Summary tumblog: Distance No Object

These past three months have seen a lively mashup, with the WordPress micro-blog one of the main (but not exclusive) platforms for curating reflection, discussion, annotation and building on theoretical perspectives.

Posts can be classed around the intimate interaction of authored and appropriated digital texts, images and sounds, illustrating my experience and understanding of digital culture.

One of my diagrams on my blog [i], based on Gillian Rose’s chapter on analysing visual culture[ii], can be used as a framework for this evaluation, stretching my tumblog from an ‘authored’ text (narrative) to a ‘visual and audio’ assemblage (composition).


There have been many online interactions[iii] and particular highlights for me were the Pinterest board [iv] on the MOOC and the ethnographic study [v] on Rothko and YouTube. Both illustrated the interaction of technical affordances with community building, via the creation of narratives, appropriating digital images and evaluating online presence in the landscape of social media. I also enjoyed Thinglink [vi] and Vuvox [vii] which displayed my first attempts at visualising a rhizome in an online environment.


Thinking about the ‘material qualities of an image or visual object and their strategies’ (Rose, 2007, p 13) my postings of text and images are in response to the literature whereby a number of personally selected themes emerged: sound, metaphors, mobility, community, space, flatness, aesthetics, alloy, authorship, metaphor, geography, boundary, speed, network, aggregation, assemblage, visuality, dialogue, topology, rhizome. In particular the YouTube ethnography gave me the idea of mapped activity, borrowing ideas from geography and chemistry.

Sterne’s article renewed my interest in a previous course I did on the use of sound in cinematography and will be considered in the next assignment.


The most challenging readings covered aspects of posthumanities and how we see ourselves situated within online spaces, extended into our physical realms. For me, the utopian/dystopian understandings were consolidated in Shield’s article updating Harraway’s position on cyborgs. Another milestone reading occurred with Gough’s paper and Deleuze & Guattari’s chapter on rhizomatic behaviour.

What’s next?

One objective for taking this final module was to prepare for the MSc dissertation, with the need to distil a focus (hence the themes) regarding online aesthetic spaces. Gough’s paper crystallised the methodology embedded in the rhizomatic flow between aesthetic experience derived from the temporal observation of digitised artworks and how we experience the topology of these constructed pervasive spaces. This notion of spatiality, speed and mobility and how these are (metaphorically) alloyed are illustrated by my ‘lovesick’ story[viii].  This experiment emerged spontaneously out of an everyday aesthetic observation – graffiti on an Edinburgh wall – subsequently aligned with the philosophical readings.  Other literature, in particular the Edwards paper, seems to have an elliptic argument requiring my further unravelling.

Overall a return to the concept of ‘deconstructed visuality’ in the widest context (i.e. through text/sound/image) will be the basis for surveying online landscapes, a major task ahead.

One of the most important outcomes of the blog and associated readings is that it allowed me to cement my understanding of the concept of the rhizome, with readings in the past (especially on the smooth/striated) put into a wider perspective and this will play a major role in my future theoretical underpinning.


[ii] Rose, Gillian (2007) Researching visual materials: towards a critical visual methodology, chapter 1 of Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. London: Sage. pp.1-27.

[iii] I note interactions via WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, Coursera, Pinterest, a Google blog, Flickr, Synchtube, Skype, Vuvox, Soundcloud, Thinglink, as well as further explorations of Timetoast, Glogster, Prezi and Issuu.







Referenced literature

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F.  (1987)  A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi.  Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

Edwards, R. (2010). The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults, vol 42, no 1, 5-17.

Gough, N. (2004). RhizomANTically becoming-cyborg: performing posthuman pedagogiesEducational Philosophy and Theory, vol 36, no 3, 253-265

Haraway, D. (2000). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. in D Bell and A Kennedy, The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge.

Rose, G. (2007) Researching visual materials: towards a critical visual methodology, chapter 1 of Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. London: Sage. pp.1-27.

Shields, R. (2006). Flânerie for CyborgsTheory Culture Society, 23/7-8.

Sterne, J (2006) The historiography of cyberculture, chapter 1 of Critical cyberculture studies. New York University Press. pp.17-28.


Updated Mast head Image source for the tumblog

 The image is a digital artwork by the artist Ian Reddie, entitled ‘Craigleith and the Bass’ (2006).

