I am a Nancy White Groupie

I will confess to you, dear reader, that I am a Nancy White Groupie.

No, I don’t follow her to see her on stage (who can keep up with that schedule, even to those places I cannot at times find on a map), nor do I toss my unmentionables (I have nothing that is unmentionable, BTW) to her across time and space for her benefit, though I would gladly share chocolate with her when I am able (or drinks when she visits New York). As a matter of fact, I have not even seen Nancy F2F for some years now (how she remains young while I grow older is the magic of memory and avatars, I suppose), though thinking of her always brings a smile to my face.

It is that smile that I want to consider.

I am not saying this because she had a screenshot of a Twitter conversation (yes, a real discussion, cf. Jenny and Jenny again) I had with John Mak (after an interesting exchange on his blog) during her #change11 MOOC session this past Monday (recording and slides etc. are here). I am saying this because she has a way of engaging people that gets creative juices flowing, even when it is about the most challenging of topics.

Take her session this past Monday. She asked us to consider change, especially related to creating a space for change. I was entirely engaged during the discussion, including the interactive whiteboarding she championed (see a screenshot to the right) that I watched without writing on. I could not write on this board because I was struggling with processing what she asked us to consider. I watched others. I was actively engaged in writing in and reading the chat stream (little surprise?) Because I like to think more than I like to draw. Because I believeĀ reflecting on is an interactive and engaging activity. Even at the end of the session, I was not clear exactly what happened, what we (I) learned, nor what to do with it. Even here near the end of our week with Nancy, I struggle with her notion (or a notion she shared) about #socialartist. Even through some DM messages yesterday, somehow Nancy brought a positive spin to it. She didn’t leave me where I was–she encouraged and guided and urged me on, all with what I can only imagine being a smile on her face of knowing that we have to experience change ourselves–she can not tell us what will happen, but rather guide us to the edge and then steward us across.

Through all of this, Nancy makes me smile. I feel reassured and encouraged as she engages in online discussion and interactivity with a group spread across the globe. I don’t think it may matter to her how we react and engage; I think she cares more that we do react and engage. Perhaps in that variety of ways of approaching this lumbering issue of #change11 Education, Learning, and Technology, the issue is not so much about doing this or that right (as if there is a right way to experience education, learning, and technology), but that we move past our comfort zone, as only there will change (of the status quo) live.

Perhaps that is the (or a) point; change comes whether we want it or not, but if we engage in learning that pushes our boundaries while engaging in some aspect of community, the change may benefit from our shared exploration and thus be more fully realized. Borrowing from our actor-network theory colleagues, our learning network constantly changes, with technologies coming and going along with the people around them. This change really is the only constant. What can we do with all this change, especially so our voices get heard and we become part of it while not getting rolled over by it?

Ahh, that is what I think Nancy may really be getting at . . .

5 thoughts on “I am a Nancy White Groupie

  1. im wondering about how- as an ant groupie- change and change theorizing is also substantiated in things, not just words and policies and practices, but also in art. Its in the symbolic representations of rebranding for example.
    Its also in the things that move from the margins unaccepted spaces and into the exotic eg http://ilikethisart.net/?p=11006

    And in reflections on what happens with change and seeing allegorical representations, especially where things might otherwise be unacceptable.

    And in the stimulation to think about not only affecting change, but also in patterns of resistence (in ant change is always about resistence)

    But more than any other musings is Latour he talks (2002) of technology as catching a garland in time, past and present being brought together…and technology as the art of the curve.

    Im being loose with my connections here…but if technology is as Ursual Franklin suggests the way we do things round here, then change and technology might be loosely the same thing šŸ™‚

  2. @ailsa-
    Thanks for your comments, and as always for showing how ANT-informed perspectives can be right in front of us! Those two references were amazing, and so nicely pushed the boundaries of how we (or I) see the world and what art can show us about that world.
    Tell me, how do you locate actor-network theory in these places that do not mention any of the central theorists in this area? I am asking this as I know some have claimed that these people (Law, Latour, Mol, etc.) are almost necessary when using ANT.
    To your other point, are you musing here that change=technology?

  3. I’m comment-catching-up tonight as I reread many #socialartist posts for my own blog recap. First, Jeffrey, it is lovely to dance with you again online! And I was so happy to see your tweet/conversation to help make my point about the little things we do as social artists that make a difference. And awwww… i never knew I had any groupies! COOL!

    And yes, change is constant. It is a way of being, as Stephen talked about today. We can dissect it, we can theorize about it, but we also have to live it!!



    1. @Nancy-
      Looking forward to seeing your summary (for now) post. Agreed, there are lots of little things we do that together have big effects; glad to be part of this process here. Nothing like supporting one another as modeling what a social artist may engage in.

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