Monday, December 29, 2008

A naked kiwi and making things public

Just musing on making things public.

The Johari window identifies 4 quadrants regarding self disclosure.
1. Whats known to me and known to others (obviously no new knowledge here).
2. Whats known (about me)to others but not known by me (my supervisor seems to think I write well...if he keeps saying it, i may come to believe it, but it may also be that affirmations make it so or at least increase the confidence with which I write, saying the opposite could always make it worse...).
3. Whats known to me and not to others (the data analysis and combinations of learning that are unique to me, and also some things that are better kept in the box!)
4. Whats not known by others or myself (the area of new knowledge, to be discovered...the phd)
But the Johari window was really only related to knowing oneself better. What of 'other things'?

There are some things that maybe shouldnt be public (for further ref see Susan Leigh Star who talks of such risks in terms of social justice).
And there are some things that need to be told (sensitive research via Renzetti and Lee)

Latour writes of whats hidden. Behind every initiative there are masses of other things holding in place, tugging, pulling. Some of the actors pushing, pulling are human, some are otherwise. In this pulling and shoving there is also no beginning, we are always in the middle of things.
In citing Samual Butler, Latour also reminds us/me that remaining silent is also political, for silence seen as a virtue may also be because it renders us agreeable to some of our fellows...
What remains said/unsaid....what is performed & not...

He also performed whats usually hidden in an art gallery exhibition looking at making things public. This brought together three modes of representation usually kept apart: How to represent people? Politics.
How to represent objects? Science.
How to represent their collective gathering? Art.
(I find, again, justification for performing a thesis in ways beyond the written text).

Latour provides direction for considering how things aggragate, what hold such shapes...provides imetus for considering disputed 'things' also.
To this end, there is reason to consider not only what pulls things together but what also pulls or tugs or attempts to unravel...or to hold fast, to resist...and that such things too may be human and otherwise. To tell the technsocial story/stories, the ontological politics, that are both shaped and shaping. And what to of whats not included but pushed away, or 'othered'?

I spent one of Auckland's glorious days inside the Auckland museum and its exhibition of secrets. I also revisited this exhibit this very wet day online.
The exhibition provides a different reality to that usually experienced in the museum. This performance was of the inner workings revealed an exhibition in its own right of the behind the scenes work.

I have chosen to describe the performance of secrets at the museum alongside actor-network theory and make use of reassembling the social for providing some structure to this.
The first scene is of crating and uncrating, and thinking outside the box. This involves appreciating that which is unknown. The opening on arrival is described as always a revelation. Long-hidden objects emerge, reviving memory and involing if not asking silent questions such as What am I? Where do I come from? How did I get here? Why have I been hidden for so long? What stories can I tell? The objects on display in a museum represent but a fraction of the total collection and invites viwers to therefore consider what is seen as the iceberg, not the tip.
The second scene is called registration, but its really of accounting, whats in and whats out, reminding me of Latours first source of uncertainty where groups and their makeup are disputed. Every object that passes through the doors – coming or going – must be accounted for. A political act of what fits and what doesn't..."Does it fit our collection policy? Does it need special conservation work? Are there any legal or copyright issues about displaying it? And when the museum decides that something is past its use-by date – known as “de-accession” – the whole process has to happen in reverse..."
The third scene extnds on this, What's grouped together? Who decides? Whats the structure of the performance in other words, how are things to be taken/othertaken? As a source of Latourian uncertainty, this reflects how things might be influenced as well as distributed.
The fourth scene is of the way things were. The museum isn’t 'just a big display case' it’s also a working space. Many objects are old (stating the obvious) and fragile or damaged when they arrive. "The job to preserve them, sometimes even improve them, so they can be exhibited, studied, interpreted and enjoyed isn’t always easy. Some exhibits are simply beyond repair. Others have been mistreated or neglected. And some are so unusual or rare that knowing how to treat them is a challenge in itself. And then there’s the question of whether to repair something at all – perhaps the damage or the missing parts tell their own story, every bit as important as an object in “perfect” condition. The museum conservator’s role is to balance all these considerations and stay true to the purpose of the collection or exhibition."
In this there is a marked similarity with ANT research, whats uncovered involves work, how this is then treated to let actors speak for themselves, as well as consideration for what's altered in the telling.
The fifth scene considers storage, "Not just any old storage, of course, because everything has its own special needs. There are very large objects, very old and delicate objects, very precious objects – and living objects too. The temperature and humidity of our storage systems has to be strictly controlled and monitored. Just as important is that we can find and access an object when it is required for research or display."
In this thesis the treatment of whats stored is practical as well as ethical and political and philosophical. How is content to be treated, what damage might display do, what might enhance, whats in, out, here or there...
The sixth scene is of artefacts in terms of books and papers. The exhibition details 2 kilomentres of manuscripts and archives, thousands of maps, words and pictures, ideas and knowledge and inspiration. Books are described as not sitting on shelves in isolation; they interconnect with the real world. I am reminded of much that i write being stored, of the mindmaps made and connected to, and of those not and of the millions of words written and the small percentage of these that are given life within a thesis. In the exhibit is the story of a golden frogs (supposedly) stolen...and recovered...or not. The story told is that the display stolen was never the real thing. My mind wonders if anything is as it seems.
And there's a sense of de ja vu for this web based cybertrip, trips on itself in act seven and repeats the 5th scene. Whats available through a different search onsite are stories of the naked and the dead. No-one knows how the kiwi, or at least this particular one, lost its feathers. As the kiwi itself says, plucked if I know... whether on school based travels, or moths or insects, or whether it should be kept to show deletrious effects or of positive aspects...providing opportunity to an audience to make meaning out of what is shared. Here is a sense of Latour's third source of uncertainty for actors too have agency, the links seem to twist on themselves, whats intended and what occurs differ, there are intended and unintended effects, unanticipated as well as unknown effects. In reviewing this, where might this story lead, what will the reader make of it?
A very Latourian moment ocurrs as the exhibition comes 'fullcircle". The fourth source of uncertainty is an awareness of 'things' being matters of concern rather than matters of fact, and the knowledge that things could also be assembled differently. And in ending is the fith source of uncertainty as there are risks inherent in writing down meanings, as if there were but one...

