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.

Living with the everyday life of digital archives: The techno-social ambulations of 3… or more… online archives.

This is fundamentally a paper about the movement of techno-socialobjects which we call digital archives.  It is about the effects of those movements considered transversally.    The Center for Digital Discourse and Culture hosts several archives that are changing, becoming, and revising the relations between themselves, their users, and other communities. The archives that we host are to some people  unknown, but to others world reknowned. They include the Feminist  Theory Online archive http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/, the Situationists International Online Archive http://www.cddc.vt.edu/SIOnline/ , the April16archive http://april16archive.org/, a mirror of The  Marxist Archive http://www.marxists.org/, and a mirror of the the  Bureau of Public Secrets. Those are just the more major archives   These archives are in part alive and in part dead, some are constantly updated and upgraded by their communities, others have not been  updated for ages. However the knowledge and meanings of these  archives construct relations to moving beings and their artifacts. This paper attempts to tell some of the stories of time, place, and movement of these archives within and through the beings and artifacts  in which they become embedded.  In doing that, the paper describes the  everyday life of the archives themselves as they are ambulant in  everyday life.

Using short narratives, this paper center several events and relationships that changed the archives and mobilized them in some relation to everyday life. The stories used will deal with the ambulations of the Marxists archive in 2007 when it was attacked by computers in China, the movements of Feminist theory websites as it becomes embedded in and migrates through textbooks and academic papers  becoming something new, while remaining unchanged, the Tragedy of  April16archive and its relationship to the Northern Illinois  University shooting, and possibly the trials and tribulations of  Situationists International and the Bureau of Public Secrets in  relation to their original print existences.

Through telling the stories of these techno-social ambulants as archives in everyday life, I hope to show their movements and embeddedness in everyday life; their capacity for change and becoming  in relation to all varieties of institutions and communities, from  local users to nation states and to show how their existence allows  for a transversal analysis of cultural relations in relation to the  archives as they migrate through and among those institutions and  communities.

The Political Economy of Information in an Age of Speed and Excess

When information explodes, systems fail. In our current age, the ability to govern is predicated on the control and distribution of information. This paper confronts the inability to do that, it examines the techniques and systems of informational governance, notes some their defects, demonstrates the incapacities and draws the conclusion parallel to Virilio’s Information Bomb, we are due for a failure.

Informational power is a power of control, control of distribution, control of origination. It is a power of establishing borders, territories, and limiting access. It is predicated on assumptions of normality, and when the normal becomes too fast, too informationally productive, and generates enormous surpluses of capacity, like a bomb, the excessive power; the excessive information explodes. It breaks the boundaries, overwhelms the territory, and forces humans to develop new tactics for management, for governance. I argue that this is the state we are in, a state of excess, of being overwhelmed by information and power, because we have built an informational infrastructure based on speed and power.

There is no end in sight for the progressive development of this infrastructure. With terabit/sec speeds already in place, it is likely already beyond the limits of real human understanding, and we are beginning to see how it manifests itself as a tool of transformation or weapon of destruction of the institutions built on fordist and post-fordist understandings of information, such as music, movies, banking, which have strong informational ties, but this is just the start of a more pervasive creative destruction.

Faced with these issues and their immanent explosion, I look at the proposals for governance, for creating a sustainable political economy that governments are using around the world, such as defining information as artifacts and allowing patents, redefining copyrights, and developing international trade regimes surrounding information. I contrast the governmental systems with the growing cultural awareness of the issue and introduce the question: what if governments fail? how does society reterritorialize information, and what cultural toolkits seem to be arising in the face of speed and excess, such as open source, open content, and related movements that arise out of and restructure the excess into new cultural systems.

Powers of code: software cultures

This panel is located at the interface between social studies of science and technology and the emerging area of ‘software studies.’ Code, from binary machine language to its readable form, takes on numerous powers in the information society. It structures, orders, and governs relationships between humans and amongst technologies, allowing certain actions while preventing others. While information technology and software development have been the focus of intensive study in STS work over the last few decades, the area of software studies has emerged in response to a proliferation of code or software-related cultural and political processes. These include wide-ranging changes in the character of media and communications, the mobilities of code across legal, institutional, economic, national and infrastructural boundaries, the proliferation of discourses of code in many different domains, and the way in which code has become the tool of a comprehensively transnational knowledge class identified in part by the relationship to code in everyday life.

