Andrew Keen on Digital Narcissism

I didn’t know what to expect from this presentation — antichrist; or thoughtful, well presented arguments. I couldn’t go along with many of the proclamations that he made, but I couldn’t disagree with most of his arguments. The anarchy isn’t going away, and there’s value in it. The key is helping students to become literate in terms of today’s information landscape.

Again, this is live blogged, so please excuse typos and awkward wording.

Andrew Keen at OLA SuperConference Andrew Keen says, “So instead of a dictatorship of experts, we’ll have a dictatorship of idiots.” He’s from England with fond memories of taking his motorcycle from library to library, where he, at one time, had 90 books checked out at one time. The speaker is Andrew Keen.

He want’s to talk about the book, his thinking during the writing of the book, and his thinking afterward. He approached the book wondering if the future will be Orwellian (1984) or Huxleyan (Brave New World). He use to be a journalist for a Music magazine that published about high quality music and music equipment. “The media business is about finding the talent, refining it, and selling it.”

He’s not a luddite, though he has a business card that says, “Andrew Keen, the Antichrist of Silicon Valley.” Years ago, he sipped from the coolaid, and he founded a company called Audio Cafe. Ultimately digital will triumph over paper.

Keen says that the biggest weakness of the book, is that he treats the Internet as a person. The Internet isn’t killing anything. It’s tools, and it’s controlled by people. We are killing our culture through our miss-use of the Internet. The Cult of the Amateur is about us.

Something very profound is going on. There is a cultural challenge to authority. We’re seeing a more and more personalized culture. [This is true. Kids are creating their own culture. He’s going along with what Zukkerman was talking about Internet Me.]

The individual is becoming increasingly empowered. Traditional notions of authority are fading away. People know more than their leaders. Citizenship is being replaced by consumerism.

The Internet came out of the 1960s hippies, power to the people mentality. [In reality, the Internet came from the U.S. military, but his point is valid.]

There’s no wisdom in Google. There is more search engine wisdom in this room than in all of Google, and the librarians are paid for it. Google’s service comes from it’s users use of the tool. It gets better the more we use it, but not smarter, not wiser.

He says, “Now we don’t need to rely on Thomas Freedman to know what’s happening in the Middle East.” We have the power to know through each other. No expertise needed.

Keen got an invitation to O’Reily’s FOOCamp in 2004, an unconference. Unconference is anarchy in practice. He says that everyone was blogging and podcasting, but no one was listening.

The biggest problem is that the traditional media is being undermined. The authority of experts is being undermined. People are loosing their jobs. There is value in YouTube and in the blogosphere, but it’s hard to find it. Traditional media finds and refines the talent and makes it available.

I says at the ending that, “The reality is that things are not that bad.” He’s actually optimistic now.

Ethan Zuckerman and The Internet is NOT Flat…

Ethan ZukkermanEthan Zuckerman founded Geekcorps, which has the goal of sending Western geek volunteers to the developing world where they help with technology. His latest creation is Global Voices, which seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation on-line — shining light on places and people other media often ignore. He is also associated with the Berkman Center.

The hall is beginning to fill and they’re playing some obscure Steely Dan.

Following are notes jotted down during his talk. Most of the thoughts are Ethans. Since this is live blogged, please excuse the typos and awkward wording.

It’s staring…

  • Atoms have become incredibly mobile (FIJI Water for example).
  • People are not moving that much, because they can work from where they are.
  • Data mobility is high. It’s never been easier to be an expatriate. And we can read the blog of the vice president of Iran and the news in North Korea — in Spanish.

Remember the NASA picture of the world at night with humanities lights. He says that where there is light, people are on the Internet. Where it’s dark, people are not. The dark continent (Africa) is dark. He’s showing a map of the Fiber in uses as of Year -end 2004. It’s the underwater cabling. really thick between North America and Europe, and lots of cables between NA and Asia. There is only one cable feeding Africa. Then there’s a map the shows countries that are blocking various types of access, and then a map that codes countries by how much standard media is paying attention.

He’s concluded that the news map is a demand map. We’re the ones paying attention. We are not getting enough Nigeria, he says. 130,000,000 people (at least). They haven’t done a census in 40 years, because if they knew how many Muslims and Chrstians were there, it would be politically destabilizing. Nigeria incredibly important. Where Nigeria goes, Africa goes.

