Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Agnotology as opposed to epistemology. Cultural creation of ignorance as opposed to cultural creation of knowledge. Whole new field of Sociology for me. Social theories of ignorance. Sparked by an article in the Inside Higher Ed Online newsletter Plenty to Go Around by Scott McLemee Great quote "Poverty fosters ignorance. But affluence, it seems, does it no real harm" The idea that selective ignorance is an important basic social process.
"Any sufficiently rigorous line of agnotological inquiry must, however, recognize that there is more to ignorance than political manipulation or economic malfeasance. It also serves to foster a wide range of social and cognitive goods."

McLemee quotes Michael Smithson's "Social Theories of Ignorance" and the notion of academic specialization as a form of distributed ignorance. Tried to get this article but not available through Fielding Library database.

Led to further exploration and came across and article by Turner and Michael What do We know about the I don't knows" Talking about the construction of Likert scales in questionnaires. The practice of offering a choice of "don't know" is problematic. Responses are often eliminated from analysis when they could represent a broad range of possibilities. Like I'd prefer not to say" or "none of the choices reflects my opinion on this issue" or "ambivalence, political considerations, implicit PC values are embedded in the questions and the respondent is avoiding censure.
Good discussion of the taken-for-grantedness of scientific knowledge. Also a discussion in the context of agnotology.

McLemee, S. (2008). Plenty to Go Around :: . Inside Higher Ed: Intellectual Affairs. Higher ed online newsletter, . Retrieved June 25, 2008, from

Smithson, M. (1985). Toward a Social Theory of Ignorance. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 20:4, 323–346, 20(4), 323-346. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5914.1985.tb00049.x.

Turner, J., & Michael, M. (1996). What do we know about "don't knows"? Or, contexts of "ignorance" . Social Science Information, 35(1), 15-37. doi: 10.1177/053901896035001002.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Intellectual Capitalism/Cognitive Contributions

I applaud the efforts of George Seimans and Stephen Downes for setting up a new project relating to Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. I have been a beneficiary of the generous contributions of both of these guys to the collective intelligence of the web.

I also recognize that there is a reputational benefit particularly in academic environments, the world of intellectual capitalism. Publications, residual payments, intellectual authority, attention, popularity, tenure, research funding etc. The rich get richer. I guess we all do it, get students to write exam questions, use student projects as teaching materials in subsequent classes, use student successes and failures to fine tune our academic operations. Glaser (1978) called it Theoretical capitalism and remarked how some professors indoctrinate their students to footnote carefully to secure ideational capital. (p9)

Participating in a few courses/projects where the expectation is that the participants add cognitive content in the spirit of collaboration. The one reservation I have is when that cognitive content is used to develop a course or program or certificate which it then sold. I recognize the need to recover costs of operations etc and the perceived need to monitize web operations. But if participants are forced through a paygate in a walled garden (the typical online university course) and then their production is used to improve, develop or market the course without benefit to the producer the whole activity becomes a form of rent-seeking behavior on the part of the institution. This monopolistic behavior restricts innovation and inhibits contribution.

The project I've been involved with is for Doctoral students in a School of Educational Leadership and Change program. Two tenured faculty have mounted an experimental course called Critical Pedagogy: Recreating Social Movements in Immersive Environments. The idea is to study some of the theorists of emancipatory change in education, Friere, Illich and others of the Liberation Theology genre. The course is being conducted using ICT and is anchored in two particular settings, Open Learn and Second Life. There has been some use of the desktop sharing application, WEBEX and the expectation is that all participants will develop a community of learners. The participants in this project are enrolled in Doctoral studies and participation in this project counts towards the credit requirements for course work. Many of the participants including faculty are not particularly adept with using online tools or practices and most of the interaction has fallen back to the default position of regularly scheduled teleconferences.

The project has been funded by a special grant and as it is with in the structure of an accredited University and as such there are necessary requirements that must be met. The presence of this type structure is apparent but the actual requirements have not been shared with the participants. Given that this is a course in Critical Pedagogy I have been inclined to apply that analysis to this project.

Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity. Sociology Press Mill Valley, Calif.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Copyright and Compensation

How much should a copyright holder be paid for usage. Big issue for the billionaires that run the entertainment industry and who have always made a huge profit on the backs of the creative types.
In Canada this issue has come into focus again with the introduction of bill C-61.
What constitutes fair compensation? Associated Press thinks it has an equitable system. If you want to quote an AP article on your blog it'll cost you $12.95 to quote 5 words on your blog.

You get a big discount if you are an educator. $7.50/5 words. Whoopee.

I don't know what is fair but I can't see that letting industry groups decide will ever translate into fairness.
I know when Banks got into digitizing their processes they figured out a scheme that seems to have worked very well for them. Use to be that cheque processing fees were getting up to around CND $1.20 per transaction. The rationale was that people had to handle all the paper and process the transactions and the wages were to high so they had to keep increasing the transaction fees. When they went to digital transactions they realized that people would not tolerate these exorbitant fees so they cut the fees for handling digital transactions to $.60 per transaction, a fairly common rate that still exists. No paper moves, not human hands touch your transaction and some estimates suggest that it actually costs the banks about $.06 per transaction. They laid off tellers and employees, set up ATM's and the modern bank was created. They have been beavering away reducing the costs of handling transactions even further and no doubt have their costs way below that. As a result Banks have been doing quite well and they seem to have been able to get away with charging what they want. Doesn't seem to matter what Bank you use, they are all about the same. hmmm.

So letting corporations decide what is fair probably won't work out to good for the rest of us. There was a thing called the Tobin Tax that was introduced by a economist that proposed an electronic tax on currency transactions.
I've been watching this issue for a while and participated in the campaign to have Bill-C61 rejected. I read the Globe and Mail article referenced above and it mainly highlights the perception that nothing is clear and nobody seems to be able to clarify things, least of the Minister of Industry who is proposing the Bill. Mostly I have been following the discussion in the education blogosphere and the Michael Geist blog is a major resource.

I know that there has been intense lobbying by the entertainment industry and last election one major candidate who was expected to have this portfolio in a Liberal government received major campaign contributions from pro-copyright outfits prompting big concerns about conflict of interest and interference.

My grasp of all the ramifications of the latest proposed legislation is somewhat limited but as an observer of political processes I find the situation interesting and I can help feeling that the bests interests of the Canadian public are not being served by our elected officials.

Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry seems like a capable person but with a limited understandings of the concepts of the Internet. His Wikipedia entry was edited to remove any criticism of his handling of this file and replaced by laudatory statements about the Minister great virtues. There appeared to be a Wikipedia edit war until someone used Wikiscanner and checked the IP's of all edits and they were determined to all originate from the Industry Canada servers. Wikipedia locked down the entry and the comments about Prentice's involvement with Bill C-61 and his efforts to edit Wikipedia still stand last I checked. I think it embarrassed his office and led to a widely held perception that neither he nor his Ministry really understood what they were doing. The appearance of members of the Public Service altering a public record on (taxpayer paid) company time was an additional irritant.

As regards the notion of fair return for the use of intellectual property it is also a bit of a boondoggle. It is difficult to determine but it seems likely that the copyright holders are more interested in a "what ever the traffic will bear" approach to pricing. There was an additional flurry of alarm in the blogosphere this week when Wired reported on the Associated Press policy and pricing structure for the use of AP material in blogs. It starts at $12.95 for a 5 WORD quote. (The pay-page has since been taken down)

The question of how to collect for the use of intellectual property in an information economy will have to be addressed. This issue has been around for a while and it reminds me of the so called Tobin Tax issue. This was a proposal to mitigate the damaging effects of currency speculators by imposing a leve on all cross boarder currency transactions. This proposal bogged down because of the impracticality of having all countries agree to the imposition of such a tax and the question of who would be the tax collector and how would the proceeds be distribute.

Similar issues face any coherent approach to setting fair rates for IP and the collection and distribution of compensation. These problems may become fairy short lived when the full effect of the information economy is realized and the impossibility of managing information becomes apparent. So for the time being the copyright lawyers are doing well and that doesn't usually bode well for humans on either side of any debate.

Helder Camara

Thanks for the links to the Mani Tese speeches.
Camara was obviously trying to "call it as he saw it". I think he accurately detected the influences and manipulations of the multi-national or, more correctly, the supra-national corporate agenda.

And he also pointed out the sick economics of supplying surplus arms and munitions to third world countries, most often to clear inventories so that they could manufacture and sell more expensive and sophisticated arms to the first world.

Making bombs is big business, but you have to have a way to get rid of old stock so you can keep the defense contracts flowing. Best way to use up that inventory is to keep wars going somewhere.

I was interested when Camara taled talking about some of the secret agendas of the corporations with respect to natural resources in Europe, particularly steel and coal. Just watching a You Tube clip of John Buchanan and reading an article in the Guardian about Prescott Bush, GWB's grandpa and the originator of the family fortune. Seems like a lot of people made big bucks from the Nazi slave-labor steel factories in Poland. Of course, making family fortunes from slavery is not a new thing in the US or anywhere in the world.

I guess that is what this project is all about. We now have the means to recreate social movements using social networks where the unspeakable is spoken and the elephants in the room are mentioned by name.

The Catholic church was able to discredit the Liberation Theologists mainly because they were able to control the communications of the faithful and forbid people to discuss issues that threatened the authority structures.

People now have the means to organize and communicate freely. Grassroots organizations like Voice of the Faithful were able to use the Internet to share information, articulate issues and to demand accountability from the Catholic church. This was especially effective dealing with the problem of the cover up of sexual abuse and pedophile priests.

It is critically important for humanity to make sure that our open channel stays open.

