Hermida (2010) characterises Twitter in this way, “…while messages on Twitter are atomic in nature, they are part of a distributed conversation. In aggregate, these streams of connected data contain the potential for real-time, collaborative and distributed storytelling” Pachler and Daly (2009) usefully add, “… the concept of narrative… a way in which individuals represent and organize experience in order to learn from it and make it shareable with others within social contexts.(my emphasis)” This is the basic premise of this paper – that although learning has become more constructivist and constructionist and knowledge and understanding more distributed, narrative is still the way we make information meaningful. Before I embark on an analysis of the specific data gathered I would like to review some of the literature on posthumanism and learning in order to give it a context. Hayles (1999) discusses the idea that for the posthuman information has become more important than materiality. On the other hand, a story‐based or narrative theory of posthumanism would say that ‘materiality’ or ‘body’ is provided by the narrative structure – it gives the human being a link or way of hooking into the information flow. If posthumans are not individual entities with individual wills and agency but part of distributed cognition where knowledge and storytelling are collectively constructed, has learning now become participatory and how does Twitter fit into this?
If the posthuman constructs embodiment as the instantiation of thought/information, are stories ‘peopled’ in order to put ideas across more meaningfully? Do we use archetypes and roles in our collaborative, participatory cyberculture to make sense of the flow of information? “With its chronological thrust, polymorphous digressions, located actions, and personified agents, narrative is a more embodied form of discourse than is analytically driven systems theory “ (Hayles 1999) Crossley (2002) maintains that everything we experience as human beings is made meaningful in relation to ‘activity’ which includes both ‘time’ and ‘sequence’. Since the essence of narrative or storytelling contains both these elements, we use narrative to impose structure on ‘the flow of experience’ (Crossley 2002). In particular, if we look at Twitter as one example of ‘activity’ within cyberculture, how is structure imposed on the ‘flow of experience’ within it and how do we learn from this experience? Is a kind of linearity or story structure imposed and can we find examples of this (see Bruner analysis p7)? Secondly, as Crossley (2002) again points out, “...cultures transmit to children knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities in their myths, fairytales, histories and stories (see Bettelheim 1976; Howard 1991; Polkinghorne 1988)” How is cyberculture transmitting knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities? In Hayles (1999) discussion
Published on Jan 16, 2011