17 October 2010

Power/privilege, the social web and ed tech

Recently, in one galaxy of the metaverse I was following a conversation in which a blogger who critiques educational technology discourses received some attention from a couple of their pundits. It was some talk-back to her talking back. She then blogged about that attention a couple of times, commenting followed, and I chimed in 2-cents solely on the meta-discourse, the power/privilege dynamic I observed.

My close reading of this intimate-public moment is of an exchange evidencing the power/privilege dynamic of the web in our field. And my goal here is to disrupt the educational technology discourses suggesting that the social web is a democratizing social space1 (or has the potential to be one), different from the materiality of our social lives. Speaking of the social web generally, power/privilege dynamics abound in examples such as cyber-rape and -bullying, and the development of the gated-community-like social networking culture of Facebook.2

In the example above, the author, Lisa positions herself as not-an-equal in saying, "someone with my experience freaking out, what must less experienced bloggers feel? I realize that Dr Couros himself thrusts us into the limelight via Twitter. .  ."  Naming and titles matter here, and in educational circles. Readers and posters interact with a conversation between names and a title: Lisa and Dr. Couros, indicating a power-relationship which is reiterated with the statement that Dr. Couros has the ability to thrust Lisa and others into the limelight with his social power.   

I unfollowed Alec Couros' and quite a few other ed-techie tweeters because they took up too much screen space and drained my nervous system. And if I were more invested in gaining social capital in mainstream discourses, I might not dare say that I did. Too late.  To close, let me say that my critiques here aren't of Alec or Lisa personally, but of the social dynamics we find ourselves in today. 

1 See Lanier http://books.google.com/books?id=sqNWqEB8Ie0C&printsec=frontcover
Roszak. http://www.amazon.com/Cult-Information-Neo-Luddite-Artificial-Intelligence/dp/0520085841

2 See danah boyd such as http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html