Manifesto for Teaching Online – Aphorism No. 9 – “Visual and hypertextual representations allow argument to emerge, rather than be stated- Part 2.”

In his Ph.D. thesis, ‘A taxonomy of link types for use in hypertext‘ Kopak (2000; p. 3-4) lends us an refreshingly straight-forward and adequate definition of hypertext. He sees it:

“simply as a form of electronic writing that enables purposeful connections (links) to be made between discrete pieces of information (nodes) … Ordinarily, the link meaning may be left implicit, in which case the reader is left to his or her own fortune to interpret the intended relationship between the information in the nodes bridged by the link… link types are intended to answer the question of why, or for what purpose, the target information is linked to the source information.”

Like many innovation in media, there have many enthusiastic pundits for hypertext. The first was probably Ted Nelson who coined the term, although Vannevar Bush also features strongly in accounts of the history of hypermedia through his famous Memex vision of information access, manipulation and retrieval given in a much cited article in The Atlantic Magazine in 1945.

There are others who have noted that margins, references and citations, sidenotes, footnotes and endnotes, have long served the purpose of augmenting a main body of text going back to the earliest religious texts such as the Talmud. Their aim was to link, index, cross reference and otherwise organise and augment knowledge in its partials so as to drive more effective and affective reading and deeper understanding. Maria Popova in her ‘Brainpickings’ website has curated a number of examples of ‘Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity’. She notes that such practices have went on since the 14th century evidenced by the production of florilegium – writing about other writings.

Bush in his 1940s visualisation put forward his technology based solution to this problem. Bush, coined the term ‘Memex’, short for memory extension, as a pre-cursor to how first, the internet, then Google has been used. Of course it is not a personal memory which is drawn upon, but rather a collective memory which can be accessed that contains facts, figures, and information to make informed choices, and discussion and demonstrations on how to do things. They were made to be ‘ready-to-hand’. Basically the objective of the devices, footnotes, hypertext links and so on is to make possibilities for further explanation and exposition and the like possibly and ready-to-hand. This brings to bear the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, who coined “present-at-hand” to refers to how things are given to us in mere perception, without any reference to their usefulness.

When something is given as present-at-hand, they are viewed as merely theoretical, i.e. having knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Heidegger accuses his teacher Husserl of placing too much emphasis on this form of givenness.

Converely ‘ready-to-hand’, refers to how something is given to us with a certain practical significance. As “ready-to-hand”, things are given “in-order-to” accomplish something else. Heidegger’s favorite example is the hammer. When I see a hammer, I do not reflect on its essence as a hammer, but see it immediately as a tool to accomplish some end.

Heidegger claims that things are given initially as “ready-to-hand” before they are given as “present-at-hand”. Our basic relationship to the world is practical and instrumental, rather than theoretical. In this way, Heidegger puts “practice” before “theory”, or “philosophy of life” before “transcendental philosophy.” We find ourselves first of all thrown into the world and engaged in it before we able to step back and contemplate it. We “do” before we “think.” The idea of the Memex was to make information converge with the needs of the user.

Inner working's of the Memex

It is only now that we are moving away from a legacy solution deriving from the 19th century – the QWERTY typewriter keyboard and even the much more recent mouse as a means to working with digitized and screen based digitized text, graphics and video. Touch screen devices and applications are coming to to the fore and demanding new forms of interaction behavior particularly the rest that we throw aware our keyboards and mice. There is also the pervasion of invisible forms of computing where we do not consciously interaction at all with any device, although just how we read and input writing has yet to be defined. This request certainly threatens it, but will we not be blind given only visual forms of communicating? Many have tried to develop novel interfaces, but keyboard and mouse persist.

However, it may also entail at the opposite extreme, our entire immersion into digitised worlds is what was promised in the early 1990s by virtual reality and neural interfaces. But it is clear that pure automated information exchange, garnering and gathering between sensors, devices and databases constitute an “Internet of Things” will only address certain needs and requirements of people and institutions. Given the persistence of text as the main vehicle for the organising and articulating thought, how we input and read text will likely remain tied to the keyboard for some time.