The grasses, dominating the front of the work are an illustration of rhizomatic growth, a becoming, which affects our impression of the rest of the artwork.


words: 529, excluding footnotes and references




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some final thoughts….

As I mentioned in my week 12 summary post, I have been doing further re-readings on cyborg. I particularly enjoyed ‘Flanerie for Cyborgs’ (Shields), which I thought brought the full spectrum of cyborg presence into context. This new understanding allowed me to update some of my older posts.

In this context, I thought I would end my series of ‘live postings’ with a pun on a cartoon that I used at the beginning of the session:

It has been great having a presence on this blog and I would like to thank all my fellow students for their feedback and comments.
And of course I thank Jen and Sian for their ongoing valuable support.
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week 12 – summary

This final week has been an extremely busy week, collating ideas, reflecting and absorbing some dense readings and planning the tasks ahead.

Revisiting Harraway, Edwards and Shields brought the focus back to posthumanism and cyborgs. This stood in contrast with the online research I carried out on the topic of ‘rhizome’. At long last, a visit to the library (*) brought the opportunity to page through Deleuze and Guattari’s book ‘ A 1000 Plateaus’.  Reading its first chapter, I was completely blown over by the fact that ‘Rhizomes’, at just under 30 pages,  can have such a tremendous impact on my understandings of internet behaviour.

I decided on my topic for the assignment. I will follow up the ethnographic study in You Tube. Rather than visual arts, I will look at music and how bands and fans connect, not just in YouTube but extended into other social media presence.  This will potentially give me a chance to research how sound is positioned in the literature.

I revisited some of the previous readings I carried out on Derrida and deconstruction. This material will no doubt feature whilst analysing some of the social media observations.

I checked previous MSc coursework and literature, accessing WebCT and my ‘old’ holyrood blog.  It took a little while finding the old links within an institutional maintained environment.This illustrated how my own archiving can be fragile and  risky, with a decision from now on to use Zotero as my main referencing tool.

I looked into my plans  for using an online platform to present my assignment. As I already have a number of blogs in Google, I will probably continue with this tool, although I expect I will make use of other resources such as Pinterest and Thinglink.

(*) this library has the graffiti ‘love sick’ on the wall. Strange that the the book and the image were just 20 meters apart, the book on the inside, the graffiti on the outside….

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shifting meaning

Practices of knowing are specific material engagements that participate in (re)
configuring the world. Which practices we enact matter – in both senses of the word.
Making knowledge is not simply about making facts but about making worlds, or rather
it is about making specific worldly configurations – not in the sense of making them
ex nihilo, or out of language, beliefs, or ideas, but in the sense of materially engaging
as part of the world in giving it specific material form. (Barad, 2007, p. 91, emphasis
in original)

I thought this was an intriguing quote in the Edwards paper

how does this work with MOOC or indeed this course? Could ‘material’ mean the construction of websites, interacting with social media?

I am still puzzled by this paper. Every time I read it is seems to conjure new meanings, but these new meanings do not contribute to my embedded understanding, rather the ideas keep moving, drifting.

Having done some reading on Derrida, I would assimilate this paper as part of my personal process of constructing meaning, which does not end, nor is it a singular process in time and place (1) , with place meaning online and offline location.

(1) Richards, K Malcolm. 2008. Derrida Reframed: A Guide for the Arts Student. London: IB Tauris.



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Social Media and the Rhizome

‘Rhizomes are lines of articulation or segmentarity, strata and territories; but also lines of flight, movements or deterritorialisation and destratification. Comparative rates of flow on these lines produce phenomena of relative slowness and viscosity or, on the contrary, of acceleration and rupture. All this, lines and measurable speeds, constitutes an assemblage.’ (p. 3)

Deleuze, Gilles & Felix Guattari  (1987)  A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi.  Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

I have now read the introductory chapter of this book and will look at the metaphor of the rhizome for analysing social media. To illustrate this I will look at how music bands and their fans create interconnected platforms and spaces for listening to music and engaging in discussion.

Movement between these ‘framed’ spaces (in reference to Derrida) and how technology deconstructs and reassembles will also be considered.

This will be a challenging task more so as I would like to use the concept of the rhizome as an empirical model in my research, directing my actions and organising the web essay.

The above ideas will evolve, as my understandings of the concepts deepen and as I gather more social media examples.

