Facebook vs Open & Free Expression and Blogging

That a defense of Facebook et al come from a blogger–a Cuban blogger– has some effects on me. I’m talking about Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban disruptive blogger who taught blogging while being persecuted by authorities. So I read with some surprise her defense of FB on El País (De carnes rojas y redes sociales), last 4th March.

Los promotores de esta actitud obvian la importancia de estas plataformas para la denuncia, difusión y protección de innumerables movimientos y personas en este planeta.

Escapar de las redes sociales porque en ellas se comparten noticias falsas, abunda la frivolidad, los mensajes de odio y hasta peligros más graves como el acoso sexual, es una forma de dejarle el terreno libre a quienes promueven esas prácticas y hacen de Internet un lugar cada día menos seguro. Es una actitud similar a la del ciudadano que no va a votar.

Sure, I can understand that Facebook, like other social networks, are of huge help for expression everywhere… except where they are prohibited or censored, which is awfully a huge lot. And no, Yoani, it’s not similar to the right people have to not vote, because that, in a true democracy, is a choice.

‘s Why Facebook’s news feed changes are bad news for democracy (The Guardian, 21st January) makes a counter-argument.

Last year when Facebook experimented with its news algorithm changes in six small markets – Guatemala, Slovakia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and Cambodia – news organisations saw their reach tumble by more than half. The Serbian journalist Stevan Dojcinovic wrote a stinging op-ed in the New York Times blasting Zuckerberg for treating fragile democracies as laboratories for his products.

Helpful for expression??

Facebook’s use and misuse in the Philippines, Myanmar and Russia, among others–China, with which it stroke a censoring agreement, like Google did– show FB has no will to control its use, and it lets regimes abuse the lack of structures to enforce its own rules. Of course, what strikes me most is that Yoani forgets that our worry with Facebook’s monetization (awful word, I know) and abuse of our own data actually helps dictators and caudillos in their profiling and tracking people. A STASI we all contribute to, voluntarily. This is why, by the way, in Iran and Russia people use Telegram, which offers “true” privacy, but of course not Facebook). And their respective governments are trying to outlaw it

There is another motive to shift our attention from Facebook and focus it onto the open Web, instead. It’s not so much a matter of ditching FB, but to understand its (possible ephemeral) role in our communication. Better use the open web, like Yoani did and taught to do before and I believe still does, to create stuff and share it out of the silos that endanger the Web.

I do use Facebook, though not frequently, and appreciate communicating with a few friends whom I wouldn’t be able to connect to elsewhere. And I appreciate people who have a well-curated feed that help them make sense of news and rumors. I simply got bored of that, and of the seemingly randomness of the feed I get, piloted by an algorithm I don’t see and minimally control.

I even get to understand those who setup a “page” within Facebook as their primary Web identity, forgetting or not knowing that you can actually create, practically for free ($), a free (freedom) webpage with WordPress or similar environment. It escapes me why some people prefer an address like facebook.com/thisisme to thisisme.com or thisis.me. No idea. Some people prefer the initial convenience Facebook gives them to the real freedom of controlling and owning their work and digital identity.

I can’t stop quoting Cole Camplese’s excellent post My Internet: One Course At A Time, –the bold is mine:

Why I always insist on using a course blog as the hub of the teaching and learning experience. I think I know why based on that reflection tonight — for the duration of the semester I get to create the Internet I love.

Go extend that semester to the whole year, people.

Enjoy and defend the (only) “online space that we co-own, co-create, and co-engage in“. And which does not get monetized fraudulently by anyone and which does not track anyone.

I teach with this well in mind, every time. I know I’m helping youngsters take ownership of the Web and appreciate its open nature.

[Featured image: Flickr photo with no title, by régine debatty. CC-Licensed BY-SA.]

Posted in open, philosophic-discourse | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Seminario Virtual de innovación educativa / Online Seminar on Innovation in Education

The past 14th April Bernabé Soto organized and moderated a great opportunity to share on Education innovation: The Seminario Virtual de Innovación Educativa, an online videoconference with a few friends and students as speakers (including myself). Below is the full video recording (over 3 hours, in Spanish). The program was:

Jorge Colón JusinoGamificación: El arte del juego en el aula
Gamification: The Art of Gaming in the Classroom.

Antonio Vantaggiato (that’s me)–Innovación en la universidad: de vuelta al futuro con Web & educación abierta
Innovation in the University: Back to the Future with Open Web & Education.

María Esther Cabral Torres (Paraguay)–El desafío de emprender con la Marca Personal
The Challenge of Making with a Personal Brand.

Sahyly Santo BarbosaSistemas de hipermedia adaptativos: alternativa tecnológica para el aprendizaje adaptativo
Adaptive Hypermedia Systems: Technological Alternative for Adaptive Learning.

Daniel Navarrete (Peru)– ¿Cómo es una experiencia formativa docente para una sociedad digital?
How must a teacher training experience be for a digital society?

I enjoyed being part of the Seminar very much! Jorge (a student of the MA in Edtech & Instruction Design and a student in my course of  “Learning Environments“, did very well and his talk sort of matched mine when I asked why our courses don’t open up spaces for students’ creation, like it happens with fanfiction or self-generated documentation-producing forums like those of World of Warcraft?