Me Cyborg

I find myself doing more of my work in the cloud, mostly courtesy of Google. All my Gmail messages from when I first started using it in Sept, 2004 are instantly searchable and available anyplace there is an Internet login. I rarely delete anything apart from bacn and the spam is automatically filtered (so none of those wonderful offers from the the guys in Nigeria who wants me to help them move a little money around smile) All my other email accounts bump into to Gmail with POP or IMAP so the only ones missing are the ones that the university's email server loses when it craps out, which is fairly regularly. I use an application called Gspace that allows me to use my Gmail storage capacity like and FTP account for music, pics and stuff. Even so, I am only using 20 % of my total Gmail storage capacity for my main account and they keep bumping it up all the time.

I used Word and Endnote for writing documents and papers for a long time but now it's Google Docs and Zotero. Same deal, nothing is on anyone physical machine so access is available anywhere there is an Internet connect.

I did the redundancy thing for a while but kinna got tired of it. So now I'm working without a net, no belt and suspenders, (or no condoms and birth control) Gotta figure if the Internet ever gets that un-usable it is time to head for the hills anyway.

I am the board treasurer for a local charitable organization and use Google Spreadsheets for all the budget stuff, the monthly reports and statements. Works very well and it is possible to consult with the manager online anytime from a shared document. I hate Powerpoint with a passion but use Google Presentations if I have to read one.

I pay for a little storage for a few things like podcast transcription and web-casting space. I have a paid wiki account for some professional stuff but mostly I use free space. Virus protection is by way of a web-based service that does an excellent job. I used to FTP a bunch of stuff to server accounts but it turned out to not be worth the bother. I do have two IPs and I keep some activities separate.

I figure that Google has server farms all over the world with the best tech and engineering (or better that any commercial service I could get or afford) they stay on top of the vandals and the pirates. I use Firefox which gives me a bit of an edge over most of the annoying pop-ups and malicious Trojans. I try almost every social networking gadget that comes into my view, my latest favorites are Twhirl and Seesmic.

As far as I can tell, (I'm paying darn good money to acquire critical thinking skills) a lot of the hype about the hazards of the internet are fear-based marketing ploys designed to sell me useless stuff that hackers get around in seconds anyway. If anybody really want to do me cyber harm, it is going to happen. There is lot more risk from somebody stealing my credit cards or some waitress or clerk doing the double swipes.

Looks like cloud computing is going to be the norm in the very near future. The cost of online digital storage has collapsed and the ease of use and reliability has increased exponentially. In-house IT is going to go the way of steam-generated, DC electricity. All of the worlds data will be in the cloud and we will just have to tap in to what we need. Even better, we will be able to indulge our natural human capacity for creativity and sharing. That may do more for democracy, world peace and environmental sustainability than a couple of giga trillion bucks worth of bombs and security systems. It is going to make big problems for the political and social structures that are based on authority and control but I'm good with that.

Communicative Action and Liberation Theology

No need to dust off an old book, there is Jurgen Habermas on YouTube, fergoodnesssakes smile.
Look a little further you will see a whole series of lectures and discussions.

I like this interview in particular because Habermas was asked to reflect on what he thought were his own most important ideas. Communicative action is mentioned in the context of democracy.

He describes Nazi Germany and the "re-education" policies of that regime and he talked about the generational discourse that occurred as a consequence of WWII, how the academic cohort of the time, the many scholars, philosophers and sociologists "made their bones" out of that time of torment.
( My own spin, Habermas doesn't make the implication of an academic Mafia but there are some interesting parallels don't you think?)

Anyway, the result was a rich texture of intellectual activity:some sublime philosophy, some rationalization and justification of evil by intellectuals using "scientific processes" and many academic careers were launched.

We are at a time in history where a similar generational discourse needs to occur and is occurring. Just as those in Habermas's intellectual generation engaged in communicative discourse in the commons to expose evil and try to heal humanity, we now have an opportunity to do the same. (I wonder if Habermas feels that some of that effort was wasted because humanity seems to be doing some of the same things over and over.)

Difference is we now have much broader access to the channels of communication of the public sphere and almost instant access to other minds in the noosphere. Just gotta figure out how that Google search works and how to engage in the dialog by comment on a blog or wiki.

A person can even add comments to the dialog on the Habermas YouTube video.
The comments, and there are many, from the ridiculous to the sublime, the profane to the rapturous, give an idea of the impact of an idea, or a thought. It gives you a chance to add your voice and engage the public sphere, be part of an immersive environment.

The other thing I like about watching this clip on YouTube is the visual dimension, because I never met Habermas or seen him in a lecture. I had no idea that he had a physical deformity and I can just imagine what things must have been like for him as a young person in the era of post Nazi Germany. The Nazis exterminated people with physical deformities, so when I read what he writes it now has a whole other texture of meaning for me. His personal response to evil is not an academic issue, he knows how important it is that everyday people inform themselves and take responsibility for the public discourse.
Makes me think about the famous Martin Neimoller poem.
Interesting also to note that Habermas has engaged in dialog with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. That name is familiar from somewhere.

Black Liberation Theology

Looking for resources for this unit. I've read and been greatly affected by the writings of Ivan Illich over the years but I didn't know anything about Helder Camara or Sergio Méndez Arceo. After the looking at Camara in the last unit I was curious about Arceo.

I love wandering around in Google and I am starting to be a big believer in the pedagogy of propinquity, defined as, learning that occurs while we are intending to learn something else.

Of course you can get into some fluffy stuff, the search for Sergio Mendez Arceo yielded a very rich selection of YouTube videos of Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. I thought that it would be interesting to start a new Internet meme like RickRolling with this YouTube video. La la la.. nice, my family are long accustomed to hearing my eclectic circus.

Anyway, not all time was wasted, I came across an interesting article linking the theology of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and many of the authors we are looking at in in Critical Pedagogy.

As a Canadian following the debates leading up to the next US Presidential election I recognize the incredible furor that was raised by the connection between Barak Obama and Rev. Wright, so this article interested me.

Any thoughts on this? Is useful or just some kind of red baiting and fear mongering? How much would the ideas of Liberation theology influence US politics this time around? How much would that freak out the military industrial complex?

Security Theatre

I didn't even realize this was a topic until I stumbled across an article the other day about all the time and effort that societies put into the illusions of security. TSA is a great example of security theater, it is all a big show to keep everybody fearful, on edge, and accepting of state control and militarism.

Ubiquitous surveillance has rightly generated major concerns world wide. The new high technology that is a great boon to is also being used against humanity in many instances. The response to this is the subject of Cory Doctorow's new eBook Little Brother, freely downloadable.

Another piece of art that I came across was kind of delightful but upon reflection and review is a commentary on Security Theater.
I came across another thing that you might interest you as an artist exploring new forms of expression.

It is a UK band that assembled a music video by setting up and playing in front of various CCTV security cameras and then applying under the provisions of the Access to Information laws for copies of the recordings. They then stitched it all together into a rather nice piece of art, IMHO. Newspaper article describes the project.

Great song and an interesting commentary on Big Brother

Base Christian Communites in Mexico

Still trying to sort out some of the issues relating to CEB's, Liberation Theology and the politics of Latin America. Latin America was and remains a theater of larger geopolitical issues.

Emge notes that " In attempting to relate these various factors (CEB's Liberation Theology, Freirean pedagogy) it becomes impossible to conceptualize any simple line of cause and effect. What becomes obvious is a complex web of interacting variables." No kidding!

One of the variables in play was the other nominally Christian organizations that were active in the arena and how their perspectives were not sympathetic to Liberation Theology.

An article from the Huffington post mentions the intrigues of various political entities, identified as Christian. In particular, this article references Evangelical Protestant organizations who viewed their main Christian obligation as opposing "Godless communism" rather than emancipation of people.

In Nicaragua in the 1980's the socialist Sandinistas were aligned with those that promoted Liberation Theology, mainly Catholics. They were opposed by the Contras who were supported by the Regan administration personified by Oliver North who espoused an Evangelical Protestant Christianity.

I don't know if the scenario was the same in Mexico at the time but I wonder if there were similar religious dynamics. The Huffington post article is mainly directed towards the present day situation in Venezuela but some of the themes seem familiar. It is interesting to see the some of the antecedents of current events.

Of course there are still the criminal drug cartels to consider. Current events this week in Mexico illustrate their influence.

Emge, D. R. (1988). Base Christian communities: A challenge to the status quo. Annual Meeting of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. Tulsa, OK, November 5.

Shaw, R. (2005). What's Really Bothering Pat Robertson About Chavez?, Huffington Post.

Deschooling Society

Considering that much of society seems to be mistaking the bath water for the baby it might not be too bad of an analogy.

However, using that particular analogy in an argument is problematic. You couldn't argue in support of Illich because then you would be in favor of throwing out babies. It provokes a specific emotional response and inhibits critical thinking.

Sent me rushing to my little blue, although now much coffee stained, "Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools." and on to the Wikipedia entry on logical fallacies.

Maybe drawing from a less emotional analogy would be helpful to assess what Illich was saying.
How does the Zen saying go? Don't mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.

Illich was talking about looking away from the pointing finger and looking at the moon directly. Once you have the moon in view, there is no need to keep looking at the finger.

In the case of learning, once I know how to learn there is no need to keep concentrating on the "forms of education" that taught me how to learn.

hmmm...I'll keep noodling at this.

Getting Critical with the LMS

One of the things I hope we can do over the rest of the time that we are assembled for this KA is to reflect and evaluate the process we have used so far. When I first used Open Learn before it was pretty cutting edge. Since then new web-based social networking tools have developed that are so much simpler to learn and use. These tools also more naturally support the value of a personal commitment to lifelong learning.

