Thursday, June 09, 2011

The ontology of composition vis-a-vis OLPC, XO, and Sugar

My "blog" of late (two years?) has been a place for conference notes. This year at Computers and Writing, I retreated to the privacy of "Evernote" as I have cut back on laptop use, added an iPod, and am looking for a new and perhaps more effective way to organize my knowledge.

I am inspired to blog tonight, however, by Alex Reid's recent post on the ontology of composition and a latent desire to think through "object oriented rhetoric" (OOR). I've taken a couple of passes at the scholarship, hoping in some way that it will inform my work with OLPC, the XO, and Sugar operating system, but I still find most of the scholarship asking different questions, addressing different issues, than I want to tackle. Or maybe, more accurately, I just know that I don't really want to do that kind of reading, writing and thinking anymore. Like my frenemy Richard Rorty, I think I have truly given up on epistemology and ontology, choosing politics and ethics instead.

The scholarship / philosophy of OOO and OOR and speculative realism itself is probably a pretty effective description of what I am trying to do, working with these objects, embedded within a new and interesting set of networks that go well beyond the familiar networks of computers and composition. I am becoming Other, in all sorts of risky ways, in part because of the complicated nature of these symbolic and literal objects. But I am not really interested in "investigat[ing] distributed compositional networks" (Reid), I suppose, so much as trying to set them up. I'm not so interested in investigating the "ontological relations that generate thought and agency, which in turn participate in symbolic action and media composition" unless that means I am interested in investigating the impact of OLPC, XO, and Sugar deployments, the thoughts and agency they generate (or limit), and the compositions (Turtle Art, digital stories, journals) produced.

Hmm, maybe I am interested in Object Oriented Rhetoric, but not overly interested in employing that discourse. Or maybe I need to understand more fully what adopting that language (that way of seeing) will do for the work I want to accomplish. Will a better theory / description of thought and agency help me accomplish my goal of a "smarter computing culture in Fargo"? Or my longer term goal of an XO deployment in southern Sudan?

I doubt it, but am open to thinking otherwise, because meeting my goals is more important than being philosophically sound.