It has been great to witness Stanley Frielicks thoughts emerge as he processes his experiences with the Future of Learning in a Networked World. He, more than anyone has sparked important debate in that tour. He has suffered tirades and rants from many, flames from some, and institutional dogma from others, but maintained a willingness to engage and expose himself more. What emerges from this is a presence, a node, an extension in the connected knowledge, a person with whom I feel I can communicate with and relate to.

I met Stanley on the Northland leg of the tour, but before that he was simply a name in my email and little more. I tried once to find out more about him, but he was not easily located. A paper there, a photo here. As a result I could not be sure of who he was or what he stood for – that is until we met face to face.

We met at night at the airport and like any face to face meeting, a flood of information flows in as you instinctively look the person up and down and basically sum the person up as quick as you can so you can interact to some degree. A handshake because he is an anglo bloke, a smile because thanks to his dress and body language I have summed up that he’s a good bloke and we’ll get along… something like that anyway.

Now, Stanley is blogging. While he is at the other end of this little country I am given access to his thoughts and ideas, and can remain in touch. It is a different type of interaction – blogging and subscribing to someone’s blog (networked), compared to say – email, forums and telephone. With networked communications I see Stanley writing largely to himself and in the context of his ‘self’ (blog). I can choose to remain at a distance, or comment in to let him know I’m there. Compared to the demands of one to one email, phone, or even group email communications, it is a safe distance, less demanding, but intimate enough over time.

This networked communication is different to what many of us are used to, and different to what the majority of us experience. But it is significant. It is this form of communication – with all its promise of equality, democracy, and other egalitarian principles – that inspired the open space ideals of the FLNW. The connectivity emerging between myself and Stanley is an example of how that happens and how it can be maintained.

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