Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Shuttleworth Video: Script and Images

See also the accompanying proposal.

Good morning.

Welcome Morning from

I say good morning in recognition that it is not morning

in South Africa as I create this video, and that

it is not likely to be morning here w/ me, on the morning

in which you will you watch it.

Dealing with Time Zones, from Razorleaf

It is the crossing of those time zones, or--more than that--

it is the queering of the very notion of time zones

dividing us from one another,

querying the zones that mark the spaces

dividing us from one another,

that I'd like to talk with you about now,

in this weird shared present where none of us is "really" present,

from Social Media, More than Just a Presence

where all of us are elsewhere.

And yet--here we are communicating--what a miracle!


Let me begin my pitch, however, not in this present, but the past….

I am the daughter of an electrical engineer,

who for many years ran a small local telephone company--

so I was raised in a world that recognized the wonder

of our ability to talk across distances--and recognized also

the hard labor that was needed to keep the lines and poles repaired,

to keep the switches operating, to keep the connections connected.

Telephone Wires, on uncylopedia

It is out of that background that my own adult work has arisen.

I have been, for the past 30 years, teaching in

a small liberal arts college for women in the suburbs of Philadelphia,

a large city on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

from The Great Migration

When I left the rural south, where I was raised, for the urban North,

I had hoped to find myself in a space of increased freedom,

one less bound by conventional practices of exclusion.


I found that, in part.

 But the school where I teach is private, and elite;

it continues a proud 125-year tradition of offering rigorous training

for young women who are ambitious to become scholars

in very conventional ways,

in conversations that are largely closed,

and modes that are largely hierarchical.

Thomas Great Hall, @ Bryn Mawr College

The college also has a rogue side, however, and

I have been one of the "rogue intellectuals" here.

in a book called The Queer Art of Failure, Judith Halberstam

says, among other things, that

"terms like serious and rigorous tend to be

code words...for disciplinary correctness;

they signal a form of training and learning

that confirms what is already known

according to approved methods of knowing,

but they do not allow for visionary insights or flights of fancy.

Training of any a way of refusing

a ...stroll down uncharted streets in the 'wrong' direction...

it is precisely about staying in well-lit territories and

about knowing exactly which way to go before you set out...

I propose that instead the goal is to lose one's way,

Lose One's Way by By Anuchit Sundarakiti

and indeed to be prepared to lose more than one's way....

there are many rogue intellectuals...who wander off

into uncharted territories and refuse the academy

because the publish-or-perish pressure of academic life

keeps them tethered to conventional knowledge production

and its well-traveled byways....For some kooky minds,

disciplines actually get in the way of answers...

because they offer maps of thought

where intuition and blind fumbling

might yield better results...."

It's easy to lose one's way....

As I enter my 6th decade, I find myself

w/ an increased desire to go off script,

to reach roguishly "beyond rigor,"

to wander off, initiating and cultivating conversations

with those not trained as I and my students have been,


 trying to bring out into the world some of the insights we discover here,

trying to bring into this place insights from

parts of the world that we do not know,

trying to create a bi-directional conversation,

Serendip's Ambiguous Figures

larger and less mediated

than the discussions I direct in my classrooms.


I already have a stable platform for doing this.

It's a website called Serendip,

which was founded 15 years ago as an exploratory playground.

Serendip's Playground

I am asking Shuttleworth to fund a year's

more expansive exploration on that ground,

a year in which I and some other colleagues

can explore Serendip's coming of age,

and make movements towards its future.

Bryn Mawr Comes to Parkway!

Serendip already has five million unique visitors a year.

We also experiment with community partnerships--

most recently with a high school in a nearby city,

a university in a city further off, and

a program building preschools and kindergartens in northern Ghana.

Ghana: Learning

Where else might we go in search of inclusive conversation?

What might Serendip evolve into that it has not yet been?


What I want to explore during the upcoming year

is the range of such possibilities,

with others who prize interactions

among people beyond a single college campus.

Toward the "Organic Intellectual"

I want to expand the organic intellectual site

we have created into one that is even more

collaborative and attentive to the ways in which

the web offers enlarged senses of both time and space.

I want to find out how cascade-able, and how sustainable,

the vision is that has fed Serendip for all these years.

I want to learn what institutional openings exist, or might be created,

for bringing people around the world into the

conversations and actions hosted on this emerging site.

Emerging, by Hai Ying Wu

To answer these questions, I want to spend

the upcoming year planning with

others working in the emergent technologies of education,

both inside and outside schools,

which are open to all comers and discourses.

With a changing community of practitioners,

I want to create a range of new conversational sites,

as a contribution towards more lively,

open-ended dialogue, on campus and beyond.

As Karen Barad makes clear,

in her compelling articulation of the relationship

between the entanglements of quantum physics

and that of social justice work, there is one world,

of which we are all a part, in which we are all agents,

which we are shaping as we go.

I seek that emerging shape here.

Evolving Form by Davina Nicholas



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