Disruptive Technologies

Course site for Disruptive Technologies. Exploring identity, community, & design.

Tag: Too Disruptive

[We] Identify as Disruptive Too

A person’s identity indicates something about them. As a set of social classifications, identity is created by viewing two or more people or groups in relation to one another (oneself is included). Identity  is a paradox in two ways.

First,  it is constantly in flux, but at the same time, suggests an ever-developing constant within a person. How someone chooses to identify his/herself (or someone else) can change over time; there can be momentary or long-term changes. For example:

  • Momentary: Role as friend takes precedence over role as student if a friend is in a car accident.
  • Long-Term: Gender or sexuality can fluctuate over time.

Second, a person’s understanding of their own identity affects the lens through which they view his/herself and others.


TOO DISRUPTIVE – Reaction to Readings on Identity

David Buckingham. Youth, Identity, Digital Media. Chapter 1 “Introducing Identity.”

Etienne Wenger. Communities of Practice. Chapter 6 “Identity in Practice.”


The Giddens-Foucault binary is especially revealing of talks concerning identity. On one hand there is Giddens who believes in the “choice” of identity. On the other, is Foucault. Michel Foucault, whose theories revolutionized 20th-century thinking (yet is as of late becoming known as being old-fashioned and almost cliche) aligns himself with the idea that people’s identities are shaped by the world they live in. I believe that each scholar has their own merit. As the lines between “identity” and “identification” are perceived to be more blurred, so do these two arguments. Technology seems to serve as the catalyst for self reflection with regard to others.

Buckingham also critiques (overly harsh in my opinion) Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical sense of self. Goffman argues the idea of the situational self. The situational self can be regarded as a person that presents his or herself with regard to the current definition or “rules” of the situation. For example, a person that maintains a job as an elementary school teacher will present in a different way than we they work in a bar on the weekends. In terms of the Internet, the web may be seen as a particular situation that one may choose to identify in a certain way. However, I also believe that the technological methods of information and social transfer are slowly changing the way in which a “base” or “backstage” or “ideal” or “felt” self is constructed.

The ways in which the Internet may or may not affect identity (transcendent- vs. desocialized-technological determination) calls to mind the idea of the medium. What or who is the medium? At this point I’m still not sure if people are or are not.

The biggest point in the Wenger article that stands out is his idea of the “trajectory” of identity as the rest of his ideas align with general sociological teaching. I believe that making the focused distinction that not only does identity form over time (which sociologists agree on), but that it is the cumulative process (including all points along the self-growth timeline) is what separates Wenger’s identity theory. In this way, it aptly reflects a CoP form of tradition: the CoP in-group is formed over time.



Wenger speaks about the community’s ability to speak for us, about our nature, qualifications, knowledge base, etc. This works to our benefit in organizational environments, where membership and participation indicate status and value. In some cases, especially in communities based on a single attribute, the projection of the community stereotype is limiting. Several negative outcomes caused by generalizing based on single/limited communal attributes: racial profiling, use of stereotypes to justify escalating “objectively” determined risk levels–leading to sanctioned violence, and genocide.
Increasing the complexity of the community’s membership positively influences the trajectory of the identificational trajectories. A wider membership, experience-base, knowledge base, and access to resources, [networking] culminates success.


Buckingham’s theories indicate that social progress, mutation, and/or development occurs on a timeline that has departed from chronological realism. Such identity changes are more closely measured by events and experiences.

Our digital facades allow us to explore communities in any way that we choose to approach them, making the experience unique to that digital exploration of self.


David Buckingham. Youth, Identity, Digital Media. Chapter 1 “Introducing Identity.”

social identity should be seen not so much as a fixed possession, but as a social process, in which the individual and the social are inextricably related
Individual selfhood is a social phenomenon, but the social world is constituted through the actions of individuals. As such, identity is a fluid, contingent matter—it is something we accomplish practically through our ongoing interactions and negotiations with other people. In this respect, it might be more appropriate to talk about identification rather than identity”
the Internet provides significant opportunities for exploring facets of identity that might previously have been denied or stigmatized, or indeed simply for the sharing of information on such matters. Such arguments presume that media can be used as a means of expressing or even discovering aspects of one’s “true self,” for example, in relation to sexuality.
Yet on the other hand, these media can also be seen to provide powerful opportunities for identity play, for parody and subversion of the kind promoted by queer theory. Here, the emphasis would lie not on honesty and truth, but on the potential for performance and even for deception. Sherry Turkle’s discussion of the fluidity of online identities—for example, in the form of “gender bending” in Internet communities—provides one well-known (and much debated) instance of this kind of approach.
Technological determinism – from this perspective, technology is seen to emerge from a neutral process of scientific research and development, rather than from the interplay of complex social, economic, and political forces.

