Tuesday, October 21, 2008

a trip to copenhagen

last week was the association of internet researchers (or aoir) annual conference in copenhagen, denmark. sarah took vacation time and joined me. before the conference, we stayed in hørsholm, where sarah's old-time seattle friend, michelle, and her family live. one day, we hopped on a train to see frederiksborg castle.

copenhagen is a beautiful city and sarah and i hoofed it all over, from vesterbro through the city to christianshavn, up to the kastellet and down beautiful bredgade. we spent plenty of time admiring the black diamond and had a few long delicious dinners. one of the trip's highlights was the day michelle and her daughter mabel introduced us to christiania, the magical part of town.

over the years, aoir has been the closest thing to my academic home conference. since 2000, i've attended six aoir conferences, including the first one in lawrence, kansas, the ones in minneapolis, maastricht, toronto, and chicago, and last year's conference in vancouver. this year's conference - aoir's 9th! - was expertly organized by lisbeth klastrup (conference chair) and brian loader (program chair) and took place at IT university of copenhagen's dramatic campus.

i was part of a first-day panel titled "beyond place: using concepts and methods of practice theory to study mediated experience." edgar gomez cruz (presentation title: "from virtual communities to co-presence practices: some theoretical notes from the field") got us started, followed by annette markham ("methods for studying lived experience with technology: revisiting the past to find new paths"), and then elisenda ardevol and adolfo estalella ("constructing localities: blog events and situated practices"). my presentation was last and titled "practice theory and pedagogy: teaching internet studies."

i began by talking about dichotomies and traced the history of internet studies through three historical either/ors: a) people who use the internet vs those who don't (or what we used to call the wired generation); b) people who have access to the internet and those who don't (or the digital divide); and c) people who participate in and contribute to web 2.0 and those who don't (or what some now call digital natives). i mentioned others - books vs web; libraries vs wikipedia; the internet will produce a utopia vs a dystopia - and said that it was a sign of academic maturity that we as a field have gone beyond such limiting dualisms.

next, i offered my teaching philosophy for teaching internet studies - log off before you blog off. i tried to illustrate my methods by showing three examples: lulu mcallister's flickr set How to Make a Delicious Omelet Using Wild Foods; miles simcox's blog post USF Organic Garden Project; and my teaching reflections on the davies forum at stonelake farm. with each example, i highlighted how i require my students to log off of their computers, do something with their hands, document that something with notes and photos, and then log on and blog about it.

at some point i think i said: "it is very important to say publicly, and say publicly at conferences filled with internet researchers, that we spend, and our students spend, way too much time online and connected. we need to log off and disconnect more often."

with time running out, i concluded by arguing that a) my teaching style and students' work goes beyond dichotomies (something that was challenged by the very smart anne beaulieu and others during the Q and A session), that b) our students' inability to disconnect for significant periods of time should be a major concern of ours, and that c) green media, or the intersections between sustainable living and participatory do-it-ourselves media, merits further attention.

here's how things looked from my side.

conference highlights! watching recent USF graduate sara bassett give an excellent paper on gender and world of warcraft. catching up with friends and super smarties christian sandvig and michele white. having lunch with ken hillis and hearing about his farm in canada. having lunch with edgar gomez cruz, hearing about his dissertation about barcelona-based flickr photographers, telling him about my new course on food and media, and sharing our love for staring at oceans.

at some point, teresa senft joined edgar and me and we began talking about how things feel a bit too tame and comfortable around here. teresa asked who could best shake things up as a keynote speaker for next year's aoir conference. i answered, without hesitation, david de ugarte.


The Sheck said...

David Silver! Sounds like a phenomenal trip. Glad you had the chance to hit the Continent, even if it's not with me at IFLA.

Just wanted to say how much I think that our students' inability to log off and the concern for green media (is that your term?) are inextricably linked. In both, it seems that we are asking students to think and act on what they value, which is not always convenient. That, of course, could circle us back to the real problem when we talk about libraries v. wikipedia.

Great post. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

Agreeing that it sounds like a grand time. I'll have to try to return to AOIR.

david silver said...

sheck and bryan - my two vermont buddies!

sheck - thanks for the comment. in my mind, green media (to the best of my knowledge, my term, and a concept i'm trying to develop with my friend and colleague melinda stone) is an extension of log off before you blog off. if log off before you blog off is an assignment, green media is a field. i will have a lot more to say about this in spring semester when i get to teach a seminar called ... green media! i'm excited about it.

bryan - thanks for the comment. next year's aoir will be in milwakee, wisconsin. you should consider attending. aoir definately needs more folks from the humanities.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

Tempting, David. Is there any room for something on teaching and learning? Or perhaps I should present on Web 2.0 storytelling instead.