Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - July 25 09
Media literacy is a critical skill that aims to increase the understanding of how mass media produce meaning and construct reality. In a world where knowledge is increasingly distributed and technological developments are shaping new educational paradigms, the ability to filter relevant information is not to take for granted.
Photo credit: Stephen Downes
Inside this Media literacy digest:
- Complexity In Government - Periods of change present a duality that conspires to derail even the best organizations.
- Transparency Is The New Objectivity - When information is transparent, we can better understand and evaluate what is added to data after it has been gathered / created.
- Creating a City That Thinks Like The Web - ...practical examples of how cities can be structured to enable greater citizen involvement in simple things like fixing streets and drawing attention to non-emergency situations.
- Universities and Financial Crisis - When society's institutions fail - health care, education - all of society suffers.
- Beware The Cloud - ...freedom is at risk in the cloud, where the vendor of a platform has much more control over whether and how to let others write new software.
- Interrogating Media - When seeking to understand media, gurus / experts like to use questions as guides.
- Huxley and Orwell - ...a comparison between the world views of Huxley and Orwell.
Educational technologies expert George Siemens shares with you every week a selection of useful resources to help you make sense of the key technological changes and trends affecting society at large.
eLearning Resources and News
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
Complexity In Government
Periods of change present a duality that conspires to derail even the best organizations:
- Change draws many people to points of security - a move to conservatism, to what has worked during stable periods
- Responding well to change requires a reformulation of practices, as previous actions have partly contributed to the need for change
In essence, what we turn to in tumultuous times may well have contributed to creating those environments in the first place.
"During a period of change you can't work from past practice, organisations that do go under or undergo some form of catastrophic failure from which they may or may not recover...
You can't put new wine into old wineskins, new methods and tools have to be adopted in full, attempting to dress them up in the familiar clothes of the previous paradigm helps no one."
Transparency Is The New Objectivity
"Objectivity used be presented as a stopping point for belief: If the source is objective and well-informed, you have sufficient reason to believe...
In the Age of Links, we still use credentials and rely on authorities. Those are indispensible ways of scaling knowledge, that is, letting us know more than any one of us could authenticate on our own. But, increasingly, credentials and authority work best for vouchsafing commoditized knowledge, the stuff that's settled and not worth arguing about.
At the edges of knowledge - in the analysis and contextualization that journalists nowadays tell us is their real value - we want, need, can have, and expect transparency."
Transparency is worth promoting - whether in science, literature, or government.
I don't think, however, that transparency has a place in the debate of objective vs. subjective. Objective / subjective are ways of knowing or a perspective of what is permissible in coming to know (or in the case of objectivity, as noted by David, defining something as if it can be seen outside of ant perspective).
Transparency is more like a filter or barrier. When we are not transparent, we are blocking how we see or what we see. When information is transparent (like the data tables that are used to create graphs / charts by organizations like OECD), we can better understand and evaluate what is added to data after it has been gathered / created.
Creating a City That Thinks Like The Web
When success is discovered in one domain, it's natural to expand whatever the "it" is into other domains.
Open source software has changed how software is created, tested, and released. Open education finds its roots in this movement (and both find their roots in Richard Stallman's early work, which in turn has it's roots in ideas of John Locke, which in turn... ah, you get the idea).
Business models of collaboration at least partly find their inspiration in openness as well. Enterprise 2.0. Government 2.0. Why not apply these principles to cities?
Creating a city that thinks like the web presents practical examples of how cities can be structured to enable greater citizen involvement in simple things like fixing streets and drawing attention to non-emergency situations (seeclickfix.com).
Universities and Financial Crisis
The Bank of Canada has declared that the recession is over.
While the numerical indicators (small growth predicted) may support this assertion, reality will tell a different story for many people and institutions.
Universities, for example, are only now beginning to feel the impact. University of California is starting with deep cuts. Canadian universities are facing cuts as well. Few universities, however, face the difficulties of Harvard.
Hard Times at Harvard provides a rather depressing glimpse into university systems that have lost focus and direction.
When businesses fail, the families of those previously employed are impacted. When society's institutions fail - health care, education - all of society suffers.
Beware The Cloud
I've found personal benefit to moving more and more of my information into "the cloud".
The development of smart phones over the last several years makes this model of data creation / access particularly valuable.
All is not well, however. Jonathan Zittrain states:
But the most difficult challenge - both to grasp and to solve - of the cloud is its effect on our freedom to innovate.
The crucial legacy of the personal computer is that anyone can write code for it and give or sell that code to you - and the vendors of the PC and its operating system have no more to say about it than your phone company does about which answering machine you decide to buy...
This freedom is at risk in the cloud, where the vendor of a platform has much more control over whether and how to let others write new software.
An API is at best a pacifier to sedate the majority, but it is a far cry from open source.
To paraphrase Mark Pilgrim: open enough works for running programs now, but it is a long term sacrifice of freedom.
When seeking to understand media, gurus / experts like to use questions as guides.
Two of the more provocative media thinkers - Postman and McLuhan offer the following to interrogate media (and technology):
- In his lecture Technology and Society, Neil Postman offers the following questions for consideration:
- What is the problem to which this technology is a solution?
- Whose problem is it?
- Suppose we solve this problem decisively, what new problems might be created because we have solved the problem?
- Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological innovation?
- What changes in language are forced by new technologies and what is changed and forced by this new language (meanings)?
- What sort of people and institutions acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?
- McLuhan offers the following for evaluating media (.pdf):
- What does it extend, enhance, accelerate, intensify or enable?
- When pushed beyond the limit of its potential, it will reverse what were its original characteristics; into what does it reverse?
- What does it displace or obsolesce, that is, render relatively without dominant power or influence?
- What does it retrieve from the past that had been formerly obsolesced?
Huxley and Orwell
Last week, during our Summer Institute at University of Manitoba, we had a few meandering discussions of how technology is influencing humanity.
Discussions of "it's all changing" are common. The greater challenge is to engage in "what are we becoming".
- Orwell emphasized the threat we face from "big brother" - an organized government/political structure that determines and limits our rights (and in the process, our humanity).
- Huxley, on the other hand, suggested that the real enemy is not the government, but rather humanity. We are our greatest threat. Our desire for pleasure, and the paths through complacency and passivity this desire leads us, is what we should be most concerned about.
With that conversation in mind, I was rather pleased when I came across amusing ourselves to death - a comparison between the world views of Huxley and Orwell (via Frances Bell).
About the author
To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out www.elearnspace.org. Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".
George Siemens -
Complexity In Government - Jelena Zaric
Transparency Is The New Objectivity - Erik Reis
Creating a City That Thinks Like The Web - Ndul
Universities and Financial Crisis - Daniel Kaesler
Beware The Cloud - Desinformado.com edited by Daniele Bazzano
Interrogating Media - Mark Hunt
Huxley and Orwell - Huxley.net and eBooks@Adelaide
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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