“There is this weird sense that the Internet is broken because it lets people make easy copies. . . The Internet is a machine for making copies, and artists need to come to grips with that,” Doctorow said.
So here’s my mix: take out “artists”, put in “educators”. I think we’re at the point where we need to start coming to grips with the idea that the “problem” with students ripping other students’ work is not going to get better, especially in the age of online portfolios and classroom blogs, and that it’s the mixing part of the equation we need to start focusing on. I’ve been having this conversation more and more with teachers here at my school. It usually starts with “If my kids put all their work online for everyone else to see, what’s going to stop others from using it?” The answer, obviously, is not much. Unless you really focus on the process, it’s hard to stop kids who want to from downloading content and using it as their own. And as more and more process content goes online, well…
So what about focusing on the remix? What about saying to students “Look, here are some great pieces of content, and here’s why they’re great. Now what can you do with these pieces to make them your own, to inject your own ideas and experiences into them and interpret them in new ways that show you understand the concepts being presented?”
I mean, after all, isn’t that what blogging (v.) does? Isn’t that what I’m doing right now? I rip by reading what others write (or read) because they have allowed me to do so by publishing. I mix that content with my own ideas, partially to articulate what it means to me but also to test those ideas against a public audience. In the process, I learn. A lot.
This is just another part of the transformation, the rethinking that schools are going to have to undertake. The social, collaborative construction of content that the Read/Write Web facilitates is going to challenge us in many, many ways.