Friday, February 27, 2009

If web 2.0 is the answer, what was the question?

Web2.0 is not the holy grail. Web 2.0 will not provide instant harmony or longlife.
IT does not deploy itself. It does not establish its own trajectory magically solving the ills of inadequate relating.
Tis a means to an end and not an end in itself.
While it is more than 'just a tool', it is not 'the' answer.
This rant was provoked by a proposal that web 2.0 would help to resolve dysfunctional team dynamics.
Its a bit like outsourcing IRD to a place where the people aren't, thus minimizing attacks on staff.
Web 2.0 the answer? Yeah right.
Show some respect; get the trust, empathy and unconditional positive regard right first and the people might relate better.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Monday, February 16, 2009

a blinking entanglement; digital youth culture

Publics are, argued Latour, not a singular pregiven entity (‘The Public’) that we can assume to simply exist, ready to be consulted when, and if needed, but an entity whose visibility is variable and intermittent: blinking into view only when, and if, the lighthouse beam of a controversy falls on them, or to use a different metaphor, when finding themselves entangled within one. And we should be careful, continued Latour, to assume that these publics are necessarily the same as those who are spoken for, whether by governments, companies, activists and NGOs. Because publics ‘blink on’, only when a particular controversy escapes the ability of these very spokespersons to adequately resolve them. Part of our job as researchers becomes to remain attentive to the ‘coarse signs’ that signal towards the existence of, or transformations in these controversies.

What consequences might this apparently abstract debate have for the objects we study?

I came across this question while following a google alert on Latour, where a blog posting by Joe Deville provoked some thinking on my part. Performed identity is an area i have been attending to recently. Seems a youth culture is one of these blinking entanglements.

In looking at young people's use of mobile technologies for counselling, it becomes easy to say that x is part of youth culture... and that use of x is part of a young person's identity... is it a bit like saying the landline is a part of a middle aged culture and shapes the identity of middle aged people?
Well, yes.
We are shaped in association.
And its also going to be messier than that, as not all young people, middle aged people all do the same things...and they/we dont do it all the time.

ps. I am wanting to read a transcript or listen to an audiofile of Bruno Latours address on The changing dynamics of public controversies, if you know of a link, please leave it here...thanks in anticipation :D

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Advice for a PhD; the kiss approach and taking one step at a time

"It's entirely possible that you will choose a niche that's too small. It's much more likely you'll shoot for something too big and become overwhelmed. When in doubt, overwhelm a small niche." Seth Godin

The advice from my supervisor
1. A picture of where i want to be at the end of the PhD above my desk: Matakana Brickbay sculpture trail. (The photo is of Mary_Louise Browne's artwork at Brickbay,Matakana on the sculpture trail.)
2. A box below the picture to save the ideas in for the post doc life. Happy and fascinated as I am with my topic, there is a word limit, and a time limit,and a life....In the words of Latour; a good thesis is a finished one.
3. "If its not last weeks cure for cancer, leave it out." cj

About the artwork, seen today in misty rain, a perfect medium for the bluestone carved words:
Its about journeying. One can enter stairs going up or down. The stone has both words and meaning. A simple play on changing one letter in each word transforms one up and down on an emotional journey also.

Monday, February 09, 2009

objects we think with; I am therefore I think...revisited

I'd been cleaning out my parents unit and came across a wooden folding ruler and a wooden pyramid shaped 3d ruler and these reminded me of ways of thinking. I was reminded of maths classes where slide rules were the technology of the moment and log books...I couldn't use either now - I was going to say for love nor money. Love of such 'technology' and my Dads old tools could pique my curiosity.
And then in my google alerts there was a prompt to Sherry Turkle on Evocative objects; Things we think with. A student, gnaedigefrau, had a task to match a self taken photo and some poetry, and it got me thinking, again. My laptop has me thinking, the connectivity of the internet has me thinking...and I have to concede that things i think with include people, friends and strangers. I had been tagged to write of 25 things about myself in facebook, and it got me thinking...
I was 'mucking about' and fluttered into twitter, and there Colin Warren provoked some more thinking, an exercise in networking where a ball of wool was thrown around a lecture theatre symbolically concretising the networks.

There are multiple layers or realities involved in this provocation to thinking, the performance involves multiple realities of intimacy within a public space, and of being a thoughtful phd student while also being a lecturer...and I am reminded students will be blogging their learning too in the knowledge and enquiry paper, and how the tracing of thinking becomes possible with hypertext links making some of this more overt. A committment to what Wesch refers to as being knowledge able as oppossed to knowledgable.

I'm now seeing in Latour's writing when he writes of an ANT informed analysis as being a way to see, for instannce a cloth, folded, and refolded where what is illuminated is subject to change. And that this too is a performance, and the researchers own part in this is a further aspect to whats performed, whats seen and not seen. That reality is more than a perspective, its an engagement and it is not fixed, actors and artefacts are all shaped in combination. Mol talked of the ways different people engaged with arteriosclerosis, showing the multiplicity of this disease entity, but what of how the same actor engages differently at different times. Here's where there's an opening for investigating identity work.
I behave differently here than there, with these things rather than those things...My thinking is shaped by the tools i use, and is also presented differently because of the tools used.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Not killing the genius within or waiting on magical fairy juice. Performative identity work in writing a PhD

My blog had begun to go round in circles on change and I am trusting the move sideways to identity work is not a distraction. I have an inking its part of the same issue, for in as much as we change things, we too are changed.

