Me, We and the Network – shout-out

On of my ‘Network‘ friends, Nancy White, from Full Circle Associates in the States, has been out here in Australia doing some presentations. Here’s a snippet where my ‘We‘ friend Mike Seyfang and I get a shout-out in her Keynote at the Learning Technologies 2009 Conference held this week in Qld.

It makes me think a lot about what I said regarding Social Isolation over on my Lifekludger blog recently.

Shout-out by Nancy White

Nancy White
Keynote: Me, We and the Network
Learning Technologies 2009 Conference

The power of you – or of me, is mighty. But when and how do we tap into the power of “we” – bounded groups, or networks which flow beyond our personal lines of sight. What practices enable us to utilise the power across these three forms?

Learning Technologies 2009 Conference Podcasts from both days available now at

The Social Internet as Social Assistive Device

The social web offers a means of engagement that trascends the technology and transforms lives.

Strangely or not, I tend not to see myself as disabled. Maybe that’s why I tend to focus on sharing more about what I’m doing than who I am or what I think about disability specific things – whatever those are.

It’s possibly also why when I refer to people with a disability I use the term people ‘living’ with disability. After all, tha’s what I’m doing. It’s also the focus I put on the possibilities technology can and does offer to enrich that ‘living’.

Besides which, I’m just a practical sort of guy.

I’m not the best at conveying what I feel either about what runs deep and not most elequant expressing what I really believe.

Sure I’ve had my lucid moments on issues I’m passionate about, which you’ll find within the years of posting here, and on my other blog – like Social IsolationCo-presence and Barriers. Generally though words get in my way. Thankfully others don’t have the same problem.

Just recently I came across a post by Lauredhel titled “On ambient intimacy and assistive devices” that had me saying “yes, yes, yes; that’s what I wanted to say to so many people so many times”.

In part she writes about being social …

The internet is the virtual watercooler (or coffeehouse, or playgroup, or pub) for people like me, isolated due to disability. And I’m fed up with able-bodied folk slamming electronic community as a meaningless half-life. I’m sick of internet use being constructed as a signifier of a person as a pathetic loser worthy of mockery. And I’m over ignorant pundits reviling the rise in electronic community as The End of the World as We Know It, a one-way highway to the inevitable disengaged, apolitical fragmentation of society.

And in an analogy to be physical assistive devices… ”

People who use wheelchairs, for example, use wheelchairs. They get around in them. Wheelchairs are useful, value-neutral objects. People are not “bound” to them; they’re not “condemned” to life in a wheelchair. The use of a wheelchair doesn’t mark a person as either a sinister or pitiable caricature. And above all, people are not synonymous with their wheelchairs. They’re people who use a mobility device, a tool. (emphasis mine)

The internet may be many things, but it is also my social assistive device. And that’s not tragic, or threatening, or worthy of scorn. It just is.”

Do yourself a favour and read the whole thing on her blog “Hoyden About Town

Thanks Lauredhel. This so underlines why I have felt strongly for nearly 30 years about technology as a tool in general, why I think the connection and openness that a social web enables is important and points to why I keep persisting with the idea that is Lifekludger.


virtual co-presence

Update: Some sentences rearranged to better express what I wanted to convey. Bold added. 


Last year a blog post by Mark Pesce titled “Those Wacky Kids” contained this paragraph:
Mizuko Ito, a Japanese researcher, studied teenagers in Japan a few years ago, and found that these kids – from the moment they wake up in the morning, until they drop off to sleep at night – are enaged in a continuous and mostly trival conversation with, on average, five other friends. They might be in the flat next door, or on the other side of Tokyo. Proximity doesn’t matter. What does matter is the constant connection. Ito named this phenomenon “co-presence”. It seemed a bit too science-fiction wacky-technophile Japanese, at the time.
I just rediscovered this in some little used backwater of my online tools after saving it there ages ago.
The bold highlighted part is the bit that struck me, not simply because it’s obviously what’s going on with social networks and why things like Twitter are so popular – I’ve always seen Twitter as a ‘presence‘ app, but primarily because it’s what I’ve craved and been for years living out to varying degrees in various places online.
It’s also what I see and experience as going on big time in Second Life. With a twist. There, the physical, geographic proximity of the residents [users of SL] in terms of where they live  certainly doesn’t matter (aside from the obvious problems differing timezones bring). And certainly, the relationships bought about by connection is the thing that keeps them returning.
However when in SL the issue of proximity does matter in terms of virtual geography. The “co-presence” spoken of is felt and made stronger by being in the same close virtual proximity with others in-world.
It’s why gatherings for dance partys with music live streamed in by DJ’s thrive, companies hold meetings, educators take classes, live music events where artists play in some remote physical location with their music streamed straight into the virtual gathering are extremely popular, it’s why people build homes and have friends around, and why they go exploring together, and develop close personal relationships, and why people gather in groups around in-world, often simplistic, puzzle style games that they share in the same virtual proximity with others – where the being with others is part of the enjoyment of the game – in my opinion, often moreso than the game itself.
Yes, in the physical world, proximity may be becoming less important for connection to others.
In the virtual word, proximity is everything and co-presence is made almost palpable.