Having sat here trying to say something about ‘the notion of art as virus in the context of a participatory culture’, I decided that a good way to start would be to properly understand what was meant by the word/term Virus. The above description is taken from Wikipedia, which in a way is a virus itself. It was launched in 2001 and has steadily grown to contain over 3 million articles.
From William Stoopa’s webpage I found a link to his WordPress Blog ‘Read Write Rather Than Read Only’. In the essay Web 2.0, Participatory Culture and Open Learning he describes how new ways of learning are not merely fads but are a reflection of the shift in our culture. He quotes Tony Benn in an interview about the health service that “systems need to change to fit the needs of the people, we should not seek to change people to fit them into a system” and claims that this idea can be equally applied to the education system.
My generation are the result of a ‘factory learning mentality which privatises learning and demonises mistakes’, in Stoopa’s class however students have learning blogs which they post their essays and productions. He gives direction through 4 blogs where he publish teaching notes, materials and resources to facilitate virtual discussions. The students read each others blogs and leave comments, encouragements and criticisms. They build on each others ideas. He notes that the benefits so far is a blurring between school work and what is seen as general life learning, more homework being submitted and much clearer evidence of students taking personal responsibility for contributing to the whole ‘authentic’ learning experience. This is quite similar to how we are learning in our Thinking Practices class.
Stoopa writes that ‘New Scientist magazine conducted a study of over ten thousand and concluded that 35% of people now consider themselves ‘broadcasters of their own media content’! Participatory learning is not a fad because we are having to keep up with it.’ The only problem I can see is how ‘valuable’ this content actually is. Youtube can be seen as another virus with 200,000 videos uploaded everyday, it would take 600 years to watch all content. How enlightened would you be after 600 years, I’m guessing, not very. I feel that Stoopa’s ‘authentic’ style of learning is definitely the way forward especially in the arts. It seems the key is to be selective, reference and map your research through hyperlinks.