So, that was week 1 then was it?
Initially, I was quite excited by the idea of an assessed lifestream – the notion of stuff that I posted to social bookmarking and microblogging sites being channeled into one place and giving a scattered snapshot of the inside of my head quite excited me. Hell, I thought to myself, this is what I do all day anyway. Why not get graded for it?
Now, however, I’m a week in and I do have my reservations – or perhaps just some concerns. Principally, there’s this: I can fill my feeds up with the most relevant, the most obscure, the most interesting and most ‘hip’ items that I can find, but this doesn’t actually demonstrate anything beyond the fact that I’m a fiend with a search engine. It doesn’t demonstrate learning, or any form of progress. I know that that’s what this blog space is for, but I am curious about the balance of points awarded to each technology and if they will be accurately balanced towards spaces that allow learning.
Regarding the ‘themes’ of what ended up in my lifestream this past week, I think, looking back over it now, the streams’ content (all in reaction to the ‘film festival’ videos) could fit nicely into two divisions equating to Hand’s two narratives of ‘utopia’ and ‘dystopia’. Or, if you like, two towns: Douglas Rushkoff’s ‘Cyberia’ and James Harkin’s ‘Cyburbia’ – to continue with the tenuous ‘mapping’ notion which I was playing with in an earlier blog post.
Whilst dystopian narratives and hellish visions of a cyberpunk futurescape are far more compelling than narratives of utopic bliss (The Matrix vs. the upcoming Facebook: The Movie – no, seriously, stop laughing), I couldn’t help but think that this black and white division of cyberculture is far too reductive and glosses over another possible, emerging, reality: something closer to that of Harkin’s ‘Cyburbia’ (see video at top) – a digital wasteland of trivia and blandness; a place as eerily artificial, contrived and controlled as the manufactured 1950’s boomer towns where it draws its name from.
I think this space, with it’s neatly contrived digital picket-fences, pretty walls and selective family photo albums is a place that might merit further nosing around in – masking, as I think it does, a whole universe of barely concealed neuroses, half-hidden unwanted links and a whole new world of politics to get ourselves lost in.
What to say about the twitter tutorials (I refuse, refuse to use ‘twittorial’)? Well, I like Twitter as much as the next guy, but the blunt truth is that Twitter is close to useless for conversation. By the time you’re done entering in hashtags and URLs, you have sufficently few characters left to reduce any cogent thought to a monosyllabic, txtspk grunt which makes peerfectly articulate people suddenly come across as incapable of communication. Don’t get me wrong: it’s great for sharing random links, following threads of content and just-in-time questions and answers, but I don’t rate it as a tool for facilitating discussion. To that end, it strikes me as perhaps slightly odd that our discussion forum threads are not graded. I worry this will see the forums ignored – a bit of a missed chance maybe, in light of Jay Cross’s assertion that conversation is the single most powerful tool for learning. Perhaps the comments section on these blogs will become that space.
I really enjoyed this – a fun, novel way to get the mind going and a useful set of lenses through which to read and re-read Hand and Bell. Great choices for the videos, great comments and overall highly enjoyable. More like this please. More!