Rhizo14 has been a ball – hasn’t it?
Apologies for the long comment – it’s my thinking through of ideas that I will develop later and blog in due course.
Like you, I have sensed an undercurrent of tension in #rhizo14
but my interpretation differs from yours. Rhizo14 has brought together people from across the world but I suspect that these are mainly from the Anglosphere http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anglospeak.svg
. When I compared my blog stats with this map, there was a significant overlap, and mainly with the bright blue areas. So to me, #rhizo14
is, with a few notable exceptions, an English speaking course but from many nations, cultures, work contexts, life experiences, ages, political affiliations. So we can simultaneously recognise exclusion and diversity, and the diversity brings many communication challenges. We have many people on the course with a much greater knowledge of linguistics than I have ( eg Emily Purser) but from my experience of research into staff and student international collaboration online, I know that tensions and misunderstandings are almost inevitable. The question is how do we deal with them?
My perception of tension goes beyond the concept of lurkers. I think I was bit closer than you to the first controversy that you mention but I still don’t really know what the initial trigger was. I explained my take on it in http://francesbell.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/dimensions-of-power-knowledge-and-rhizomatic-thinking/
. I think that rhizo14 to some extent healed itself in that dialogue continued but some of the key participants were sooner or later lost (or maybe now lurking) – and that is unsettling, to me at least. A community could develop safe spaces for members to voice their concerns: network nodes could self-organise privately to deal with perceived threats. A question for organisations like #rhizo14
is – what isn’t spoken? For me, the unspoken is different from lurking: it’s more like what we can’t say than what we don’t say. Lurkers elect to watch for whatever reason: another, more positive term for lurking is learning by onlooking. The larger the group, the more essential lurking is for survival. In an 800 strong list-server email group, members will be greatly relieved that not all members feel obliged to respond to all messages, though may welcome the rare gem from a lurker. What isn’t spoken? Is a different question. Looking at what makes the community uncomfortable is a way into its unspoken assumptions.
Lurking is a differentiated practice not a classification – in rhizo14 people could lurk in the Twitter #rhizo14
hashtag (without even being on Twiitter), observe the FB group whilst participating in G+(and vice versa), read blogs and/or post on blogs.
You contrast local and global causality but I wonder if causality is a distraction in complex contexts that involve humans and non-humans like technology. My response to local causality would be that, for example in the case of power, a relational view is a better lens for understanding and a better frame for action.
In the case of global causality, I can see that this ecological approach has its attractions, but I was hoping that De Leuze and Guattari’s concepts of assemblages would help me better understand global impacts. Moving from local to global causality can give a broader view but the moral agency that you seem to imply would, in my opinion, benefit from a relational view of power rather than causality – it takes two to tango.