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mg_decoi's picture

Design and Electracy

In my case, I was schooled in two different architectural education traditions, both of which I came to interrogate as I pursued an interest in a range of crtical and theoretical writing, especially 1960s to 90s French criticism and philosophy. Of particular interest were accounts of technical change and its implications, including McLuhan's various books; but I appreciated the implicit critique offered by what I hold to be the more suggestive philosophy of Jacques Derrida in particular. I found Greg Ulmer's Applied Grammatology vivid in its linkage of Derridean theory with a range of cultural initiatives (Beuys' artwork, Lacan's psychoanalysis, Eisentein's film), and used the book as a template of sorts in my own creative design practice in Paris, dECOi Architects. At issue is the shift to a digital paradigm, and I found the speculative thinking useful in devising a range of architectural design practices that resulted in some quite original design work and some brief texts that framed or spurred the various initiatives. My interest, existing in a somewhat estranged and therefore experimental situation in Paris, was to think through a range of new principles for creative praxis in the plastic arts (and the arts in general); and this informed my teaching in a variety of European schools such as the AA in London. My sense is that architectural education has undergone a quite radical shift in the past few decades, to a large degree as a reaction to striking apparatus change; but the pribciples of this change have not been well formulated, even whilst being prescient. In coming to MIT I have witnessed a range of technical developments at first hand, but I feel that architectural design pedagogy in its most experimental drive, might offer lessons to other areas of education if it can be adequately theorized. My cogent interest in linking up with Greg Ulmer in the context of the recent Recommendations for the Future of MIT Education, is to bring my understanding of emerging digital design practice and its education within the historical framing of apparatus theory he offers, to see what might result. I also find it extremely useful to my teaching to be helped by such an erudite thinker who is patient and generous with his remarkable knowledge and (always) imaginative verve. 

glue's picture

In Practice

The tale proposes that konsult is the genre that does for electrate learning what dialogue did for students learning literacy in the Academy and Lyceum. The genre of konsult (hybrid of literacy and electracy), and the practice of consulting in this digitally augmented form, is the site unifying and correlating the diverse dimensions of experiences and practices outlined in the Target (learning in the dispersed modes of residential, blended, online, service, collaborative, and the like).

glue's picture


Our generative method uses Plato's participation in the invention of literacy as a prototype and relay ("relay" names a predecessor who serves not as model but resource marking a direction for invention).  The key points are that the dialogue is an interface bringing together a familiar situation of orality (talking in the street) with the unfamiliar method of literacy--dialectic.  In our case, konsult (the "k" marking the specialized usage in our invention) is to the encounter with electracy what dialogue was for first encounters with literacy.  "Consulting" is a familiar literate practice, within which we will introduce the unfamiliar operations of electracy (introduced in the other CATTt resources).   One of the relevant featuers of consulting is that it is an institutional pedagogy: it is a form by means of which expertise codifed within one institution (usually school) is delivered outside that discipline to another institution--corporation, state, government agency and the like.  Electracy, that is, includes the invention of identity formation, and specifically moves beyond the creation of behaviors of "self" in literacy to address the formation of collective identity in electracy.  The analogy with literacy is Socrates introducing the individual Euthyphro to the advantages of conceptual reasoning, that enabled him (in principle) to notice the contradictions at work in his plans, leading to error and worse.  The challenge of konsult -- the consulting form and practice-- is to address collective Euthyphros, to bring them into awareness of the practices continually producing unforeseen consequences with disastrous outcomes.

It is worth remembering, at the same time, that Euthyphro himself, and the community of Athens as a whole, did not exactly appreciate the gadfly Socrates, whose intellectual performances were received as blasphemy, and recognized implicitly as the overturning of the heroic values of the hegemonic oral society.  Aristophanes The Clouds is a parody of Socratic teaching.  It is nerds against jocks, more or less, with  the jocks finally ransacking the school. Consulting is advising, in other words, and the problem remains the same, from Plato to MIT:  how to educate tyrants.

glue's picture

Consultancy (Educational Impact)

The heading "Extending MIT's Educational Impact" includes five recommendations, most already included within the EmerAgency project to invent electrate consulting. 7d especially resonates with programs already explored in a number of collaborations.

Using open problems to seed global discussions.  Problem-based learning is at the heart of an MIT education.  While understanding the foundation and principles of a particular discipline is essential, the Task Force feels that the investment of students in learning is  most successful when they apply their learning to real-world problems. Many such problmes do not have clearly defined solutions and they enable a continuing conversation that also often spans departmental silos. The Task Force recommends encouraging departments to develop classes or series defined by the challenges they seek to address.  For instance, one mmight imagine an MITx series on air pollution.  Within that series, a student would find a number of classes--including air purification, urban planning, politics, and poverty--that are intended to aid the understanding and examination of air pollution from a variety of perspectives This might require a student to work on projects with students from different corners of the world who may already be addressing the nuances of air pollution in their individual communities. This connection will help create a global commnnity of thought and practice around global challenges, and a cadre of sophisticated problem solvers.