Shifting and changing sense ratios (and a whole lot of love)

“What will be the new configurations of mechanisms and of literacy as these older forms of perception and judgment are interpenetrated by the new electric age?”

[Marshall McLuhan, from “The Galaxy Reconfigured…”]

As I write this, you should probably know that I am simultaneously stopping to play air drums to “Whole Lotta Love.” If you’ve ever listened to the opening track of Led Zeppelin II, you will understand.  You know that John Bonham can have that effect on you.

You may be wondering what air drumming to “Whole Lotta Love” has to do with “Two by McLuhan.”  Fair question.  I will try to explain the “mosaic pattern of perception and observation” that involves ds106radio, its two heart of gold DJs this evening, and the discovery I made while listening (and yes, air drumming).  I decided that what I wanted to do in this post is take a moment to celebrate what we are doing collectively.  I want to reconfigure slightly the original …uh… eros-centered thrust of those lyrics to an agape-centered focus in order to say I have a whole lot of love for the way this community of colleagues in weekly connection is having an impact on all who actively participate.  I think this weekly connection shifts and changes our sense ratios.

Seems to me we are all capable of being “serious artists”; and, we are becoming increasingly aware of the positive effects of augmenting our understanding by altering “sense ratios” and “patterns of perception” in the most unexpected and delightfully productive ways.


I missed the F2F “idea space” of the VT new media faculty staff seminar last week.   I missed out on the discussion of Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg and the Dynabook.  I missed it because I was in Philly at a conference, yes, but what I really mean was that I missed the connection with my staff, faculty, and grad stu colleagues in seminar.  In an earlier incarnation of a faculty development seminar (one in which only faculty would be meeting with faculty), I might ask someone to give me the highlights of what went on in the discussion, and that would pretty much be it.

Oh, but the nmfsf_11 (local and ‘glocal’) offers so much more than that.  It is a seminar that is, to borrow from McLuhan, “totally radical, pervasive and decentralized” in the best sense of those terms.

So, I did not miss out entirely because this new electric age version of our seminar has a “narrate, curate, share” component that I want to get everyone (even more) excited about.  I want to give a shout-out to everyone and let them know how much I love reading their perceptive and creative blog posts.  These posts engage my imagination and inspire me.  How often do we otherwise regularly share our thinking-pondering, best narrative selves with each other, and with the broader community of nmfs participants at other sites, and, oh yeah, with anyone and everyone on the world wide web?  I guess I am becoming a blogger, and when someone asks, “Do you blog?” the answer is now “well, yes.”  I know this not because of the few posts I’ve written but because I found myself over dinner in Philly telling two of Gardner’s fabulous colleagues from Tulane—Mike Griffith and Derek Toten—that I thought the blogging piece of the nmfs seminar is an essential component, that it amplifies the engagement in ways that you couldn’t have convinced me of prior to the experience of being a reader/blogger in this seminar.

What a wonderful evolution and augmentation opportunity in this new electric age this medium offers us.  A sampler of narrated, curated and shared nuggets from those of us who were able to get posts up last week included (in order of appearance as I scrolled down): Yanna’s always original use of this metamedium to make me laugh, cry, and suck in my breath within one entry—this time with curly lambdas; Brian’s expert framing of the vision of Kay and Goldberg complete with cool photo of a mock-up for the 1977 Dynabook next to the 2011 iPad; Rebecca’s spot-on lament about “blah” eBooks as they currently exist, along with fond remembrances of her VTech Precomputer circa 2000 that she got as a 4th grader; Tim’s able riffing on the need for new, more expansive metaphors for pushing our understanding of our technologies; yet another remarkable exploration by Jill—this one makes gentle fun of her phobias—about snakes, those creepy ‘70s troll dolls (oh my, yes!) and computers, all to help disrupt computer phobia by reminding us that we can reframe and reenvision with the wonder of a wannabe smalltalk kid; and, Ann’s thought-provoking pulling together of Freire, Nelson, and Boal in one sentence along with a descriptive image of herself within that historical time in “Nehru style mini-skirt” and long hair with leather braids. . . .  And that’s just a quick glance at last week’s posts.