I am again indebted to Artichoke for bringing to my attention the museums display, great place for taking guests if your in New Zealand, its a free exhibit, and well worth repeat visits.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

living and learning in cloudland

I might be able to live without it, but can I learn without it?
Topping the list of the Australian-New Zealand Horizon report, identifying emergent technologies and key trends in higher ed, is the mobile phone.
The aspects of mobile phones that lead to this top ranking include ubiquity, portability, connectivity, and locus of control.

Critical challenges that they then identify include:
Teachers/lecturers not having the skills to make effective use of emergent technologies, much less teach students how to do so.
A research lag.
Lack of open broadband access.

At this point I would dearly love for any reader, philanthropist, parties with vested interest, or Santa Claus to financially support my PhD studies... a mobile phone, an iphone, and an internet service provider contract would assist me greatly in being a better teacher :) as well as supporting research in the impact that emergent technologies have on how care is communicated.

Adapting to change in institutionalised sectors is difficult. They tend to move slowly, despite the possibilities afforded. And its not only slow, its also resistant with bans on cell phones being prevalent. A trend more recently being reversed not because of learning applications but risk aversion with campus shootings a real concern. Actor-network thinking is useful because what keeps things in place as well as what reconfigures and stabilises gets to be considered. The parallel developments provide stability here. This and that strengthen each other. The actors in this network cohabit. The wherever and whenever affordances. Such changes seem unlikely to go away in the near future, they appear too useful.

A parallel 'emergent technology' development is 'the cloud'. The cloud refers to distributed data storage through to processing possibilities and applications ... for example Flikr, youtube, slideshare, and blogger 'live' entirely in the cloud. Such applications are not situated in any one space. Networkings hold the knowledge and to the end user the cloud is invisible. Such accessibility to data and to applications makes the mobile phone with internet connectivity an even more desirable commodity as content is easily sharable, easily distributed as well as easy to collaborate on.

These changes are important, the portability and access are changing how we relate to data as well as to each other. The actors are themselves reconfigured along with their technologies. Hence the need for further study...hence the PhD...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Moral hazards and what ingenious kiwis do with number 8 wire

Photo attribution to Brewbooks for this photo of a bra on a barbed wire fence in New Zealand. I trust no-one got hurt in the making/taking of the photo.

Moral hazards
are a bit like climbing barbed wire; there's purpose and there's risk and some of the risks are anticipated (can see the barbs) and some are not; there's a tension in the wire as it's pulled down to climb over. This (almost) without fail comes back and bites you as you let go... and then there's what's in the paddock once you get there...but also what's in the paddock you were leaving...
And even further effects coz here I'm writing as a New Zealander and its amazing what we can do with number 8 fencing wire... even philosophize!

