The references and opportunities for social networking in our culture are simply too great to miss. Whether through facebook, twitter or tumblr, we share what we think and do not just with the people who populate our everyday lives but our virtual ones as well. And with good cause, if you have a niche interest (let’s take philosophy of education, for example), then the likelihood of someone physically close to you with the same interest is greatly reduced. Now that the internet has expanded our networking to an exponential degree, the very fact of creating this blog rather than diarising my thoughts privately, means that I expect, some day, that others will read and respond to my voice.
Before online social networks, however, there was the conference. In times gone by, isolated philosophy academics, shunned by their more empirically minded counterparts would meet yearly to present papers, catch up on business and plan their next peer to peer collaboration. In my last post, I noted that my supervisor expects that networking *In Real Life* will constitute on of the reasons why it’s so important to attend education conferences. So much so, that when I recently applied for heavily discounted tickets to the PESGB 50th anniversary Oxford conference, I made sure I leaned heavily on the aspect of networking; stating a direct correlation between relationship building and successful pedagogical practice which forms the bedrock of my research. As such, placing a priority on forming relations, networks and contacts with other researchers, both in real space and online, brings about an opportunity to coherently frame my interests that I would never experience were I to spend the next three years simply taking notes.
I guess what my supervisor is urging me towards is less a vision of reading and writing, alone (and possibly by candlelight) and more towards a direct and dynamic engagement – let’s call it discussion – with another.