As I begin this, I beg Wes’ apology. I’m going out on a limb. Exploring an idea. Don’t hold it against, Wes, faithful readers.
Miguel Guhlin


I read an article (via Chris Sessums site) that was over my head earlier today. I’m still trying to puzzle through it. In the article, the following is cited and it caused my brain to go in another direction…like a rock-climber, painfully working his way up the side of rock when a piton gave way, I am spinning to the side hoping those pitons that are left will save me. You’ll have to decide that. Here’s the quote that captured my attention:

Learning, as constant becoming, is the work of nomads…Nomads must continuously readapt themselves to the open-ended world in which even the line of horizon may be affected by the changing conditions of wind, shifting sands or storms so that no single rule of knowing that would ever assist nomads in their navigations, perhaps only knowing how would (Semetsky 2004:447).

When you think of what we’re going through now, this doesn’t seem so far off. In fact, the idea of electronic bands of nomad learners, on an open-ended world is a powerful analogy. But, the analogy only goes so far. A far better one, IMHO, is that portrayed in WaterWorld. We are a surface people diving deep for knowledge and ideas, scratching out survival on the surface. Constant learning, while not critical to survival, is necessary to thrive. Like Kevin Costner’s character, those of us who blog have suddenly acquired the appropriate webbing to navigate an uncertain ocean. Like Dennis Hopper’s evil character, proprietary companies threaten our very existence, wanting our unique insights. Only by being daring and intrepid, unafraid of journeying into the depths, can we survive long enough to find a place we can thrive (“Dryland”), and gain a respite from oppression and persecution.

Nomads, or bloggers, whether on a desert of shifting sands or a sea of sustaining serendipitous contacts, we are learning again to continually re-adapt ourselves to an open-ended world. Perhaps, a nomadic existence beckons us from our long ago past…and until now, technology has not been able to accommodate us. After all, how many of us now lead nomadic lives, travelling from one shelter to the next, carrying our world (data) among our few belongings?

From Web 2.0 tools–such as Gliffy, Gabbly, FlickrLilli, and many other–we can see that being a nomad, constantly re-adapting ourselves in an ever-changing world is supportable…we can live off the land (or sea, depending on which analogy you look).

It requires what gapingvoid describes in this piece of art:

Sounds like hard work to me…it sure would be nice to let this one pass you by, but it’s life…and it’s coming fast. Are your kids ready?

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On this day..

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6 Responses to A Nomadic Existence

  1. Jim Cottrell says:

    Fun comparison. The movie is a classic. If I had to guess, your thoughts are shifting to summer vacation. Doing the virtual, computer thing is great, but there may be an undercurrent in your thoughts about some real-world adventure this summer. Summer is comming fast and my students (kids) are ready for vacation.

  2. Cheryl Oakes says:

    Miguel, when I think of nomads of today, I think of the scene in Star Wars, the wild bar scene, the unusual, the unique -looking for…… you fill in the blank. However, am I a nomad? The landscape is always changing, I am constantly reading, looking for patterns, looking for purpose, looking for new conversations that I can identify with , looking for ways to engage teachers with purpose, looking for ways to engage students and motivate them, I am a nomad! No training has prepared me for this journey. However, what motivates me to continue is the fact that as excited as I get by a new Web 2.0 tool, a new software, a new conversation, I can share that with my students and the conversation web gets larger and larger. Can’t wait to look at Gabbly and FlickRlilli, bye.

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    I love the metaphor of learners as nomads. This implies the reality that the landscape is always changing, and that to navigate effectively we have to always be studying, learning, and communicating with others. I guess some nomads are solo acts, but I picture most nomads as living in community groups that they rely on each other for survival. I really like this metaphor.

    I am also reminded of a comment by Jeff, the leader of our “Night Sky Adventure” at the Valles Caldera Preserve on Sunday night shared. He commented that the word planet is from a Greek word meaning “wanderer.” (Apparently the actual word is “planetai” meaning “wanderers.” We don’t tend to think of professional educators as “wanderers” I guess– this sounds far too unorganized, something that borders on the chaotic. But I think life is a dynamical and even chaotic experience, and whether we want to admit it or not– we ARE all nomads and wanderers. Thanks for sharing this Miguel! I am just back from my trip and going through your posts, thanks so much for a wonderful job guest blogging! 🙂

  4. Thanks for this Miguel, you have deepened and rounded out my evolving sense of identity as a learner, communicator and change agent. I never saw Waterworld, but I think I will give it a try after reading your post and the comments. This territory reminds me of many budhist metaphors that touch on a similiar dynamic. It is discovering that your sea voyage to the far shore is an illusion because there is no land ahead, or behind you. The territory is just you and your own shifting evolving changing reality. No doubt, I botched this explanation, but I think you can get the drift. Great writing, I really enjoy your blog and of course, Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

  5. townx says:

    Web 2.0 becomes self-conscious

    Web 2.0 has turned into a clique”:http://www.flickr.com/groups/bratpack/discuss/124745/. Even better, it even has an OPML mashup. Another party I’m not invited to. It’s like school all over again. Boo hoo. (It’s so easy to be negative, isn’t it?) …

  6. […] I sent my friend a few links to writers that (I hope) give her a more rounded picture of the blogging experience. I began with a reference to Miguel Ghulien’s excellent post on Moving at the Speed of Creativity called “A Nomadic Existance”. Then a post (powerpoint and MP3) from Stephen Downes, titled “How I became Blog Literate”. Barbara Ganley (next in his newsletter) speaks to the very questions you posed in her post called Finding Our Way through the Edublogging Labyrinth: Losing Hope in Order to Effect Change and then Joan Vinall-Cox from OISE in her post “The Purpose of Pedagogy” talks about personal connections and teaching. A bit further in Stephen’s newsletter is Leigh Blackall (awesome blogger) from Australia, talks about “Teaching is dead, Long live learning”. […]

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