I woke up this morning to find that Ruby had restored my old Cat in the Stack column from the old (remember that?) HASTAC site: http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson I'm happy to see my old avatar again.
I've written several hundred posts since August 14, 2006, when I began this blog at the "Futures of Thinking" Seminar at SECT (Seminar in Experimental Critical Thinking), at UCHRI, led by David Theo Goldberg and Anne Balsamo. Something close to 700 posts later, Cat in the Stack is back. You can read them all here: http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson
So where did that name for my blog come from? My nickname is "Cat" . . . in the "Haystack"/HASTAC . . . get it?
Well, it's a bit elliptical, but it was fun to click on my old Maneko Neki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneki_Neko) icon and see the looooooong list of blogs I've posted over the last few years. Plus all the comments. Tens of thousands of readers over those years. Do you realize HASTAC now has about 2000 unique visitors every day? That's pretty astonishing, isn't it? The Welcoming Cat, so to speak, is once again standing out in front of the HASTAC shop, beckoning others to come in.
One reason I'm drawn to Maneki Neko (other than nominal kinship) is its specificity appeals to me. That is, Westerners are often confused that the Maneki Neko's paw seems to be lifted, not beckoning. That is because, of course, gestures are not universal but are culturally specific. This is also true of technology. And it is one reason we created HASTAC. The ways we conceive of new media, the way we teach and use new media, the way new media function within society are all precisely scripted. They are continuous with all the other features of culture that also vary, that are also learned from infancy on and then reinforced by peers and by our educational system and concomitant systems of reward.
Anyone who studies "Digital Anything" without thinking through the cultural, social, philosophical, and material implications and applications of technology misses the boat. It's happened over and over again in the history of technology. Where people "blame technology" for cultural changes without understanding the mechanisms of cultural change. HASTAC was conceived at the interface of three areas: (1) designing and developing new media; (2) thinking critically about the role of new media in society and in our intellectual, social, and political lives; and (3) participatory learning, understanding the best learning potentials of new media and the way new relationships forged by new media should be changing all of the pedagogies, ways we measure, standards, disciplinary divisions, and everything else about our (basically) twentieth-century models of education.
That's all we're up to at HASTAC. Just those three little things. Cat in the Stack beckons you to join us!