For those who are comparatively new to technology mediated learning, I hope that you are not put off by the clunkiness of Open Learn. Although it is using a open access format ( you don't have to pay for a course access key) it is still using a learning management system (LMS) that is designed, more to make management possible rather than making learning possible.

It is convenient for administration to be able to aggregate all student activities but is not very useful for learners. Often with a LMS, such as the Moodle system that is being used here, once you are finished your course all your contribution stays in the LMS and because your subscription for that course has expired, your stuff is inaccessible. I heard somebody refer to that as institutional malpractice.

One of the weblogs that I follow has initiated a series of complementary online activities for the discussion of social networking in education. Here is a link to Graham Attwell's blog, Pontydysgu (Welsh for Bridge to Learning I think, happily the blog is in English). Attwell is proposing an immersive salon cafe approach with a net radio broadcast, an online phone in radio show where you dial in with Skype (the VOIP online phone system) and then a social gathering in Second Life at Emerge Island.

A little quote from the promotional blurb... "The educational technology community has embraced social software with a wave of experimental projects and activities. But is it working? The tools are great for encouraging new participatory approaches to learning and for building peer activity and networking. However, is there a dissonance between such approaches to learning and the structures and curricula of our education systems? Does the adoption of social software challenge hierarchies and power? What is the role of teachers and trainers in a era where knowledge is distributed through networks." Sounds like stuff that might interest us here.

Habermas would be tickled pink!! It involves using Skype, Second Life, Blogs etc. All free range social network tools that people are putting together in very creative and imaginative ways. Sounds like stuff that might interest us here. We should try to link up with Attwell and Co. or set up something similar for ourselves.

Again, I hope that the people who are new to web based social environments are not completely discouraged by the experience in Open Learn. There are web-based tools that work a whole lot better. That is one of the primary considerations when choosing technology to support online learning, ease of use. There is a principle that "first use leads to future use". If a persons first experience using technology is negative, there is a tendency to blame yourself, "I just don't get it.... or... I'll never catch on to this stuff..." And also a tendency to be leery of other opportunities for online learning and also a tendency to do a fair bit of negative advertising for the program. If you are finding this painful, take heart, I've been working in DE and using web based tools for a while and I find myself frequently frustrated with the applications. It doesn't have to be this problematic.

DE planners must be very careful to choose applications and pedagogies that are appropriate to the intellectual and technology skill levels of the target group. People love to create and communicate, the learning experience should capitalize on these wonderfully human tendencies.

Unfortunately as Illich and others have observed, education often impedes learning because ed admin puts the needs of the organization first. ( Yeah, I know the vision statements all say "Learner Centered" blah, blah, blah..., that is the espoused theory but the theory-in-use is very different) Now that the cost of organizing web-based communication has dropped to zero, educators are no longer restricted to working within the hierarchically controlled environments of the LMS. Gotta shake off the predilection for authority and control unless you are in Education as a money making proposition. Then you will want as much authority and control as your customers will permit. It is taking more and more marketing to convince people that that is a good or necessary thing.


I like this article and this journal. I didn't even mind so much that I had to register to read the article. At least it wasn't behind a paywall.

I was interested when Castells introduced the article as a "set of grounded hypotheses on the interplay between communication and power relationships" What I was hoping for was explanatory theory that is typical of classical Grounded Theory analysis.

Reading the article I found that it was more descriptive than theoretical, and sought to re-frame new social phenomena in old frameworks, specifically using the rhetoric of power relationships and political space. While I think this could be useful and the article does an excellent job of description, the theoretical explanatory power was lacking for me. There is something about web based socially networks that doesn't fit neatly into this framework for analysis.

I think he was on to something with his last statement.

"Thus, as in previous historical periods, the emerging public space, rooted in communication, is not predetermined in its form by any kind of historical fate or technological necessity. It will be the result of the new stage of the oldest struggle in humankind: the struggle to free our minds."
Is it a struggle or a process of human spiritual (not religious) evolution?

Yes, I've read the Rise of the Network Society and I was very impressed at the time, although it is now 12 years old and in the realm of web-based social networking that is like the last ice-age.

I just reread the dedication that Castells wrote in the 2000 edition of that book where he acknowledged that a lot has changed since 1996 and that he was going to stick with his initial theoretical perspective inspite of much world wide academic criticism.

I would suggest that a lot has happened in ICT between 2000 and 2008. It is the speed of change is so problematic for academic analysis of the WWW. It takes at least a year to write and publish a book and have it distributed to the world.

It is a little hard to find unassailable authorities whose theories have the necessary fit, grab, relevance and generalizability as humanity tries to understand how basic social processes are changing so profoundly.

So that was why I was so interested to read something that Castells has written more recently. I was also pleased to be able to read it in a online journal and although I haven't looked to deeply into the journalistic policies of that particular journal; their process of peer review, the make up of their peer review committee etc. I see that Castells is the editor of that Journal so that is interesting.

I will continue to attempt to apply my still forming scholar-practitioner skills to the critical analysis of this particular piece of work.

Complicated Fun and Flow

Just reading and commenting on Howard Rheingolds blog SmartMobs.
He is outlining the procedure that he and his group are using to set up the Social Media Classroom project. He describes the planning process as "complicated fun".

I like that attitude!!

It really fits with my experience working with social networking tools, which I find amazingly absorbing. Trying to figure out how this tool works, how to make a comment on that wiki, how to create a podcast, videocast, concept map, how to add value to a discussion, how to understand what the heck is going on in some web based social networks, all this is very satisfying to me. Sure, I'll call it fun. Adult play!!

When thinking about motivation in learning I always seem to get back to a concept put forward by U of Chicago Psychologist , Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.

I cut and pasted the following from the Wikipedia entry.

"Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great freedom, enjoyment, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored"

I get a real buzz from reading, thinking, reflecting especially using web based technology and connecting with the web-based collective intelligence that is emerging all around us. Humans have a natural desire to create, contribute, collaborate, cooperate. As Shirky points out modern ICT lets us do that with an ease that we have never known.

I snort a bit when some of my acquaintances talk about American Idol.I don't get it but, each to their, own as the saying goes. It is a bit concerning to discover that more people vote in American Idol than in their local political processes. The American Idol folks have figured out something important about social engagement and they are making a fortune at it.

Anybody got a really good theory that explains that and how we better can leverage it for the larger social good as well as private commercial success?

MacArthur Series

Reading in the MacArthur Series starting with the section on Civic Engagement and immediately came across many interesting articles that illuminated, for me, some issues that we have been discussing in these forums.

Talk about the matrix of coincidence. Serendipity used to amaze me but I find myself counting on it now.

I liked the article by Howard Rheingold, he seems to be popping up every where I look the last while.

I also was interested in the Marina Umaschi Bers piece.
I was reading her bio and discovered she did her Phd under Turkle and Papert at the MIT Media Lab. Turkle and Papert have reworked the Claude Levi Strauss notion of Bricolage.

"Levi-Strauss used the idea of bricolage to contrast the analytic methodology of Western science with what he called a "science of the concrete" in primitive societies.11 The bricoleur scientist does not move abstractly and hierarchically from axiom to theorem to corollary. Bricoleurs construct theories by arranging and rearranging, by negotiating and renegotiating with a set of well-known materials." (Turkle and Papert, 1992)

As I mentioned in my introductory comments, I consider myself a bricoleur, putting things together out of bits and pieces using unconventional means. This certainly fits as part of the pedagogy of propinquity and also reflects a useful mindset for making sense out of the vast amount of resources on the Internet.

I went on to look at the issues raised by S. Shyam Sundar and his discussion of how technological affordances have affected the credibility of online information. An excellent illustration of this issue is found in the ongoing discussion about the validity, credibility and reliability of Wikipedia. This dialog continues on the Internet and within Wikipedia itself. When anybody can create a Journal and claim authority it is evermore necessary to develop and use critical thinking skills.

These skills must be honed even further because some of our traditional shortcuts for attributing authority and credibility have been undermined by questionable practices and outright fraud. I'm thinking of the process of peer-review in academic journals and how this whole process has been undermined and subverted by practices of tobacco and pharmaceutical corporations.

When such bastions of empirical evidence as the New England Journal of Medicine change their editorial policies to accommodate pharmaceutical corporations, that whole system of intellectual authority and credibility-granting is thrown into question.

No longer can we look to certain institutions to be bastions of truth. The Catholic Church had a doctrine of Imprimatur that said that a literary or similar work had been declared "free of error" in matters of Roman Catholic doctrine. It was an intellectual control mechanism to reduce the chances of the laity being exposed to heresy. This doctrine also made things very difficult for the Liberation Theologists especially those who were considered as adopting the views and attitudes of socialism or communism.

We can no longer grant any institution or individual theorist the unquestioned of authority, the right of Imprimatur. And it is evermore important that scholar practitioners become aware of some of the ways that academic fraud is perpetuated and expose it when ever it occurs.

That puts me back to another of the themes that is emerging for me, the punk philosophy of questioning authority. Edupunk is a very liberating impulse.

I look forward to hearing what others have to say about these articles and others in the MacAurthur series.

Turkle, S., & Papert, S. (1992). Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 11(1), 3-33.

Public Intellectuals

What exactly is a public intellectual?
I've come across a couple of articles discussing related issues.
The first article Is Google Making Us Stupid by Nicolas Carr writing in the
One of the suggestion is that ICT is changing the way we read and think and may be changing our neurological structure. The article relates some very interesting illustrations of the effect of new technologies on intellectual practices in the past from Socrates to Nietzsche. It was interesting to read the research referenced in the article that the human brain retains it's plasticity throughout life. Phewf!!...little reason to worry that the Internet is wrecking my brain.

