The world may or may not be flat … but from my perspective it’s becoming very small, very quickly.
A couple of weeks ago a new acquaintance suggested I read the transcribed text of a talk danah boyd gave on G/localization (the intersection of global information and local interaction, to borrow danah’s phrase). In the talk, she referenced Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi‘s notion of flow. I was so interested in the idea that I promptly went to library and came back with at least a dozen books covering everything from psychology to educational theory to social media studies published in the 1970s. (I think Barbara thought I’d gone a little whacko… er, a little more whacko than usual.)
This evening and for the next couple of days I’m in Greencastle, IN, attending a NITLE event at DePauw University. Tonight’s pre-dinner keynote speaker, Anastasia Morrone (Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at Indiana University), talked about motivation – specifically about the different motivations faculty have for using, or not using, technology in their teaching. To whom did she make reference? Csikszentmihalyi.
After a lovely dinner and dessert, I came back to my room to relax, look up a few things I heard about from the others at my table (quick aside: check out Wikimapia – think Google Earth + Wikipedia) and do a little reading. I was in a bit of a hurry this morning, trying to get on the road, and so I just picked a book from the middle of the stack that’s in my kitchen (the dozen from above, plus a few more) and threw it in my bag without looking. I was also in a bit of a hurry when I arrived at the hotel to shower, and get to the evening’s events, so I unpacked and put my book on the nightstand without noticing what it was. Imagine my surprise when I came back to my room a little while ago to find Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Csikszentmihalyi waiting for me.
More on tonight’s speaker: I enjoyed Stacy’s talk, both content and form. But – as I’ve said before – I am unclear as to why an organization which caters to smaller colleges continues to bring in keynote speakers from large university settings. I’m not trying to be a separatist … I think small college technologists have a lot to learn from our colleagues at large multi-campus research universities, and vice versa. And maybe it’s not a pattern – maybe it’s just coincidence. However, I’m also on the planning committee for an upcoming event, and we’re in the early stages, but the only suggestion so far for a keynote speaker has been someone from a large research university.
What’s going on? Is the liberal arts technology community just too busy? Are the projects we’re working on not interesting or compelling enough? Is it that we’re not well-known?