Only One Insight

Photo Uploaded by David Warlick
It’s only orange juice. I’m back at the airport, and I have only had one insight this morning, worthy of blogging. You see, there is a disconcerting mood that passes over you when you board the escalator to the terminal gate area behind a flight captain, of the airline you are going to be flying, and emblazined on his roller bag, perfectly centered,

is a Batman logo. It just ain’t right.

Actually, I have been thinking a lot about the several library media conferences I have presented at lately. They have been hugely sucessful and my sessions have been warmly received. However, sticking points remain. Wikipedia still causes many to brissle. I also showed the EPIC 2014 video, and resistance continues.

Perhaps I am pushing too hard. They are the experts. I’m just an observer who thinks too much. I sense that there is something left to be learned though. That I need to roll this whole information landscape thing around in my head a little more. I wish I could go watch my son play video games for a half hour.

The other day in New Jersey, we were talking about ethics in the new information frontier, and I said, “Perhaps it just comes down to faith.” Do we have faith that people, the one unpredictable factor in this time of rapid change, will, as social, curious, ambitious, creative, loving and hating creatures, want to make this new era work. Contrary to what we see in the news, contrary to just having struggled through airport security, I do have faith.

9 thoughts on “Only One Insight”

  1. Hi David, I attended the conference in New Jersey (at the Jersey shore) and attended two of your workshops and the keynote. I too heard the doubt and alarm that many people seem to feel over the ability of information to get distorted. Personally, after giving this some thought, I think that we are in a time of transition, our whole world is in flux, and we as humans have a difficult time coping with change. Some cope better than others. I also think there has never been a time when information has not gotten distorted in some way. It seems to be the nature of the beast. Perhaps we are so scared because now it so fast and so visible. Perhaps, we are not manifesting any more fear than before (in history), but we just are unfamiliar with it. Just some thoughts off the cuff. Thanks! for your great presentations! Oh, and go Tarheels! (I went to school in NC)

  2. David

    By definition, teachers are optimists. We must have faith in what we see is best for the kids we teach.

    The various concerns of those we dialogue with are real, at least to them. Keep on addressing these concerns with examples of success stories of student engaged learning and the research showing that these approaches do work. Eventually, people will get the idea.


  3. It’s always a matter of degrees. Just as it would be impossible for you to “prove” that Wikipedia is always good and useful, it is just about impossible for others prove that it is always bad and and worthless. In our school, the science department actually defended the reviewed science material in Wikipedia.

    We all have to deal with the range, as well as acknowledge that the “good old days” weren’t perfect either.

  4. I read your book, Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century, several months ago, but I hadn’t found this blog before now. It has been particularly interesting to read about your thoughts and experiences speaking at library conferences. I am an older digital immigrant school ibrarian and I want some of the changes and things you talk about to happen now, today, but by the time our school or district gets around to buying, adopting or allowing some of the latest technologies, there will be something newer to use, and we will always be playing catch up to the students and the technology. That discourages and frustrates me, even though it sure is fun to try some of this stuff!

    I don’t have much faith that human beings will get it right these days. We seem to becoming so polarized in our liberal or conservative views that I think it affects the way we evaluate and use the information we find and we don’t leave much room for any other views than our own. I want to hope it won’t be that way. I try now to point the students in my school to what I believe to be reliable information to give them something to compare other information against. It gets harder all the time to get them to slow down enough to do that. Sometimes it just seems like we all need to sit down and take a deep breath.


  5. I’m back in the classroom after a five year stint exploring the edge of educational reform and I too have seen a lot wikiphobia. I understand the condition, but the cure is so simple: just keep asking the question “What else do I need to know about this?”

    Just this morning I ran into a digg reference to a political ad so outragous I had find out if it was real. A couple quick trips to “the Google” I was able to confirm is authencity. Find the candidate. Find his opponent. See the opponent’s site is See if the opponent mentions the candidate on his campaign site. Bang – sad confirmation. It’s this kind of digital hunting skills our students need.

    My last time in the classroom was PW (pre-wikipedia) and I’m shocked how much I keep coming back to it. Today it was finding kid friendly background on Schulyer Colfax and William W Belknap.

    It’s my source of first resort.

  6. David,
    I have been a long-time reader, but this is my first time to comment. Sounds like a radio call-in. show.

    I am a media specialist at a middle school in the Northwest corner of Georgia. I’m a former computer applications and social studies teacher too. I am a proponent of Wikipedia. Some colleagues look at me funny when I say this, so I know “the looks” your are getting.

    I have begun to question “the look.” I’ll ask, “Do you have a concern about Wikipedia?” knowing the response I will get about credibility issues. Then I follow up with, “That’s a good point. That’s why it is important for you to get involved in Wikipedia as an author/editor. Our students are going to use it. Not just now, but in the future. It is up to us to make sure the information is accurate.”

    To borrow from an earlier post (Oct. 29), “Nobody is in a better position to be a watchdog of new systems of sorting information than the librarian.”

    I wish I could say “the look” changes.

  7. I had not planned on so much discussion for this posting. It seems to me that the good or bad of wikipedia and the general conversation-based content layer that is emerging depends on the context, and the contexts can be boundaried in a number of ways. Perhaps the most contentious is time.

    In the context of a pre-digital/networked world, something like the wikipedia would be a joke, the joke that many people still seem to believe it to be. But in the context of an emerging information landscape where content is conversation, and conversation is content, where things are changing so rapidly that we actually need this kind of content rather than just the rigidly vetted and juried content, wikipedia, and it’s ilk, become something to value, cherish, and protect.

    The other part of this argument is literacy. At the same time that the information environment changes, our definition of literacy must also change. I know I’m being unfair here, but the stubbornly traditional librarian and teacher want to teach students to read and to teach them what to read. In an networked, digital, and overwhelming information landscape, this is impossible. We must continue to teach them to read, but also how to decide wisely what, how, and why to read it, what to do with it, how to cook it up and re-express it in compelling ways — how to participate in the information environment, not just consume it.

  8. David,

    Your story reminds me of one of my own.

    In the late 1980s I was asked to speak at a conference for media specialists held in Atlantic City. If memory serves me, a friend asked me to do the talk as a favor (an unpaid one at that).

    So, I prepared carefully, schlepped a portable computer like the Apple IIgs and other props several hours from North Jersey to A.C.

    I gave my talk and then asked the audience if they had any questions or comments for me.

    A woman raised her hand and said, “I was at another presentation that was far more impressive.”

    I can’t imagine what I did to warrant such a review. I wasn’t even talking about Web 2.0!

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