Creating the asynchronous activity for this week was at first a challenge, but then it made me realize how it was, in fact, another iteration of our mindmapping. Except I had to map the mindmap.
Metacognitively, this week’s readings seemed to create the “worldview” layer that Leslie created in an earlier asynch activity, in which she created embedded circles to illustrate the CHAT table. Ecologies appealed to me more, perhaps because of my background in biology, but it seems this is the ultimate network.
Story telling — long has this been a means of relaying vital cultural history and identity, as well as serving as the first-ever training regimen for molding the minds of young and old alike. But it’s clearly more than that: it’s reflective assessment incarnate. What better way to find out if your young padawans have absorbed the enormity of the Powers of the Force than to ask them to repackage the learning — the connections, the network nodes, the relationship movements, the buses, etc.?
So it would only be natural to replicate such learning practices in a classroom of
(c) Star Wars: Padawan Luke Training With Jedi Master Yoda
our sort, and certainly gave me new ideas for my own freshman writing courses! Networking our thinking, making visible the connections between course objectives & practices, revealing some of the borders and boundaries in new ways — all mediated by a specified space and time, creating a framework for our thinking that both limited it and gave it new range. Yep — pedagogy, Yoda-style. And, just like me / us, Luke is the older padawan — with all sorts of other networked connections from life and learning forcing their way into his training, distracting but also proving to be unexpected paths of action. Say hello to Yoda meets Actor Network Theory.
Google Images’ available image selections for networks is becoming increasingly less accurate in their potential to capture the types of connections we’re making. Many results reflect a dominance of either machine or organic, but not a mix of both. I think that’s telling, at least insofar as the thinking I’m doing about mediators (thanks Latour).
ALERT: Personal “Aha!” moment — (better late than never) Some of my thinking has been whether or not we can start to think about THEORIES as GENRES, and if so, can we than apply genre tracing as a way to map the conflicts and the tensions — as this week’s reading of Spinuzzi suggests we do — in order to place them in a map that shows the productive relationships available to our continued work? Hello Popplets and Legos and Storytelling! I realize that Spinuzzi likely intended genre tracing to be applied to nodes or objects of study, but isn’t that exactly what we are doing with our activities?
While completing my Mind Map, I came across an interesting article of applied theory that reminded me of our Latour reading this week: “Spotting Boundary Spanner.” The article asserts that “Boundary spanners are a vital missing component in connecting practical theories and knowledge with real world applications.” Latour has asserted that this spanner / mediator is likely a person.
So I ask you: are WE padawan spanners? Learning the way of our disciplines (The Force) to mediate “all the theories.” By George, I think I may be onto something.
Spinuzzi: Traffic Systems (image from NobleEd.com)
This last week’s introduction to Spinuzzi created all sorts of unifying connections to the Popplet! And yet…
The trouble is, I have been thinking that now is the time to integrate a 3-D element. I had been considering creating a separate Popplet to link in, the bottom layer as theory (which works rhetorically as well as visually, as it would provide the foundational support to all that connects on the application layer), the superimposed layer as application or operationalized theory — an act of dispersion, perhaps? My hesitation to integrate this layering thus far is that producing such layering on a 2-D map will inevitably create a loss — and, I think, a significant one at that, given the way we’ve been conceptualizing networks. Placing all the network connections and elements on a single plain does have its merits — for example, the rhetorical implications of equality of elements and influence. However, that also creates a dilemma — we risk falling into Foucault‘s trap of the History of Ideas’ linearities. Unlike wire-frame software programs like AutoCAD, our Popplet space does have its visualizing limitations. It’s great to show the breadth of our connectivity of ideas, but not the depth.
This became especially clear to me as I was trying to show visible and overt connectivity through our little gray lines (which cannot be optimized through coloration) between the theorists — for which I’ve tried to create labeling mechanisms via color. Also, the space cannot truly capture the layering of these connections, such as an image of the body’s circulatory system here:
PC World Screen Capture from Zygote Body program
Before breakthroughs in computer imaging, we might render this complex system using page overlays. (Remember those books with clear plastic pages that created layers upon layers of details, from sailing ships to the human body?) However, technology makes it easier to convey knowledge multimodally…sometimes. Foucault emphasizes the importance of the seen/not seen when it comes to discourse analysis, as does Spinuzzi, Biesecker, Miller, and Bazerman. So even while I’m creating a Popplet to demonstrate knowledge network nodes and connectivity, the rhetorical situation that IS the Popplet space is defining the WAYS I am able to render this.
