Recently I met with Jenni to introduce the wiki as a writing platform that might be explored with the students in her Genius Hour classes at Daytion Junior High.
I have introduced Ward's fed wiki several times now. This time, I decided to do it differently.
Rather than explaining it as a writing tool, I started by talking about the theory of writing. Which is really the theory of story telling. Which is really the theory of meaning.
I started off talking about how we think about writing is based on printed books which only came into existence as mass produced objects in the 15th Century. Before that, books were handwritten and scarce. We talked about the nature of the book, with a singular beginning, middle and end, that redefined how we think of story telling and story tellers. Impact of Movable Type
Then we talked about how meaning becomes defined by that structure, in a logical, linear format. And that how we read those stories shapes how we processes that information, which defines our neural pathways in our brains, ultimately shaping how we solve problems. How that structure of thinking underpinned our Cartesian Mindset.
Except kids no longer get their information primarily from books, but from a vast collection of hyperlinked pages, the web. As a result, I believe that they think differently when solving problems.
Which led me to the theory of meaning - which is based on experiences, each which have triggers that access our memories of them. If we can reflect and understand the meaning of those memories and label them more clearly, we can access them more easily. They are our containers of meaning that, when connected together, define our consciousness, our meta-meaning.
This pattern becomes a matrix of thought, our Meaning Matrix.
_I love Koestler's image of the matrix - both as a complex spacial mapping that is our personal pattern language, but also for it's original Latin meaning, "womb". It is the womb from which our consciousness is birthed._
What Ward did with his fed wiki was to create a writing environment unlike anything that has ever previously been imagined. It was not his original wiki platform, but this one, that is truly revolutionary.
What the wiki does is to offer the opportunity for a writer to create containers of meaning. Each page holds a concept. That concept is given a label to remember it by. Within that page are paragraphs, each of which are their own, movable, container that holds individual ideas. As the pages begin to get linked together they form a pattern. That pattern of links and containers is a complex, spatial understanding, a meaning.
These matrices can be shared with others, and linked together through forking, creating more complex, shared matrix of thought in our journey as Meaning Makers.
I shared all of this with Jenni before we even talked about how the wiki worked. I could see her deeply processing all of these ideas, trying to see how they might translate into an inherently messy classroom experience with rambunctious middle school students.
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