Updates on Progress

18th February

Well the time has come to say it is done. Six months of activity by an accumulating group of people and the book has now been released to the wider audience. The last month has demanded that we concentrate on getting the book into a form for this release. That has meant a focus on final proofing, CC checking, inserting questions for discussion, glossary compiling and a multitude of other tasks, small and large, that just needed to be done. There is one section not complete, Post-colonialism, Ethnicity and Race. It now carries an invitation for someone to provide content. Ideology was completed at the last moment. So if there is someone with expertise in Post-colonialism ….

The WordPress blog stats make interesting reading. After release there was an immediate reaction around the world. Last look the number of views was 2,765, and almost all have visited in the last few days. Although most are from New Zealand and other English speaking countries interest is from over 50 other locations in all parts of the globe.

Whats next? – Version 2.   There is no doubt that with the benefit of experience gained in this project we could improve the product next time. So watch this space.


28th January

It  has been quite some time since I have added to this diary. This has only in part been because of the southern hemisphere holiday season. The other reason has been the time to have a completely hacked textbook for release is near and all available hands are working towards that goal focusing on the book itself. Some fantastic work is being done by many  collaborators with one whole new article appearing tonight -Media and Democracy. Many discussion questions are being added to the articles as editing and proofing takes place. Interlinking has been checked and tidied up – although this will need to be checked again as new material is added or edited. A glossary is forming offline to be added soon. References are being added where necessary. New illustrations have appeared as well. Keep watching this space or more importantly the mediatexthack site for progress.

13th December

Yesterdays event went well. We had some invaluable help from two liaison librarians who gave a short workshop to the participating postgrads. They then gave a generous amount of their time in doing some of the work themselves. Thanks to the postgrads who came along and here is hoping it was a win-win and they came away with some useful skill for their own work.

Some content was also added to the book. Material has now been created, with varying levels of completeness, in most of the planned subject areas. The project and book are continuing to attract interest from many parts of the world. These include the expected USA, UK, Australasia and Canada as well as the unexpected Bolivia, Greece, Germany and others

9th December

The project has taken a big leap forward in the last few days. A renewed energy has seen much more content added to the book. This Thursday [12th  Dec.] a team is organised in the department at Otago to work on the mechanical details of copy-editing CC checking etc. The final look of the book is still under discussion and choice of platforms and formats are being narrowed.

26th November

It is sometime since the last update, nevertheless the project continues. An article has appeared in our local Otago Daily Times. It represents the project quite accurately. Further communications are coming in from around the world that demonstrates a level of interest that is encouraging. In Dunedin we have been mopping up some admin tasks that need to be done to keep up with the momentum texthack generated. This is mostly archiving material and background research for the ‘cookbook’.

However, keeping the momentum going will need some work. Collaborators have other lives to retrieve yet the book needs to be completed. The ‘cookbook’ is to be written and we hope it will lead to other projects. Once the book is complete there is the possibility of version two. Here’s hoping the level of interest the project generated will translate into a broader participation in the next version.

18th November

The cold light of day. The ‘book’ still looks good. The debriefing process now starts, finalising the ‘book’, archiving the research material and the content, and writing the ‘cookbook for future texthacks. Time to reflect on the weekend and how it went and what can be done better. We met some amazing people so at the very least it’s a very sociable [if virtually] thing to do. However, there is no doubt that this event has contributed to the growing OER movement if only in a small way.

17th November

Sunday and ready to begin again. The plan is to follow the same time framing for meetings.

10am The decision was taken last night to transfer efforts to WordPress. Much discussion held over how to approach this and how the final look, structure and navigation should work.

11am the question of employing copyright material outside the CC license system is raised. This is due to some material, eg Youtube clips, being included in the text. We have difficulty finding anything that explains clearly the Standard Youtube License.

1 pm the ‘book’ that isn’t a book is looking very good. Easy on the eye. A useful navigation method is developing. Still the copyright thing is unresolved. But the feeling at Otago is that we need to caption a copyright notice beneath any material that is not CC BY. Our intention is to use CC material wherever possible but it seems that is not always possible. This hangout was marred by continual connection issues, some members kept dropping out and so on.

4pm Concluding meeting  held to wind up the weekends efforts. A good discussion assessing what worked and what did not work. How it could be improved next time. Importantly a next time was mentioned so no one was put off by the experience. Also, as expected the ‘book’ is not finished so there is still some work to be done, and the ‘cookbook’ to create.

