Learning with Google: Is it really sinking in?

During research into the early topics of ALC203 my interest was sparked by what affect digital media had upon learning? It resulted in a considerable contemplation about how I consumed media in the past 15 years and what the difference was between my ‘High School self’ and the notion of learning now at University.

I discovered during this project that we’re already equipped to handle digital media and Google in particular, however ultimately it’s up to the user whether they’re able to gain the most from such a source of information.

During early planning stages and weighing up the effects of ‘winging it’ upon the final product, a script seemed a vital choice. It resulted in the foundation of everything that the video could become. With a ‘read-through’ draft completed: narration could be recorded, images sourced to suit the narrative – work could commence.

One of the initial dominant ideas I had while deciding upon my topic involved a screen absorbed with footage of Google searches. Ultimately, I screen captured footage of myself entering random Google searches which I later overlaid on top of a static Google search homepage.

Collating images for the video seemed to be ‘a piece of cake’ by just following along with the narrative. However, the sourcing of images via Google advanced image search, Flickr and Pixabay proved to be one of the most time consuming parts of the assignment.

Surprisingly, this project required little Adobe Photoshop work. After a quick cut-out of the Socrates and Phaedrus images (actually Sophocles), the Ancient Greece scene was completed with the use of Corel Video Studio’s ability to overlay objects on top of video footage.

Other examples of Creative Commons use is evident in the opening and closing music sequences. A strong concept drawn out during planning was the idea to incorporate music that elevated along with the amount of Google searches, flashing on screen. This was in a bid to give the effect that more and more searching was taking place and that Google search is used to find just about any answer.

Dream Theatre’s classic ‘Dance of Eternity’ was one track that I had heard again recently and wondered how it could be incorporated. After a search on Google, Soundcloud and Youtube, I tracked down an 8bit recorded version which presented a less dramatic yet engaging version of the original.

Google searching about Google searching sounds tedious, however searching for issues around the main topic of whether or not students are really learning from digital media proved successful. For instance searching: Google is making me stupid brings to light a large amount of dialogue from newspaper columnists to academic research.

During research for early topics in ALC203 led me to a dossier on digital media in Neil Thompson’s book Smarter than You Think. The book proved to be a valuable resource with mention of numerous research studies.

Contemplation of how scholarly research could be presented within a video further reinforced my trust in a script. It acted as a launching pad for the presentation of the ideas to the narration of citations.

Sourcing material to match the narrative proved one of the biggest challenges. The solution was to brainstorm keywords linked from the script which resulted in a lot more options at the Google search bar.

Bringing to life all the creative ideas within the timeframe seemed to be near impossible. However, the assignment taught me that the creative process at times is one of single-mindedness. Step by step, something can be created by estimating the time available for each step.

(592 words excluding citations).

My broader online engagement

Please refer to my results in the Tiffit system along with engagement on #ALC203 hashtag on Twitter. Also, the blog posts at Insearchofi blog.


“Volunteer Duty” Psychology Testing by Chris Hope (cc by 2.0)


23 Most Dangerous Selfies Ever! – 2016 by Perfect dude (cc by 2.0)


Cabinet-aisle by Robert Harker (cc by 3.0)


Clean my Pinky by sadmoney (cc by 2.0)


Clockwork Orange eye scene by Gwendal Uguen (cc by 2.0)


computers by Jody Morris (cc by 2.0)


Digital compositions by Steve Johnson (cc by 2.0)


digital-drugs-binaural-beat by digitalbob8 (cc by 2.0)


Dream Theater – The Dance of Eternity – 8-Bit NES-style remix by Adam Gould (Youtube Standard Licence).


Earth globe above a tech type landscape by Steve Johnson (cc by 2.0)


Google campus by Adrian Libotean (cc by 2.0)


History of the world – Video Learning by WizScience.com (cc by 2.0)


I love 80s by Quentin Meulepas (cc by 2.0)


Knowledge-sharing by Ansonlobo (cc by 4.0)


minority-report.0 by Juan Ignacio Rodríguez de León (cc by 2.0)


Neural pathways in the brain by NICHD (cc by 2.0)


pixlr edits by Steve Johnson (cc by 2.0)


Small, GW, Moody, TD, Siddarth, P & Bookheimer, SY 2009, ‘Your Brain on Google: Patterns of Cerebral Activation during Internet Searching’, American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, issue 2, 116 –126, retrieved 2/5/2016, https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/5230/136.pdf.

