There were nine of us in the workshop: “Lively memory”. The kinds of questions raised at the end:

  • How do you negotiate the norms – what is private or not?
  • How useful is technology to a community really?
  • Why did we do the workshop? What was the purpose? Should know before.

Main issue to come out – privacy

We should have talked about taking the photos before the workshop. Otherwise pepole end up feeling pissed off. It should be negotiated first.

It’s about power. Allow people to make the decision themself. You could say that we might ask you about publishing photos later. Within an organisation, feed this back within these four walls. Shall we as a group move on to flickr?

Difficult to start talking about this in a session. “I’m going to take some photos, does anyone not want to be in it?”

It’s about being mindful of broad methodological processes.

Sense of accountability

How to serve the learning of the wider community?

Informed consent

If you have organised something, up to organisers to give the reasons why they are there.

Patricia – try to share experience first and then reflect on it. Rather than present goals …

Launching an extended conversation that lasts long enough. A primary concern is a sustained conversation.

Provide an explanatory statement.

The photos are in the computer, they are further removed. Reduces trust. Talking with researchers, so it would have taken a few minutes to do that.

There is a general assumption that photos will be taken.

In many communities, to talk about permissions beforehand can’t be done.

It’s about treating people as pairs. It’s about addressing the power issues.

Stop for coffee

Blogged with Flock

The end…

October 8, 2006

A nourishing few days. Lots of thoughts, lots of fun, lots of things to think about. And all the photos to see.
Florence day 3 - 20.jpg

Irrelevant knowledge

September 17, 2006

I’ve been interested with a small comment by upreuss

How do we define relevant and irrelevant knowledge?
To my mind irrelevant knowledge doesn’t exist. Whether knowledge is relevant or irrelevant is only a question of context like time and place.

And the original question by Christina:

How do we define relevant and irrelevant knowledge? – Is irrelevant knowledge always of negative value? – Do we need to learn to forget irrelevant knowledge?

In some respect I’m quite simplistic about this.

I’ve told you my story about my community with not recognising value.

I’m more hopeful though – where we forget, where we don’t appreciate – it will come back, just in another way and in another time. And what is irrelvant, will probably just slide under the door and be forgotten – it doesn’t need someone to stand up and point out and say ‘this is irrelvant’ – at least usually.  Some irrelvant thinking and ideas are at first seen as wrong, heretical etc.  Who said no idea is good if it at first brush seen as silly? (Einstein?)

I spent some time at a friends’ work yesterday having a look at their internal knowledge management system and learning community. 6,000 people in several continents. Interesting to note that one of their big challenges is figuring out where the knowledge has moved on. What’s relevant 3 years ago in Peru may be quite different now due to a technology advance. Current understanding is highly valuable. Out of date understanding may be costly.

I’m interested in the online flows of ideas, information, wisdom and knowledge. How do people interface with the right stuff at the right time and in the right amount? How also do we find people who know what we are needing to know?


I wonder

How do we deal with complexity?

Does additional knowledge increase complexity or does it help us to “reduce” it, i.e. better cope with it?

How do we define relevant and irrelevant knowledge?

Is irrelevant knowledge always of negative value?

Do we need to learn to forget irrelevant knowledge?

Do we need to learn to forget relevant knowledge for a whole Sunday afternoon, for example?

How can selective forgetting lead to substantial improvements in our performance?

Can random forgetting do so as well?

How much time do we lose due to forgetting?

Prato and memories

September 10, 2006

My connection here has more to do with serendipity than anything else. I’m travelling with a girls school choir from Christchurch, and we are in Florence at the same time as the get together occurs. And as one who is fatigued by formal paper driven conferences, the opportunity to attend an event initially refered to as a ‘muck about’ was too good to miss.

I’m involved in a range of learning communities. Putting aside at this stage nuances of meaning, these these usually have an online component (lists, corperate blog, course management system, virtual community space etc) – some are part of bounded courses (with the dreaded assessment) some are professional development oriented (with both vonenteers and conscripts) and some are just for fun (everybody choosing to be there) and some are a bounded professional affiliation. (Pay your fees and you are in).

The just for fun ones include several informal networky things – almost like mutual mentoring, support and sounding boards.

Here is a well known quote:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana.

I could build a lot on this idea: memory is a mixed blessing. There has been a bit about this in our local paper in the coverage of the escape of Natascha Kampusch.

There is an expiry date of first hand memories. I am interested to note how often now we are talking to my sons about events I took for granted. I remember with chagrin how much passed from consciousness with the death of my grandfather.

In a slightly whimsical mood I quote this little extract on someone’s thoughts on Nietzsche:


In the second of his untimely meditations, Nietzsche suggests
     that a cow lives without boredom and pain, because it does not
     remember.[1] Because it has no past, the cow is happy. But the
     animal cannot confirm its happiness precisely because it does
     not have the power to recall its previous state. It lives
     unmindful of the past, which, as it gives happiness, also takes
     it away from the animal. Nietzsche uses this example to point to
     the liberating power of what he terms "active forgetting," a
     willfull abandonment of the past that is beyond the capacities
     of the cow:

In the case of the smallest or of the greatest happiness...
          it is always the same thing that makes happiness happiness:
          the ability to forget or, expressed in more scholarly
          fashion, the capacity to feel unhistorically during its
          duration. (UD 62)

Nietzsche calls for an abandonment of the past because, as he
     says, it "returns as a ghost and disturbs the peace of a later
     moment" (UD 61). Too much past precludes action, happiness, and
     further development. As an antidote to this predicament he
     suggests a critical discourse on the past that would be
     attentive to the needs of the present and able to distinguish
     between what in the past is advantageous and what is
     disadvantageous for life. Thus "active" forgetting is selective
     remembering, the recognition that not all past forms of
     knowledge and not all experiences are beneficial for present and
     future life.

Then there is different memories of the same event, and different interpretations of the same fact. People can merely brood.

That’s the other side. As well there is the question: How can communities of any kind manage their thoughts, their experieinces, stories and findings? Especially now in a web 2.0 environment?

How can we avoid overload? Filter out irrelevant stuff? Not filter out stuff we should engage with but may not want to? (Think professional development for us out of our comfort zones) Share key ideas that may challenge the status quo and still keep relationships intact? Assist with the boundaries of our community thinking? Manage the corperate vs the individual? Incorperate newcomers without mere indoctrination . . .

We shall see. I’m coming to Prato relatively inexperieinced at this sort of event, knowledge construction, open space etc etc, and basically because I can, circumstances being what they are. And also because I have met online, read about, read the blogs of, talked by teleconference to some of these people, and look forward to a chance to meet in person. – Derek