Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Striving for Digital Gold as Digital Alchemy #NetNarr

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Digital gold. Remixing cogdog photo Virtually Connecting is Fun flickr photo by ma_bali shared under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I don’t know much about alchemy, let alone making stuff up about digital alchemy… but I really did want to contribute to today’s Daily something from #NetNarr and because my video recording went chipmunk voice, I’m lucky that I had recorded the audio, so here it is… and I made an image as well 🙂

The summary of it is that I know alchemy is a pre-scientific or pseudoscientific thing where (ancient?) people used to experiment with playing with all kinds of things to try to create like gold out of metal or something… and I just took this idea into the digital and tried to imagine what “digital gold” is… and I’m thinking it’s when the digital affords us really deep and meaningful and valuable human connection… and I’m thinking that sometimes we think we’ve identified the elements that make this possible, but every context is different and it’s difficult to know for sure that a certain combination of elements will create that special experience, and when it won’t… because humans 🙂 And all kinds of other tech.. if you take an Actor-Network Theory approach to this, it becomes really complex because it’s about a host of different factors working together to make something work… and again, what’s your definition of gold anyway, right? When I first shared my audio with Mia, she said her digital gold was her digital friends like us, and I would agree… hence the image 🙂 But for other people, their judgment of what counts as gold will differ…

And this is all really quite funny because I don’t actually like gold very much, I prefer silver (as a color), and even my wedding band is silver on one side and gold on another side… which is a nod to how I straddle the line between tradition and rebellion. I like silver, so the silver half of my wedding band is for me… when I’m alone at home that’s the color I want to see on my keyboard… but I also have a gold half, which I sometimes make sure it was appears in public, so people recognize this is a wedding band and not a regular ring (coz it’s not normal in Egypt to have a silver wedding band and sometimes people who wear silver ones aren’t married… complicated story).

3 Comments

  1. For all the talk about metals and alchemy and more strange materials in the world, it is “people” who make the most magic when coming together to share and collaborate and reflect. Thx for the post, Maha.
    Kevin

  2. I think gold including digital gold shouldn’t be quite as relativistic as you sketch it in here. Gold is a metal that has always had value to humans for its beauty and its malleability. There are human soul qualities that have always been valued by other humans–the ability to love deeply, loyalty, integrity, playfulness, humor, spirituality, innovation, cleverness. Those are gold as when we give an impression of another person by saying, “She’s gold.”

    I guess I have more thoughts about this, so I’ll save them for my own snap blog.

    I love the two metal ring image!

    • Hi Sandy. I hear you on relativism but I could make my point clearer. Gold as a metal in pure form is probably an objective thing. But when we use it as a metaphor we mean a rare and precious thing with properties we value (like that it doesn’t rust). So my wedding band is actually half gold half platinum (more expensive than gold but silver in color because i don’t like the yellow color of gold). And so the metaphor of gold is relativistic. I don’t think all people value the same dimensions of digital interaction. Even the meanings of things like honesty are relativistic. No, really. I wish I had ready examples of this, and I will think of some, but thinking of something like Virtually Connecting, what some people consider warm and welcoming and inclusive, others consider to be exclusive and intimidating. We may argue that warm and welcoming are things we all agree are good, or desirable, but we may disagree on what constitutes warmth. We may also prioritize quality of content over dialogue and if so, then virtually connecting would not be highly rated as a learning experience for those people. What do you think? I will check your blog to see if you posted

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