Elizabeth Gilbert describes a way of being both normal and a genius. Its not the language of performative identity that she uses, but I believe she is writing of identity work.

While Annemarie Mol describes performativity occurring as different people work alongside others in a hospital and where arteriosclerosis is multiple as described in the stories where it is managed/treated/lived with, in contrast Elizabeth Gilbert is an author describing how she is both divine and human, creative and mundane; pressured to always be performing at peak.
And then I began thinking of my own lack of progress...

The following is a synopsis based on Kim Zetters write up

"Allowing somebody ... to believe that he or she is ... the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, internal mystery is just like a smidge of too much responsibility to put on one fragile human psyche," she said. "It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all of these unnatural expectations about performance. I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years."

She acknowledged that an audience filled with rational-minded people would balk at the idea of creativity as a kind of "mystical fairy juice" that's bestowed on someone. But she said it made as much sense as anything ever posited to explain the "utter, maddening, capriciousness of the creative process."

Elizabeth Gilbert relayed a story that musician Tom Waits told her years ago. One day he was driving on a Los Angeles freeway when a fragment of a melody popped into his head. He looked around for something to capture the tune -- a pencil or pen -- but had nothing to record it.

He started to panic that he'd lose the melody and be haunted by it forever and his talent would be gone. In the midst of this anxiety attack, he suddenly stopped, looked at the sky, and said to whatever force it was that was trying to create itself through the melody, "Excuse me. Can you not see I'm driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment ... otherwise go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen."

Waits said his creative process, and the heavy anxiety that permeated it, changed that day. In releasing the creative force, he realized that creativity "could be a peculiar, wondrous, bizarre collaboration and conversation between Tom and the strange external genius that was not Tom," Gilbert said.

She recalled his story when she was in the midst of writing her (now top selling book) Eat, Pray Love and fell into a pit of despair when she felt blocked. She said aloud to whatever entity it was that usually helped her but was on furlough that day that if the book didn't turn out to be good it wasn't going to be entirely her fault since she was putting everything she had into the project. "So if you want [the book] to be better, then you've got to show up and do your part of the deal," she told it. "But I'll keep writing anyway, because that's my job. And I'd like the record to report today that I showed up."

I'm looking forward to the release of the Ted2009 talk.

And so for the record...
I'd like to report,today I showed up, today I'm human.
I'm having a Zen moment where before and after enlightenment there's still work to do.
And I am happy to accept my capacity for being genius and human is sometimes not performed concurrently, but performed within a compartmentalised life :)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Change: Invention as the mother of necessity

Necessity is the mother of invention.
Interesting turn around.
There is lots of evidence that demand does not create supply and that instead whats invented is then repurposed and a demand created.
The space shuttles needed heat resistance; teflon gets invented. And then its adapted, translated....teflon in so much more...frypans, spatulas, irons, ironing boards, fire retardent clothes, heat resistant anything and ... The invention creates unexpected and unanticipated supplies and demands. Some unwanted...
(Not related to teflon but to chemicals in coolants, we have fire retardent chemicals in polar bear fur and the levels of prozac in recirculated water in the north seas is measurable though subtherapeutic ...)

When things change, there is also a change of things.

In txt messaging, the technology was developed for one purpose, gets coopted for another, creating needs. My daughter needs her text capable now do I. But i never had the need before the product came along. And there's an ongoing ripple effect, the expectation of always being on/always on you...creating expectations of connectivity...your best friend is only as far away as your pocket...and will apparently (if i listen to the advertising hype) always be available to me, always want to be and always positive.
If it hadnt already existed, telephone counselling would need to be invented.
And reshaped, meeting a need by being reconfigured in a format that suits its target group, young people....

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shaping practice

Client centered therapy
Student centered learning
What next?
Employee centered workplaces?
Apparently not.
Research is overwhelming, 90% of the literature does not endorse open plan offices.
Evidence based practice?
Apparently not.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

On power, durability, resistance and survival in a climate of change

Bruno Latour writes

Strenght does not come from concentration, purity and unity, but
from dissemination, heterogeneity and the careful plaiting of weak ties.
This feeling that resistance, obduracy and sturdiness is more easily
achieved through netting, lacing, weaving, twisting, of ties that are weak
by themselves, and that each tie, no matter how strong, is itself woven out
of still weaker threads, permeates for instance Foucault's analysis of
micro-powers as well as recent sociology of technology. But the less
intuitive philosophical basis for accepting an ANT is a
background/foreground reversal: instead of starting from universal laws
-social or natural- and to take local contingencies as so many queer
particularities that should be either eliminated or protected, it starts
from irreducible, incommensurable, unconnected localities, which then, at a
great price, sometimes end into provisionnaly commensurable connections.

This is a reminder to me that 'power' is not something to curl up and die in the face of...its made of little things. Its not nebulous, its not plaited ropes of sand.

I am reminded, again, of my background in critical social theory, and how to reconcile this with the descriptive form of actor- network theory. Here I have it. Power is plaited.

The man who writes to the masters of Pig Island
about the love they dread
plaits ropes of sand
but i was born among them
and someday will lie amngst their dead

James K Baxter (New Zealand poet)