I thought about calling this post “Finding a voice while traveling with a tinfoil hat in a time of post-permanence: Lessons from OER17 and other places” but that seemed like a lot to unpack in a single blog post.
So I’m hoping that this will be one in a series of posts to help me sort through my jumbled thoughts, starting with finding a voice.
I was a bit slow getting to writing about OER17.I’ve created editable list, which is *not* in a Google doc (more on my tin foil hat in another post hopefully), named OER17 Archive – Rough Start I’d initially thought that I’d change the name as I went, but then realized that it reflects to me a spirit of openess, or “not-doneness” (more on post-permanence in another post hopefully). And as I gathered I read.
“I’ve been completely exhausted and just haven’t had the capacity to engage in conversation in any meaningful way… reading what others write has been the equivalent of just hanging out in silence and being comforted by that.” – Fredrik Graver
And as I read, I found my own thoughts and ideas reflected in the thoughts of others which brought comfort.
“…But there are so many more that I see on Twitter but have never met, or see on Twitter and never get a chance to connect with at other events. And I suspect that there are so many I’ve never seen but should meet. I’d like to take a step towards changing that at OER17. I’m pretty introverted (as a I suspect many ed tech people tend to be) and I’ve been told that I don’t always give off a come chat with me vibe.” – Tannis Morgan
“Leading up to the conference I was nervous as hell. Not an unusual feeling for me… Maha talked very honestly about her experience of working in the open, opening with what she called Imposter Feelings. That feeling that you dont quite belong with those you are surrounded by. This is certainly something I could relate to and let’s face it, it’s reassuring to know others feel the same as you.” – Kelly Terrell
“There is a lot to say about constructing an identity, multiple identities… My point is that identity is sometimes a painful process, especially when you don’t know which direction to go, where to rest and gain strength.” –
Yes. Introverted, nervous, imposter, struggling with multiple identities. These are the things I brought with me to OER17. The place I came to meet people that I’d before only known online. The place I came to speak about a project that I’d never spoken in words about before, that by many definitions was not really OER. The place I came to speak about empowering other folks to find their voices, while I’d clearly not yet found mind. Imposter.
Meeting old friends in new spaces
“Breakfast 7:30 am. I met two people. One I had seen before and had some conversations with online, the other I had talked more extensively with online, but I had never met and had only recently ever seen a photo at all. When we met, face to face, there was a tangible moment of pause. (I’m afraid in my psychology brain I thought, I am a corporeal being.) Then it was broken with, ‘well give us a hug!’ There was a stepping past… This was determined by how comfortable people were in their own skin, and it was a moment of owning the different conversations that had happened in the past.
There were other meetings at the conference. More hugs. Putting flesh and voice to typed words. Even the people I had seen virtually, there is something different about seeing them face to face. I was quite moved.” – Laura Ritchie
Over and over at this conference I found myself meeting people I knew well from Mastodon and others I knew less well from Twitter. I knew Laura and Maha instantly. I found myself speaking with John Robertson for a while before I realized we’d met online. And I asked the person sitting next to him who Jim Luke was before introducing myself. By 10am on the first day Ken Bauer also became “a person with skin on” via V-Connecting. Chuck Pearson felt close enough to have been there. Kate Bowles was present by way of her words. Overwhelming and amazing and not yet noon on Day 1.
The pieces of me & openness
“Mostly I write because I want to; but sometimes I write because I have to. Sometimes writing is a necessity, a catharthis, the only way to process experiences or events that are too overwhelming, too infuriating, too incomprehensible to mediate in any other way. That’s when writing gets, personal and political, messy, emotional and confrontational… I know I’m extremely fortunate to be in the position where I can write these personal political blog posts and express my opinions without fear of reprisal and I am aware that this is an incredibly privileged position to be in.” – Lorna Campbell
“Although I am a user, practitioner, and advocate…I’ve always felt like an outlier…until #OER17. Maha Bali literally planted a seed in me first thing in the morning in her keynote. She spoke about how innovations are seeds. We need to nurture our seeds in order to produce valuable fruit (but don’t offer one of those apples to a person with no teeth…unless you’ve brought a masher).” –
On a very personal level much of 2016 was spent finding my voice. Online tools were a big part of that. So was anonymity. Domains allowed me to create an online space at a safe distance from my daily responsibilities to reclaim my stories and begin to find my voice. Without apology.
And if 2016 was about finding that initial voice, 2017 has been about integrating the pieces of me. This is also something I recognize to be a privilege. A sign that my family is in a safe enough space, secure enough to speak more openly. But always with caution. I am always keenly aware of the potential risks, ongoing surveillance (my tin-foil hat again). It has been an experiment and it has been (mostly) on my terms. It’s been positive but not without some bumps and at times terror – once something is exposed it is not easily hidden again.
If there is one thing that this experiment has taught me is the need, at least for me is that open only matters if it challenges and empowers. On my own terms. Given the tools in my possession. To meet my most pressing needs. Imperfect and ever-changing. That’s my open. Without apology.