The Nigerian spam scam is not new. in the 16th century there was the Spanish Prisoner Scam. There is a community of youngsters who hang out in CyberCafes and work up these letters. Spanish Prisoner appeals to sympathy. Nigerian Scam appeals to your greed. In the UK, people are Scam Baiting Nigeria, because they believe that the scammers are big orgainzations. The sad result is that there are instructions online that will help you shut Nigeria off from your web site. It’s not what the Internet is about.

Now he’s talking about ethnic cleansing in Lineage (an MMORPH), between Koreans and Chinese. Koreans play the game. Chinese college students play to collect treasures, and then they auction the treasure off on eBay. Koreans will approach people in Lineage and speak Korean. If the person doesn’t respond in Korean, then they drive them off.

Homophily is the tendency that people have to group with other people like them. We’re really good at it. It’s a fundamental human tendency, and it’s dangerous. People leaning to the left are probably paying attention only to left-wing bloggers, and vice-a-versa. In the Internet age, we end up with the Internet Me, a personal news source where we only hear people who think the same way that we do. Reddit, a DIGG type site, has been taken over by followers of Ron Paul.

Homophily can make you stupid. What we need is serendipity. It’s the best global word, according to Ethan Zuckerman.

Newspapers, are really good at institutionalizing serendipity. What’s interesting is that online versions do not seem to be promoting serendipity.

What’s important are Bridge Bloggers, who are people who are taking what’s happening in one country, and contextualizing the information for the rest of the world. There are aggregators out there, such as GlobalVoices that bring the blogs of other countries to the world. He talks about a web site that features a map of Kenya, that marks spots of tribal hostility and also spots where people of different tribal origins are learning to live together. Reports are all being passed on using SMS from phones.

Stephen Heppell Keynote at SuperConference

Live Blogged — so please forgive typos and awkward wording

Stephen Heppell at OLAIt took less time to get from Raleigh to Toronto than it took to get through the Toronto airport. I’m sure there’s a reason. Checked in to my room and now sitting in the InterContinental Ballroom for Stephen Heppell’s opening keynote address. I went up and introduced myself and then found a seat to wait. I’m going to have trouble understanding him with my hearing difficulties. So we’ll see. Aimee Mann and Talking Heads playing in the back ground. I’m home…

This is the 105th annual OLA Super Conference. That’s amazing — I guess. I just got back from Mississippi’s 25th technology conference.

Heppell asked a group of students what a literate teacher should be able to do, and they agreed that teacher should be able to:

  • upload to YouTube
  • edit a Wikipedia article
  • choose a safe online payments site
  • subscribe to a podcast and un subscribe
  • turn on and off preditive predictive text
  • manage a groups Flickr photos (and spell Flickr!)
  • look after a community in Facebook

He tells a story about a school in the Caribbean, where they were doing a teleconferencing event with other schools. It’s a wonderful island with parrots, white sand beaches, iguanas, bannana trees…. He asked the students what they’d like to show other schools about their island that others might not have seen. The kids said, “peace!”

Heppell is helping with inventing new schools in several countries and they are seeing huge leaps in performance among students by all measures.

Why do we group students together because they were born between two Septembers. Where is the research that says that grouping students born between two Septembers results in effective learning? think about it. Libraries are not age grouped. They’re open ended time, mixed ages, variety of groups, and project focused.

He shows a school where kids meet each week in the library to discuss what’s happened over the past week, researching, and working the topic. They video the conversations, and then post them to YouTube for parents to watch. Some schools block YouTube. Some schools use it.

He’s showing some videos from, including a school that gave students head-mounted video cameras, so that teachers could see their performance from the students’ point of view. Much debate came from that.

Robots are doing what people use to do. We need students who can design better robots.

In working with lots of film crews, he often learns that the camera man is profoundly dyslexic — and very expensive. Might there be valuing in helping people to become more dyslexic?

If you live for the next 25 years, you’ll likely live for 200 years. But our children will be so smart, they’ll keep us as pets.

Think about smart pills. We really need to be thinking about such things.

