Warning! This is a 4am sleepless rant.

Portuguese Man o War Gulf Shores Alabama. By Joey Eads

Portuguese Man o' War Gulf Shores Alabama. By Joey Eads

When I was younger, I used to find time to surf. Just now I’ve been trying to think of something that would capture the feeling I get from work sometimes… out of the blue came the blue bottle sting.

I know… not a good sign right? To be lying awake at night thinking mostly about work and the thing that comes to mind is a blue bottle sting…

I’ve been stung by my share of blue bottles. They’re not pleasant. Once I copped one around my head, tangled around my ear, round my neck, in my eyes and even in my mouth! A real beauty too. Big and shiny, with a stinger several meters long. The hideous thing about blue bottles is that if you get tangled with one, getting it off makes the sting worse. Its a sawing feeling as the stinger drags along your body, spreading its pain to new levels. This particular sting interrupted my breathing for a while actually.. on that beautiful summer day with a cranking great shore break, I thought I was going to die by blue bottle sting!

Sometimes work can feel a bit like that, less the drama of a life and death situation in pain of course.. oh, and certainly no good surf – none. I started the year in high spirits. Sunshine and I had a good holiday, and I returned with rosey glasses on ready to try my forth year here.. omg! Things seemed set for real progress and smoother sailing (that’s the summer’s day/good surf bit). I’m afraid it hasn’t taken long to encounter a few stings, and trying to get out of it only wants to make it worse, and that constricting feeling comes over me like I’m finding it hard to breath.

What are those stings? Well a small part of it is the self censoring feeling I get writing this.. I can’t really say what it is or it will only get worse. It mostly boils down to communication. There isn’t effective communication. You’d think in this age of information and communications technology we wouldn’t have such a problem, but its clear we do. Its troubling that I can have better communication with people on the other side of the planet and in free time, resulting in some quite innovative and productive stuff, but struggle on a day to day basis in my own local to even hear and be heard.

This problem has a lot to do with a collision between 2 systems in communication and the culture that goes with them. The first being an older and way more common system based on hierarchy and centralisation, departmentalism and privacy, long term personal relationships and control politics. The readers. The second being significantly less hierarchical and anarchisticly distributed, participatory, transparent and documented to the extreem, and open to anyone at anytime. The writers.

I’m not trying to describe these two in ways that suggest one is “better” than the other, but its clear to me that there is a seemingly insurmountable barrier between the 2. Some commentators reckon it to be generational – I disagree. Others boil it down to old left/right politics – maybe. What ever it is, its there andĀ  there are problems.

Given that I am one of only a small number who seem to communicate by the 2nd group of principles, perhaps this is just my problem and I should relearn what I unlearned (yes, I spent some time in the army). Thing is, method 1 has too many problems in itself for me to want to do that.

OK, this culture clash is discussed ad-nausea in the edublogosphere, so I’m sorry for this addition. The thing is, there is no “web2 revolution”, flattening of the world, cluetrain manifesto, “discussion”, paradigm shift, power redistribution, or any such thing in the education sector, so long as this clash exists. Its not a Weinberger vs Keen style debate either, nor is it a question of one being better than the other. Something unforeseen will emerge from the tension – some call it the middle ground, but that’s not it either. Its more a 1 + 1 = 3 kind of thing.

And its rather disempowering and more than a little disappointing to realise I don’t know what it will be and won’t be here to see it when it does emerge clearly.

Now, where’s that vinegar?