Beyond WordPress

I missed this when Jim put it up, but Martha Burtis’s keynote abstract is up for the Domains conference:

Four years into Domain of One’s Own, I wonder if we are at an inflection point, and, if so, what we will do to respond to this moment. At its onset, Domains offered us paths into the Web that seemed to creatively and adequately address a perception that we weren’t fully inhabiting that space. Our students could carve out digital homes for themselves that were free of the walled gardens of the LMS. Our faculty could begin to think of the Web not as a platform for delivering content but as an ecosystem within which their teaching could live and breathe. In doing so, perhaps we would also engage our communities in deeper conversations about what the Web was and how we could become creators rather than merely consumers of that space. But in those four years, as in any four years, our popular culture, our technical affordances, and our political landscape has continued to march forward. How does Domain of One’s Own grow into and with these changes? Where do we take this project from here so that we continue to push the boundaries or our digital experiences? How do we address the ever-looming tension between building something sustainable while also nurturing new growth?

I’m excited to hear this keynote, not just because Martha is one of the most thoughtful people in this space, but because for me this one of the big questions.

The core of open education for me is that we learn together by sharing what we know to the network. But a lot of open tool use is not about learning, but about creating in-groups and out-groups. A lot of internet activity is not about sharing what one knows but about telling others what to think.

Some of that is fine — I’m telling you what to think now, in a certain way. But balance is key. The projects I’ve admired most in this space over the past couple years — from UMW to Plymouth State to VCU — have been the projects that have used technology to do the sort of things that expressive platforms like Facebook can’t do. Ones that model the behaviors that are more likely to stop fake news rather than propagate it. Ones that engage students in the activities that increase the web’s usefulness to communities and citizens. But they are few and far between for reasons both technological and cultural. (I could write a book about the difficulties with my own Digital Polarization wiki project, for example).

Anyway, really looking forward to this talk.

2 thoughts on “Beyond WordPress

  1. Thanks for the shoutout and the vote of confidence — and for, as always, pushing my thinking further. Your talk last week helped clarify a particular aspect of what I want to explore: consumption vs creation. Considering these two activities as opposite activities (or complimentary activities) is helpful, but I’m also interested in when we create through consumption and vice versa. I’m not entirely sure what that means yet, but I’m hoping to explore the idea during this keynote. Unless I, you know, totally change my mind and rework my slides the night before. 😀

    • Ha! Yeah, about that…. 😉

      I had a rant a while back that we used to call “consumption” “reading” and actually thought it was a pretty cool skill to have. I’ve landed in this middle ground lately which sounds sort of related to your thoughts — the idea of a conscious reading that seeks less to express than to leave a helpful trail for the next reader. Hypothes,is, annotated poetry collections, DigiPo. And of course that’s tied to Vannevar Bush where the act of reading and discovery and thinking is an act of creation, but in this somewhat egoless way we’ve become unfamiliar with in a world defined by retweets and likes.

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