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think I got myself a new topic for the assignment ;)    and giggles too…

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Looking back on my engagement with the MSc in e-learning, over these past few years various topics have emerged:

  • creating dialogue
  • building communities
  • identity
  • personal learning environments
  • digital presence
  • speed
  • time
  • space
  • narratives
  • electric portfolios
  • visuality
  • strategies
  • pedagogy
  • ethics
This spectrum highlights the pervasiveness of online activity.
In the context of aesthetic spaces, in particular for the visual arts, the experience of  ’space’ in which these digital artifacts are presented can be seen as a ‘new frontier’.
For the assignment, the ‘digital-ness’ will be maintained ‘a priori’, there is no escape: the virtual space these bytes occupy will be another digital patch in the internet topology. How the topology will be effected remains to be seen, no doubt influenced by Deleuzian workings.
Crossing these imaginary html boundaries will present an interesting challenge, mixing human consciousness with a machine-driven discipline.
I guess we are all cyborgs now, in our online and offline modes,   a surface for ‘grafting onto’ (p 217) Rob Shields.


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Discussing cyborg and identity

If definitions are developed around boundaries then it would be a challenge to exit the strict limits that are imposed on what is considered ‘oneself’, the ‘other’ and anything in-between would be unimaginable. However, if one takes from the onset a definition in motion, the subject can be reinvented. Machine/human interaction in an anthropomorphic culture is by default binary: human/non-human, utopian/dystopian, superior/inferior, organic/immaterial. If we see change, a becoming, the relation is a phenotype: human influences the machine/the machine influences human. Definitions of cyborg situated in a postmodern conceptual world. Have we already exited postmodern thinking? Will humans now rely more on machine data than natural resources to survive?

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week 11 – summary

This week has seen me crawling around the internet similar to these animated ants.

I felt a need for further readings on Deleuze – spurned by the Gough and Edwards paper, but also remembering Sian Bayne’s paper entitled ‘Smoothness and Striation in Digital Learning Spaces’ (in E-Learning, Volume 1, Number 2, 2004) which influenced my IDEL10 essay.

In parallel,  I have been considering Derrida (deconstruction), multimodality and social media.

For the assignment I am planning to look at the extent music bands and their fans use social media and the effect this has on the creation of glocal communities and narratives. [early draft, to be refined]

I accessed a number of e-Journals listed on the  hub in order to get an idea of recent literature (especially fanbase, Deleuze and social media). To keep track of all the references I re-familiarised myself with Zotero.

Some discipline will be required to maintain the focus of my assignment manageable. Next week I will be looking at the various platforms for the web essay, as well as the additional criteria.


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Liquid modernity

Theories of a `liquid modernity’ (Bauman, 2000) usefully redirect research away from static structures of the modern world to see how social entities comprise people, machines, and information/images in systems of movement. There is a shift from modernity seen as heavy and solid to one that is light and liquid and in whichspeed of movement of people, money, images, and information is paramount (Bauman, 2000).

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Busy going through websites and e-journals grabbing some ideas and references.

I am using Zotero, or at least have an attempt at using Zotero, and wonder if anyone has any similar experiences or recommendations?

This is something I have been putting off, but I can see it would be well worth it and practical management tips would be most useful.

To me, this is my personal illustration of my extended cyborg-like memory mode. Without this technology I could simply not function as a student!


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Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus by John David Ebert

I thought it would be interesting to bring in some audio clips, as part of my gatherings.

John David Edbert also has a YouTube channel with uploads

A challenge in terms of scholarly referencing in case I wanted to refer to these as part of my essay.
Perhaps in an academic context, applying this Deleuzian inspired practice of referring to not necessarily academic reviewed online resources other than academic papers is not quite as acceptable?

Interestingly this dilemma links to Derrida, and the continuous reinterpretation of meaning, linked to time and space.

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Deleuze conference

Jeremy Knox, PhD on this module has produced some interesting research. I found this link for a conference he was at. Seems to have a wealth of information for anyone interested in Deleuze. Jeremy’s blog for this course also gives some further insights for the Edwards paper… Useful indeed.

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Deleuze: societies of control

This is an interesting albeit controversial digital artifact that seems to generate discussion in YouTube. It can be read on a meta level, illustrating Deleuze’s writings

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Today I decided to recap and look around, gathering some ideas and examples of the task that lies ahead. With this course being delivered online and previous years also being available a rich spectrum of thoughts are spread across these networks of EDEDC communities. Voices from the past speak to me, allowing me to put into perspective questions and remarks that were made over space and in time.A useful reminder of that what we study can also be put into practice.