Thanks for the prompt form Keith Lyons on moral hazards, I found myself exploring wikipedia and then trying to edit wikipedia and then discovered further hazards... the process is so convoluted that wikipedias story of unintended consequence was unable to be changed by me.
I wanted to enter into the discussion. To me the defined concept of moral hazard was a bit one sided. A top down bias where underlings did not fully disclose to the upperlings. And where there seemed to be a deliberate intent to deceive. And i just wanted to add a prompt to the discussion on the page regarding unintended consequences for the page editors to consider a link to
Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1991). Connections. New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge: MIT Press.
But there were no links on wiki to second level effects or to these authors, and by the time i wrote in my bit on a wiki discussion page and checked i'd done the right thing twice over, my scribblings got scrambled. So I'm blogging instead. Such are moral hazards also. Unintended sequalae when the process gets too hard.

Sproull and Kiesler make 4 points:
1. the full possibilities of a new technology are hard to see, likely to emphasize planned uses and underestimate the 2nd level effects.
2. unanticipated consequences usually have less to do with efficiency effects and more to do with changing interpersonal interactions, ideas about what is important...social organization. This may change how each of us works and even the work we do.
3. these 2nd level effects emerge somewhat more slowly as people renegotiate changed patterns of behaviour and thinking.
4. 2nd level effects are not caused by technology operating autonomously on passive organisation or a society. Instead they are constructed as technology interacts with, shapes, and is shaped by the social and policy environment.

In looking at the moral hazard of using technologies for learning or for counselling that do or dont add substance, its worth considering what technologies are. Here I take a broad understanding on technology as defined by Ursula Franklin as 'the way we do things round here' (Ursula Franklin).
I then take a comment made by Jenny Mackness post on social networking and how come some people are getting something out of facebook or twitter when in her argument these are not communities of practice.
"Etienne Wenger has explained all this for us in his work on communities of practice. A community of practice needs the type of commitment that Facebook and other social networks of this type cannot give us. In addition social networks of the Facebook type don’t gather round a clearly identified domain and there is no requirement to share practice."

And I disagree, levels of committment are in the eye of the beholder.
Its working for some, to the level some want, and sometimes there might be a lot of highly visible to'ing and thro'ing and sometimes not. And sometimes the point is the connection, whats felt maybe, rather than whats visible. And this fits with a definition of community where community is based on value rather than on materially defined factors and for which further argument can be found in reading Raymond Williams. (Or in my own masters thesis, a philosophical analysis of community care, Auckland University)

Committment is never a stable entity, it fluctuates, and therefore so do communities of practice. Sometimes they work as communities of practice, and sometimes they dont. Sometimes they do for some of the people involved and not for others. The stability issue suggests there is value in a network way of looking, as afforded by actor-network theory. This encourages the discussion to broaden into what holds this thing called a community of prectice in place and whats pulling it apart. The tensions. And in using ANT there's also the added bonus in that the things to be looked at, the actors to investigate, can be human and otherwise.

This is part of the political environment. Whats in/out, whats considered and whats not, and even that some subjects are considered at all.
And the morality of this, and the hazards of this, are integral.

And so to in the research of such things there are further hazards. Moral hazards of invisibility like barbed wire in sand or in surf. Whats foreseen and whats not. Multilayered performances.
And in my own small way, I attempt to do more good than harm.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ascilite08 paper; Cn I jus txt, coz I don wan 2b heard

I've attached the paper I gave at Ascilite08 here; its a taster of what I've been studying. In retrospect i attempted to cover too much :)
Haxell, A. (2008). Cn I jus txt, coz I don wan 2b heard: Mobile technologies and youth counseling. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/melbourne08/procs/haxell.pdf

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

iwant an iphone, igot iphoney


The simulated iphone is unfortunately as good as it gets with no contract, no purchase, gift or other means of acquisition. The keypad is not touch sensitive, the camera doesnt work, no music capacity, nor any downloadable applications such as navman. The phone doesnt work either - not for talking and not for text, sadly not even to simulate txt.
Its a bit "all fur coat and no knickers" as my granny would say.
However I can at least see what my webpage looks like on it :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ascilite presentation and the joys of text

I have an unwarranted level of anxiety on getting this conference presentation for #Ascilite08 to work. Being cyborg is not growing on me, working with my mac i still find platform interchange difficulties annoying and untrustworthy, my flashdrive asks if i want to reformat it before it will open on a pc and i am unsure if that will wipe it or render it unfir for a mac... so have sent it to myself by email, but then unsure with latest update of aut groupwise how to get into this from outside aut.... and so have loaded it in to slideshare which on the 3rd attempt worked. The medium has altered the message a little, loss of one tiny graphic and loss of selected fonts, but its still got me to go with it :)
cant i jus txt

ailsa haxell can i jus txt
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.