Heppell says we use to have “Now,” and “Not Now.” Now we have “Nearly Now.” You sat in class, and listened to me lecture. You in the now listening, or in the not now doing something else. Today, with text messaging, social networks, etc. there is the statement and then the wait for the response — but not too long. Nearly Now. Interesting.

Lots happening in the Caribbean. They have big banks, tourism, and they’re rebuilding all of their schools. In an entire day, a single student never comes in contact with more than 125. Why would you want them to see more than that? The pictures of these schools are incredible.

A student says, “What I want from education is the be noticed not only on the island, but to be noticed world wide.”

This had my jaw on the ground —

Where are we seeing the most innovative and exciting education. It’s in small places.

On My Way to Meet a Giant…

Stephen HeppellI am happily (ecstatically) home … for about 12 hours. Then off again for some more conferencing. But this one is going to be special. I’ll arrive in Toronto, for the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference 2008, just in time to see Stephen Heppell’s keynote. Microsoft calls Heppell, “Europe’s leading on-line education expert.” I’m not that thoroughly familiar with the ed scene in Europe, but from what I’ve learned, he’d knock our socks off. Plus, people with British accents are just so smart anyway.

His message is on target and explosive, and I can’t wait. But what especially impresses me is the Be Very Afraid project.

Each year a selection of ingenious students – from primary to university age – are invited along to BAFTA in London’s Piccadilly to show and talk about the extraordinary things they are doing with new technologies in their learning.Guests attend by invitation: from the senior policy making echelons of the Whitehall Department of Education & Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; from BAFTA’s own membership of film and theatre arts luminaries; from other influential organisations.

I’ll have the honor of being on stage with Heppell talking about teaching and learning in a time of rapid change and engaging in conversations with the audience. Great fun and the only ones with accents in the entire room 😉

Image Citation:
Muir, David. “244/365: Stephen Heppell @ Scottish Larning Festival.” DavidDMuir’s Photostream. 19 Sep 2007. 30 Jan 2008 <>.

Working Toward Independence

I’ve been on the go pretty solidly since I left the Educon 2.0 conference in Philadelphia yesterday.  I have to confess that I felt a bit odd, after engaging in idea building conversational sessions over the weekend, and then standing in front of several hundred classroom teachers in Long Island, and presenting about literacy.  It’s not that I am now convinced that lecturing has no value.  Quite the contrary.  But the experience of pushing and pulling at ideas with really smart people, well it’s a different experience and potent.

Talking and learning about social networking with the attendees of Glenn Moses’ session was eyeopening, though the conversations were mostly not new.  But I think that mulling over things with others who are struggling with this stuff helps to congeal our thoughts.  I’ll just say again, as I hope that I made it clear yesterday, that Konrad Glogowski rocked, with his personal conversation about blogging in his classrooms.

I was letting my computer charge-up for the train ride to Long Island during Gary Stager’s session on the importance of teaching programming.   So I didn’t blog it.  He started off with presentation, and basically reminded us of a lot of the conversations that were going on in the middle 80s with Mindstorm and other explorations into programming as an intellectually beneficial endeavor.  Several of the attendees were programmers or have been programmers, so there was much attesting to how the practice has helped us to be better thinkers and even better writers.  Unfortunately, I had to leave to catch the train before Gary’s session was over.  I’d really like to have stayed and engaged more.  I know that Gary doesn’t agree with much of what I say and write.  But I like watching him present.  He whips you around with his passion and his ironclad logic and forces you to think different.

I’d have to say that the biggest “A Ha!” moment that I had was while having a casual conversation with Karen Janowski (I think it was Karen Janowski).  We’ve met a couple of times before, but never had a chance to just talk, and doing so yesterday, I learned that she is a trained Occupational Therapist, and I revealed that I majored in OT.  It was only for a short time.  Physiology kicked my butt!  But I told here that if there is a parrallel David, somewhere, who continued with Occupational Therapy, that he would have been seduced by the potentials of “technology” to help people adapt from their various physical challenges.

Karen said that the occupational therapists job is to help people become independent.  I think that it’s our job as well, to make people independent learners.  It’s probably always been our job to do that, but we haven’t always worked that way, as classrooms sometimes seem designed to make students dependent on the textbook and on us.  It seems like a good working goal for us, as we learn and invent ways of including new information and communication technologies into our classrooms, to explicitly aim toward learning independence.  It’s to instill in our children a learning lifestyle.

