Volatility of Digitally Mediated Knowledge Co-Construction

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 20:10
Oral Presentation
Mikael KIVELĂ„, University of Helsinki, Finland
Distances in time and space are nowadays quite fascinating in relation to the structures and possibilities of communication. Digital information and communication technologies bring us seemingly ubiquitous and instant connectivity and equally omnipresent volatility. That is to say things can move and transform very quickly in relation to reference frame(s) of human observation. Moreover, increasingly capable systems, sometimes called Artificial Intelligences, perform more and more tasks with inhuman speed and competence. This present paper inquires whether there is a need to grasp better the temporal aspects as well as blackboxed control of digitally mediated communication in social systems. We base this assertion on five years of fieldwork in Higher Education focused on knowledge co-construction employing a variety of technical means from sticky notes to online solutions. However, the internal complexity of these technical means is neglected as long as they continue to perform as expected, hence the term blackboxing. If and when social systems as relationships of interconnected elements constantly reproduce themselves and differentiate themselves from their environment in whose temporal reference frame(s) this happens or should be observed? Texts like Tække & Paulsen's Bildung in the Era of Digital Media (2016) and Serres' Thumbelina (2015) have elaborated on several challenges and tensions in formal education fostered by digitally mediated communication and its means. However, we have not observed much resonance to these challenges and would like to find out to what extent this caused by our theoretical choices and other limitations in the acts of observing. The question of this present paper as a work in progress is: To what extent can contemporary theories and models of social systems grasp a) the speed, b) the complex interdependence of digital media as well as the c) amount of influence these aspects have on human communication?