Northern Voice Postscript

I got home about eight hours ago from a two-day traveling saga. While I am glad to be back, things are not the same for me on many levels. Ideas of commitment, integrity, and the political nature of the work many of us do was brought into sharp focus over the last four days and I was not prepared for the powerful and important education I received. I was acutely reminded that I need to constantly re-examine some basic assumptions about space, place, nation and identity more closely. Something in me seems amiss after Northern Voice, despite the facts that the conference was excellent, the people I saw were top caliber, and the organizers did a bang-up job of putting together an outstanding breadth and depth of expertise in a relaxed and inviting environment.

In fact my own uneasiness has very little to do with the NV conference per se, but rather with the life-sustaining human contact, conversations, and out-and-out education I received after hours. Some conversations I had jarred me on some fundamental intellectual, physical and emotional levels as very few things have over the past couple of years. Dr. Glu started me upon my education in Ed Tech, but in Vancouver I kinda felt like Luke in the Degoba Dagobah system: lost, scared, and out of my depth. This could be the ravings of exhaustion after almost two days of travel, but I think the travel problems were the easiest part of the trip in some ways. Much more profound was that I was forced by the people around me to think about the pressing political and social questions that under gird the logic of social learning -it was like being in a four-day seminar with the most committed thinker on the topic I have yet to meet. Numerous discussions traced and chased some of my comfortable assumptions out of their foxholes. Social learning is not about RSS or blogs or Wikis or Drupal or WordPress -it’s about defining and maintaining a vision of commitment of social justice in the face of all the other bullshit. I met a few people who taught me more than a thing or two about this over the last few days, and for that I am greatly indebted to all of you.

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19 Responses to Northern Voice Postscript

  1. “Social learning… is about defining and maintaining a vision of commitment of social justice in the face of all the other bullshit.”

    Great quote. I’ll be using it.

    Jim – I had a blast hanging out with you. Between your vision of this stuff, and Jon Beasley-Murray’s articulation of his goal, I’ve learned a lot. It’s definitely shaping my thinking since NV.

  2. kk says:

    great post… thx for coming and for the wrap-up

  3. Chris L says:

    Hi Jim– I don’t think you are alone in your feelings. NV turned out to be a powerful experience on many levels, deeper and more significant than anything I expected even with my high expectations about this particular event. My own weariness and this flu are a small part of it, but I feel unsettled and shaken up and challenged and humbled and excited all at the same time. And some of that is from things you said.

    I think it’s good. I also think it will take a while to work out the changes (in many senses of the phrase). It was great meeting you…

  4. jimgroom says:

    @D’Arcy: Here, here Darcy, and you perhaps had the greatest line of the entire weekend, and I paraphrase: “Does Gandalf care if Frodo gives him a trackback.” You put lot of important history of the evolution of social learning in edtech on the table, which was a much needed context for me.

    @Kris: You’re photocamp session on Saturday epitomized the laid back non-pretentious approach to sharing ideas, tips, and some really beautiful photographs that had characterized my idea of NV. You moved fluidly through the audiences questions, ideas, and comments, and, as D’Arcy noted, even had the presence of mind to stop for his camera in midstream. Yours was a really impressive session.

    @Chris: It was great meeting you, too. You were certainly well-grounded in your approach to all of these technologies, and your anchoring my enthisiasm about WordPress and Drupal was really powerful -I have been talking about it with several colleagues today. I am still processing your work google co-op and Ning 2.0 which is way cool. Do you have that written up some where else? Moreover, I think your own comment about NV on Scott’s powerful post “The Most important thing I learned at Northern Voice wasn’t part of any session” gave me the impetus to publish my own reflections -yet not nearly as candidly or eloquently as both of yours. So, thank you.

    Sorry for the love fest but what do you want from me -the conference was that good!!!

  5. Gene says:

    Jim,
    I enjoyed your session and the energy you put into it. And yes your kids pictures were great! NV does something to you and this year it was again, different. There is an atmosphere or culture that is always there and I think it is because it is people based. Sure we talk about technology and what it is doing but you really look forward to meeting up with people who you have read about over the last year. There is nothing like meeting people face to face. We are social animals. And before NV is over you begin to look forward to the next one.
    Thanks again for being here. Maybe we can offer more sunshine next time. By the way it snowed here today.

