Raising the Signal to Noise Ratio: A Digital Feldgang

Venkatesh Rao called it a ‘frankenstack’.  He defined it as,

An assemblage of information technologies duct-taped together with a mess of protocols, and forming what philosophers call a rhizomatic structure.

Everybody has his or her own frankenstack, so which one am I referring to ?  The #Digciz.

The Storify embedded below arises directly from the #4wordstory hashtag and indirectly from the gathering of folks into #digciz ,part of the frankenstack rhizome.  And the common plaint is one shared by @teachercreates (Emily Page Oh)

So I try to curate a path through to a main course and away from the chocolate fountain–

#4wordstory (with images, tweets) · tellio

Break the digital ice.

I call this trail a “feldgang” which roughly translated means “field walk”. I am a sheep farmer and I do feldgang’s every day. I have been doing them here for 30 years. I check the grass in the paddock where the sheep are to see if they need to be moved onto fresh grass. That is a very direct feldgang with a purpose. Sometimes I do general feldgangs. For example, I will scan a field for the green haze of growth that indicates good news for ruminants. Or I just turn over stuff and see what is there.

A few years ago I discovered you can do digital feldgangs as well. They can be particular or general. My storify above is both.
Part of the feldgang is intended to address those in #digciz who have been a part of #4wordstories. Storify is dead simple as a gathering tool to make this possible. Once I have created a ‘field’ then I can walk in it. Here are some of my discoveries:

1. #4wordstories are rarely concrete. There are exceptions.
2. #4wordstories are not poetic.
3. #4wordstories are abstract.
4. #4wordstories are often vague and de-contextualized.
5. #4wordstories might not arguably be stories at all in a fictive sense (plot, character, setting)
6. #4wordstories sometimes are more like zen koans than narratives, puzzles in service to the larger #digciz context
7. #4wordstories can (and did) inspire more creation
8. #4wordstories are invitations, implicit or explicit. Very few seem to regard them as invitations judging by the lack of response.
9. #4wordstories can be both examples and non-examples. (Note: Bonnie citing George Seimens’problems.)

10. I have some serious blindspots about the abstract, the adverbial, the lack of context.

So…the blog post is just a thinking out loud about what is in the digital field.

I started talking about the frankenstack at the beginning of this post and ended in the digital field.  The rhizomatic nature of modern digital discourse is so apparent to me (and @teachercreates, too).  Venkatesh Rao’s newsletter piece about rhizomes is a must read. I want to quote stuff, but it isn’t a hierarchical post so you gotta go for it all.

He is right on when he says,

43/ In a rhizomatic world, if your expectations and work habits are built around architectural cleanliness, you will get deeply frustrated and be perennially frozen.

44/ If you can only navigate well-paved paths and clean, well-lit spaces, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in low-value, or even futile, ritualized behaviors while getting nothing done.

45/ You must be willing to adopt an opportunistic approach to navigating complexity, and switch from ugly hack to elegant beauty, from amateurish fumble to expert flourish, in an instant.

The world he describes is most definitely #digciz.  Get over it.




Ravelling About, Translating and Summing Up

I am still messing about with Lumen5, a multimedia ‘presentation’ tool.

Here is a website I am translating into a video.

Channeling Engelbart: Augmenting Human Education – DML Central


Here is the video I created using Lumen5.

This is a bit rough and amounts to a summary of the longer article above, a translation of the Howard Rheingold/Gardner Campbell conversation. My summing up is not profound, obviously. It is just my slow reading through another medium.

Here are some of my discoveries:

  1. I agree with the idea of having a personal learning cyberinfrastructure, but I hate that expression almost as much as I do personal learning algorithm. It is like I am laying interstate highways and sewers in my own mind. Too expensive and unsustainable. The transform here is the metaphor of infrastructure.  I don’t like that any more than I do the constant references in Shakespeare to commerce.
  2. The domain may be my own, but the servers don’t belong to me.  Shouldn’t we all be running our own servers, not renting somebody else’s?  Are we really controlling our domains if someone else is hosting them?  I think of this as a necessary compromise, but is it one that eventually corrupts the larger intent of the personal learning cybersomethingfication?
  3. Is this really just another means to think deeply and solve more effectively?  Tools form us.  Is the form they invoke one that is sustainable?  Just got me thinking about the forthright fascism of Silicon Valley.  The tools formed them, right?

There is more, but that is the beauty of slow reading (as opposed to close reading).  I love how slow reading is like the thread picked at and ravelled. Close reading is like cutting with a scalpel.  I could be wrong with those words, but that is how it feels.