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The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral | Hapgood
[Brought back to my attention thanks to Allen:
"@rogre Read this and thought of you and your bookmarks & tumblr:" ]

[See also: ]

"The Garden is an old metaphor associated with hypertext. Those familiar with the history will recognize this. The Garden of Forking Paths from the mid-20th century. The concept of the Wiki Gardener from the 1990s. Mark Bernstein’s 1998 essay Hypertext Gardens.

The Garden is the web as topology. The web as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another.

Things in the Garden don’t collapse to a single set of relations or canonical sequence, and that’s part of what we mean when we say “the web as topology” or the “web as space”. Every walk through the garden creates new paths, new meanings, and when we add things to the garden we add them in a way that allows many future, unpredicted relationships

We can see this here in this collage of photos of a bridge in Portland’s Japanese Garden. I don’t know if you can see this, but this is the same bridge from different views at different times of year.

The bridge is a bridge is a bridge — a defined thing with given boundaries and a stated purpose. But the multi-linear nature of the garden means that there is no one right view of the bridge, no one correct approach. The architect creates the bridge, but it is the visitors to the park which create the bridge’s meaning. A good bridge supports many approaches, many views, many seasons, maybe many uses, and the meaning of that bridge will even evolve for the architect over time.

In the Garden, to ask what happened first is trivial at best. The question “Did the bridge come after these trees” in a well-designed garden is meaningless historical trivia. The bridge doesn’t reply to the trees or the trees to the bridge. They are related to one another in a relatively timeless way.

This is true of everything in the garden. Each flower, tree, and vine is seen in relation to the whole by the gardener so that the visitors can have unique yet coherent experiences as they find their own paths through the garden. We create the garden as a sort of experience generator, capable of infinite expression and meaning.

The Garden is what I was doing in the wiki as I added the Gun Control articles, building out a network of often conflicting information into a web that can generate insights, iterating it, allowing that to grow into something bigger than a single event, a single narrative, or single meaning.

The Stream is a newer metaphor with old roots. We can think of the”event stream” of programming, the “lifestream” proposed by researchers in the 1990s. More recently, the term stream has been applied to the never ending parade of twitter, news alerts, and Facebook feeds.

In the stream metaphor you don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it, or following it to its end. You jump in and let it flow past. You feel the force of it hit you as things float by.

It’s not that you are passive in the Stream. You can be active. But your actions in there — your blog posts, @ mentions, forum comments — exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative.

In other words, the Stream replaces topology with serialization. Rather than imagine a timeless world of connection and multiple paths, the Stream presents us with a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center.

In many ways the Stream is best seen through the lens of Bakhtin’s idea of the utterance. Bakhtin saw the utterance, the conversational turn of speech, as inextricably tied to context. To understand a statement you must go back to things before, you must find out what it was replying to, you must know the person who wrote it and their speech context. To understand your statement I must reconstruct your entire stream.

And of course since I can’t do that for random utterances, I mostly just stay in the streams I know. If the Garden is exposition, the stream is conversation and rhetoric, for better and worse.

You see this most clearly in things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But it’s also the notifications panel of your smartphone, it’s also email, it’s also to a large extent blogging. Frankly, it’s everything now.

Whereas the garden is integrative, the Stream is self-assertive. It’s persuasion, it’s argument, it’s advocacy. It’s personal and personalized and immediate. It’s invigorating. And as we may see in a minute it’s also profoundly unsuited to some of the uses we put it to.

The stream is what I do on Twitter and blogging platforms. I take a fact and project it out as another brick in an argument or narrative or persona that I build over time, and recapitulate instead of iterate."

"So what’s the big picture here? Why am I so obsessed with the integrative garden over the personal and self-assertive stream? Blogs killed hypertext — but who cares, Mike?

I think we’ve been stuck in some unuseful binaries over the past years. Or perhaps binaries that have outlived their use.

So what I’m asking you all to do is put aside your favorite binaries for a moment and try out the garden vs. the stream. All binaries are fictions of course, but I think you’ll find the garden vs. the stream is a particularly useful fiction for our present moment.


Let’s start with OER. I’ve been involved with Open Educational Resources many years, and I have to say that I’m shocked and amazed that we still struggle to find materials.

