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#HASTAC2014 Peru Day I: OPENing Up

#HASTAC2014 Peru Day I: OPENing Up

The HASTAC 2014 Conference in Lima, Peru is OPEN in every sense.

Yesterday I was thankful for the opportunity to have a #21C reunion in Peru and be presenting alongside Cathy Davidson, Barry Peddycord III, Elizabeth Pitts, Christina Davidson, Kaysi Holman and Jade Davis. Our topic: Open Learning, Open Access and the Digital Divide. I was running off of adrenaline fumes having arrived in Lima, Peru close to 1 AM the night before the opening day of the conference. After the HASTAC team's and conference committee's hard work, preparation and organization surrounding HASTAC 2014 it was surreal being in Peru and seeing everything come to life.   

When we try to imagine an immediate visual for the word OPEN what do we see?

Just being at the lively registration table and reading through the program I was struck that their wasn't a readily identifiable "type" of prensetation, person, or topic area.  The conference was curated to maximize openness.   

I began my segmentt by asking everyone (including the panelists) to imagine a visual representation of the word OPEN.  I asked "Whats the first thing you think of?  What does open look like to you?"  I then surveyed the room, asking those who had the same visualization for  the word "open" as their neighbor to raise their hand.  Out of the 35-40 people in attendace two hands were raised in the air. 

For a four letter word it is impossible to produce a singular, vision of OPEN.  This holds true for visualizing OPEN in regards to education.  My colleagues Barry, Elizabeth and Tina discussed several powerful ideas surrounding OPEN: open software, open learning and posing the questions open for whom? My goal as the documentary artist and designer in our bunch is thinking about what visual forms these ideas may take and how these forms are then engaged with by different users. To explore intersections and integrations of forms and functions of being OPEN. 

This exploration mirrors our 21st Century Literacies class experience in which we blended areas of expertise as well as theoretical and practical approaches to map a collective cartography of ideas for open learning.  The form of our in class discussions and experiments where transformed into a book.  But the book was designed to take many forms: a physical copy Cathy showed, a HASTAC published ebook version, and you can even annotate and interact with the text on the rap genius platform.  In this way book became a physical, evolving representation of its conceptual contents.

In her book Re-inventing the Medium, Media Theorist Janet Murray observes “ When we expand the digital meaning-making conventions and design environments that make up 21st century literacies, we expand our ability to interact and connect with each other."  Designing in this new digital medium contributes to the development of an even wider collective effort of understanding and communication.  Everyday design is constantly developing and always changing how we perceive our surrounding environment. 

Design is simultaneously universal and deeply personal.  

Looking at the spatial design of the room we were in there were chairs arranged in neat rows, static large wooden desks that formed a U-Shape.  The space in the center of the desks was not being utilized.  My colleague Barry had commented during his segment that he disliked rooms like this because he didn't know where to look.  The spatial arrangement reminded me of common classroom space design with desks in a row, with a spot for the teacher at the front to lecture.  As our panel transitioned into a participatory exericse on modalities of information collection,  I asked folks to re-design the room for collaboration.  I was excited by the response and watching the entire room transfrom in a matter of minutes:  chairs were turned so that people could face each other and converse, bodies in motion, a couple people even hopped over the static, wooden desks into the empty middle space.  (Check back here soon for photos and more updates)

Our panel like the HASTAC Conference, didn't just talk about or demonstrate ideas surrounding open, it embodied truly being open.

What does being open look like to you?

PS. Link to HASTAC 2014 Conference Live Stream:



1 comment

I wanted to share an anecdote as a member of the audience. During the "What does 'Open' Mean to You?" exercise, I had the chance to share my vision of "open" with a few of my neighbors. I immediately imagined an expansive grassy field with yellow flowers and tall mountains in the background. I actually found an image on Google that capture my notion of openness (can you tell I've been experiencing wanderlust for Switzerland lately?):

By contrast, my neighbors imagined doors and windows. I found the natural vs. man made divide quite interesting. Isn't it amazing that two totally different images could inspire the same notion of "open" for people? Thanks for starting off your talk with such a refreshing and eye-opening exercise, Jenny!