IT developments have been at the forefront of both specialist and public interest for many years, and part of this is what they purport to be able to do, and sometimes what they do actually do. Hypertext is no exception. In the 1960s Nelson spoke of the “about the imminent overthrow of everything” and the “earth-shattering significance of their work.” But largely he failed to capitalise on his Project Xanadu which he began in the early 1960s, Hypertext’s more modest and practical realisation came in 1980s leading up to it incorporation in Apple’s much lauded HyperCard application which came free with every Macintosh in 1987. Hypertext also manifested in a system called Enquire [itself modeled upon a Victorian encyclopedia of everyday life] that inspired Tim Berners-Lee for the structure of the world wide web in 1991.

“Enquire short for Enquire Within Upon Everything, named after a Victorian book of that name full of all sorts of useful advice about anything – was something I found really useful for keeping track of all the random associations one comes across in Real Life and brains are supposed to be so good at remembering but sometimes mine wouldn’t. It was very simple but could track those associations which would sometimes develop into structure as ideas became connected, and different projects become involved with each other.” Tim Berners Lee

The strong rhetoric made us wonder again if we were yet again on an epoch of new understanding of the world enabled by technology: “because hypertext has the power to change the way we understand and experience texts, it offers radical promises and challenges to students, teachers and theorists of literature” (Landow, 1989, p. 174; quoted in Foltz, 1996). The novelist Salman Rushdie’s protagonist Saleem Sinai’s presents p[art of his conception of reality thus:

[We] are obsessed with correspondences. Similarities between this and that, between apparently unconnected things, make us clap our hands delightedly when we find them out. It is a sort of national longing for form – or perhaps simply an expression of our deep belief that forms like hidden within reality; that meaning reveals itself only in flashes (Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children, 1981: p.300)

Many literary commentators linked hypertext itself, to emerging ideas and ideologies such as postmodernism which was becoming a regnant force in critical studies, its non-linearity, reflexivity and relativism, all ideas in themselves that were fast becoming oxymorons describing realities not packaged in neat positivist cause and effect terms, but favouring subjectivity and decentralization ontologies marked by an interest marked by moving within messiness, chaos and emergence.

Like many other innovations in IT before and after it hypertext could be accused of being hyped by its protagonists. A voice of reason was David Dobrin (1994) who in a chapter termed directly “Hype and Hypertext “ dispensed with the idea of the death of the author, the freedom of the reader, and the cognitive equivalence between hypertext and the human mind. He choose instead to focus upon navigation as the defining characteristic of hypertext.

As hypertext allows participants to choose optional paths through multimedia, participants can construct and respond to hypermedia interactively. This interaction is reduced to either following the link or not, but they do allow a kind of freedom of semantic and information movement and association that had never been possible before. Dorbin noted that the existence of extra knowledge is signaled, say, by the text being a different colour [blue?] or underlined, but whether it is appropriate or ‘worth the effort or not’.

Now this rather modest perspective of hypertext most definitely contrasts with the pundits perspective, and it is true to say that some, such as David Kolb and others have attempted to use hypertext creatively to create pieces of work. But if we consider some more recent examples of the use of web based hypertext use we see a much simpler, straightforward and functional use. This definition serves two men, football enthusiasts, arguing about the European Cup in 1978. Who won? One proposes Liverpool, whilst the other argues Nottingham Forrest. In the past such debates would be opened to a consensus agreement between other knowledgeable fans, or maybe referencing a book. But they are far from home; they are by a river in Cambodia.

But the bet is on and it is settled as one Googles the question on his phone. It gives him the link and options for many others. Not only that he finds out “for sure” who won, he also finds out on which basis they won, which lays the foundation for the next question: ‘who scored the winning goal’. If his friend gets it right then it’s quits. Potentially, they could have embarked on a train of thought, a virtual odyssey, by asking who else were playing that day, what the weather was like, who the manger was, how many people were in the crowd, what they sang, what they drunk, where the came from, how they were, what they worked at, how long they had been supporting this team, how the pound was doing against the dollar then, what was on TV after the game, the state of the economy at that time, and so forth. They have never used “I’m feeling lucky” button which delivers random subjects. Are they simply using it, or interacting with it as a argument emerges? It is clear that they have learned not only to use Google but also hypertext, but do they even know what the term means?

Useful knowledge? Usefulness is of course in the eye of the [user] perceiver. “Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes. Wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.” – Anonymous

I think about this quote often. I’m not sure if that is the exact definition of both words, but it is a powerful concept either way. Let’s say the definition above is true. Intelligence is critical. People who notice “patterns” more quickly than others and learn from their own mistakes or successes are those we consider intelligent. Over time, by learning from what is occurring around them, they can react more quickly and accurately than the average person.

