In response to a recent email I received, in which Noss (1999) was quoted as asking: “What kinds of pedagogies are appropriate to using (social media) technology and, more fundamentally, how does this technology change the epistemologies?”
The second question is particularly interesting, and it is not one that I would think of, as I am, I suppose, far too allergic to ‘technological determinism’ – but this is not about that at all …

So … technology does change the (range of affordances for) Epistemology, yes, but then we probably need to tease out and differentiate “epistemology”. To wit, epistemology could be differentiated into ‘epistemological (or investigative) technique’ on the one hand, and ‘epistemological communities’ on the other hand.

This is nothing new, you might say. However, the two domains: epistemological ‘investigation’ and ‘community’ are increasingly intersecting, overlapping, and generally becoming increasingly fuzzy at the edges – one might even say they are becoming integrated. This means that a ‘community of inquiry’ is not just another fashionable name for a community of practice of a special type; within social software ecologies, it’s actually something quite different.

Or to put it another way, the ‘subject’ of the epistemological project is becoming distributed. That is to say, the way we (individually-and-collectively) construct our knowledge – i.e. our ‘capability’, or our ‘capacity for effective action’, needs a new term, a new hybrid (mashed-up) concept, as it includes epistemology, and networking, and sequence, and (layers, fractals) of work-in-progress – like this blog, as well as ontology: who we desire to be, and to become.

A ‘capability’ approach (with deference, but not necessarily reference to Amatya Sen) might help us (see here …). So we might ask: “what new ‘capabilities’ do these new (social media) affordances open up – capabilities which are a mashup of epistemology and what I have (elsewhere) called ‘c-ubed’ (siting, sighting, citing)” (see here …)
C-ubed, to take it a bit further, includes:
  • Sites: What site/s (nodes, portals) do you inhabit &/or create - as a digital resident or visitor (see David White), and as a person or spectre (avatar, etc – see Sian Bayne’s work on Second Life).
  • Sighting: A ‘site’, in turn, provides a space, a platform – at which, and from which, you can i) extend your presence, your network, and what you are able to engage with [what you can ‘see, hear, feel – we need new ‘synaesthetic verbs’ here]; ii) manage what you can use, and how you can use it (twitter, blogs etc) …. iii) what ‘social-network-capital’ you can ‘accumulate’ (as links, and virtual resources, not necessarily as ‘things’) as you tweet, blog, wikis (vt), publish, etc: i.e both traditional intellectual capital as well as ‘social-network-capital’ (a new mode of IC);
  • Citing: Citing used to be a separate, formal, activity, and the stuff of ‘citation indexes’ and ‘research assessment exercises’, but it too has ‘fuzzed up’ at the edges, and is now another (short) loop in social networks, and part of the new knowledge ecologies, and ‘networks of inquiry’ (“digital scholarship” is rather ‘last season’, no?)

Cross posted to here ...