? After all, if we haven’t committed a crime, we have nothing to hide, right?

The issue is not so much that we should fear the American Government. The issue is that with this data being collected, our digital identity which was once spread across many different servers is now possibly being stored on one server, altogether. The puzzle pieces that remain spread and give us some element of privacy are being placed together. This is powerful information – and although Barack Obama has said essentially ‘you can trust us‘, it is those who might hack into these servers and sell this information whom we can’t trust.

This is beginning to sound like a conspiracy theory, rather than a post about digital citizenship. It’s not meant to be. What I believe is that young people today must be aware that the information about them that exists online is their personal property, and that they have a right to protect it. Students who are true digital citizens are not just savvy about their privacy settings on Facebook and their password security – they should also be aware of how others may use or misuse their online identities, and have a voice in ensuring nightmare scenarios such as 1984 don’t ever become a reality.

Sharing the glory – content ownership in a remix culture

In a world where anyone can publish anything to the world, copyright and ownership of content has become an increasingly interesting, complex and controversial field.

In Australia, a work is copyrighted as soon as it is created. Every drawing, song, story, sculpture, multimedia creation – all are copyrighted, unless the creator chooses to release some of their rights, under a Creative Commons licence (read more about Creative Commons at the Copyright Copyleft wiki, which I created to help educators understand these issues).

Today, Cory Doctorow reported in the Boing Boing blog that Nintendo has chosen to claim ownership over gamer fanvids on YouTube. What does this mean, and why am I blogging about it?

Put simply, many keen Nintendo players create fanvids, commonly known as ‘let’s play’ videos which are basically videos that show them playing a particular game. In these videos, they share tips, easter eggs (hidden extras), show off their skills and generally contribute to the gamer community. An example of a let’s play fanvid is below:

As Doctorow notes, at the moment a search for ‘let’s play’ on YouTube brings up over 9 million videos, many of which have been created by at home gamers.   Although these videos have been created by the gamers, they are based on content that belongs to Nintendo, and Nintendo has decided to monetize these videos by placing advertising around, before or after the videos, income from which will flow to Nintendo, rather than the owner of the video.

This decision has set the gamer community alight;  they acknowledge that  Nintendo is within its legal right to do this, but question whether it is a sensible move to upset so many gamers; you can hear more of this discussion here.

There is no doubt that now Nintendo has made this move, others will follow. In fact some gaming consoles actually have the capacity to record the game as it is played built in.

The concept of fanvids and fanfiction is not new, or limited to video games. In fact, in Japan, it is a major industry.

Known as Dōjinshi, this fan fiction, based on popular manga series, is so well accepted it is sold at major events, the best known of which is Comiket, the most recent of which attracted over 560 000 visitors.  Unlike in many western countries, where fanfiction is seen as a breach of copyright, in Japan it is tacitly accepted as a source of marketing for the ‘official’ publications, and as a breeding ground for discovering new upcoming manga artists.

It seems like Nintendo wishes for its gamer fans to see their move as one which promotes co-existence, similar to the dojinshi model – after all, they aren’t banning videos which contains their content, they are simply profiting from it. From the gamers’ perspective, their videos are not replicating the game, as every player will have a unique experience – they are simply sharing their own.

We will increasingly see issues of ownership of content arising, as technology allows us to remix content and publish it online – and concepts such as copyright, intellectual property and creative commons need to be in the forefront of every content creator’s mind. If you are interested in learning more about this, a great place to start is Bound by Law, a graphic novel available for free download or for purchase through Amazon, which explores the concepts of copyright, intellectual property and fair use in a digital remix culture. It is a fantastic read, and educational to boot!

Download this comic by clicking on the image.

Produced by Duke Centre for the Study of the Public Domain.