The last couple of days, the one picture I can’t get out of my head is the one of groups of Congressmen huddled around talking in hushed tones along the lines of:
“Ok, so what is a blog again?”
“Look, just think MySpace.”
“Ohhh, yeah. MySpace! Blogs are evil…dangerous!”
“Dang straight…and that Wikipedia thing is just a mess.”
“Nevermind…just think prisoners taking over the asylum. We need to take back the truth!”
“Take it back! Absolutely! But…um…how do we do that?”
“Take back truth?”
“No, no, no…truth doesn’t matter. This is about DANGER. We’ve got all sorts of people out there, predators I tell ‘ya, and our kids are in DANGER! We have to DELETE the PREDATORS!”
“Mercy! The people will love us, won’t they?”
Ok, so maybe that’s a stretch. Bottom line is that too few of them have any idea of what is happening because they haven’t the experience to understand them. They don’t live in this world. They don’t live in kids’ worlds.
And that’s true for 90% of the non-kid population (and, to be honest, probably about 1/3 of the kid population too.) What I’m reminded of by the DOPA decision is that once again, this community, this “echo chamber,” is not representative of the real world when it comes to how these technologies can impact learning. We feed off of each other’s energy and passion, but that makes it so easy (for me, at least) to forget that there are about a gajillion people out there who still have no clue about this. And in my specific case, it hasn’t helped that I’ve been out there more and more having great conversations with inspiring and inspired teachers and administrators who get it and see the importance of understanding. I’ve been preaching to the choir, as we all have, but I’ve forgotten that the choir is infinitesimally small.
I’ve blogged about this before, this idea that we have to find ways to take this message to other groups outside of education, to parents, to school boards, to local politicians, to businessmen. And here’s the irony: we bloggers who believe in blogs in the classroom should be doing less blogging. I’ve been sitting here growing complacent because everyone who is commenting and linking and posting on their blogs and podcasting gets it or at least has the context for the discussion. And then, boom…DOPA passes by 400 votes. 400! I think that’s what gets me most…the sheer number. The fact that ONLY 15 voted against it.
Despite the best efforts of bloggers and ISTE and CoSN and ALA and others, I’m not optimistic about turning the tide in the Senate. That number, 15, is a serious reality check. If it had been 150, or even 100…
But it was 15.
So, I’m doing what I can short term, but I’m thinking harder about long term. Those of you who have read this blog for a while know that I believe in the end, these changes are inevitably going to impact classrooms in profound ways. The only question is when. DOPA, if the Senate passes it, will be a setback, although we don’t yet completely know the impact. But in the long run, it’s just a bump.
But we have got to move this discussion into wider circles. This comment on my last post does a great job of articulating a different strategy. And again, the irony is, I think, that we’ve got to do it in Web 0.0 ways, by writing books, articles for print in magazines that don’t have anything to do with education or technology (read: Good Housekeeping), letters to editors, calling into radio shows, make CDs and DVDs, and maybe some Web 1.0 ways too like e-mail and discussion groups. We’ve got to stop preaching to the choir and spend more of our time “out there.” I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m pursuing that I’ll no doubt blog about if and when they happen, but the bottom line is, I’m looking more outward.
I’d love to hear others’ ideas of how best to articulate these stories to the wider universe..
technorati tags:dopa, read_write_web, education, blogging
Harold Jarche says
I think you have an open HTML tag on this post 😉
Done this many times myself.
Rob Wahl says
That sucks my friend. So far we haven’t seen that in Canada. Any chance of a court challenge? Often times the nature of a law like that is in the enforcement. Such laws often prove unenforceable. I know first hand that to block chat is going to require some mighty long lists.
I took a quck look at the the Bill and didn’t find a definition of “supervison”. In part to avoid issues like theses, my technician and I just put together a blog environment on a District Server that could grow into a social networking environment for our kids. We think it’s quite healthy for kids to network socially. It’s open to kids from anywhere. Because we can scan and will scan the images and log files the whole server is a “supervised” environment.
It would be interesting if our web site was then blocked in the US. That would indeed prove an interesting turn of events. Kids from Russia and China would be allowed on but not kids from the US.
Great workshop by the way. I’ve been blogging ever since– a full two weeks. I’ll be interested to how dramatic the effects will be. Wonder how will your workshop be different next year as a result?
Miguel Guhlin says
Whatâ€™s so powerful about DOPA-supporters point of view is that they donâ€™t involve much educationâ€¦just point and fire type arguments. However, i find myself agreeing with Flickr-banning. I do agree it is irresponsible for K-12 advocates to encourage Flickr use in K-12â€“whether they are digital storytelling facilitators, librarians, whomever.
The path through the fear and values-argument is education. However, that is less an option in a presidential administration that is committed to merging religion and state to garner votes. DOPAâ€™s significance is nothing next to that bigger issue. Itâ€™s like complaining about being in the frying pan when the fire is burning even hotter.
In the meantime, check out Brian Grenier’s work
and add the button to your web site:
Kevin J. Gray says
Great article in Wired last week about educating parents about MySpace (and does a good job debunking the “internet equals sexual predator” myth”):
Kevin J. Gray says
link didn’t come through:
Vicki Davis says
We must find useful, salient tools for all Americans that involve blogs and wikis. When we do and the adults say “Oh, that is useful” is when we will get more adults saying “Oh, we need to use that in the classroom.”
When the Internet first came out it was evil. In 1993 I was asked how I could be a Christian and teach classes on the Internet.
People tend to criticize things they don’t understand especially when it is something that will require them to change. We need to write useful books and create useful ways for adults to use social networking that extend outside the best bars and meeting your perfect match. When everyday folks make money, collaborate, and save time on the new Internet, they will be more open to the arguments we are making about their use in the classroom.
Yes, silicon valley needs to wake up!