technology and education

Ursula Franklin, in The Real World of Technology wrote:

Technology is not the sum of the artifacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.

Being a mindset, technology then is an ideology.

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MIL Curriculum for Teachers for media literacy

UNESCO launches MIL Curriculum for Teachers to promote the development of knowledge societies and free independent and pluralistic media. [link]

Part of the Organization’s underlying strategy to treat information literacy and media literacy as MIL and a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude) necessary for citizens living in the 21st Century. According to Janis Karklins, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, the MIL Curriculum for Teachers is pioneering for the following reasons:

  • It is forward looking, drawing on present trends toward the convergence of radio, television, Internet, newspapers, books, digital archives and libraries into one platform – thereby, for the first time, presenting MIL in a holistic manner.
  • It is specifically designed with teachers in mind and for integration into the formal teacher education system thus ensuring a catalytic effect.
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– data smog

An older book from 2007 worth reading:  Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut by David Shenk, which discusses information overload and the impact of technology on culture. I found the laws of data smog particularly intriguing:

The Laws of Data Smog

  1. Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes.
  2. Silicon circuits evolve much more quickly than human genes.
  3. Computers are neither human nor humane.
  4. Putting a computer in every classroom is like putting an electric power plant in every home.
  5. What they sell is not information technology, but information anxiety.
  6. Too many experts spoil the clarity.
  7. All high-stim roads lead to Times Square.
  8. Birds of a feather flock virtually together.
  9. The electronic town hall allows for speedy communication and bad decisionmaking.
  10. Equifax is watching.
  11. Beware stories that dissolve all complexity.
  12. On the information highway, most roads bypass journalists.
  13. Cyberspace is Republican.

Not sure I agree with all of them though. Absolute freedom to me is a given.

But here are his promising remedies:

Antidote 1: Be Your Own Filter

The first remedy is simply to identify the clutter and start sweeping it away. Most of us have excess information in our lives, distracting us, pulling us away from our prioritize and from a much-desired tranquility. If we stop just for a moment to look (and listen) around us, we will begin to notice a series of data streams we’d be better off without, including some distractions we pay handsomely for.

Antidote 2: Be Your Own Editor

After learning how to filter input, one must shift concern to the equally important task of limiting output. Amidst the data smog, a new kind of social responsibility has emerged — an obligation to be succinct. Just as we’ve had to curtail our toxic emissions in the physical world, the information glut demands that we all be more economical about what we say, write, publish, broadcast, and post online. People who recklessly pump redundant or obfuscatory information into society are the information age equivalents of the miscreants who open their car door at a stop light to dump trash onto the street.

Antidote 3: Simplify

Between input and output, there is life itself. How does one live a meaningful life in an ever-more complex and distracting world? One helpful ingredient, I’ve found, is to embrace a new paradigm of simplicity.

It is often said that we are on the cusp of a whole new age when intelligent machines will take over much of the work we do. I suspect that just the opposite may be true — that we are about to comprehend the true limitations of machines. Once we realize that information technology truly cannot replace human experience, that as it increases the available information it also helps devalue the meaning of each piece of information, we will be on the road to reasserting our dominance over technology.

Antidote 4: De-nichify

How to change our electronic Tower of Babel into a modern Agora? The answer is easy, though the solution is not: We need to talk to one another. Recall Bill Bradley’s challenge: “When was the last time you talked about race with someone of a different race? If the answer is never, you’re part of the problem.”

As we reach across cultural boundaries and pursue interdisciplinary studies, we are pursuing the best kind of education — not just learning how to become more efficient at a specialized task, but how to interact with the rest of humanity. These sorts of pursuits enable us to embrace the joys of education as the best possible antidote to data smog. Education is anti-glut. It is the harnessing of information, organizing it into knowledge and memory. Education also breeds a healthy skepticism, and will help consumers fend off manipulative marketing tactics. Education is the one thing we can’t get overloaded with. The more of it, the better.

Antidote 5: Don’t Forsake Government; Help Improve It

Finally, for collective fixes more appropriately enacted on behalf of all society, we must call on that awkward but thoroughly necessary beast, government.

Yes, government. Federal initiatives are badly needed, mostly because technology policy is too important to be surrendered to chance or to the wealthiest corporations. The cyber-libertarian community has made anti-government rhetoric a fashionable part of the information revolution, mostly in response to a lot of very thoughtless federal legislation. After a particularly stupid law was signed by President Clinton in 1996 — the Communications Decency Act, which aimed to excessively curb speech online — leading cyber thinker John Perry Barlow issued a “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” which rashly proclaimed the Net to be its own world, not a functioning part of conventional society.

Respectfully, I dissent. The Net is not literally a new world vested with its own sovereignty; it is a new and exciting facet of society, created and subsidized by a democratic government that, for all of its well-publicized bungling and wastefulness, actually works pretty well. Barlow is absolutely correct in describing cyberspace as a very different organism from our physical world. Ultimately, though, the former must fall under the jurisdiction of the latter.

Find more excerpts here:

– the new influencers

Currently reading The New Influencers: a marketer’s guide to the new social media,  by Paul Gillin.  Having new influencers definitely changes how we do our marketing and advertising.  While the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ helps people make better decisions, they sometimes make ‘colossal’ mistakes as well. Gillin focuses mostly on blogging and bloggers as opposed to any other social media tool.

In any case, bloggers, according to Gillin, the new influencers of social media, have a sort of set of unspoken and unwritten defining standards… akin to a constitution of their own: thou shalt link [which is the ‘glue that holds it all together for credibility]; thou shalt not diss [practicing parliamentary civility]; thous shalt be transparent [includes ‘honesty, integrity, humility, open-mindedness and fairness’]; thou shalt comment [‘commenting is a core part of blogging protocol’] . thou shalt not blather [posts need to be concise and to the point].

He goes on to talk about blogging for and within corporations as public relations issues and gives examples of those he calls the top ‘A-list’ bloggers who are the most influential in present day markets.

– delete: forgetting in the digital age

Sounds like a great book because the idea behind it is great. I will read it and then post here what I think of it. First time I ever see a book trailer. 🙂 The book is Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, published by Princeton Univ. Press. [link]

Here is what it says about it:

Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget. Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well. Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see. Google remembers everything we’ve searched for and when. The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.