"Oh my God, it's full of stars"
"A botanical metaphor, first posited by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus(1987), may offer a more flexible conception of knowledge for the information age: therhizome. A rhizomatic plant has no center and no defined boundary; rather, it is made up of a number of semi-independent nodes, each of which is capable of growing and spreading on its own, bounded only by the limits of its habitat (Cormier 2008)."
In Dave's post he talked about habituation and how when you learn something it becomes automatic, and the vocabulary you adopt reflects this. In the comments I mentioned some of the work done with experts, in particular pattern recognition in chess experts. For instance, chess experts will be able to reproduce a board they are shown much better than you or I (assuming you're not a chess expert that is). The reason is that they encode it as patterns linked to long term memory eg "the mid-game position in Kasparov vs Karpov 1984" whereas novices are encoding it as discrete elements eg white rook next to black pawn two spaces in".
Experts don't know they do this, but it's a by-product, or rather a means, of expertise. They don't set out to encode in this manner, but it is what they do as they gain expertise. Interestingly, if you show expert chess players random placement of figures, ie not real mid-game positions, then they fare the same as everyone else.
Over twitter Dave said that maybe what he was talking about wasn't expertise in the traditional sense. To which I responded that in a very general, maybe even trite, sense, all learning is a shift away from novice towards expert, even if you never reach the expert level. No-one learns something to know less about it.
But then on reflection, maybe Dave has a point. The kind of learning he is talking about is accidental, acquisitional. It's almost collateral damage learning. I was thinking about being a blogger as an example. I didn't take a formal course to become one, obviously (I'd want my money back if I did). And I don't think I ever articulated to myself the goal or ambition to 'learn to be a blogger'. But over time, reading others, and experimentation, I learnt a lot of things, such as the right voice (for me) to use in a blog, what subjects to blog about, how to connect with others, the use of certain technologies, etc. I also became enculturated and learnt or adopted the 'blog culture'.
I suppose in one sense, I am now an expert, or at least more expert than some, blogger. But this feels rather different from other things I might be considered an expert in (erm, I can't think of any now, but there must be some), which have been the result of very intentional, and directional learning.
And this to me gets to the heart of the good and the bad about rhizomatic (or if you prefer, networked) learning. It works, at least in the sense that I have learnt to be a better blogger than I was six years ago. But if it's unintentional, undirectional, informal and accidental then is there much we as educators can say about it other than 'that's interesting'? My point is if we can't foster it, direct it, start it, measure it, or even look at it then is there much we can do about it? It may happen, and be very useful, but as soon as you try and touch it, then it disappears. It's like stars you can only see in the periphery of your vision, as soon as you focus on them, they fade from view.