Image Citation:
Richardson, Will. “EduCon TV.” Willrich’s Photostream. 26 Jan 2008. 29 Jan 2008 <>.

Educon 2.0

John Pederspn in the cornerWe just finished the opening panel discussion, which included Will Richardson, Gary Stager, Joyce Valenza, Sylvia Martinez, David Jakes, Chris Lehmann, and it was brilliant. There were big questions and lots of short answers. But all together their short answers spoke volumes.

Right now, I’m in the social networking session, presided over Glenn Moses, who is the tech director for a virtual school in Los Vegas. He’s calling attention to the National School Boards Association study about students’ use of their social networkings. So what are social networks and social networking? Do we need to integrate social networks(ing) into our classes? ..or do we need to create assignments or work for our students that demands them to use social networking. This is the conversation. Also being talked about is the technology of it. HOw do you bring it in and protect the kids.

Now in Konrad Glogowski’s session, called “The Embedded Practitioner” or “Becoming Teacher 2.0”. He’s a middle school teacher and doctoral student. I’ve never met this man before, but have heard his name in the context of my favorite conversations for years. His blog is at

Konrad teaching before Blogging
This is how Konrad taught English before he started creating community through conversations (blogging). Funny!

Konrad described the process of setting up his doctoral research, and decided to simply set up his 8th grade students with blogs, and then let them go, observing. On his slide he says, “Student participation necessitated a shift in my classroom practice.” He says that he moved toward working to create a community in his classroom, though their writing and his writing. …and part of that was realizing and valuing the fact that his students were individuals and had the right to express their own stories.

Now he wants to talk about Caravaggio (1571-1610).

I think it’s cool that he has us looking up stuff on Wikipedia without asking us to.

He was in the practice of including himself into his paintings. Rarely, was he part of the action, but in the background observing, and appearing to be making a comment about what’s happening. In a sense, this is how Konrad thinks about his use of blogging in his classrooms. He’s observing and sometimes commenting on his students conversations. I really like the way that Konrad is explaining his evolving position as a teacher by comparing himself with Caravaggio.

So what does this mean?

  • We need unauthorized methods.
  • external experts should no longer determine what we do andhow we do it.
  • Create communities of learning.
  • need to get to know and interact with our learners.

To get his students to reflect on their blogging (not commenting), he showed them a picture of a small town, a community. Then he asked the students to identify, in the picture, the person or thing that they felt represented their work. He then turned their selections into an image map, where students could click an object in the online version of the picture, and go to the blogger. Brilliant! It’s about community. It has to do with losing your teacherie voice.

He mentions a research (Ray Oldenburg) who talks about third places. First place is home, and second place is work. Your third place where you go to meet and interact with people.

Konrad’s classes use 21 Classes for their blogging engine, because it has not themes.  Students can dress their blog to look the way that they want it to.  The blog becomes their third place.

Not a Good Way to Start the Day

IMG_1351.JPGThe picture to the right is the Internet on a bad day.  No worries.  The engineer is on his or her way up to reconnect it.  No need to get upset.  It’s not like I have a presentation to prepare for, because today I’m just learning — at the Educon 2.0

I’ve seen bits and pieces of the conference already, as at least a majority of the sessions are being Ustreamed by students of the Science Leadership Academy, the sponsors of this event.  The sessions are a mix of presentations and conversations — conference and unconference. Coincidentally, one of the sessions that I presented at TRLD was handled in unconference style, which means that I set a context and structure, and then the audience took over the presentation through conversation, me using inspiration to map the discussion.  The topic was ethics and the new information landscape, and I have traditionally presented information, mostly from my literacy book.  But the issues are more complex than can be organized and presented by one person in one hour, so I decided to trust the audience.

Several people came up after the session and said that it was the best and most valuable session that they had attended.  Of course it was only the second session in the conference.  But some of the commenters said it was the best session they’d attended in all of the TRLD conferences they’d attended.  I doubt that, but it speaks to the value of trusting the audience, trusting the learners, trusting the conversation.  I suspect that that’s what I’ll be seeing today here in Philadelphia.

