Intervention week: “lazy consensus” and gardening (vs streaming)

Once again, I apologize for this late post. It’s also going to be a brief write-up.

This week I was particularly moved by two separate ideas & practices in two of our readings: one is “lazy consensus” from “Ethical EdTech” and the other is “the garden/gardening” in Audrey Watters’ “Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters (For the Future of Knowledge).” 

To be honest, I was not (and am not) familiar with how “lazy consensus” peacefully takes place in the decision-making voting system as I feel somewhat distant to it as a critical thinker who is more interested in the visibility of dissensus in the public or counter-public. Still what I liked about this is that, as the author Nowviskie states, “Lazy consensus wielded wisely and justly is capable of galvanizing comatose organizations back into motion and even of reversing terrible inertial trends.” ( According to Nowviskie, it sounds like “lazy consensus” as a principle stems from “Newton’s First Law of Motion” as the author addresses that “it describe how we might apply the concept of inertia to decision-making in organizations. This is because lazy consensus is not only a tactic to use under clinical conditions (such as opinion-polling of members of a committee). It may be a social contract — but in all frankness it’s also a practically a natural law.” While I don’t quite like the liberal, progressive tone in this definition or derivation, I find using inertia to prevent an impasse of inertia in decision-making in terms of ethical questions regarding Ed-Tech pragmatically inspiring in ways of allowing the Ed-Tech practitioners to move towards the future. But I hope we can talk about some kinds of cases and problems involved in this kind of decision-making process.

Regarding the garden from Watters’s essay, I loved the poetic implications of the metaphor of gardening (or designing) that contrasts with the streaming that might generate the issues of data exhaustion and waste (hence further isolation of domain users). Though I, as a teacher, was very encouraged by the practices of having one’s own domain on students’ sides for their autonomous knowledge and scholarship, I wasn’t sure how those independent sites run and represented by students can be delivered to the interested audience. Though Watters didn’t articulate the precise tactics of gardening (a network of flowers when we may imagine each student’s domain as some groups of flowers categorized by seasonal, colors, regional, etc.) in building the network of students’ domains in helping them connect to each other’s knowledge and invite external readers to their pages, I thought maybe there has been already a similar practice in pursuing domain’s one’s own. I hope that the class can discuss this further. In addition, in terms of teachers’ roles in navigating students’ gardens, I wondered what we could think more when it comes to grading and otherwise evaluating students’ works and scholarships. Can we just leave students as gardeners on their own terms? The idea of autonomy isn’t a bit too irresponsibly generalized nowadays? I hope that we can talk about this together.