This is a transcript of a discussion thread in ModPo - Al Filreis's extraordinary Modern Poetry MOOC.

The MOOCs is fascinating for a number of reasons, and you would be well advised to explore it. In this wiki I would just like to point out the affordances for collaborative, live, audio conversations, and 'parole' rather than 'langue' that I find quite stunning in ModPo.

Most of what I have to say is captured in the discussion (below), with the help of Al and Allan.

Modpo is ... a live MOOC talking, no?

external image Head.png· 19 days ago

Dear Modpo

Rich close readings of poets/minds
Wow! Respect.
So this is what the semioticians mean by parole
Opening conversations/hearts/minds/microphones ...

... I am always looking for examples of presence[parole]/writing in my research on MOOCs and emergence - this is a powerful example of presence demonstrating collaborative presence. (See Welby Ings work, referenced here ... )

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 19 days ago

Roy could you say more about parole?

I know that it means word in French.
What is the semiotic meaning?
I'll follow your link, but I am very
interested in your ideas.

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Alan, the distinction in semiotics is between the live, interactive, messy, mashed-up, negotiated 'stuff' which is called 'parole' (or speech) and the formal, systemic, rule-based 'stuff' which is called 'langue' (or grammar). Both of these are constituents of 'language'.

Semioticians (and linguists) takes sides on the issue, some saying 'parole' is all, and 'langue' is just the residue, the dregs that are left over after the 'real' interaction has taken place), and others saying its not like that at all, and 'parole' is just messy, incomplete instances of the 'real' stuff, which is 'langue'.

And many semioticians, of course, say its actually in the interplay between the two. Which I go along with in my head, but my heart is with the 'parole' lobby.

In my research on narratives, we use audio only, and avoid written text as much as possible, as it is so much richer and more 'live'. Hence the title of this thread ' a live MOOC talking', which for me encapsulates what Modpo does so well (and I just love the messy irony and metaphor imbedded in that).

Does this make any sense to you?

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 19 days ago

Yes it does Roy, thanks!

We've got some rich recursive parole/langue
stuff happening in ModPo. We are reading texts
& writing about texts in a messy, mashed-up way.

You should have great fun later in the course.

Could you say more about emergence?
What is emerging with MOOCs?

external image Al-portrait.jpgINSTRUCTOR· 19 days ago

Roy, please tell us a little about your research of MOOCs. And are you primarily in ModPo to see how it works as a MOOC? (That would be okay by me and Julla and the TAs, to be sure - just curious.)

external image Head.png· 19 days ago

Al, I was interested, now I am fascinated by how Modpo works (which happens to be 'nested' in a 'MOOC', no?). More anon ... so far "a live MOOC talking" is about as far as I have got - there's so much to think about.

On the other hand, I write a few lines of poetry, and at university ran a poetry workshop, but I find it quite difficult to write poetry. More importantly, I was fortunate enough to do philosophy with a wonderful person called Johann Degenaar, who also did 'close readings', and from whom I learnt the value of good questions (rather than answers) - he once did a year's open reading workshop on Hamlet, and we only got as far as Act 1 Scene 2, which was great. So it's like coming home for me. Thanks.

MOOC research - I work in a research team which came out of the CCK08 MOOC, set ourselves the task of describing learning in open courses, tried all sorts of theories, and eventually focused in on 'emergence' as the key concept to help us describe learning. Many papers later, we are now running an open wiki on emergence and how to use emergence to describe and visualise open learning - from Montessori preschools to interactive spaces for children on the Autistic spectrum to graduate level MOOCs. You can read more here ...

external image Al-portrait.jpgINSTRUCTOR· 2 days ago


=====external image Head.png· 19 days ago =====

Alan, exactly, we have these amazing microcosms called poems in which there's an endless interplay and between parole/langue - and much else besides.

Examples of emergence: twitter (no one can see the whole picture), wikipedia (it's self-correcting), and Sugata Mitra's Hole-in-the-wall projects (radically open learning).

Definition (if its useful): Emergent learning is likely to occur when many self-organising agents interact frequently and openly, with considerable degrees of freedom, but within specific constraints; no individual can see the whole picture; and agents and system co-evolve. (From the paper in IRRODL in 2011).

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 18 days ago

Thanks Roy.

Is there a sense that an entity emerges?
Or is it infinitely emergent,
yet nothing ever emerges.

