Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Scraping, feeding and spitting out ... or "How I learnt to stop going to conferences and love the Real"


"As Western technophiles enamored by the affordances of the tools of networked society and rhetorically situated inside a 'global culture' the quick upload is the vector of desire. The fantasy of products consumed by the mass Other creates a sort of compulsive drive to upload, express, share, tag, intersect, etc. Speed and immediacy have become our drug because they imply the lessening of mediation, negotiation, or the possibility of control."


I said/blogged that last year after my first encounter with an FLNW as it somewhat clashed with the pace and networking capacity of the island I live on. And while at that time it all seemed to me possibly a bit of a culturally insensitive 'shoot first upload immediately and ask questions later' style affair ... it was turned out to be one of the most interesting, inspiring, and engaging encounters of my 'professional' life -- so much so that I can't even stomach the thought of attending yet another *fest style conference.

I'm still engaged in a variety of different dialogues with some of the participants; some face to face, some via IM, Google group posts, blog posts/comments, Wiki Talk pages, or Skype; i've loaned one my spare bedroom, and I often track their Flickr photos and add my Del.icio.us tags to networks I know they're lurking/participating in. No doubt we will be called a bunch of bloody navel gazing, tech, geek, nerd, self important anti-socialist wankers! at some point (yea, yea, ... "First they mock you, then they fight you, then you win." yadda, yadda, yadda.) But I'll say that FLNW #1 changed my life a bit, it definately changed the way I think about a lot of things in the world of networked teaching & learning.

There's a curve somewhere, on some mathematically adept sociologists graphing software that would explain/rationalise some of the criticisms of swapmeets, unconferences, and hyperactive networked literacies ... it peaks at a point, then flattens out and along the way some people will get runover, and others age indiscriminately, their mousing hands succumbing to arthritic pangs, their predictive txting dictionaries falling miserably behind the vernacular. I know that all this TALOing stuff doesn't sprinkle pixie dust on schools along the way, there's a heap of soap-boxing going on, but it does act like a magnet for some of the outcasts, outside thinkers, luminaries, geeks, nerds, artists and other passionate sociopaths who on one level see learning as some kind of metanarrative glue for almost everything we do in this world. What I really like about it all is that it's never about the "best practice", it's not the "tried and true", the "path most trodden" because personally I'm not really in it for those things. My world doesn't seem to work like that, I mostly feel like I'm making it up as I go along, i'm suckered in by emergence. And so for that reason I'll go along for part deux if I can regardless of any critics or naysayers. I may not actually make it physically, but if not I'll be a virtual support crew - headset strapped on, aggregating and directing flows of data thru chanells ready for the stuff or not. Because, after all, I am enamored by the fantasy -- there isn't really any escaping it.

7 comments:

Leigh Blackall said...

Nice one Brent! Its great to see your thoughts down like this. B4 it was left to a hunch and the paranoia in me. I try not to take TALO personally, but for some reason I do (other than the obvious). I suspect many others take it personally too... which I think is great.

Leigh Blackall said...

first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they win... I know, yadda yadda. My question is.. are they laughing or are they fighting?

Michael said...

Beautifully expressed Brent.

richard said...

Hi Brent, maybe you'd be interested in my justification for making it up as you go along that's up on ChangeThis:

"Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along"

http://www.changethis.com/31.06.PurposiveDrift

Leigh Blackall said...

And nice to see another fan reference to Dr StrangeLove btw. What a great movie!!

Graham Wegner said...

That last paragraph is the best one I have read in 2007 anywhere online - you've captured the essence of what I experienced on that one Thursday a few weeks back - I can only imagine how mindblowing the whole FLNW deal would have been. I feel like you put words to how I feel about learning and my role as an educator. I'm not disciplined enough for "best practice", I'm full of contradictions and new and experimental captures my attention - even though everyone who associates with TALO is totally different as personalities and backgrounds, there is something about the edginess, the who-cares-if-we-make-mistakes attitude, the lack of hierarchy that joins us together. We haven't crossed paths, Brent, but I hear you loud and clear. TALO is way cool. And conferences as they stand currently are fodder for the un-unconferenced.

Derek said...

Don't know how I ended up here in a recent flurry of window opening: someone did post with this link today I think.

What are your thoughts on this subject now?