After Navcon2k7 we snuck in an extra day in Sydney before returning to New Zealand on what turned out to be a flight of interruptions, postponements and delays. To listen to more seasoned Aerolineus Argintinas travellers it would seem that these cheaper flights always come at a cost. We could have flown most of the way to Auckland during the 3 plus hours we spent watching wait weary kids run amuck in the departure lounge. Smearing Bogong moths across the departure lounge plate glass windows with PEP bottles proved a popular activity with the under fives. The cries of exuberance, whilst smudging moths suggests that moth smearing counts as an engaging and authentic learning experience.
A day unleashed in Sydney (with no expectations about learning outcomes for the 21st Century Learner and no need to communicate anything to an audience of educators) was a lot of fun – my only regret being that my inability to look at my life more than one day ahead of the calendar meant I missed connecting with the ever fabulous RoseG.
The best part of the unleashed day was not the Mediterranean feta cheese, tomato and olive tossed breakfasts beside Darling Harbour, the shopping, the architecture or the diversity of landscape and seascape – the best part was the plague of Bogong moths. The moths were everywhere we ventured - inside and out - the Magnet could not search through a clothing rack or lift up an alarmingly pointy nosed shoe without releasing a flutter of moths into the air.
The size of the flutters fascinated me. The population biologist buried deep within emerged – I wondered - how do we track the distribution and behaviour of moth flutters? What influences the Bogong moth’s decisions of where to flutter? How do they organise the fluttering? How do Bogong moths manage to keep together in flutters rather than spreading themselves randomly across the city?
All this thinking about fluttering meant I was alert to the 3Quarks article on the flocking behaviour of starlings in Rome.
Inspired by the aerial displays, a group of scientists led by theoretical physicists in Rome set up StarFlag, a multidisciplinary, multinational collaboration to study the birds' flocking behavior. The main aim was to determine "the fundamental laws of collective behavior and self-organization of animal aggregations in three dimensions," says Cavagna, the project's deputy coordinator.
If we can track starlings and determine the fundamental laws of collective behaviour - could we not track the collective behaviour of Bogong moths?
And then I wondered if we can determine the fundamental laws of collective behaviour and self-organization of Bogong moth aggregations in three dimensions," what would we make of the "collective behaviour and self organisation" of edu_bloggers posting on their latest conference experience on Hitchhkr?
I’ve been trying to find posts of critical analysis on the ULearn07 conference many of our teachers attended in Auckland during the school holidays. I wanted to read any critique of the new learning on offer. So it was disconcerting to read through the 427 Ulearn07 Hitchhkr links and find so little analysis and so much flocking sentiment. If I was reliant upon Hitchhikr alone for feedback on the conference I’d be tempted to conclude that ULearn07 attracted educators of such similar minds that they shared the same emotional response to all the experiences on offer - or perhaps I must conclude that blogging about an educational conference induces a Josie Fraser described homophily in educators.
Given that Hitchhikr was “invented, to provide you with a virtual space where, thanks to blogs, podcasts, and RSS, we can connect, share, respond, and grow knowledge out beyond the place and time of the event” it would be a shame if homophily amongst edu_bloggers meant that the posts collected at the site were more remarked upon for their mimicry than for their critical analysis.
And this made me wonder if there was some way we could represent the 2-D text blog opinions offered in 3D - a spatial aggregation of blog comments and podcasts - with diversity of opinion offered represented in three dimensions?
All this thinking about collective behaviours and how to represent them means I am looking for a new collective noun for bloggers who blogthink in synchrony about a shared learning experience like a conference ..
We enjoy a flutter of moths, and a murmuration of starlings .... so what would fit best for a collection of like minded homophilic bloggers ...
a herd, colony, army, state , swarm, shrewdness, pace, drove, culture, cete, battery, shoal, colony, cloud, sloth, sleuth, family, drift, hive, swarm, bike, drift, cluster, erst, nest, flock, flight, parcel, pod, volary, brace, dissimulation, sedge, sounder, singular, chain, brace, clash, chatter, troup, gang, obstinacy, drove, swarm, rabble, kaleidoscope, flutter, wake, caravan, train, drove, drift, mob, clowder, pounce, kindle, litter, intrigue, clutter, comfort, coalition, brood, flock, clutch, run, peep, chattering, bed, quiver, intrusion, rag, covert, gulp, flight, kine, pack, train, band, bushel, siege, congregation, sedge, bask, float, murder, horde, litter, cowardice, bevy, troop, kennel, school, pod, trip, pace, flight, dule, dole, pitying, raft, paddling, bunch, team, brace, bed, flight, flock, fling, convocation, congregation, array, parade, crash , mob, business, charm, draft, nest, school, run, stand, flamboyance, cloud, hatch, business, swarm, dazzle etc ...