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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Mar 28 09

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New ways of consuming news, information visualization, age differences in Internet adoption, and the failure of traditional advertising on the Web, are just some of the hot topics George Siemens navigates through in this Media Literacy Digest issue.

Photo credit: Concetta Gotlieb

The information cycle - creation, dissemination, validation, sharing, re-creation - has been altered. It is more open, more participatory, and less under the control of distributors (such as journals, newspapers, and mainstream media).

With many printed newspapers switching to online editions to survive the economic crisis and, broadly speaking, with traditional media inadequacy to provide a balanced and interest-free news service, what is the future of news delivery and consuming?

Social media is the key, as it will serve as a sensemaking tool to filter out of the incoming tsunami of data what is not relevant for you while allowing you to create and redistribute your own personalized news streams.

The only problem with such an approach is that we may reduce our critical aptitude, selecting and accessing only the information we agree with. But even under the threat of such negative consequences, George Siemens believes a networked approach is the best way to overcome the decadence of traditional media.

If you want to explore how new technologies are changing our society and the impact new media has on the educational landscape, this weekly Media Literacy Digest, systematically showcases pointers, facts and resources to help you analyze and make sense of the communication revolution we are going through.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


What Will Happen When Your Local TV Station & Newspaper Are Gone?


Interesting question, especially considering the almost daily announcement of newspapers ceasing publication - sometimes altogether, other times, moving online: What will happen when your local TV Station & Newspaper are Gone?

My view: We'll find new ways of validating information, of discovering important topics, of sharing developments with others, and, hopefully, of reviving the role traditional news has largely abdicated of being a countering source of power to the other power structures of society.

Instead of central news agencies serving the role of making sense of complex information landscapes, social networks will filter and serve a sensemaking, wayfinding, and coherence making role.

Concerns will obviously arise - such as how to ensure that we are not only accessing information that we already agree with (echo chamber) - but challenges exist in any field. Networks, however, are more adaptive than existing centralized approaches.


Knowledge Overload


The information cycle - creation, dissemination, validation, sharing, re-creation - has been altered. It is more open, more participatory, and less under the control of distributors (such as journals, newspapers, and mainstream media). Higher education has been slow to understand this shift.

We are, after all, the experts. Others will turn to us when they need answer. Or not. The big lesson of Wikipedia is that people desire access to reasonable quality of information (even when it is likely to contain errors and has not been vetted by experts) as much as they desire expert-vetted information.

Ken Coates recognizes this shift (though I disagree with his call for controlling scholarly input - my view: publish it all. Instead of assigning intelligence in advance of publishing, assign intelligence at the point of search and discovery. The solution will be found in better tools.):

We have collectively created the equivalent of an academic monsoon over the past three decades, with no change in the forecast for the coming years.

Without a major reconsideration of how we share and use information, how we keep up with the field, and how we recognize academic accomplishment, we will continue to add to the floodwaters, all the while spending less attention on whether or not anyone reads our work, listens to our presentations, or appreciates our professional contributions.

And, somewhat related, a presentation on promoting your academic research online through blogging. Had to chuckle at this comment:

"I started up a blog and all I got was five invites to give keynotes, ten new collaborators, introduction to new funding bodies, an interview in Nature, an invite to scifoo, three papers... and a couple of t-shirts."


Women in Educational Technology


To acknowledge Ada Lovelace (the first programmer) day, Janet Clarey has put together a list of women in educational technology. It's a great list of individuals who are making significant contributions to our field. Thanks Janet!



Click above to enlarge image

The next big advance in information use / management will be visualization. Abundance requires new methods (i.e. Anderson's "more is different" view).

We can't manage information abundance through traditional methods of interaction. I've suggested previously that networks serve a wayfinding and sensemaking role.

Technology is another key component. Visualization can help to reveal connections not readily evident. IBM's Many Eyes is one of the leading sites in this regard... and they have released a new visualization type - Phrase Net.

A phrase net is different from typical word clouds (which usually display word frequency by increased size - i.e. the more often a word occurs, the larger it is). A phrase net "diagrams the relationships between different words".

I decided to throw our handbook of emerging technologies into the site to see visualizations. If you'd like to dynamically interact with the visualization, it's available here.