In an instant I can capture voices that speak up and reflect on issues that I am dealing with, grateful for the explanations that are being presented

herehere and here.

I am reading these reflections (tumblogs) as a feed into my own thoughts, pushing forward my understanding, a state of my own ‘becoming’.  My conscious ‘self’, and the thoughts of others, separated by time and space have temporarily integrated and fused, to (hopefully) enlighten my understanding. A posthuman condition we seem to continuously engage with in an online environment.  The re-reading of Edwards is now bringing further clarity. Perhaps the initial phase in learning is to absorb the representational stage and then to deconstruct (in my case the despair that followed),   allowing for a condition that allows for a focus on ontology (following readings of Edwards,although he does warn it is not that simple)…. the ‘ post-human ethico-epistem-ontology’ (Barad, 2007)  wherein there is an entanglement of  things; ‘things as question, as provocation, incitement, or enigma’ (Grosz, 2009)

p. 125).

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week 10 – summary

At the beginning of the week I felt I experienced a Moses and the Red Sea moment when reading Gough’s paper in which rhizomatic drift seemed to offer a theoretical platform for the journey ahead. The paper is inspirational: its meta approach, its creative drive, its conceptual depth.

Then, during the course of  the week, my mind turned towards angels and cyborgs, a very strange mix. Further readings confirmed that the idea of cyborg has now firmly moved on from the holywood style concept.

The skype session, combined with the planning ahead of the assignment brought me to a crossing and a stumble of various issues – YouTube, Love Sick, Cyborgs –  which so far I have not been able to settle due to lack of time (work and home pressures).

There followed confusion (and some despair) when reading Edwards’ outline of post-human inspired lifelong learning. Badminton offered further blurrings. A potential link with Heidegger and Dewey may bring relief in these theoretical landscapes.

My plans for next week is to re-read the earlier core reading papers (and accompanying blog)  to bring some clarity and an overview of the threads that have been running through the past 10 weeks.

A playful experiment with electric ants and my cat gave a first glimpse of how animals and computers interact, a further proof curiosity is not just a characteristic of one species.


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[warning= this post is like a dance.... it twists and turns, until some some sort of understanding is achieved within these online confines...]

The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? RICHARD EDWARDS

”This article explores the significance of theories of the post-human for lifelong learning. Drawing upon the works of Karen Barad and Bruno Latour, it suggests that education has focused on the learning subject as a result of an a priori assumption of a separation of matter from meaning, the object from the subject. By contrast, a post-human intervention points to the constant material entanglement of the human and non-human in the enactment of the world, and thus the problematic status of subjects and objects as separate from one another.’

I am trying to follow this binary argument.The above seems to equate as follows:

  1. traditionally education =
  • matter / meaning
  • separate object / subject
  1. post-human intervention =
  • constant material entanglement of human and non-human
  • mix object-subject

Where are the matter, meaning, human and non-human positioned here…

Where does ‘representation’ come into this? if along Lyotard’s suggestion there is a collapse of representationalism,  this collapse suggests ‘shifting’ meanings, but surely not ‘without’ meaning.

and Edwards continues, ‘post-humanism refers to an enactment that deconstructs the separation of subjects and objects and, with that, the focus on the human subject as either a representative of an essentialised human nature or in a state of constant becoming. However, it is also the case that this deconstruction requires a subject.’

he then suggests (p 7)  the focus is on ontology (being) rather than representation (epistemology) – would this mean the focus is on the learner, rather than what is learnt?

and it is the learner’s position that is being post-humanised?

Confused. This article is getting my brain in a twist….

More so as the article itself seems to shift in emphasis. On the one hand there is the discussion of a binary tradition (ontology/epistemology) but then considers disrupting the meaning itself of this.

