Wednesday, August 24, 2016

His Master's Voice.

I blame the owners.

It's a dog's life.

There are dogs that seem remote controlled.

They sit, they jump, they do somersaults, they skateboard for Youtube views.

There are dogs which clearly demonstrate independence of mind, spirit, and a healthy sense of adventure.

We have a Tibetan Spaniel called Jazz who has a finely developed attraction for the wide open spaces.

We should have called him Houdini.

During the holidays, I searched high and low for him, until I discovered he had escaped to the beach in the company of his newly selected companions.

On seeing me, he adopted that look of that dog who says "Never seen him ever before in my life."

On preparing myself mentally for the start back of the university classes, I have been thinking (again) about the Domain of One's Own question (amongst others) (as one does).

It may appear to be off the track to what I should be doing but I tell myself that it is a good intellectual warm-up to get me back in the swim of things and it is important for me to map out how I feel as regards the tricks that I will be teaching students...
(that is just a weak excuse not to face the term starting...)

I have already rambled around this question a number of times.

As ever my feelings about stuff change.

A Dom of one's own.

Another cycle

Russian dolls.

I have spent a fair deal of time thinking about this and associated issues.

En attendant la révolution

To nobody.

Nagasaki mon amour.

There are those who think much more clearly about this. (know what they are talking about...)

A recent talk from Martha Burtis.

"Making and breaking DoOO: Rethinking the Web in Higher Ed"

A recent blog post of Maha Bali's set me off again.

"I don't own my domain: I rent it #DoOO"

And then there was a post by Audrey Watters

A Domain of One's Own in a Post-Ownership Society.

Back to the dogs.

Are we as teachers interested in training for dependence or educating for independence?

Dog A.

placid, perhaps endebtedly rabid automatons?

Dog B.

autonomous critical thinkers who demonstrate agency (question debt) and social responibility (ditto)?

I have the distinct impression that through much of educational history the emphasis has been on reproducing automatons of some kind or other.

Some of them admittedly should be more high level, managers, others - working dogs, can be quickly replaced by nonhuman automatons.

The drive of technology has largely been dominated by questions of power and domination.

Dogs, strays, treats, kennels, top dogs, bitches etc.

The problem with the job of teaching for many teachers is the student.

The problem with the job of education minister for many education ministers is the teacher.

The answer to the problem of expensive, demanding, union-affiliated humans is easy in our "modern" "globalised" world.

We replace humans who consider that they are irreplaceable with other humans who are less fussy and whose dwellings (kennels) are far enough away from the master's house to not create olfactory or other inconveniences.

"We" increasingly live ("we" are told) in service (dog eat dog/servile?) economies/societies.

Put the factories a long way away from the sight of pesky people with a moral conscience and the need for being humane to well trained operatives/bomb casualties and the problem is almost solved.

Solution to pesky humans - replace them with machine automatons/drones etc.

Solution to pesky human drone teachers - replace them with algorithms and machines.

Solution to remaining pesky humans - reward small group to dominate others - make them fear being replaced.

Solution to pesky whiny humans who see wealth and get jealous - build gated communities or buy an island which can only be accessed by private jet.

Make them believe that they can win in our lottery too by letting a few get rich entertaining the others.

Make wealth "aspirational".

Make greed "desirable".

Make sure not to mention capital accumulation too much, or mafia connections.
(Thomas Picketty shut up - your book is too long anyway).

Make sure that you have the army on your side.
(Remember coup d'états in Turkey).

Employ sniffer dogs and guard dogs.


Oops. I had almost forgotten that I was writing about DoOO...

So, I am all for the idea of enabling a maximum number of people to understand how they are being screwed and giving them the means to reassess and then perhaps (not optimistic here) redress the current economic and political system which is currently destroying the planet and leaving countless infants in unassemblable body parts around the globe.

Things ain't going to change without doing something first.

We have to start somewhere.

I am OK with the idea of students learning how to develop their digital presence via a "a domain of their own" and getting them to think about how digital technology and platforms are exemplary of the very systems which need to be changed for the greater good.

Indeed I am for critical thinkers rather than willing automatons.

