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#rhizo15 Curation Content and Contacts in a cMOOC

As the #rhizo15 cMOOC picks up speed, I struggle to keep track of everything that is going on and decide content and connections to keep track of and nurture and which ones to not spend as much time on. It appears as if I’m not alone in this task. Dilrukshi Gamage put it this way in a Facebook post:

We are trying to learn something, we have been given tools , FB , Twitter.. how do we make use of it in this community - we make our own groups and have conversations into any direction or we divide as an interest groups like in real conferences and have interactions..

Can anyone come up with a model - how can we effectively gain knowledge in a short period 6 weeks in this case..

My initial approach to #rhizo15 has been to read Facebook posts, and particularly those that link to blog posts. I’ve also been following tweets with the #rhizo15 hashtag and the comments on the Facebook posts. There has been a lot of content to go through. At first, I tried to read all of it, but eventually, I found myself skimming or skipping some.

The starting point has been Learning Subjectives – designing for when you don’t know where you’re going. We were asked to introduce ourselves, get acclimated and grapple with a few questions like

How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?

I explored this in my blog post, #rhizo15 Part 1 – Uncertain Learning Subjectives and then went on to look at some other blogs.

Maha Bali explored this in her blog post, Subjectifying my Learning!

I especially liked the way she looked at different words, like subject and subjective, object and objective, and then referenced Foucault’s play on the word ‘discipline’. I also really liked her comment, “What i dislike about learning objectives is their predetermination out of context”. It is interesting to think of learning subjectives in the context of common core and standardized testing in the United States. It is also interesting to think of learning subjectives in reference to medical education, which I’ll come back to later. Maha has put up two subsequent posts at the point that I’m writing this post. They point to posts by other #rhizo15 participants.

One of those participants is Jeffrey Keefer who shared his initial thoughts in Drawn into #Rhizo15. He starts off with “Like I don’t already have enough things to do” Yeah. I can relate to that. I also liked his comments about living in a messy world.

most of us live in a messy world with lots of people and cultural influences and work, life, death, and everything in between. In some way, between all of these things, we still somehow learn

It reminds me of two different things. The first thing that came to mind was Brene Brown’s Ted Talk, The power of vulnerability.

my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the "life's messy, love it." And I'm more of the, "life's messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box."

Seems Jeffrey and I are party of the “life’s messy, love it” crowd. Yet there are people participating in #rhizo15 who want to organize the messiness.

The second thing that came to mind is the end of Annie Hall.

“It reminds me of that old joke- you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken. Then the doc says, why don't you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that's how I feel about relationships. They're totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.”

It turns out that Jeffrey and I have mutual connections on both Facebook and LinkedIn and works in clinical transformation. Since that blog post, Jeffrey has put up two posts. One is a link to Maha posts.

At this point, I start thinking about how I organize what’s been written that I want to follow up on. Clearly, a sequential blog post isn’t enough and I start thinking of CRMs, directed graphs, bookmarking tools, Wiki’s, Moodle, etc.

I take a break to try and find good tools for organizing information, but come up short. So, I’ll post this as is, and try to come up with some better tools later.

Early Reflections on #Rhizo15

Two roads diverged
in a rewilding post urban landscape
descending into chaos
before emerging and maturing
into a natural unique
niche of biodiversity.

And being one learner, long I stood
reading Facebook updates and blog posts
pondering subjectives and objectives,
goals and primary tasks.

I looked at goals as long as I could
but remembered Stevenson and Eliot
and embraced
the age-old art of getting lost.

I decided to travel hopefully
and return where I started
after chasing red herrings
down blind alleys.

I saw the best minds of my generation
looking for a different fix.
connection to likeminded travelers,
seeking truth
in the symbol ‘O’,
l’objet petit a,
the lost, partial, transitional object,
the rhizome.

#rhizo15 A Primary Task?

Last night, in the #rhizo15 Facebook page, a participant spoke about looking for ways to benchmark her participating in #rhizo15. It feels to me like part of what is being asked is, if I don’t know where I’m going, how do I know if I get there, or if the trip was worth it? It is a serious question, but it doesn’t feel like it applies to me.

One reaction I have is from the poets. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. T.S. Eliot put it this way:

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.

Yet I understand this may not resonate for everyone, so I’ll also look at this from another angle, the experiential learning of group relationship conferences. Of course a great starting point for this is the quote from Aristotle, "for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

I’m especially interested in the journey rather than the destination, and learning about the process of learning by learning. I’m not sure what the #rhizo15 experience will be like, but I’m currently looking at it from a perspective of a group relations conference.

Group relations conferences usually have a “primary task”. Here are a couple examples:

The primary task of this learning organization is to study the development and exercise of authority, leadership, power and justice, in the context of change, through the inter-personal and inter-group relations that develop within the workshop as an organization. Unlike traditional learning systems, there are no lectures, panels or power point presentations. Instead, the workshop is based on reflection-in-action; learning focuses on our experiences and interactions with each other in real time.

And another:

The primary task of the conference is to explore, experience and learn from the development and management of roles and systems: to experience leadership, authority, integration processes, self-management in role, diversity and psychodynamic processes in organisations. This goal can be reached by allowing yourself and others to experience the conference, to communicate these experiences and to ex-amine their meaning in order to learn.

Lasts I checked, the Facebook post had about sixty responses. There’s a lot of grist for the mill there. What is it about uncertainty in learning that produces such a response? Is anxiety part of this? Anxiety about what? That you won’t fit in? That you’ll say something stupid? That you’ll end up eating crow? That you’ll end up wasting some of your time? What are our anxieties about #rhizo15? What are our anxieties about other people being anxious? What are our responses to these anxieties? What can we learn from these responses?