Intelligent people gather “knowledge” and “ability” through daily life and their own experiences. Most of us have some idea of what separates and connects the notions of intelligence, wisdom, knowledge and cleverness. It takes a certain level of humility to allow your own preconceived notions to be challenged, and let unmitigated information mold your beliefs. “Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes. Wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.” – Anonymous

I think about this quote often. I’m not sure if that is the exact definition of both words, but it is a powerful concept either way. Let’s say the definition above is true. Intelligence is critical. People who notice “patterns” more quickly than others and learn from their own mistakes or successes are those we consider intelligent. Over time, by learning from what is occurring around them, they can react more quickly and accurately than the average person.

Intelligent people gather “knowledge” and “ability” through daily life and their own experiences. It takes a certain level of humility to allow your own preconceived notions to be challenged, and let unmitigated information mold your beliefs. When Aristotle classified knowledge he categorized three different types Episteme (scientific), Techne (Skill and crafts) and Phronesis (Wisdom).

Episteme (Scientific knowledge) Episteme means “to know” in Greek. This is the kind of knowledge you get from for example books it tells you about the world and how it works, this is the theory of something. This is explicit knowledge that is easy to store and transmit to others. Good example of explicit knowledge (Episteme) is Wikipedia or encyclopedias.
Techne (Skill and craft knowledge) The Greek work Techne translates to craftsmanship, craft, or art. People are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others, that is, it remains tacit, . This kind of knowledge is not easy to share; you have to learn it yourself by practice. This includes riding a bicycle, swimming, tying one;s shoes. This type of knowledge is of very common in software development and comes with experience.
Phronesis (Practical wisdom) Phronesis means practical wisdom in Greek, Aristotle distinguishes between sophia and phronesis. Phronesis is “wisdom to take counsel, to judge the goods and evils and all the things in life that are desirable and to be avoided, to use all the available goods finely, to behave rightly in society, to observe due occasions, to employ both speech and action with sagacity, to have expert knowledge of all things that are useful” Sophia (translated to wisdom) is the ability to think well about the nature of the world, discovering systems why the world is the way it is. Sophia is the ability to find universal truths and theories. Phroneses is the ability to realize how a specific goals or value is reached – in short learning by doing. Phroneses includes aspects of a situation, critical analytical reflection and for scrutinizing knowledge systems, practices and impacts of goals which easily are take for granted. When having the needed “Episteme” and “Techne” of a specific domain you can develop the capability to find the “right answer” in a particular situation, which is what phronesis is about.

These should categories were not absolute in the minds of the Greeks. Even Aristotle, who delineated the differences refers to technê or craft as itself also epistêmê or knowledge because it is a practice grounded in an ‘account’ — something involving theoretical understanding. Phronesis also combines a capability of rational thinking, with a type of knowledge. On the one hand it requires the capability to rationally consider actions which can deliver desired effects.

Beyond Descarte’s “I think therefore I am” and Bacon’s “Knowledge is power” (quantifiable knowledge), knowledge building is the essence of constructivism. A ground is set, a gauntlet laid, and it’s settled with access. People still like to be seen as intelligent, reasonable, reasoning, skilful, experienced and knowledgeable but this is taking on new relevance since London Taxi drivers [non-academic laypeople who study for their own interest or pleasure] won Mastermind. So gratification is perhaps the right term. They are all positive traits. A long list of disconnected facts, associated facts, extension or expansion of meaning, moving through a semantic space gat. But this is dead-end fact finding. Put in the keyword and the link is presented to you. It is much as the idea of Sven Birkert in The Guttenberg Elegies (1995), when he considers the gathering importance, becoming a trend becoming a FAQ.

Linkage between print and the exercise of the historical imagination. He views that “Narrative is a form of thinking deeply bound up with the technology of print and the experience of reading. Hypertext and the Net will erode that sense of time as a continuous deposit of inscribed memory which underlies our sense of history:” Birkerts notes that younger students are struggling through older classics, not because the Internet has made us stupid, but because our n norms and notions of acceptable sexual behaviour, gender and family roles, and all of the other things that make up everyday life have changed so dramatically that the situations and character responses seem no longer seem plausible to the modern era, even to the young.