It’s not the “blog”

How refreshing.  A presentation about blogging that isn’t about blogs.  It’s about writing.  Quote:

“Learning to read and write is not learning how texts stick together, but how people stick together…” (Brandt 1990)

The presenter is Sara Kajder and she’s talking about telling a story.  She’s talking about the difference between having students start with images and then write, and starting with the writing and then adding the images.  Very interesting, especially the conversations that happened in the classroom about the differences.

Interestingly, her students use Skype, not just to collaborate, but to do research.  I know that’s not unusual, except that the way she approaches it, teleconferencing is a research tool.  They kids work to find sources.  They’re using a map of the world rather than searching an index or reference work.

Here class is actually having a lot of success in connecting with authors for conversations about writing.  One thing that’s important here, is that her  students discuss whether their stories will convey themselves better as a blog article, podcast, or digital story.

Now, she’s going to the wiki, and she says that she’s finding wikis to be an incredibly compelling writing tool.  She said that she’d always had students save their work from word processor, she always had them “save as..”  This way they could go back and examine the evolution of their writing.  Wikis do this for you.  She doesn’t really use it for the sake of collaboration as much as for thought tracking.

Session on Learning in Virtual Worlds

Live Blogged

Literacies for Learning in 3-D Virtual Worlds. This is a session that will focus mostly on Second Life, as the virtual world that most folks know about. Lynn Anderson-Inman, of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, is talking about the central qualities of virtual worlds. She itemizing and describing…

  • immersive,
  • interactive,
  • participatory,

Driving the demo is Jonathon Richter, also from CATE. I had an intriguing conversation with him before the session, talking about a virtual worlds conference that will be held in Tampa in September.

Lynn also says that one of the important points is that everything is user created, as opposed to other virtual worlds. 3,000 islands. Each island is a server. 9,000,000 distinct users. This room (physical) is packed with folks, some sitting in the floor. I got hear early.

So what are the literacies for this kind of work. Navigating is actually a skill that you have to get good at. There also literacies for interacting with objects. There are literacies for the information, reading, communicating, and sharing information products. Presenting formally at a conference in second life. Gesturing is also a literacy, how to communicate or express your self through your avatar. Then there are the literacies of reading, listening, learning, using exhibits that people have created.

Jonathan is talking about how there are cultures forming in second life where they live in a space and are evolving their own way of communicating. It’s almost like a language that they are forming. It is a language, requiring its own style of literacy.

So, their group us using something called Sloog to tag objects in Second Life, so that they can be identified by subject area and other education topics, and then organized dynamically through a wiki. The items are also being vetted in some way and the best shared through MERLOT. This is worth researching.

There are supposed to be 20 new virtual worlds launched this year.  Google is working on one.  Sun has an open source server called Darkstar.  Second Life has been promising an educational world for about a year. 

Thank Goodness for Dubai

TRLD (Technology, Reading, and Learning Diversity) is an incredible conference.  It’s small, but it is a community.  Many, if not more than half of the attendees of my sessions have been to this conference before, and very few of them are from California.  There is a fairly sizable contingent from Canada. 

Dr. Donald Leu kicked off the conference with a presentation about web literacy, making a compelling case for expanding our definitions of literacy.  One of the most interesting parts of his presentation were findings that often children who test poorly in traditional reading skills on state tests, actually test high in the web literacy assessments that his team are developing.

Photos tagged with 'dubai'It’s early the next morning (actually, it’s nearly 9:00 EST).   I have one more session this morning, and then I get on a plane and head back to Philadelphia for the last day of Educon.  I’ve been lurking a bit on Hitchhikr.  I also popped my head in at the spot in Second Life, linked to from the Educon wiki, but no one was there.  They have a Ustream page, and some of the cameras are running, this it is mostly the students who will be recording all of the sessions.

I’m preparing for my 11:30 session on RSS, and worrying over subscribing to Flickr feeds.  The last time I tried it, a questionable picture showed up, and although it wasn’t such a big deal, there were certainly those in the audience who mentally scratched this extremely valuable resource off of their list.  Then it occurred to me this morning, Dubai.  List photos tagged with dubai, and there no chance of pornography showing up. Excellent! 

Thank goodness for Dubai.

Hmmm!  Is there a message here?