Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Folding time CCK08

"For while the past has left ineradicable traces within you, the future is already present too. You try to juggle with the future....the logic ... does not unfold in time, it folds time."

While Annemarie Mol was talking of the logic of care, I suspect it is not only care that this is true of. I believe that this is also true of learning.
(And am repeatedly reminded that with health and education the separations are purely institutional, divided silos, but both are about helping people live to the best of their actual and or chosen abilities.)
In Lisa's post the spectre of networking dead people is raised, and I am aware in my study of 'networking' Marshal McLuhan. I am not sure if the medium is the message guru would take kindly to the medium innuendo in this case, however, the great man did have a sense of humour, so maybe.
And in attempting concept maps for CCK08, I was increasingly frustrated by the unidimensional, linear nature of these;

Mol points to this in the logic of choice, where time is linear... whereas in practice
with a logic of care, time twists and turns.
Practice is messy, attempting to make it neat and tidy in a concept map, just might be making a mess of it (refer to John Law, After method; Mess in social science research)
Targets move, when the unexpected occurs it is integrated, there is no logic of arrows. Time is not moment by moment.
And in the immortal words of David Bowie:
time may change me, but I can’t chase time.

In the spirit of raising the past, 1973 brought us this.
Discordance, dissent and clashing of culture create new 'knowledge'.
It is the criss crossings and intersections that matter.(further reading see; Johansson, F. (2006). The Medici effect. What elephants and epidemics can teach us about innovation. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

educational iatrogenesis; when you swim with sharks try not to bleed CCK08

I'm in a course with a population the size of a small town.
The capacity to learn from connecting with people in this small town is huge.
The potential for being distracted by time wasters is also apparent.
The potential to be damaged in learning is also as sadly apparent here as it is in any schoolyard with its rocks, stones, sticks and bullies.
Horizontal violence is not ok.
Freedom of speech is a noble thing, but as said by Mills: no one has the right to shout fire in a full theatre when no fire exists. It can be damaging.
Its not ok to let criticism continue unchecked.
Staying silent with bullies, condones the activity.
While masquerading as an activity of free speech the outcome is harm.
If education is for achieving greater freedom, the only person achieving this is the perpetuator of a crime. It is not ok to subvert a learning opportunity set up for a particular purpose involving thousands of people for one's own grandstaging.
At its least harmful its a distraction, at its worst it is educational iatrogenesis; an educational environment that is damaging.
In health iatrogenesis refers to medically induced misadventure and illness. In education I suggest it is misadventure and damage to thinking, to learning, to connecting, to knowledge production.
Education is, or should always be, an ethical undertaking.
It should always be for the creation of greater freedom (ref Colin Lanksheare)and not for less.

Connectivism as a theory of learning needs to consider the dark side of networks.
Not all communities are good, warm, caring, supportive places.
CCK08 is not either.
A rosy glow is insufficient. Taking off the rose coloured spectacles, connectivism as a learning theory needs to consider the potential for harm as well as for good.
What then might be the necessary and sufficient conditions for connectivism to do more good than harm?
Being Rogerian in my professional background, I try to demonstrate all the qualities needed for setting up an environment whereby personal growth might occur; trust, empathy, unconditional positive regard. As a responsible educator, I am also aware that these attributes do not help when swimming with sharks.
Greater freedom for one but not for all is perpetuated where the learning environment naively and innocently and with the best of intentions condones distraction, name calling, and critique that is false or unsubstantiated.
Sadly, for an experiment in open mindedness the seeds of failure may be embedded.
Does connectivism as a theory of learning depend on chance?
On who is in the scholastic pool?
If its for a particular purpose, as CCK08 is/was intended, then mediating the mix is valid interference.

Friday, September 26, 2008


This week has seen me doing less in the threads and more in the blogs. There's a depth in the blogs, a thoughtfulness that i am not experiencing in the threads (these feel like a tug of war played with spiders webs....)