This can be related to this over various registers. People often remembered things because of their intrinsic interest in a subject, football, Gauguin’s painting, dog breeding, D.I.Y. and so on. This knowledge was consolidated by interest, built and tended to through interest. It was a part of one’s private identity. Novels only began to appear about 300 years ago [Robinson Crusoe is one title amongst the claims for the first English novel published in 1719], and the genre became the subject of a moral panic mainly through fierce denunciations from moral leaders, who saw this new entertainment as a corrupter of souls, an unwholesome distraction from more serious (i.e., Biblical) reading. Birkerts neglects the similarly short history of the private reading private reading experience, itself a luxury, a conspicuous consumption of the upper and rising middle classes of the past two centuries. Those who sought to differentiate themselves through their education and consumption, and who could afford literacy, leisure, and the light to read by. Those with the appropriate cultural capital [Bourdieu].

Now armed with Google one can be knowledgeable in all subjects, and you publicly announce and display your interests, although with, and declared interests on facebook profiles so not show the depth and precise nature of your interests which can remain unknown, and in a sense you are actually displaying your consumption or these, issues, people including celebrities, interests and items. It is easy then to fire things off to you such as Liverpool F.C. paraphernalia. I am also pointedly aware, as I sit here my twitter feeds raining in links and snippet glosses, that I am incapable of sorting tweets out, there are so many on them, are we only looking at the impressionistic level in this [linear according to Time’s arrow] and relentless procession of information? How will anything remotely like a ‘classic’ emerge from this Malthusian glut? Will we consolidate within the ever-expanding cloud, an ever-expanding corpus of data, information and depictions to be contributed to, and drawn from, drowning in the web? Its all about ‘the now’ – real time and immediacy – what is trending ‘now’ more relevant than what was trending last week, or what has trended most over the last 5 years? What happens when that is news regarding the Kashadians or cats videos?

We can go after specific knowledge, or simply let knowledge come to us. Internet push technologies aimed to supply dynamic updated information, and the technology evangelist Nicholas Negroponte, spoke of “the daily me’, which raised concerns regarding information spaces and feeds which were perhaps too customized, too personalized, limiting serendipity by what was available and what was found and what could be imagined.

They would create an ‘echo-chamber’ and rather reducing, channeling and narrowly defining horizons in their efforts to individualize, at the expense of the social, and moreover, the cornucopia of knowledgeable and learning on the internet. Taking this to the extreme what we speaking here is of the football supporter. His self-acclaimed passion is his team. he spends a lot of time conversing with others in his social network, analysing and arguing with them about last Sunday’s match with others, some he knows personally and face-to-face and others that he only knows online. What happens to the team in the evening or the weekend affects him emotionally, but he, and his social network, can never affect the game, no matter how intensely they feel. No matter how great his team were or are, they still constitute a very small world of possibilities and discussion points, certainly compared to the much larger universe of possible actions and thoughts that exists beyond the trails and tribulations of football.

The implications of such a personalized indoctrination of likes and favorites, suggests a programming of the self, memory and imagination which not only takes us away from the real social context of our existence, to a virtual one. There is also an issue of moral development which requires a much wider command of a ‘general knowledge’ or ‘liberal arts’ – something to take us way, way out of the box, take us on a tour there, then return us, all without trauma or foaming at the mouth – to lend us background that in turn provides the experiential fodder we need to make genuine moral and ethical choices. The internet has greatly increased people’s ability to “filter” what they want to read, see, and hear. We are our own editors and gatekeepers and there are more intense feeds, multiple feeds on some subjects than others.

Mark Slouka (1995) “… the world provides context, and without context, ethical behavior is impossible.” (p. 13) Neil Postman (1990) also reiterates that: “in a world without spiritual or intellectual order, nothing is unbelievable; nothing is predictable, and therefore, nothing comes as a particular surprise.” (p. 5). This leads us to two conclusions, unanticipated and serendipitous encounters, involving topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find irritating, are central to democracy and even to freedom itself. Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a society with heterogeneous interests will have a more difficult time addressing social problems and building understanding. We need only consider the successes and failures of multiculturalism in Europe which is under great scrutiny right now to consider the implications. We often prefer information that confirms our prejudices. Once we find and subscribe to it it serves to reinforce these prejudices. Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough (2009) considers the outcomes are of diverging social realities, created by specifically in the consumption of current events media and attendant sociopolitical perceptions.

But all the above ditties regarding football form context, but not all this information is hyperlinked, there are limits to even the Internet, there are lacunae. Nor is it perhaps deemed of interest, or relevant, or necessary. We are held in what we can see, what we have interest in, what we can imagine by our backgrounds and circumstances, and pre-existing knowledge. Editorial control doesn’t just rest with a Board of Censors, the views of the owner, the ideologies of the politicians, the judiciary, the law and its enforcement, the lecture notes of the teacher, the material and component choices of the designer, the colours of the artist.

