In attempting to finish up the video project that I started two years ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between materiality and learning. How is it that using tools, ie tactile, physical, tangible things, helps us learn? Maybe the idea of “using” tools is too limiting, so how about understanding the physical elements of the concepts we study. I would argue that attempting to understand the physical nature of the things we are learning will help tremendously in how we learn. In archaeology it’s easy, almost not fair in fact, because the entire field revolves around things and the tools used to uncover them. But I think all disciplines, yes ALL, could take a lesson from archaeology and seek a certain level of grounding in the material world. I’m still thinking through the details and reading what I can on the subject, but I think even text, digital information, etc., could all be better understood by keeping an eye on the underlying materiality. By keeping tabs on things, we can move towards demystifying the way information, and ultimately knowledge, gets created and transferred.
More to come on this later, but most of these thoughts have been inspired by Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms, Katherine N. Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman, and actor-network theory in general.
By the way, you can view the videos by clicking on the link under Videos in the right sidebar.