I still hear people talk about distant learning as being “independent of time and place” (“ajasta ja paikasta riippumatonta” in finnish). Last time I heard it was at the eLearning conference. Blah..
I had a deeper thought on this statement. In asylums we tend to categorize people in a very poor condition as having “no sense of time and place”.
I always thought there must be something rotten and mad behind that statement. As if the web is a shortcut to insanity.
Can we be independent of time? Originally I guess this has meant that we do not need to explicitly schedule time for an event. But being independent of time is not true, because we always need time, even if it’s in an informal setting outside of work or school. To be more spesific, we need time to focus our attention.
Can we be independent of place? When we first went online, we wanted to be part of a global village. The problem with villages is that no-one wants to be part of a global village. What we want to be part of is local social networks, as we will never be able to be emotionally connected to every social network in the world. You are more likely to share a common ground and feel like home with people who share the same cultural background. What happened the global village shattered into thousands of local pieces, having weak links between various local networks to form a global system. The talk that place and geography doesn’t matter is completely false. In physical terms, we will always need a safe place to access the digital world.
But the idea that community is some kind of a place with clear boundaries is blurring. I see myself as part of a loosely-defined community in a small corner of the blogosphere. When I go from link to link I find myself home in new houses I come across. The problem is I can’t see when I have crossed the line, whether or not I’ve entered the community I feel I’m already part of.
Having time in a nice and cozy place, I’m writing this and wondering… the networked computer is my 7th sense, an ability to tap into networks, having the world in my finger tips. I’m dependent of it to iterate my knowledge towards eternity in an exponential world. Without the network I feel alone, misaligned of time and place.