Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Playing with time

"Playing with other people , you must keep the time they keep."
In writing a thesis summary i am told some general guidelines:
Context (present/past tense)
The problem (past tense)
Data collection (past tense)
Data analysis (past tense)
The findings (past tense)
Conclusions (present tense)
Implications for further research (future tense)

I think there is room for movement.
Time, and chronologies, are punctuated differently for different actors in a network, Once upon a time marks beginnings, and they all lived happily ever after an end...but for whom, surely different realities will contest this.

There is no God-like view, accounts are partial; fractional and biased. One's present implicates past and future. Whats important to me today, may be blown out of the water with the important things that happen just a little further on. And any chronology of events with which I mark times passing are going to be very different to that of others.

As Etienne Van Heerden said, there are so many pasts, and "it" never looks the same.

In my thesis,
The past is with us, it creates the conditions of possibility (current tense)
The problem, continually evolves (current tense)
Data collected, is partial, reflects a time and place, or several times and places
Data analysis, is done here and now at a particular time and place,but is also read in the here and now of a different time and place
The findings, and conclusions are speculative.

And then there is the weirdness of language, in English there is a way of talking of the past but which does this with currency, a continuous past.
She was saying...
Of writing a thesis summary, is it of an object (study past) or is it more like a painting, its always here? Not the artist showed...but shows...
Is it not possible the tool (a thesis) may be more like an engine, not a camera enacting a future, rather than capturing a past?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Performativity in social science research; what a haiku knows

Photo by Michael Flick, cc license, original at

Void in form

When, just as they are,
White dewdrops gather,
On scarlet maple leaves,
Regard the scarlet beads!

Such poetry brings a reflexive stance to my understanding of what material semiotics and performativity can bring to my doctoral research. This Japanes poem by Ikkyu (translated by Stryk and Ikemoto,1981) stops me in my tracks.
In wonder I can think about what makes things so, what assemblages are required, how does the performance hold me as well as its assembly of actors and of spaces.

In iterating toward openness by David Wiley, I too wonder about what's needed to turn my educational institution into a place where I want to sit within and wonder at, rather than wonder why.

The frustrations of working in the academy where change happens either in incredibly small increments or tearing people distressed into a future they are scared by, are the issues that prompted my own studies into change and the use of emergent technologies.

Taking an actor-network approach is what helping me in making meaning of my world, as well as the worlds of others. I have come to appreciate that there are alternate realities. Sometimes these clash, sometimes they coexist.

Developing a network sensibility provides a fuller knowledge of the contingencies that hold certain actors in place.
This sensibility also provides for understanding that the social and the technical, that people and their technologies, are well enmeshed, that each actor is also a network.

Having this sensibility doesn't leave me stuck in despair though, for knowing the intimate details of how things are aggregated also provides insight that things can be done differently. Its a practical and pragmatic knowledge. There are potentials for adding to, taking away; working around; aligning alongside; or splicing into.

Trying to work change through lineal change theory approaches will clearly cause unexpected frustration.
Trying to use a rationale chooser approach similarly doesn't work. Logic and the wonders of an innovation do not of themselves create the conditions for a different way of being.

With wisdom shared by Seth Godin (2009), If you want to change what your boss ([or other people you work with] believes, or the strategy your company is following, the first step is to figure out how to be the best informed person in the room. To put this into actor-network terms, is to state the obvious, to reveal is to critique

Doolin, B., & Lowe, A. (2002). To reveal is to critique: actor-network theory and performativity in critical information systems research. Journal of Information Technology, 17(2), 69-78.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What if the price of mobiles connecting with mobiles for counselling purposes is that people don't

Frank Schirrmacher is interested in George Dyson's comment

"What if the price of machines that think is people who don't?" He is looking at how the modification of our cognitive structures is a process that eventually blends machines and humans in a deeper way, more than any human-computer interface could possibly achieve. He's also fascinated in an idea presented a decade ago by Danny Hillis: "In the long run, the Internet will arrive at a much richer infrastructure, in which ideas can potentially evolve outside of human minds."

Is this what George Seimens and Stephen Downes have been getting at with connectivism cck09?
We are apparently now in a situation where modern technology is changing the way people behave, people talk, people react, people think, and people remember. And you encounter this not only in a theoretical way, but when you meet people, when suddenly people start forgetting things, when suddenly people depend on their gadgets, and other stuff, to remember certain things. This is the beginning, its just an experience. But if you think about it and you think about your own behavior, you suddenly realize that something fundamental is going on.

And this is what led me into looking at how changes are both shaped and shaping with the integration of mobile phone technologies into texting for counselling.
To rephrase the question:
What if the price of mobiles connecting with mobiles for counselling purposes is that people don't?

