The official title is the “New Media Faculty-Staff Networked Development Seminar.” The tag, modified by identifiers for years and semesters, is merely “nmfs.”
And now my new unofficial category for this endeavor, now in its sixth iteration for me in this form, is a MOOS: a massively open online seminar. (Apologies to Northern Voices and its mooseology–I won’t say branding–and I hope they will not be angry with this petty theft by a friend.) I think the “massively” is important, in that it modifies “open,” not “seminar.” That said, it’s also important for me that this experience scale somehow, across institutional boundaries both internal and external.
Our seminar this semester includes two visual artists, a poet, an engineer, a businessperson, a central IT leader, two historians, a cultural anthropologist, a rhetorician, two librarians, and of course a bootstrap carny/bassist (and Miltonist). It’s a fine mix of roles and professional training, a vital part of any NMFS experience, but as always those categories are only half the story, if that. We’re also a mix of genders, of ages, of attitudes and experiences within and without higher education. We’ve come to the seminar for different reasons. We bring different hopes, anxieties, and (yes) agendas to our meetings.
If our last week’s meeting is any indication, however, we are united by a strong sense of curiosity and an unusual capacity for wonder and serendipity. We discussed Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think,” and the discussion was like a fine piece of music: the tempo varied, there were moments of grandeur and hushed introspection, and at its best it seemed as if we were all writing the score, together, as we went along.
Already several of the seminarians have placed their blogs in the ‘sphere. Our cultural anthropologist is wondering about “as we may evolve” (and has a most intriguing blog title: “Oscar and Eliza”). Our poet muses about the strange title of Bush’s essay, which grows stranger and more marvelous the more we think about it–as we may think about it–now the uncanny descends. Our IT leader views each seminar reading through the long lens of experience in the building, management, and use of these mighty (and mightily vexing, and sometimes ennobling) calculating machines.
And this is just the start. I’ve not yet told you about our network this semester, or the new macro-motherblog (the mother of all motherblogs) that’ll display our blogging across the network–or about some of the larger plans afoot to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”
But I will.