Playing the Jester is Hard Work: One Scenario

When we began to consider the work that people have contributed to MOO (service, research, teaching), we found too much to point to. As we reviewed, once again, many of the readily available online scholarly works and studies of MOO, we were constantly struck by the fact that those whom we would wish to see this work have often never ventured online. Quite a conundrum. The assertion that those of us working online must bring our world to the uninitiated holds some credence. However, evaluating MOO (and other online work) is not simply a matter of scholarly or pedagogical theories; it is a matter of "visitation." We can no longer afford to be armchair scholars, absent from the world around us. Those in the position of having to evaluate emerging online practices have theoretical, ethical, and even economic stakes in acquiring what Greg Ulmer names "electracy." For example, by the time Ulmer's term "electracy" hits the off-line community, it has already been published, argued, discussed, and more than likely adopted by some. Where does that leave the individual? Rather clueless and out in the intellectual sticks.

The nature of the tools make certain demands upon the design process. MOOville affords the opportunity for a large number of individuals to interconnect their intelligence and experience, to create a kind of parallel processing across civilizations that could produce a new dimension of awareness. I call this the "collective page" project. The history of literacy shows what the written page made possible for the individual, beyond the initial fact that it enabled individualism as such. Now the MOO offers to groups of people a collective version of the analytical reflexivity that the page offered to a self. How might the MOO foster such a group intelligence? (19)
As Ulmer maintains, "We need an electracy that is to MOOville what literacy is to books." (8) That "electracy" also necessarily includes a call for a re-vision of work on such literacies, as well as a way of talking about visiting and re-visiting such s/cites.

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Janet Cross

Kristian Fuglevik