Smith, C 2016, DMR Stats|Gadgets, DMR, retrieved 2/5/2016, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/.

Socrates by lentina_x (cc by 2.0)


South Park Cartman by Kidrobot (cc by 2.0)


Sparrow, B, Liu, J & Wegner, DM 2011, ‘Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips’, Science, 333, 776-778, DOI 10.1126/science.1207745

Stephen Colbert by TDKR Chicago 101 (cc by 2.0)


steve_j-9642 by Steve Johnson (cc by 2.0)


The Prentice School Educational Assistive Technology Classroom by Isorenaj (cc by 2.0)


Thompson C, 2013 (p. 9, 11, 68, 72, 73, 74) Smarter Than You Think, Penguin Group, New York.



Fears, peers and why else I hide online

TEN years ago if you had asked, who I was online? I probably would have told you that I was just myself. Well who else did you expect me to be? This was despite the fact that the few social media profiles I had were all listed under pseudonyms. The only ‘real’ Brett Barfoot existed via my LinkedIn profile.

Looking back at how I portrayed myself online in my mid-20s gives the impression of someone who views the online world as more a means of self-promotion rather than a place where you regularly contributed or voiced your opinion. It was a place where I could demonstrate my professionalism in a bid to impress my next employer. I was adamant then that an online persona had to be a demonstration of someone ‘putting their best foot forward.’ I’d hoped that it was in a way perceived as ‘good,’ ‘wholesome,’ truthful to the best qualities I had to offer the workforce and ultimately capitalism. Whether I realised it or not at the time, Pooley (cited in Smith, S and Watson, J 2014) would have described my persona as a form of ‘calculated authenticity,’ selling myself while attempting not to appear to be selling myself.

It was what I assumed to be merely an extension of myself from offline. Green (cited in Smith, S and Watson J 2014) confirms this tendency when thinking of online activities and the self. It is often perceived as pre-existing, a self ‘brought to computers from the culture at large.’

atmosphericreflections in a discarded computer monitor by Steve Johnson (CC by 2.0)

I joined Twitter in 2010 because I thought it would be a good place to keep track of the news. I started the account with the pseudonym metal_brett – a sort of ‘half-name’ that included my musical taste and my first name. It didn’t take long before I was tweeting, testing the waters and providing customer service feedback about my experiences. On another occasion I decided to respond to a live ‘tweet in’ to the ABC show Q&A. I thought at the time it would be humorous to see my abstract expression broadcast on live television.

Looking back at my behaviour, I believe that the pseudonym provided me some kind of room in order to express my opinions in a public place while protecting my professional identity. While I have since changed my twitter name, the pseudonyms I use aren’t exactly lies, are they? I mean if Jetstar were to do some research and track me down to provide me free flights – which they’re most welcome to do of course 🙂 – I’d ‘own up’ to posting it. I wasn’t exactly trying to be dishonest or have complete anonymity.

It’s this back and forth nature of anonymity that Hogan (2013, p. 293) argues exists because pseudonymity can work in tandem. He states that it doesn’t work on a sliding scale like that of Donath (1999) described before contemporary social media where there was either the ‘totally anonymous to the thoroughly named.” Hogan says either your presence online lacks identifiable qualities and you are in a state of anonymity, you practice pseudonymity once or continue to use it as a means of ‘persistent alternate markers of identity.’

man-person-clouds-apple - cc0

Man-person-clouds-apply by Static.pexels.com (CC by 2.0)


But hang on a minute, isn’t that trolling? I would have thought this in the early days of digital media. My perception of how someone would portray themselves was just an extension of themselves and not something that seemed so malleable and transitional. As far as I was concerned, if I was online in one place then I’d be expected to be the same person somewhere else. It was this that made interacting online seem so tedious and painful.

I loathed the thought of presenting my ‘job interview’ self to my social media connections while I was concerned that I’d have to keep up the same professionalism for all those that saw me online. I don’t want just my resume to be how people perceive me. It’s this conflict that Marwick and Boyd (cited in van der Nagel & Frith 2015) describe as a context collapse where a user’s entire social network can be found online which forces them to interact and construct an identity that is not segmented as it is typically offline.