16th November

Well the hack is on. We have prepared ourselves and are eagerly anticipating the first Hangout, the chosen skype like mechanism for communication amongst collaborators.

10 am It works! and all but South Australia are in conference video call. They of course are behind us in time. Discussion is a little unsure at first obviously some getting to know each other as well as finding a focus for the process. Each will go to corners to continue writing – continue because some material has been pre-prepared.  The expectation is that Saturday will be the writing day and Sunday the editing day.

Underway – and two Otago postgrads have arrived to help, wonderful! The plan is to meet via hangouts every two hours but we’ll see if that transpires.  Each meeting is being recorded.

12 noon South Australia is attempting to join the discussion but a problem with the plugin. This again shows that the technology needs to be tested in all detail before the hack begins.

12:50 Made contact and talking to SA [turns out SA is only 2.5 hours behind us not 3.5 as I thought but that could be our daylight saving time. Nothing is as simple as it could be].

2 30 we have a substantial amount of text up and circulating. Discussion is loosening up a bit.

Hangout has a few sound issues and we cant have more that five anyway so need to solve this next time – Otago can gather around one screen.

2:45 Very useful meeting. Beginning to discuss the book concept, whether it is restricting the writing/creativity and whether the focus of the project needs to avoid just writing another conventional textbook. Also good discussion on whether we are authors or curators. Style is another matter to sort out

4:30 Meeting [last for the day] Importantly, the discussion is turning to how the platform employed  influences how it is written. There is a suggestion that we explore others, such as WordPress.com. also focusing on two chapters to establish a more finalized product.

The meetings have progressively become more focused and involved more debate. I can only suppose this is a consequence of increasing confidence amongst collaborators to make their point of view and readiness to debate. It has been a fascinating process to observe. The results for the day’s effort say much about what can be achieved with this process. There are about 9 chapters/sections uploaded and ready for curating tomorrow.


15th November

One day to go and here’s hoping. Some last minute tech matters are needing to be solved but nothing that will hinder the event tomorrow.

The publicity machine is working so we have created a media page on this site. This contains the articles about the project from Creative Commons NZ, Scoop: Education, The University of Otago press release and the latest that appeared in online magazine Idealog.

Also worth a look is this http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/2-senators-will-offer-bill-promoting-open-access-textbooks/48359 about a bill introduced to the US Senate. This Bill attempts to deal with the problem of huge increases in textbook process in US universities, by encouraging open access online texts.

14th November

Two more chapters uploaded to Drive.Also uploaded is a spreadsheet designed to track development of sections. Here I had written the word chapters but have to keep reminding myself this is not a conventionally structured book.

It will seek to make the most of the digital platforms it will work with. Increasingly, I am made aware that the implications of that will result in a different process and finally a different layout, one that can best be described as ‘living’ or ‘organic’. Just an example is that a digital book can continually link to itself or to other sources, providing it with branches and leaves. Many examples of this already exist and are accessible online. Recommended to me and worth looking at is Living Books about Life www.livingbooksaboutlife.org  . Here and at other similar online book libraries I find it interesting that conventional book covers are provided for these digital ‘books’, despite the different content. Nevertheless, this reference to the familiar [imaginary hardcopy] seems to create a recognisable identity that the material, otherwise, might not have. The big difference is contained inside and in the word ‘living’. “All the books in the series are themselves ‘living’, in the sense that they are open to ongoing collaborative processes of writing, editing, updating, remixing and commenting by readers” (http://www.livingbooksaboutlife.org/about.html accessed 14/11/13). This form of library, exemplified by our planned media text, is intended to contain living books in the sense that they can continually grow and mutate from the well-fertilised soils of solid thinking.

But! Back to earth. The ODT is planning to write and photo the event on Sunday.

Today we also tested the screen video recording process. Cautiously we are ready to go. But! small glitches need smoothing out and, with expert advice, suddenly we have a simpler way of recording the screen activity.

Just in [11:36am] other news services and magazines are interested. Watch this space.

13 November

Today the first chapter was uploaded onto Google Drive ready for the collaboration process in the weekend.

