This week has been an exploration of the authority of the written text and a calculated and educational attempt to disavow that notion. The readings of Kress (in particular), Carpenter (Boundaries), and Thomas (Transliteracy) presented an interesting spectrum of action and “progress”. Kress rightly discussed the authority of the written text and the social, political, and economic girders that buttress that authority. Within those seemingly innocuous letters and words lay something, while not sinister, indeed powerful.

So, as I see it, any alternative representation of text transmits rebellion, a counter-culture response to authority. IF I WERE TO PUT THIS MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS, or run out the rest of this phrase in some sort of, yes, James Joyce-style-yes soliloquy without punctuation yes would you follow yes or would you view rebellion yes as childish yes counter-productive yes knee-jerk reactionism yes against the inevitable

So, text can be toyed with but never toppled, because in the above we are merely using the thing to counter the thing. The alternative here isn’t value-added. What is required is another plane of existence, a boundary crossing, an additional facet of representation.

So this week has been about a multitude of slices into that representation. To say that every object, every artefact, has an audible, visual, emotive side that we often ignore. When standing in a museum, it is not the object that transmits gravity, it is the description of the object, but this is often due to our laziness as learners. Or is it? I intentionally added audio posts this week via Tumblr to explore the authority of other sensory representations.


I discovered that audio in short bursts is authority, but conversation isn’t. A single voice commands attention; multiple voices dilute it.A single voice is a command; conversation is negotiation. Authority is muted. I am eager to apply this same experimental methodology to the other senses (any olfactory applications out there? how about tactile?). So, this week I relied on visual (Flickr) and the auditory (Tumblr) for representation. I didn’t neglect text necessarily, but tried to introduce additional channels that would mitigate its supremacy.

I also experimented with the notion of representation as participation. I included two additional channels in my Lifestream, namely Yelp and Wikipedia. I have been a member of Wikipedia for years and have contributed to dozens of articles, but was unable to populate any recent changes in the Lifestream. However, this inclusion spoke to my digital imprint as essentially collaborative. Yelp falls in much the same category, being a community website for reviewing restaurants, local attractions, and such. I contributed two reviews this week both for physical locations as Yelp (or many other services) does not account for digital locations. I want to establish myself as an active participant in creating an knowledge store. Soon, I will be adding my Kiva channel to my Lifestream.


On a side note and speaking to boundaries, I would like to suggest a collaborative Google Mapping tool for digital culture, to give some spatial representation to digital places, to let spatial mapping of essentially conceptual locations be negotiated by the larger community. Are you listening Google? Can you give me the tool to map this Edinburgh community as a series of nodes and connections?

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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