Order is in the eye of the tagger

From David Weinberger’s introduction to Everything is Miscellaneous (2007).

The majority of taggers may tag “las vegas” as “vacation,” but those who think of it as “sodom” can find their way through the data as well.

That’s the big change the rise of the miscellaneous brings. We’re adding massive amounts of metadata — tags, links, playlists, even taxonomies — to all of the resources available on the web without prior planning and coordination, making a huge mess. But, that mess actually enhances the available ways we can find and make sense of what’s available to us. All that unplanned metadata lets us pull pieces together, and then it helps us contextualize and understand those pieces.

Until we started digitizing everything, we organized either the physical things themselves (what Everything Is Miscellaneous refers to as the first order of order) or we physically separated the information about the things and organized that (the second order): Think of books and card catalogs, or merchandise on racks and a catalog of products. With the third order, for the first time we can organize information, ideas and knowledge free of the limitations of the physical. And that enables us to get past the notion that there must a single right order, whether it’s Aristotle’s, God’s, or Linnaeus’ best guess.

Singing Hearts from Intrepid Teacher

“A few days ago I started reading The Last Child in the Woods. It sparked in me a sense of panic and guilt about the amount of time my daughter spends outdoors connecting to nature, getting fresh air, and exploring. I decided I wanted us to begin exploring our surroundings together. Even if our immediate surroundings was an empty dry desert field covered in garbage and construction refuse.

“We went outside with our cameras in hand to see what we could discover. I wish I had a field recorder, so I could have recorded her excitement and enthusiasm. We spoke of the wind, the setting sun, and how plants can grow with little water. We spoke about the power of art to make the ugly appear beautiful. We asked questions of each other. We guessed at answers. The two of us were a mobile outdoor classroom. Father and daughter in an empty field in the desert.

“When we came home I asked her if she wanted to see her pictures on the big screen of the computer and talk about what she had seen. The result was a very simple photo essay.

http://dearkaia.blogspot.com/2009/09/first-photo-essay.html

“Being the proud dad that I am, I decided to share the experience with my Twitter network. I thought that was the end of it, until last night when I noticed several comments come pouring in. After a quick request as to who was responsible I found out that @wmchamberlain had shared Kaia’s blog post with his class. I suggest you go and read some of the 43 comments.

“I immediately got in touch with him through Twitter, and he told me that a few of his students were curious if we had electricity in Doha. I told him, if he was interested, I could Skype into his classroom and answer some quick questions. So there we were, a small classroom in rural Missouri and me in my kitchen talking about our surroundings. We were following our curiosity. We were discovering new things. We were learning, beyond classroom walls, because we had all decided to take risks and be open with our lives. I told wmchamberlain’s students that since Kaia is only three she may have a hard time reading their comments and really grasp what is going on….

“The next day Kaia and I sat in our kitchen and watched their video. She is still too young to really grasp the connections that she is making, but in a few years these connections and this type of interaction will be ubiquitous in her life. I hope that her teachers are ready to help her continue on this journey.

After Social Media by Brian Solis via @fredsheahan

“2010 will be the year that we save us from ourselves in social media … we will stop drinking from the proverbial fire hose and we will lean on filtering and curation to productively guide our experiences and production and consumption behavior and interaction within each network.

“2010 will also be the year that leaders and pioneers stop referring to social media as a distinct category of media as they/we usher in an era of new collective and machine intelligence that improves collaboration and interaction – freeing us to focus on the engagement that engenders long term relationships.”

Study: Twitter increases student engagement via @cat8canary

“Communicating in 140-character segments may seem to contradict the goals of generally long-winded academia, but a new study has found that the two are less opposed than one might think. Students in the study who were asked to contribute to class discussions and complete assignments using Twitter (Twitter) increased their engagement over a semester more than twice as much as a control group….

“In addition to showing more than twice the improvement in engagement than the control group, the students who used Twitter also achieved on average a .5 point increase in their overall GPA for the semester.

Towards a new civic ecology by @henryjenkins

“The contemporary communications system is at once struggling with the threat that many major news outlets which have been the backbone of civic information over the past century are crumbling in the face of competition from new media. We may not be able to count on the traditional newspaper, news magazine or network newscast to do the work we could take for granted in the past….

“At the same time, we are seeing expanded communications opportunities in the hands of everyday people — including in the hands of academics and other experts who traditionally had little means of direct communication with the various publics impacted by their work. The problem at the present time is that existing channels of professional journalism are crumbling faster than we are developing alternative solutions which will support the kinds of information and communication needed for a democratic society….

“Thinking about a civic ecology helps us to recognize that while journalists do important work in gathering and vetting the information we need to make appropriate decisions as citizens, they are only part of a larger system through which key ideas get exchanged and discussed.

“We understand this if we think about the classic coffee houses which Habermaas saw as part of the ideal public sphere. The proprietors, we are told, stocked them with a range of publications — broadsides, pamplets, newspapers, journals, and magazines — which are intended to provide resources for debate and discussion among the who are gathered there on any given evening….

“By this same token, the present moment is characterized by both commercial and noncommercial forms of communication. As the comic strip, Zits, explains, ‘If it wasn’t for blogs, podcasts, and twitter, I’d never know whar was going on.’…

Educational reform should go hand in hand with our efforts to restructure the civic ecology. As I’ve shown in my work for the MacArthur foundation, young people need to acquire a range of skills and competencies if they are going to meaningfully engage in the new participatory culture. As they scan the media ecology for bits and pieces of information, they need more discernment than ever before and that comes only if they are able to count on their schools to help them overcome the connected concerns of the digital divide, the participation gap, and the civic engagement gap.