"In part, I think we resist through education; we help students and scholars understand how new digital technologies work, how these technologies shape and reshape and are shaped by culture, politics, money, and law."
Audrey Watters

I am not sure how much DoOO is an effective means of "resistance." 

I am far from sure that it is any means of "resistance" at all.

It might have to do as a starting point.

DoOO and Top Dogs

Getting a DoOO is not much of a threat to Facebook/Google/Amazon/ etc.

The Top Dogs won't worry or they will leverage a buy out.

A few questions.

How many people do I know only via their websites?

How many people do I know via Google/Twitter/Facebook?

How many people do not use either a smartphone from Apple or Google to access the web?

How many people do not use either a computer with a Microsoft or Apple operating system?

Well we can at least help people understand how they are being screwed. I agree with that much.

They'll be able to blog about it on their DoOOs.

DoOO, Ownership, Maps and Power

I am sure that we need to unpick ownership.

We need to connect science, education, discovery, economies, with dominating power structures.

"The Death of Neoliberalism and The Crisis in Western Politics."

What place is there for pesky teachers who may rock the boat of an institution which is dependent on corporate patronage?

How far can you get without corporate patronage?

The boat may capsize - make the teacher walk the plank.

I have just finished a book entitled "A history of the world in 12 maps" by Jeremy Brotton.

What I take away from Brotton's book is how maps are intimately tied to the desire for knowledge but above all to the desire for power and thus ownership.

Google (maps) is the world mapped not just physically but socially for profit.

What is the web if it is not a representation of the world?

No map, no web is neutral, whatever the slogan "web neutrality" might suggest.
Is the web being used to accelerate equality and justice or privilege and impoverishment?

Er...don't answer that.

What can be said about Google's representation of itself?

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

What might one say about the words "the world's information" ?

"The world" does not have any "information" of itself.

How can "it be universally accessible and useful?"

Couldn't this vision of "useful" be a problem to some?

Google's mission is to make massive profits.

I am fairly sure that information to dominate is only interesting to those with the means and the desire to do it.

Who owns the platform?

Who owns the globe?

Much energy of mapping has concerned ownership.

There is a wonderful story of the king of Spain and the king of Portugal using their new fangled world map to divide it into two halves - half for Spain and half for Portugal.

There was an ongoing dispute as to which map to use as to enforce "ownership".

I wholeheartedly agree that "ownership" as a concept and as a practice needs to be frequently discussed and analysed.

But what does individual ownership or small share-holdership or citizenship add up to?

I would suggest - not so much.

What is the interest of ownership if those in power can trample over the ownership rights of people?

What the hell does it mean to say that Native Americans are "occupying" their land in protest against expropriation by dollar thirsty corporations?

No amount of DoOO's are going to avoid impending doom.

"Occupying the Prairie: Tensions Rise As Tribes Move to Block Pipeline."

While encouraging silent voices to be heard thanks to DoOO may well be commendable, what of the voices of those with no means or no desire to be present in digital spaces?

"We amplify silenced voices by listening. By making space for them to speak. Not safe space, necessarily, daring space. Because it’s never safe to speak."  
Sean Michael Morris

How are we supposed to listen to those voices who are not present or simply want to be left to keep their peace?

"Do the worlds 'uncontacted' tribes deserve to be left alone?"

I wonder for a moment at the choice of the word "deserve"...

Might drawing attention to silenced voices actually result in the acceleration of their demise?

"'They're killing us' : world's most endangered tribe cries for help."

What good did learning their invaders language do for indigenous peoples?

Might widening access to digital spaces result in destruction of ecosystems and result in the acceleration of our demise?

"Toxic 'e-waste' dumped in poor countries says United Nations."

While we enable the agency of some digitally, what of the miners in the Congo, the workers in the electronics industry?

"Children as young as seven mining cobalt used in smartphones says Amnesty."

"Modern day slavery rife in Malaysia's electronics industry."

What does it mean when 'we' say 'we' should "make space for them to speak"?

Whose 'space' are 'we' referring to?