We announced an open textbook initiative at my school the other day, and one of the first people to email me said she taught State and Local Government and she’d love to ditch the textbook.

So I go look for a textbook on State and Local Government. Doesn’t exist. So I grab the syllabus and look at what sorts of things need explaining.

It’s stuff like influence of local subsidies on development. Now if you Google that term, how many sites in the top 50 will you find just offering a clear and balanced treatment of what it is, what the recent trends are with it, and what seems to be driving the trends?

The answer is none. The closest you’ll find is an article from something called the Encyclopedia of Earth which talks about the environmental economics of local energy subsidies.

Everything else is either journal articles or blog posts making an argument about local subsidies. Replying to someone. Building rapport with their audience. Making a specific point about a specific policy. Embedded in specific conversations, specific contexts.

Everybody wants to play in the Stream, but no one wants to build the Garden.

Our traditional binary here is “open vs. closed”. But honestly that’s not the most interesting question to me anymore. I know why textbook companies are closed. They want to make money.

What is harder to understand is how in nearly 25 years of the web, when people have told us what they THINK about local subsidies approximately one kajillion times we can’t find one — ONE! — syllabus-ready treatment of the issue.

You want ethics of networked knowledge? Think about that for a minute — how much time we’ve all spent arguing, promoting our ideas, and how little time we’ve spent contributing to the general pool of knowledge.

Why? Because we’re infatuated with the stream, infatuated with our own voice, with the argument we’re in, the point we’re trying to make, the people in our circle we’re talking to.

People say, well yes, but Wikipedia! Look at Wikipedia!

Yes, let’s talk about Wikipedia. There’s a billion people posting what they think about crap on Facebook.

There’s about 31,000 active wikipedians that hold English Wikipedia together. That’s about the population of Stanford University, students, faculty and staff combined, for the entire English speaking world.

We should be ashamed. We really should."

"And so we come to the question of whether we are at a turning point. Do we see a rebirth of garden technologies in the present day? That’s always a tough call, asking an activist like me to provide a forecast of the future. But let me respond while trying not to slip into wishful analysis.

I think maybe we’re starting to see a shift. In 2015, out of nowhere, we saw web annotation break into the mainstream. This is a garden technology that has risen and fallen so many times, and suddenly people just get it. Suddenly web annotation, which used to be hard to explain, makes sense to people. When that sort of thing happens culturally it’s worth looking closely at.

Github has taught a generation of programmers that copies are good, not bad, and as we noted, it’s copies that are essential to the Garden.

The Wikimedia Education project has been convincing teachers there’s a life beyond student blogging.

David Wiley has outlined a scheme whereby students could create the textbooks of the future, and you can imagine that rather than create discrete textbooks we could engage students in building a grand web of knowledge that could, like Bush’s trails, be reconfigured and duplicated to serve specific classes … [more]
mikecaufield  federatedwiki  web  hypertext  oer  education  edtech  technology  learning  vannevarbush  katebowles  davecormier  wikipedia  memex  dynabook  davidwiley  textbooks  streams  gardens  internet  cv  curation  online  open  dlrn2015  canon  wikis  markbernstein  networks  collaboration  narrative  serialization  context  tumblr  facebook  twitter  pinboard  instagram  blogs  blogging  networkedknowledge  google  search  github  wardcunningham  mikhailbakhtin  ethics  bookmarks  bookmarking 
april 2016 by robertogreco
dLRN Conference 2015 Day 1
excited to hear this “embodied staff, affect, gender, status, and work”
dlrn15  federatedwiki  checkitout  cse627f15  edtech  dlrn  from twitter
october 2015 by zobelg
Federated Education: New Directions in Digital Collaboration | Hapgood
So Jim Groom, for example, was here two years ago giving the keynote, right? Now, Jim and I go back to 2007. We’ve been working and thinking in an area you can call EDUPUNK Connectivism for seven years.

I talk to Jim a lot — and we do it through comments, Twitter, and blog posts that reply to one another.

So what the what the web has done, and blog-like technologies in particular, is move these individual exchanges really quickly to externalization. Ninety percent of what Jim and I have talked about over the years is online, in public, where it’s findable, searchable. Others can benefit from it. Openness combined with these blog-like products — Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, whatever, makes externalization the default.

