Media Ecology Musings

The media is the message. How very apt for Second Life. I’m just begining to graple with these things and feeling like I’ve been asleep at the wheel. Since i’m new to blogging, the blogosphere is overwhelming. I’m one of those people for whom 1 + 1 = one.
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So muddling along, what I wanted to add to the discussion from the other night with Bob Logan, is a comment ascribed to St. Augustine. Namely, that he was aware for the first time that he could read without speaking–that he could do what we call ‘reading to ourselves.’ This comment really blew my mind in the context of evolving consciousness. It seems a necessary precursor to the famed subject/object dichotomy in Western thought. Has anyone else ever heard of this comment by St. Augustine? I wonder. If we cast our minds back to a world where the word = the thing, naming as a human act of spontaneous creation, how far we have travelled! Witness the proliferation of words and blogs. Here we are in numerous ecologies. We are becoming aware of ecologies and out interdependence within them. We are creating new communities. We are synthesizing anew our compartmentalized reality.
Going back to the discussion with Bob, and the moveable type printing press, which appeared shortly after St Augustine, a suggestion of the democratization of knowledge accompanied this paradigm shift. The oral traditions passed from the mystic past were codified and subject to manipulation and monopoly by the Church. Now with books the many could have access, potentially, to what was the domain of the few. The vestiges of this monopoly remain today in the cult of the faculty–but it is changing fast!

—I know this is somewhat muddled, i warned you.

Bob Logan mentioned we are on the cusp of something. Clearly something is occuring in terms of this new media of the internet, blogging, web 2.0. If this media environment is the message, as I struggle to comes to terms with its meaning, another paradigm shift is upon us. Because I am in an educational environment, I feel it in the need of my pedagogy to evolve. The realization that students are no longer consumers–as the catch word goes (one that always bothered me)–but now are contributors, changes everything.

So I have to take this the next step, –most likely way too much for one blog–it follows in my non-linear thinking that the ultimate contribution of an individual would be their reality, i.e., virtual reality. So when i stumbled upon Second Life what impressed me most was the creative prowess of the platform.

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So in some way the circle has come round reinvesting our naming facility with the power to create in this new environment.
This is what I call ‘virtual being.’

I have one last part to add to this. Working in a rural impoverished college I am concerned with equity. That’s why the ‘democratization of knowledge’ is of interest. My responsibilty to my students (and myself) is to prepare them for a better, more enlightened future. A certain urgency accompanies this given the state of the world ecology. Socially the implication reverberates around the world in terms of class and opportunity. Richard Florida’s apt characterization of the emergent ‘creative class’ could not be more relevant. Here a separation is occuring before our very eyes. Social networking consists of contributors. The consumers are passivley receiving, watching television if you will. The emergent creative class is contributing.