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Posted by on Nov 9, 2010

Posthuman as series of components; Construction and alteration as learning constant

“The posthuman subject is an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction.” (Hayles 1999, 3)

A collection of heterogeneous components of material-informational entity undergoing continuous construction and reconstruction. Sound like life to me, post-human or otherwise. I think we have recognized the necessity of deconstruction and construction; a rose by any other name is merely called analysis and synthesis, or observing and reflecting. A myriad of ways to take and interpret and understand, but I suppose the difference, as Hayles points out, is the association of mind with information flow; the brain as large conduit of data. Aside from the dystopian implications for excessive deconstructionism (being as a series of (adjustable) components), I am not sure I see a major departure from our collective understanding of what it means to be (physical, online, or otherwise).

Have we not always associated movement with progress? Motion as our whole reason to be as humans? This assembling and disassembling plays out across all facets of our existence, not merely intellectually. We leave emotive bits of our self throughout our associations and travels (digital or physical); we gather energy from our assembly. I lament the people I have lost and rejoice in the friendships I have gained. I grow wistful when I think of far-off places I might never see again. This is a perpetual feedback loop of experience mitigated by emotion filtered through context.

I am a massive emotive/intellectual construct, but that term construct doesn’t inherently represent a departure or divergence from a unified whole. For me at least, it is merely evolving terminology. I am here now, but I know I will not be here forever; I will disassemble my (physical) association with this place and journey on (and on and on). Change is the constant and as such my boundaries undergo constant construction and deconstruction; I welcome this.

The Lifestream and learning environments are aggregations that serve utility; when they cease to serve our intensive search for understanding (often overlooked as being an impulse of great significance for humanity, one of the greatest; the desire to merely know, raw curiosity) they are deconstructed and discarded, but understanding carries through in consciousness. Just because I eventually finish at the University of Edinburgh does not mean my association with and learning extracted from (and hopefully my contributions to) Edinburgh ceases to exist; it carries on. In fact, this feedback from system (Edinburgh) to self (me) and self to system loops the observer to the observed, making me a part of the system being observed (Hayles, 9). It is more than mere reflexivity; it is a symbiotic give and take.

Online course design is essentially a Mobius strip of activity; this does not imply busy work or activity for the sake of it. It is an allegience to the fact understanding is perpetually in flux; it is always filtered through the context one finds themselves. Hence, the constant construction and alteration of our understanding. A thousand and one ways to look at a seemingly static image; to reconstruct it in our own way. To learn.

Further, online course design has reached a certain maturity where it need not be defined in terms of opposition or contrast to other things. Unlike the physical classroom which is pinned in opposition to the home, the outside, the other or open system, the online learning environment (including mobile) is not inherently pinned to an opposition. We have already severed (somewhat) its relation to time and proximity (asynchronous and global); why contrast it to a physical space which is bound by both?

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