“Rhizomatic learning posits a learning experience where the curriculum of the course is the people that are in it.”
I’m diving into #rhizo15 yearning for the types of online people connections I experienced way back in the day. Before Twitter. Before Facebook. Back in the day when “social networking” meant commenting on others’ blogs and combing through others’ Bloglines subscriptions to explore who was connecting with who.
At the heart of those early days were a troop of folks doing some Worldbridges thing that included EdTechTalk and a bunch of other webcasts/shows/communities. Three people in particular – Dave Cormier, Jeff Lebow, Jennifer Maddrell – were the super nodes of the online educational technology community from my side of the screen back in the early – mid 2000’s. These online relationships resulted hundreds of “in real life” sorts of connections and thousands of other online connections that I truly cherish today. (Ironically, I have yet to meet Dave, Jeff, or Jennifer in this real world place. Someday.)
World of Warcraft
In 2006 I picked up a nasty World of Warcraft habit. It was all of those things about online community, learning, and connections that I was passionate about. 10x more powerful. To this day I hold that experience way above and beyond anything I’ve seen since. One of my biggest fears is that I’ll never experience that sense of online community again.
As I peeled myself out of WoW, I found elements of the online people connection piece in a little thing called Twitter. Somewhere on my resume it should say, “Patient Zero on Twitter in EdTech.” Not because of any value I provided. Quite the opposite. I reached back to those I knew in EdTech as a result of EdTechTalk and pushed Twitter on them. They pushed it on their friends, who then pushed it on their friends. Stupid algorithms always connected back to me, making me out to be somebody far more important than I ever should have been.
For me, “peak Twitter” happened in late 2010. A friend and I, interested mostly in how to game the attention of people and companies on Twitter, entered an online contest sponsored by Mercedes-Benz to win cars. Cars for our wives. It was an Amazing Race sort of contest that involved collecting the most Twitter hashtags mentions for our team as we drove across the United States doing stupid challenges. A few weeks prior to the contest, Twitter changed how retweets worked. Understanding “old-style” retweets, combined with a nice insta-community of edtech geeks, helped us stomp out the three other teams and win cars. Cars for our wives.
Few know what I actually do for a living, my wife – and somedays myself – are included in this list. Back in the early days of the Internet, big research universities had to find their own ways of building and operating big networks that would connect them to the world. These big networks interconnect and create what we know as the Internet.
Today, a handful of big telephone and cable monopolies control these interconnection points, reaping huge profits. Interestingly, there are still folks out there building and improving this “Internet” thing for the right reasons. Want to know more? Ask. It’s amazing.
All that leads me to today. I’m looking for community. People want to feel connected. I’ve played out all of the easy ways in which people connect. I’m looking for something different. Deeper. I hope folks like Cormier and you might help get me (us) closer to that.