Tag Archives: cyberculture

Week 12 summary…and finally

Back in the day the final news item used to be a light-hearted  piece about a skateboarding duck or similar.

Lionel the skateboarding duck – borrowed from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk

This isn’t going to be one of those…

So, what have I learned?

My biggest take-out from this course is summarised by these quotes:

"division of the social and the technological, and [...]the reduction of their complex entanglements to a clear relation of subordination" 
Bayne, S. (2014)
"...the MOOC as a complex entanglement of humans, educational institutions, technologies and geographies..."
Knox (2016)
"...the algorithm represents a much more complex relationship between humans and non-humans in education, pointing towards an increased entanglement of agencies..."
Knox (2015)

The field of education doesn’t exist in a bubble, isolated from everything else in the world.  Aspects of all three cultures we have studied (and more) have an impact on it, whether that’s in the way people perceive digital technology, how me might use it, or the negative effect its misuse might have.

cyberculture logo

At first I thought of cyber, community and algorithmic cultures as different eras, akin to the past, present and future.  My view now is that the three coexist, although one may be dominant in a particular situation.

I found the whole enhanced-human / android concept fascinating.  It’s clear that we’re already there in some respects. In the field I work in contact lenses, wave-guided laser eye surgery and digital hearing aids all have the potential to provide benefits that go beyond the restorative.

In my professional practice an awareness of our increasing entanglement with technology translates into treating technophiles and technophobes with equal care and regard.

Having gained an understanding of ethnography is very helpful.  Supporting an on-line community is a big aspect of my job and one I see as, potentially, the most rewarding.  One if the reasons I joined this MSc was to experience on-line learning as a student, so I now know I had ethnographic intentions from the outset.  I found Kozinets (2010) particularly helpful and comprehensive and I’ve already quoted from it on several occasions at work.

algorithm culture

“Making visible the invisible” will stay with me forever! It’s a great way to summarise the possibilities (and pitfalls) of analytics.  There was enough content to spark my interest and it’s a topic I will study further in the future.

The format is liberating, although being time-oppressed I found the loose structure tricky.

  • The first block was the most engaging and stimulating for me, I’d put this down to the greater sense of community created by the group activities.
  • The (deliberately?) fragmented communication in block 2 was a jarring contrast at first.
  • Block 3 merged into finalising the Lifestream and I didn’t have enough time to devote to both.

One other element I had to come to terms with was referencing non-academic sources.  I’ve resolved the mental conflict this caused me by looping back to ‘complex entanglements’ and realising that these sources (even fake news ones) have legitimacy in the context of digital cultures.

To Jeremy and James and my fellow students.

Incidentally the ‘…and finally’ news format lives on here!


Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851

Knox, J. (2016) Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group

Knox, J. (2015). Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1

Recollections of Miller, V (2011)

Image borrowed from http://thequestionconcerningtechnology.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/ecotone-renegotiating-boundaries.html

“the fourth discontinuity is yet to be overcome and is the distinction between humans and machines”

“Norbert Wiener suggested that a pilot/aeroplane could be seen as a self-governing mechanism that continually processes and tries to respond to external stimuli under a complex, though ultimately predictable set of rules, in order to maintain homeostasis (that is, stability and control)” (Miller, V. 2011 Chapter 9, p211)

A number of interactions I had this morning with a learner using the VLE I manage and the VLE itself, brought me back to thinking about this paper and Wiener’s idea of the man-machine self-governing mechanism.

Whilst out and about, my smart-watch alerted me to a Forum message from a VLE user.  I opened this on my phone to find out the details of the issue, which related to a duplicate account being created in error after being locked out of an existing account.  I logged into the VLE and resolved the issue there and then and messaged the learner back to let them know everything was sorted.   Whilst logged into the VLE automated notifications alerted me to a couple of small housekeeping tasks that needed completing and I dealt with those too.  A few minutes later a notification popped up on my smart-watch with a ‘thank you’ from the learner.  Normal service had been resumed.

As Miller proposes the lines between human and machine in those interactions were certainly blurred and one could argue that an observer might find it difficult to determine whether the machines were serving me or vice versa, or, as Miller suggests, the machines and I were ‘working together as a self-governing mechanism’.

My connections to my phone, my smart-watch and the remote VLE also reminded me of Donna Haraway’s ‘A manifesto for cyborgs’ and her proposition that “we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism” (Haraway, 1991: 149-150), or as Hands, M. (2008) states “…what was previously visible as the hardware of technoculture and information culture is now increasingly invisible as the infrastructure of contemporary digital culture”.


Miller, V. (2011) Chapter 9: The Body and Information Technology, in Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage.

Haraway, Donna (2007) A cyborg manifesto from Bell, David; Kennedy, Barbara M (eds),  The cybercultures reader pp.34-65, 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.