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CCK11 The law of re-distribution

The power law operating in networks is an observation that autonomous, diverse social networks tend towards uneven distributions.  This observation can be colloquially expressed as:

Shirky’s Law:   Freedom of Choice Makes Stars Inevitable

The re-distribution law is an observation that the distribution in social networks is not static and is affected by the natality effect.  This observation can be colloquially expressed as:

Ken’s Law:     Stars die, and new ones are born


CCK11 Introducing the law of re-distribution

From the ongoing discussion here:

Hi Jennie and Al.  I think these are very good subjects for debate.  Should we push learning in a direction that is not natural, force learning to take place in a way that goes against its biological, economic or socio-mechanical proclivities, IF there is a natural tendency or power law at work?

(on the other hand, there might an argument to be made that this is done all the time in the teaching of students in our current systems, in order to produce some form of conformity as is being discussed in the FB group)

I guess one approach is to determine if it is even possible to push learning in the direction Stephen Downes is arguing for, and I guess that this course is an attempt to do just that.  I guess that another aspect of this is whether the push can have a lasting effect, or if the natural tendencies would re-establish, after the push is made.  So far, it seems that the latter is holding true, at least with what I know of CCK11 and its results.

The other side of the coin is the desirability of making the push.  Al suggests that a more distributed network is more creative than a distributive network which is faster.  What do you base the first assertion upon?  How does the slowness or relative inefficiency of the distributed network affect creativity?  I wonder if there are more laws at work than just the power law, for example, if the power law tends to steer networks towards centralization/distributive properties, is there a law that shakes up the statis of the distributive network to redistribute the hubs such that, for a time at least, a more distributed network appears.  The shake-up law might be a naturally occurring phenomenon, a naturally occurring redistribution law that has yet to be ‘discovered’ or articulated properly, take your pick.

I can think of a naturally occurring re-distribution law that takes place in the social realm over a period of time. The law is that of death and natality (the latter a concept of Hannah Arendt used in her discussion of education).  Death naturally ‘shakes up’ a social network by removing nodes.  Natality, the continual birth of new humans added to the social realm, adds new nodes to the network.  Maybe the focus could be on ensuring the new arrivals and their curiosities and creativity are welcomed, rather than worrying about interfering with the network.

The efficiency of the distributive network must have some value, I think, in that it permits widespread information to reach many people quickly. If the internet is one big node or hub, I’m thinking that it may be like a distributive network.  Since it distributes info efficiently, I wonder if it has the effect of increasing creativity.  I suspect that it has done just that, for me anyway, by giving me timely access to a wealth of information.  I don’t see the internet as a closed group, but I do see it as a distributive network.

CCK11 What is missing in Connectivism?

According to Downes:

 There is no entity called a ‘soul’ and commonly understood as some sort of non-corporeal self described by or explained by the theory of connectivism.
In this connectivism is consistent with other scientific theories and domains, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc.

 He has pinned connectivism to a number of philosophical positions:

The philosophical foundation for connectivism as expressed by Stephen Downes is pinned to a materialist, epiphenomalist position that borrows from eliminative materialism to explain the absence of the self, or identity (soul).


Cconnectivism has no soul.  It does not welcome the soul.


There are other viewpoints and criticisms of this type of approach to understanding the world, some examples below:

Schopenhauer wrote that “…materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself”.

In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance. As a theory, materialism is a form of physicalism and belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. For singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism would be in contrast to idealism, neutral monism and spiritualism.

It has been criticised as a spiritually empty philosophy.


In the philosophy of mind, double-aspect theory is the view that the mental and the physical are two aspects of the same substance. 


He regards the mind, soul and body as different aspects of the same underlying reality—”dual aspect monism”—writing that “there is only one stuff in the world (not two—the material and the mental) but it can occur in two contrasting states (material and mental phases, a physicist might say) which explain our perception of the difference between mind and matter.”


Polanyi claimed that absolute objectivity (objectivism) is a delusion, and therefore a false ideal, because humans are not capable of removing themselves from the universe they are observing, and because humans necessarily have biases that influence the scientific questions they seek to answer and the answers they hope to discover.[1] He also criticised the notion that any scientific method yields truth mechanically. Instead, he argued that all knowing is personal, and as such relies upon fallible commitments.

What saves his claim — that all knowledge is personal — from relativism is his belief that personal experience connects us to objective realities. Unlike relativists he criticized, Polanyi argues that objective reality exists, but that humans are merely incapable of being objective. Yet, through experience, humans are able to perceive aspects of reality, and through the process of scientific discovery improve the accuracy of personal knowledge.


