Thursday, March 10, 2011

If knowledge is distributed, if agency is distributed then what of accountability?

Today Frances Bell and I gave a presentation on CCK11 about networking power and authority.

Cant wait to see the capture off eluminate, the audience was great, and i want to read the backchat, attending to the whiteboard and the microphone, meant i didnt always follow the chat...
These are the slides used.
Below them are the notes, some of which i referred to during the presentation and some which got lost in ...association.

slide 1
An invitation to talk to cck11 through George Siemens and Stephen Downes.
A joint presentation was then negotiated between Frances Bell and myself to explore issues of actor-network theory, connectivism and power.
There’s always some networking that goes on behind the scenes, Frances and I have never ‘met’, there are things made more and less possible through courses such as this.
NB the haiku was used by Lennie, I. (2003). Managing metaphorically. In S. Linstead (Ed.), Text/work : representing organization and organizing representation (pp. 41-56). London, England: Routledge.

slide 2
Things, matters of concern, even ‘facts’, even gender… Simone de beavoir being ‘made a woman…identity…all get made in association
de Beauvoir, S. (1974). The second sex (H. M. Parshley, Trans.). New York, NY: Vintage.
…means identity is fluid and also, roles fluctuate.
The haiku only possible through translation, when this and that go together some things are gained and some things are also lost.
In change resistence will always be met, as what is drawn in may need to establish a niche, and may not want to leave where it was settled either.

slide 3
There’s talking politics and being political Bruno Latour.
Any movement in the network meets resistance, always there are issues of power, control, authority, acquiescence.
Movement in one part creates movements, ripples and even ruptures elsewhere.
Just as identity is made in the moment, so too is everyone elses identity.
And because this is actor-network informed analysis, it also acknowledges that being shaped in association related also to how people are enmeshed with what they make, and what they make is enmeshed with us.
Wesch, M. (2007). Web 2.0 ... The machine is us/ing us [Audiovisual ]. Retrieved January 16, 2011, from’ the machine is us/ing us is relevant here.

slide 4
Given we are looking at power/control/knowledge and how this is shared or not…we have an opportunity in terms of form and function, where do you see this as relevant, and so participants could post.
What came back was a myriad of ‘actors’ of tangible and non tangible of shared and not shared things, a network of interconnections

slide 5
Superficially, networks appear to democratize communication and relations BUT.... Examples early experiences of women in Internet communication And
Excellent slide and link from Frances Bell

slide 6
Particpation again invited

slide 7
Excellent slide and discussion facilitated by Frances Bell

slide 8
And how is web 2… 3 …4….
Different, what are the facets required that make them work for better or for worse and as educators what the becomes our role in making such things happen, more and less?

slide 9
What gets said and whats prepared may well be different things, as it was today, these though were my notes:

Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matters
Similar thoughts also being expressed by Barad and by Lucy Suchman and by Helen Verran;
Stories that interrupt…. That trouble…John Law
Use of boundary objects to cross spaces, to move through resistance, eg art, eg poetry
From Jane Bennett, with a little bit of editing, my apologies...

“Admit that humans have crawled or secreted themselves into every corner of the environment
Admit that the environment is actually inside human bodies and minds,
And then proceed politically, technologically , scientifically (as best as you are able)
With care and humility, forbearance….
:”as you might with unruly relatives to whom you are inextricably bound and with whome you will engage over a lifetime, like it or not. Give up the futility of trying to disentangle, to say its only a tool as if it had not tainted you and you it…
Seek instead to engage civilly,
Strategically?, with human and nonhuman alike… the ones you like and the ones that are harder to tame, the hopeful monsters as Law refers to them.
Instead, shaped in the moment, I got into a bit of a dialogue about individualism and collective responsibilities,,
Just as Weizenbaum had with Eliza, once its out there, you cant suck it back, but it became his life work to continue to decipher the role of man and machine
Or like Latour's referencing to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The sin, what was it ? To make…or to not care…to not stay engaged with…
Weizenbaum, J. (n.d.). ELIZA. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from

slide 10
Participation again invited
Am I responsible…but I didn’t make it…am I still responsible?
Eisenstein, E. L. (1979). The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Some of the unanticipated changes are still unfolding,
Media Literacies- Digital literacies
Lanksheare and Knowbel
“mediated by digital encoding privileges participation over publishing, distributed expertise over centralized expertise, collective intelligence over individual possessive intelligence, collaboration over individuated authorship, dispersion over scarcity, sharing over ownership, experimentation over ‘normalization’, innovation and evolution over stability and fixity, creative- innovative rule breaking over generic purity and policing, relationship over information broadcast, do-it-yourself creative production over professional service delivery, and so on, the more sense we think it makes to regard it as a new literacy.This means that being an ‘insider’ to a new literacy practice presupposes sharing the ethos values in question; identifying with them personally. Consequently, what may look on the surface like engagement in a new literacy may well turn out upon closer examination not to be. For example, simply downloading video clips from a popular participatory site like to accompany lectures, without otherwise engaging in any of the forms of participation that characterize engagement in a fan practice site does not, for us, rank as a new literacy practice. It is the cultural equivalent of cutting a picture out of a magazine to use as an illustration in a handwritten story or project. As we have noted elsewhere (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003, 2006), in contexts of using new technologies a lot of old wine comes in new bottles at the interfaces of literacy and new technologies.”
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Researching new literacies: Web 2.0 practices and insider perspectives. E-Learning and Digital Media, 4(3), 224-240. Retrieved from doi:10.2304/elea.2007.4.3.224

slide 11
Nothing is ever solved in the abstract, practice is always local, performed,
Empirical research stories required

