Call: closed systems / open worlds

Closed Systems / Open Worlds

Edited by: Jeremy Hunsinger (Wilfrid Laurier University), Jason Nolan (Ryerson University) & Melanie McBride (York University)

This book will consist of explorations at the boundaries of virtual worlds as enclosed but encouraging spaces for exploration, learning, and enculturation. Game/worlds like Second Life, OpenSim, Minecraft, and Cloud Party are providing spaces for the construction of alternatives and reimaginings, though frequently they end up more as reproductions. We seek to challenge those spaces and their creativities and imaginings.

These worlds exist as both code and conduct. Code is a modulating multiple signifier, in that the interpreters of the code vary from human to machine and that our understanding of the signifier changes the worldliness in itself. The conduct of both participants and administrators of these spaces influences how they flourish and then fade. As such the worlds and their anima/animus are socially constructed fictions where authors/creators/users, both above and below the actions are sometimes in concert, yet often in conflict with the space and intentions of the originators.

This book seeks critically engaged scholars who want to risk the possibility of change in the face of closed systems. We are looking for critical or speculative essays that must be theoretically, empirically and/or contextually grounded chapters of 5000-6500 words plus apparatus. Doctoral students and non-tenure faculty members will be afforded blind peer review upon request.

We are aiming for 12 -14 chapters that define the boundaries and thus likely futures of research on virtual worlds.

Aug 1, 2014 – 250 word précis with 5-10 key references
Aug. 30, 2014 – accept/reject proposals
Feb 1, 2015 – final draft due
July 1, 2015 – feedback from reviewers
September 1, 2015 – final version
December 1, 2015 – in press

Queries and submissions:

Topics may include:

  • alternative and minor game/virtual/etc. worlds
  • archeologies/genealogies of virtuality
  • augmented and mixed-reality worlds
  • distributed cognitions
  • early explorations in virtual learning environments
  • the freedom of limitations
  • identity construction and/or identity tourism
  • the limits of simulation and emulation
  • memories and forgetting in virtual worlds
  • multisensory virtual environments
  • multisensory exclusions in virtual worlds
  • narratival and post-narratival andragogies, ‘learning worlds’
  • negative spaces as learning spaces (bullying, trolling, flaming, etc.) in virtual worlds
  • non-social virtual worlds (dwarf fortress, some forms of minecraft, etc.)
  • real world virtual worlds and boundaries (Lego, Hello Kitty, WebKinz, etc.)
  • replication of real world environments/problems
  • surrealism, unrealism and constructable alterities of/within virtual worlds
  • transformative virtual classroom
  • vapourware and virtuality
  • the virtuality of learning
  • 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.

    Learning Infrastructures in the Social Sciences
    The final issue of the journal learning inquiry has been published.

    The topic was Learning Infrastructures in the Social Sciences.

    The contributions are:

    Introducing learning infrastructures: invisibility, context, and governance
    Jeremy Hunsinger

    Virtual office hours as cyberinfrastructure: the case study of instant messaging
    Jeren Balayeva and Anabel Quan-Haase

    Transforming learning infrastructures in the social sciences through flexible and interactive technology-enhanced learning
    Philipp Budka and Claudia Schallert

    The Brisbane Media Map: participatory design and authentic learning to link students and industry
    Christy Collis, Marcus Foth and Ronald Schroeter

    Learning to succeed in a flat world: information and communication technologies for a new generation of business students
    Alex Ramirez, Michael J. Hine, Shaobo Ji, Frank Ulbrich and Rob Riordan

    And one article not in the special issue, but included in the final issue:

    The educational (im)possibility for dietetics: a poststructural discourse analysis
    Jacqui Gingras

    Jason Nolan and I wish to thank you for your interest and submissions over the last few years.

    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’?