I pretty much knew that my first post about Reclaim Open would be about scale. That was definitely one of the big takeaways from me over that re-invigorating, celebratory 3 day event. Keep in mind I helped organize the event, so I’m owning my bias out the gate. Even better is that Anne-Marie Scott—who travelled all the way from Scotland to join us in Fredericksburg, VA—already got the discussion rolling with her post “#ReclaimOpen – reclaiming human scale.” Anne-Marie is pretty awesome, and her thinking around open infrastructure and understanding scale in terms of augmentation and scaling people’s possibility rather than the metastasizing growth metric it has mutated into as a result of the consolidated social networks that continue to cannibalize any and all healthy cells left to make a buck. The hollowed out corpse was once a vibrant field of discourse. As Anne-Marie notes in the above referenced post:
The drive for scale seems to have become to scourge of our age. Mass education at the expense of meaningful relations and genuine community; AI operating at the scale of planetary effects. I have many more thoughts that I need to sit and digest properly.
The link between our unsustainable relationship with the planet and the ever increasing toxic climate on many of the predominant social networks is nothing new, but it really hit me in the gut at Reclaim Open. And again, as Anne-Marie notes this was a whole theme across sessions, from
Image credit: “Bryan Alexander” by Tom Woodward
But all that while a particulate haze from Canadian forest fires descended on the ‘burg, a kind of Raven for our time. Nevermore, nevermore! It was hard to look away, but it was also helpful to be reminded the stakes are far greater than textbooks and resources when it comes to the open web; we’re fighting for survival in some fundamental ways. Which is probably why things like Hopepunk and Solarpunk were invoked repeatedly (I think I am just re-writing Anne-Marie’s post, is that the ultimate compliment?), as the search for viable alternatives are starting to take on real resonance as the cultural/political lines are being drawn ever more deeply across the US and Europe.
Slide from Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s the talk “The Web was Never Social”
But there was also faith in the seed of blogging in Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s pitch-perfect talk about how “We Have Never Been Social: Web 2.0 and What Went Wrong.”
It’s a really brilliant meditation on the “web that was” that remains rooted in the “web that is” and can be with a call to a return to distributed, de-centralized networks. The coolest part of it all is Kathleen practices what she preaches by not only blogging, but helping stand-up one of higher ed’s most compelling Mastodon communities, namely hcommons.social. It’s just this kind of hopeful sense of working with generosity and a purpose that was a necessary adjacent reality to the waves of loss that pervades the social web as we knew it. This uplifting sense that the foundations are still there and the whole reason we got into this thing to begin with: to try to connect and create a sense of community, and that is not something any one platform can take away from us. This message helped balance the competing bouts of pessimism and optimism for what’s to come.
And that is just part of it, but let me stop there and start another post around Rajiv Jhangiani’s meditations on colonization and the open web as well as the UMW reunion session and many, many more. Like with OER23 there is no way I am going to get it all in one post, not need it be, and there are still so many posts I need to reference, so I might draw this out a bit, if even just to hold onto the magic just a bit longer….