Clay Shirky has a new book that’s just been released titled “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” with an accompanying blog that both advance to the idea that our ability to connect on the Web potentially changes much of what we know to be true about business, politics, and everything else. Should be here in a day or so.
David Weinberger was live blogging a presentation by Shirky at Harvard last week, and there were a couple “shift-capturing” phrases that caught my eye. First, Shirky was talking about the difficulties one of his NYU students was having running a health and beauty discussion board at an online magazine site for teenage girls because they couldn’t “get the pro-anorexia girls to shut up with tips about how to avoid eating.” That’s an effect of the Net, the idea that group forming is “ridiculously” easy, that we can’t stop it, and that “all we can do is watch and act.”
But here’s the quote that struck me:
Now, we have to move to a publish-then-filter world.
Not an earth shattering revelation, I know, but an interesting way of saying it, I think, and one that again captures the shift pretty powerfully. We who are engaged in personal learning networks understand this filtering role, in fact, we depend on it for our learning. We have become editors, and we have become dependent on the editorial faculties of those we have chosen to learn with. In fact, if you’re not an effective filter, odds are good that you won’t be a part of the network.
Now I know that we should have been teaching our kids to be effective filters all along, but I have serious doubts as to how many of our students are being taught to edit in the context of self-organized learning networks. And I think it’s another way to pose the question: Are we preparing our students for a “publish then filter world?”
The second little tidbit in the post that I found interesting was a discussion of the potential use for social tools in a potential Obama presidency. While Shirky noted that Obama excels at fund-raising online, no one yet has “proposed a policy wiki” or “lateral conversation among supporters.”
There may be an opportunity in the first 100 days to do social
production of shared ideas, which the campaign has not done so far. But
I donâ€™t think it can get there without creating a profound cognitive
dissonance among the voters.
That last part really resonates in terms of the conversation about education. But let me ask this: How much easier would it be to make the case about social technologies to parents and administrators and teachers if the President of the United States were in some way invested in them? (I know, I know…would probably still depend on whether or not they voted for him or her.) But it just speaks to the idea of how important modeling the uses of these technologies is.
More molecules moving…
Technorati Tags: literacy, networks, publishing
Jenny Luca says
That’s exactly why I entered this world Will – my reading was leading me to want to comment – to become another part of the filtering process. I still think it’s a brave step though. Like you say, “if youâ€™re not an effective filter, odds are good that you wonâ€™t be a part of the network.” Writing a post takes an element of courage -you’re exposing yourself to the world and to the accolades, criticism, or lack of readership that might follow. Again, it’s like you say, great modelling for our students – blogging is like being assessed every day! Now we know how they feel.
Dean Shareski says
This concept would have fit nicely with my “Are You Published?” presentation that you so graciously participated in.
We had an interesting discussion along the lines of Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur. Certainly many are concerned with lack of effort required to publish. While I knew it required more time than we had, for many they may need this concept first.
Publish then Filter. Another shift. Thanks for sharing
Teaching effective filtering, or in this case post-publishing editing requires great skill. There is a fine line between censorship and editing. What I enjoy about the Twitter Network and the education blogosphere is that most participants recognize the difference between the two, and instead of editing to push an agenda (censorship), most participants are open to differing viewpoints and conclusions. Therefore, the post-publishing editing that takes place is to filter the content that causes an open discussion forum to break down. I really enjoyed your thoughts and the information shared in this blog post. I need a little time to digest it all before commenting further.
Gary S. Stager says
The speaker is really on to something important. The mob DOES rule in online discussions. Simply by pushing a discussion onto another page, much is lost.
There is a fundamental difference between brainstorming and publishing. We do our students a grave disservice if we lead them to believe that they are so precious that every thought they have or sentence they type is worthy of an audience. Kids are wonderful and it’s great that educators have the potential to network online, but unless a venue is specifically for the purposes of peer-editing or review, publishing should remain at the end of the creative process. (see writing process)
Most iMovies remain too long and should be edited one more time. Nearly every Voicethread example I’ve seen falls short of the standard of a traditional five paragraph book report. That does not mean that either medium is defective. Great work, perhaps even art, that offers a coherent personal representation may indeed be possible with new digital tools. Rough drafts “published” online disrespect the audience the web so generously affords.
I fear that using the term “filtering” in a K-12 context leads readers to infer the sort of zero-tolerance, anti-intellectual, external authoritarianism usually associated with the term by school districts. Perhaps “thoughtfulness” would be a better term.
Dean Shareski says
Gary’s comments almost echo verbatim the discussion I had last week.
Part of the problem is that the term “publish” seems to conjure up things like excellence and polished when it really hasn’t meant that but it’s been an expectation.
I’ve been trying to figure out how we can distinguish between spaces. For example, a class can publish a wiki that’s really a sandbox of learning. It’s filled with brainstorming and unfinished thoughts, just like many blog posts, voicethreads and other published work.
The issue is we don’t have a very good way of categorizing work as completed or excellent. Partly it could be an issue of tagging. Maybe we need to get better at categorizing our own work.
