Better the World: Reflecting on #DigCiz Discussions

Person by person

As I mull over the last few weeks of conversations

I’ve been using Vialogues to “slow-watch” weekly video hangouts of folks in the #DigCiz conversation. This “writing in the margins” has helped me slowly think about the topics — to push back, at times, and to agree at others. It often has taken me days to get through an hour-long discussion video. It has been worth it. You are invited, too, if interested.

Thanks to folks like Daniel, Terry, Sarah, Wendy and others who have added to the side conversations along with me. I still wish more of the hangout folks would have spilled into the margins, too, and extended the conversations (as Maha did). I appreciate, too, how Autumm and Sundi have worked to gather voices and perspectives together, and how they have nurtured the discussions in various places.

I have valued of all the points of view.

This whole four-week #DigCiz discussion has really raised important questions, particularly in the role of the individual in a larger data-driven system. Some lingering questions:

  • What rights and responsibilities do we have in that system or that platform?
  • What expectations should people have in those spaces, such as Facebook or Twitter or whatever?
  • Can we change those platforms if they don’t work for us?
  • Do we have agency?
  • How do we best teach young people ways to navigate the terrain with optimism and engagement?
  • Where do we go from here?

We’ve all done much chatting about these concerns, and more, and about how we address civics in the digital age. So, how do we take what we talked about and move it into action? Isn’t that always the conundrum? (See comic at the top for one way I tried to grapple with the question and found myself thinking of Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird).

I am reminding myself, too, that we all need be more mindful that we can make a difference, one interaction at a time. I was asked by a friend about the following comic …

Think small
The point I was trying to make (and maybe fell into stereotype of academic folks, which is a bit unfair) is that we can all easily get bogged down in jargon and vocabulary and lose sight of the reason why were are engaged in conversations in the first place, which is to better connect with others and better understand points of view.

As a K12 teacher often in the midst of university folks through work with our writing project, it seems as if I am surrounded by vocabulary — you can almost hear some folks planning their next education journal writing or book project as they talk and interact — and I was seeking to remind myself that deeds and actions are important. Talking only gets you so far.

Words matter, of course. But where you take those words is a reflection on who are you and what you really want to see happen. Think small, but get it started. In the end, it has to do with being kind to each other and being open to differences, whether you are online or offline.

Perhaps I remain a bit naive about the possibilities of making the world a better place …

Peace (in the margins),

  1. I’m in Chicago. You’re in Massachusetts. Terry is in Kentucky. Maha is in Egypt. Sarah is in the UK. Wendy is in Australia. Others are from many other places. That’s a good thing. I feel fortunate to be involved with such a group.

    Yet, on my blog, yours and perhaps those of many who are part of this conversation, I’m not seeing comments or links posted by family, friends, fraternity, neighborhoods, etc.

    Maybe that’s because we can have these conversations off-line with people close to us. Yet, when I get together for holidays with family, others are not talking about these issues, or saying “read this, or look at that” the way we do with links,Tweets and Facebook posts.

    To make the world, and our neighborhoods, a better place we need to find ways to bring more into the on-line spaces where ideas are being shared, and to take this to our off-line spaces, too.

    How? How? and Who already does this well?

  2. I wanted to thank you for the vialogues accompanying the video discussions. For me, these are something that I will come back to. I often take awhile to process and one of the reasons I like having conversations in online spaces is because they can be slow and I can leave and come back. However, I’ve learned a lot this burst about how this fits into others expectations as well.

    • That’s why I appreciate Vialogues — the chance to come back, to breathe and think, and slow down. And it keeps the door open for participation long after the discussion has ended.

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