María Esther was impressive in her story about the entrepreneur culture in Paraguay as it is connected to education (they held teacher training for over 20,000 people!!), while Daniel, part of the movement known as Knowmads (initiated by pioneers Cristóbal Cobo & John Moravec of the Knowmad Society) talked about design thinking, disruption and edtech, showing an impressive project for teacher training in Peru.

Last, my friend Sahyly talked about her PhD research in adaptive hypermedia and showed it is time we invest some serious efforts into it at our university. It’d be nice to end up with one collaborative project uniting all or some of these ideas.

Bravo Bernabé (now head of Distance Education at Interamerican University, Aguadilla) for a great organization and of course, the initiative.

Posted in abierto | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing Stuff In Abkhasia: Words Begin With ‘A’

I love languages and and here I want to talk a bit about how huge and weird can be the world of languages, also in the sense that it has produced really strange stuff.

I stumbled into the Abkhasian language (spoken in Abkhasia, a small semi-independent state within Georgia (the Asian country) when reading a short wonderful article. Well, this language has got just two vocals (three if you consider combinations of sounds) but fifty-eight mighty consonants. 58 consonants. (See Wikipedia’s article).

In the original and super interesting Karlos Zurutuza’s Jot Down Magazine article Donde Cersei es Stalin (Where Cersei is Stalin, El Pais, Feb. 2018), some intriguing data is offered that fascinated me:

Por si fuera poco, casi el 90?% de su vocabulario comienza por la letra «a»: los abjasios se llaman apsua a sí mismos —«el pueblo de las almas»—; Apsny, a su patria, apsuara, a su código ético tradicional; atsa y ash, al pan y el queso, y se despiden con un sonoro abziaraz. Ni siquiera los préstamos se libran: arespublika, arestorant,akafe… Si alguna vez cae en sus manos un diccionario abjasio podrán pensar que no es más que el primer tomo de un inmenso glosario; el correspondiente a la «a».

As if that were not enough, almost 90% of their vocabulary begins with the letter “a”: the Abkhazians call themselves apsua – “the people of souls” -; Apsny, their homeland, apsuara, their traditional code of ethics; atsa and ash, bread and cheese, and say goodbye with a loud abziaraz. Not even loans are waged: arespublika, arestorant, akafe … If ever an Abkhazian dictionary falls into your hands you may think that it is only the first volume of an immense glossary; the one corresponding to «a». [my bold]

But this extraordinary and ancient people has another intriguing aspect of their Abkhasian culture, as Zurutuza reports:

Los abjasios son cristianos en un 80%, musulmanes en un 20%, y cien por cien paganos», asegura Stanislav Lakoba […]

Abkhasians are 80% Christian, 20% Muslim, and 100% pagans, reports…

Wikipedia states: Abkhazia is a de facto sovereign state whose status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world’s other states consider Abkhazia de jure a part of Georgia’s territory.

Wonderful discoveries.

[Featured image from Wikipedia: Apsua Holding Apsny Flag, by Apsuwara – CC-Licensed BY-SA]

Posted in Serendipity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

#createopenweb: Or, co-creating and co-owning the online spacez

#createopenweb is not a simple slogan. In the aftermath of the Facebook scandal it is all the more important to emphasize that “platforms” like Facebook take out of people the wish to create works that live on the Web. Instead, such work gets to live only within the platform silo. So, this is just a post with a reminder of the latest things that people said on this, starting with the Howard Rheingold statement about creating on the open Web instead of deleting one’s FB account. I love this approach.

Then Bryan Alexander asked –and promptly Alan Levine answered– about the ways for people to create on/for the open Web (please, note I capitalize the Web, always):

Note Alan uses Wikipedia editing as an example. So, work out ways students can create content and publish it on an available open Web platform. Even if they’re not as open as one’d like.

I can’t really resist adding here a little of what was published on the mass of data such companies have on us:

Please, stop!

You can help the web be better in 2018: just ditch Facebook and use your browser instead

You can help the web be better in 2018: just ditch Facebook and use your browser instead

Well perhaps you don’t have to ditch FB: I happen to use it very little, essentially to communicate/share with some few friends I wouldn’t else connect with. But, you should definitely **use your browser**, and Firefox is better at privacy and speed. And it is from a non-profit organization which we love, Mozilla.

Still, FB practices of tracking users even when off Facebook is certainly a reason why it should not be used in education.

But all the above is not my main reason to ditch FB and other silos containers-platforms in favor of the open Web. Here is why: an article from Cole Camplese enlightens right on this idea of #createopenweb in the context of teaching.

In the blog post My Internet: One Course At A Time, Camplese says (and I quote–the bold is mine):

1. Facebook is a main menu on the web. It is a filtered gateway that seems to have sucked the joy out of creating new and interesting open content online. 

2. Why I always insist on using a course blog as the hub of the teaching and learning experience. I think I know why based on that reflection tonight — for the duration of the semester I get to create the Internet I love.

3. [And that is…] An online space that we co-own, co-create, and co-engage in.


[Featured Image–Flickr Photo: Create, by duncan c. CC-Licensed BY-NC.]

Posted in abierto, open | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Week’s photo: Hermosura de la santidad

La Hermosura de la Santidad

La Hermosura de la Santidad. Cataño, Puerto Rico. Taken 2018-01-28T15:28:19+00:00



Posted in images | Tagged , | Leave a comment