Yamacraw Creek Native Americans meet with the Trustee of the colony of Georgia in England, July 1734.
The painting shows a Native American boy (in a blue coat) and woman (in a red dress) in European clothing.

En attendant la révolution..

"The cornerstone of an “ownership society” is privatization. The cornerstone is a dismantling of public infrastructure. Costs and risks are thus transferred to the individual." Audrey Watters.

If DoOO may well be a useful model for developing individual agency and critical thinking it can also be a lure.

We should not oversell DoOO when students are already receiving classes on how to set up their individual websites on hosting providers as part of their courses.

We should criticise uncritical training of students to set up their individual domains.

I feel we should see DoOO as one of a number of means to enable students to conduct an enquiry into their place in the world and how they are interconnected with others in other countries.

They need to be able to question the system within which they are to become - it is hoped by the few - responsible, empathetic well informed citizens.

How can they contribute to society?

How can we work with them to change societies for the public good?

Public Good

We can not talk about the importance of individual rights and responsibilities without talking about the community in its widest sense. This is what concerns me when we focus on individual agency.

As I understand it, DoOO is embedded in the idea of cooperative knowledge development, sharing, and connected, co-learning.

This must be stessed.

This is probably why we need to place any talk of DoOO in its wider context.

Individual agency counts for nothing if the society doesn't respect each individual's contribution to the community.

Is it not this which must be the focus of attempts to enable education systems to evolve?

By community I include organisms which go to make up our ecosystems.

If mapping has for much been about "discovery" "exploitation," "control" "military" domination,  it can also be put to good use to understand our essential interdependence and how we might "unmap".

What must be challenged is the pursuit of greed and the primary interest of the rich over the poor.

We must readdress the question of personal and therefore personal responsibility to the communities in which we live.

The idea that certain privileged might be encouraged to avoid contribution to societies is a scandal.

Ownership of a DoOO and one's data is one thing, the real question is who inherits what values.

"Why the Duke of Westminster Will Not Pay Billions."

Ownership of a DoOO is one thing, struggling internationally to change corporate mentalities is another.

"Us Corporate Giants Hoarding More Than a Trillion Dollars"

Are there any means of reasserting the need for public "goods" - education, prisons, libraries, parks, gardens, seas, oceans, fauna and flora, water, air?

Are there any means of reasserting public space within which one can be free from tracking and targeted advertising?

Are there any means of reasserting the need for protection of our planet?

A room of one's own.

Audrey Watters talks of the "need for a place to write and create without fear".  

Who needs such a place? 

What about those who don't want to write?

Is such a place an institutionally defined "student space"?
What is the interest of such a space if current grading systems are in place?

What is the interest of such a space if the current educational training systems remain in place?

Is such a safe space public?

I fail to see how having a DoOO reduces fear of abuse, surveillance, attack, rather the contrary...

"These Bangladeshi Bloggers Were Murdered By Islamist Extremists. Here are Some of Their Writings."

"Saudi Blogger Ralf Badawi May Receive Second Set of Lashes on Friday."

Back to the dogs.

I return to more immediate concerns...

Are wider webbed issues just too much to think about  to do anything about?

Do we just accept to turn a blind eye?

I suspect the top dogs are counting on such feelings of helplessness.

Are we as teachers interested in training for dependence or educating for independence - make that interdependence?

Do we want autonomous critical thinkers or placid, perhaps rabidly endebted automatons?

Do we want internationally standardised educational "wars" or peace to learn to be who we are together or perhaps apart.

Notes to self.

I must get back to thinking about what's in my Google docs... as term looms.

I shall share this on Twitter - you never know someone might read it. 

I must occupy myself on that CLAVIER domain when I find a spare moment and a soupçon of energy.

Only one month to go before that article deadline.

Back to the dog.

Where would I be without my dog?

We have become interdependent now.

Where the hell is Jazz?

Stuck upstairs again - bloody Houdini he ain't.

1 comment:

  1. A lot to think about here. This has made me filter this Ted talk Don Tapscott (
    'Lets get this asset we create, under our control' (min 15:42)
    Blockchain. Trust Protocols. Privacy. Owning identity. Virtual (domain) explained as a Blackbox.