The links made by Stephen in the daily, make for easy networking.
I am captured with provocative titles such as I need more blog friends. This gets to the heart of networking, if nodes dont connect, there is no net. And as one other person noted on Heli's blog, this is the actual work of networking, not just a theorising. I also tracked back in her bog a bit, and enjoyed the use of a photo gallery instead of the connector map concept formation which i have found too linear, too constraining- shape and sizes and lack of ability to put things in whether pdfs or pictures... Such a frustration. And am suddenly reminded of John Laws pinboard approach.
And this is what network connectivism learning is about, this fires off that synapse and a new thing happens that then fires into another synaptic space and where there are receptors again something else then happens...

The other blog of importance to me was Shelleys where there seemed an ah hah moment,
I had read through Krebs notes and wasnt in awe (went to his website and was much more impressed). The ppt didnt seem to mention work, it mentioned things like herds of cows and i was thinking rubbish. Takes work for it to be a network, its not the lego in a box, or if it is that's at a trivial level. There are maybe 2000 people in the course but its not a network unless they connect.
So its not connectivist learning unless they are connecting and learning...

The connecting may be quieter, doesnt have to be loud, or visible, but it does have to occur. Susan Leigh Star on invisible work would be a worthwhile tangent to explore on this...Star, S. L., & Strauss, A. (1999 ). Layers of Silence, Arenas of Voice: The Ecology of
Visible and Invisible Work Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8, 9-30.

While this is interesting, I think actor-network theory has it covered. The only difference is the concepts are being drawn into education by another name. The social is seen more than the technological, but i think this too will come.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The politics of knowledge CCK08

I've been looking at knowledge and am beginning to think its just a (current and temporary) explanation. Its not fact or truth as commonly understood, all such are socially mediated.
And then i did some more thinking...what causes things to happen or change, what changes knowledge?
Its the aggregation of things that make something more or less supported, more or less real.
To think this causes that is a little too simple, or as expressed by Latour(1988)

The belief in causes and effect is always, in some sense, the admiration for a chain of command or the hatred of a mob looking for someone to stone.
Latour, 1988. From an essay on the politics of explanation.
Again, I find connectivism is no different from an ANT analysis on the construction of knowledge.
And with regard to explaining change, I am back to describing the detail of whats happening, whats aggregated, what shifts, what do the actors say of their own actions...
Providing an explanation is, in a nutshell, working at empire-building; the more powerful an explanation, the larger the empire and the stronger the material in which it is built. What we admire in powerful theories we should also admire in freeways, multinational corporations, satellite networks, weapon systems, international banking and data banks.

Its always an aggregation, nothing as simple as a change agent (implying an individual does it by themselves). There is power and acquiescence, give and take and a reshuffling or resettling of the elements involved whenever a 'new' construction occurs. And not all of this is intended.
Knowledge understood this way becomes a product of heterogenous, historical and contingent factors.
How might I strengthen the validity or truth of a claim? Not by changing its substance, but by increasing the number of its allies, the supports maintaining this, whether human or otherwise (eg reports written, artefacts held in concrete form such as texts, the ease with which links to such knowledge is accessed...).
How to steer a course between fact and fiction? To be able to recognise the supports in place and personally evaluate the strength of such support.
And how to present such ideas to others that they might truly consider the veracity of knowledge I might hold up as evidence of my own research? By making my own positioning clearer; being an articulate reflexive practitioner? To provide a way through being believed too little or too much...
reflexivity goes against this common belief in asking no privilege for the account at hand. When I portray scientific literature as in risk of not being believed and as bracing itself against such an outcome by mustering all possible allies at hand (Latour,1987), I do not require for this account any more than this very process: my own text is in your hands and lives or dies through what you will do to it. In my efforts to forestall certain outcomes and encourage others, I too muster all available allies, all linguistic possibilities (if only, God - or Mammon - willing, I could write in my own mother tongue!).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

growing a thesis (PhD)

