Reflections on Power, Control and Authority – Week 8

CCK08 – In the Friday wrap up session I pointed out that lurkers in the course didn’t contribute anything to the group (the ones that do contribute to the class). I thought this was essentially a selfish stance, one that was taking and not giving. Lisa Lane responded in the backchannel that you can’t take what can be reproduced infinitely – it’s still there after you “take” it. My initial reaction was something like “oh, well my wording is imprecise”. And it was. After reflecting on it, maybe the wording is inadequate. In a connectivist classroom, giving and taking denotes a power structure that isn’t there. Plus the lurker “takes” from class and may do nothing with that information, or may share it with another set of people. Maybe everyone talks about it and comes up with great ideas. Do they connect back and push the idea further?  I’m sure Stephen would say “I don’t care” about what happens to the knowledge, and maybe that’s the sort of existential attitude one needs to take. Maybe I’m hung up on the ownership of knowledge, which is an exhibition of power?

So what happens if everyone is a lurker? For instance, if everyone taking the class made no comment in Moodle, on blogs, on Twitter, in the Google group, Second Life, Facebook and wherever else this course lives, would the course essentially cease to exist? Can Connectivism account for passive learners? Or because of the distributed nature of Connectivism, it is statistically impossible to have everyone passive in a network. Someone, somewhere, will be contributing something. We just may not see it. What does this mean for instructors? I think that’s a huge thing.

Back to power – if we follow this line of thinking, and only a small percentage (and the numbers bandied about on a couple of internet sites has been 20% and 10%) of people are comfortable posting, will they continue to post? Are they the new posting elite? Is there power from posting? This blog post, seems to think so. So does this article by Jakob Nielsen, who’s been pushing for a useable web since the beginning. One point that Nielsen makes is that blogs have worse participation percentages. Well duh… the nature of a blog is personal. To get a response on a blog one has to really throw a big hook out there. A blog is not a community (although it can be collaborative, which could lead to a community over time).

And in the spirit of this blog, considering the title and all, I contribute…