Focusing my micro-ethnography on ds106 (‘community’) radio during week five

Reflecting on Karen Barad’s (2003; 2007) agential realism and onto-epistemology, where the “thing” is entangled with the way in which “we” research it, I have found myself questioning how I might research my micro-ethnography and how/whether I should participate (as a ‘lurker‘ or otherwise). How might different kinds of participation affect ‘community’ and the ethical issues surrounding the study?

In my role as ‘open participant‘, having ‘access’ to read/listen/participate in, and feed into, the same activities/assignments as those studying the course through a degree, the binaries between ‘open’/’closed’, ‘insider’/’outsider’, ‘included’/’excluded’ appear blurred and problematic. Is access alone enough to be ‘included’?

Listening to Tim Ingold’s assertion that ‘we don’t make studies of people, we study with them and learn from them’, this week I submitted a radio bumper into the ‘ds106 flow’ alongside the work of students/open participants, with the potential of receiving “airtime” on ds106radio. Is this an example of the kind of entanglement Barad refers to?

Inspired by an article on live field notes, I wrote some field notes of my own, and began focusing my micro-ethnography on ds106radio and the interactions surrounding it

What makes ‘community’ endure in a connectivist-informed course such as ds106, often beyond the end date (“#4life“)?

How might we define/understand/documentcommunity‘? What role might ds106radio, and sound in general, play?

As I continue my micro-ethnography, and refer to relevant literature and examples, I uncover new questions, as suggested by danah boyd (2008: 29), and consider the communities and relations in these distributed educational spaces.

Michael commented on Eva Pexara’s EDC lifestream – Week 4 MOOC- Overview

Week 4 MOOC- Overview

Michael Wolfindale:

This sounds like a great course to focus on, Eva! Following on from your tweet about the answers of other students you are shown (potentially automated via some algorithm) while you are editing/posting your own answer…

…I would be really interested to hear how the “community” (and indirect connections) might be analysed in this respect, particularly as there may be some kind of automation here?

Also, I’ve been reflecting on Karen Barad’s (2007) theory of agential realism recently, and I wonder if you might say you are “entangled” with what you are researching in your example?

Looking forward to hearing more!

(More about agential realism here if it helps!)

Barad, K., 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Sounding Composition’ (Ceraso 2018)


In Sounding Composition Steph Ceraso reimagines listening education to account for twenty-first century sonic practices and experiences. Sonic technologies such as audio editing platforms and music software allow students to control sound in ways that were not always possible for the average listener. While digital technologies have presented new opportunities for teaching listening in relation to composing, they also have resulted in a limited understanding of how sound works in the world at large. Ceraso offers an expansive approach to sonic pedagogy through the concept of multimodal listening—a practice that involves developing an awareness of how sound shapes and is shaped by different contexts, material objects, and bodily, multisensory experiences. Through a mix of case studies and pedagogical materials, she demonstrates how multimodal listening enables students to become more savvy consumers and producers of sound in relation to composing digital media, and in their everyday lives.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘The Life of Lines’ (Ingold 2015)


To live, every being must put out a line, and in life these lines tangle with one another. This book is a study of the life of lines. Following on from Tim Ingold’s groundbreaking work Lines: A Brief History, it offers a wholly original series of meditations on life, ground, weather, walking, imagination and what it means to be human.

– In the first part, Ingold argues that a world of life is woven from knots, and not built from blocks as commonly thought. He shows how the principle of knotting underwrites both the way things join with one another, in walls, buildings and bodies, and the composition of the ground and the knowledge we find there.

– In the second part, Ingold argues that to study living lines, we must also study the weather. To complement a linealogy that asks what is common to walking, weaving, observing, singing, storytelling and writing, he develops a meteorology that seeks the common denominator of breath, time, mood, sound, memory, colour and the sky. This denominator is the atmosphere.

– In the third part, Ingold carries the line into the domain of human life. He shows that for life to continue, the things we do must be framed within the lives we undergo. In continually answering to one another, these lives enact a principle of correspondence that is fundamentally social.

This compelling volume brings our thinking about the material world refreshingly back to life. While anchored in anthropology, the book ranges widely over an interdisciplinary terrain that includes philosophy, geography, sociology, art and architecture.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Lines: A Brief History’ (Ingold 2007)


What do walking, weaving, observing, storytelling, singing, drawing and writing have in common?

The answer is that they all proceed along lines. In this extraordinary book Tim Ingold imagines a world in which everyone and everything consists of interwoven or interconnected lines and lays the foundations for a completely new discipline: the anthropological archaeology of the line.

Ingold’s argument leads us through the music of Ancient Greece and contemporary Japan, Siberian labyrinths and Roman roads, Chinese calligraphy and the printed alphabet, weaving a path between antiquity and the present.

Setting out from a puzzle about the relation between speech and song, Ingold considers how two kinds of line – threads and traces – can turn into one another as surfaces form or dissolve. He reveals how our perception of lines has changed over time, with modernity converting to point-to-point connectors before becoming straight, only to be ruptured and fragmented by the postmodern world.

Drawing on a multitude of disciplines including archaeology, classical studies, art history, linguistics, psychology, musicology, philosophy and many others, and including more than seventy illustrations, this book takes us on an exhilarating intellectual journey that will change the way we look at the world and how we go about in it.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Participant association and emergent curriculum in a MOOC: can the community be the curriculum?’ (Bell et al. 2016)


We investigated how participants associated with each other and developed community in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about Rhizomatic Learning (Rhizo14). We compared learner experiences in two social networking sites (SNSs), Facebook and Twitter. Our combination of thematic analysis of qualitative survey data with analysis of participant observation, activity data, archives and visualisation of SNS data enabled us to reach a deeper understanding of participant perspectives and explore SNS use. Community was present in the course title and understood differently by participants. In the absence of explanation or discussion about community early in the MOOC, a controversy between participants about course expectations emerged that created oppositional discourse. Fall off in activity in MOOCs is common and was evident in Rhizo14. As the course progressed, fewer participants were active in Facebook and some participants reported feelings of exclusion. Despite this, activity in Facebook increased overall. The top 10 most active participants were responsible for 47% of total activity. In the Rhizo14 MOOC, both community and curriculum were expected to emerge within the course. We suggest that there are tensions and even contradictions between ‘Community Is the Curriculum’ and Deleuze and Guattari’s principles of the rhizome, mainly focussed on an absence of heterogeneity. These tensions may be exacerbated by SNSs that use algorithmic streams. We propose the use of networking approaches that enable negotiation and exchange to encourage heterogeneity rather than emergent definition of community.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC’ (Knox 2014)


This paper will explore two examples from the design, structure and implementation of the ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Coursera. This five week long course (known as the EDCMOOC) was delivered twice in 2013, and is considered an atypical MOOC in its utilisation of both the Coursera platform and a range of social media and open access materials. The combination of distributed and aggregated structure will be highlighted, examining the arrangement of course material on the Coursera platform and student responses in social media. This paper will suggest that a dominant instrumentalist view of technology limits considerations of these systems to merely enabling or inhibiting educational aims. The subsequent discussion will suggest that sociomaterial theory offers a valuable framework for considering how educational spaces are produced through relational practices between humans and non-humans. An analysis of You Tube and a bespoke blog aggregator will show how the algorithmic properties of these systems perform functions that cannot be reduced to the intentionality of either the teachers using these systems, or the authors who create the software, thus constituting a complex sociomaterial educational enactment.

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