The power of editing or leaving things out, the film on the cutting room floor, is itself limited to who is receiving, those who will decode and interpret the material. In the past this has meant as the challenge for intellectuals and aware others, the tacit and explicit job of imagining what was omitted, or left out, rather than simply a glib rendering, and naïve acceptance of what was presented.
Perhaps need new strategies to open up our thinking, go deeper, employ packets of critical thinking and curiosity to search deeper, and go deeper, to get to the answer, to build a fuller picture. We seem to have a profusion of technologies to help us decode and understand better the social web, and our and others interaction with it. Largely they are brute numbers, statistical analysis, pointing us to the best people, and best sites, and subjects that are trending, which we must get on the bandwagon with if our voice will have any chance of ever being heard. Is this any different to the realizations of the industrial age, with its economies of scale making you mighty, and advertising muscle and PR making you omnipotent and apparently the only show in town? Even, A.N. Other, who was sitting in seat 3b in the North Stand could become a focus of interest, say, if one was writing a creative piece of non-fictional literature on that event.

It could set the scene talking of that particular fan, bringing them to attention as ‘the ordinary joe’, the orthodox straw man that everyone can relate to, or even better a newsworthy female motor mechanic or some other exception to the orthodox expectation, interviewing them, learning more from their memories, making them of focus, expanding them to be a node rather than a sideshow. We could imagine a scenario where every word and picture was linked, the links themselves dependent on who was reading, so that the links on this page were not under my editorial control but rather your profile characteristics.

But has it all been captured, coded, managed and digitalized yet? What about all the material held own experiments which failed or showed the null hypothesis which is supposed to be on file and on demand. Is it available online? Typically no, there has some tidying up, ring fencing, some fierce editorial control or curation regarding what is available to access and that we can develop knowledge of in the first place. Matters of public interest will always supersede individual stories, the public interest being defined by the power structures of media. But it is still wish lists and choice cuts. People often give to us what they want to give, and for a multitude of reasons – financial, ideological, political, religious, or dog-eared self-interest.

In ‘Television-Technology and Cultural Form‘, Raymond Williams illustrated how current television programming strategies helped to cloud our understanding of society, but he also pointed out the democratic potential of new developments in the mass media. His analysis is weakened, however, by a persistently naive belief that that control of the media is decided by a process of debate or negotiation. The power structures that existed to create and edit what we saw, and what we read, were and remain powerful and channeled. They contrast still with the potentials for new media to fragment and posit oppositional or alternatives views. Again, the choices are not infinite. Williams also offers us the another important aspect which significantly contributes to the finding of things – that is the keyword.

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” so said Adam snith in the Wealth of Nations but other forms of narrow-minded instrumentalism include: déformation professionnelle, a French term for “looking at things from the point of view of one’s profession”, and regulatory capture, the tendency for regulators to look at things from the point of view of the profession they are regulating. It also means the shift from from self-interest rather the public’s interest. This way of viewing the world also links with the notion of Maslow’s hammer or the golden hammer, “a familiar technology or concept applied obsessively to many software problems”, has been introduced into the information technology literature in 1998 as an anti-pattern: a programming practice to be avoided. The implication is that professional training, and its related socialization, often results in a distortion of the way one views the world the law of the instrument. It is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” quoted Abraham Maslow, scientists like designers want, need, their experiments to be successful, and they will publish as such. They put energy and concerted effort into believing in them as well as self-fulfilling prophecy in working on them. We can also generalize and say that there are also limits to what we can experience, what we can consume, just as there are limits, to what physical or cognitive skills we can perform. Practice does make perfect, but being ‘a natural’ is also welcome. But sometimes we are out of our depth, and here extension comes in useful.

In another case, an English friend has a small baby who wasn’t feeling so well. Medical care is ropey here, and most people use the pharmacist to advise on medicines. Obviously, we ex-pats who come from traditions of good or adequate health care are nervous of this casual approach, but necessity is the mother of invention and in matters where it is not a full out medical emergency, we have to ad-lib as does the local. There are also language difficulties. Most pharmacists and medical staff are trained in French and medicines are typically in the French language. Most English speaking foreigners’ double check medicines on the Internet before taking them, with special attention to side-effects and so forth. In short, and especially in times of need or urgency we repair to our expectations of what should be provided only to meet something which can be quite, quite different.

