‘Falling Through Learning Layers’

Aaron’s post, Blogging: Personal vs. Group on the status of his team blog being in limbo was a very interesting exploration. First of all, I’ve gotta say I love the verbage, “I fell through a post” ( Blogging: Personal vs. Group par 1, accessed Nov16,05). I identify with this idea of ‘falling through’ a post into the many layers they can provide. I am reading along, see the change in hue of text that indicates a hyperlink, and follow Alice down the rabbit hole… It can be an alienating and fragmented experience in the sense that reading changes from being a linear, start to finish experience to being a nonlinear one. I seem to have a strong reluctance to following these rabbit holes (and with that I will stop the references to Alice in Wonderland ), as I often want to continue reading the ‘original’ post. The temptation is there, however, to follow the hyperlink to assemble or help construct my mental understanding of the original author’s context. It reminds me of reading cyber punk lit (perhaps Idoru or Neuromancer ?) and the metaphors authors like William Gibson and Neil Stephenson use in describing cyberspace– nodes that stand out to the ‘surfer.’

Following hyperlinked references is like watching the process of meaning making in action, except this happens at the speed of whatever uplink you are jacked in from (be it cable or phone line). I recall similar experiences in my undergrad when reading texts with wordy endnotes, except for the fact that an active hyperlink will take you directly to the source of the author’s thoughts, instead of pointing to a partial quote or citation. This makes the author’s text become a multi-layered document, which is much richer then a paper based exploration. The author’s readership is given the opportunity to ‘fall through’ (thanks, Aaron) the original post to follow the learning of the author, while the post itself is a record of the reflection and assembling of that learning.

Imagine if this trail went back to its’ origins. If we could ‘fall through’ the original post, the source of inspiration of that post, to the source of the source, etc. This would indeed be a deep and wild journey into the construction of understanding.

More to come on Aaron’s post . Hopefully this will be on its’ topic as opposed to semantic unpacking. I can’t help but wonder how much the ‘conversation’ would have changed if we were able to trace it back to its’ roots. Would this exploration end up more like a game of ‘telephone,’ where the original message rarely resembles the end, or would it be a record of knowledge that is being built upon and expanded…

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