  6. Brian says:

    Jim, I can’t begin to describe what you brought to event, for me and for others. Thanks for your outstanding session, but mostly for your amazing energy and analytical gifts. I think if you honestly work though the conversations that led to your most intense learning, it will be clear you were right out front on most of them.

    And man oh man, did I have big-time fun hanging out with you. It’s a wonderful thing when a blog buddy becomes a realspace friend.

  7. jimgroom says:

    I really appreciate that, Brian. Gardner describes you as an extremely soulful person, I just had no idea how far the depths of that soul went. I guess I began to learn a bit about that at NV. You’re an awesome teacher, and an even better friend. I can only hope to reciprocate the same openess, honesty, generosity, hospitality and phenomenal company you’ve shown me sometime very soon!

    But having said all this, the thing that really has me returning to NV again and again is that Denver sandwich you made. Wow, that was good stuff! Please thank Keira and Harry for putting up with a loud and brash NYer for all too long. You all rock!

  8. OK. Enough of this love fest. I’m getting the garden hose to cool you all off… I think we need to talk about hockey or something now… How ’bout those Flames? 😉

  9. Brian says:

    You mean that team that will be lucky to make the playoffs this year?

  10. Brian says:

    Ooops, just checked the standings, it will be at least four playoff games before they’re eliminated.

  11. jimgroom says:

    Listen, to both of yous, no hockey talk on this blog, for it’s an American blog and Spring training is upon us. Go Yanks!

  12. Brian says:

    I don’t know anything about baseball, but Ricciardi talks a good game, so in the spirit of trash talk I’ll boldly predict the Jays will walk away with the AL East this year.

    BTW, did you ever read the stunning first chapter of Don DeLillo’s otherwise bloated novel Underworld? Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, J. Edgar Hoover and Toots Shoor witness the “shot heard round the world” in Yankee Stadium?

  13. Brian says:

    UGH – showing my baseball ignorance. Not Yankee Stadium. Never mind. Back to hockey for me, on my own blog if need be.

  14. Brian says:

    This hasn’t been my most solid performance on a comment thread in terms of factuality.

  15. Brian says:

    But it must be right up there in # of comments.

  16. jimgroom says:

    Now you deserve the huzzah! Funny your talking about Yankee Stadium and the beginning of DeLillo novels, because you probably simply were conflating Underworld with MAO II which takes place in Yankee stadium for the trippy mass Mooney (sp?) wedding. I have to admit I haven’t read the Underworld, but I know the shot heard around the world didn’t come from a hockey stick! And don’t start with the Blue Jays, any Dome team up north is underfunded and hence underwhelming :)Keep the comments coming, I want to start a World’s record!

  17. sorry, unky jim. the closest I’m going to get to anything even remotely resembling baseball is when Evan starts playing T-Ball in the spring…

    Which will be around the same time as Calgary eliminates Vancouver in round 1. oops. digressed back to hockey again…

  18. I think you mean the “Dagobah” System, not that I am geeky enough to know (but http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/dagobah/ helped).

    I am still catching up from Northern Voice, especially as I have never attended a conference like this one. Most of the ones I do are related to my field (HRD and adult education), but now I am much more interested in the social media ideas that are still mostly foreign to my professional areas of practice. I have always loved technology for its own sake, but for me nothing is better than tools that help me to more effectively and efficiently do what I am already doing (or trying to do). The more I think about my experiences in Vancouver a week ago (with an academic conference in between), the more I am wondering if my professional area of interest may shift somewhat to better accomodate this new way of looking at things.

    Perhaps next year we can chat in person at NV.

  19. jimgroom says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for the correction, if you read through many of the comments on this blog you’ll notice this is a recurring theme:) I have to agree with you about this sense of shifting perspectives in relationship to NV. In fact, while I have been interested in social media for a couple of years now, NV taught me a thing or two about the politics and possibilities that these tools afford. It is this philosophical and theoretical framework that I am still feeding of. I am glad to hear you experience was just as stimulating, and I hope we do catch up next year, if not sooner. If I understand correctly, you are blogging from the big apple -if I am right give that wnderful city a kiss for me! (And have a slice of pizza for me as well.)

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