A thesis at Deakin requires 100,000 words.
I have 25000 & despite 2 weeks of study this has not grown alot and so was feeling despondent. So rather than wallowing, I am writing up what i have been doing:
Despite my best intentions, the lit review grew, weeding it is difficult, killing off the unruly that I previously nurtured is a struggle. And given the subject area, emergent technologies and change, its the stuff of sci fi mightmares; the stuff expands when your not watching it!
Growing a thesis takes more than inserting words into the page, it also involves taking them out.
And it involves peripheral juggling.
Progress also involves keeping it keeping on; relationships sustained, plans made that will make things in the future easier...and ways found through difficult patches. Sometimes the thoughts are clearer, sometimes it is more words.
Today I emailed my pro vice chancellor about study leave, emailed a student colleague who seemed less attached, ICQed another student colleague as well as my supervisor to share some thoughts from Mol that got me out of a writing block, read more of Mol, checked a dse forum on writing that I had contributed to the night before with what i think was an insight for me(the first task set connected to the second task, Checked in a connectivism course I am in- but connecting this to my methodology, confirmed appointments for interviewing research participants...
Looking at it this way, its not so hopeless :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

knowledge as a (gather)thing CCK08

There's a similarity between connectivism, rhizomatic learning and actor-network theory. Each places knowledge within a relational context or network.
The difference with actor network theory is that it
1. emphasises knowledge as a performance involving both human and non-human entities.
2. emphasises the work involved to gather together entities that make certain things more or less substantial.
The difference is the degree to which ANT is prepared to name non human influences as integral.
In doing this course, I needed a computer and/or a cell phone preferably with web access. I am enhanced when connected to my laptop= my reach is extended; my ability to hear and to share across the globe made possible with broadband access and the Internet. I am also able to trust to my outsourced memory contact with artefacts of seminal writings (Latour, Law, Mol, Haraway as well as those of Dave Cormiens, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Deleuze and Guattari, Gregory Bateson...). I am able to access more- the libraries of the world through other relationships i have, and I get to quickly find relevance by maintaining an endnote library reference system at my fingertips. In addition to these interactions which are substantially non human, I get to talk to others similarly connected with similar accoutrements.
And according to Latour, the more actors involved in such a gathering the more 'it' (knowledge or a particular practice) is stabilised. And becomes harder to ignore, or to go outside of, or to change.
Understanding the relational qualities of what is both shaped and shaping allows for insights into what is needed to make things otherwise...

(And hence my PhD on change with emergent technologies in a Youth counselling centre)

In taking this stance, I disagree with Stephen Downes that knowledge is nothing (elluminate talk), it is far too powerful a 'thing' to be discounted out of hand. But I take him to really be meaning that it is no(one)thing.
Knowledge is a shapeshifter.
And I am cyborg :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

learning surfing; connectivism CCK08

Today's connecting had me combine this with that, and provided me with a soloution to the large class teaching.
One of many to come, I hope.
Large class teaching just needs innovation, optimism and bodaciousness.
Works for Che Fu, Rove and Princess Leia.
Next step hologram the students?
For some more serious review, the first link had me prompted me to revisit an educator I enjoyed when i met him a couple of years back, Stephen Brookfield. The post was with regard to imposter theory. Which I dont think he has written of, or at least I couldnt find it, but I did find wikipedia on imposter syndrome insufficient.

Stephen does write of imposter syndrome in Brookfield, Stephen D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

teachers often feel like impostors (p.227)

He quotes deVries’ (1993, p. 129) summary:
These people have an abiding feeling that they have fooled everyone and are not as competent and intelligent as others think they are. They attribute their success to good luck, compensatory hard work, or superficial factors. Some are incredibly hardworking, always overprepared. However, they are unable to accept that they have intellectual gifts and ability. They live in constant fear that their imposturous existence will be exposed – that they will not be able to measure up to others' expectations and that catastrophe will follow.

Keeping it real is sometimes a struggle.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rethinking knowledge (epistemology); continuing a dialogue between connectivism and a proponent of ANT; CCK08

ruth has a small 't'.
Soren Kierkegaard
(letter T courtesy of Grewlike @ Flikr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License)