And the questions provoked keep coming:
If you were asked, where do you keep whats important of your life, is the answer facebook?
I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm just aware that I have not only outsourced parts of my memory (i never memorize phone numbers anymore, and i leave editing and spelling to autochecks), but now i also consider that i have an external repository of my photos, and my highlights and lowlights of my life, and the bits inbetween floating on a'cloud' of blogging, twitter, facebook , texts and emails,, librarything
Need i fear like chicken licken having the sky fall on my head?

I think twice about what i post, here and there, I think twice about whats accessible into perpetuity by whoever whenever...
If I am exposed to an attention overload, how do i select the attention deficits to filter this? How do the tools i use select what they will attend to?

I spent an hour 20 yesterday trying to convince my mobile phone to talk with me let alone anyone else. Part of my life I cannot have back...
I told myself again and again that my mobile was to make my life easier... i had an inkling that i had been suckered into thinking this thing that was meant to improve my life and had decided i was not worthy of it. So much for my reach being extended, my voice being carried, or my hearing being able to cross the Tasman. For a cyborg I wasnt doing very well. Seemed something as supposedly worldwide as global roaming, visa top ups and the international company of vodafone could not make good on promises. Be with your bestmate anywhere anytime...yeah right.
I fell into a dark hole for a small time.

I begin to wonder who and what is determining my reality.

Schirrmacker provoked in me some angst for my very human condition, I suspect i need a psychotherapist to help me with this one:
but with the possibilities unfolding
the question of predictive search and others, of determinism, becomes much more interesting. The question of free will, which always was a kind of theoretical question — even very advanced people said, well, we declare there is no such thing as free will, but we admit that people, during their chidhood, will have been culturally programmed so they believe in free will.

i had loved Pandora, our detachment was a forced one. Should i now be grateful that my 'choices' are no longer contrived by the machine?
I love, should i be worried that my choices could be traced?
On my blog, my readers are more likely to be looking at just one posting than any other (it mentions panties) ...(whoops I've done it again).

That i am not so fully in control of how i might be perceived, or judged that I might not be so much predicting my own life, but having it predicted by others, through the cloud, through the ways i am linked to the Internet, are matters of import. Not so much that i should retreat from such involvements but that I should be more interested and invested with where such creations take me.

Reading Latour(2008), he talks me through the sin with Shelly's Frankenstein - was not in the making but in the abandonment. To withdraw from technology is not an answer, it is not possible, i am already inside of the machine and it in me.

How then to proceed? What is important, what is not important is something Schirrmacker describes as being linear, it's something which needs time, at least the structure of time. Now, you have simultaneity, you have everything happening in real time. And this impacts politics in a way which might be considered for the good, but also for the bad....

And I suspect it needs time because in the chaos of now, things are always unclear, it is with hindsight that a trajectory can be plotted.
Meantime I live withe the 'wealth of information' available, and the means with which to access it . I wonder to myself about the wonders of this- do thesis now have more references than 10 years ago... Are the expectations on PhD students to be well read more demanding now that there is so much more that can and therefore should be accessed? In my 100,000 word thesis, is 20,000 in referencing something that reshapes academia...and thereby me? being in this information cascade how to cope with information bittiness?

Nick Bilton, reassures me saying
We'll create and consume whatever information makes us happy, fulfills us, and leave the rest by the wayside. Maybe. Or maybe we'll school like fish in the Web's algorithmic currents, little Nemos, each of us convinced we're going our own way because, well, we never stop talking, never stop sharing the minutiae of our lives and thoughts. Look at me!
The informavore in me just hopes i dont get swallowed by sharks while I'm finding Nemo.

Latour, B. (2008). “It’s development, stupid !” or: How to Modernize Modernization In J. Proctor (Ed.), Postenvironmentalism: MIT Press.
Shirrmacker, F. (2009)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The one with the most toys wins

Data of itself is not the persuader or we wouldnt have such well informed smokers.
Seth Godin is suggesting that if you can data mine you'll be ahead of the (marketing) crowd. While data is one of the allies you might align with, of itself it does not have its own trajectory, it does not 'do the work'.
More alliances need to be formed. Instead of 'letting the data do the talking' which patently as shown by the examples Seth Godin points to are not enough, other ways of winning friends and influencing people (and making the world to your liking) might also be considered. For example, providing behavioural clues or examples demonstrating usefulness, consider how you might make the 'better' choice an easier choice, as well as how you might unpeel current attachments. From Latour, it would take a connecting up of favourable alliances, and reducing the strength of others. Putting it crudely, the one with the most toys (ways of doing the attachments, and detachments, and number of attachments able to be brought to bear) wins.