Home from the FLNW tour and man! am I tired.
The picture on the left represents one of the most significant realisations for me.
A realisation to do with ideas of groups, class, networks, individualism, and connectedness.
Right from the start, Stephen Downes objected to being expected to participate in the group. It wasn't the participation that was the issue, it was the expectation. That there is an important thing to point out, it is the seed of something significant in what a future for learning could be, if we manage to understand the notion of network.
Of course, it was easy to take offense at Stephen's resistance to participate, it seemed out right rude not to join the group, but that's because I wasn't seeing what he was trying to say. By objecting to the expectation, I felt as though he was objecting to participate. That wasn't so. Stephen was resisting the formation of a group, arguing that it is the group that prevents individual connectedness. Are you confused? I sure was, and so were many others. But I've come to realise that this is a very important point Stephen was trying to make. I think it is well illustrated by the photo. Because of the obligation to the group, individual connections can too easily be over looked.
The day after that photo was taken, we went to Auckland to meet people at the University of Technology. It was there, where I spread myself thinly across an even larger group, that Stephen moved to the side and drew this diagram. It was the first time that he had taken the time to represent his thoughts and actions on the issue, and the first time I took the time to properly consider it.
I helped Stephen to video record his explanation of this diagram. In it he attempts to clarify his objections by defining what he sees as the make up of a group, and how that differs importantly from a network. A group demands unity, where a network requires diversity. A group requires coordination, where a network is autonomous. A group is by its nature closed, where a network is open. The information in a group is distributed, where in a network it is in the connections...