So, what might a primary task of #rhizo15 be? Pulling a little bit from the two statements above, and what I’m picking up here and there in various blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts, I come up with something like:

The primary task of this learning organization is to explore, experience and learn from the development of learning networks, content, and the use of technology in promoting online learning.

What do you think?

#rhizo15 Part 1 – Uncertain Learning Subjectives

Today, #rhizo15 starts. It is tempting to put it into some nice sort of box, with learning objectives about learning how to better create online courses, but that seems incomplete or misleading. Learning Subjectives – designing for when you don’t know where you’re going provides a better starting point.

The idea of jumping off into the unknown has long been appealing to me. It is part of the reason I like unconferences, like the upcoming Podcamp Western Mass. Get together with a bunch of bright people around an interesting topic and see what happens.

So, what do I hope to get out of #rhizo15? I’m not sure, but I find a good starting point to be a paper presented at the 1999 International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations (ISPSO), Our Best Work Happens When We Don't Know What We're Doing.

In keeping with our own thinking and with the specific context of our own work, our version of Bion's assumption about the effects of exposure to truth is that learning comes from working at the edge between knowing and not-knowing. The core activity linking our organizational research, consultancy, management and teaching - namely, 'learning', or 'growth of mind' - involves exposure to truth-in-the-moment. This depends on the capacity to stay at the edge between knowing and not-knowing.

This also provide a good opportunity to introduce myself to people finding this post through #rhizo15, or for that matter, to people who have become readers of my blog over the years, without having a good sense of where I am coming from.

For the context of #rhizo15, I will highlight some areas I hope to explore, and skip over other areas which are less important. I’ve been on the Internet since 1982. If you know where to look, you can find stuff I wrote online in 1982 which is still online today. I worked for a while on Wall Street, which is where I came in contact with organizational consultants, including ISPSO and the work of Wilfred Bion in Group Relations. I’m particularly interested in how various thoughts about objects, fit together in various psychoanalytic traditions include Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bion, and Lacan. I’ve participated in various online experiential learning based groups centered around the work of Bion in the past. This may be a blog post or two of its own.

During my years on Wall Street, I also did a little bit on artificial neural networks. I’m particularly interested in the relationship between artificial neural networks, social networks, how this relates to group dynamics, rhizomes, and for that matter the singularity This may be another blog post of its own.

In 2003, I helped write some of the social media software for Gov. Dean’s presidential campaign. I later worked in technology and social media for other campaigns, and have run for office myself. How does or could rhizomic learning and MOOCs relate to politics and governance? Another fun topic to explore in a later blog post.

I was the first person in Connecticut, according to reports I’ve seen online, to be on Twitter, and have I was one of the first people with Google Glass in Connecticut. I’ve been an early adopter and been involved with research on many innovations in computer mediated communications. I’m not sure what else I have to say on these topics, but there may be another blog post in all of this as well.

These days, I work as a social media manager for a nonprofit health care agency focused on providing primary care with a special focus on underserved populations. I have set up a Moodle for the agency and have recently taken a MOOC on teaching with Moodle, I may have written about this some in the past, and I’m not sure if there is another blog post in this topic.

And finally, at least for this evening, I’m currently taking a MOOC from Harvard on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I had taken their MOOC on Walt Whitman a while ago. I’ve taken to sharing more of my poetic attempts online. Originally, I moved to New York City after college to be a poet, but that never panned out. I’m also focused on my religious viewpoints, which are perhaps best described as a socially liberal mix of Anglicanism with a splash of reformed theology.

Where will all of this go? It will be interesting to see.

Trending: The Evolving Inter-Neural-Network of the Technological Singularity

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” performed by Peter, Paul and Mary is playing on Pandora. It is their selection for what I might like. Bruce Jenner, Brian Williams and a 50 foot sculpture of Darth Vader at the Sapporo Snow Festival are trending on Facebook. Jenner and Williams are also trending on Twitter, along with a bunch of things I’m not following. Also trending on Twitter is #msc2015, the Munich Security Conference.

The technological singularity is the hypothesis that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing civilization in an event called the singularity. Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is an occurrence beyond which events may become unpredictable, unfavorable, or even unfathomable.

Have we reached the technological singularity? Are these snapshots of what is now trending in social media glimpses into some artificial intelligence? After all, besides all those algorithms looking for what is trending or of interest to us, Watson is reading what we write online.

IBM's Watson Memorized the Entire 'Urban Dictionary,' Then His Overlords Had to Delete It.

Yes, perhaps as Wikipedia says in its definition of the technological singularity, “unfathomable”.

So, let me present a way to think about the technological singularity. It grew out of my interest in the work of Wilfred Bion and Group Relations combined with some work with artificial neural networks back in the nineties.

The internet is a network of networks. If we accept the idea that each one of us is a neural network, then our social networks are networks of neural networks. What keeps this inter-neural-network from having some sort of intelligence?

One of the key things in artificial neural networks is the ability to learn from a process called back propagation. If the predicted results differ from the actual results, the strength of connections between nodes are altered to bring the results closer inline.

Long before the days of Twitter and Facebook, I pondered such a system. How could you get individuals, nodes in this inter-neural-network, to modify the strength of their links? Now, Facebook has addressed this. You can like, comment on, or share posts, strengthening the links. Or, you can unfriend someone. The network is evolving.

How is this inter-neural-network shaping us, changing us? How can we understand it? To what extent can we understand it?

It is evolving. So are my thoughts. More later…

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