Whatever these emerg-a-ma-bobs are,
if they are anything, they each emerge
distinctly with their own expressions.

=====external image Head.png· 18 days ago =====

Allan, infinitely emergent, for sure, which is quite remarkable, seeing as the poems are so short, but that's a tribute to wonderful writing. Love 'emerg-a-ma-bobs'.

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 16 days ago

That is the strange thing about poetry.

Many a time, I've come back to reread
the words on the page & been postively
shocked at how short the written text

The dang thing had expanded
into a sprawaling emegr-a-ma-bob
in my consciousness. I suspect that
it had fully taken over the unconscious
as well.

Sneaky bits of pixel grease these poem-thingys.

external image Al-portrait.jpgINSTRUCTOR· 18 days ago

Roy: "Emergent learning" = these poems and, ideally, this kind of approach to them. Iterative interpretive community.

external image Head.png· 18 days ago
Al, exactly. I have just spent a few days at the 'ALT-C' conference in the UK, where emergence was discussed too (see the twitter traffic at: #altc2013). It just struck me there that recursion (based on iteration, and iterative interpretation) should be added to our palette of critical factors for emergence. Thanks.

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 17 days ago


It seems to me that recursion is a big key to consciousness.
It treats things like ideas & concepts like objects
of perception starting the recursive scroll rolling.

external image Head.png· 17 days ago

Allan, true. I learnt a lot about iteration and recursion from Montessori preschoolers, and from Seymour Papert's Mindstorms book, and his LOGO software.

Can you say some more about "treating things like ideas and concepts like objects"? I'd like to know more - I did hear someone referencing something similar from Latour, a few days ago, but I can't place that in my (partial) knowledge of Latour.

And ... our research group has a paper forthcoming (only next year) which takes some of this a bit further (along with an analysis of some neat recursion in learning 'objects' in Montessori spaces ... and a few other things), using the idea of synaesthesia. The abstract to that paper is here ... and if that interests you, I can send you a copy ahead to time, but to a private email address - I can't circulate it here (yet).

=====Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 16 days ago =====

I don't know any philosophy roy.
I assume that Latour is a philosopher,
I'd have to google to find out.

The above conception is just a reasonable
assumption on my part on how consciousness
gets to be so rich with very little input.

The brain is a storyteller. It takes the chaotic
flow of external input, sights, sounds, touch,
& weaves them into coherent objects that
predict future inputs reasonably well. We
think that we eat a peach tree in one full swoop
when we see it. But that cannot be true because
our eyes can only see really well in a very small
area which we dart around unconsciously looking for
relevant information.

This peach tree is now an object of consciousness.
It is not made of bark & sap, but rather of ideas about
trees & memories of peaches, & imagistic flashes of color
& lines. It is the story of a peach tree.
This peach-tree idea-object can now be observed
by consciousness as gist for more storytelling. This is the idea
become object. Objects, ideas about objects, ideas about ideas.
These all have a similar feel. They all feel like objects that can be
moved around & connected with other objects & they feel like
ideas. They taste like language & they move like thought.

That is the magical power of recursion.
It is a brilliant strategy of creativity & economy.
This is how one can perceive the infinite in a small package.

That is my story & I'm sticking to it--
For NOW.

=====external image Head.png· 16 days ago =====

The story of the peach-tree (variations on a sticky story ...)
[A side: with a bit of licence? - hope you don't mind - please delete to taste [you should have admin rights]].

If ... then ... [that's the philosophy part, if you need it]:
... this peach tree is now an object of consciousness.

    • This peach-tree idea-object can now be observed
by consciousness as g(r)ist for more storytelling
The idea becomes object about i/dea/terations
They all have a similar feel on the tongue
They can all be rolled around & connected with other objects
that feel like ideas,
that taste like language & move like thought.

[A side 2: forget Latour, forget philosophy - this is better, thanks]

Whiskey tasting
Getting to love whiskey (... or ... fill in the gap)
happens when the narrative of tasting it
is indistinguishable from the recursive tongue/tasting
of the narratives and idea/objects of my various brains
left/right, un/conscious, human/reptilian (add to taste ...)

What a fea(s)t whisky is!

(Add a picture of a peach-tree here, if you've seen a good one lately ... )

Chorus: I don't know any philosophy [roy] (de capo).

Allan KeetonCOMMUNITY TA· 2 days ago

Ahh, whisky philosophy roy!

I was busy the last two weeks, so didn't see your response until just now.

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