Wenger. Communities of Practice. Chapter 6 “Identity in Practice.”

Identity as negotiated experience. We define who we are by the ways we experience ourselves through participation as well as by the ways we and other reify ourselves.
Identity as community membership. We define who we are by the familiar and the unfamiliar.
Identity as learning trajectory. We define who we are by where we have been and where we are going.
Identity as nexus of multimembership. We define who we are by the ways we reconcile our various forms of membership into one identity.
Identity as a relation between the local and the global. We define who we are by negotiating local ways of belonging to broader constellations and of manifesting broader styles and discourses.


Buckingham and Wenger coincided in their discussions on identity in several ways. Both authors emphasized that identity is neither static nor steady; instead, they describe how it is a “state of becoming,” and that the process of “identification” is going on all the time. Wenger and Buckingham discuss several perspectives on identity in the modern era, and how identities are perceived and projected in digital realms. One of Buckingham’s most compelling arguments is that he juxtaposes common concepts of identity politics (focused on gender, ethnicity, age, etc.), with the way digital technology and the web function as tools for people to create constantly changing projections of their identities through content production online. In his discussion he contrasts the fluid expressions of identity through social media with fixed ideas of identity that characterize certain aspects of traditional identity politics mentioned above. Buckingham suggests the term “identification” as a possible replacement of “identity,” to emphasize the dynamic process that is involved in the way people are constantly defining themselves in different ways. Wenger contributes to this discussion on identity by describing several specific ways that people participate in the procession of “identification.” He says that identity is “lived” through “participation and reification,” and that a person’s perception of self is in a constant process of “negotiation;” this process is not reserved only for adolescence. Wenger emphasizes that identity is also lived out in community, and we understand ourselves through the “familiarity that we experience in certain social contexts.” He goes on to say that our identity is the result of a “nexus” of interlocking contexts and our ability to function “across boundaries of practice.” According to Wenger all of this “identification” takes place both locally and globally.
One of the most interesting parts of these readings for me was the paradoxical etymology of the word identity which Buckingham described in the opening of his chapter. From its roots, the word identity describes both sameness and difference at once. On one hand, our identity is something that indicates who we are and defines us (somewhat consistently) by setting us apart, but at the same time our identity is also defined by who we are connected to. As the Spanish proverb says: “Tell me who you hang with and I’ll tell you who you are.” “Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.”


/r/McLuhan Drives a Ford


  • The problem of using old tools in a new world. Linear understanding / experience of knowledge (through reading) VS. immersive epistemology, connectivity, and multi-modal discourse.
  • Truly living in the present involves embracing modulating and advancing forms of technology. These adapting technologies began with what people called quill and paper, but was really random access memory. We don’t really know anything… we have it stored for later reference.



  • Who is in control of your information, and are you okay with it?
  • “The web is not, despite the desires of so many, a publishing medium. The web is a customer service medium. ‘Intense moderation’ in a customer service medium is what ‘editing’ was for publishing.”
  • “That’s what I tell my Gutenbourgeois friends, if they’ll listen. I say: Create a service experience around what you publish and sell. Whatever “customer service” means when it comes to books and authors, figure it out and do it. Do it in partnership with your readers. Turn your readers into members. Not visitors, not subscribers; you want members.” This speaks volumes about business, post-Web 2.0. By creating a community interested in what is being peddled, the community has the potential to influence the future direction of the product which makes it more suitable for that community.



We now see Reddit as a CoP, whereas before, we only viewed subreddits as this type of community. Redditors constantly ask WWIC? People want to not only ask questions, but be heard as well. Reddit offers a medium through which crowd-sourcing information from hundreds of people is available.

SWOT Analysis – Are iPads ‘Too Disruptive?’

Strength: Provide a Baseline Technology

When collaborating on projects, Google Drive and apps allow for easy communication and data sharing. Too often, we encounter students who are not comfortable using drive and other productivity/content creation-geared applications. Sometimes, collaborators seem resistant because they are not yet comfortable.

Although these applications are available for desktop platforms, the mobility of the iPad apps allows the user to bring the technology, and the ability to create content into any collaborative or meeting space. The iPads are slim, portable, and a pleasure to use. With workflow adapting to such a portable, multitask oriented utility, we will change what it means to do group work.

If every student possessed an iPad, everyone would be exposed to the applications and have a baseline vocabulary associated with the technology. Time will no longer be spent on getting everyone acquainted with the technology.

When every student can operate with utilities that improve workflow and collaboration, communities will be quicker to innovate and produce work.

Let the information flow.