‘You’ve got to be very careful what you say online,’ I lectured my younger brother. This is probably the smoking gun of reasons why my online persona has been so limited until recently. As far as I was concerned the online domain was one where employers and people of influence frequented and if you ‘tripped up’ online either bringing attention to yourself by publishing something that you wouldn’t want your neighbour to hear then the digital world was a dangerous place to negotiate. It was alright to look on and spectate what was happening on there but to actually engage and show a side of myself that I didn’t believe would help my job prospects – sent shivers up my spine.

A dystopian rhetoric kicked around by the media and my peers also probably fuelled my perception that it was safer to be hidden online to some extent. It’s a misconception that I used to explain my absence for years. ‘Oh you never know what they could do with your information’ or ‘giant companies shouldn’t have so much power.’

States of Online Identity easel.ly created by Brett Barfoot (CC by 2.0)

It’s this belief that fed my perception that if you were to have an online persona then it had better be professional and that participation on platforms like Facebook was the opposite. I had a Facebook profile in the mid ‘00s which I initially engaged with before I muted it and then ultimately deleted. Wortham (2011) indicates that I wasn’t the only one pulling the plug on Facebook at the time and I could be deemed as a “Facebook Resister.” Also, Facebook user growth in the United States had dropped 56% in 2011 compared to the previous year.

If you could ask my online persona what I thought about digital media in 2006, I would have probably told you that quite frankly, the use of it by others worried me. The existence of peers and family members online is another major reason for the use of pseudonyms. Call me a digital media prude if you like but I was becoming exposed to embarrassing online sagas orchestrated by family members that would force anyone to disconnect. It didn’t take long before I found myself intervening through fear and desperation: “You can’t say that you fool!” I cried. “Take it down, you must take that post down!”

Until recently when I delved into the online world via my Media major did I realise that this type of black and white thinking was not how ultimately engagement and personas online are perceived. Let’s just say that it was fascinating to read of online personas who work across a myriad of different accounts all publishing opinions, views and commentary in different tone and perspectives. It seemed most people used their online personas in different ways for different audiences.

In 2016, I started again. I changed my twitter name and put more thought about how I would be perceived online. This time I’m going to use what I know about identity and audiences to craft myself my very own niche based upon the very best of ‘me’ that I have to offer.

Tweets embedded from @brett_writer

In conclusion I have learnt that the online world doesn’t necessarily have to be a risky place to negotiate if you responsibly think about how you portray yourself. It seems that we’re all involved in a kind of personal branding process where the roles and restrictions of the traditional media that we once relied upon haven fallen away. It’s now up to us to run our very own personal marketing agencies.

So what’s your brand?

(1,086  words not including citations and captions)

My broader online activity and engagement

At this point my participation online and my engagement with digital media is evident in my regular contribution to the unit #hashtags on Twitter and the compilation of my blog: insearch of I – Digital Identity, Participation & Dystopia.






Cover, R 2014, ‘Becoming and Belonging: Performativity, Subjectivity, and the Cultural Purposes of Social Networking,’ in Poletti, A and Rak, J, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, p 58.

Donath, J S 1999, ‘Identity and deception in the virtual community,’ in: Smith, M. A and Kollock, P (eds), Communities in cyberspace, Routledge, London, pp. 29-59.

Hogan, B 2013, ‘Pseudonyms and the rise of the real-name Web,’ in: Hartley, J, Burgess, J and Bruns, A (eds), A companion to new media dynamics, Chichester: Wiley, pp. 290–307

Smith, S and Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self-Presentation,’ in Poletti, A and Rak, J, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, p 75.

Van der Nagel, E and Frith, J 2015, ‘Anonymity, pseudonymity, and the agency of online identity: Examining the social practices of r/G,’ First Monday, vol. 20, no. 3-2, DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i3.5615, http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5615/4346

Wortham, J 2011, The Facebook resisters, The New York Times, 13 December, retrieved 5 April 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/technology/shunning-facebook-and-living-to-tell-about-it.html?ref=technology&_r=1


Digital media: Are we better students or just class clowns?

MORE than a decade has passed since I studied at university and with so much new digital media available, will I be a better student?

Social Media was in its infancy way back in 2003. When I was at
university Facebook wasn’t yet available to the public and Youtube was still years away.

