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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mapping the Unmappable

We have been talking about networks. How do we get our information? How do we transmit it to others? How does knowledge spread? Here is a (rudimentary) example of this:

This diagram depicts the transmission of information with regard to the paper I just wrote about fairy tales and popular culture. It demonstrates the sources of my information: my professor, folklorists Stone and Mieder, Perrault (who recorded the tales), movies like Maid in Manhattan, The Prince & Me, and The Wedding Planner, and Magazines like BRIDES. It outlines the sources of my professor's information: Perrault, Stone, and Mieder. And, it illustrates the influence that Perrault has had on the magazines and films (with respect to women's perspectives on relationships and marriage, as I assert in my paper).

Where this model fails, however, is it doesn't accurately demonstrate the nature of the relationships. Are the cooperative? Do they require a passive and active role? To what extent do we trust the relationships and the knowledge? What if the messages from two different sources conflicts?

Who cares!? If we are truly interested in the dissemination of information, the transmission of knowledge, we have to examine the nature of relationships.

Megan's map of influences and thought processes (scroll over it to see) in writing her own paper/essay demostrates the chaotic nature of acquiring knowledge. Often we bounce from place to place. We acquire a piece of knowledge, we internalize it, and we place it somewhere in our minds. Based on that placement (or sometimes an inability to place it), the context in which it is framed, where we place it in relation to what else we know, we seek out new information and sources. We may visit and revisit a source an infininte number of times.

Donna's map
demonstrates, on a certain level, the nature of relationships. The colors she ascribes to each of the "players" in her map denotes the manner in which she receives her information: personally, via blog, via book, etc.

But, neither of these (nor my own) illustrates the strength of relationships, or other factors that have a strong influence on the infomation we receive. Which sources do we trust more? Which do we go to more often? Which do we seek and which seek us? Which do we influence? There are so many questions to be raised that are hugely important in shaping the process and our knowledge.

*crossposed on Look to the Sky


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