Weakness: Can’t Do Everything a Laptop Can

  • No USB port – The lack of a USB port on the iPad Air means it is not possible to use external hard drives and other external devices like keyboards or microphones that use USB.
  • Limited amount of storage space – A laptop or desktop computer is able to use external hard drives or add RAM for memory storage but an iPad is not due to the lack of a USB port.
  • No external keyboard – Although it is possible to purchase a bluetooth keyboard for the iPad air, it only comes equipped with a touchscreen keyboard which can slow down productivity.
  • No disk drive for CDs and DVDs
  • Desktop Apps – There are many desktop apps that are too powerful to run on an iPad. Applications like Microsoft Office and Final Cut Pro won’t run on iPads and tablets. There are scaled down versions of apps like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft OneNote.
  • File formats – Laptops are able to display or play almost any file type if you have the right software/program. iPads are not able to play every file type, video files must be in .mp4 format before they are able to play. A solution to this problem would be converting the file format on the iPad. Also, all transferring of files to the iPad has to be done via iTunes.
  • Screen Resolution – The iPad Air Retina display renders at 2048 by 1536 resolution. The screen is 9.7 inches, measured diagonally. In comparison, Apple’s 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has a higher resoltuion of 2560 x 1600 pixels. The 15.4-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display has an even higher resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels.


Opportunity: Reduce in Paper (SBU’s Eco-Footprint)

iPads for everybody offers an excellent opportunity for the Stony Brook community to reduce it’s eco-print by using less paper. By using free .pdf reader apps that are available, students can upload reading assignments, class notes, and e-books to their iPads which means they don’t need to print out long readings or buy expensive books – which all use paper. Not only would SBU reduce its eco-print, they would also reduce costs; perhaps part of the cost of getting the iPad could be offset by reducing expenditures on paper. Even though there might be a learning curve for students as they get used to accessing, reading, and taking notes on .pdfs using their iPads, the benefits of using less paper is well worth the effort. In addition to the immediate ecological benefits, and possible reductions in cost, Stony Brook University has the opportunity to stand out as a leader in higher education by using new technology to improve both the quality of education and the quality of life on campus for students, teachers, staff, and the environment.


Threat: Potential for New Forms of Academic Dishonesty

When looking at potential threats concerning the introduction of iPads to a university setting,  qualms that professors may have immediately comes to mind: the potential for new forms of academic dishonesty (in the classroom). With the internet at a student’s fingertips, they could possibly look up their answers on Google, or be chatting with their friends for help while in class. Yes, most students now have smartphones, but if a university provides iPads, it would be the understood authorization that the iPads are allowed in class. However, a simple re-focusing of the coursework model could fix that. Grading could come in part from class discussion through Google Docs (which generally works better than discussion portals within classroom management sites such as Blackboard or Moodle) in which each comment is digitally signed (by color-coding or other symbol). By everyone claiming their own work, and allowing others to comment and help edit, final products are usually better. Tests would still be “technology free,” meaning that students would not have easy access to communicate with others.

It comes down to what the purpose of the classroom and higher education construct is. Do we lead students to be smarter than everyone else and perpetuate a model of “I have better grades [read: am better, smarter] than you?” Or do we instill a CoP framework that encourages community learning toward an end-goal of contributing to something that is larger than all of us? Collaborative learning is a far cry from academic dishonesty—everyone still gets credit for what they do.

This post itself represents four unique styles of writing that came together in a collaboration on Google Docs. In that file, you can see exactly what each person wrote, and the comments that were left to help come up with a final project.

Team Contract for: Too Disruptive

Team Name: Too Disruptive

Katherine Hopkins
Chris Stratis
Richard Smith
Jay Loomis

Communication Plan:
– FB group page: “Too Disruptive”

– E-mails:

– Phone #’s: (On our private shared Gdoc)

– In-Person Meetings:
Meet for 15-20 minutes after class on Thursdays to plan the week’s responsibilities. Divide up tasks for the assignments, so we can start working and communicate progress and questions at the Sunday online meeting.
The person responsible for posting that week’s assignments will also be decided at this meeting. We will rotate between the 4 of us.

– E-communications:
Sundays from 2-4 via Google Docs.
Work on Google Docs before this time as well and final collaboration will happen at this time.
Spontaneous interaction on Too Disruptive Facebook group page.
Group e-mails when necessary.

– Conduct
If we feel that work ethic needs to be addressed, let’s speak openly about it and know that it is constructive and not malicious.
If for some reason a group member is unable to make it on time to a meeting, they should alert the group at least a few hours before to let them know. If you’re unable to meet in person on Thursdays, google docs can be used as an alternative.
Don’t miss the due date. If for some reason you know you won’t be able to finish in time, let everyone else know so we can help.
We will touch base about any unfinished work on Monday.
Respect each other and maintain open lines of communication. If something happens that can cause difficulties for the rest of the team, first ask questions. For example:
Is everything ok?
How can we work this through?
How do we reach our goals / objectives?
Do you need help/support? (e.g. if someone has too much going on that week)

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