I was in a meeting this week with a group of “educators”. We were talking about Communities of Practice. I mentioned blogging several times in the meeting. At the meeting’s end, one of the participants approached me and said, “Every time you mention blogging I get annoyed. It is only a fad and will never affect education.”
I believe that it is not a fad. I believe that Blogging, and its wider family of Social Software tools, will not only affect education but will shake our entire society to the core. I believe that our descendants will look back at its arrival the same way that we now look back at the advent of the printing press.
I hope so.
Last night my wife and I were talking about the future of our kids, 5 and 7. I said I was pretty pessimistic about what their lives would be like, even though we live in the “right” zip code for potential success. That I was, in general, pessimistic about this country, about the educational system, about the environment, about much that sustains us. It’s not a pessimism that is easily put aside, because I see much of what Patterson sees; a hubris that breeds a potentially disastrous complacency, a definition of “success” that embraces little that is not monetary, a sense that we’re simply blind to the realities of a changing world because we are America and thus greatness is assured.
Now we take it for granted that education is a linear process that leads to a credential. Now we expect that healthcare is an intervention by special people who deliver drugs and procedures. We take it for granted in business that we can have an economy or a healthy biosphere but not both. We take it for granted that work, family and education are separate processes that compete for our time. We think that it is normal to have a job and a manager. We believe that having more things will make us happy. We accept that we have no real say in the governance of our work place. Bombarded by millions of messages telling us what to buy, to eat to wear and to do, we have no confidence in our own innate judgment about what is good for us.
Working on the premise that we’re at a point where government and business and healthcare and education and the rest no longer serve us but only themselves, a point where control is success, Patterson argues that these times are much like the times preceding Gutenberg’s printing press which, for all intents, blew the lock off the church’s control of knowledge. The blogs have arrived to do much the same. Conversation is the new gold standard.
We are just starting to understand that the explicit information located in a document is only a small part of the value. It is tacit information that emerges from conversation that is where the gold is found. It is in conversation, in the context of a legitimate relationship, that learning and the best value occurs.
Knowledge is not an object.
The idea that knowledge is an object is an industrial artifact. Knowledge is more than facts; it is about understanding and participation. Google enables you to find the best person and the best conversation. This is what is behind the marketing revolution. This is what is behind the impending revolution in education and health. Conversation is also the force behind the generation of a new community.
The vision is creative and far reaching. It feels plausible, though I’m not sure how much of that is wishful and how much is logical. Maybe it’s because I feel the potential power of all of this in the same way Patterson does, though I doubt I could articulate it as powerfully. I’m sure many will dismiss it as unrealistic dreaming, but I look at journalism, once again, and I can’t help but think that we are on the precipice of taking many things back, of “Going Home.” It will not be easy or necessarily enjoyable. But it will be interesting.