Filtered: Or How One Makes Sense of What Goes In and Out of One's Head

I'm thinking about filters today.  Filtering input; filtering output.  How much do I block what comes in and how much do I block what goes out.  The filtering of words and thoughts I send out into the world, but also the ways in which I filter what comes in.  The ideas and thoughts resonate from the filtering I did on this post and this one, but also from the works of Jeff Jarvis, Eli Pariser, Kathryn Schulz, BrenĂ© Brown, and my continuous dialogue with students and faculty.  The thoughts are also spurred by discussions with friends and from different coverage of the ways in which we see conscious filtering by people by others in their (self-selected) social networks.  

We do need ands use filters.  Or at least, I know I do.  It's how I make sense of the world.  Without filters, I couldn't comprehend the world in intelligible ways.  I couldn't keep a continued line of thought since guiding my thinking would be particular cues.  (I would be like this!).  And when we think about learning in an educational context, it is very much about applying filters.  Focusing on text through a political perspective, from a literary perspective, from a civil engineer's perspective will provide a clearer and legible analysis. Part of our goals are to teach students the particular filters of our disciplines for good or bad.

Personal Learning Network

I know that I'm particularly conscious about honing a Personal Learning Network and rightfully so.  There is much other there--I know I can't get to all of it, I need to filter information towards me or else get lost in the flood.  But I've also caught myself filtering those in my social network because I "just don't want to see that."  But I've started to resist this urge.  It's too easy to filter out people and I don't like that.  I don't need an echo-chamber but I also get turned off by the sometimes highly offensive posts people put out ther.  What I need is thoughtful engagement.  Therefore, as I've come across things that "I just don't want to see"--I've started to meaningfully engage with it.  I comment, respectfully, and engage in inquiry.  It's sometimes hard to be respectful and critical (or it's sometimes hard to be the recipeient of it) and I'm sure it may have led to others filtering me.  However, I'm finding value in not filtering and seeing what I'm missing.

Of course, there's another reason to not filter.  I want to be surprised and de-filtering allows for that.  I tend to think that it's the curve balls of such unfiltered flows that have sent me in directions I would not have considered previously and am better for it.  There's also a sense of getting outside myself.  Everything that I put into my personal learning networks is something of relation to me, but by being exposed to others, there may be new things I did not know but may find interesting or relevant, if only in that it enlightens me to things previously unexplored (mayhaps a chance for a new channel of information to flow in).

And when I'm putting words, information, thoughts, feelings, etc out into the world, I also ponder what to filter or how much to put out there.  There's much out there suggesting we should be careful and we all know of the people who "overshare" (whatever we mean by that).  How deliberate should I be in what I share and how I share it?  Should I talk about the "truth" (or my versions of it) and if so, how much to share (filter) of it?

But in this mixture of ponderings about filters, I came upon a discovery (ok, a rediscovery--something I knew, but realized in a new context).  I've come to recognize that I lack a educational filter or sorts.  It's clear that I thoroughly enjoy learning.  If you know anything about me; it's that.  But as I look at my peers, I recognize that I lack the same filter system.  So often I've been encouraged, directed, and dictacted to just get my doctorate's already.  And I've agreed that it's something in my future but not now.  In the meantime, I've continued to puruse knowledge through more advance degrees, self-learning, and informal learning (through dialogue with peers, personal learning networks, conferences, etc).  I hesitate to apply a particular filter to my education that I see amongst peers sometimes.  I feel at times the doctorate leads one to become too focused as pointed out here.  Yes, it leads to greater knowledge in some ways, but it feels sacrificial in others.  The filter of the discipline feels tighter than I might be comfortable with (at least at this moment).

So what are other people's experience with filtering in and out elements of their life?

(Also note:  this is just an opening volley--there's more I have to say on my filtering, but I'm starting with this).

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  1. Filtering is an interesting/ponderous thing. I sometimes claim I have no filter, but everyone has filters. Perhaps I only edit 80% of what I say, and it should be more like 90%. I agree with you on the social networking front. I am often tempted to hide the feed(s) of my right wing friends/ family, but doing so would be counterproductive.

    Although I am clearly biased on this front, I disagree that the Doctoral degree makes one filter more. Perhaps for a time when you're writing a dissertation as you have to become the expert in that particular niche, but nobody pursues a doctoral degree without a life-long love of learning. I think it also depends on what you want to do with that doctorate. Yeah, if you teach at a research 1 institute that might be limiting, but most of us don't and seek to engage with other educators/students in an interdisciplinary context.

    I think learn filters also send us on productive tangents. Like I latch onto any mention of cyborgs, race, gender, or disability, but often from different fields and perspectives.

    BTW, you should just get the doctorate already ;) Just kidding!


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