Connectivism holds knowledge to be transient and a 'connected' act. Rather than treating knowledge as a given, it is produced and held in connection.
Knowledge isnt made, its not like a pot to look at, or to have a shared understanding or appreciation of its value or worth or possible uses. Its not that stable.
Knowledge, as object of fact or process, I suspect is therefore multiple; where this knowledge, transient though it is, is held to be understood as of that time, in a partial way. But more than being perspectives held, this is actually ontological politics at play, reality is held together in different ways and acted on in different ways by those involved. A very ANTy perspecive on learning is made possible with a connectivism approach.
And any so called knowledge only holds together in this way until the connections are changed...so knowledge grows, shifts, gets more or less, dependent on those involved in its shaping.
And to take this further, especially with regard to an ANT informed analysis, is also dependent on the glue holding it. Whether said glue is the degree of trust or faith ... between the peoples involved or the power wielded or not... or the non human actors such as the form of technologies binding the connections. Whether this were to involve slate or paper and pen, books, through to the internet. There are non human actors who help shape said connections and which may store artefacts of the connected knowledge or which help create said knowledge by making the movement of ideas more and less possible. The emphasis on shaping allows the impact of those involved (human and otherwise) to be considered and allows for greater conscious awareness of the transience of what has historically been referred to as knowledge (as object). This theory, connectivism, shifts the emphasis of knowledge as process.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

if that;then this

Stephen Downes in half an hour posts on the difference between constructionist and other 'cognitive approaches' of learning in a comparison with connectivism. He uses an example of an expert chess player who does not know play by memorized moves but by discerning subtleties in a shifting pattern.
In the online chat on CKK08 for us terrestrially time bound southern hemisphereans, the constructionist approach was described by George Seimens as not being symbolic or syntax based, meaning is not made in symbolic ways, but is more fluid, distributed.

Maybe very fast or intuitive constructionism would be like this?
Or is this pixie dust?
I could sit with rapid cycling constructionism as a form of relational learning so am still not convinced that connectivism is different to constructionist theory informed by an ANT (actor-network theory) analysis demonstrating what occurs in a global networked learning environment.

Does constructionist learning have to be as concrete as George and Stephen make it appear?
I am beginning to wonder if i am thick or in over my head.

But i contend google is my friend :) she is not to account for making me stupid.
(ref Nicholas Carr)
I am as stupid now as when i would flick through journal articles skimming for relevance. My surfing through blogs or online articles is no different. I read whats important to me. If what i read is contributing to my/or others stupidity, I would content it has more to do with PBRF pressure on academics that foster quantity over quality of research outputs. Trivial but easy to measure, and multiple reinventions of the same content thinly disguised as different pieces of research...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

hopeful monsters

I said 'I think they might also be what are called "hopeful monsters".'
She said ' What are hopeful monsters?'
I said ' They are things born perhaps slightly before their time; when it's not known if the environment is quite ready for them." Nicolas Mosley, Hopeful Monsters, p.71

So begins John Laws' book A sociology of monsters.
It has me thinking of hopeful monsters I have born as well as ones I have been close to.
They are hungry beasts filled with anguish.

17 years ago I go gave birth to a megalomaniac, and she has persevered with me in adjusting to her from demanding infant terrible to beautiful young lady. Happy Birthday!

Other monsters birthed included a radical rewriting of a part of a curriculum related to the learning of mental health nursing. Might have been cutting edge; there was blood on the floor.

And monsters I am close to; the birthing of a new papers for 1200 students at a time.
I'm currently in an online course CCK08 which is for thousands so maybe I will learn how, or at least not go in to the planned one quite so innocently.

Plus am invited to help YL write guideline for moving into instant messaging as a means for counseling.

Today I begin reading Law's (1991) A sociology of monsters; Essays on power, technology and domination.

What connectivism and ANT may have in common (CCK08)

OK some rudiments of understanding first, and these are based on a limited reading of what George Siemens and Stephen Downes have put out there.
Connectivism is a theory of learning.
One that values highly the means of the learning.
Seems that knowledge is created and constructed in connection with others.
(Constuctivism methinks, so what makes connectivism different???)

"learning is a network phenomenon, influenced (aided) by socialization and technology"
“To 'know' something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To 'learn' is to acquire certain patterns” (Downes, 2005, Section O, ¶ 2).

Still not clearer.
So I am going to guess: Knowledge and learning are not static, there is continual learning/unlearning/reshaping at play. This occurs in connection with others and through channels that are deeply important. Here's where I think this is ANT. The others are not only human, the nonhuman others include technologies such as computers, IPS servers...the Internet. The local situated context of learning of the past has moved on.