This article Who is a Public Intellectual? from the New York Times by Daniel Drezner tries to add some dimensions to the concept. He addresses in part the availability of the Internet as a channel for communication of ideas.

[T]he growth of online publication venues has stimulated rather than retarded the quality and diversity of public intellectuals.

In both articles it appears the the new affordances of the Internet are clearly becoming an increasingly important part of what it means to be a public intellectual. Ideas are more broadly disseminated, there is far greater opportunity for reflective dialog, and the development of collective intelligence is enhanced.

This is a critical topic especially if we consider ourselves public intellectuals. I find one of the worst and most insidious forms of censorship is self-censorship out of fear. As you ask.." What are we afraid of...?

Thankfully we have the examples of people like Illich and Freire who knew that they were publishing ideas that might be challenging and unpopular but had the courage and persistence to keep saying what they thought.

Whether ideas are in a published book, an academic journal or an online forum, ideas are public. If I try to limit public access to my thoughts and ideas because I have an expectation of profit from my work, that is one thing and we can have that discussion elsewhere.

If I stifle my contribution for fear of what somebody 'might' do with my words or how somebody 'might' misinterpret my ideas, I have erected a system censorship far more crippling than the DHS or the Chinese government could ever envision.

Recreating Cable TV in Second Life

I was watching a Cable TV presentation on the Second Life Cable Network. The presenter is Robert K Logan and he discusses the topic of Media Ecology and prefaces his remarks by describing his interactions with Marshall McLuhan and Ivan Illich. It is an interesting segment in it's own right but it also struck me that it was a pretty excellent example of the task that is the ostensible focus of our group, namely, recreating social movements in immersive environments.
I'm not much of a TV watcher and I haven't really had a TV hooked up in my home for the last 25 or more years. I don't think I have missed all that much although it makes it hard to have an informed conversation about Oprah or American Idol. Oh well...

One thing I did miss out on was the whole Cable TV, community access TV experience. Again, not a big loss for the most part but I have become aware of some truly inspired Cable TV efforts. These were Cable TV stations that were set up to air non-mainstream content and ideas and emerged as venues for a lot of alternative views and social activism.

I recently watched a You Tube of Harold Channer Cable TV presentation. It is a pretty wild and wooly session with fairly low production values by commercial TV standards but it is good enough for the ideas to come through. Channer also references some of the authors we have been considering in Critical Pedagogy although he is talking more from the perspective of economics.

The presentation pointed out that one of the features of the capitalism system is to eliminate the labour component in the interests of reducing input costs and increasing profit. Corporations have always used technology to to reduce their reliance on human inputs. While this has some very advantageous features for humanity in that it has reduced the need for humans to perform some very dangerous tasks it also has some pretty undesirable effects.

The classic case it that or McDonald's outsourcing of it's pay window operations. In some locations when you place an order at the drive through electronic kiosk, the voice that says "Welcome to MacDonald's, Can I take your order please?" is actually physically located in a low-wage, middle-tech country like Pakistan or China. The exchange is conducted via satellite communications systems and the order-taker processes your order and sends it to the cook-staff terminal where is your order is packaged.

Technology has allowed large corporations to eliminate low wage jobs in one country by paying even lower wages in another country. Beyond the issues of corporate ethics the implications are fairly large even for the corporations. What happens when all the wage jobs are gone, who buys your hamburgers?

Clearly, there will have to be a major reordering of economic systems and Channer referenced the work of Louis O Kelso and the idea of binary economics. Instead of working for wages people are able to work as owners of the means of production, the basis of the employee stock option idea.

The other point that was made in the video was that the existing economic system is based on a scarcity model, the science of economics is all about the management of SCARCE resources. What happens when you have an information economy where there is no scarcity of resources, in fact just the opposite. One response is to create artificial scarcity and that is a tried and true tactic. It is going to be very hard to maintain a facade of scarcity of information.

I thought is was very interesting to see some elements of Cable TV being recreated in Second Life for the purpose of airing views outside of the coverage of mainstream media.

Neutral Voice in Simm City

My 18 year old daughter is a long time Sims player and she has the latest version. She was showing some or the features and while there has been an attempt to make the language culture neutral, many of the other features are pretty cultural specific and reflect a consumer society.

The Sims economic system is consistent with a Western consumer labour exchange society. The avatars work in jobs, collect wages, pay bills. Their activities are largely typical consumer oriented, go to the mall, buy stuff.
Relationships are maintained in part to maintain your economic position.

I suppose that those types of consumer transactions are pretty cross-cultural.
The life style choices are broad ranging but are limited to an urban experience for the most part. No opportunity to be a pastoralist or a hunter gatherer. But I guess it is Sim City after all and it delivers as promised.

Padre Glyn Jemmot in Costa Chica Mexico

I was deeply affected by the discussion we had today with Padre Glyn Jemmot and I thank Yolanda and Joyce for making the connection. I appreciate the opportunity to increase my awareness of an instance of social injustice and their effort to focus attention on this community. I think that they have also provided us with a way that we can make real contribution to social justice beyond an personally enriching academic exercise.

I heard Padre Glyn describe the setting of Costa Chica as rural, poor and forgotten. There is not much we can do about the first two conditions but there might be something we can do about the third.

I watched the Padre Glyn video interview on YouTube again and was struck by a comment that he made. He spoke of the "black institutions in the United states that come to beef up their curriculum, their cultural diversity knowledge etc. to teach there. So they come and do the research but nothing comes back and in the research there is no partnership. We talk about folk research where it is ordinary black people from the villages who've never been to Universities who perhaps could not use properly a tape recorder, they're the ones recording their own history. When you have that parity, that partnership...true partnership in the diaspora dialog, I think they'll have something."

I would like to respectfully propose a project whereby we could offer a connection so the people of Costa Chica could have their voices heard and not be forgotten. I don't know if that would help but it seems that to feel that you are forgotten by the world brings on a sense of hopelessness.

Padre Glyn mentioned that the youth of his community just want to get out and that is understandable. I know what it means to have a rural way of life where the choice is to live in poverty or leave and take your chances in a city. I know how vulnerable people in poor rural communities are to abuse if evil people think that nobody cares about it. The indifference of the world to poor rural people is a blight on our collective consciousness. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.

This is where technology and a commitment to social justice might come to the aid of this community.

Social networks are amazing things and incredibly simple to set up if you have the most basic of technology skills. This is certainly within the technological reach of anyone who can navigate Open Learn or Second Life.

For example, it is the work of minutes to set up a blog in a social networking community like It is also the work of minutes to establish a podcast that could be mounted within the Costa Chica blog. There are podcast services like that allow entries to be made from a telephone. These podcasts can then be heard by anyone with an Internet connection and the blog address.

The residents of Costa Chica could phone and record their stories for the world to hear. People who are interested in social justice could distribute the feed and help to focus a bit of world attention. It may be a while before technology catches up with Costa Chica but that doesn't mean that they can't leapfrog over some of the technological limitations. The knowledge that somebody, somewhere might be listening and might care can have an amazing transformative effect on individuals and communities. A little bit of attention costs us nothing. Even a comment on the Pastor Glyn YouTube video takes only a few seconds but lets the world know that someone has noticed and is paying attention.

I am willing to give this a shot.

Canadian Apology for Residential Schools

I wrote earlier this week about the historic apology that the Canadian government issued to the country for the Indian Residential school experience. I was very glad to see this happen and I hope that it begins a new era of respectful relationships in Canada.

One of the most horrendous effects of the Residential Schools policy was the forced relocation of people from their families and communities. While this was clearly a policy decision, based in part on an agenda of cultural genocide, it was also a feature of educational practice of the time.

In order to offer the industrial model of education, as it was organizationally structured at the time and as it continues to this day, students and teachers were required to physically congregate in specific geographical locations for significant periods of time to be exposed to the intermediated "teaching". This arrangement was an artifact of the organizational realities and applies to all participants in the industrial model of education.

One of the most powerful features of technology mediated communication is the elimination of the necessity to be physically present for learning to occur. If people have the equipment and the necessary bandwidth they can participate in dis-intermediated educational opportunities on their own terms with out having to leave their community context. Furthermore, people can participate in the construction of their own educational experience and they can do that in collaboration with an extraordinary network of resources.

Each individual can become a node and a connection in a network of collective intelligence as has never been possible before. Self-education has always been a viable strategy but web-mediated social networks have taken this into an entirely new dimension. The possibilities for self-determination and emancipation are enormous.

The human race has been severely limited by an economic system based on the control of scarce resources and this has created most of the repressive structures that we all labour under. Two percent of the worlds population controls 90% of it's material wealth and the means of production. However, in an information economy scarcity is no longer and the cost of the means of production for web-based resources is dropping as fast as the usage increases. This has been extremely threatening to the hegemonic institutions of education at all levels.

Institutions have had to resort to some pretty draconian schemes to maintain this positions. One mechanisms is to have society become increasingly reliant on credentials as an measure of the worth of individual intellectual contribution. Credentials are controlled by institutions that have a vested interest in manitaining control over the granting of credentials. They are able to control the conditions of education including an continued reliance on the bricks and mortar model of education as place based, calendar driven.

These institutions have been driven by a the capitalist economic model which is designed to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of any venture. This model is pervasive in society and is increasingly becoming a feature of the Internet. Everybody is trying to figure out how to monetize their contribution. Older mainstream institutions such as the press and entertainment industries have always been able to manipulate conditions in a scarcity economy to make a buck and have into the digital market place and continue their piratical practices.
The issues of intellectual property and copyright have been taken over by the money making machine which has been looking for a way to skim money from every online interaction. They have been very effective at this but the model calls for more, more, more. Stockholder returns must be maximized and people are increasingly being herded through the paygates of the Internet.

