Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A different connectivity; not better not worse. CCK08

Am glad I am doing this open access course,I had been worried it might be a distraction to the phd but actually there is overlap.
I am studying change and innovation with emergent technologies in what was a young people's telephone counselling agency (but which is now much more than that, with advent of txt messaging, bebo, facebook, Internet message board postings...).
Learnings:
1. Learning requires trust.
Not wanting to re-experience public humiliation (memories of getting it wrong at school) my own clutziness, and that described by others, in using something new and so big and so open...makes me aware that public learning requires trust :)
Thousands can see me as i stuff up a gmap etc
2. Learning requires engagement. Might feel alone, but my sense of others is expanded with gmap and with a sudden increase in my blog traffic on feedjit. While such visitors havent said hi (yet), i'm sure they will :)
3. My own engagement via the readings:
The first reading by Barry Wellman titled Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism. This one readily links to my earlier understandings of community when i did a Masters thesis on community care. Gemeinschaft refers to a community whose members are bound together by common values and intimate relationships.And here the metaphor of the little boxes seems to sit well. I can connect it to prior knowledge and expand it a bit. Networked learning that is not localised but glocalised.

We are now experiencing another transition, from place-to-place to person-to-person connectivity.
I like the way he writes this, the shared values are still relevant but they are network linked rather than geographically bound. This is also relevant to my phd studies...
4. Relevance to my current studies follows:
4a. coming from actor-network theory (ANT), the work of actors (human and non human such as my mac, the Internet...) can be considered for connected learning. While the conversation doesn't tend to go there- an ANT informed understanding requires consideration for the pixels, the platforms, the broadband access...And this CCK08 endeavour could not occur without it.
4b. The community counselling agency I work with for my studies is undergoing radical reform as it comes to terms with movement from place2place to person2person. Change that challenge ways of doing counselling. While landline to landline was its history, it is increasingly from mobile phones and the mediums used span verbal ph and txt or Internet message board, and is now also expanding into bebo, facebook, msn...
4c. High speed place-to-place communication replaced with high speed person-to-person
communication supports
dispersal and role-fragmentation of workgroups
with a shift to a personalized, wireless world affording networked individualism, with people switching between ties and networks. People remain connected, but as individuals rather than being rooted in the home bases of work unit and household. Individuals switch rapidly between their social networks. Each person separately operates his networks to obtain information, collaboration, orders, support, sociability, and a sense of belonging.
There can be concurrent 'cycling' through different windows of social connections with concurrent conversations occurring.
So a different connectivity is generated, and staying with ANT, I'm struggling not to criticize this, it simply is done and done because on some level/s it works.
Partial involvements do or dont serve counselling well? More a matter of understanding what occurs better. Work relations do become more dispersed. Not just the work between people, but between people and their work. Counselors are no longer located by time and place, but the process of counselling can be taken up by anyone with IT access in the building; and is encouraged with a colour alert countdown on the response time to txt messages.
Participants in virtual organizations (such as this one we are in now, or the one of a telephone counselling agency) are described in the article as linking people in temporary networks to deal with tasks. Participants inherently have multiple loyalties and partial commitments. (But this is true of life also, just the spatial and temporal alterations make it more obvious in a networked or virtual world.)
Often, the sociophysical context is ignored, as when people talk loudly on their mobile phones in public. They are not being anti-social: the very fact of their conversation means they are socially connected. Rather, people’s awareness and behavior are in private cyberspace even though their bodies are in public space.
And its also true that the sociophysical is oftentimes assumed private, the txt artefacts I study frequently presume privacy which a respondent reasonably often says is not available to them. Not wanting to be heard is a frequent response to being invited to call and chat in 'real' time. The assumed privacy of a digital medium (txt) concerns me, both in the ethics of what i study and in terms of the naivity of those using the service.
Shifting from face-to-face contact to disembodied email contact is a possible means of obtaining autonomy: Isolation is achieved without effort.
I think this is said a little too glibly. It does take effort, perhaps not consciously, but choice occurs and there are different ways of acting in the interaction. To have anonymity is a form of work important to the callers of the telephone counselling agency I work with. Autonomy is also important here, in txting the rate of response or even responding at all, allows a maintenance of self- of being able to 'say' what might not otherwise feel possible.
Will networked individualism deconstruct holistic individual identities? A
person would become the sum of her roles, and need to present multiple personas to the world. This compartmentalization of personal life—within the household, at work, and in communities — may create insecure milieus where people do not fully know each other.
There seems a negative undercurrent in the statement, but we have always had compartmentalised lives, I am not the same person at work as at home, or even at work amongst friends vs others... the life I live is multiple.
Annmarie Mol talks of the body multiple where arteriosclerosis is performed differently and in dispersed ways. I think virtual lives lived are no different. Sherry Turkle talks of the cycling through windows on life on the screen. Practice generates multiplicity. The real world is messier than commonly assumed, (refer to John Law, After method, mess in social science research). This is usually denied in euro-western traditions of understanding. Political ontology is at play where certain realities are given more and less credence.
A decade of research has dispelled fears that computer-mediated communication would destroy community and hinder work.
But it still gets aired frequently. Not everyone's at the same level or on the same page.
Are online relationships as good as face-to-face relationships where people can see, hear, smell and touch someone, usually in a social context? Probably not, but the question has an utopian assumption that if people were not online, they would be engaged in stimulating community, household, or personal activities. In reality, online relationships often fill empty spots in people’s lives

And in terms of counselling, the same arguments were put forth about telephone counselling in the 1970s...
Does the Internet increase, decrease or supplement other forms of
interaction? The evidence is mixed. At work, those who use email a lot also see each
other a lot.
For counselling, seems willingness to txt in is providing a doorway to counselling f2f
The comparison with face-to-face relationships is always a rigged game in which online relationships can never be quite equal? Or would it be wiser to ask if online interaction is developing its own strengths and creating its own norms and dynamics?
Yup seems the 'gold std.' But there are strengths in online, theres extended reach, anywhere, anytime, there's anonymity (wouldnt occur otherwise), and there's the positive affirmation in the pocket stuff (just as cell phones could be used for bullying, they can also be repositories of affirmations)

So there's stuff here aplenty. The PhD is not being neglected, there's connections to be made.

If your dropping in, say hi, helps me know I'm not alone in this :)
Let me know your blogsite and I'll reciprocate in kind :)

1 comment:

  1. Barry Wellman7:09 AM

    I'm saying "Hi", as requested;-) Seriously, I appreciated your comments which seem right on.
    Barry Wellman

    ReplyDelete