Google Scholar Alerts

One of the best techniques for ensuring you get the best out of searching the web is to set up ‘persistent searches’. This basically means that you instruct a search engine to search for specific stuff relevant to you interests at all times.

Here’s how you do it. Go to Google Scholar and search for a particular topic you’re interested in.

Google Scholar


Notice a couple of things here. In the search bar I’ve used quotation marks around a phrase because I want only returns on pages which include the phrase, and I’ve used the boolean operator AND to narrow the search to my particular interests. Here’s a good primer on using Boolean logic in Google searches. Further filtering using the year parameter can also give you more appropriate results.

The way to set this up to become a persistent search is to use alerts. Click on Create alert and you will be asked to enter your email address where you want the alert to go.

Create alert


and finally you’ll be asked to verify your email address in order to confirm the alerts:


Now you’ll receive alerts to your email. If you want to cancel the alert, simply cancel in the email that comes to your inbox. Quick and easy to do but a great time saver and effective way of continuing to receive updated search results.

Tasks: Crisis Communication

1.Become a digital humanitarian

Experience being a digital humanitarian by becoming a micromapper. Join the Philippines challenge from December 5th to 7th and then report your experience, in detail, on your blog. Apart from explaining how the initiative developed and how the digital tools it uses work, join the micromappers listserv (a discussion forum) where you can read and contribute to ideas on the work as it evolves, and follow up any twitter connections you can make during the challenge. This might make a really interesting case study to write up for your first assignment.

This week’s session slides (see below) will give you some background and forward links to useful resources about the work of digital humanitarianism and its emergence from more traditional forms of crisis communication. Readings covering this topic are also available on Moodle.

Creative task (1)

A number of the group had the opportunity of playing with Windows Live Movie maker this week using the video clips and images we have collected for the ‘Angry’ project. We all realised how easy it is to create effective ‘remixes’ of found media. In the space of half an hour we’d all made a playable video and could save it for further editing.

For those who were not present here is a quick re-cap of what you need to do to edit your own remix:

  1. You need the files that we collected for the project. These are available in a shared dropbox folder here.
  2. You need all  those files on your own computer and the easiest way to do that is to download the whole folder. Go to Download (top right of your screen) and click ‘Download as .zip’ – this is a compressed version of the folder which is smaller and so quicker to download. Save that .zip folder to your desktop. Then extract all the files from it and choose a destination for a new folder containing them. I tend to work from the desktop for these projects and then when I’m done I can easily delete anything I no longer need.
  3. You now have a working folder for your video containing the clips we’ve collected. Of course you can add more to this folder as and when you find video, images or .mp3 files that you think would work well. And here’s a link to the complete poem which you’ll need to refer to as you’re editing the remix.
  4. Use Windows Live Movie maker to remix the clips. Here’s a quick tutorial explaining basic editing on Windows Live Movie Maker. Add your own music, play around, discover the effects you can use and the editing capabilities the programme offers you.
  5. Next week we’ll talk about how we’ll complete the ‘Angry’ remix including the rap and music track.

Creative Task (2)

To give you a bit more practice in video remixing I’d like you make a 30-second advertisement for the unit Communication, Activism and Social Change. You might want to use clips from videos that we’ve already used during classes this term. The Unit’s YouTube Playlist will give you most of these and any that are not on there will be available on the slides in Moodle. You might want to film your own clips, or use still images … a voice-over … make it in the style of an American Western or a Sci-Fi love story … use your imaginations!

Anything is permitted as long as (it’s legal and) you meet the brief. Importantly, after viewing the ad people need to know what the ‘product’ is and where to go to get more information.

Good luck with it.

Task: Permanent Revolution

Douglas Rushkoff begins his article ‘Permanent Revolution: occupying democracy’ (Rushkoff, 2013) by arguing that the promises of e-democracy over the past twenty years have simply not come to fruition. The web may have enabled people to move from being passive receivers of media to producing media but the same shift has has not been matched in the political landscape, at least not in national party politics, where the web has actually ‘failed democracy as a tool or platform’ (Rushkoff, 2013, 165). The web has not made national politics more participatory or increased opportunities for people and ideas. Nor has it fueled deep knowledge and understanding about national or local politics. It’s simply been ‘politics as usual’.

However, Rushkoff isn’t completely despairing in this article. In the Occupy Wall Street movement he saw evidence of the ways in which a new consciousness began to emerge which created different relationships between people and the institutions that shape their lives. Evidence of a new sense of what being a citizen means practiced on the streets and experienced through the digital networks that brought people and ideas together. How did it happen? and what role did the web play? Rushkoff then suggests four conceptual shifts or characteristics of our current digital environment which facilitated the emergence of this new consciousness and new practices of politics.

Write a post on your blog which summarises these conceptual shifts and gives some examples of them from your own reading and/or experience.

And finally, what does Rushkoff mean when he says that Occupy Wall Street constitutes the ‘first truly postnarrative political movement’ (Rushkoff, 2013, 169)?


Rushkoff, D. (2013). Permanent Revolution: Occupying Democracy. The Sociological Quarterly, 54(2), 164–173. doi:10.1111/tsq.12018