The apology of the Canadian government for the Indian Residential schools rang a little hollow with the introduction this week of legislation designed to lock down the internet into a paygate fleecing operation. Instead of figuring out how to increase access to bandwidth and information for the benefit of the population, the government has succumbed to intense lobbying efforts of the American entertainment industry and has introduced legislation that effectively prohibits the sharing of many types of web-based resources. The free and open sharing of online resources is one of the foundations of a distributed education system that would allow Canadian people to participate in their communities and on their terms.

So apologizing for forcing people into one oppressive form of education while imposing another form of oppression that amounts to the same thing is very disheartening.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Edupunk: It's like school, you're not really getting the whole story

Here is an internet meme that has been growing legs this week. Edupunk is an extension of some of the values of the punk movement which started as a counter-culture reaction to commercialization in rock and roll music but has since developed in to a fairly coherent philosophy. (Interesting to note that rock was considered to be counter-culture to begin with but got co-opted for commercial purposes.)
Some punk stuff is pretty dark anarchist philosophy which is an interesting intellectual tradition in itself.

Most branches of punk promoted the rejection of consumerist values and grew into the culture jamming movement as represented by such things as Adbusters and sites like the Culture Jammer's Encyclopedia at I found the Rand piece on the Zapatista Netwar under Hactivism on sniggle. net.

Contemporary Christian rock adopted some punk like values called into question some of the oppressive practices of Christianity.
My hero Bruce Cockburn is sometimes considered a Christian rocker and some of his songs certainly explore punker theme with a Christian perspective.
One of my all time favorite Cockburn songs (one of about 25) is a song from a 1980 album "Humans" called "What about the Bond?" One of the verses and the chorus might give a clue.

"Disfunction,.... Of the institutions
That should give a frame to work in
Got to find our own solutions

Confusion ...Pressure from all sides
Got to head right down the centre
In the love that will abide

What about the the bond?
What about the mystical unity?
What about the bond
Sealed in the loving presence of the Father?"

One aspect of punk is that there is a recognition that the"system" is very resistant to change because things have become ingrained and people have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo even when it is demonstrated to be deleterious to the over all good of humanity. Any effort at change are considered a threat and are forcefully put down. This crosses the spectrum from politics, religion, academia, entertainment, communications etc.
Punker don't necessarily advocate violent over throw of governments but mostly seek to make explicit some of the inconsistencies of society in the belief that people will realize they are being used and adopt more socially responsible attitudes and values. The often do that in a comedic, ironic, shocking, controversial way.

One of the recommendations of the punk genre was DIY or do it yourself. One commentator on Edupunk his week referenced Abbie Hoffman's famous quote about university education from "Steal this Book" Abject Learning also has a number of punk anthem podcasts.
"Too many college radicals are two-timing punks. The only reason you should be in college is to destroy it. If there is stuff that you want to learn though, there is a way to get a college education absolutely free. Simply send away for the schedule of courses at the college of your choice. Make up the schedule you want and audit the classes. In smaller classes this might be a problem, but even then, if the teacher is worth anything at all, he’ll let you stay. In large classes, no one will ever object."

I started putting this together with the Illich and Friere material we have been reading this week and there are some interesting parallels.
Was Illich an early punker? I'm thinking that the Catholic church hierarchy thought so and I'm sure some University administrators would agree and didn't think that was a good thing.

I'll have to keep thinking about this and I would be very interested in the views of the others in this group.

Liked the idea of this article as well and it minded me of another YouTube clip ( am I getting boring with the edupunk stuff, the pedagogy of YouTube)

Talking about generational divides.
Favorite quote from the clip.
"They (kidsthesedays) get all this information from MTS and VH1 and that's their history of rock and they, like, it's well, like (sic) (or sic-ish, not an exact transcription) They find out it's like everything else,... it's like school, you're not really getting the whole story"

The Zapatista Social Netwars in Mexico

Conditions in Mexico in the 70’s led to the rise of a political and social movements that relied heavily on ICT’s and Internet based social networks.

Rand corporation report. The Zapatista”Social Netwar” in Mexico. (eBook)

These are selected quotes from the text with a little commentary. I will provide my relfection and analysis later.
"In January 1994, a guerrilla-like insurgency begun in Chiapas by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), and the Mexican government’s response to it, aroused a multitude of civil society activists associated with a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to “swarm”—electronically as well as physically— from the United States, Canada, and elsewhere into Mexico City and Chiapas. There, they linked up with Mexican NGOs to voice solidarity with the EZLN’s demands and to press for nonviolent change.

Thus, what began as a violent insurgency in an isolated region mutated into a nonviolent though no less disruptive “social netwar” that engaged activists from far and wide and had both national and foreign repercussions for Mexico.

This study examines the rise of this netwar, the information-age behaviors that characterize it (e.g., use of the Internet), its effects on the Mexican military, its implications for Mexico’s stability, and its implications for the occurrence of social netwars elsewhere around the world in the future.

Tthis was the first post-communist rebellion in Latin America.

Ruíz and some other priests favored church teachings about helping poor people regain their dignity and rights (termed the “option for the poor”), and some also preached liberation theology (which went beyond the “option for the poor” to allow the “just use” of force by the oppressed). Ruíz would describe Salinas-style neo-liberalism and the poverty it spawned as being “totally contrary to the will of God.”

G: The contrasting tenets of the religious values. option for the poor vs just use. Semantic rationalizations for different responses.

During the 1980s, a whole variety of factors—the economic crisis noted above; the wave of repression inflicted by the governor, the landlords, and their paramilitary forces; the liberationist preachings of Catholic priests; and the difficulties of gaining relief through existing peasant organizations—all led to recruiting and organizing opportunities for the EZLN’s founders.

G: Everybody was ripe for a fight, the army the insurgents and any number of political advisors.

The EZLN began to adopt some of the characteristics of indigenous social organizations. The indigenas disapproved of hierarchical command structures. They wanted flat, decentralized designs that emphasized consultation at the community level. Indeed, their key social concepts are about community and harmony—the community is supposed to be the center of all social activity, and its institutions are supposed to maintain harmony among family members, residents of the village, and the spiritual and material worlds. …In this design, the purpose of power and authority is to serve the community, not to command it—so one who does not know how to serve cannot know how to govern.

G: The struggle had been couched in Marxist terms of class warfare. There was a calculated shift to concern for the concerns of the indigenous peoples. There have been similar conflicts in Canada where First Nations groups have rejected Marxism because it does not recognize ethnicity as a worthy value.

To understand why a social netwar emerged in Mexico—and why an insurgency mutated into a social netwar—the analyst must look at trends outside Mexico involving activist NGOsSuch NGOs, most of which play both service and advocacy roles, are not a new phenomenon. But their numbers, diversity, and strength have increased dramatically around the world since the 1970s. And mainly since the 1980s, they have developed information-age organizational and technological networks for connecting and coordinating with each other. The growth of two specific issue-networks—the human-rights and indigenous-rights networks—is particularly important for explaining the Zapatista netwar.

G: NGOs including church groups most notably the Catholic church represented by certain religious orders the Jesuits, the Dominicans and the Marist were actors (combatants?) in the netwars. NGOs had at least two other major purposes as well, to address human rights and to build infrastructure. The ICT infrastructure that they considered their mandate was useful in the netwar strategies.

Netwar started as traditional insurgency along the traditional Mexican lines and characterized as the War of the Flea, an optimal design for small, lightly armed, irregular forces. It allows insurgents to keep the initiative through surprise attacks by small units, following Mao’s dictum of combining central strategic control with tactical decentralization. .. the intended “war of the flea” in Chiapas soon mutated into a full-fledged netwar that had both armed and social dimensions and became the “war of the swarm”.

G: Interesting vestiges of the influences of various communist and socialist ideologies. Mao, Castro etc.

The fax numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials were often posted in Internet newsgroups and mailing lists…In addition, the activists worked to assure that the insurrection became, and remained, an international media event—swollen by the “CNN effect”—so that the EZLN and its views were portrayed favorably. Indeed, all sides waged public-relations battles to legitimize, delegitimize, and otherwise affect perceptions of each other.

G:Some of the practical tactics that the NGOs used to maintain attention on the scene.

Many NGO activists sensed they were molding a new model of organization and strategy based on networking that was different from Leninist and other traditional approaches to the creation of social movements, conduct what would later be termed “electronic civil disobedience.”The Zapatista movement gained an unprecedented transnational presence on the Net, and that presence endures and grows to this day.

G: Have to confirm the impact that this still has. The document is fairly aged in contemporary terms.

..the socialist rhetoric diminished, and demands for attention to indigenous rights came to the fore… some leftist activists were not comfortable with the EZLN’s elevation of ethnicity as a factor; the Marxist left in particular regards economic class as the key factor, and ethnicity as a divisive rather than unifying factor, in social struggles.

G: See note above re: shift to indigenous focus. It may have been genuine but it was certainly strategic.

Mexican government reduced its military intervention putatively because of the social netwar. In this conflict, “global civil society” proved itself for the first time as a key new actor in relations between states and vis-à-vis other non-state actors. The NGOs were able to accomplish this because of their information operations. In this emergent doctrine (of the EZLN under Marcos), the mobilization of civil society—not the expansion of the insurgent army—became the key strategic element.

