Saddest Tweets Ever

So this noose-Googlingly depressing exchange happened:

I was half-jesting, but this is like Superman and Batman preemptively just saying “no” to the Justice League. Lennon refusing to come together with McCartney. Hall telling Oates he can’t go for that.

Why is Mr. Lott such a sad man? Because—despite my efforts to “come back” to the education and technology fold—I’m just too tired for all the oh-so-wonderful projects that are oh-so-meta. The field of fucks from which I farm1 in service of feeding the maw of education and technology about education and technology is deeply depleted. Even perennials sometimes pass, never to return.

Field of Fucks

Don’t get me wrong…Thought Vectors and Rhizo and Happenings are awesome. And needed. By myself included. But they’re also education and technology ouroboroses, putting cool ideas to work in service of the field(s) from which those cool ideas spring. I’m not being dismissive of them, just observing their spiraling outlines. I’ll be embarking on something vaguely similar this summer, teaching a class on digital citizenship and intellectual property in the form of having students exploring being online in this heavily tech-mediated time. The work I link to is good—even great—work I can’t come close to (though I selfishly hope to adopt and adapt, co-opt and capitalize upon, without quite idolatrizing the makers).

But what I really want: I want these spotlights—my guiding lights—to swivel and shine on other parts of the world (I know, this isn’t the first time I’ve whined about this, nor will it be the last). I want Thought Vectors: the Milton Edition, putting the assertion that “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…” to the question. I want a Gothic Happening. I want RhizoMontaigne or cMOOC-MONTAIGNE exploring our essais and forays into mediated existence. How about DS (Digital Shakespeare) Turned-to-11: Be the Bard2? So many big boring open things out there (xMOOCS, I’m looking at you) about interesting stuff and so many exciting events/festivals out there celebrating, essentially, themselves and their grounded disciplines. Is there any taste for putting the two together for the groundlings with the telescope facing outward?


  1. Thanks to Sarah for sharing the image…perhaps I need to take up needlepoint. 
  2. I’m mixing apples and oranges with the DS 106 allusion, since it really isn’t about the technology or education, but I really want to taste the orapple of that model meeting Shakespeare (the writing, the history, the culture, the performances, the adapations). 

5 comments on “Saddest Tweets Ever

  1. Honestly, I’d love to do more stuff on various subjects. I want to do ones on Milton, and Physics, and the Physics of Milton. Federated wiki turns out to be really well suited for that.

    The problem is, frankly, that people don’t want to do the work. People have become a bit accustomed to coming to these things and reading only things that are immediately relevant to their job. We had a Teaching Machines Happening, for example, and we got pushback that B.F. Skinner was on the reading list. People didn’t want to read him, because he was wrong and life is too short. The thing nearly went off the rails b/c B.F. Skinner articles were on the reading list of a Teaching Machines Happening.

    This is one of the things that drives me nuts. The xMOOCs succeeded at becoming very big and even a bit interesting because they served the interest of people that didn’t mind someone telling them — hey, part of the deal of this class is you have to read X and do Y and because they suited people who might be OK learning new things for the joy of learning new things.

    Meanwhile we labor on these experiments, and the minute a connectivist MOOC might *require* one read Paradise Lost in a Milton course everyone is going to see it as fascist and run away. And I’m too old to read 50 blog posts by people who want to talk about Milton without re-reading him. Etc. I’d much rather take an edX MOOC where the methods may be crude but at least people are looking for a course that will push on them a bit.

    In any case, I wanted to do a series of subjects I’m not comfortable in for the next fedwikis, but my experience taught me we can’t do that on a volunteer basis with the people we’re pulling right now; it’s just not their interest.

    On a broader note, if we don’t tackle this problem — if we can’t build stuff that helps us learn THINGS WE SUCK AT, then we deserved to be thrashed by weak-tea posers and Silicon Valley brogrammers. We really do.

    If you find an answer to this, let me know. It is depressing the hell out of me.

  2. First off, I’m happy to add FNCLL to the “don’t miss” folder of my RSS reader. (Mr. Caulfield, above, already a staple).

    I uncharacteristically have a slightly less depressed take on this issue. Your observation reminded me of the early wave of “proto-moocs”, the CCK11s, the EDC&I831s, even the DS106s… I remember many of us feeling the same way… Like there was a compelling model here, that it represented a way of learning of the web rather than merely on the web. But, they were essentially ed tech self-examinations, dare I say ouroboroses (you sent me to a dictionary with that one, maybe I read it once in an erudite newsetter, but if I did it didn’t stick).

    And then, yes, came the venture capitalized xMOOCs to extend the idea. But it wasn’t all that. We also got some of the work highlighted in Connected Courses http://connectedcourses.net/courses/ (just discovered this amazing one http://www.lauraritchie.com/mus654/)… Also a few promising things at my previous gig (http://artsone-open.arts.ubc.ca/ http://videogame.law.ubc.ca/) and my current one (http://rmooc.ca/).

    My personal take at this moment is that we need to keep pushing and refining the technology and the models with “Thought Vectors and Rhizo and Happenings”, but also work to retrench, solidify, and extend the stuff we know how to do now. Making processes easier, making on-ramps more inviting, opening up spaces that more people feel like inhabiting… It’s not as sexy and exciting as breaking new ground, but when I am in an affirmative, non-wallowing place it’s where I want to put my energy right now.

  3. I’ll throw out a completely different one. There are a bunch of folks in Africa who want to learn about WordPress. Sounds mundane. But what if it was about expression? Or connection?

  4. I have to say, I had a real blast turning ds106 on The Wire last semester and noir this semester. It met the very need you outline here. A way to focus the creation and exploration on some of the best TV, texts and films of the 20th century. I, too, get bored with the MOOC about MOOCs. But more than anything, I just want to selfishly run classes on things I am compelled by. Next semester it is Tales from the Crypt 🙂

  5. I would have you on-Google that noose.

    In the general case, I hear your despair. That fallow field has occurred to me as well. There’s a reason I refer to academia’s slowness to experiment with digital possibilities as “the Soviet model of change.”

    But it is happening. Adjuncts – now the normative instructor – are more creative than their overlords. Younger faculty are more likely to experiment. The modes of possibility keep ramifying. And digital storytelling? It’s enough to make me consider the thought of a renaissance unfolding.

    In the specific case, I would love to do a Gothic happening, and have been thinking of ways to do this. Would you help?

    PS: note the optimism at the end of Gardner’s tweet. I’ll hold him to it.

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