“It’s Not Going Away”

My brother George recently wrote the post “Denying Our World” where he recalls a compelling narrative that causes him to reflect upon what it means to live ‘online’ and our associated imperative as educators to teach to this reality. In the comments of this post, ‘Kirsten T.” pushes back with a thoughtful response, and in part states:

I find the argument “It’s not going away” to be neither substantive, nor compelling. It echos to me the feet stamping of educators who say “I’ve always done it this way”.

I’ve used a form of the “it’s not going away” argument in past conversations and presentations, but its meaning for me seems very different than what is described by Kirsten. Since there seems to be discrepancies of understanding, I feel that the statement is worth exploring and further articulating. So what do I mean when I say “it’s not going away”?

First of all, what is the “it” that I am referring to? “It” is a transformed reality where access to new tools, abundant content, and vast networks simultaneously provide countless new affordances and associated challenges. “It” describes:

I could go on …

And what do I mean by “… is not going away”?

Change is constant, so obviously, our current conditions will not remain exactly the same. Rather, there are likely three possible futures related to these new affordances (this is a simplified argument but for real substance, check out Downes’ “Ten Futures“)

  1. Things regress, people get bored with media, and we go back to some pre-telephony version of society. I think this reality may include roller-rinks, dance-halls, and lots and lots of bowling. Actually, bowling may be a bit too high-tech especially if there are those digital scoreboards. In any case, I’m pretty sure this reality isn’t going to happen so there is not much need for further speculation.
  2. Governments, against the will of the majority, sign secret treaties that seriously threaten future innovation and the openness of the Internet. This is a horrifying reality, and unfortunately not very far-fetched. However, online protests to ensure and protect our Internet freedoms have been unprecedented in size and scope. The Internet allows citizens to have their voices heard, and collectively, people have successfully influenced ill-informed government legislation. And, an open and free Internet is the key to our own self-determination.
  3. Things move ahead; new tools are created, more content becomes available, and networks continue to be used to form and sustain important aspects of our relationships (including those of teaching and learning). And the implications of these technologies will continue to shape our world. Think, for instance, of what the impact of this “breakthrough” in spoken-word translation could have on our lives. We will soon have the ability to have accurate, automated live translation of our words into just about any language spoken. What does that mean for second-language learning? What does that mean for opening up our world to different forms of cultural knowledge? What does that mean for creating a more global, and peaceful society? And that is just *one* new technology.

We live in complex, media-rich, connected environments. As adults, we have built these spaces for our kids and set them up in situations where I’ve heard members of our generation exclaim, “I’m sure glad Youtube or Facebook didn’t exist when I was a kid!” But these do exist. And no one – no one – really understands the full implications of what these devices and spaces have on the future of our children. So what are our *obligations* in all of this as administrators, parents, and educators? Do we selfishly ignore “it” because it feels uncomfortable and complex? Or do we roll-up our sleeves, embrace this discomfort, and live up to our ethical responsibilities for our kids?

We don’t need to have all of the answers. But we need to model what it means to try.

Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2)

Last December, I announced my contribution to Part I of the Technology & Social Media (Special Issue) of in education journal. I am now pleased to announce that Part II of this Special Issue is now available, featuring nine academic articles and an edited book review. Acknowledgments are made in the Editorial, but I do want to thank, once again, all of those individuals (e.g., editors, reviewers, authors, readers) who helped make this issue a success.

Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2), 2010, 16(1)

Enjoy.

Tweet & A Poke: Camosun Keynote

I was fortunate and honoured to have given the keynote address at Camosun College’s 2009 Walls Optional conference in Victoria, BC. The presentation provided a brief overview of the changing nature of knowledge, the rise of social networks, and the impact of emerging technologies/media on teaching & learning. Below, i have included the recorded video feed, the slide deck via Slideshare, and a link to the original Keynote file. Note that the Keynote file is very large (over 300MB) as it includes video files. Also, this file includes my speaker notes which were written as personal prompts and not as the actual, given dialogue.

Full video of the presentation is available here.

Slide deck (via SlideShare).

Full presentation available here in Keynote.app format.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the presentation, or any of the content discussed. And thanks to the good people at Camosun College, the individuals I met at the #VictoriaTweetup the night before, and those that drove in from outside of Victoria for the event. It was a pleasure to meet you all!

Update: A Blip.tv version of the video is now available.

Danah Boyd on Social Networks

Discover Magazine recently interviewed Danah Boyd, a well known PhD candidate who has been studying social networks. The interview is described as “a look at how kids use technology, where mobile phones are going, and the Facebook vs. Myspace smackdown.” Click the photo to watch the interview.

Danah Boyd on Social Networks

For many, there will not be much new information on social networks here. However, for those who have missed the piece on the beginnings of formalized social network services and how kids are connecting online, there are some interesting points made here.

How To Opt Out Of Facebook Beacon

In case you’ve been sleeping, and don’t know what Facebook Beacon is:

Beacon is a part of Facebook’s Ads system that sends data from external websites to Facebook, ostensibly for the purpose of allowing targeted advertisements, and allowing users to share their activities with their friends. Beacon was launched on November 6, 2007 with forty-four partner websites.

Here’s a very short Jingcast of how Facebook may let you opt out of this service.

Note: “It is as yet unclear whether or not opting out of the Beacon program stops third party websites from collecting information from Facebook entirely.” (Source)

MySpace & Google Form Partnernship

Further to the OpenSocial announcement I mentioned yesterday, it seems that Google and Myspace have formed a partnership through this venture.

Although Microsoft Corp. beat Google in the bidding for a minority stake in MySpace rival Facebook, Google “may have just come out of nowhere and checkmated Facebook in the social networking power struggle,” blogged Michael Arrington, who operates the technology blog TechCrunch. Microsoft announced last week that it was investing $240 million in Facebook as part of a strategic alliance.

Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, but it seems a bit unlikely that Google “may have just come out of nowhere”. Perhaps Google got M$ to overbid a Facebook partnership, expected the result and had this deal in the back pocket all along. Hmmmmm. No matter how you look at it, it’s just another reason not to mess with Google.

Open Social: Social Applications Across Platforms

Open Social is launching tomorrow, and it’s being announced all over the web and via twitter.

In a nutshell, Open Social is an open web API that can be supported by two kinds of developers:

    “Containers” — social networking systems like Ning, Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, and Friendster, and…
    “Apps” — applications that want to be embedded within containers — for example, the kinds of applications built by iLike, Flixster, Rockyou, and Slide.

Open Social is very similar to the Facebook Platform announced a few months back, however, Open Social is a standard that can work across all adopting services.

My favorite part:

Open Social — by making this exact same kind of opportunity available to any other social network or container and every app developer and site on the web, in an open and compatible way — will prevent Facebook from having any kind of long-term proprietary developer lock-in. Developers will easily write to both Facebook and Open Social, and have every reason to do so — in fact, 100+ million reasons to do so.

When proprietary standards are threatened, I am a very happy guy.

Reference.