Also the first tests, in house and with collaborators, of Hangouts as the communication tool for the weekend hackathon have been a success. An email to Otago MFCO Postgraduates achieved interest in participating during the weekend. Everything from tea making to serious academic writing is likely. The two-day event is shaping up to be a day of writing and a day of editing. The Saturday upload and writing process will be held together by planned hangouts to discuss progress and content. Sunday is expected to focus on editing, indexing, hyperlinking, referencing and the multitude of other tasks of any publishing event.

A blog has appeared at http://creativecommons.org.nz/2013/11/hacking-a-media-text-in-a-weekend/ with positive mention of this event.

12the November

All seems to be in place. The link to the spreadsheet that will track drafts, revisions and edits is emailed out to collaborators, as is the link to the Google Drive folders that will finally contain the sections. All that remains is to test the process. I went back to the Finnish maths book sprint to double check that we have learnt from their experiences. Of course this does not mean that we wont discover pitfalls, technology failures and organisational hitches of our own, just that we might minimize them.

11th November

Work continues as needed on the project. Its Monday and there is one week to go. Have been putting some thought and research into just what could go wrong, to be forearmed. Also looking at the proposed software Google Drive and Hangouts to be sure that they are the right ones to use.

8th November

Reading Media Texts

Analysing texts: theory and method

Semiotics & Language

Communication and Culture

Culture and Contexts


Discourse and Institutions

Democracy and Public Spheres

Media Effects

Production and Structures

Political Economies (Old/New)

Technologies, Networks and Mobility

Globalization & Convergence

Audiences & Identity

Audience Research (Cultural Studies)

Consumer Cultures

Identity & Fan Cultures

Postcolonialism/Race and Ethnicity/Constructing Nations


Also a meeting was held by the steering committee. It was firstly, to update the foundation members on progress, and secondly, to discuss the technology needs for the coming week and the weekend event itself.

7th November

We also discover the variation in semester structures outlines etc some include 12 16 or 24 lectures, nevertheless,  a structure and book out line is taking shape. In the nature of a truely collaborative process it is being thrown around the collective by email.

The weekend event will be the 16th and 17th November the Referencing style will be APA the platform will be Google Docs and the final book will be submitted to the University of Otago Library’s Digital Archive as a PDF. The intention is that the book is an open source resource so other formats will be possible. This is to be dealt with next week.

5th November

A lively discussion has begun in earnestamong the collaborators.The process is being described as pass the parcel. “No one person has to “write” a chapter — someone might take the lead on a section, but all are welcome to contribute.  It’s a pass-the-parcel style of book production.” [Otago] I also liked this description of the process of working from an outline “a skeleton framework – even if we move the bones around it” [Uni of South Australia]  Some collaborators are sharing a feeling of excitement over the project.

Content has began by sharing course outlines. These in some cases are easier to acquire than others. Also each collaborator has shared their areas of interest. From these an outline will be pulled together

4th November

These are useful outlines of what Open Educational Resources [OER] are

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student or self-learner. Examples of OER include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world. https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24836860/what%20are%open%20Educational%20Resources  accessed 4/11/13

The definition of OER currently most often used is “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research”. OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licences. This report suggests that “open educational resources” refers to accumulated digital assets that can be adjusted and which provide benefits without restricting the possibilities for others to enjoy them. OECD p10 [see also p30] www.oecd.org/edu/oer  accessed 4/11/13


30th October

First MOUs returned and sent to Humanities Research Advisory Office for countersigning.

Aspects of the project are being clarified through the process of answering question from the collaborators. What is obvious to one is not necessarily to another. The questions are around issues of team versus individual involvement, the form the book will take and how to get started.  The matter of teams is not as significant as anticipated because on the whole interest has been from individuals [who may or may not gather up extra help]. The exception is Canterbury University. Another area of uncertainty is how much is required for a section or chapter. To the extent that this is unknown terriain the answer could be that any material [outlines, short chapters, links to elswhere etc] can constitute useful teaching resources. This is an open source experience so whatever the material there is the potential for it to be expanded, remixed or the gaps filled in.

29th October

Emails expressing areas of interest have begun coming in. As expected these are first from New Zealand due to the time zone differences.

28th October

Sent individualized MOUs to each collaborator. Then sent email to all requesting areas of interest

24th October

AM. Updating the diary which has been neglected due to many other tasks requiring attention. Replaced the first draft of the MOU with the revised form, althought it is only a sample not the one to be signed.

