When I was younger and it was my turn to put the children to bed, I would grab a few poetry anthologies to read to them. I would typically start off with one poem, and then moved to another poem that was somehow connected to the first, at least in my own mind.
Years later, I would go to ‘social dreaming matrices’ where people would share dreams and associations they had to the dreams. It was a challenge to resist the urge to interpret the dreams and instead to just share associations and observations about these associations.
Now that our youngest daughter is now a teenager, we have a new activity. We will sit around the dining room table and have a ‘riff off’. One person would play a song, typically from YouTube or Spotify on one electronic device or another. The next person would then play a song related to the first, and we would go around taking turns associating one song to the previous.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about this with poetry, combining the childhood reading of poetry with the free association on dreams or music, free associating from one poem to the next in an online community.
It seems to fit nicely with the whole rhizomatic learning event I’ve been participating in and it might be a fun thing to try there. I will share this post in the Practical Discussion group on Facebook. For that group, a starting poem could be The #Rhizo15 Artifact poem I wrote for this week. One person could share a poem they associate to this poem, and then others could share poems they associate with each subsequent poem. If they really like the idea, they could start a similar rhizomatic sharing of a poem with associations in other places, which could potentially serve to start other associative poem sharing in a fractal manner.
I will also probably start a similar thread on my own Facebook page and see if either of these take off.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Many paths converged
(each path a learning subjective)
out of the directed graph
of carefully measured online posts;
the content in the creators,
the content in the community,
arriving back at the initial thoughts
as foretold by Eliot
and foreshadowed by Joyce.
riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
Howth Castle and Environs.
Along the way
we kill the Buddha
and get of the idea
The ultimate boon?
L’objet petit a?
Perhaps an amulet
that can assist the next hero
in their journey.
In this week’s #Rhizo15 writing prompt, Dave asks, “Must rhizomatic learning be an invasive species?” People have explored this idea, talking about echo chambers and filter bubbles, but I think people are looking at this incorrectly.
Yes, rhizomes choke out other plants, but not all other plants. They fight for resources with other plants, particularly other rhizomes. From a practical side, this past week for me is a good example of this. Normally, I write about #rhizo15 soon after the prompt comes out. However, this week, I was at a conference at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music on poetry in the church. It has been the focus of much of my reading and writing over the past few days. To stay with the rhizome metaphor, for the past few days, that conference choked out even the #rhizo MOOC.
Likewise, I believe the ‘filter bubble’ discussion is off track. I’ve long been focused on filter bubbles, especially because of my background in politics. To the extent that #rhizo15 is the only filter someone has, is the only context of someone’s online communication, then yes, it could be a filter bubble. I recognize that this could be the case for others, but I suspect it is the exception rather than the rule.
If we stay focused on formal education, it would be like saying a person is taking only one course. Yet that is not often what happens in formal education.
To return to Dave’s questions: “Are we just replacing one authority structure with another?” Yeah, perhaps. But so what? Instead, we might want to ask, is the authority structure of rhizomatic learning more or less beneficial than traditional authority structures in education? Is it more democratic? Is that a good thing? Likewise, when Dave asks, “Community as conformity?” I see this as a potentially serious issue, but I have to wonder, is rhizomatic learning more or less driven by conformity than other forms of learning?
Dave Cormier commented on my previous blog post and it seems that my reply deserves a blog post of its own.
Dave expressed a lack of fondness for the digital immigrant language. To which I reply:
I recognize the difficulties of the digital native / digital immigrant construct. Determining whether someone is a digital native or digital immigrant is not simply a question of age, and I suspect there are more options than the dichotomy. Personally, I’ve often referred to myself as a digital aborigine.
He then goes on to talk about how digital media is affecting power structures in health care and education. To which, I reply:
In terms googling medications, or asking for a link, this is a big topic in healthcare and I suspect it parallels discussions in education and beyond. It probably reflects some larger issues. In health care, we talk about the e-patient movement and participatory medicine.
Is it polite for me to ask my doctor for a link to the medication she is suggesting?
Yes. It should be encouraged. Ideally, the doctor should be able to provide a handout with a link, or send a message via a patient portal with a link for more information.
Can i come in with the website that told me what's wrong with me?
This gets a little messier. One problem is that some people have a tendency to Cyberchondria. Also, the amount of information that patients bring in can, at times, be excessive, especially in these days of life logging. On the other hand, for special situations, patients may have access to more information than their doctors and bringing in information can be a great help. It also depends on how well the doctor responds to information being brought in or whether there is some other power struggle going on.
The final question Dave asks is Is it polite to digitally check an expert?. This, it seems, is the key underlying question. Years ago, I wore a T shirt saying Question Authority. I’ve always believed it is not only polite, but important to check experts, no matter whether we do it digitally or using other media.
Working in health care, I often come across the phrase, Cultural Competency the idea of providers delivering services that are respectful of the diverse cultural needs of the clients. Often, the cultures considered are ethnic or based on country of origin. However, there is an important culture that doesn’t get considered, digital culture.
In2001, Marc Prensky mapped out the digital culture divide in his seminal work, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. He focuses more on educational methodology and content, but it is interesting to think of this in terms of cultural competency.
When I was young, the telephone hung on a wall in the kitchen. If the phone rang, you answered it. It was rude not to answer the phone. Then came answering machines and caller id and it became culturally acceptable to screen calls.
Now, I hear digital natives telling their parents it is rude not to respond immediately to a friend’s text message. The cultural shifts continue. To use the phrase from Linda Stone, today’s digital natives are expected to pay Continuous Partial Attention to their digital peers. Asking them to do otherwise is to ask them to violate the rules of their culture.
There are times when we have to choose which culture’s rules we are going to follow, but we have to remember if we are providing services to members of a certain culture to seek follow the rules of the culture we are serving. If you can’t, you need to at least be aware of how you are violating the rules and seek ways to mitigate this. Whatever the situation, it is important to stop and consider to what extent we find a behavior objectionable because of the social context we grew up in and how others might find our behaviors objectionable.