“The Digital Divide has to do with access to networked communication technologies — with many still relying on schools and public libraries to provide them with access. The Participation Gap has to do with access to skills and competencies (as well as the experiences through which they are acquired). And the Civic Engagement Gap has to do with access to a sense of empowerment and entitlement which allows one to feel like your voice matters when you tap into the new communication networks to share your thoughts.

“Unfortunately, we’ve wired the classrooms in this country and then disabled the computers; we’ve blocked young people from participating in the new forms of participatory culture; and we’ve taught them that they are not ready to speak in public by sequestering them to walled gardens rather than allowing them to try their voices through public forums. …

“Jessica Clark and Pat Aufderheide have written about Public Media 2.0, suggesting that we should no longer think about public service media (as if the knowledge simply flowed from above) but rather public facilitating and public mobilizing media that creates a context for meaningful conversations and helps point towards actions which the public might take to address its concerns. It is no longer enough to produce science documentaries which point to distance stars without giving the public something it can do to support your efforts and absorb your insights into motivated action.

“It is no longer enough simply to inform. You must inspire and motivate, you must engage and enthrall the public, if you want to cut through the clutter of the new media landscape.”

Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids #ted #tedxdirigo

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs ‘childish’ thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.

“‘Now, our inherent wisdom doesn’t have to be insiders’ knowledge. Kids already do a lot of learning from adults, and we have a lot to share. I think that adults should start learning from kids….. It shouldn’t just be a teacher at the head of the classroom telling students do this, do that. The students should teach their teachers. Learning between grown ups and kids should be reciprocal….

“‘The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adult, but rather better adults than you have been… the way progress happens is because new generations and new eras grow and develop and become better than the previous ones. It’s the reason we’re not in the Dark Ages anymore. No matter your position of place in life, it is imperative to create opportunities for children so that we can grow up to blow you away….

“‘The world needs opportunities for new leaders and new ideas. Kids need opportunities to lead and succeed. Are you ready to make the match? Because the world’s problems shouldn’t be the human family’s heirloom.'”

  • Excerpts from TED.com
  • Screened at TEDxDirigo – 10/10/10

The Internet doesn’t need your ‘great idea’ /@TheNextWeb

“Great ideas. That is what we are all after isn’t it? That one spark that leads to an empire, money and power? Well, I’ve got news for you. Ideas are yesterdays news. Passé. Done. Last century…. The difference between a nice idea and a very successful idea has always been execution, timing and a large dose of luck….

thrived more because of their long-term vision and attention to details and less because they had his single, cool and innovative, idea. Twitter wasn’t just a good idea either. In fact, most people at the time agreed it wasn’t much of an idea at all.

“I spoke to one of the early investors recently who told me ‘nobody saw it coming. We invested in Evan Williams because we believed in him as an entrepreneur and he only needed a small sum of money. But we all hoped he would quickly transform his service into something entirely different’. What Twitter did have was a working prototype, that people liked to use. And that is really all you need.”

How to grow a collaborative learning community by Josh Little

“Imagine your workplace as an award-winning garden — a place where you nurture knowledge and success. A place where people grow and learn from one another by sharing best practices. A place where training content expands and improves through crowdsourcing. A place that’s self-sustaining, dynamic, and always fresh….

“In the world of traditional hierarchy, people hoard knowledge and shun openness. The world is going open source, but that doesn’t mean every organization’s culture is open-sourced. New ideas and systems need nurturing. Growing a healthy learning community is a lot like growing a healthy garden.”

The movement for open government software

“Code for America was founded to help the brightest minds of the Web 2.0 generation transform city governments. Cities are under greater pressure than ever, struggling with budget cuts and outdated technology. What if, instead of cutting services or raising taxes, cities could leverage the power of the web to become more efficient, transparent, and participatory?”

“Information is the currency of democracy, yet in our Information Age, the average citizen is deeply disconnected from civic life. Governments spend tens of billions each year on information management, but much of that data is locked away in proprietary systems. Newspapers once fed civic engagement, but mainstream journalism is crumbling. And cities sharing the same challenges — from education to transportation — are stuck finding solutions on their own, often the aid of peer and citizen expertise.

“OpenPlans is a non-profit technology organization focused on civic engagement and open government. We use journalism and open source software to turn data into accessible, useful information. This work engages the average person in shaping their community.”

“As public sector budgets continue to shrink across the country, a consortium of public and non-profit organizations today launched a new effort to reduce government IT costs. Civic Commons is a new public-private partnership that will help governments share software they have developed, eliminating countless duplicative software development efforts and accelerating the spread of innovation across the country.”

Gates Foundation’s new learning technology initiative

“This fall the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several partners will announce a new project aimed at harnessing technology to help prepare students for college and get them to graduation. The senior program officer leading that effort is Josh Jarrett, a former software entrepreneur with a Harvard M.B.A. who joined Gates after five years with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company….

“‘What we envision is a multiyear, multiwave program, where every six to 12 months we issue a new set of challenges. And we’ll issue a set of challenges this fall around shared open-core courseware, around learning analytics, around blended learning, and around new, deeper forms of learning and engagement using interactive technologies….’

“‘If in a traditional world my faculty is my primary relationship, and maybe some of the 29 other students in the classroom, technology is starting to afford different types of relationships between the people who were two years ahead of me, who I want to emulate, or people who are professionals out in the community.'”