Working with Others: Branching Out, Going Deep

heterogeneous

So the material for this week’s Creativity, Innovation and Change MOOC is focusing on the idea of creative collaborations,  In particular, the emphasis is on making the best use of a group’s wide range of talents, skills, capacities and motivations to move creative work forward and leaving the unproductive tensions to the side.

Bringing diverse perspectives and ideas to the table are also a core value in the Critical and Creativity Thinking program as well.  As I was wrapping up participation in the September Collaborative Exploration: Everyone Can Think Creatively!  I benefited a great deal from insights from two collaborators who gave me new ways to think about and extend my work at constructing an exercise that explored the social aspects of creation. Both of these individuals come to these CE with thinking that is different, yet both brought very good insights to my own thinking that I would not have come up with on my own.  I love these experiences with CEs and other CCT offerings because there is an emphasis on promoting and sustaining spaces where lots of diverse ideas and thoughts can surface.  I always learn something beyond what I thought I would.

This is also one of the aspects I love about the best of engagement in MOOCs — when I take advantage of it.  The idea that I could come in contact with lots of diverse ideas and individuals is exhilarating.  Yet, I seem to gravitate in these open learning environments to others who think about and are interested in the things I am — such as technology enabled learning, building learning communities, and navigating new learning landscapes.  Here the contributions are not so much about an entirely new perspective, but rather going deeper and extending my thinking in an area shared by others.

So I wonder how we go about constructing our own personal learning networks to ensure that we have enough challenging people and opportunities that make us think differently, while at the same time cultivating connections with those who want to dig deep into an area we are all passionate about.  Maybe this will be something to explore further in the upcoming open seminar on personal learning networks.

 

Creative Community; Community Creative

It is written in many places how the arts and creative individuals contribute to community and community development. The concept of “creative economy” owes its origins to this body of work.  But what about the influences in the other direction?  What does community add to the creative process?  Is there creativity without community?

We think of creativity as an individual quality.  Incubated and expressed by a singular brain making sense of the world.  And certainly there is an understanding that creative individuals can band together and form a community for mutual support and exploration of creative impulses.  But what if creativity only exists because there is community?  Because there are thoughts, ideas and connections to make sense of?

So this is the line of inquiry I started as part of the UMass Boston Critical and Creative Thinking’s current Collaborative Exploration -Everybody Can Think Creatively!!  I came across Rhode’s (1961) concepts of the four Ps in the creative journey (Person, Process, Product, Press) which works from that idea that creativity is part of individual cognitive processes. But Glaveanu’s 2012 article entitled “Rewriting the Language of Creativity” argues for a sociocultural approach to these concepts transforming them into ones that have more social meaning.  Person becomes Actor, Process becomes Action, Product translates to Artifact, and Press splits into its social meaning of Audience and its material component, Affordances.  Here is how Glaveanu details the relationship between Rhodes “sociocognitive” approach and this more “sociocultural” one:

Glaveanu5As

Glaveanu also provides a visual of how these 5As integrate with one another:

Integrating5As

As someone who is more of a sociologist than a psychologist, Glaveanu’s 5As resonate with me at a deeper level.  What if it is our ability to come to a situation and then the interactions of that situation that embody creative processes?  What if it is not the product itself, but the meaning we attach to the product, its function as an artifact, that is the more important aspect of goods and ideas?  And can any idea or creative endeavor exist outside of its social context, those who interact with it and the material constraints that birth it into being?

So how do these ideas and questions connect into the activities and concepts being explored in the #CICMOOC?  The concept of being an actor or having agency is my next line of thinking and it seems to me that the lectures and exercises presented in these first two weeks by the University of Pennsylvania team are all about individuals viewing themselves as creative agents.  By encouraging hands on experimentation and self reflection the materials invite and prompt us to think and act as creators.  They provide multiple doorways into the act of creation and this week we gets some actual tools to get us going.

These three things – 1) an invitation and openness to create; 2) permission and encouragement to start with what you have and enter into the process with what you are and 3) support and materials to get you going seem critical to becoming and agent and feeling empowered to be creative.  I still have much more to think about in relation to this creative agency concept, but I am at the start of this inquiry.

Referenced Articles:

Gl?veanu, V. P. (2013). Rewriting the language of creativity: The Five A’s framework. Review of General Psychology17(1), 69.

Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. The Phi Delta Kappan42(7), 305-310.

Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere

Can social media increase and improve civic participation? If so, in what ways? There’s a lot being said and written about the subject these days, but it is difficult to get a clear overview of the opinions. I attempt here to collect viewpoints both for and against the premise that social media is creating a better public sphere, and analyze them in the context of what constitutes a public and its antithesis, a mass. In presenting what are sometimes extreme positions within this debate (too idealistic v. too critical), my hope is to begin to understand the reality that lies in the middle, and come closer to understanding social media’s potential (and limitations) as a tool to bring about social change.

i d e a n t: Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere

Meaning Interrupted

Ok, part of my preoccupation with words and the construction of meaning has to do with teaching a media literacy class this semester. So here are some words that are at a crossroads and it seems that big debates are in the air over whose meaning gets the overall thumbs up.

immigrants

  • those born in another country
  • those born in another country but here withouth status (some times called illegal or undocumented immigrants)
  • those born in Mexico
  • often migrants and immigrants mean the same
  • often talk about our borders means the Mexico – US border
  • does American mean signing the “Star Spangled Banner” in English only

Marriage

  • a legal union between two people
  • a legal union between a man and a woman
  • a religious union between two people
  • a religious untion between a man and a woman
  • a holy sacrement
  • current issues – gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

Life

  • starts at conception
  • starts at birth
  • starts somewhere in between conception and birth
  • ends when there is no brain activity
  • ends when all normal functions cease to sustain it
  • ends when external devices are withdrawn
  • ends when an individual decides to end it
  • ends when loved ones decides to end it
  • ends when a state entity decides to end it (including capital punishment)

I’m sure there are more contested meanings, but the big cultural value clashes come from our battles to resolve meaning over what on the surface seem to be very simple words.

Shades of Meaning

Off and on over the last few years I’ve thought about the variation in meanings these three concepts embody:

  • United States of America
  • America
  • USA

They each have subtle differences for me.  For instance, “United States of America” feels very constitutional to me.  A term that embodies the formal aspects of the country.  While “America” is more symbolic.  For me it embodies those things like “baseball,” “apple pie,” “the people,” “plains of wheat,” “the rocky mountains,” and the “Statue of Liberty”.  Finally, USA is the corporate brand.  The snazzy logo that sells us to the rest of the world.

Wonder what others think.  What other variations exist?

Americans Trust Miltary more than Civic Institutions

From the same issue of Harper’s that I referenced in my 4/16 post here is a disturbing stat:

Americans have an incredible trust in the military. In poll after poll they have much more confidence in the armed forces than they do in other institutions. The most recent poll, just this past spring, had trust in the military at 74 percent, while trust in Congress was at 22 percent and the presidency was at 44 percent. In other words, the armed forces are much more trusted than the civilian institutions that are supposed to control them.

This from an article about scenarios for coup d’etats in the US. And we wonder how Nazi Germany came to power.

A Clash of Values

On Thursday, Russ Newman of Free Press and Susie Lindsay of the Berkman Center presented as part of the UMASS Lowell’sNew Directions luncheon series. The series is designed to bring thinkers and practitioners in the fields of new media and technology to the Lowell community. This particular presentation wrapped up the 2005-2006 series. Both speakers provided great background and activity in the realm of communication’s policy and participants were enaged in disucssing some of the key point highlighted.

For me, one of the most valauable insights came from Susie Lindsay and how she defined the various ages of “television” (broadcast, cable, Internet) and their varying value priorities. I’ve misplaced my notebook for the time being and with it the specifics of what the values in each era are. But the key thought was the idea that current communication battles are reflective of these clash of values (i.e; universal access vs. innovation).

I have thought for a while that the variety of regulatory environments (which I would also include telephony and sattelite) each brought with it a separate set of business practices and public give backs that have been embedded in the ways companies, communities and indivdiuals have come to expect and experience their variety of communication services. Looking at these battles from a value perspective helped me in attaching language to thoughts I’ve had for some time. Thanks Susie.

The Spirit of Disobedience

Harper's April '06 IssueI just finished reading a really wonderful essay by Curtis White in the April issue of Harper’s Magazine. The essay looks at US traditions of religion and reason and places them both in contrast to Thoreau’s thoughts on humanness and spirituality. A culture of death created by money and a corporate society are countered by individual resistance and instence on a stance in opposition to society. I certainly am not doing it justice, but is definitely worth a read.

http://www.harpers.org/MostRecentCover.html

Fake TV News

While prepping for my Media Literacy class on journalism and mainstream news, I came across this site on Fake TV News.  Even for a critical (and old) media consumer as myself, it is still pretty amazing how constructed and manipulated our news environments.

Teaching this class has awakened my awareness about how much consumer society and corporate agendas are seemlessly woven into our experience of reality and our information / communication systems. Consumption, capital, corporations – you know they are there, but its good to get a wake-up call every once in a while.

Communicating Vision

I’ve encountered several instances lately when I’ve found myself in the challenging place of trying to communication my vision. I see things so clearly in my mind, yet the language to make it clear to other evades me. I’m usually really excellent at this. Maybe I am finding myself in these situation where I am still not clear and the specifics are not clear and hence other not so much.

I do know this:

  • communication is essential to communities, a community unable to communicate its values, ideals, and needs will find it difficult to grow or compete
  • the tools and systems of modern communication have never been more accessible, but so many still are without access to or the skill in using these new tools
  • corporations and governments are rapidly changing how we organize society, and if communities don’t advocate for the public sector we will loose a core ingredient for a true democracy
  • I want to be one of those working to make sure that all of this happens and I want to work with other committed souls who have this as their mission

And so I found this:

Developing and communicating vision from the Community Toolbox.