Reading and Books

I’m trying a new A.D.D. medication. My doctor things that I am too old to be taking Ritalin. So I feel a bit like I’m speaking out of somebody else’s head. It’s kinda weird and not very comforting — and I may just delete this part 😉

It’s my nature to try to factor things down to their fundamentals. This is not always good, because many things owe their value to their complexity. But, as a communicator, I try to bring concepts down to three bullet points, something that people can remember and then hang their own experiences and insights onto — a tune that people can hum.

All of this discussion about librarians and wikipedia is a gross simplification in itself. We are all struggling with an information revolution that is much greater than just the Wikipedia. I really like the word wikiphobia used by a commenter from yesterday’s mobile-post. I think that it is a matter of context, and the boundaries of these contexts that we speak from form in many ways. Perhaps the simplest way is time.

Of course this too is fuzzy, but before the proliferation of networked, digital, and overwhelming information, the job of education was to

teach children to read

and to

teach them what to read.

In today’s information environment, this is impossible, and even dangerous. When we are surrounded by information that can be presented to us by almost anyone for almost any reason, it is essential that while we teach students to read, we must also teach them to wisely, effectively, and responsibly make their own choices of what to read. The information that they encounter and use will be their choice, and if we continue to choose for them, then they will not learn, and we’re going to have a real mess. It’s literacy!

What’s even more disturbing to me, is the number of educators who have no idea that all of this is going on!

Image Citation:
Patrick, Michael. “Waiting to Go Back In.” Michael Patrick’s Photos. 24 Sep 2005. 2 Nov 2006 <>.

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More Mianderings about Information Ethics

Earlier this morning, while waiting or my my flight’s boarding, I wrote a brief blog with my phone about my continuing struggles with a librarian’s perspective of the new information environment. From their perspective, and the way that most people think about information, it is something that you keep in a container. It’s usually on paper, and more recently on microfiche, celluloid, magnetic tape… But, bodies of information were objects that had to be stored by category.

Starting with the Internet, information began to flow independent of containers. It’s been ancillary, a parallel information source, that was almost no threat to our traditional ways of thinking about libraries. It was not a revolution in the making for most people. However, the proliferation of computers and other information devices, increases in broadband access, and the growing web of WiFi has turned the digital networked information domain into a preferred source of content for many people, perhaps most people.

In a way, our attention seems to be shifting from an inward focus, into the library, into the book or magazine, to an outward focus, to a more global and ethereal information landscape. It’s almost as if we are becoming a global mind, with signals and impulses flowing around the globe, memories and concepts stored and connected logically (not in alphabetical or Dewey decimal order), and people, the neurons of this big brain, observing, reflecting, sharing, reading, processing and growing new memory, concepts, and knowledge. We live in the library! We are the library!

In my last blog, I suggested that we have faith. The problem is that this big brain suffers from a variety of psychoses. There are thought processes that are counter productive, antibodies and viruses that attack the system. that grow on their own, with their own interests, divorced from that whole organism, and poisoning its function.

It’s already happened. I do not believe that we can go back. There will certainly be those who want to, the refusnics, as PEW calls them. But the function of the world and global citizens will be governed through the digital networked realm.

So how do we cure this illness? How do we brain it all back into alignment. I’m not talking right and wrong, good and bad. I’m just talking about making the organism work, such that it can be used by us to help us become a better us.

No Doubt, education plays an integral and critical role. Teaching ethics is an imperative. But what do we teach and how do we teach it? I would toss out, once again, some factored-down elements of ethics as a joumpin off place for any continued conversations.

  • Seek and express truth,
  • Do no harm with information,
  • Be accountable for your information work,
  • Respect the information and its infrastructure.


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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.

Students and Civic Participation

I’m intrigued by all of the buzz that’s coming out of Google Education. ..Really need to find time to explore!

If you’ve been looking for new ways to engage your students in collaborative problem solving, here’s a unique opportunity to do just that.Starting on October 17th, 2006, we’re inviting teachers to join us in a project that gives students a chance to collectively brainstorm strategies for fighting global warming — and have their ideas published in a full-page ad in the Washington Post.We hope this project, which should take 1-2 days to complete, helps you test the waters with software for online collaboration – and helps your students learn about the environment and civic participation.

Google For Educators

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