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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beyond binaries 


This is actor Jack Thompson, ending with a Riverina rhyme. Many thanks to Barney Dalgarno for this link. At the risk of undermining the entertainment with some analysis, it does seem to be a good example of something that's simultaneously recognisable but different. Same/not same. So the overall form and structure make sense; the liberal use of the adjective insert (we'd recognise it as the expletive-as-infix) are familiar. But unless you've been to Tumbarumba, or tuned into the patterns of Aussie conversation, they constitute the unfamiliar. Interestingly our patterns of thought (or socio-cultural dispositions) work in these sort of binaries. But isn't there really just a continuum of familiarity? In fact could this be a wider problem? At our symposium yesterday some familiar binaries popped up at regular intervals (global/local; online/offline; actual/virtual; me/not me; material/immaterial; mobile/static). We encounter these and we rather clumsily start talking about blurring the boundaries, but even this language tends to get in the way of the fluidity we want to talk about. We need to replace the light switch with a dimmer switch. But maybe we really need a new language, or a new philosophy for doing this. Perhaps, at the end of the day, this is part of the problem with affordances. It's a sort of on/off concept, and it doesn't allow enough space for fluidity, the evolution of new practices and conventions, human agency and so on.

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