The title of this, my ‘other’ WordPress blog, derives from a wonderful book by British academic John Shotter, The Cultural Politics of Everyday Life (1993), which appears to have vanished from my book shelves. Counter-intuitively, this absence actually reveals just how much the book was cherished since I had a habit of pressing it into some hapless student’s hands with the ardent instruction ‘you must read this’. Obviously someone did. My university library advanced search tool can’t find the book either, even an online version, although I can’t believe that this means it has been borrowed out of existence. So I’m left with two bits of information.
The first is the trace of a blurb which reads:
“John Shotter argues [in this book] that it is not in the writings of philosophers, sociologists, or other ‘theorists’ that we discover our ‘ways of knowing.’ He asserts that knowledge is founded in, and relevant to, the everyday civil life of ordinary people in society. In conversations and in practical knowledge people create the basic reality in which social institutions have their life.”
The other trace I have is a memory of the opening chapter in which Shotter describes working in an aircraft factory before he became an academic – and how he learned to make the various parts of an aircraft not from manuals and books, but from ‘doing it’. Hence my header photo of Cary Grant knitting, since knitting is something you have to learn by doing. Try explaining knitting to someone without any visual aids.
This knowing by doing is what Shotter calls knowledge of the third kind, the kind of tacit knowledge we don’t know we have until someone asks us how we acquired it. In the context of my current thinking, this includes knowledge about the spaces and places we all navigate on a daily basis overlaid by the knowledge about what we can, and can’t do, in public and private and the sometimes blurry moments when we just aren’t sure.
How the media figures in the navigation of this landscape will be the topic of this blog as I also ‘learn through doing’ alongside my students and colleagues in the subjects, BCM 240 Media, Audience, Place and BCM 311 Advanced Seminar in Media and Communications