To return to George, where learning is about making meaning, then this needs to take into account the means used and the context, because the context is now global.

This seems less a theory for understanding causality, but one for illuminating process. That connectivity via Internet has profound impact, yet to be recognised.

Knowledge not individually located but distributed; ok, still resides in indivisduals or in books, artefacts...but is not produced 'locally' the context is radically expanded, but is still produced in connection. Ok
But like communications what's written or saved as audio or blogged, wiki'd etc etc is not anything until it is shared in connection.

Still seems to be learning using a constructivist understanding that acknowledges an ANT mode in the practice.

If so whats important?
That non human actors have influence. That this influence is important, and not necessarily neutral. That inscribed in non human actors are ways of working that make certain things more and less likely. That in the making of new ways of working, we tend to surf on what has gone before and maybe this needs to be altered. That the grooves that form now or in the near past tend to make it harder to shift out of whats always been and maybe we need to.

Is it a theory?
Could actor-network theory have explored this as a means to understanding new changes in education? I think so, but it doesn't sound quite so sexy as connectivism.

Tools change people. We adapt based on new affordances.
I agree, but this still would encompass a constructivist theory made relevant when informed by an ANT analysis.
Whats new; an emphasis on how knowledge, in practice, changes.
To this end, I would encourage further exploration in understanding change differently. I'd encourage looking at Bruno Latour and John Law as the work of actors(human and otherwise) create performances. Or Annmarie Mol as she describes ontologies of practice.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Its so grounding when I see the people i hold way up there (person iconization?) having technological difficulties, they have to seduce the technology to do whats required, just like me. Its all in the way i hold my tongue or prayers to the alter of the godesses of loose connections or to the gremlins in the machine...
Anyway, i was happy to see a resend on the daily newsletter, proves the human connection.
I havent managed to make it into a moodle discussion though, i can watch but not post. Seems i am in a rebus strip of fill in the details and confirm it on the email but the email doesnt arrive and no confirmation gets made, so i start again.... but four times is enough already. I'll take my ball and play here.

Seems i could get blown away in a discussion of is connectivism a theory or not. Not the point.
I agree with George Siemens on the

The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.
But then I also agree with Marshal McLuhan who said the medium is the message.
If its a theory then there's baggage that is often associated with such labels, such as its capacity to predict. However, a theory can also be useful in as much as it illuminates...
“Does it end in conclusions which, when they are referred back to ordinary life experiences, render them more significant, more luminous to us, or make our dealings with them more fruitful? Or does it terminate in rendering experiences more opaque than they were before?” John Dewey

For the moment, I will accept it as a path to enlightenment :)

I agree with a sentiment that the subject matter would lend itself to a conversation which wasnt, and the critique of the critique is fairly defended- the past being a foreign country, it is unfair to lodge criticism out of context.

“The tools we use to think, change the ways in which we think.” (Turkle,2004, p.1)
Seems to me this is similar to
“To 'know' something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To 'learn' is to acquire certain patterns”
(Downes, 2005, Section O, ¶ 2).
But with Stephen Downes, this takes it a bit further as it touches on patterns formed, or as Chris Bigum and Leonie Rowan argue,
As patterns are laid down, grooves formed, a kind of template is created which also limits, proscribes, what can come next.
(Bigum & Rowan, 2004, p.223) In this there is a political ontology that can be considered, for the tools are not value neutral and what is done with them creates grooves, patterns of thinking, patterns of doing. And computers in schools become a subject to be taken rather than a tool to connect, expand...

And then George Siemens where he says;
Too many educators fail to understand how technology is changing society. While hype words of web 2.0, blogs, wikis, and podcasts are easy to ignore, the change agents driving these tools are not.

The notion of change agent is problematic for me, change theory just does not do it,a networked understanding would do it better. People act in relationships, such relationships are with other people and with things. The things are change agents also. (And hence i am studying change using networked understandings...)
And he comes to this with reference to the printing press. But what of seeing these non human actors as part of the network rather than as a channel networking others?

