- Week 1 summary: look at me, I’m collecting stuff
- Week 2 summary: how invasive is surveillance?
- Week 3 Summary: 140 keystrokes? Please!
- Week 4 summary: Curators or Tomb Raiders?
- Week 5 (non) summary: On the road again
- Week 6 summary: first thoughts on digital ethnography
- Week 7 summary: pondering Haraway
- Week 8 summary: posthuman kleshas
- Week 9 summary: (re)cognising the cognisphere
- Week 10 summary: embracing the uncanny
- Week 11 summary: Authority
- Week 12: lifestream summary
I began my lifestream with a sense that I would be saving ephemera. In my early blog posts I played with the ‘why?’ of the activity. Was I creating commonplace book, a scrapbook of nostalgia, the virtual clippings and travel stubs to remind me of my journey? Or a bower bird, attracting a mate? If so who was I flirting with – my tutor, my classmates or a wider public?
As the course progressed and the group bonded we looked more seriously at our role, were we curators creating our own cabinet of curiosities or wunderkammer. I enjoyed Jen and Tony’s discussion, particularly Tony’s articulation of his concerns, in that it set the collector apart from the collection, not with appropriate academic detachment but a tinge of imperialistic superiority. This was further explored in the ethnography project – should we observe, or engage? Here I began to see the emergence of a more useful position on lifestreaming: as a record of engagement. Much of the internet is ephemeral – I don’t see the point in saving your tweets and Gordon Bell’s decision to digitally archive every detail of his life disturbs me. Yet the experience of creating a lifestream helped me understand how maintaining a selective record of your engagement is a very valuable academic or developmental act that has a performative value.
Interestingly the lifestream did not for me contribute to the social aspect of the course. As a group we interacted well, but primarily through the blogs and Twitter. I visited other students lifestreams initially to get a sense of which feeds they were using, but once I felt satisfied with the balance of my own feeds my visits to others’ pages was limited to their blogs. For this reason lifestreaming for me was a personal act (albeit in a public space) which relieved me of having to worry about the appropriacy of what I was selecting. I chose to link not only websites, images and quotes directly relevant to my work, but also more tangential associations; blog posts which examined how the net and digital technology is changing who we are – social media’s contribution to the emergence of a posthuman population.
Finally, as I moved towards choosing the topic of a final assignment I looked out how disconcerting online spaces can be for both teachers and students. In a Second Life talk Nik Peachey discussed how in a virtual world a teacher was often left wondering what their students were doing. Were they paying attention or reading emails?
Usher (1998) talks of (dis)location:
a space and a non-space; a (dis)location – something that is both positioned and not positioned, (dis)placed but not re-placed, a diaspora space of hybridity and flows where one and many locations are simultaneously possible.
Similarly Bayne (forthcoming 2010) notes:
At the same time, the ontological blurring of being and not-being, presence and absence online, are crucial in considering how distance modes re-position the ‘thereness’ of learners and teachers, rendering us in a sense ghost‐like
The lifestream is a response to this enigma of absence/presence. We become present through our streams. This is why I noted that the act of selecting gained for me a performative value. It represented my engagement. Initially I was concerned with populating my lifestream in order to prove I existed (and was doing valuable work), but as I grew more comfortable with it I allowed it to give voice to my absence. When mystified by Haraway (2000) I avoided the stream for a few days as a way of expressing my confusion and need to retreat and resolve myself as a learner. Similarly, I allowed myself to be playful – to add threads of whimsy: my personal skepticism towards the skill of multi-tasking for instance.
In this way my lifestream became another form of embodiment, and presumably a way for my tutor to gauge my presence and engagement in a non-threatening way. It gave a little solidity to my phantom self as I haunted our virtual spaces.
Bayne, S. (forthcoming, March 2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education. [revised version uploaded 10 November 09]
Haraway, D. (2000). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. in D Bell and A Kennedy, The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge.
Usher, R. and Edwards, R. (1998). Lost and found: ‘cyberspace’ and the (dis)location of teaching, learning and research. SCUTREA 1998, Exeter.