Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The art of writing

Here's the evidence of thesis writing being a distributed activity. The image portrayed is a graph created of movements on my mouse captured in 23 minutes of writing my thesis summary. The free software comes form iograph.
Writing is a distributed activity: the movements of the mouse attest to this. In is finger tapping movements on a key pad, as well as the lighting of pixels on a screen,and captured as a pdf file, or printed as ink on the page.
And the electricity, and plastic and metal gadgetry that is the laptop...
In addition text being distributed is also evident in that we, you as the reader and myself as the writer, have a shared meaning as to what these alphabet symbols mean and how on being strung together particular recognizable configurations are read as words, and in sentences particular meanings can be made.
And this occurs to the extent that Cooren writes of the spoken word as puzzling in that we assume the centrality of a speaker when myriad beings are involved and demonstrates that when we speak, many other voices are speaking as well.

In thesis writing there is also the distribution that involves myself as a student, a supervisor, and myriad other beings in a chain from here to there involving the institution I am enrolled at.
And a library and world wide web of readings that informs what i write of...and the twittersphere that introduced me to iograph.
And the research undertaken that prompted my thinking about how different communication and computer technologies alter how we see the world, and how we are seen, how we are shaped as well as shaping.

The textual format that can be traced not only in current time but which can also be traced downstream to the evolution of writing, and upstream with where such writing might lead with meanings made and paths then taken.

From something so little as a scribble of a graph i can make meaning... if I am willing to.
In arguing the textual form as distributed, this is also an example of actor-network theory at play, there are myriad beings involved, human and otherwise, and they are often silenced.
Such distribution is not only geographical but also 'folds time' or as Michel Serres (1995, cited in Latour, translated by & Venn, 2002 ) describes it, grasping a ‘garland of time’ as Michel Serres (1995)
Or I might have used the Deleuze and Guattari's metaphor of a thousand plateaus and reference to rhizomatic ways of learning (discussed last week by Dave Cormier in chage11#) except they didnt go so far as naming the technological so strongly in an ecological systems approach, nor giving voice to so many other actors.
The forward by Latour on Cooren's book that discusses discourse as a distributed activity also contributed to this post.

Current discussions in #change11 seem annoyed by the metaphors that make theorizing accessible to some and less so to others. What is made more or less strong, whose realities are being voiced, whose could or should be, are also ANT issues.
That rhizomes or garlands make it clearer for me, someone brought up more in a garden than in an academic house, is something I'm grateful for.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. London, England: University of Minnesota Press.
Latour, B. (2010). Who is making the dummy speak? In F. Cooren (Ed.), Action and agency in dialogue: passion, incarnation and ventriloquism (pp. xiii-). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamin.


  1. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Ailsa, I enjoyed reading this ... prompts me of Deleuze in Essays Critical and Clinical ... "Writing is a question of becoming, always incomplete, always in the midst of being formed, and goes beyond the matter of any liveable or lived experience. It is a process, that is a passage of Life that traverses both the liveable and the lived" ... ahh yes... a nice example of a (textual) garland (or a rhizome) ... Neil (@njhoughton)

  2. Thankyou Neil, a beautiful piece of prose. Completion is a hard task master in an academic world :)