G: RAND report is incredulous that the Army pulled back. In their estimation the army could have easily put down the Zapatistas. The netwar only partly explains the pull back.

Social netwar involves a lot of theater. Negotiations on an international public stage observed and reported on by NGO human-rights activists. Bellicose behavior on the part of the Mexican government seems to have a dramatic effect on the Mexican stock market. Activist in NGOs in Mexico feed information through their US counterparts who then feed it back to the Mexican government as the “view that the world has” of Mexico.

G: The real kicker.

Still, even though the Internet is a boon to social activism, and though it harbors a treasure trove of postings, many activists report being wary of much of the information that comes across it on a dayto-day basis. They do not regard it as a panacea or a substitute for key source of information, compared to what they can learn from personal contacts, fact-finding visits, or primary sources not on the Internet. Much of what gets circulated on the Internet is viewed as a voluminous barrage of mixed quality and relevance—often resulting in unreliable, skewed, junk, false, or kooky information, based on rumor, misunderstanding, or posturing. Moreover, there is concern about the Internet being used for “crying wolf” and for manipulation by people with hidden agendas.9 Thus, many activists are selective, looking on the Internet only for reports from those few individuals and organizations they specifically trust.

G: Lots of crap on the net and you never know when you are being gamed.

Digital Zapatismo-create software for use on anonymous offshore servers—“ping engines, spiders, and offshore spam engines”—that will enable them, and any other individual anywhere who wants to join, to conduct what amount to massive, remote-control, standoff, swarming attacks in cyberspace by disrupting the flow of normal business and governance. Military option is still kept evident by both sides as deterrent. The army has more trouble with the NGO social actors than they had with insurgents. Battlespace is in the Chiapas but also in the infosphere.

G:Some of the specifically web based strategies for jamming up the works.

An appropriate principle for neighborly U.S. military relations with the Mexican military may well be “guarded openness,” a deliberately ambivalent concept from the new field of information strategy that means being forthcoming about providing and sharing information in areas of mutual benefit where trust and confidence are high, yet being self-protective in areas where trust and confidence are not adequate From the perspective of guarded openness, what may be needed most in the case of U.S.- Mexico military relations is the construction of a “culture of cooperation”— indeed, a binational “military noosphere—in which the emphasis will be on what ideas and values can be shared and elaborated conjointly, rather than on what U.S. equipment and techniques can be provided.

G: Some of the lessons learned. The military noosphere seems like an obscenity.

The study of the Zapatista Social Netwar has had a wide impact and is a case study for modern information netar. The lessons learned on the part of the US military can be seen in the waging of the netwar in Iraq. The US controls most of the communications channels for the US and consistently looks to “force multipliers” the psychological warfare that maintains civil support for the Iraq war. They have perhaps learned more than the NGOs that were so effective in countering government abuse in Mexico. NGO seem to be having very little effect in influencing the human rights abuses engendered by the US in its theatres of war.

G: Lots of study and effort being put into the counter-netwar strategies. Just in case somebody wants to try it again. The US military's ability to maintain the Irag war and control the message is obviously a graduate course in social netwars.

Ronfeldt, D. F., Arquilla, J., Fuller, G. E., & Fuller, M. (1998). The Zapatista "Social Netwar" in Mexico (p. 168). RAND Publications. Retrieved May 30, 2008, from

Recreating Social Movements in Cooersive Environments

Doesn't work. New wine in old skins.
I recognize the urge to use a LMS like this but really it is a vestige of the industrial education model where authority and control are the major issues.

This is a direct extension of what Illich and Friere were talking about as far as I can see. I shouldn't relinquish my natural ability to learn and teach just because an institution has said that they can manage my education. The control of the technology of learning can't be just handed over to an elite technology priesthood who tell us what God says and how we should think about our relationship to the cosmos. Oops, ... mixing my metaphors.

IMNSHO, it would be so much easier if we all created our own blogs, and set up our own system and linked to each other with conversations. The sense and actuality of ownership of your own learning is critical.

The time that people have spent trying to figure out some of the clunky features of Open Learn could have been spent much more creatively. The time spent trying figured out how to use Compendium or MSG or Vlog could have been much more creatively spent thinking and writing and conversing using a variety of other tools that are free, work better and where added cognitive content is a contribution to the cognosphere.

Blogging applications are much simpler to learn and use than a content management system such as this and they are more adaptable, versatile and best of all, they are clearly mine. I use my blogs and wikis as my personal life-long learning platform and I love learning and contributing in a free range environment. Working in a walled garden is a buzzkill and I can see that a lot of people in this course have given up or been so turned off it will be a long time before they ever want to look favorably on eLearning again. First use leads to future use. If you have a crappy experience you are not likely to try again. Too bad because I was looking forward to working with all the folks that had signed up. Maybe down the road.

I admire and respect the initiative that Open Learn has taken but I can see that there is a lot of maintenance and upgrading lacking. I know that the effort can't be justified and the world of social software has moved on. Compendium was a great application in its time but there are far superior open, free, mind-mapping tools available that allow synchronous collaborative development.

I am working on a project for a Pan-Canadian eLearning Research agenda, a project as dreary as it sounds. It was introduced as an open collaborative venture but locked in another Moodle controlled by one institution. We started all free and happy but as soon as things got a little contentious the authorities moved in to enforce intellectual conformity. It has become a bit of an echo chamber for some of the dominant voices in the field; not more knowledgeable, just dominant.

One of the bright spots is the concept map created by one of the participants using a free application called Mindmeister. I introduced my students to it in my online grad class and within 5 minutes they had figured it out and were working as a group to add value to a group exercise and having fun while they were doing it. These are people that didn't know what a blog was a month ago.

If anyone here is interested I'd be happy to show how to set one up and work on it collaboratively. It'll take about 15 minutes to get set up and get going and its a hoot.

I've been using blogs for quite a while and they have come along way from when you had to use an html editor and you spent as much time with the interface as you did on the content. I was just looking at my first blog entry from Apri 17, 2002. It is on Blogger and all the content is still all there. That is more than I can say for some of the course contributions I've made in various WEBCT courses or Moodles over the years. The content must still be on some institutional server somewhere but once I quit paying tuition and no longer had a student account I no longer had access.

Anyway I'm going to start migrating content over to my Blogger blog so I can be sure that my learning goes with me when this course is done. I know that my open learn stuff will be available as long as they maintain the server but it looks like that might not continue for ever.

Who taught that guy about Critical Pedagogy anyway?? Guards seize him.

The Pedagogy of Propinquity

The pedagogy of propinquity means the study of learning that happens along the way to learning other things. The dictionary definition of propinquity is nearness, in space, in time, in relationship. So two things that may not be related take on relationship by simple virtue of their nearness to each other.

There a number of concepts that are consistent with a pedagogy based in propinquity. Serendipitous learning, accidental learning, self-learning, informal learning, tacit learning all describe critical learning processes that occur outside of institutional formalized learning.

Neuropsychology provides some evidence of propinquity as a necessary condition of learning. A distinction made between declarative(explicit learning and memory) and non-declarative memory and learning with the latter being the most important and least understood.

“These nondeclarative or implicit forms of learning and memory are generally characterized as acquired fluency of perceptual and motor performance (e.g.,Roediger, 1990). Nondeclarative memory reveals itself in habits, procedural knowledge, perceptual priming, simple sequence learning, single-discriminant forms of classical and operant conditioning, and path-based route Learning.Such effects suggest that the more information is associated, the more accessible the information may be, even under varied recall conditions."

Learning through propinquity is a major feature of using the Internet. When searching for a specific piece of information even the most refined search returns an incredible number of hits. In the process of narrowing things down you look at a lot of false leads. Though they may be false leads for the initial search they often yield interesting and useful information. There maybe a necessary mindset that allows people to not see this as frustration but as a potential goldmine of leaning. I think I even read an article a while ago extolling the virtues of goofing off on the web and the incredibly powerful learning that can happen when you least expect it. Kind of a Zen like attention/non attention thing. Like you have to relax to see one of those magic eye puzzles.

One dimension of serendipitous learning that has interested (alarmed) educators for sometime is the concept of learning without teachers. (Tough, 1967) This seminal work described the activities of adults who pursued learning through informal means. The type of learning that Tough investigated was learning that was available through formal channels and delivered by a professional teacher in a educational institution, but where the learners had chosen to study the same subject matter but without enrolling in a formal course. The project tracked the learning strategies that adult self-teachers used.

Ethnographic and anthropological studies have examined the way that learning occurs in communities of practice. The apprenticeship model has been found in all societies at all stages of development from midwives in preliterate cultures to Naval midshipmen on modern ocean going vessels. The studies indicated that most practical learning occurred withing a community of practice and there were definite stages in the learning process. The initial stage was describe as the legitimate peripheral participant, which essentially meant that novice workers were allowed to be in the presence of the oldtimers as they performed their community role as experts. Novices gradually assumed more responsibility for minor parts in the performance before becoming aspiring experts and finally old timers in their own right. (Lave and Wenger,1991)
Another ethnographic study of an occupational learning community determined that the greater part of the practical learning that took place was through the apprenticeship model even though the practitioners were subjected to large amounts of formal training. In fact the formal training was an impediment to actual learning. (Orr, 1996) Tacit learning has been determined to be the critical and predominant required learning, far exceeding explicit knowledge. The knowledge transfer for tacit learning is non-formal by definition all though it can be mediated by social networking and ICT. (Bowles, 2005)

A project in the slums of Calcuta amply illustrated the amazing power of the innate desire to learn. Slum children were given unrestricted access to indestructible computer terminals and were observed to organize themselves and teach themselves the use of the computer, the internet and many other essential skills including English language acquisition. The research extrapolated a theory of Minimally Invasive Teaching and suggested that the more independence you can foster, encourage, and require in the learner the better the learning. (Mitra, 2005)

Ivan Illich

Illich repeatedly uses the term “treatment” to refer to education providing an interesting metaphor where lack of schooling is seen as an illness, a defect that can be corrected with the proper treatment. This goes with other similar euphemisms such as calling sickness care, health care.

