The second issue of the Fibreculture Journal reflects on both new media in relation to their past, and some attempts to adapt the past to contemporary technologies in the new circuits of education. Of course, these two concerns are closely related.
Education is very much trapped at the moment between present (technologically informed) potential and past institutional formations. Despite all the discussion about new pedagogies and the institutional love for technological “solutions” such as WebCT, there still seems a dire need for subtler theories of technology and education, more informed critiques of current major moves in this direction, and more supple, dynamic tools and concepts providing alternatives to these major moves. Here we provide Lisa Gye‘s discussion of her own experiment in pedagogy, Halflives: A Mystory, which implements some of the valuable ideas of Gregory Ulmer in an Australian context. Tama Leaver gives a critique of WebCT as a seemingly closed system at odds with the very idea of the network. Karen Woo takes a look at learning objects, pointing out that this potential foundation for distributed forms of education is often misunderstood. She documents a number of interesting problems for developers. All these articles are telling us how much further we have to travel in order to really start mobilising the benefits of networked media in education.
On the other hand, in two reflections on new media in relation to the past, Philip Roe and Esther Milne are careful to sketch out the way that the past continues into the future. The past is giving us much to build upon. Roe describes the way in which, as was the case with “old new media” such as photography, there is always a virtuality to new media which potentialises the present with the fullness of the past, and drives it into new becomings. Milne traces the continuities between letter writing and email. For her, the complex creation of an incorporeality of presence ghosts the strategies of both.
Andrew Murphie – Editor, University of New South Wales, Sydney