2013

The paper begins its life as the result of an invitation from Steve Wright to put together a symposium for the Networked Learning conference in 2014 via the ANT FaceBook group.

I was keen to use the opportunity to bring together the ongoing mulling about learning in public (PCP) which I had been chewing Leonie's ear about on and off. It's probably not the best idea to take a half-formed mangle and drop it into the coherent1 space/logics of a conference.

What I did not log was the conversation between us about the first version of the paper in which I was keen to make use of the notion Wittgenstein used to talk about learning, climbing ladders. It wasn't well argued and rightly reinforced the comments/debates I was having with Leonie about the notion of forgetting how we learn new stuff as we get better at it. The social neuroscience lit. could have been dragged in but I don't have a way to think about that stuff and ANT just yet.

19th Dec I get feedback from Steve after mentioning doing a PCP approach on writing the paper, i.e. making public the comments, a kind of dialogue with the reviewers. He mentioned a paper that had explored this notion2.

Prehistory

The notion of public click pedagogy can be traced back to stumbling over Steven Johnson's book3 , Where good ideas come from.

I had made use of Johnson's ideas in a few gigs. What appealed and perhaps resonated with some of the early STS work was that the history of innovation was as messy, noncoherent, accidental as the STS account of what goes on in laboratories.

The moment when the idea which has become PCP began to emerge was when chasing down more of Steven Johnson's writing, I came across his account of how the book came about. And yes, while it is retrospective and the unconscious probably does some cute things with recall, the story of the book had a similar kind of pattern of accident, messiness, luck that more or less paralleled what the book ended up describing.

I think what happens when you begin to develop a slow hunch (Johnson's term) that you notice patterns that appear to be like it that otherwise you'd have ignored.

Also in 2013 I began to experiment with some courses I was teaching, i.e. make public my own learning as I engaged with students taking a course. Keeping logs or notebooks is a very old practice. You get to see some of them when someone important has them made public, like Darwin's notebooks. My own notebooks, not public, record stumble upon after stumble upon of things that looked like people talking about their learning in public.

All the while I was gently chewing people's ears about the slow hunch. My chewing was probably not that effective. Just another crazy idea.

The other thing that struck me was that the Ed Tech lit has been largely about doing much the same thing for decades, i.e. all that changes is the computing and related technologies which spawns another round of studies and prognostications4. So there was nothing all that new. Even social media had it's precursors in the early days of the Net and, if you accept some of Johnson's argument, in the coffee house gatherings that were happening a very long time ago. Plus ├ža change. So, PCP is not new either, the commonplace books of the 1700s were not public but captured the kind of messy, ad hoc, idea sifting and grabbing and annotating that I think is a lot closer to what goes on when folk are said to learn.

The other puzzling was about the L-word, a wonderful word to black-box a huge range of sociomaterial practices, although more often than not, the material is glossed. I know more sitting at my desk with computer and the software I have used to link documents, sites and other resources, books, papers and notebooks than I do when I am for instance, at the beach, sans most of the material. Yes. There is stuff in my head but I, like most other humans have little control over what the unconscious decides to toss into my conscious. Really need a way to think about this large, weird, neural space that is off limits for the ANTista.

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