Illich lamented the loss of the innate desire to learn and self-educate. He felt that we had become entirely to dependent on schools for learning and that schools had undermined our confidence in our ability to learn. (Illich, 1971)

Illich called for research

“We need research on the possible use of technology to create institutions which serve personal, creative, and autonomous interaction and the emergence of values which cannot be substantially controlled by technocrats. We need counterfoil research to current futurology.”
We know that technology has indeed created the institutions of Illich’s vision, both open and technocratic.

Illich points out the unwanted and unintended consequences of over reliance on institutions . One of these effects is that the poor get further victimized by an intervention that was ostensibly to help them.

“The increasing reliance on institutional care adds a new dimension to their helplessness: psychological impotence, the inability to fend for themselves.”

Illich calls into question the motivation of the so-called helpers and suggests that the institutions are largely self serving with ….

“….the discovery that no amount of dollars can remove the inherent destructiveness of welfare institutions, once the professional hierarchies of these institutions have convinced society that their ministrations are morally necessary.”

Creates an unrealistic metric for comparing the worth of citizens.

“Obligatory schooling inevitably polarizes a society; it also grades the nations of the world according to an international caste system. Countries are rated like castes whose educational dignity is determined by the average years of schooling of its citizens, a rating which is closely related to per capita gross national product, and much more painful.”

Some pretty intrusive solutions have been envisaged to make sure that the poor can benefit from increase spending on education but any equitable system of distribution will benefit rich kids more because they can better profit from improvement.

One suggestion was draconian.

“…preventive concentration camps for predelinquents would be a logical improvement over the school system.”

Other mistaken perceptions that Illich points out .

“Equal educational opportunity is, indeed, both a desirable and a feasible goal, but to equate this with obligatory schooling is to confuse salvation with the Church”

The existing system gives a premium to the credential that institutions grant although the credential is a false indicator of comparative worth. To over come this illusion Illich recommends

“…a law forbidding discrimination in hiring, voting, or admission to centers of learning based on previous attendance at some curriculum.”

Creeping credentialism is even more of a problem and advanced degrees are merely screening tools for employers. There is no reason to require that a flight attendant have a BA. Students start recognizing and gaming the system.

“A second major illusion on which the school system rests is that most learning is the result of teaching... most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and school… has become their place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives.”

Teaching and learning are normal human activities and basic social processes. Institutionalizing teach and learning into education has created a lot of anomalies.

“… those using skills which are in demand and do require a human teacher are discouraged from sharing these skills with others. This is done either by teachers who monopolize the licenses or by unions which protect their trade interests.”

Actually becoming a professional teacher may alienate a person from the natural human propensity to teach.

Illich has some prescriptions for better teaching.

* “Matching partners for educational purposes
* helps the pupil to formulate his puzzlement
* The most radical alternative to school would be a network or service which gave each man the same opportunity to share his current concern with others motivated by the same concern.

It looks like we may be moving to an era where the internet provides the means for us to be self-educating sharing our concerns and resources with others and creating our own networks and systems for learning. Learning will return to is more natural form rather than being locked up in educational structures that more and more threaten to inhibit more than support learning. The pedagogy of propinquity describes one of the ways that this might happen. Rather than being stuck following an institutionally mandated, state sanctioned curriculum, people will be able to learn more in the way that nature intends.

Fayard and Weeks (2007) talk about the way that people in office or work setting use "watercooler or photocopier" conversations to harness the possibilities of learning through propinquity. The same argument is being made for the use of online social media at work. People use the tools they have to learn and to accomplish the things they must. Seems it is a basic social process that benefits communities and institutions.

Bowles, M. S. (2005). Learning to E-learn Project:Rediscovering the Benefits of Elearning. . Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology, 2(1).

Greene, A., Spellman, B., Dusek, J., Eichenbaum, H., & Levy, W. Relational learning with and without awareness: Transitive inference using nonverbal stimuli in humans.

Gritton , J. (2007). Of Serendipity, free association and aimless browsing: Do they Lead to Serendipitous learning.

Fayard, A.-L. (2007). Photocopiers and Water-coolers: The Affordances of Informal Interaction. Organization Studies, 28(5). doi:10.1177/0170840606068310

Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society. Harper & Row New York.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning Legitimate Peripheral Participation . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mitra, S., Dangwal, T., Chattergee, S., Jha, S., Bisht, R., & Kapur, P. (2005). Acquisition of Computer Literacy Skills on Shared Public Computers: Children and the "Hole in the Wall" . Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. , 21(3), 407-426.

Orr, J. E. (1996). Talking About Machines: An Ethnography of a Modern Job. Cornell University Press.

Tough, A. (1967). Learning Without a Teacher, Educational Research Series. Totonto, Canada: Ontario Institute of Studies in Education.

Pedagogy of the Hostage

Just riffing on the Freire, Paulo, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I found it in Google books.
I read this years ago and I am reviewing the highlights and notes.
I like the way he states the problem in the first chapter about how the oppressor and the oppressed are interdependent. The observation that liberation must happen for both and that it is easy to make the mistake of humanitarianism.
"As long as their ambiguity persists, the oppressed are reluctant to resist, and totally lack confidence in themselves. They have a diffuse, magical belief in the invulnerability and power of the oppressor.[21]The magical force of the landowner’s power holds particular sway in the rural areas. A sociologist friend of mine tells of a group of armed peasants in a Latin American country who recently took over a latifundium. For tactical reasons, they planned to hold the landowner as a hostage. But not one peasant had the courage to guard him; his very presence was terrifying. It is also possible that the act of opposing the boss provoked guilt feelings. In truth, the boss was “inside” them" (Friere, 1968)

Actually, I was thinking that the whole education systems is like a colossal extended hostage-taking incident. 'We are in control!!! everybody get in this room, sit down, shut up and nobody gets hurt. Don't do anything stupid, do exactly as we tell you and we won't have to shoot you.
If we get what we want everybody is going to get out just fine if not...the shooting starts.'

So they capture us in early childhood and hold us hostage for 12, 16, 20 years. Don't make any trouble and you'll get out with your life (certificate, degree, credential, livelihood, $$, status .) But you must do exactly as we tell you otherwise you will be uneducated, poor and despised.
Of course if you are held captive for 20 yrs ( long enough to get yer doctorate) the Stockholm syndrome takes over and you get to join the hostage takers.
Very dramatic of course and if you accused me of hyperbole you wouldn't be the first.

Freire , P. (1968). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. . Retrieved May 14, 2008, from

They call it democracy

One of my all time favorite artists Bruce Cockburn, is a very keen observer with a powerful artistic talent. Mystic, poet, artist, thinker, fantastic guitar player, international observer and activist.
I've been a fan since the early 70's and he writes some of the most beautiful and profound songs. Many express joy, and spirituality but some are pretty gutsy and angry. He writes songs that are anthems for a lot of people interested in making the world a better place and throwing a stick in the spokes of the wheels of the military/industrial complex. He had a big hit a few years ago with a song called "If I had a Rocket Launcher" I was disappointed that he got a lot of fame for an angry song when he has so many other themes but it was a good song.

In the 80's Cockburn spent a lot of time in Central and South America observing and commenting on the situation in Nicaragua at the time. Some very potent songs emerged like the songs on the album " Stealing Fire".

Like "Nicaragua", a beautiful, lovely melody with some great lines. ..

" Breakfast woodsmoke on the breeze --
On the cliff the U.S. Embassy
Frowns out over Managua like Dracula's tower.
The kid who guards Fonseca's tomb
Cradles a beat-up submachine gun --
At age fifteen he's a veteran of four years of war
Proud to pay his dues
He knows who turns the screws
Baby face and old man's eyes"

And "Santego Dawn" is the source of another of my favorite lines. He is talking about how kids in a war zone survive and endure the incredible turmoil. "See them rising like grass through cement." The weak and powerless prevail over the hard and merciless. Nice to believe that is true.

Somebody put together a YouTube with "They Call it Deocracy" and some iconic images of oppression.

"Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament --
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'
Idolatry of ideology

North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It's just spend a buck to make a buck
You don't really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too
Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt"

Habits of Mind for Public Intellectuals

Anyone on this site

I would suggest that another habit of mind be added for scholar practitioners who want to use critical theory to develop new social movements and that is the habit of creative contribution on the web.

It doesn't have to be much but we have the means to make a contribution in a small or large way, everyday to the big flow of ideas in the world. It is important to make a contribution locally in my physical space but just as important to me is to feel that I have added something good to the noosphere, the world of ideas.

It feels a little like shooting in the dark, contributing to a forum or a newsgroup or commenting on a blog or wiki or even twittering, but someone somewhere is reading, thinking, processing, using the habits of mind and creating something new. I don't know the specific person or the specific place but I know it it happening. I also know I won't necessarily get credit for it but thankfully the habit of creativity is catching on.

There are many blessed individuals, in whom society has a invested a great deal, who insists on being paid for their ideas, respect my copyright, buy my book, give me a grade, subscribe to my journal, sit in my class, give me tenure, a research grant, reputation, respect, worship etc and then I will share with you.

