Books, gardens and streams

‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’
Chapter 1, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

A really great bunch of Edtech women have done a lot of work  with very little visibility from which femedtech is emerging – slowly. We have created connections with each other and explored how we can make space for people in education and technology to support each other. Those people will become visible (and others) on femedtech but that’s a joy of hidden work – you don’t always know who did it.

#femedtech on Twitter stealth-launched on Twitter around Christmas 2016. We soft-launched  on March 8 2017, International Women’s Day). In a nutshell, Femedtech is a network for feminists with an interest in education and technology, expressed in About and Our values.
Femedtech is becoming in the sense that it will change as it is enriched by the women and men who will participate in future. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of fun to be had.

This GIF captures how I feel Femedtech has been going in the last few months and I am fairly confident that the weight and the energy generated at OER17  can come behind the light Femedtech box and get it up that conveyor belt and out to the people who need it.

In our early discussion about what we might do in femedtech, there was support for a wide range of contributions: images, music, text and videos. So our femedtech ‘book’ would please Alice, as long we can generate conversation.

And that is what has been been making me think. How and where can we have conversations around femedtech?

#femedtech  has been a good space for conversation and sharing, particularly at our soft launch on International Women’s Day, and I am wondering how we can best inhabit it, complementary to the web site.

I have great hopes for as a space for conversation around ideas, that welcomes difference in ideas but resists some of the toxicity that can close down conversation in comment streams. Sara Ahmed’s words inspire me.

The materials are books, yes, but they are also spaces of encounter; how we are touched by things; how we touch things. I think of feminism as a fragile archive, a body assembled from shattering, from splattering, an archive whose fragility gives us responsibility: to take care. Sara Ahmed on the launch of her book

We do and will have conversations in more private settings when we meet, email, Skype; often to ask a question, or offer support; and these are the hidden threads. Feminism is also about gaining a (public) voice, about being heard.

Mike Caulfield has done some great work on open engagement online –  federated wiki and now the Digital Polarization Initiative . He has also offered us the metaphors of the garden and the stream for the Web : the garden being something we can walk through and work in at different times, and the stream being something we can jump in and feel its force as it flows past. I’m going to (mis)appropriate these metaphors in thinking about possible feminist spaces on the Web.

by David Clow CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In creating a shared feminist space on the Web, I think we can achieve a garden that has a stream running through it where the garden and stream can help each other. The stream can help drain the garden in times of heavy rainfall, and be a source of water for irrigation in times of drought. The garden provides a beautiful backdrop for the stream for part of its course. There can be conversational spaces where work is done, where we listen as well as speak.



So how can Femedtech be a garden with a stream running through it where we can chat, listen, support each other, make a difference  ? Do share your ideas with us. We like conversation.

4 Replies to “Books, gardens and streams”

  1. Lovely post Frances. I am thrilled to see this new community emerging. Maybe we are in the stage of letting a thousand flowers bloom and see which ones will be the annuals and which the perennials.

    1. That’s a good point Sheila. In a network, people can have a brief or a longer term impact and both can be valuable. I once bought a summer annual plant for an outdoor pot that seemed to attract a humming bird hawk moth. I have never seen the plant or the moth since but I will never forget the experience.

  2. Hiya 🙂 I am imagining the gardens being collaborative projects we build towards, working for things that accumulate, and grow fruit beyond the seeds we plant and benefit others outside our networks… Like Wikipedia editathons with feminist or social justice goals. There would be others, but this one idea comes to mind as having value beyond its immediate occurrence.

    And streams as smaller one off events like Twitter chats that garner interest and allow people to participate in smaller or more peripheral ways…who can then choose to participate more deeply if they wish.

    I have a feeling i am taking an orthodox approach to interpreting this, so will keep thinking about it…inshallah

    1. I am finding it really interesting to work on a magazine/group blog and hoping people will be experimental and reflective. I love Twitter but conversation can be fleeting and difficult to find later so I wonder how much people think about where they have conversations and why?
      This is day for coincidences around gardens I think. Viven Rolfe tweeted me to point out that she was blogging about a garden for OER17 and then I remembered a post from my lost blog posts . And then I found it in the wayback machine It’s really useful for me to see what and how I was thinking in 2008. Losing my blog posts jeopardised that opportunity but the good old Wayback Machine restored it 🙂

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