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)


The End of Alone

While I do not agree with all of the assumptions regarding human connectivity in this article by Neil Swidey, the main point of this article has me thinking. Are our tools of ubiquitous connectivity “dulling our very capacity to ever be alone, or alone in our thoughts”? I know it’s not a new idea, but certainly one I am becoming much more sensitive to. Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings?

If you are interested, I would recommend the article and viewing the supporting video (below).

And, I’m thinking. Currently I’m leading a group of students toward greater connectivity and networked interactions. I strongly believe that connections and the supporting network are important for educators to experience, and can be potential transformative for teaching and learning. For most of these individuals, the concepts and practices are quite new, and critical resistance is anticipated and supported. As educators, we should wonder if we will find ourselves 10 years from now teaching courses on how to disconnect from the masses, and reconnect to one’s self, and to our local communities. Let’s try to avoid this future. Teach critically, adopt cautiously, and reflect constantly.

See also “The End of Solitude” by William Deresiewicz.

Wisdom of the Chaperones

A recent Slate article describes the reality behind user-generated content champions such as Wikipedia and Digg.

Social-media sites like Wikipedia and Digg are celebrated as shining examples of Web democracy, places built by millions of Web users who all act as writers, editors, and voters. In reality, a small number of people are running the show. According to researchers in Palo Alto, 1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits. The site also deploys bots—supervised by a special caste of devoted users—that help standardize format, prevent vandalism, and root out folks who flood the site with obscenities. This is not the wisdom of the crowd. This is the wisdom of the chaperones.

Why is the view presented in this article important to you? If you are touting sites like Wikipedia as proof of a social media utopia and someone (say, a Luddite-type administrator) confronts you with data like this, it is important that you have done your homework. Seek better examples for your arguments. They do exist.