In this case it was very pertinent; the medicines given were not intended for use by children, let alone babies. After some further, deeper, Google research they were able to find a suitable alternative. A further example is another friend who built his own house, including doing all the plumbing and wiring based on information and examples given on the internet. He was able to supervise contractors who resort to irregular practices which are practices widely, which are adequate, but would have required regular maintenance, and carried significant safety risk (such as not using ‘Y’ connectors in the plumbing system or an electrical earth in the wiring system). There is no argument here, just blind acceptance that the global, north and western techniques wisdom and beliefs are superior or better thought out, more socially responsible and accountable [modern].

In these use cases, we can clearly acknowledge the usefulness of having knowledge to hand, being able to find it and use it. Such navigation hardly merits the idea that an argument is emerging, rather it is most definitely stated. The nature of discovery on the internet is for the large part a taken for granted now, by those who witnessed the raid development of the web and those who are perhaps more representatives of Prensky’s proposition of ‘digital natives’ (although I understand he himself is now disputing some of his pure-play views on just what this means). But in a sense this is perhaps its undoing as a device for developing argument. We know that scientific discovery and scholarly research moves, for the most part, in varying but incremental steps, with each new step or discovery laying the foundations for future work. This is rather like the way in which internet research proceeds. Moving from one link to another search to another keyword – each reaping text, graphics, video and images, or even online discussion on a matter of interest, each of these steps could conceivably represent a link, as it branches, but should lose the plot. The boundaries have to be set by the user.

We naturally expect a link to be associated with the knowledge at hand; we expect a button to do what it says, or a graphic or pictures to extend rationally the topic or subject. We expect that by breaking things down to their individual components we can understand how it is all made up. In other cases we immerse ourselves in the kaleidoscopic world of the cloud and see what the oracle in our mind distils or precipitates. Twitter offers us a merry-go-round of links to blogs, web pages, images, videos and all other material online that can fuel this. We follow those that follow interests that we have, we hope we are flowed by those who like our distillations, our precipitations, our curations. But we wouldn’t like it if we were searching medicine in a state of panic, only to be given who won the European Cup in 1978, or perhaps worse but equally frustrating, who was sitting in seat 3b in the North Stand that day. No, like bike riding we have various, built, learned or expectations regarding what we can find on explicit and tacit levels, there has to be a thread, a passage through this labyrinth, made for us or made by us. The very definition of a person can be viewed as the contents of their hard drive, the sites they have visited or the re-tweets they have made.

But in the social sciences, perhaps more than the natural sciences, a microcosm of a paradigm shift when you suddenly find that what you think was important is suddenly dwarfed against a onslaught of work deriving from work done in another social or human science. For instance something novel in psychology could be a well hackneyed part to play in the literature in Anthropology, new developments and discoveries in neuroscience can also give relief to psychological and educational theories. When you map out the route of a particular strand of research, you rarely find a linear path. There would be no point otherwise, research would become redundant. It moves ever on, that ‘this’’ becomes an important context to ‘that, ‘’that’ is eclipsed by ‘this’ event, and ‘that’ is only relevant within this situation, in ‘these’ circumstance or ‘that’ environment, which also gives rise to ‘that’…. And so on.

Google can follow you through such a process however, it is limited, and where exactly do we set the boundaries. – This may be the most important questions ever asked, not only in learning and knowledge acquisition, but more generally in terms of where humanity is pointing, against the prospect of environmental issues, the melding and blurring of computers and the human condition, gemology, synthetic biology, and nano-technology. This techno-scientific world of germ-free labs and dust-free workshops, plays off against the world depicted by Bey in the starting quote of the last post “Life – and the body – are “full of holes”, permeable, grotesque – ad hoc constructions already compromised with an impure empiricism, fated to “drift”, to “relativism”, and to the sheer messiness of the organic.” “

This relativism blinds and dwarfs by an expanding universe of personalities, repetitions, precipitations and lowest common denominators This is the wars and poverty and Aboriginal issues which still play out, indeed take centre stage in the public consciousness. The strange world we are rhizomically hyperlinking into both technically and semantically only contains weak and liquid links, dead links, more of the not the same, but it all still seems like a sideshow put against the blood and guts, the horror and traumatic agony of keeping fuel prices low enough so people do not riot that manner to which they have become accustomed or promised is threatened.

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