Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Groups

I wonder, if I wrote that the sky is blue, whether the dissenting opinion would come from Finland.

"If we all are just individuals in a network we will soon all be the same." This is transparently false.

It took exactly 24 hours for someone to propose a "middle way" (this is what passes for innovation these days). "Could there be "middle way" or "third way"? Something that would be between the 'closed groups' and 'individuals in open networks'?"

It will soon be noticed that a person can be both an individual (and hence a member of a network) *and* a member of a group. That they can belong to many networks and many groups. That any number of 'middle ways' can be derived from variations on this theme.

More interesting would be to see some alternative 'middle way' in the form of some sort of an organizational principle that allows things to be both open and closed at the same time, that promotes both unity and diversity at the same time, that promotes both cohesion autonomy at the same time. Read up on your Hegel; you'll find it in Phenomenology of Right. Is that where were you headed, Teemu? We all know our history, right?

More interestingly: web 1.0 is about groups, web 2.0 is about networks. e-learning 1.0 is about groups, e-learning 2.0 is about networks. Someone will write an article about that in a few weeks, probably, carefully washing all sources.

The core of the issue is whether learning in general should be based on groups or networks. Everybody says, 'learning is social', and thus (no?) must be conducted in groups. But networks, too, are social. Learning can be social and not conducted in groups. Where to now, social construction?

Is learning about subsuming your identity, or growing and asserting your identity? Can we define ourselves by why we know and what we do, or must we define ourselves by what we are and what we belong to? Yes, of course you can do both at different times (I am 'Canadian' and 'I write') but when the two conflict, as they inevitably do in education, which prevails?

There's always two ways to read my proposals: the simple way, which sets them up as some sort of polarization (and therefore always open to a 'middle way'), and the accurate way, which enters the topic knowing that I am writing, using limited vocabulary (since language is inherently not sub-symbolic), about complex matters, and that the subtlety inherent in complexity should be understood as always forming a substrate.

Grapes and bananas. Yes, one can always have both, but in sequence. Which first? It does not preclude the other, but it implies a choice. Lurking in the background is always the blender, and you can make a smoothie, even putting the two fruits in at the same time. But when you just want a bite to eat - which first? It depends, of course, on what you want to do, why you want to eat, and whether the economy of Ecuador matters to you.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Stephen, I thought the video clip uploaded to Google Video of you explaining the difference between Groups and Networks was spot-on.

    And you're right about people always proposing a 'third way'. Sometimes Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis is not what's needed...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whoops - forgot to add the link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4126240905912531540&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en

    ReplyDelete

I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.