Exploring Digital Culture

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Books, Internet & Campfires = Revolution

“…the fire was not the purpose of the party; it was the catalyst for connection.” Image credit: @twocrowsfarm

“…the fire was not the purpose of the party; it was the catalyst for connection.” Image credit: @twocrowsfarm

In this last week’s Rhizomatic Learning quest “Is Books Making Us Stoopid?” trickster Dave Cormier conflates this question with Nicholas Carr’s “Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?” and got just what he was looking for — a rhizomatic flurry of ideas, campfires and even a call to revolution!

In my last post, Keith Harmon took the time to follow my rhizomatic journey.  His reflection actually was very insightful for me, as what I considered chaotic, he was able to see as guideposts in the blazing of new trails.

This week, my journey was focused on the power of words — words as symbols — words as a means of communication, and words as a means of telling a story.  What is consistent in this exploration is that technology, whether it is the printing press, the pen, the computer, or the internet, affects our stories — and that our stories are now becoming interactive.

In 2001, futurist David Thornburg “Campfires in Cyberspace” alludes to this new twist on rhizomatic learning…”While new media can be used to tell stories in this fashion, the power of interactivity lets us move beyond the linear presentation of material. One possibility is to invert the Aristotelian world by creating a conflict to be resolved (the ground) and then to allow the user, through interaction with the multimedia software, to resolve the conflict through the creation of a unique story with its own beginning middle and end. This figure/ground reversal is possible because new media are not frozen in time. Unlike static words and images created by a storyteller, the learner can craft dynamic resolutions to a challenge created by a new breed of story maker.”  Mind you, this was almost 15 years ago and the power of the Internet was no where near it is today.

This concept of technology influencing our storytelling is echoed by Joe Sabia in the Technology of Storytelling.

The power of the spoken word is so compelling, several participants, including myself,  looked to ancient texts for guidance.  Check out how ancient texts have influenced Janet Webster.  What this exploration uncovered for me is that it is not the words themselves, but the symbols of the words and their underlying meaning that is important.  This is what allows you to read such text again and again and derive deeper meaning each time, as readers of the Quran, Bible or other sacred text can attest.

“I read the Quran often (almost daily) and static though it may seem to be, it speaks to me differently every time. It is the same words and letters. It is not the same meanings each time.” (Maha Bali, Books:  How Do They Ever Get Published?”)

“Without an in depth knowledge of the Hebrew letters, the original language of the scriptures, one cannot understand the Western religions or the secrets hidden within them. Like Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Greek and other ancient languages, the Hebrew letters constitute a primary expression of the language and mathematics of spirituality.”    (The Alphabet of the Kabbalah:  The Secret Meaning of the Hebrew Letters of the Bible)

Books are not making us stupid.  Books are merely a vehicle for the words, the symbols, and the stories. Technology is changing the way we communicate and changing the role that books have in our lives. For instance, I have over 40 cookbooks in my kitchen and I can’t tell you the last time I opened one because I am creating my own online cookbook.  When was the last time I checked a book out of the library?  Don’t know.  But I can tell you that I did download over 100 library eBooks over the past year onto my iPad.

What is so exciting is imagining what technology will do to our conscious brains when we are able to uncover new knowledge through  interactive storytelling.

As Simon Ensor says, it will indeed be a revolution.

A Tapestry Valentine for Carolyn Durley’s Navigating Certainty

2 comments on “Books, Internet & Campfires = Revolution

  1. Maureen Crawford
    March 11, 2014

    Cathleen, http://tcpd.org/Thornburg/Handouts/Campfires.pdf is an undated (2007) version of David Thornburg “Campfires in Cyberspace”. Thank you for pointing the direction to Thornburg’s work, it was worth the read!

  2. cathleennardi
    March 11, 2014

    Thank you for the update Maureen. I saw Thornburg give a keynote address years ago and thought of him as we built our own in #rhizo14

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2014 by and tagged .
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