Personal learning networks (2) its not about me, it just is

Ok, so its taken 12 years approximately and still don’t think am at a point where I understand what I am talking about…I think this is what I think now – there may be a personal learning networks 3 post in the future:

  • a network is not something you can build (see conceptual mistake in the picture in this blog post last year)
  • you can put physical infrastructure into an environment which allows technologies to connect with each other and also software into a web environment – this could be described as architecture but it is not a network unless there are connections between each ‘node’
  • you can assemble / build tools but this is not architecture – you are not architect or designer of shapes and connections
  • your journey is not necessarily architecture or a network
  • a journey could be connecting across a network
  • you do not create connections
  • you find connections by talking with people
  • if people respond and continue conversation, this may produce more connections with other people or ideas / references to ideas through sharing
  • if this happens, then a human interpretation of it could describe it as connections growing
  • if you are not architect then you cannot predict scale (response of other humans and related increase of activity) very well because humans and their interests and personal lives are not predictable
  • if you are not architect or designer then you cannot really control what happens
  • you may control your own personal responses but software can control how your responses are shared, it is no longer within your control unless you build a tool which permits this to some extent.
  • Some agents could have access to your responses regardless of your privacy choices on the web by manipulating the internet.
  • This manipulation could be requested by humans but is pieces of code which collect data
  • data can be a collection of responses
  • a conversation of responses could be connected but not necessarily part of a network
  • a network is connections but it does not ‘happen’ as an instance, it just ‘is’
  • data analysis may produce patterns of connections but these may not be visible
  • a physical network can facilitate the action of connecting and network analysis may present these in a visible form
  • a physical network may have central command nodes
  • there is no central or command node in a social network, there may be increased activity between nodes:
    • increased activity between nodes in a social network may influence activity in other nodes in the network (but is this half-subconscious or conscious)
    • conscious actions are a result of reflection and require longer time to process then perform
    • patterns of actions are just patterns until there is a personal interpretation or judgement applied to them
    • an interpretation or judgement may be the result of a node processing information from the action of another node
    • changes in actions based on this information could produce different patterns
  • an individual node may interpret these and change actions but a change of action or behaviour is not learning
  • this is not personal network learning, a network does not learn from a person?
  • a person cannot ‘learn’ from another person – this information needs to interpreted by an individual based on their current connections (understanding)
  • the actions and conversations between people and the interpretation may facilitate a change in the way the connections are ‘structured’ (but this is not rebuilding or rewiring?)
  • a personal learning network may facilitate increased connections across a  physical or social network but is not a physical or social network
  • architects and designers of physical networks and social network software need to be as flexible as possible to allow as many different connections and ways of connecting for learning to happen
  • this flexibility does not mean that things need to continually change (i.e. the pace of technology software change)
  • can a personal learning network exist without software – yes, but the understanding and visibility of connections would require individual interpretation of the network activity – is subjective so the ‘learning’ which would translate across a wider network could be the result of that individual interpretation
  • subjective interpretation may be inefficient in terms of time and cost, a person cannot interpret on behalf of a network, other people in the network need to interpret the interpretation
  • a person can choose tools which they would like to use for connecting with others
  • a person may be able to choose who they are connected to / have conversations with, but this is not something which can be controlled.
  • a person cannot influence a network by the conversations that they have but they may produce more connections
  • you cannot build architecture of conversations but if you have access to these conversations and how/when/context of them happening, you may be able to create flexibility but not facilitate more efficient connections
  • architecture needs to learn how to become flexible, but it cannot learn without analysis of the connections
  • but is it architecture that learns or the networks that grow from the provision of architecture?

I need to go and do some Qigong…

These thoughts are mostly from reading the following

1. Downes S (2007) What Connectivism is, Half an Hour blog, available at

2. Siemens G (2008) What is the Unique idea in Connectivism, Connectivism blog, available at

3. Werdmuller B  (2008) The Internet is the People, BenWerd, available at