Final blog summary

I believe my lifestream is a useful representation of much of my EDC experience as it logs a lot of my reading, my participation within the community and many of my thoughts about our studies. These have been expressed in post titles or in brief comments on items I’ve considered relevant to pull in (illuminating in itself) as well as more considered reflections. The provision of these summaries and comments has been a useful discipline, tracing my preoccupations and thought-trains and enabling meaningful review.

The blog has really worked for me as a central focusing ‘place to put everything’. Early on I resisted the impulse to organise with pages so the stream remained a better representation of what I understood it to be – a chronological series of thoughts, ideas and finds mashed up in a variety of modalities to chart my progress through EDC, more or less governed by myself. I decided to rely on tagging and categorising to locate posts or identify emerging themes or events, enjoying the economy of the WordPress tag-cloud which enables a one-click surfacing of themes or collections. This premeditated organisation is both illustrative of our human wish to create order and pin meaning and a sense-making imperative in a scrolling blog. My tag-cloud contains nothing surprising, but would be a rich source of information had I chosen other folksonomies, or schemes of emphasis, using it to light up posts I’d considered important or those with unanswered questions.

Central to the quasi-confessional nature of a blog and in common with all reflective diaries, I believe a tone has emerged, and the revisions I’ve made whilst composing longer posts attest to this performative aspect. The knowledge of its being public on the web has sometimes been inhibiting, but most often it’s a thought I have put aside or not had time to entertain.

I have enjoyed writing, particularly when I’ve been inspired by an idea or a reading, but I consider some of my posts to be too informal with ideas expressed in inappropriately flowery language. I believe I can write in an academic register, but the lifestream has somehow worked to release my inner sensationalist! It is interesting to consider that the blog form may have encoded within its literacy a human-designed essentialist ‘algorithm’ prompting me to write in a certain way. More likely it is my particular response to the affordance and has certainly been a natural and involuntary one. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for academic study.

In a recent post I likened my lifestream to a river course. This natural-world analogy is distant from the algorithmic operations underpinning much of our real life-course which subtly dictate our choices and organise our journey. There are hints of algorithmic agency co-constituting my lifestream such as comments left by automated bots, auto-updating rss feeds, the sudden appearance of comments I’ve written elsewhere and the surprise I register when finding posts I’d forgotten I’d invoked by ifttt.

I believe the technologies used have co-created my lifestream, helping shape both its form and substance, a mix of the human and the human-designed non-human providing an experience I’m glad not to have missed.

How is my driving?

Public Domain image

Rating and quantifying the consumption of ‘experience’ is on the increase. Recently in the course of my daily life I have undertaken such diverse activities as contacting local government departments, calling in a plumber and some real life chocolate shopping 🙂

Soon after these encounters I have been invited to rate my experience via a phone call or by logging on to a website where I may select a number on a scale to record my level of satisfaction with the service I’ve received. In each case, the government official, the plumber and the shop assistant have all asked or alerted me to this with an unspoken understanding that they stand to gain or lose from the feedback they receive.

This is a demeaning experience both for me as consumer/customer and for them as service provider. The consumer is constructed as a potent arbiter able to award points with no other authority than the money in her pocket. The service provider is fashioned as a worker needing to amass tokens to attest to satisfactory service. Such a contrivance is part of the ontology of the computer harnessed by capitalism which dehumanises the individual and reduces social contact to a mechanistic exchange after the real one has taken place and thereby calling into question its authenticity. Similar construction of  the individual was predicted by Hand (2007) as one of his ‘narratives of threat’,

The idea of a digitally mediated participatory citizenship disguises the ‘push-button’ nature of digitally mediated political life (Street 1997). That is, the Web is simply another media of simple polling of preferences and opinion. The figure of the consumer-citizen takes centre stage where the processes of political management and engagement are inseparable from mass-mediated and customized forms of consumption. Information, instead of being an empowering force for cultural democratization, operates as a substitute for authentic knowledge, particularly where institutional and organisational uses of information centre upon the construction of preference databases. The individual freedoms associated with digital-empowerment are illusory – these are simply methods of decentralizing and delegating responsibility for citizenship to the individual. Citizens are thus now expected to behave like the dominant images of private consumers in economic theory – autonomous, individualised decision-makers removed from the communitarian fabric.
(Hand, 2008, p.39)

Push-button voting is redolent of Social Media likes and the use of rating and gamification in learning environments. Rehearsed in our consumer experiences, they become more readily acceptable in our educational exchanges. The teacher as facilitator is construed as a service provider in a relationship with the student that can only be verified or valorised by digital computation.

