Category Archives: Human Post


Mindmapping one of the primary readings (Kozinets, 2010) has enabled me to outline a temporal and physical landscape of the online communities and the ethnographical research into them the author describes and pin it to the walls of my lifestream by the four corners.

Creating the map merely by quoting and grouping what seem to me to be salient points has helped fix them in my mind and will hopefully act as an aide-memoire for future reference. The map has a link to the Kozinets article, but could be improved by linking to the other papers.


Massiveness and Openness

After reading Bonnie Stewart’s article, Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation, I had lots of questions and reactions. I have started to put these on a padlet page to return to as I reflect and read more over the coming days:

Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.

Week 4 weekly thoughts

Image S B F Ryan, Flickr,

I liked this music on Soundcloud because, as a set of variations on a theme, it serves as a melodic link between Blocks 1 and 2. From early cybercultures and their playful interpretations of the net, EDC is turning to concentrate on network-enabled community cultures and their meaning for education.

Looking back, variations on a theme make me think of our burgeoning ability to create iterations of our human selves as cyborgs, each slightly different from the original, although whether an improvement, is subjective and up for debate.

Looking ahead, variations hail the start of my chosen mooc, A Philosophical Road Trip.  I chose this mooc for its experiential introduction to phenomenology and the mise en abîme effect of making an ethnographic study of students of phenomenology. It is a philosophy which urges an active observation of the world and of ourselves. It encourages us to explore and exploit the double take so that we waken from perceiving the world as expected and view it anew and differently: epoché.

Following this philosophy, I might uncover some of the tensions and obscured constructions behind what it is to become part of an online learning community. I may observe “tensions between the creative, open sources practices of web media and the economic and commercial forces with which they react” (Lister, 2009, p.205), tensions between a Socratic understanding of knowledge delivery and theories of connectivism and distributed expertise, (Stewart, 2013) and tensions between a free community sharing a common interest and a forced, ersatz participation.


Lister, M. … [et al.], (2009) “Chapter 3. Networks, users and economics” from Martin Lister … [et al.], New media: a critical introduction pp.163-236, London: Routledge

Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.

Mise en abîme

The Conscious Mind edX Mooc

I have enrolled on the edX Mooc The Conscious Mind: A Philosophical Road Trip. It is all about phenomenology so I think it will be interesting to make an ethnographic study of students studying this subject. In an introductory video the course leader explores active observation as a means of getting at a multiplicity of viewpoints, or accessing alternative viewpoints, in order to see and understand something more clearly or to admit of other ways of perceiving. This detailed method of looking at the world seems to fit well with the ethnographer’s goal of understanding what lies behind an entity’s representation or manifestation as if in ‘first person view’.

Testing and not just for the sake of it #iAMb

Testing ifttt for my Week in iAMbs tweets.

I had an idea to summarise the week in iambic pentamaters, or at least one. Not exactly contemporary digital culture perhaps! It’s called #iAMb because the i confers a more up-to-date image it might otherwise not claim, in a corporate, Silicon Valley kind of way and co-constitutes the question-statement-proposition I AM. (Who we are as humans has been a theme of EDC so far.) The b is silent, it’s the parasitic worm code and/or the unrevealed element in the sociotechnical mix and/or power’s concealed cipher.

Warning – I’m no poet!

Testing and not just for the sake of it

This week’s iAMb hangs on the word testing. I’m thinking here of testing boundaries – the blurred boundaries we have been thinking of in the first EDC block, such as between the human and the machine, between education and learning or education and technology. Testing boundaries is what we are doing in this experimental learning space. Education and learning are all about testing, hypotheses and understandings, experiments and prototypes. Testing has connotations, too, of how education is a testing of ourselves, and perhaps necessarily so, to enable us to move forward.

Not just for the sake of it could mean that this testing is important, to me here, and to humans in general. We are testing the boundary of human technological perfectability and sinister outcomes of Artificial Intelligence. This testing matter is important and education is a means of giving voice to individuals to which this public learning space attests.

The predominance of monosyllables makes the sentence sound a bit robotic and the choice of and and not but after testing marks a pause, but less of one, to simulate the pace of life on the internet.

Of course, I was just really testing ifttt to see if it would work with another hashtag :).

Not so Insta gram

Photocopy of the contents page of a book in my possession, Hypertext, State of the Art (a set of conference proceedings from 1989) which illustrates the pace of change in my adult lifetime of the “information highway” and its potential for “learning”.

Instagram ifttt applet currently broken!

Elastic Time – Week 3 thoughts

Image by Ian Foss, Flickr:

Elastic Time (not a cyberpunk band)

Thoughts about time have weaved through the lifestream over the past couple of weeks and through the themes of this first EDC block. The lifestream can reflect the speed at which new information is pelted at us on the internet – the blog is a way of grabbing at these multimedia bytes like pulling items off shelves in a frantic trolley dash. Here, time is contracted, so that much seems to happen all at once relentlessly. This is life on the internet and through this lens we can see how education and learning might work – finding, noting, glimpsing, gathering, liking, sharing and curating multiple information inputs from heterogeneous sources and making sense of them when elastic time expands a little for us to summarise and theorise on our pickings.