A-Side Remix (‘cause there ain’t no secondary status B-side here):

When I came home from campus late this evening and sat down to read again the McLuhan essays and to do my narrating, curating, and sharing, my tweet deck suddenly prompted me to hook in to the pirate radio that doesn’t seek or need permission, the digital storytelling phenom of ds106radio. (If you don’t already dig it, you should check it out).  It prompted me to seize the opportunity to hear, to be transformed by, to have my sense ratios no-doubt shifted by, the two DJs on last night.  The long-time friends and colleagues @GardnerCampbell and @cogdog were sharing air time, playing some (righteously inspiring) vintage vinyl, trading insights, and discussing teaching and learning that can’t be “managed” (hallelujah!) by any control and contain tech tool.  One of the wonderful things about ds106 is that the audience of listeners is connected and the backchannel feeds and inspires the on-air conversation even as the DJs inspire the listeners.  Because of this medium, those DJs could see I was listening, and what a warm and wonderful shout-out they gave me.  Hearts of gold, I tell you, hearts of gold.

So, in turn, I am inspired to give a warm and wonderful shout-out to my nmfs colleagues.  I am listening.  I’ll have more of what you’re all having, as Dr. C might say.   We are all busy and struggle to make time—that won’t change.  So, I say, let’s continue to make time to explore and have “multiple transformations . . . in the world of our time.”

Can I say, again, how delighted I am to be on this ride with all of you?

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4 Responses to Shifting and changing sense ratios (and a whole lot of love)

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I love this double sided thought album!

    Having had the opportunity to see the seminars from a distance (via the blogs) and up close (in person at Baylor and now Virginia Tech), I am so convinced of the value of both modes being part of the whole experience. We need both in our lives and our work. More importantly, it strikes me odd that in the coming together environment that is supposed to be the purpose of the University, we so rarely make this time to gather and just flesh out big ideas together.

    How do we break from falling into a pattern of “busy backson”

    Please keep taking the time to reflect and refract each other- I am sure it will be more of a gain.

    PS- Glad you met Derek and Mike, both great souls in the travels we do.

    • shellifowler says:

      Thanks, Alan. It has been great having you wander in and out of our VT hallways and nmfs seminar this past week. I agree that it is odd that universities do not create sanctioned space for collective big ideation and collective ‘poke the box’ conversation as a normative part of their mission and function. Good thing that folks like you and Dr. C know how to do that and inspire the rest of us to step it up. (Thanks, too, for the encouragement–“double sided thought album”–sweeet!)

  2. Robin Heyden says:

    And a “whole lotta love” back at you, Shelli! What a terrific post. Totally agree this narrate, curate, share aspect of NMFS makes it all really rich. Our hearty Second Life group is coming together well – but I often do reflect on what we might be missing by not physically being together every week, in the flesh. Doubtless using the immersive virtual environment is changing our sense ratios! I am grateful for the connection to the wider NMFS community through these amazing and wonderful blogs – like yours.

    • shellifowler says:

      Hi, Robin — I think your SL group is fabulously rich and hearty, and it seems to me that your around the virtual campfire engagement is definitely changing your/our sense ratios! You, after all, had McLuhan (via Willow’s creation of the McL ‘bot’) as part of your SL conversation. Nice! I think there is an awesome ‘hammerhand’ aspect to the SL nmfs group that is unique.

      Thanks for your incredible post on McLuhan–not only did I get to see the clip from Annie Hall again, but I also benefitted from your willingness to narrate, curate, and share your epiphany about rethinking your previous assumptions about McLuhan’s message. You sparked my own reevaluation of the ways I (mis)speak about new media ‘tools’ and teaching and learning. I appreciate how you made the penny drop for me, too!

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