Dave, I think you have touched nicely upon the different literacies, or strategies, required for negotiating through and functioning within the network, or rhizome, rather than within the hierarchy. The factory, of course, is a typical prototype of the hierarchical structures we have invented to build our cultures and knowledges; however, the command-and-control apparatus of hierarchies requires a different skill set than does the connect-and-collaborate apparatus of rhizomes.

When our status, value, and position within a group depend on the number of people we can encourage to connect to us and collaborate with us, as they do in a network/rhizome, then we must learn and use very different skills than when our status, value, and position within a group depend on the number of people we can climb over and put beneath ourselves, as they do in a hierarchy. What literacies do I learn to encourage people to connect and collaborate? Well, “it is better to give than to receive” comes to mind, and it has a certain pedigree, but it sure runs counter to hierarchical structures, both mental and physical.

Perhaps one of the first literacies we need to develop, and one that I still don’t have, is to determine what constitutes a rhizomatic structure. Hierarchies are very well equipped for defining who is inside and who is outside the group, and gatekeeping is a core hierarchical literacy and function. Rhizomes are different. If you show up, even accidentally, then you are in the group. You may leave when you wish, though you will leave behind whatever energy you created in the group. No gatekeeping. To the hierarchical mind, this is no organization at all. If anyone can join, then … well, the hierarchical mind simply stops in the face of such nonsense. Either you’re a Christian or not, an American or not, an employee or not, a student or not, a Phi Mu or not. The rhizome says otherwise.

I think I’m beginning to see this shift in structure in my college classrooms as people drop in and out of the class like virtual angels through blogs, work on gDocs, RSS feeds, chats, Facebook. When students really begin to develop a PLN/PLE, then the hierarchical identity of my classroom is subsumed in the assemblages of all those different networks. When the class works, then the rhizome intensifies, elaborates, far beyond the classroom. What do I call that? How does my university account for that? Who gets charged? graded? And do those various hierarchical functions become anachronisms? If they are, then what functions replace them? If I as a teacher no longer spend my time as the sole, authoritative gatekeeper of knowledge or as the rank-orderer and signifier, then what do I do?

What will happen to me as a teacher when I can no longer rely on command-and-control structures to force students into my classrooms and must, instead, rely on connect-and-collaborate structures?

Dave, I need these new literacies much sooner than do my students, who are already developing them, though they are seldom conscious of it. Let me know what you find out.