Patti Lather
Research stories that interrupt, that trouble, telling stories that are not bound by niceness
"An ache of wings ” Wanting to tell a victory narrative and knowing thats not the whole story, wrestling with how to tell of whats not so pretty

“Prometheus transgressed the boundaries of the human condition. In hubris, or measureless presumption, he brought fire from the heavens and thereby Nemesis onto himself; he was chained to a Caucasian rock. An eagle preyed on his liver, and heartlessly healing gods kept him alive by regrafting it each night. The encounter with Nemesis made the classical hero of this epic tragedy an immortal reminder of inescapable cosmic retaliation….
Everyman now becomes Prometheus; he has fallen prey to the envy of the gods in his inordinate attempt to transform the human condition. Nemesis has become endemic; it is the backlash of progress.” (Illich, 1989/199, p. ¶ 3)
And Latour also has an article on caution in design, we never know anything fully, the knowledge is distributed…and we never know how our plans will pan out, there is always the unanticipated sequalae.
How then do we move forward,: by being grounded in practice…by research empirically based, by producing troubling stories…by knowing ht emyriad of detail involved is to know also that things can always be otherwise.
A humility to move forward knowing one never knows it all, that the whole picture is always only known from ones own situated reality, that other realities exist…that with the best of intentions, the tensions sometimes create, always create other outcomes…
nonetheless, to study what is to inform how things might also always be otherwise.

slide 12
repeat:Nothing is ever solved in the abstract, practice is always local, performed,

slide 13 and 14, participants to draw together the threads.


  1. I have enjoyed your slides and listened to the recording, too. I am not sure if I understood all, spoken English is not so easy to me to follow.

    I appreciate your presentation, it is well designed and gives space to the participants. They must be active, not speakers only.

    The topic is important in understanding networking. You (with Frances) gave an opportunity to reflect experiences. As far I understood, most speak (of experiences) dealt with Danah Boyd. I know that case; many interpretations were given. All attacks seem to be Ok for some people.

    It were more challenging to reflect real actions during the course. This was avoided, don't know why and, fortunely I need not to know everything what's going on. But I can understand if you feel a little frustrated. You had to wake up at night, was it so? The presentation was excellent, thanks.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog Heli and for your comments.
    I agree there is an absence on reflection, and i dont know why this is occurring so infrequently.

    I was surprised by the lack of conversation in cck11 following the presentation.
    The absence of discussion bewildered me. I did wonder what was the point.

    A connectivism course with little or no connecting cannot work, at least that is how i feel.

    I did get up very early for it, and stayed up very late preparing for takes time out of a fulltime working life and what at the moment also feels like a fulltime phd and the obligations i also have currently to writing and editing a text book. So life is full.
    Not getting much response does make me feel that there was not much point in my involvement and would make me think twice about doing it again.
    Perhaps I was more used to previous courses with more people and therefore had expected more conversations to be occurring.

    Or, maybe I dont know ' where the playground is'?
    I visited the threads and facebook and have a twitter hashtag feed...and read the oldaily and the cck news...but all indicate, to my mind at least, that there is not a lot of connecting going on.
    @Jaapsoft responded to my provocation on CCK not having heart or soul or perhaps being too distributed, asking why i felt that.
    and @LindsayJordan suggests I need to look harder.
    There have been a couple of retweets, and a couple of blog posts.
    Little evidence of a "massive" mooc though.

    Is this mooc dead, dying, should i be more gentle with it?
    But for those who come to look...a mooc does not work as a spectator sport.
    The topic was about networking power, and i brought in to this accountability. Extending on accountability, I would now add: without involvement a mooc, or any learning based in connectivism, is nothing.

    Why is there so little talking going on? Is it a lack of trust? Is it a lack of interest? Is it a lack of place/space?

    Are blogs the cafe spaces for these conversations?
    ....well if they are, seems everyones is in their own cafe talking to themselves, taking the 'odd phone call'

    My comments here point to a troubling story.
    Is there nothing wrong with this mooc?
    Am i deluded?

  3. Hi again, Ailsa
    You had good questions, I cannot answer about CCK11 because I am not participating there. I can only tell why not:
    I was enthusiastic in 2008 and tried again 2009 and PLENK and my activity increased all the time. I could find some people as you, to follow and keep in touch lightly.
    I ended to participate in CCK courses because I know the content they offer and I know their personalities which are the object of studies.

    If connectivism were what it says, there were many people planning, facilitating and collaborating. OK they used you and Frances and gave you one topic. Why? Now you have to receive questions as if you were responsible for all that happened during the course.

    Some ripples going on and soon all this is forgotten.. I have just read Nicholas Carr: The Shallows. So.. never mind, forget all deep thinking, show must go on. I think it is sad...