Professor Shayla Thiel-Stern, covering digital media & culture at the UofMN.
Hello everybody! Welcome to today’s Twitterview with @ProfessorShayla of the #UofMN. After the delay, it’s time to roll!
Share a little background about yourself. Where did you grow up and what kinds of things interested you?
Shayla: I grew up in eastern Iowa, near the Quad Cities. Interests: Music (rock). I like playing, listening, seeing shows.
And I’ve always loved to read, and now I’m kind of addicted to the Internet. I started working on the Web in 1995.
Now I enjoy eating out and in (my spouse is great cook), and fortunately for my line of work, I like to write.
1995 huh? What drew you to the internet? What were some of the 1st websites that you frequented?
Shayla: If you were a journalist willing to work online in ’95, you could move up quickly. My 1st real job was at http://washingtonpost.com .
As for websites back in ’95, I love the amateurishness of all of them. Lots of flashing gifs. I loved http://superbad.com . Still do.
I was so excited when I learned HTML and could make text blink. I think that’s been outlawed since 1997.
No problem. :) So how did you transition from using it for work to becoming a professor of digital media & culture?
Shayla: I went back to school (got an MA at Georgetown and Ph.D. at Iowa) and learned to think more critically about the web
Few people were having critical classroom discussions about what was happening online back then. Originally, I thought
(con’t) that I’d concentrate on teaching online journalism specifically. But my scholarly interests expanded.
Now I look broadly at questions of digital media and culture, sociology, production, and audiences. Esp. teen girls.
I see. Why the special interest in teen girls and digital media/culture?
Shayla: A feminist choice: Adolescent girls weren’t even studied until the 1980s. And they are avid users of digital media 1/1
Girls are also producers of digital media, a fact that isn’t well represented in the MSM. There’s a lot of fear (con’t)
Fear that they will be victimized online or that they will show excessive sexual agency themselves. Victim v. vixen.
How girls actually use digital media vs. how they are represented using it is fascinating to me.
Do many men sign up for this class?
Shayla: I don’t actually teach classes focusing mainly on gender at the U of M. My most popular class is “New Media & Culture.”
Having said that, I’ve found the guys in my classes have few issues with talking about gender and identity online!
How much of your class discussion in the “New Media & Culture” class, focuses on Social Media?
Shayla: Most of it focuses on s.m. because it’s such a major part of all of our lives. And we have a class Twitter.
The class Twitter allows students to communicate with each other, share class-related links, comment on the discussion.
It’s been surprising to me how hard it can be to get students to use Twitter, by the way. My PR students get the value.
What kind of feedback to do get from the students about Social Media: fears, confusion, usability, value?
Shayla: Most (not all) do not see social media as a way to enhance personal brand or make professional connections.
Others are afraid of their digital footprint as a result of s.m. use, and they opt out of all but Facebook as a result.
Rarely discuss usability but I think that’s the issue w. students’ resistance to Twitter. You have to use it to get it.
I think I need to talk to your class some time. :) Before we end, what books have you found useful to use?
Shayla: Consider yourself booked as a guest speaker! ;-) “The Shallows” by N. Carr, “Alone Together” by @STurkle, “Googled”…
And much can be learned from “old” media & “old” theory — James Carey and Marshall McLuhan still have much to tell us.
Joel: Good thinking on learning from previous methods of media as well! Thanks for your time today, have a good weekend!
Shayla: Thanks to you for an enjoyable Twitter conversation.