I look at the work of some of our primary teachers and love that fact that they can post their work immediately, get feedback and watch their growth over time. What we don’t see is the posting of a video, then receiving feedback and re-editing again and again until they’ve got it right. That’s what we need more of. It’s all published but not as a finished, completed piece of work.
I like Darren Kuropatwa’s idea of a Scribe Hall of Fame for his student bloggers. They only get in if they’ve done exemplary work. The problem is in the maze of content, it’s hard to easily know where to find the exemplary work.
I wonder what Weinberger would say about all this.
Will Richardson says
But on some level, can’t blogging be a part of process? A draft? Thin thinking? Gary knows all to well that many times I use my blog for some early ideas in hopes that people will help me flesh it all out. I’m not saying that every single word kids (or we) write should go up online. But what if they learned to use the technology to assist in the writing process with, yes, a larger than the classroom audience?
Gary S. Stager says
However, this may really be a matter of the stance assumed by the adults in a kid’s life (ie… teacher). Kids have pretty acute BS detectors and can handle being asked, “Why should others have to read/watch/listen to that?”
See my other comments regarding my support for all work being public.
Gary S. Stager says
Thanks for your support. I’m not sure if it matters much what David Weinberger has to say on this matter. I would be much more interested in the perspectives of experts like Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins, Jim Stigler or the remarkable educators of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
I don’t actually have trouble with everything a student does being online and available to the world. The deluge of bits in cyberspace creates its own form of anonymity.
My problem is with adults celebrating embryonic works-in-progress, half-thoughts or sloppy thinking while implying that its existence on the web substitutes for quality.
Gary S. Stager says
A real-life example might be a good analogy for the issue we’re discussing. I’ve witnessed the following on several occasions at a few different schools.
It’s student band concert night. You go to support the kids – heck, your kid. You sit in an uncomfortable chair in a sweaty gymnasium with terrible acoustics and politely applaud at all the right moments. The final piece of the program concludes with a mighty cymbal crash which is your cue to head for the parking lot, right?
Wrong, it is at this point that the band director steps up to the microphone and says, “Normally, that is where we would end the concert, but I passed out a new piece of music just yesterday and the kids are quite excited about it. We would like to play that brand new music for you right now.”
Then the train-wreck ensues.
What is the band director thinking? Why does she indulge the children so casually while assaulting the ears and other internal organs of the audience? By example, the band director sends a tacit message to the children. “Anything you do deserves an appreciative audience.”
Such indulgence models a disrespect for others and devalues hard work or a the confidence that accompanies a job well done.
Dean Shareski says
I knew the Weinberger (non-educator) reference would get you. 😉
Again it’s about helping adults, kids, everyone being about to distinguish, “in draft” work from “this is my best”.
I witness the excitement of teachers and students being able to post online as having accomplished something great and never moving beyond the novelty to creating quality work. That’s where I’m at with many teachers right now. However since many still haven’t even experienced any form of publishing, this isn’t the issue yet, although they deluge of lousy work out there discourages many from entering the game at all.
Gary S. Stager says
I agree with you!
Among the Web chattering class, Weinberger is a good guy. However, his expertise is not infinite. I learn lots from experts in all sorts of domains.
Again, my students do EVERYTHING online – process and product. However, publishing connotes “readiness for the world,” at least in my eyes.
Will – there’s actually quite a bit of web 2.0 activity happening at the federal level. The President’s budget shop just used a wiki for earmarks (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/27/AR2008012701655.html). CBO’s director has an active blog (http://cboblog.cbo.gov/). The White House used a blog during the middle east trip (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/mideast/notes/index.html) and has also hosted an Ask the White House chat a couple of times each month going all the way back to 2002 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ask/) DNI used a wikipedia engine for a project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellipedia). HHS operates an AIDS blog that also taps into a number of other Web 2.0 tools (http://blog.aids.gov/). Most of the agencies are using RSS feeds (http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference_Shelf/Libraries/RSS_Library.shtml) USPTO also used the web for some crowdsourcing projects (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/04/AR2007030401263.html) NASA’s website has a tag cloud and commenting on articles (http://www.nasa.gov/). The Library of Congress just announced a partnership with Flickr (http://www.loc.gov/blog/?p=233) And of course, citizens can comment on active policy discussions though regulations.gov (http://www.regulations.gov/search/index.jsp) Members of Congress are doing podcasts (White House too) and a number of members are operating blogs. So there’s a fair amount of experimentation happening with varying degrees of success/impact.
Terry Elliott says
I have been asked to ‘model’ social software use for the online faculty at my University and find that modelling is a slippery term. What do I do? What would any of us do? It is a very fine line we tread between modeling, mentoring, teaching, collaborating, and all the rest. Sometimes I think most modeling is simply being an example that gives permission for others to adapt and adopt. It is a type of authority. I am drawn to ask what or who gives that authority? Why does Stager think his definition that ‘publication’ means ‘readiness’ is any model I wish to adopt for writers who, as a class, admit that their writing is never ready. The orchestra analogy implies that a “text” is only ready when the audience is ready for it. Ask John Cage or Steve Reich if their audiences were ready for their music.
My point is that when the genre we are modeling is being born as we speak how can we ‘model’ it? As best we can and with humility may be the only answer I can muster as I prepare to model my own meager model for my colleagues.