PM. Have had email conversation with Allison Brown on the matter of the form the book will take. The referencing system is for the project to decide. The format initially will be a merged PDF held in the archive. Other formats can be considered and converted closer to the weekend hack.

23rd October

Sent email addresses to the five people who have granted permission to share them.  The intention is that this starts the process of collectively assigning subject and areas of interest, and to discuss the software platform and the referencing and formatting system to be employed when the book is hacked together.

21st October

Another email marathon. This is another update  to both departments and institutions as well as selected people

MOU finalized. The procedure is to make a PDF with names of collaborators in the space provided and that they send it back to Gabrielle Hines University of Otago Research Advisor (Humanities) Research and Enterprise Office.

18th  October

Contacted Matt McGregor to clarify the discrepancy between a CC-BY 4.0 and 3.0. His reply is that version 4.0 is not yet released (expected by end of the year) and as well is intended to address issues in other jurisdictions. His advice is to stay with CCBY 3.0 NZ.

14th October

Another email-out is undertaken.  Again this is to departments and institutions, but a longer list. This is to update progress.

Today we sent the MOU to Gabrielle Hine at the Humanities Research Advisory Office to check over. It returned on the 16th transformed into a more orderly document.  Her input clarified some of the legal and copyright matters. It is important that everyone involved understands that CC international agreed to the text as well as any reports are released under a CC-BY license.

8th October

Replies of interest are coming in. These indicate that some interested people have participated in similar projects before.

7th October

Today embarked on another substantial email effort, this time concentrating on faculties, departments, schools and institutions. This was mostly an attempt to contact universities that did not provide staff lists on their websites, hoping that internal circulation will fill the gaps.

5th October

Richard is emailing contacts in Auckland to investigate the potential for participation there.

Bernard is uploading to the blog site the draft MOU and project plan. Also a page to be called FAQ and notes is to be uploaded. This began as a compilation of existing experience, however, they are beginning to have content generated by questions from interest in this project.


4th October

A meeting is held at the Otago University Staff Club attended by Erika, Richard and Bernard to refine the plan and MOU. A discussion on the technology, software and some other general matters moved the project on.

30th September

We are continuing to work on both the Project Plan and MOU, adding legal matters and trouble-shooting to the Project Plan. At this stage the troubl-shooting is largely a compilation from the experiences of The Finnish Maths book and the information provided on the Booksprint Flossmanuals sites. These are worth the read for anyone interested

25th September

A meeting with Erika, Simon Hart and Bernard is to discuss the creation of a memorandum of understanding to establish the role of each collaborating partner. This will include  the project being administered by the University of Otago and final storage of the book in the library’s digital collection, and copyright matters.

Also  the first responses come in from the emailing effort.

23rd  September

The first emails to all possible universities and a selection of people announcing the project. An attempt was made to focus on those teaching at the introductory tertiary level of media and communications studies. However as previously indicated it is not always easy to identify who is teaching such papers.

Valuable research is found in the Finnish experience of hacking a maths textbook. On their website they are very open about describing the problems and successes of their project. It seems essential for projects such as this that participants are open about not only the successes but also the mistakes or aspects not achieved.

Several other sites are worth reading. These include the work of Adam Hyde with his Booksprints and Flossmanuals. Their online addresses are listed on the FAG and Notes page on this site (18 October).

16th September

Bernard Madill was taken on as the administrator for the project.

His first task was to compile lists of institutions and people who might be interested in participating in such a project. This was not as simple as just accessing the websites of Australasia’s sixty or so universities. Some were more ready than others to provide departmental information and many were understandably protective of personnel details including contact addresses.  The meaning of media studies and communications studies varies enormously and the conglomerations of disciplines into departments has no consistency whatsoever.

Pre September

This project was born from a chance comment about open source textbooks. This lead, as it inevitably does, to someone saying well why not try it out and test the process. Initial proposals were put together by a steering group consisting of Dr Erika Pearson, Simon Hart and Richard White. Contact with Matt McGregor of the Royal Society of New Zealand lead to CC international agreeing to sponsor the project. The sponsorship agreement has two aims. Firstly, to create Open Educational Resource for media and communications studies, directed towards first year course requirements. Secondly, the process was to be documented so that the experience and a template would benefit future OER Textbooks.

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