10 things that i think i know about learning ecologies

10 things that i think i know about learning ecologies

1. human beings learn; we don’t stop learning, we learn while we are awake, we learn while we are asleep, we learn when under stress, and we learn when comfortable and happy.

2. human beings do not always learn what others know,  or think is the truth, the right, the good, or anything else that is socially or culturally endorsed. in fact, we frequently learn what isn’t endorsed, and what is around the endorsed, what structures the endorsed and what endorses the endorsed, etc. etc. instead of learning the endorsed.  the learning around the endorsed learning may be the most important learning in the end.

3. learning is a process. it is not thing, nor a product.  it must be performed, but awareness of its performance does not always improve it.  human beings are not the only things that learn.

4. speed and change occur in ecologies and thus affect learning and learning ecologies.

5. learning constructs relationships. relationships are frequently labeled objects, essences, qualities, etc. but what we are doing is learning to relate one thing or set of things(subject, object, or quasi-object) to another thing or set of things. frequently when learning these relationships, we make them too ‘unchanging’, thus requiring future unlearning and relearning.

6. learning is social. there are always other human beings. other humans exist as learners implicit in everything, from our language, to our actions, to our texts, and to our world.  even if there are no ‘physical subjects’ other than yourself present when you learn, there are tens of thousands of subjects, a virtual society or hidden college, around you.  we learn from and with those human beings.

7. human beings build and inhabit ‘assemblages’ which are systems of relationships which persist through time such as institutions, environments, ideologies, etc. etc.  we build structures for learning too.  we also build ‘mechanisms’ which structure relationships with an intention of producing or re-producing in whole or in part assemblages.  the structuring and/or mechanizing of learning can prevent or hinder the learning, as much as it can help and encourage it.

8. assemblages and mechanisms are internal to our learning ecology, but we do not always learn about them, sometimes they are purposefully hidden from us, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not.  sometimes these assemblages and mechanisms augment human being’s capacity to learn.

9. when we structure and/or mechanize learning, we change its ecology, which necessitates the creation of relationships or the changing of relationships, thus we need to learn the relationships in the ecologies anew.

10. human beings have always been tool users. tools are technologies, and we have always learned about and through technologies.  technologies, as such, are part of our learning ecology and play parts in structuring and mechanizing learning. technologies have always mediated relationships, and all media are technologies.  there is a ‘craft’ to all technologies that must be learned, and in learning that craft, we create new relationships that we share with others.

Degrees in Cultural Informatics

Were I to pursue an MLS, MLIS or Ph.D. related to Cultural Informatics, I would go to UCLA, Illinois or Maryland in the United States. UCLA, Illinois, and Maryland have leaders in the field that will get you jobs.


Common sense dictates that if you want to work in this field, go to the best school you can, then leverage that to get an internship where you wish to work over your summer off, then get a job there when you graduate.


In Canada, I would choose Toronto or UWO to go into this field, but for different reasons. I think Toronto addresses Cultural Informatics most strongly in their Museum Studies program and UWO addresses it most strongly through their integration of Media Studies.


Other interesting programs are at York University in the U.K., and the University of the Aegean with its Centre for Cultural Informatics


I would not go to any school in or around NYC for this for a wide variety of reasons, but primarily because I have seen none where there curriculum actually deals with cultural informatics in any substantive way. , I”ve not seen that in NYC at any school, though some make claims. If i were to choose a school close to NYC to take a degree related to cultural informatics, I would go to Rutgers, though if I wanted a more technologically oriented cultural informatics, Long Island University would be sufficient also.


I think that claims toward leadership in many fields in relation to cultural informatics should be investigated before one applies to that field. Leadership comes from research, publishing, and service to the greater community of cultural informatics. If you cannot find substantive evidence of such work in fields in and around cultural informatics, then you should be very curious about the school. Remember that if you are serious about your career, you want to find senior leaders in the field who have a record of notable students in the field. If you go to a school which graduates a hundred of students per year, with few faculty, you need to wonder about the quality of education you will receive. Also schools with a substantive number of adjunct faculty or very few senior faculty with tenure, and a large number of junior faculty are schools you should be worried about.


I would be careful to separate hype and reality. Be sure to talk to other people at the University or School before you decide to attend. Also be sure to use google and look for complaints about the programs.


