live from breakfast

 (Monday morning. Breakfast room. Mostly empty tables and the sound of mildly offensive bland music in the background. )

So what’s the live in live methods? What is this live-ness? And what might be method-ical about being live?

This is a question.  I’ve spent a bit of the night contemplating it. (Why do hotels always have such hot covers? They really do keep me awake.) I’m now seated with my fruit and yoghurt thinking that I really must get this post done before I have to make the move to the conference venue, the Baltic. ( Don’t spill the coffee on the key board Pat.)

I don’t think live method is actually what I’ve just done. It’s not a blow by blow account of events in the way, say, that a football match might be reported, or my breakfast. Although, I contradict myself, there might be elements of this kind of this-is-what’s-going-on-now account – or even a kind of stream of consciousness, in live method. But if this was the case, it would be because the writer had made a decision to convey something important through writing in this way. A here-and-now account isn’t required for live – it’s only this if the writer decides it’s the way they want to make text. Live might be someone reflecting on their experience of the conference, and using a kind of presentism to convey something of the affect.

But not necessarily.

To me, live method is a way of working with immediate experience to record and analyse. So, rather than live method being the equivalent of journalism – or more appropriately for a bunch of academics – ethnographic field notes, it’s likely to be in the form of reflective memos written very close to the time that events happened – and are still happening.

Live is reflective. Analytic. I imagine that our conference live blog posts will go from something particular to more distantiated and processed responses. The posts will be, if you like, sociological in their intent and practice. Even if they are presentist, they will have a more generalised aim. While our collective blog posts might address a range of topics – from exploring ideas and reporting interesting conversations to (re)presenting a carefully selected something from the proceedings – these will open up insights. They will refer to and contribute to the bigger conversation. They will be speculative. Understandings will emerge and coalesce. I hope to be surprised by the range of topics and genres that are actually discussed by our co-researchers.

We are interested in how to make live-ness happen. Daily publication on a blog offers a very particular opportunity for participants’ reflections to feed back into events, here the conference proceedings, adding layers of reflexivity. Live-ness is about the capacity to make analysis and conversation at the time, in the time. It will be interesting to see whether this reflexive time-ly offer (what we in education call an affordance) is taken up, and if so, how.

And we also have live – and hive. We are working with a collective of volunteer bloggers. There won’t be a one-best view of the conference. There will be multiple perspectives, experiences and texts. We hope that this whole will amount to more than the various, separate accounts. But will it? We just don’t know yet.

Using blogging as live method , as we are doing it, is an experiment. In the spirit of the conference we have set up a project and a kind of “alongside laboratory”. While on the one hand, we can explore the ways in which an academic conference functions as an arena for knowledge production – and in the “undisciplining” conference case, knowledge deconstruction and disruption – on the other hand, we also have a platform we can use to  examine the ways in which we think about the processes and the investigation per se. In other words, we can use social media to explore “the conference” as a particular and a more general academic phenomenon, while also thinking about the possibilities of live method, and social media as live method, at the same time.

Or, as Mark puts it, it’s a lot of meta-geekery. (Bloggeration, I’ve let my coffee go cold. Must get more coffee. Puts pear in bag for later, hoping it won’t squash. )

One thought on “live from breakfast

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