I wonder how assumptions about ‘success’ and ‘failure’ (by designers, tutors, participants and so on) may guide the design of, and participation in, the MOOCs we are currently studying as part of our micro-ethnographies? How might this all affect the course/community?
Also: Dear students, you are allowed to make a mistake. You are allowed to not know. You are allowed to try things and not like them and then change your mind. Really.
The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” as a mode of thinking and writing that operates at many different levels at once. Low theory is derived from eccentric archives. It runs the risk of not being taken seriously. It entails a willingness to fail and to lose one’s way, to pursue difficult questions about complicity, and to find counterintuitive forms of resistance. Tacking back and forth between high theory and low theory, high culture and low culture, Halberstam looks for the unexpected and subversive in popular culture, avant-garde performance, and queer art. She pays particular attention to animated children’s films, revealing narratives filled with unexpected encounters between the childish, the transformative, and the queer. Failure sometimes offers more creative, cooperative, and surprising ways of being in the world, even as it forces us to face the dark side of life, love, and libido.
Moving into our community cultures block, and preparing my micro-ethnography, how might we take a critical view on the relations between technologies and people? Could we imagine a ‘creative “gathering”‘? Might we envisage relations between technology and culture as ‘co-determining, co-constructive forces…a complex dance, an interweaving and intertwining’ (Kozinets 2010: 22)? Would an agential realist perspective (Barad 2003: 828) – where ‘there is no…exterior observational point’ and ‘we are part of the world in its ongoing intra-activity’ – encourage us to think differently about notions of ‘community’ and how we might explore it?
As I begin my micro-ethnography, I reflect on several suggestions from boyd (2009: 29), namely to read other ethnographies, and then to…
‘…begin by focusing on a culture. What defines that culture? Its practices? Its identity? Who are the relevant social groups? What are the relevant social dynamics? What boundaries are applicable?’ (boyd 2009: 29)
2) If we take a ‘dynamic partnership between humans and intelligent machines’ (Hayles 1999: 288) as a point of departure, how might we consider concepts such as consciousness, (distributed) cognition and agency?
Building on a comment on Thomas Reinhardt’s post during the film festival, some binary oppositions have struck me in my own thinking which I’m trying to challenge while looking over Hayles (Conclusion: What does it mean to be posthuman? in How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics, 1999):