I know I come back to this a lot, but I just find the whole reader as editor phenomenon to be so powerful and so important for the way we think about the Internet. I mean look at what’s happened over the last week with the “60 Minutes” controversy over documents they used in a report about the president’s military service. The amount of critical thinking and writing skills that bloggers have exhibited over the last week on this story alone is pretty impressive. Now I know it’s not all wonderful, and I know that it’s tough to translate all of this down to the classroom. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s proof of concept. CBS didn’t realize they had a whole Internet stable of editors out there who, as the Grand Forks Herald put it,
…worked the thing, with a stubbornness and tenacity that would have done credit to a pack of bulldogs or a turn of snapping turtles – or, yes, an army of investigative reporters.
These bloggers are obviously highly motivated by the current political climate. But the point is that whatever their motivation, they have become engaged in the debate. And I firmly believe that students have a lot to say about the various topics that they find engaging…they’ve just never had the opportunity to do it in a meaningful, public way.
I know, I know. The vast majority of students won’t end up being bloggers. But blogging starts with reading, something they all need to do. And blogging asks them to think about what they read, something they all need to do as well. If through the use of blogs we can teach them to do the important work it takes to be an editor, then maybe they’ll continue to use those skills even if they don’t continue blogging.