Media, Knowledge and the Network University
The explosion of ICTs has transformed the activities of teaching and research in universities. But we have too few grounded accounts of the impact of cybernation on the university and we know little about how these changes are affecting the lived experience of research and teaching. Even communication, new media or cybercultural studies has left the debate over the politics and policy of academic computing and instructional technology to administrators and IT staff, non-media studies ‘experts’ and educators. However, the normalization of ICT's poses many questions for academic work and knowledge that media studies should be asking. Otherwise, communication technology and culture within universities will be left to the instrumental activists who push instrumental communication, digipreneurs developing new applications for the new media and creative industries, or to the e-learning industries who see a vast, global market for their licensed softwares. Writing about knowledge in computerized societies and computers and the Internet in universities in 1979 and 2004, Jean-Franciois Lyotard and Fredrich Kittler foresaw/see different consequences of cybernation and different possible futures for research, the role of disciplines, and the transmission of acquired learning. To bring media change and knowledge into sharper focus requires us to foreground the virtual condition of universities and to make a detour through recent network theory. Whether we see losses or gains due to cybernation will likely depend, among other factors, on our view of media technologies and their networks, our relation to virtual culture and our position in the academic field and the research environment. With the rise of “network universities” out of the “university in ruins” (Readings), “machinic intellectuals” (Bratich) have something in common: our academic technoculture, practices and freedoms now depend on an infrastructure of campus networks, networked office spaces and classrooms, writing machines, data banks, flows of digital data, passwords, code, chips, protological objects and learning management technologies.
Keywords: Network University, Knowledge, Research, Teaching, Virtual Condition, Network Theory, Technocultural Studies
Dr. Bob Hanke
School of Social Science, Atkinson Faculty of Professional and Liberal Studies, York University