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore! ~ Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz
In a few separate blog entries, I’ve commented on the thinking prompted by classmates’ HTW Activities (Leslie’s,Daniel’s, and Suzanne’s). As I put these in the mix with my own reading response on WiFi and Mobile, my mind wandered to some odd places as I attempted to fit all of these into a coherent set of connections — rhizomes again. What popped into my head was the famous phrase from “The Wizard of Oz,”
Lions, and Tigers, and Bears…oh my!
Why? Great question. I think it’s because so many of us might be considered “Millennials“ in our embrace of technologies and networking (even if not in age range), and as such, we often use that technology without “seeing” deeply into its structure. These activities and readings bring those areas to the surface, and activities like those mentioned above — involving reflective assessments of who and what we are within that structure / network — brought that home to me.
For example, Summer‘s collaborative Popplet activity invited all of us to visualize how we are part of a cloud — a cyborg. The connections made by others, overlapping nodes, first reinforces the concept of cloud networking — supporting the argument that we are not operating in isolation, but are simply part of a transparent network of links and shared spaces. While I can appreciate that assertion on its face, when I think of how we as humans are still flesh-and-blood nodes (the organic) who are deeply entrenched in physical-based f2f communities, I wonder if this explanation isn’t a bit facile given so much of our field’s scholarship on the need to create pedagogy and learning spaces that embed f2f awareness and practices. As a composition instructor, reflective awareness of how I create lessons that embed technology (see Kairos publication review as an example of this focus).
Maury and Jenny both tackled Networking. Maury’s focus on network nesting really resonated with me, given this week’s Foucault readings and our work with mind maps and Google drawing. Visualizing the networking of our individual lives, and thinking about the hardware side of it all in my own HTW assignment (partnering with Chvonne) really exposed the 3- and 4-dimensionality of this space we’re exploring. Experimenting with the node-connection possibilities of IFTTT, and reading over classmates’ experiences with it, brought to mind the idea of mechanical vs. organic once again, but it seems the potential for complete creative independence is limited for the user. Here’s a repeat of my post onto Maury’s Google document to illustrate what I mean:
I lingered in the start gate on this one because I first had to ask myself what connections would be most useful to me. I’m not heavily embedded in FB, and I am fairly conservative when it comes to sharing or moving any photos (so no, I don’t Instagram). As I mentioned in my comment on Daniel’s post, this “meaning-making” or “meaning-making facilitative” program seems to add that organic back into the mechanical of networks, allowing us to become part of the “packet switching” function, I think. So, after I concluded what type of connection I’d find useful, the process was quite intuitive. But it did make me see the constructedness of the choices as boundaries. For example, I combined the NY Times with an email (I know, how unimaginative), but the predesigned options for “this” allowed no creativity on my part in terms of what I might value about the NY Times. So as a system or network node creation activity, this is still rather controlled.
Finally, when looking at Jenny’s Popplet of personal networks, it’s interesting to note the variations among us. In our home, we do not own any SmartPhones and no game systems (unless our grown kids are visiting), so my network diagram is pretty simplistic. It’s a lot of hardware based hubs, which I chose to diagram through basic coloring.
So, here is how my current mindmap reflects all of these encounters (as well as my continuing journey through Foucault:
26 January Mindmap Update
All in all, my concept of the structural and conceptual scaffolding of networks, while certainly expanded through technology into both visible and transparent hubs as well as connections, seems much deeper now than when I started this class. Yet I’m also aware that sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem, and the very same boundaries and rule systems of meaning-making as exist in f2f discourse communities have the potential to infuse the way we use technologies.
This initial attempt to make visual connections — a digital/visual synthesis — of our materials this term first proved daunting. Although, I must admit, over time I have become more of a visual learner/thinker than I ever thought possible. For a time, I was all about the text, the linearity. However, perhaps because of my experiences with digital media and freshman composition, the broader canvas offered by visual media seemed to allow me more freedoms. On a meta level, this network as a framing device is allowing me to “ping” on connections in ways I might have taken longer to make. I must say, this is an exciting way to begin. I fear, however, that without Popplet, my walls would be covered in sticky notes before too many weeks would pass!
My choices reflect the primary readings from week one, which — in my mind — established a useful groundwork of terms and concepts with which to frame my thinking. Combined with Foucault’s approach to discourse by examining the networks and “negative spaces,” the discussion of ‘rhetorical situation’ by Vatz, Bitzer, and Biesecker — for me, anyway — helped to ground the more philosophical Foucault into the realm of the practical, into potential application. My assigned “How It Works” readings on WiFi / Mobile fit neatly into this emerging web of connections because they all focused on the characteristics or qualities of the objects — the technological media that facilitates the connections. For me, this layering of materials suggests a need for a 3-D rendering, which isn’t possible with Popplet as far as I can tell. But it would be an interesting project.