Posts Tagged ‘chaos’

Lifestream: Curation or Chaos?

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

(a conversation between Jen and Siân)

Jen: I’m finding it useful to think of the lifestream as a process of curation – like a museum curator, whose job it is to collect, combine and contextualise artefacts. Part of what we will be assessing is the extent to which students’ lifestreams as a whole demonstrates something insightful and coherent about their understanding of digital culture, learning and digital technologies, and their engagement with the course content. The choice of items and the end of week and end of course summaries should tell a story of their experience of and contribution to the course.

Siân: I agree with Jen up to a point – the curation metaphor is useful, but again I think it raises the question of agency. ‘Curation’ implies a level of control and choice which is only partially true of the lifestream, which is quite a complex negotiation of the user’s choice and the determinations of the technology. To me, it has something in common with automatic writing in the way in which it mixes-up the sense of where the ’stream’ originates. Personally, I find this quite exciting – I like Poster’s suggestion that in working with these kinds of ideas we (deliberately, productively) introduce an element of ‘chaos to the souls of those online’. : )

Jen: Maybe it depends to an extent on how different students are approaching their lifestreams. For those who are bringing in feeds that they use for other things – their regular Twitter accounts, for example, or Delicious bookmarks – they’ll be dealing with a rushing river of content which may be chaotic and out of control. For others who are creating accounts specifically for the course, there may be quite a lot of control and choice involved at least in the ‘what’ if not the ‘how’ of the lifestream. That’s interesting, maybe – the ‘how’ is much less under control for everyone, since so much is decided in the interface between the feed and the lifestream. Like being a curator in a fun-house – one with all those funny mirrors and angles.

Siân: Nice metaphor, which makes me think that different analogies are going to apply to everyone’s use of (or by) the lifestream. I guess the point is that everyone should feel they have enough control to choose where on the chaos-structure continuum they’d like their stream to be. I hope everyone feels they can work the environment in this way (if not, help is at hand…).