George Siemens concludes
that educators are reflecting on how learning has changed and the accompanying implications to how we design the spaces and structures of learning today.

What i would suggest is that form and function should follow. The analysis of it being theory or not, is less relevant for me than what purpose might it serve. Does it illuminate to look at learning differently- YES.
And I would argue further, to study what is networked, would be best served by an approach that focuses on the actors in said network (actor-network theory) and the work (or performances) involved.

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...).
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 :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Connectivism & Connective Knowledge CCK08

Hi , I'm ailsa. And I am starting a world wide course with Stephen Downes and George Siemens and a few thousand others, on colletive knowledge construction. I have done this in part because this is the first of a kind; a huge www linked course. Worth a look for how it works in days of big course teachings :)
I'm intrigued by the audacity, the bodacious intent.
And I might learn how to think, and to trust, on a grander scale, here's hoping!
The tag is to be identifiable CCK08 makes this linkable.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Studying change; thriving on the happenstance of smoke and mirrors

Part of the joys in researching are the times when the really interesting stuff comes up.
Its not when there's a formal interview happening, so there's no ipod recording it, no notes taken. Seems it happens when the researcher is out of the room. Reminds me of a great little film, kitchen stories.
There are tantalizing snippets left on a whiteboard where the agenda covered seems to indicate an area of interest to me, but which i know nothing of; not why its there or how or whta it means... And where conversations rush in with we thought of.... but the 'we' is never clarified so i dont know who or where/when. Seems its all done with mirrors and smoke.

And then there's happenstance.

"I'm glad to see you, i/we have been thinking about ... instant chat messaging, msn, we had looked at ... but its not... and also at skype but its... and ..."

aaargh i've already forgotten why it cant and why this is better, but it is, and young people are using msn and...

"and looking at skype with icam and coz its similar to f2f and i think a charge but others ...could you look at .... would you be interested in ...and ... developing guide material for this..."

Being a researcher creates its own interference.
And I'm studying change, but its not in an interview and its sudden and out of left field...
the stuff of change seems to unfold around me, not when its being recorded in a formal research moment, but in the day to day stuff. I'm dropping off something and get called over,
"i wanted to tell you about, ask you..."

Theres stuff happening, and I trip over it or into it by happenstance, and am then looped in.
My sense is that it's spur of the moment, I'm here, your available, and its your interest area, what do you think and can you....

Might also be relevant with what Johansson, F. (2006) describes in The Medici effect. What elephants and epidemics can teach us about innovation. He talks of making innovation happen by going intersection hunting, creating opportunities for intersection or combination effects.
I suspect in studying change, its also about spotting those intersection crashes as they occur.

Yesterday was my first acute awareness of an intersection collision
I'm feeling bumped into, small dent, and am bumping back
And again I am thankful that I have a methodology (ANT) that gives space to my own interference.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

silence; do not confuse it with any kind of absence

From Cartographies of Silence by Adrienne Rich

The technology of silence
The rituals, etiquette

the blurring of terms
silence not absence

of words or music or even
raw sounds

Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed

the blueprint of a life

It is a presence
it has a history a form

Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence

So begins Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey Bowker writing on
Enacting silence: Residual categories as a challenge for ethics, information systems, and communication
Ethics and Information Technology, Volume 9, Number 4 / December, 2007

I am reminded that silence does not mean absence.
That a story of process is often silenced when up against the story of results.
And that messiness is often overly simplified.
And that master narratives oftentimes reflect dominance.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Where do i start; How to do data analysis in a PhD informed by ANT

Where to begin?
Latour suggests:
"Where should we start? As always, it is best to begin in the middle of things..."

And I'm left thinking, yeah right, but which one?
Theres the middle of the actors, who or what is most connected.
There's the focal point of the agency - its called the hub - but recent changes through computer mediated communications means there is no spatial requirement any longer.
There's the Christmas present of a PDA from which the new modes of communicating evolved, but which now has the status of an ornament; a reminder of Christmas past.
There's my own position as a participant observer. Centre of my own unvivers :)
There's the CEO ....
Get the picture? The middle is contestable, but I have to begin somewhere.
Blogging defers the moment of choice. whats in whats out...at least latour suggests that ANT is not for the faint hearted or for those who see such things easily, so I'm reassurred I must be on the right track because I'm bewildered (and if sociology begins in wonder then bewilderment must be an asset !)