CCK11 Einstein Speaks on Theory!

Having some fun on John Mak’s blog channelling Einstein:

“You see, at the time I was thinking this theory, I did not host any other theory. Other people hosted their various theories, and I did not feel welcome in them. Sometimes their hosting rules prohibited my inclusion, sometimes their hosting rules seemed silly, and I couldn’t help but think that if their rules were silly, then maybe their theory was also silly. I felt pushed to make my own home, construct my own world, where I would feel welcome and could have my own hosting rules too. So I created the theory of relativity. Unfortunately for you and Ken and others, if you wish to co-host my theory, there are a few rules you must follow….”

“My theory creation began with observations that seemingly at first had little to do with physics. When I was contemplating the variety of theories hosted by other people, I noticed that each of those theories could be thought of as emanating from within a specific frame of reference, i.e. the theory spoke as much about its object as it did about the subject from whom it was spoken by. When I thought about physics, I started to wonder if a similar observation prevailed – did the frame of reference, the position of the observer matter? And I concluded that it did, and then, working from this assumption, I was able to develop my theories of relativity as applied to physics”.

“So, you ask, what are the rules that you must follow in order to co-host my theory?  The main one is this:

Noun 1. relativityrelativity – (physics) the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts

Relative to what, you might ask?  Relative to the observer.  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, don’t you think?”

CCK11 The unique idea in Connectivism

I enjoyed the elluminate session today; I measure my ‘success’ in these sessions on whether I learned anything or not.  Today’s success included learning through the chat box that Neil Selwyn has some papers available for reading.  I’m going to have a look at his work a little more closely; I found his take on things refreshing, with a tendency to reduce the hype involving digital media.

I also was provided with the names of female Derrideans Irigaray, Cixous and Kristeva.  I really look forward to reading their works, and have put the links here so I can look them up in the near future.  I have just recently been introduced to Derrida and find him a tough yet engaging read, and it will be nice to get some other perspectives. 

And I learned how to make an emoticon in the Elluminate chat box!  Eureka moment, for me!  Thanks for all the help!

After the session, I thought about what the unique idea in connectivism is (the theme of this week in the course), and while I don’t have an answer yet, I think it must be linked to Downes’ articulation of the connectivist attitude towards the learner as expressed here (in about comment 11 in this thread): 

I agree, it “does not address the learner’s stated needs/wants.” And when you ask “How is this new?” the answer is that it rejects the implied contract to “address the learner’s stated needs/wants” that other approaches endorse.

This certainly is ‘unique’ as far as I can tell.  I was of the impression that in today’s world the expressed needs/wants of the learner were very important. Does connectivism stand alone on dismissing them?

CCK11 Dialogue issues

Interesting dialogue on the CCK11 page about dialogue:

I posted this to the dialogue:

Hmmm. So the emphasis on ‘distributed’ has the paradoxical effect of reducing the ‘openness’ of the course. In essence, this course requires a learner to participate in a specified manner, and does not address the learner’s stated needs/wants. How is this new?

As far as fees, I wonder if this course is still being supported by U of Manitoba, and if there are credit and fee-paying students? If so, wouldn’t Moodle be available? I see that CCK11 says it is in partnership still, and U Man lists this course for credit, so I wonder that Moodle wouldn’t be available? On the other hand, CCK11 did announce that they just chose not to use it, instead imposing a different structure.

I wonder at what point the imposition of a structure removes an approach from the theoretical category and places it in the practical category. Enforcing a distributed blog mode seems to be a bit of a ‘rigging of the deck’ to support the theory of distribution, by forcing distribution. How is that theoretical? How does that move support theory-development? It seems like the results are pre-determined: connectivist learning is distributed because we made it so.

p.s. My questions are not intended to offend. I would be offended if they were interpreted that way.

CCK11 – Recipe for success?

So, let me get this straight….

a)  Dump the Moodle forums, on the premise that they tend to ‘power law’ instantiations, in the sense that 20% of the participants write 80% of the forum posts  (this is deemed to be ‘bad)

b) Replace Moodle with Grasshopper forums, on the premise that the tendency will be towards a more ‘distributed’ knowledge/contribution base at the blog level, and less of the ‘power law’ instantiation  (this is deemed to be good)

Outcome:   20% of the participants are writing 80% of the blogs, which are aggregated into the Grasshopper forum which means…..

Yes Einstein, it means that 20% of the participants are writing 80% of the forum posts.  hmmm.  what has changed?  Other than the activity levels of the combined blog/forum is less than it ever was?