[iDC] Gated Knowledge Communities

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Fri Feb 10 13:44:43 EST 2006

>On 10-Feb-06, at 10:31 AM, trebor at thing.net wrote:
>>But, what are the editors and publishers of these expensive journals
>>thinking? --
>If you ask me there is a severe epistemological crisis in academia at present.

unfortunately I don't think the crisis is really that extreme - the 
forces of change are such an minor factor in the overall 
superstructure of contemporary (read: 20th century) education that 
the chances of crisis actually fomenting any change are nil.  ask how 
many academic scientists are even aware of the other academics who 
are critiquing the history and philosophy of science.  all the US 
faculty meetings I have been in on, the primary topic of conversation 
-- like 90% of the time -- is salaries and who is getting more or 
less grants and such.  very radical of them, eh?  Especially the 
Boomers who started working in the 60's & 70's, tenured and 
approaching retirement.  'yawn'

>On the one hand, the past twenty years of post-modernist infatuation 
>has resulted in endless discussions about alterity, situatedness, 
>embodiment, etc. in the social sciences. However, although an 
>enormous number of professors profess allegiance (or the po-mo 
>version of it) to discursive fluidity, openness etc., they appear in 
>practice to have made only the mildest impact on established 
>epistemological norms in

snip ...  but why be astonished?  this is the nature of (the) 
institution -- it cannot be otherwise...

>Now, this paradoxical (or hypocritical - depending on your 
>perspective) situation would likely have continued forever (since 
>the literate forms of academic discourse have proven invincible to 
>the very critiques

snip...   I think that rather than a crisis -- followed by a glorious 
re-generation of a revolutionary spirit -- universities will 
generally continue to become more market driven, less willing to 
undertake risks, and reified -- like any large corporation -- and 
alternative pathways that allow for and reward risk will be taken.

One thing I noted during my last tenure in the US was the dominant 
proliferation of non-traditional students -- ones who had already 
studied at three or four different schools, ones with multiple 
majors, ones with multiple degrees, and ones who had bounced back and 
forth between the greater social system, and the relative isolation 
of academia.  It illustrated to me the growing irrelevance of the 

>, then the 'paradox' of 19th century forms being forced upon 21st 
>century kids by professors promoting (late) 20th century theories 
>from their ivory towers will soon begin to turn kids away from the 
>university altogether. (Sorry for that overlong sentence but you get 
>the point.)

they will be pragmatically 'forced' to go to, for example, the 
University of Phoenix, which is the largest and fastest-growing univ. 
in the US -- a place to get extremely 'practical' or 'practice-based' 
education (i.e., it will get you a better job in the open market). 
They will also withdraw their greatest explorations of youthful 
curiosity and energy from the academic scene altogether and create 
their own communities for living life. and academia will be left for 
the academics -- those who primarily worship the Word and (its) 
re-presentations of life -- versus those who are rooted in a 
community of first-hand living.

I wrote in 1998 when I launched the "neoscenes occupation" :

"much of the educational process in the developed world is 
irrelevant, dead, or dying. neoscenes wants to re-create and re-new 
learning, making it an omni-directional flow of energies with a force 
multiplied far beyond the meat count and with a reach that is far 
ahead of the game. join neoscenes occupation, speak, act, make a 
difference in your own head and body and soul. the revolution will 
not be televised, it will simply be a praxis embedded in the network 
that is community. the occupation is of the network, is of each 
other's lives, is of being, is of body, it is of it all.

neoscenes is about the creation of personal spaces where-in the 
individual realizes the potential of individual and collaborative 
creativity. it is about seizing the opportunity presented by the 
internet and contemporary tele-communications to create active spaces 
that are autonomous of the traditional "institutions of higher 
learning". it is about sharing."

>To put it another way, if you can get the info that will answer the 
>question on your exam by consulting google via your mobile phone, 
>does it make sense to be punished for cheating when your real skill 
>is the ability access needed information rapidly?

the control of those digital technologies is one key -- where the 
University IT departments are being pushed/pushing to make a 
pervasive and controlled digital environment much more restrictive 
even than the physical campus security situation.  you can't google 
if your phone is not allowed in the exam room or the signal is jammed.

On the other hand, there are plenty of classrooms where back-channel 
networks are functioning and active while the main channel formal 
lecture is going on. I often engaged my students on totally parallel 
and often completely unrelated discussions via email or irc or ichat 
and such -- during late evenings and weekends...

As a matter of fact, both the content and the form of my courses 
explored this very issue and the best (sustainable) practices arising 
from the possibilities of distributed learning -- and it is that very 
content and practice that has definitely kept me out of the tenure 
track and its social 'rewards' and security...  ho hum...

Anyway, just some reflections...


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