Sunday, July 13, 2008

Theatre and Technology

I made some flip remark on Twitter after looking at that I have a theatrical relationship to technology. Scott had asked us if anyone had been using the video conferencing chat site for education. All I saw there were young people in chatrooms. It looked very 1997 (I have to stop using that as a critical term). I logged into a chat room there with the screen name "DatelneNBC" -- someone there said that half the room left when I did that. We then joked around for a few minutes about how if I was actually there with Chris Hanson that I did not have anything to worry about and that I was free to leave. Back in 97 I used to go on CUSeeMe with my Mac SE next to my real computer. At the time, the SE would in no way support the net in such a way that teleconferencing was possible -- but it looked like I had the SE actually teleconferencing. I also occasionally had an alien puppet with me. My primitive b/w camera made it look really cool. It would occasionally trip people out.

I was told later that I was completely on the social end of and that it really is worth looking at as a teaching tool/meeting room.

It did get me to thinking about Grotowski's idea about the "Theatre of the Poor." That basically theatre can occur where ever two or more are gathered. Things like sets are in the end extraneous. Theatre, according to G, is a series of choices about communication and expression. We engage in theatre in our face-to-face life all the time -- we decide what role we are in and then make choices about how we choose to express ourselves. Those same choices happen online. You can consciously choose a role or persona (and maybe something absurd like alien puppets) and make discoveries or critiques of communication. But in the end the technology is superfluous -- it is the communication. Grotowski was not a huge fan of technology, especially in the theatre, but I saw one of his sets that had two chairs and a single light so even he relied on technology :)

I present myself to my family in one way, my students in another, and old college chums in yet another. I think I have a blog or other web application to support all of those roles. I had one of our students in my summer class first follow me on "geoffcain" at twitter and I warned her that most of those postings were about instructional design, and I don't think I am going to issue that caveat again. I really don't want to discourage people from getting to know me. My intent was not to have her not follow me but to warn her that she might get a bunch of postings on how to adjust settings in photoshop. But then why shouldn't she see that that? It is part of who I am! I have to learn to own that. It is funny how conscious I was about those roles. LiveJournal is great because I can post recipes to my family or talk about golf with others and not have to subject people I work with to those postings -- I can target many audiences with one tool.

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