Dazzled by Diversity: forking, federation and simulation
This post is an answer-free zone.
Sometimes different ideas come to my attention around the same time, and I have a strong feeling that they are connected but I don’t really know how.
I think that I will just place them down here side by side and see what connections they spark for me or any readers who feel moved to comment.
I have thought a lot (and blogged a bit) about diversity and human relations recently and a concept came into my mind that I first encountered when I read Kate Fox’s book “Watching the English”. Ethnographic dazzle captures the superficiality of apparent differences: as Kate Fox says ““blindness to underlying similarities between human groups and cultures because one is dazzled by the more highly visible surface differences” (for more details on Kate’s book, you can look at this review http://thememorybank.co.uk/2006/05/11/kate-foxs-watching-the-english/ ). I suspect that the personal examples of contradiction are more memorable for me because I still remember the shock of discovering just how “English” I was from reading Kate’s book.
Worrying away in my mind is the thought that our networks, spaces, MOOCs are much less diverse than we suspect (and I already think that mine are much less diverse than I would wish). I am wondering what this means in terms of lost potential for making change, the shaping of ideas and services – hmmmm!!
Forking and Federating
A couple of weeks ago, I read an inspirational post by Mike Caulfield about federated wikis that might help us to take new directions in digital collaboration. The post is rich and deserves careful reading and re-reading (I am on my third pass and still puzzling over it). Mike gives an excellent explanation of the problems that arise on ‘consensus wikis’ and explains ‘federated wikis’ as follows
“In a federated wiki, everyone has their own server which stores the records associated with them. But the meaning is made in your browser. Your browser pulls wiki records from all over the internet, and makes them look like they exist on a single server.“
Mike is suggesting the intriguing idea that federated wikis might help us move from the ‘I’ (personal narrative) to the ‘you’ (group dialogue) to the ‘it’ (some sort of consensus on the idea/topic). And what is more, he thinks that federated wikis could help with the “chain of attribution”. That’s an exciting idea but I can’t help wondering if Rosalind Franklin would have been awarded a Nobel Prize if she had been working on such a wiki. I am not completely convinced, but all the more reason to explore the possibilities of working with federated wikis.
This year I ‘did’ the Rhizo14 MOOC and have been researching it with Jenny Mackness. So I was very interested to read of Dave Cormier’s plans for Rhizo15. He plans to support participants”forking’ of the Rhizo15 course. He says:
“Don’t like how the course is being fun FORK THE COURSE. Want to try a different way of talking about week three FORK THE COURSE. ”
I am really fascinated to see how this works out. My first idea is that it seems more like ‘It’ to ‘you’ (and possibly to ‘I’ if noone likes your fork), so going in the opposite direction to Mike’s ideas. But then, I don’t really fully understand either of these ‘forks’ – hmmmmm!!
Parable of the Polygons
My dear friend that I met on Rhizo 14 Mariana Funes alerted me to a rather wonderful simulation that lets you explore how squares and triangles can co-exist. My first response in Twitter was a bit suspicious “@ @ love it ccthing.tumblr.com/post/104764760… and let’s celebrate triares and squangles”. Having spent some time playing with the simulation, I think that is an excellent tool for exploring (some of ) the complexity of diversity. Obviously there are limitations in the ‘differences’ being represented by yellow triangles and blue squares but the interactivity does provoke consideration of alternative possibilities with some contradictions – all food for thought. Please do visit and play with this – I can guarantee that it will make you think!
In this answer-free zone I can’t pose any conclusions. However, I would love to hear anything you want to say – do polygons, forking, federation or dazzle spark any thoughts you would like to share?
For me, connection can be enabled and even revealed by technology but I am thinking that we humans need to be working hard at explanations:)