Back then I was just happy to have survived six years of “refer to the back of the book” and “copy this from the blackboard” at High School. Let’s face it, interacting and sharing hasn’t been on school curriculum priorities when ultimately students are expected to sit an exam in silence.

In the past I’ve learnt by reading text, looking at examples and attempting to decipher a strategy to answer the questions. You could test yourself against someone else’s old answer and replicate the method for the future.computer man_edited-1

But what if you had to come up with the testing phase yourself? Would it be more difficult to learn with so many different opportunities and examples flying around online?

I remember sitting in a Maths class at High School and listening to my teacher rant about how he believed the way we learnt was all wrong. First you learnt this and then you learnt that and then there was a TEST! After the test you moved on to the next area and repeat. Revision seemed to be less important compared with following the instructions, the formula and examples.

Learning in the post digital revolution seems to be quite different. There are so many platforms to access information online; it seems never before have we been asked to engage and interpret information rather than just solely consolidate it.

Thinking versatile; Learning fast.

When I think about my own digital media learning experiences since the early 2000s, I think of jumping from one Youtube channel to the next in order to learn a guitar lick or reading forums to find good fiction writing advice.

It’s this ‘superfluity of communication and publishing’ that Thompson states is a result of our new digital tools and has a huge impact on our ability to think. ‘Today’s tools make it easier to find connections – between ideas, pictures, people, bits of news – that were previously invisible’ (Thompson 2013, p. 11).

Digital media is helping students like me to be better. We are seeing, retaining and communicating more. (Thompson 2013, p. 9).

Thompson argues that we’re smarter now due to a shift from static contemplation of information to a more versatile and delegative approach. ‘This transformation is rippling through every part of our cognition-how we learn, how we remember, and how we act upon that knowledge emotionally, intellectually, and politically’ (Thompson 2013, p. 9).

It seems the spoon-fed must now learn how to direct the spoon. A somewhat culture shock for those who studied before the seismic shift in information sharing. Learning is now participatory more than ever.

Strength in numbers.

Collaboration has become a fundamental aspect of learning in the 21st century and along with digital media provides students the opportunity to gain feedback from 360 degrees. There’s someone on Youtube with a video of the process, there’s a discussion forum about the author’s earlier work and you can download the entire catalogue with a click.

David Gauntlett (Making is Connecting 2010) says that digital media has provided a massive boost to everyday creativity and that by sharing what we’ve created in turn increases engagement and our connection with the world.

Learners like myself will benefit from this interconnected environment of mass information consumption and thanks to the shift from just a few global producers the individual broadcaster has become empowered. ‘Very simply, today, everyone is a producer. So, today, this user, their capacities and their skills have become central to the discipline.” (Merrin 2014, p. 36, p. 147)

With just a few quick tweets I have found myself sharing, producing and learning a vast amount of information via different mediums. It’s possible that I am venturing into the realm of ‘Produsage’ which I hope to explore in future blog posts. While the new experience seems to be quite different compared to my secondary education and early tertiary studies.

When I think back to whether I was a better student at High School with limited resources or now after the Digital Revolution, I hope that I made the best of what I had at the time and understand that now with so much more – I should be better.

Are you better off with digital media? Or are things pretty much the same?


Thompson C, 2013 Smarter Than You Think, Penguin Group, New York.

Making is Connecting 2010, Youtube, David Gauntlett, 13 January, retrieved 14 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF4OBfVQmCI.

Merrin W 2014, Media Studies 2.0, Routledge, New York.



Welcome to In Search of i, a blog regarding identity, participation and the possibilities for dystopia within digital media.

The purpose of these pages is to help crystallise theories of digital media participation for my Media Studies major.

The first post is an attempt to understand how I learnt at High School in the early stages of digital media compared to present where I learn online, participate in a ‘virtual classroom’ and find myself wondering if digital media will help me to be a better student?

What do you think?

Follow me as I attempt to understand just who I suppose myself to be online. I hope to explore questions like: What image do I want to portray online? Why do we do that? What perception do we have of ourselves online that must differ from who we know ourselves to be? Is there a difference? And is this difference related to pressures of societal norms or something else?

I hope to also explore reasons for refusal and why I’ve been a lazy bum until now and not participated online.

Please comment, subscribe and share your thoughts on each post as I attempt to learn and create in a ‘Produsage’ environment.