Thoughts, also, about how there must be a lapse of time before we can properly assimilate these new ideas and info scraps and forge links with our ‘already understood’ – this process happens subliminally, as if by some unconscious other.

When time is contracted we feel a little out-of-control and our lifestream blog can celebrate this relatively ungoverned and seemingly frenetic activity. We should “honour the mess” of our phenomenology (Fenwick and Edwards, 2010). Perhaps this digital stream is a vivid representation of how we pick up and absorb knowledge and experience as we go about our lives, grasping ideas on-the-fly and having flashes of connection or inspiration – education and learning not being confined to one space, nor one time, nor one network, nor even especially to one iteration of ourselves.

Time stretches when I read that Haraway (2007) enumerates the breached boundaries between, for example, science and religion, the human and the technological, the human and animal, and consider that these ontologies have been called into question for some good amount of it. Yet we seem little prepared to “navigate” the “devastated absence” (Bayne, 2015) left by the departed humanist – it is a desert space with no gods peopled by human chimeras and curious cryogenic recoverings, where we might fall prey to creeds of greed and insularity.

Here we are in our experimental sociotechnical internet classroom, homo faber (Miller,2011) in symbiosis with our machines, and trying to make sense of the not-quite-in-control to see if it attests to, or incarnates, our learning. We are tech voyeurs being surveilled, surrendering our data and privacy. We are profiting from our online community and benefiting from our access to everything. We are reading narratives of threat and promise (Hand, 2008) and living them out at the same time.

There seems to be a world of time passed since the early, and now dated, visualisations of cyberculture we have examined in Togethertube. Yet this has all happened in my lifetime, being already someone who can remember early computers and first debates about hypertext. I am out of time, not knowing any of the digital cultural references, and, as a human in the old accepted sense, also out of time. I am, I hope, just in time … trying to “get back on” and salvage my lifestream after some unavoidable absence.


Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851
Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. London: Routledge
Hand, M (2008) Hardware to everywhere: narratives of promise and threat, chapter 1 of Making digital cultures: access, interactivity and authenticity. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp 15-42. (e-reserve, pdf)
Haraway, D. (2007) A Cyborg Manifesto. London: Routledge.
Miller, V. (2011) Chapter 9: The Body and Information Technology, in Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage.



click image to vote

Take part in the live vote What separates humans from machines? There are two questions, a multiple choice and a free text question. Click the image above or use the link below to go the site and follow the instructions at the top of the page:

See the results coming in here:

(haven’t worked out how to embed the vote in a post yet)

Week 2 random bullet points

Note to self

  • avoid the danger of spending too much time on Lifestream and not enough on reading
  • hard to get this comment business working (but see point above)
  • don’t compare your blog to your classmates’ too much – leads to limiting human emotions such as insecurity 🙁 – think intrinsic motivation
  • sort tags to reflect post content not just process

This summary is related to several Lifestream posts this week. I saved a YouTube clip of Fred Turner on Pinterest and watched it whilst I was at the gym, hence the blurred photo post on Instagram. I was squeezing the most use I could from a period of time.

In the video clip Turner describes how members of the US counterculture of the 60s, ambivalent towards technology, made movement back to “the land” to rediscover themselves and form new communities with alternative values. Supporting this movement, a publication entitled The Whole Earth Catalog, dreamed up by Stewart Brand, came to “establish[ed] a relationship between information technology, economic activity, and alternative forms of community that would outlast the counterculture itself and become a key feature of the digital world” (2005, p.488). A full circle was turned: technology came to underpin and facilitate a community turning away from a politics that had spawned such affordances from the “large scale weapons technologies of the cold war” (p.488), yet ironically the community ultimately failed to “escape the pull of America’s technological and economic centers of gravity” (p.512).

Turner relates how technology was co-constitutive alongside political, economic and social elements, of a new sociability upholding alternative values in a digital age. By following his exposition, I was able to gain more perspective on how technology interrelates with particular people in particular places for particular purposes at particular times (students, online, learning, now) and how these interrelations become cultures in the sense described by Hand (2008, p.18),

“There are new forms of circulation emerging which override or replace older modern structures, where culture has in a sense replaced the social …”

(Article saved in Dropbox)

Half-listening to the radio in the night, I tuned into a BBC World Service broadcast which, coincidentally, described another digital culture full circle (saved on Pinterest). This one concerned the rise of fake news accounts on the internet and the creation of “click-worthy” stories, especially prevalent during the US Presidential campaign, which gained traction and prominence on Google and Facebook and made millions through advertising. One way Facebook is attempting to combat the proliferation of false news (according to the broadcast), is to develop algorithms to identify recently-created news sites and demote them in the rankings of social media feeds. The tech giants’ algorithms promoted these news accounts and now the companies must marshal new code to help quash them.

Hand, M. (2008). Hardware to everywhere: narratives of promise and threat, chapter 1 of Making digital cultures: access, interactivity and authenticity. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp 15-42.

Turner, F. (2005). The WELL and the Origins of Virtual Community. Technology and Culture, 46, pp 485-512. DOI: 0040-165X/05/4603-0001$8.00