Friday, July 24, 2009

Truth and transparency; Knowledge construction in a hyperlinked world

Truth and transparency in a knowledge era is well illustrated by David Weinberger in a presentation at the Personal democracy forum 2009, here he demonstrates an ecology of knowledge, where Knowledge is produced in links and has an opening commodity rather than as Facts where the binary of solid indisputable information as a discussion closer, its this or that.

Weinberger presents a coherent argument challenging the common but wrong question of trying to dispute if the internet adds or detracts. A question also thrown at value of wikipedia and google searches as students (and others) find information to substantiate claims made. And I take from this the same faultiness in similar questions posed of other social networking devices including the cell phone and texting; the wrong questions asked in: 'Is it good or bad?' What the balance? Does it open us up or close us down? Who is right or wrong? Weinberger categorically states that such questions are not important, no matter if it opens us up a little or alot, it doesnt matter...what we need is a space that works with diversity, with difference rather than one that works with individual truths. We have to work to make a space for constructive difference.
Its a clear argument, for difference is always with us. How then do we manage the awareness and relevance of this difference. I suspect it is poorly, for we tend to get enmeshed in the binary again of is it good or bad as if universal truth was where we were at. But the world has moved.

Knowledge and facts are as Weinberger names them "loose edged and messy" and we become increasingly conscious of this as we manage information in the making, not just the information that's decided as being valid, peer reviewed etc. Now our knowledge is available to us with links, we have the diverse views but I suggest we now need the tools with which to make our own minds up. I suspect we might need to reconstruct knowledge- just as Weinberger is doing, and move out of our positioning of binaries of good or bad. My next concern is about how might we learn more about the importance of difference, of context, of social justice.
Weinberger presents well that in the whole of human history, knowledge and facts remain disputed, that our ability to settle on anything comes with a history of contention and so we might as well get used to it. He likens this to triangulating and more, a multisubjectivity; where transparency is the new objectivity. He has more on this written on his Joho the blog blogsite, transparency is the new objectivity.
To paraphrase David Weinberger:

Knowledge in a hyperlinked world then becomes something to unsettle, something to consider in context...something to discuss in conversation, to debate, to exist in chaos, and unsettled argument is a better approximation of reality than a paper based world could ever give us.

But I'm still left unsettled, when and where do we learn of respect, of valuing context and the differences in others such that wisdom is not an imposition on others.

This has broadened my appreciation for connectivism and connective knowledge approaches to teaching and learning (ref Siemens and Downes), there is need to understand not only how knowledge is constructed, but also in the connections; beyond the capacity of current communication technologies that make such linking and awareness of divergent views possible, there is also a need to consider how valuing and respect for difference are managed.
Following this prompt to my thinking, i might just sign up for CCK09, but the current phd is going to restrict this to being a participant observer.


  1. When I read this, I immediately thought about an article I just read for my own PhD program.

    The author, Gale Parchoma, quoted Yvonna Lincoln, who stated that the "Interpretive Turn" is when "facts are only 'facts' within some theoretical framework, and that much of what passes for science is, in fact, some assertion within a theoretical discourse system."

    Tried to copy and paste the link here, but Blogger disables it.

    Who would have thought that the very concept of 'facts' nd 'truth' could be contentious?


  2. Hi Jeffrey, thanks for dropping in and making a comment, hope your studies are going well. I love mine. I am up to trying to make sense of what i have accrued with reading and with interviews so have a heightened awareness of knowledge being highly subjective. I'll do a google search on the refs u suggest, thanks again, ailsa