For several moments I considered a chronological stance instead, but whose?
There's the beginning of my research...
The beginning of my research where I am negotiating my topic?
When I am negotiating entry into the site of research?
My earliest involvement with the agency?
The beginnings of interviews? As a participant observer there was no clear delineation.
Maybe I could take it from when data gathering was first officially sanctioned by one ethics committee or by two?
And anyway, ethics isn't a moment in time, or if it is, shouldn't be. So this wont do either.

But begin I must for without beginning, I cannot end, and following another priceless piece of advice from Latour: a good thesis is a finished one :)

In media research, Latour suggests a newspaper, the ink on the page ... traces left by some writer suggests some group is being made or unmade.
So I choose to follow in kind and begin with txt.

But the first txts received by the agency seems to have gone the same way as the first ph calls. No one knows. No institutional memory, no written accounts.
Unlike the first successful bi-directional transmission of clear speech by Bell and Watson made on 10 March 1876 when Bell spoke into his device, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” and Watson answered.
But history seems often like this; the accounts of the history of the phone are not as clear as the account would suggest.
And nor are the txt messages I have as artefacts from this Youth counselling agency.

There was no myth making, no historical record kept.
So I look at what has been gathered from when the computerised records were established Nov 07.
50% of the first 30 or so texts were wrong numbers seeking the iou service from vodafone :)
The other 50% seem to be tests run by Youthliners learning to work with the system, "I'm a pirate and I need help."

And then it begins*...
"Hi wat is this service"

"Thankz but no...cant now evry1 just g0t h0me.s0ry 2 shy ...

"Yea ok. So um is it norml 2 feel guilty if i dnt hurt myslf enough?

(*not verbatim, nil risk to individual anonymity)

There appears a cautious curiosity, a reason established for texting over any other means, and a serious question posed.
Txt language is used. The sentences are short. The medium seems to not only truncate the words with novel spelling but also with spelling that would have been no more difficult in terms of key strokes had it been correctly spelt. There's a creativity in the spelling that seems to be for creativity sake. It is no easier to write thankz than thanks.
There's also a truncating of the conversation, the issue is pushed forward, 3 sentences and into it. Or at least that's the appearance, for there are no other cues by which to assess the authenticity of a message. The text gets taken on face validity.
I could write more in the theme of a discourse analysis, there is the use of an s vs a z, that there are salutations and punctuation that may suggest gender. What of an 0 replacing o but only some of the time. But it is not my intent to take a discourse analysis.
It is also not my intent to take a critical social theory approach. There is no evidence that texting was done because it was cheaper, nor more likely by a female as they have less discretionary income or more likely to use salutations... such supposition remains just that.
My research is informed by ANT, and as such I am eschewing such structural analysis instead, I follow the actors...

woops, thats going to be difficult - the service provides anonymity. The ethical considerations include doing no harm and that includes to a fragile community service.
Back to bewildered, and wondering.
I'm sure John Law promised a method for seeing the fuller better bigger wider brighter picture.
Currently mine is more piecemeal, a jig saw with gaps
Where are the hidden masses? Well and truly hidden.
The txters have anonymity and will not be traced, while I have invited participation by advertising in open spaces a willingness for involvement has yet to occur.
The techno peoples seem similarly elusive. They variously do not respond to emails, or in observed practice have a busyness that precludes interruptions, and when captured seem genuinely surprised that their role is one that should be in the eye of research of a counselling agency.
It takes work to convince these participants to participate.

I cannot trace all the connections in a lineal connected way, it will stop and start. A rounder fuller picture will be provided, but more in line with Annemarie Mol's study of athersclerosis in the body multiple.

Another snippet of Latour's wisdom: pack lightly for this journey, and expect delays.
mmmm. This delay is about getting from a to b when sometimes the path is missing (yet still be true to an ANT analysis).
The trace of a txters voice is evident: text artefacts point to being '2 shy'.
Instead of tracing these actors, I trace their voice through tracings...