About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What happens when no one recognizes your genius?

Okay, so I'm not claiming to be a genius. Let's start there. However, two things happened yesterday to trigger this post.

First, I met with my dissertation adviser. He is very good in terms of focusing my work. However, I'm always so depressed after speaking with him as I feel I will never complete this process. I had sent him drafts of chapters (one of which I found out later was the wrong file...not the 71 page completed draft but rather a 3 page draft).

What is difficult is that I have a lot of ideas running around in my head which are very difficult to articulate. I don't write in the traditional way (linear), and as I told my adviser, many times I just want to get the thought down on paper. I had sent to him a work in progress, the findings chapter (many pieces of which I have posted on this blog over the past few months). They were bits and pieces just so he could get a feeling of what I was working on. But it is hard to link all of these ideas together.

This type of knowledge is something I'm still trying to label for my dissertation. However, I'm leading towards the term of Partaged Knowledge. This is the ability to link together ideas and understanding both internally and externally to an individual. I derived the term from the French word of "partager" which means both to share and to divide. Partaged knowledge is knowledge that one would need to be able to access and link to other knowledge (i.e. linking ideas, putting into context). This might be internal like when I am writing. Many of my ideas are separate initially, seemingly without any correlation (divided). However, through the writing process, I must link together those ideas into one cohesive whole (thus the sharing or putting together through interaction of ideas).

The same can happen with group processes in which group members come into the group (especially a distributed group) with different expertise, access to resources, cultural influences, and experience/mental models of the work (divided resources and expertise). Through their work processes, their knowledge is partaged (yes, there is an English work which means share) throughout the group and beyond through knowledge networks.

Where do the ideas go?

While I might have good ideas, or even brilliant, my meeting with my adviser made me realize that it means nothing if you can't communicate those ideas in such a way that others will understand them. As my adviser apologized for what he thought was the harshness of his written comments (i.e. I'm totally confused as to what you are trying to say here), I could only appreciate his comments...The fact was, I was confused and I had written it!

For the most part, I have a thick skin about my writing. I look at the process as a means of negotiating meaning. This means I never look at a paper or something I have written as a final product in a process. Rather part of the process of understanding. But I do get frustrated as the length of time that it takes to complete a major project such as an article or a thesis/dissertation. Likewise, my family does not understand this process and why it is taking so long. I walked out with a hole in my stomach as the amount of work that I still need to do began to weigh me down.

Leonardo diVinci's lost genius

Last night, I watched a program (on PBS) about Leonardo DiVinci's Dream Machines (produced by Channel 4 in Britain). What struck me was the ending in which they spoke about the large number of notebooks DiVinci left behind, hoping his assistant would disseminate the knowledge once DiVinci died. Instead, DiVinci's notebooks were divided up, some being destroyed, some kept by a Cardinal who presumably withheld the notebooks because they were deemed dangerous (as many new ideas are), others passed on to individuals. While DiVinci's art was made public, his scientific and non-art observations and analyses were kept private as the world he lived in was not ready for his ideas.

These ideas have now been revisited and align with what we know today. What would be considered fantasy and impossible to believe back in diVinci's day, now are considered genius.

So what is the difference? Well, for one thing, we now have ideas that can be linked to diVinci's. In other words, partaged knowledge can be distributed across time as well as space and people. However, more than anything, diVinci was unable to communicate his ideas to his contemporaries (for many reasons). Now, others are taking his notes and "making sense" of them in new contexts. Had diVinci been a better communicator for his time, perhaps he would have had many of his ideas implemented. My guess was that he was hoping this was something his assistant would do. But perhaps his assistant did not have the ability to understand the copious notes his "master" had made.

So like the dissertation process, it is just as important for those with multiple ideas to be able to link those ideas together and communicate them outside of one's own head. Otherwise, it is a very frustrating process.

Social networking: the hope of someone finding your genius

Blogging, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are all ways that people are trying to communicate their ideas and "genius." I watch as my children and their friends use social networks to broadcast their ideas and work. They are hoping that someone will recognize their genius which may not be recognized in a more provincial community. Ideas that are out of the box may find acceptance outside of the hegemony of a person's own culture. Likewise, other people's ideas will push the boundaries of cultures.

So perhaps social networking could be considered the ultimate tool in critical pedagogy. Perhaps that is why so many people are scared by its use, especially in primary and secondary education.


Anonymous said...

Hi Virginia, the recent issue you had brought in to this space – produced in a very talented way - shows perfectly, the enormous sense of communication you have, behalf the generous idea to share new developments of your investigation whit your readers. Your thoughts, not only lead other visitors like me, to learn much more about the different matters presented in this blog but also, influence very positively to go on exploring about/from the subjects you present in your posts. In that sense, I would like to congratulate you for bringing up, such interesting reflection topic as the last post. First of all, I think you had an extraordinary exemplar gesture by exposure aspects of your own relation whit your writing process related whit your thesis. From the scientific text creation experience, I think you showed a very important aspect about: The difficulty concerning unification knowledge from different parts of the whole work, when personal investigation methods might defer from the direction that is expect from supervisions and from the own “linear” initial ideas text. It makes absolutely sense bring that on discussion and it leads to new questions concerning the nature of knowledge realized in investigation works. Myth be possible that University supervisions, could get a better understanding of the condition work investigations, if they dismissed from formal and burocratic attitudes related in that scientific work processes? I can be wrong about this but anyhow, your post had made me reflect already about this and make me moved on writing again. Thank you for introduced in your text a term that was unknown to me “Partage Knowledge”. I loved the analogy you transport to actuality, from the in temporal Leonardo Da Vinci ideas. We should learn from your observations and sometimes, don’t be too skeptic about old theories but we could came to realize that we aren’t just connect/linked from this digital society… but from ancient times and we could came to think that truth knowledge, can embrace new challenges and used in different new kinds of (re)knowledge. Thank you again for this excellent post and the reflection you started in my mind, doesn’t stop here…Luisa Miguel

Anonymous said...

Hi Virginia. If you see the writing process as a way of internalising 'partaged knowledge,' I wonder how you relate the process of linking different concepts and ideas - which may be highly individual, non-linear and cyclical in nature - to the necessary construction of academic texts, with their inherently formal and generic rules and protocols?

V Yonkers said...

Good question, Andy. Hopefully part of the answer is in the post on the political nature of collaboration. In essence, the formats are used to help structure the academic culture. This fits into the "genre" school of writing in which learning genres help students to access the underlying knowledge upon which genres are based.