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!

CCK08: Week 3 Networked

This week in CCK08 has had a different rhythm for me. I used daily Google Alerts and the WordPress Tag Surfer to identify CCK08 blog posts and read as many as I could. I enjoyed this activity enormously. I followed up on Technorati and too. I am finding that my polymath interest in the posts is sending me off on a lot of diverging journeys but I am fascinated by what is being discussed and linked.

I live in rural NSW in Australia and I rely upon satellite connectivity for Internet access. Despite the 1Mb bandwidth available to me I do have a lot of latency to distract me. I have moved from a 1Gb environment and so I am noticing quite a difference particularly with visually rich assets. I am getting more used to using Firefox’s Tabs to help me with this latency. However … I do have access to a network and feel glocalised!

My reading (and listening) order this week was:


I ended with:

I found all three presentations thought-provoking. I think they are great linear and non-linear resources. Their non-linearity sent me off to contemplate ‘connectors’ (George), ‘Netville’ (Barry) and the semantics of networks (Stephen). I was interested to see the differences in the aesthetics of presentation in each of them. Barry’s ‘thick description‘ of networks reminded me of the excitement created by Harvard Presentation Graphics and Powerpoint as presentation tools.

I learned this week about griefers and trolls through following up on a post by Stephen. I have not used Moodle at all since Week 1. As part of my reading I looked at Second Thoughts and contemplated how a networked society can share, contest and grow. I think the Auden quote at the top of the Second Thoughts home page is very apposite and this reminded me of the potential of poetics to link our sensory and revelationary experience.

I am struggling with Pageflakes. I am getting multiple panels with the same information but I did manage to find this Flickr image from Fleep Tuque.

I was intrigued to see the number of participants South of the Equator (including the occluded North Island of New Zealand). I wondered about the digital divide but read this post whilst writing this WordPress post.

Scientists have discovered a “chemical equator” that divides the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere from the largely uncontaminated atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere.

Notwithstanding the differences articulated in this week’s CCK08 discussion forums I wonder if the ideas presented create an ecological environment that has a mass that transcends biography, geography and chemistry?

Writing, Transparency and Confessional Tales

In 1988 I was enthralled by the publication of John Van Maanen’s book Tales of the Field. An introduction to the book noted that:

Once upon a time ethnographers returning from the field simply sat down, shuffled their note cards, and wrote up their descriptions of the exotic and quaint customs they had observed. Today scholars in all disciplines are realizing how their research is presented is at least as important as what is presented. Questions of voice, style, and audience—the classic issues of rhetoric—have come to the forefront in academic circles.

My interest in John Van Maanen’s work was amplified by reading about Wolfgang Iser and his conceptualisation of the implied reader:

The concept of the implied reader offers a means of describing the process whereby textual structures are transmuted through ideational activities into personal experiences.

My PhD (1989) was framed with their work at the forefront of my thinking. (It was a time of action research and qualitative evaluation.) It was a decade influenced by ideas characteristic of those found in new paradigm research.

Almost exactly twenty years later I came across the discussion of radical transparency by Clive Thompson. I was alerted to his discussion through the WordPress home page (20 September) by this article. I think it links very closely with the publisher’s observation on John Van Maanen:

His goal is not to establish one true way to write ethnography, but rather to make ethnographers of all varieties examine their assumptions about what constitutes a truthful cultural portrait and select consciously and carefully the voice most appropriate for their tales.

I am at the end of my second week of my participation in CCK08 and feel particularly open to an approach to connectivism that acknowledges authorial voice and the potential for transparency. I am delighted that thoughts stimulated by a cultural climate in the 1980s are finding space and voice in 2008.