CCK08: Swimming with dolphins, sharks and dead people

I have been away from the CCK08 discussions for a few days. I have been moving ten cubic metres of decomposed granite in my garden. What would have been an arduous physical task under normal circumstances flew by. There has been so much to think about in the course.
The wonderful paradox for me is that I did not have to be connected to be connected during the granite moving. I spent two days thinking about the richness of the community participating in CCK08.
The first three weeks of the course have been fascinating for me. Each week I have found that the topics and discussions have touched other parts of my learning journey. In the 1970s, for example, I was intrigued by samizdat literature and how self-published and self-distributed ideas impacted on social consciousness. Such literature was (and is) a challenge to cultural hegemony.
I tried to read as much as possible of the shift in atmosphere and focus in Week 3. I started off with this post about Prokofy Neva, revisited Second Thoughts and looked at Pat Parslow’s posts. My Google Alerts brought me Lisa’s delightful post about Networks of Dead People and today Ailsa’ post on iatrogenesis. My WordPress Tag Surfer led me to Jenny Mackness’ post about the structure of the course and Duking it Out – Forum Style. I noticed too Claire Thompson’s post CCK08 Dropout (via OLD).
Just this small selection of posts underscored for me the power of aggregation. Whilst participating in the CCK08 network I am naive enough to think that I am swimming with dolphins whilst recognising there may be chondrichthyes in the water! I tend not to go into the latter’s habitats but realise that they are a vital part of an ecosystem.
Like Ailsa “I try to demonstrate all the qualities needed for setting up an environment whereby personal growth might occur; trust, empathy, unconditional positive regard.” (Italics my emphasis). I concur wholeheartedly with Jenny’s sentiments about “the enormous generosity of spirit shown by Stephen Downes and George Siemens.”  I share unequivocally Lisa’s view that “Filling one’s network with dead people will make it deeper, more sustainable, more holistic and more useful.” (I wonder what Lisa would think about the Rockwood Necropolis in Sydney).
At the end of the final wheelbarrow of earth I found myself savouring Claire’s post and her observation that “I’ve gotten used to the fact that you can’t read everything.”  It seems to me that CCK08 allows the sharing of views about sharks, the dead and dropouts in a convivial space that each participant of the course can select and prioritise. My background in ethnography and case studies has encouraged me to come to terms with the inability to be everywhere and assuaging the guilt of not being there when something really important happens.
We live in a world of ‘documentary reality’. Swimming through this world as if with dolphins makes learning very special!


  1. Keith, what a great title for your post! The Dead People idea sure has legs. And I have to say that luckily there are more dolphins than sharks out there… Though one thing I wondered when I read Duking it out – Forum Style was that perhaps we are more cordial to each other when we comment on blogs because a blog is like someone’s home; it would be impolite to attack someone in their home. That is not to say that you can’t disagree in a civil way. A forum, on the other hand, is like neutral ground; you can go toe-to-toe without insulting your host.
    I like thought of you moving earth around in your garden whilst mulling over the CCK08 course. Nothing like good physical work of that nature to allow the mind to explore and test ideas!

  2. Claire
    Thank you for your comment. I remember that in law there used to be something called ‘the voluntary assumption of risk’. This asserted that behaviours have risks that the participant accepts as part of the behaviours.
    I like your analogy of the home (blog) and neutral territory (forum). I wonder if the nomadic behaviour of connected learners means that home is wherever your post is? I see all forms of posting as an ethical commitment. I seem to accept the dolphin risk and hope that my naivety allows me to keep swimming!

  3. > We live in a world of ‘documentary reality’. Swimming through this world as if with dolphins makes learning very special!
    Great phrase (great post generally).
    I was unaware that granite could decompose. How does that happen?

  4. Stephen
    Thank you for posting a comment. Our home is a rammed earth building. The earth for the building is collected from underneath granite boulders. I used the same material to cover the ground around our organic garden. Its decomposition leaves it in a granular form, some earth and some small stones.
    The ‘documentary reality’ phrase was from an MPhil I read in the late 1980s that discussed how we come to know. Your philosophical musings prompted me to think about how to define this ‘reality’.
    I hope you have enjoyed your recent travels.

  5. Shifting granite, that’s heavy!
    But seems to contribute to enlightenment, or at least the grounding of some critical ideas 🙂
    “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” Zen saying.

  6. Ailsa
    Thank you for posting a comment on this post. Zen must have influenced Karl Marx. I think Marx advocated herding cattle in the morning, fishing in the afternoon and debating in the evening!
    Nobody mentioned granite!

  7. Going back to Claire’s post, the thing I love about what is going on is that it is relatively permanent. I might not be religiously following the course, but I can come back to it in the years to come – if the Internet still exists as we know it now 🙂


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