That’s progress. To be frank, that’s a TON of progress. But there’s a couple things that makes this approach less than ideal for broad dissemination of idea

When I look at this triangle, it seems to me that different technologies excel at different stages. Things like Evernote and Delicious or Diigo excel at that “I” part. Here you just take notes on what means something to you. And you don’t want it to be dialogic necessarily, because that ends up limiting what you capture. Start out by just caring about yourself, and you’ll actually capture more.

Twitter and blogging, on the other hand, excel at the dialogic and persuasive functions. Ideas ping around and reach unexpected people. Sometimes you even learn something.

For the expository phase, it’s wiki that excels. By cracking open ideas and co-editing them, we turn these time-bound, person-bound comments into something more expansive and timeless. We get something bigger than the single point of view, smarter than any single person.

So one thing I’m interested is how we create a system that allows information to flow in this way. One way might be to link up Evernote, Twitter, RSS Feeds and Wiki in a certain way.

Another way is to start at the end technology — in this case wiki — and look at what it would take to make it work better in the other stages, the I and the You, the personal and the dialogic.

So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to demonstrate a newer technology called federated wiki which allows the sort of communal wiki experience, but also supports those earlier stages of the knowledge life cycle.

In a traditional wiki, you have multiple people sharing a single server, and the server is the ultimate arbiter of what’s on the wiki. 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.

If you have a background in network theory, I think you’ll see immediately at how this inversion creates a sort of evolutionary ecosystem where we reach consensus not through arguing who gets to control a page on a specific server, but by seeing which versions of a page spread to where.

If you don’t have a background in network theory, I want you to forget this slide, and just watch what I’m going to do next. In my entire time talking about this I’ve found almost no one gets the massiveness of the architectural shift at first — I don’t want you to understand it, I just want you to know it’s there.

Ultimately, the theory is that this thing here is the “spontaneous order” engine that can move from the fragmented to the unified.

Federated Wiki14
Federated wiki is a new technology developed largely by the inventor of wiki, Ward
Cunningham. Like wiki, it encourages revision, reuse, and extension of community ideas.
However, it does this not through a centralized site, but through a federation of individually
owned wikis that fork text15, data, formulas, and media from one another. It has been called
“Github for Wiki,” but is perhaps better explained as a unique mix of blogging and wiki.
With Ward Cunningham’s assistance, Mike Caulfield (Washington State University Vancouver)
has been investigating the application of the technology to education. Historically, blogging
has provided a reflection and communication space for distributed courses. It is hoped that
federated wiki could provide a similar space in such courses for loosely coupled collaboration
and cooperation around text and data16. The “Fedwiki Happening” run in December 2014
explored the use of federated wiki in a distributed learning environment. This experiment
was a follow-up to the successful use of federated wiki in a traditional college class.
The results were intriguing. Happening participants were told to explore their academic or
professional interests on their own wiki, and to fork and edit elements of other participant
wikis if they found them useful to their own learning goals. In the Happening, rather than
have them reflect in social space, students were asked to engage in the “mining” of various
things they read for ideas, examples, and data that might be applied to other problems (in
this way, the wiki borrows from design patterns methodology in software). By abstracting
ideas and examples from texts, participants increased their understanding of the texts, and
by presenting the results in a modular way, they provided materials through which other
students could advance their own investigations. Even with the small number of participants,
a surprising number of serendipitous connections occurred.
Cunningham and other volunteer programmers are currently redesigning the software
based on feedback and analysis from the Fedwiki Happening and plan a retooling based
on the new educational focus.
wiki:federated  mikrobuch:edtech  mikrobuch:guerilla  federatedwiki  indieweb 
may 2015 by MicrowebOrg
Federated Education: New Directions in Digital Collaboration | Hapgood
Mike Caufield, keynote. The entry point for discussion onFedWiki. movement from I to you to we. "We’ve moved from the personal, to the dialogic, to the expository. We’re working on resources and ideas together rather than thumbs-up or thumbs-downing. Kind of lovely, right?"
sfw  federatedwiki  fedwiki  wiki  edtech 
december 2014 by mcmorgan

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