Hand, M., (2008) “Hardware to everyware: Narratives of promise and threat” from Hand, Martin, Making digital cultures : access, interactivity, and authenticity   pp.15-42, Aldershot: Ashgate

Week 11 Weekly driverless thoughts

Mike Mozart

This post should be approached with caution because it was written several days after it was due and is therefore chronologically suspect and possibly dubious in other aspects too.

Life rather than lifestream has won over this penultimate week of the blog, rendering it driverless. I have, however, been thinking about philosophers, French ones in particular, as they appear so often in our readings. These influential thinkers are the rocks upon which arguments are draped and fitted to give them form and authority but also as foundations on which to base and measure new thoughts and ideas. This is the tradition of academia. I am thinking about this idea as part of my final assignment, so I don’t want to rehearse it here, but link to my poster of Expendables or Incomprehensibles instead (in my mooc we were encouraged to create an image of the philosopher heroes we were studying. Writing the word heroes makes me realise none were women 🙁 ). This enabled me to use a new web application, picmonkey.

I have also been musing about lifestream analogies and watching videos about Driverless Ed tech. Audrey Watter’s presentation was apposite to Gert Biesta’s journal article about the role of the teacher, another philosophy-based argument to get to grips with. Both countered the positioning of the teacher (as educator and expert) by the exigencies of efficiency, economics and control with arguments for understanding what teachers actually do and by debunking sometimes persuasive opinion that they may easily be replaced by automated means.


Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari Michel Foucault Roland Barthes Emmanuel Levinas Jacques Derrida Maurice Merleau-Ponty Gilles Deleuze CC-BY-SA-3.0-RS,

Clockwise from top left, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gilles Deleuze.

Created with picmonkey

Labelled for non-commercial reuse.

Pinterest! River Course


Just Pinned to Education and Digital Cultures: river formation diagram

In Week 10 I posted a picture of the beach which I captioned Lifestream reaches the sea and I captured this diagram as part of my imagining of this lifestream as a river course, associating its early days with the steep plunge of a young river when I was learning what was required and how to set up the ifttt automation before embarking on a fast and furious flow of reading, blogging, capturing and tweeting. This vertiginous drop gave way briefly to calmer pools in which it was possible to momentarily catch breath and reflect on the course before racing downstream again. I could carry on making these associations – tributaries representing ideas and impressions flowing in from my mooc and from other students in the community; rocks set midstream or pebbles thrown in from tutors causing thought-ripples or rapids; taking leisurely meanders through ideas picked up along the way; running aground in stagnant oxbow lakes when losing flow, direction or community.

Where I think the lifestream’s analogy to a river course does work is in the fast-paced nature of the experience, the myriad inputs from outside that have flowed into it, its unique source and the individual landscape around it that will make every lifestream different and the vertical scrolling rolling unidirectional blog form privileging the now and making attempts to wade back upstream difficult.

Tweet! Defining and the digital

Dirk asked how we define ‘Digital Education’. I suggested dropping the word digital as it is now so enmeshed in our lives. (I think I should have said tautologous and prepend – so interesting how I replied quickly without proper reflection. Is that the ‘fault’ of Twitter in some sort of essentialist sense, or how we have come to adopt it as a society for quick and often impulsive bytes or merely the fault of me 🙂 )

Favourite tweets! Favourited to watch

I would love to be able to attend this event, as I would have liked to attend recent lectures by Audrey Watters and on Critical Pedagogy at Edinburgh. I will look out for recordings.

The title is interesting – erosion and sedimentation recall my lifestream analogy and underpin how words and metaphors perform our world.

YouTube! Automating Education and Teaching Machines Audrey Watters

Automating Education and Teaching Machines Audrey Watters
“Can computers replace teachers?” The Atlantic recently asked. “Can AI replace student testing?” another publication queried. These sorts of headlines are appearing with increasing frequency. But do they reflect technological advances in “artificial intelligence”? Or are they reflections instead of culture and political desires to see education automated?

This talk will explore the history of “teaching machines” — a history that certainly pre-dates the latest hype about artificial intelligence. It will also examine the ideological (and technical) underpinnings of Silicon Valley’s recent push to automate — or as it calls it, “personalize” — education.

I liked this on YouTube to fix it on my lifestream so that I can watch it later.
via YouTube