The panel will coalesce around questions concerning the modes of change associated with software, computer code in various senses, and its adjacent practices. It conceptualises code as a hybrid, mobile construction of a technical-culture industry. Code is understood as a political and empowered social construction, which is not purely focused on the enablement of a singular group or social movement, but is systematically distributed across networks spanning nationalities and cultures. The increased visibility of code as cultural-technical entity, and as an object of public attention will be one focus. In the context of massive proliferations of unwanted or ‘junk’ code (viruses, operating systems, ‘bloatware’), the legal struggles over the difference between code as speech and code as technology will be a second focus. Finally, the panel will explore questions concerning the increased visibility of software or code (understood in a range of different ways) as cultural, political, economic and technical entities. Among questions to be addressed by the panel: how have code, programming, ‘cutting code’, hacking, scripting, etc. moved from technical practices carried out in ‘centres of calculation’ to generalised, popularised and politicised techniques? Do code objects challenge existing ontologies of technology and politics? How can we understand the mobility of code and coding practices without reducing them to standard accounts of ‘information society’?


Hybridizing Culture through Code and the Creation of a Transnational Knowledge Class.

This paper presents the theory that software code and the practice of coding is a system of communication above and beyond the code itself. It posits that the language and practices of coding are a method that allows knowledge and culture to move from one cultural milieu to another, and creates through that movement, a transnational coding culture that is built upon the shared experiences and understandings that surround coding practices. By analyzing the modes of cultural transmission available to a particular group of programmers that use the internet extensively, I show that these modes tend to discipline and educate, and slowly indoctrinate newer members into the community of knowledge that embodies this transnational class. This power of code to bridge and then hybridize cultures is significant in that it is highly formalized and rigorous, and thus provides a stable platform for coding expertise to transition, however, as we will see coding expertise is not all that becomes hybridized.


Excess non/Knowledge and the Production of Evil in the General Economy of the Organization

Founded in Bataille’s theory of the general economy as descriptive of a general theory of organizations, this paper relates Bataille’s conceptions of knowledge and non-knowledge to his conception of evil in order to reconstruct the importance of excess to the production of subjectivities, both good and evil, in organizations. In reading contemporary organizational thought through the body of Bataille’s works, I find that Bataille provides us with several innovative ways of understanding the organization as an aspect of society. In On Nietzsche, Bataille locates evil as symbolized through the negation of Christ, a component of good, and a necessary component to human life in the forms of egotism and freedom. These constructions of evil compliment the ecological model of production found in the Accursed Share in that evil functions as part of the Western model of subjectivity, and thus is fixed by both the human and non-human elements into its representations of knowledge and non-knowledge. The idea that the production of excess in organizations, not just excess commodity, but also excess subjectivity is the idea that unites the general economy to the production of evil because evil arises both from the overproduction of symbols and the inadequate faculties of interpretation to confront the interpretations. of those symbols. This exasperation of the organization’s capacity to interpret the world in which they exist produces non-knowledge, and opens up the space for the production of evil. Thus the logic of my argument reduces to:

Organizations produce subjectivities, commodities, knowledges, and non-knowledges as parts of symbolic systems.

In a general commodity, production of subjectivities is the production of knowledges and non-knowledges in excess.

The overproduction of symbols in the system combined with a differential production of subjectivities creates a critical space for non-knowledge, or the unknowable to exist.

As parts non-knowledge become othered and alienated they enter the realm of the individual’s ego or freedom.

When individuals act upon those non-knowledges in organizations, they become the outsider, or the evil from within the organization.

Thus the overproduction or excess production of symbolic systems creates evil.

In conclusion, this Bataille-based thesis is comparable to Baudrillard’s argument about the origin of evil in society, as found in the Transparency of Evil. Thus, we can see the need to build more deeply into the realm of semiology in order to understand the functioning of evil in organizations.