His key position is to move on  to consider meaning via ‘gatherings’, where meaning is not separate from matter, in a Heidegger sense (‘Gegenstand’)

‘… and specifically a gathering to deliberate on a matter under discussion, a contested matter. Here things are a mixing, an entanglement. They gather the human and non-human in their enactments. They are material and they matter.’

and, following on,

In the post-human, rather than the subject representing the object through sense data of, for instance, observation, we enter into the spatio-temporal practices of gathering and experimentation. Knowing is not separate from doing but emerges from the very matter-ings in which we engage. This relies on apparatuses, which ‘are not mere observing instruments but boundary-drawing practices – specific material (re)configurings of the world – which come to matter’ (Barad, 2007, p. 140, emphasis in original). To gather is also to draw boundaries, to include and exclude.

now that makes sense….I see this very much in line with my Love Sick story. (And following Gough’s article, as Edwards also points out )

And for Edwards the position is relating  to ‘matters of concern’:

I am suggesting that a post-human condition could position learning as a gathering of the human and non-human in responsible experimentation to establish matters of concern. However, it could also be that rather than gathering differently, we might have to do away with the notion of lifelong learning altogether. Here a post-human condition could position responsible experimentation as a gathering of the human and non-human to establish matters of concern. This provides a different educational purpose to much of that which is familiar. The difference lies in that it is not the human subjectwho learns through experimenting rather than representing, but the thing [Gegenstand?] that is gathered which is an enactment of human and non-human elements. There is a decentring of the knowing/learning human subject within educational practices.

[as my brain hurts again, I need to take a rest and will revisit later...This is my third attempt at making some sense of this...]

(I also think the Edwards paper can be linked to Dewey but this needs further investigation)

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Post-humanism and lifelong learning


Post-humanism refers to an enactment that deconstructs the  separation of subjects and objects and, with that, the focus on the human subject  as either a representative of an essentialised human nature or in a state of constant  becoming.

A post-human intervention points to the constant material entanglement of the human and non-human in the enactment of the world, and thus the
problematic status of subjects and objects as separate from one another

Richard Edwards, The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring 2010


image above – Whilst checking out various references, I decided to check ‘ontology’. Interestingly the definition was not the only info that was presented. A rich data stream confronted me: video, audio, more advertising, facts, related and what seems unrelated items are brought to the from, all vying for attention on my laptop screen.

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Of angels, cyborgs and the web

Raphael                    Himmel uber Berlin        Angel of the North    Fighting angel in computer game

Whilst reading the article by Rob Shields, Flanerie for Cyborgs, a sentence caught my eye:

How are categories of identity – such as the feminine – distributed in changing ways across  not only reproductive bodies but objects and virtualities from angels to voice-based digital intefaces? (p218).

Angel… a disembodied entity which crosses the virtual and the real?

I suddenly became (totally) pre-occupied by angels…. I wondered if in my earlier post the suggestion of the representation of ‘angels as early cyborgs’ is perhaps not too extreme after all…

I checked wikipedia and here is explained that the theological study of angels is known as “angelology”. Angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence.

In western art, angels have been depicted  since Byzantium times, all the way through medieval art, renaissance… indeed in recent times (Angel of the North, Himmel uber Berlin and an image from a game – reference unfortunately lost – all images above) and

In a posthuman representational context: angel, neither male nor female (but arch angels are most definitely male)  neither organic, nor abstract, distinctly bearing a relation with the physical, but mostly detached… My thoughts wandered….

Angel, a  flaneur, seeking the truth of the soul, the immateriality acting as an intermediary.

Following on from Shields, I now see

  • Angels, an early virtual ‘emanation’
  • Hayles’ 1st order cybernetics, 1960s onwards
  • Hayles’ Autopoeisis
  • The appearance of cyborgs (in Haraway’s ‘infomatics of domination’)
  • Followed, as Shields suggests, the world ‘into information’ (for example survey and data, tracking, the genomics’ four-letter language of DNA sequences)
  • The surveillance via data-mining – putting two and two together across databases of personal, health and purchase information.
  • And the recombination of traits at the genetic level to enhance certain qualities.
  • Shields extends Haraway’s focus on cyborgs borne out of militaria-embraced visuality, juxtaposing the ‘ lived geography of women in circuits of culture and capital (p 211) situated in a narrow location, to the extent that cyborgs are ‘manifest in the nano, genomic and molecular’. Cyborgs are both a writerly device and a molecular- or smaller-scale biotechnical idiom (p 217) … ‘they (cyborgs) are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section… Newly emerged sites where cyborgs appear, include the ‘televisual media and arguable the web as a public sphere.’ (p216)
  • Hayles’ virtuality
The web as a cyborg, I do find this agreeable with my intuition around 21st century digital culture.


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