Also, while ALA accreditation is important, you should also be sure that the school has not had any problem with regional or other accreditting agencies. Usually this can be found on the schools website, but digging deeper might show that the capacity of the school to actually deliver the education it claims is seriously in question.


To conclude, Cultural Informatics is a up and coming field, and some people might use its relative obscurity to promote their programs as cultural informatics. As such, students have to be wary consumers in the field of cultural informatics. There are great programs out there, but I think they are few and far between.


This is written as part of the cultural informatics series.


Fellowship and Conference

Since Tuesday I have been in Milwaukee visiting SOIS and CIPR as part of my Information Ethics fellowship. I attended a discussion about a possible future conference on translating intercultural information ethics across the situated understandings that term implies across a plurality of contexts. That seems like a great project, I’m happy to help out there. For the rest of the time, I attended the conference Thinking Critically:Alternative Perspectives and Methods in Information Studies. It was an excellent conference and I met many interesting people in the field of information studies, most of which are leaders in their field or soon to be so. I also attended the 2008 Samore Lecture: “Interpreting the Digital Human,” by Professor Rafael Capurro, at the Allis Museum, which provided an excellent end to the conference. I had excellent dinners and conversation with colleagues that I’ve not seen for some time, and with new friends and colleagues. I suspect that I’ll be seeing many of these people again over the years. It was a great experience all around, though I did not get enough writing done on a promised paper that is overdue. It really looks like the CIPR and SOIS are up to some great things and I’m happy to be affiliated with them as an Ethics Fellow for another year.

Unrelated to the conference and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Thomas Malaby who has a book forthcoming on Linden Lab. We spoke at length about problems of research, computer game studies, his work with Linden Lab and his related work. It was a fantastic conversation and I hope to have similar conversations in relation to my work in Second Life in the future.

All in all the problem of alternative methods and the communities that support them is an important issue in my career. I have been affiliated with many groups on this topic from Phil Graham’s old NewMediaResearch, heterodox economics, and the political science perestroika movement list, to my current work with InterpretationandMethods and Theory, Policy and Society, not to mention my work with the Association of Internet Researchers. The work that I perform is primarily interpretive methods, from ethnography to textual analysis, though I’ve been known to use quantitative when it adds to the argument. The key to me though is to come to notion of understanding and being able to communicate what actually leads to certain understandings of the world. It concerns me that there are so many people with so many of the same issues across so many different disciplines and there is so little conversations amongst them. Though there are broad interdisciplinary efforts and efforts toward inclusion.

Privacy Work-Around

So, how did the librarian get the word out? By regularly reporting to the library board that no NSL had been issued to any of the city’s 10 branches, which was perfectly legal. Everyone knew that if the chief librarian failed to report that nothing had happened, then indeed an NSL had been served.
[From Privacy Work-Around]


Sometimes the brilliance of the common sense of librarians is amazing. Given tight legal restrictions, they read the law, and found a solution that was compatible and in the end worked for their library

nih public access requirement goes into place today

The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit journal articles that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/). The Policy requires that these articles be accessible to the public on PubMed Central to help advance science and improve human health.

[From Public Access Homepage]

overall, this will be an interesting thing to watch and track, as it will hit certain publishers, likely the smaller and middling medical publishers, more than others and thus drive market consolidation and prices for journals up. at least that is my expectation.

Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching

Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching

Welcome to the Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching (HILT). This Handbook was written by a group of subject librarians at Cardiff University to support their colleagues in Information Services as they developed their information literacy teaching.

[From Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching]


a nice resource for people interested in the literacy issue surrounding information.

blacklight opac

Blacklight is an open source OPAC (online public access catalog). That means libraries (or anyone else) can use it to allow people to search and browse their collections online. Blacklight uses Solr to index and search, and it has a highly configurable Ruby on Rails front-end. Currently, Blacklight can index, search, and provide faceted browsing for MaRC records and several kinds of XML documents, including TEI, EAD, and GDMS.


blacklight looks cool and highly extensible, hopefully i’ll find some time to play with it soon. i like it’s theme… expose your hidden data.

Hackito Ergo Sum: The Library Problem

The Library Problem

[From Hackito Ergo Sum: The Library Problem


The library problem is a problem that I have. I solve it slightly differently, but am always looking for new possible solutions. This is the problem of having a personal research library. Not everyone has one, not everyone needs one, but I do and I sort of do, so I need organization for one. This gentleman and his wife found one solution, my solution is librarything currently.