The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine


For some, this promises a hopeful future, for others, a depressing erosion of what it means to be human - The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine:

Sometime early in this century the intelligence of machines will exceed that of humans.

Within a quarter of a century, machines will exhibit the full range of human intellect, emotions and skills, ranging from musical and other creative aptitudes to physical movement. They will claim to have feelings and, unlike today's virtual personalities, will be very convincing when they tell us so.

By around 2020 a $1,000 computer will at least match the processing power of the human brain. By 2029 the software for intelligence will have been largely mastered, and the average personal computer will be equivalent to 1,000 brains.

Now, when reading anything by Kurzweil, it's a good idea to take proclamations of this nature with a combination of "wow, that's interesting" and "you're throwing darts in the dark".

We barely understand the human brain. New discoveries are announced daily, but I'd be surprised if a serious student / practitioner of "philosophy of mind" or neuroscience would make statements such as this.

While computing and processing power of computers can exceed the human mind, previous predictions have been terribly wrong (consider GOFAI in the pre-connectionist days where computers were expected to beat chess players by the late 60's, something that didn't happen until 1997).

The real question, as Kurzweil asks (but doesn't answer thoroughly) at the end of the article, centers on what consciousness is and whether or not machines can be said to possess it.




I've been playing with a Kindle. Because it's not available in Canada, I can only buy books or use it to read newspapers when I'm in the US (and I am fairly frequently).

I generally like the interface. Visual cues of reading progress are nice and the device is comfortable to hold. But, I still like paper. I like marking up sentences, adding thoughts in the margin, and highlighting important ideas. I can do most of those things with a Kindle... but in an awkward, cumbersome way.

Enter Printernet - custom printing for newspapers, magazines, and even wikis:

In the jargon of networks, this so-called "printernet" can have the same benefits as the Internet - massive parallel manufacturing with standards-based interfaces, real time production information and easy access for everyone.

Each printer - the combination of the machinery and the intelligence that manages the machinery - is a print output node. Each node is both part of the network and self-sufficient. When the nodes are working together mass customization of print product becomes commonplace at previously impossible speeds and quantities.


Singapore as a Model for Teaching Excellence


Finland has long been recognized for teaching excellence. Singapore is now getting its share of attention.

Why do schools in Singapore "produce" successful learners when other schools do not (even when, as the article notes, they are using the same curriculum as some American schools)? The article argues that better teaching is due to rigid selection, higher pay, and greater respect for the profession.

Now, of course, none of those things produce better learning, or even a better teacher. But these incentives do create a climate where bright and motivated individuals enter the field of teaching. What they do in the classroom and how they interact with learners is what produces learning success. How much they are paid and respected only gets them into (and keeps them in) the classroom.


Why Advertising Is Failing on the Internet


The author makes this claim: Why advertising is failing on the internet:

"Traditional advertising simply cannot be carried over to the internet, replacing full-page ads on the back of The New York Times or 30-second spots on the Super Bowl broadcast with pop-ups, banners, click-troughs on side bars."

...and then goes on to state why advertising will not work online.

I'm not convinced. If advertising is not explicit ("click this link" or "buy this product") then it will form part of the content. We see well-placed product endorsements in movies... and hear them in podcasts (such as TWiT).

Google-free is not open-source-free. If advertising doesn't work, then web 2.0 will collapse as it is based on Google-free.


Generations Online 2009


Pew Internet released a short report earlier this year: Generations Online.

Biggest increase in internet use? Those in the 70-75 year-old age group. Age groups vary by their use of the online medium: younger generations use the internet for socializing / entertainment... older generations use it for research / shopping.

Nothing too surprising, but does reinforce the message that age is less consequential online than intent or interest. No one age group is magically predisposed to be aggressive users of the internet.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on March 26th 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author


To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits:
What Will Happen When Your Local TV Station & Newspaper Are Gone? - ronen
Knowledge Overload - ktsdesign
The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine - Antonis Papantoniou
Singapore as a Model for Teaching Excellence - Roslan Rahman/
Why Advertising Is Failing on the Internet - Gunnar Pippel
Generations Online 2009 - Geo Martinez

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, March 28 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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