I was reminded of Kahlil Gibran a few days ago. It was in a snarky comment about cheezy sentimental, emo-poster, made for Hallmark mushy minded-70's pap. I remembered that I use to read The Prophet in the 70', and 80's and I also realized that I still subscribe to some of the ideas Gibran articulated so poetically. I particularly love his piece on Giving and it connects with how I see you should contribute on the web. Not because you can expect some return but because it is what you do. All Gibran's works are online here.

We make the road by walking

Amy mentioned Walter Ong and I was intrigued. Googled him while we were talking and found the full text (on the Fielding Library eBrary database) of Ong's seminal work on Orality and Literacy: Technologizing the Word. It really fits with some things I've been reading. Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind and Marshall McLuhans work on the Gutenberg Galaxy both referenced by Ong. He also referenced a work by Julian Jaynes that I read in the 70's and I am starting to hear more an more again. So stuff starts coming together.

I also connected this work to one of the most recent books I have been analyzing, Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody" The Power of Organizing without Organizations"
He talks about the time when the printing press was being developed and the occupation of scribe that basically disappeared. The printing press was such an empowering thing because it brought down the various costs of production for the printed word. The first big thing was the Bible and Luther's Proclamation. Now many people could own the Bible and even take it with them. They weren't limited to having the Bible read and interpreted to them, they could read it themselves. Very empowering. Luther's proclamations similarly cause an enormous upheaval but wouldn't have if printed media hadn't been available and the scribes, who were Church functionaries, were responsible for recording and distributing the ideas.
Shirkey also talks about one Bishop at the time who authored a long defense of the scribe profession but then had it printed on a press for distribution.
Scribing didn't die off completely but became an art form which is where Shirky reads from McLuhan.
Humans are social creature and are designed to work in groups.
Mostly Shirkey is talking about how the costs of organizing limited organizations in the types of tasks they took on, running a railroad, managing a corporation etc. One of the most costly in terms of energy expended was organized communication, and the task had to justify the expenditure. Now that the cost of communication has dropped to near zero people can organize to do lots of stuff that was never considered important enough to be taken on by traditional organizations. This has enabled humans to engage in group activity on a scale never possible before and we are doing it.

Back to Walter Ong.
Ong talks about oral cultures and the secondary orality of technology enhanced communication.
"It is 'primary' by contrast with the 'secondary orality' of present-day high-technology culture, in which a new orality is sustained by telephone, radio, television, and other electronic devices that depend for their existence and functioning on writing and print. " (Ong 1982)

The new generation of web based tools is now supporting the rediscovery of orality with enriched multimedia and oral culture. Much of the earlier activity on web-based social networks was heavily dependent on text. Listservs and Bulletin Boards were exclusively text and many required a degree of technological sophistication to use.

The advent of wikis simplified the process somewhat and many more people began developing private online spaces and communication channels. These still required the ability to write some HTML code. Even the first web logs required the ability to cut and paste code using an HTML editor. The development of the WYSIWYG editor opened the online experience to many who did not have the skill to manipulate HTML. The inclusion of static images and photographs soon followed and added another dimension to private online channels.
The automation of many of the functions of blogs lead to a wide adoption and they became a very popular form of self-expression and communication. Now web based photo sharing services like Flickr and video sharing services like YouTube have become very prominent.
One modern set of web-based tools that promise to revive orality in a comparatively pure form is the podcast. These are digital audio recordings that are uploaded to the web for listeners to download to personal digital media players, commonly known as MP3 players. The term podcast gets its origins from the very popular Apple Computer device the iPod. Podcasting is ubiquitous and used for many purposes. It usually connotes a spoken word component and many universities now make entire series of lectures available on a podcast. ITunes is the Apple Computers service that manages podcast for Apple and ITunes University has developed with many lectures from many disciplines freely available for anyone with a device and an internet connection. Many students find this very useful for reviewing lectures and studying. It is very helpful for professors because students can review the lecture, pausing and rewinding over the sections that they want to review. If the student still has questions they can approach the professor for specific personal assistance.
Although the podcast is information received through an auditor channel and the experience is oral, it is still missing the essential elements that might be transmitted in a face to face setting. The podcast is certainly dependent on text, a highly specialized text of computer code that lies behind every feature of the web. The relationship between text and oral performance in this instance does not bears any of the same characteristics of the relationship between an oral performance and the printed text, such as the script of a play or even a musical score. In the case of computer languages there is no correspondence between a particular section of the computer 'text' and the performance.


Reflection on the “Mind/Artificial Intelligence” example of the shift in Informatics of Domination, Haraway.

Must admit that Haraway was a tough read for me. Scanning didn't work and I couldn't get into the flow of her writing and my understanding of the discipline of feminism is woefully inadequate. Theresa Senfts notes were quite helpful.
Reflection upon an example of this shift in the ‘Informatics of Domination’?
One example that Haraway gave as evidence of a shift in the informatics of domination was the shift from 'mind' to 'artificial intelligence'.

Wikipedia tells me that informatics "includes the science of information, the practice of information processing, and the engineering of information systems. Informatics studies the structure, behavior, and interactions of natural and artificial systems that store, process and communicate information. It also develops its own conceptual and theoretical foundations. Since computers, individuals and organizations all process information, informatics has computational, cognitive and social aspects, including study of the social impact of information technologies."

I suspect that the point that Haraway was making was that the study of the social impact of information technology must include the ways in which IT can be used to control and persecute people.

The mind is a construct that explains the functioning human consciousness; thinking, learning, remembering, appreciating, and communicating. The human mind has always been evolving especially with the development of language and language tools.
Ong quoted Julian Jaynes work. The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the bicameral mind. Jaynes thesis was that early man had a bicameral mind, maybe represented by the left and right hemispheres of the modern human brain. Each mind performed discrete functions and one mind was tuned to hear an external conversation attributed as the “voices of the gods”. Essentially your brain functioned in two contexts, as a set of processes given over to the functioning of the individual and a set of processes to keep each individual tuned to the collective mind. Individual consciousness was an a consequence of adaptation to allow that allowed for higher order development of the self reflective, functional brain. Jaynes suggested that the development of consciousness led to atrophy of the collective brain although there are vestigial elements remain represented by such things as premonition, pre-cognition, déjà vu, mystical revelations etc. These vestigial elements are more often seen as anomalies or outright psychiatric disorders. There is evidence that the collective mind still exists although humanity's ability to perceive it has diminished. The tone of Jaynes suggests that something essential to humanity was lost in the shift to individual consciousness.

Many spiritual perspectives talk about the illusion of individuality, and recommend practices and meditations designed to attune the individual to the collective mind usually represented as deity or the “mind of God. They talk about separateness and the sense of being alone in the universe is put forward as a dread affliction that can be remedied by spiritual connection.

The illusion of individuality pervades western intellectual tradition and all learning seen as primarily an individual function with occasional references to setting, context, peer groups, all collective units. The language of the OECD document is shot through with references to learning and cognitive development as individual enterprises, multiple intelligences refers to social intelligence as an element of the individual but not the collective consciousness. We know that we is greater than me and that there is a synergy available when learning in a group context. The work of Lave and Wenger with respect to communities of practice indicates that there can be a communal body of knowledge that is more that simply the sum of all knowledge of the individuals in the group. There is something about learning in groups that has a potentiating effect for learning and may be a necessary condition. Yet all of our effort is directed toward individual accomplishments, concern with individual intellect not group intelligence. Most teachers still view collaboration as cheating.

Computer connected to the WWW is the most obvious. Anders Sandberg calls cyborgs borganisms. Part of the fascination and horror of the cyborganism is the sublimation of individuality. Being subsumed by a collective has always triggered bad associations especially in some cultures that have had horrible experiences with some tragic perversions of religious cults, socialism or communism. Similarly in the the corporate American has sold a lot of soap by promoting a view of any collective activity as suspicious. The myth of the rugged individual is still a dominant theme. Technology and the WWW have made it possible to freely and easily participate in collective knowledge and meaning making without having to surrender your physical being or private identity. People start talking stupid you just move along.

Me, borganism

In thinking about the topic posted for today to list the hybrids that exist within me I find that my cyber existence and my meat space existence are merging. There has been a shift from mind to AI as Haraway puts it although I don't know if I experience this as a domination as much as a liberation.

I created a mind-map and posted to the shared map space. In the map I tried to visualize the ways that I have incorporated technology into my being. I thought about the everyday technology that I use, the virtual space that I occupy and the mid-range technology that I use between the two.

For example I can use my cell phone to call my mother or I can use it to call my podcasting service Gcast and record a podcast that appears on my web site. I can use my digital camera to record the visit of a new infant family member. I can print that to hard copy, display it on my screen saver or upload it to Flickr to share with the world. I love the outdoors and wilderness trecking. When canoing wilderness rivers, there are no street signs or anybody to ask for directions. I am skilled in the use of a compass and topographic maps but I love my GPS. So I take a canoe trip, take lots of digital pictures and post them to my Flicker site along with a description, and a push pin on a Google map. I enter the coordinates on Google Maps from the record in the hand-held GPS unit that I used to navigate the river. I'm just fooling around but the coordinates that I enter into Google maps are now part of the collective intelligence about that little piece of the world that I thought was so lovely. I added a piece to the hive mind, I made a contribution. As Skirkey points out , humans were designed to do that and it must be why I get such a kick out of it. There is no commercial pay off for the minutes or hours I spend.

The people in my computer are every bit as real as the people I interact with F2F. There are some real advantages to the cyber connection.

* Much broader circle of contacts
* exposure to larger set of ideas
* much broader choice of communities and interests
* diversity of ideas
* lack of barriers and interferences that operate in real time meat space.

Sandberg, A. We, Borg. . Retrieved May 8, 2008, from