My Mistake

I’m embarrassed to see that my last blog post was more than two weeks ago. You might think I’ve been on vacation. I guess that if you consider many uninterrupted days at home, in my consistently lived-in office, and having to think no more deeply than what’s required to code some minor design changes in Citation Machine to be a vacation — and I do — then that’s why I’ve been off the grid. And it continues for a few more days, after I get home from yesterday’s gig in Brownwood Texas. I’m currently sitting in the Terminal D Admirals Club, a perk for spending so many hours on cramped, germ infested American Airlines planes.

Some of the networked participants in yesterdays central Texas presentation

Something interesting happened yesterday during my two-hour talk with educators from central Texas. As some of you know, I often start me talks with something that I have learned in the last 24 hours. I want to try to formalize the constant learning that we all do as an integral part of our jobs.

Yesterday, I jokingly suggested that one way to make our learners smarter is to change the web browser they are using — drawing attention to study conducted by AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co. that looked at data for more than 100,000 Internet users. The study reported that users of Internet Explorer, version 6, have an average IQ of just more than 80. The report continued with other browsers, leading up to Camino and Opera users being the smartest of Netizens, with IQs approaching 130. As a Google Chrome user, I inhabit a community whose IQs are barely more than 110.

I learned about the report from a Mashable blog post from last week, and visited the study’s web site for verification.  But I didn’t check very deeply  Of course, during my presentation, where most of the audience had laptops connected to the open wifi, an intrepid participant, Debra Walker, found that the study was a hoax and she reported it in the Knitterchat backchannel.  I discovered her comment, while reading through the transcript during subsequent presentations, and I inserted my apologies before posting the transcript to the presentation’s online handouts.

The AptiQuant web site now admits the hoax and reports the story of how it started and propagated.  It was a programmer who was frustrated by having to code his startup website for the older versions of Internet Explorer.  I can actually feel his pain.  Testing my changes in Citation Machine for compatibility with IE is a part of the job I’ve been putting off.  I know I’m going to pull my hair out.

I don’t feel very bad about my mistake though.  The story was seriously reported by The Tech Herald, International Business Times, The Herald Sun, PCWorld, Forbes, CTV, CNN, Times of India, San Francisco Chronicle, and many others.

One thing we can learn from our students’ outside-the-classroom information experiences is that having permission to make mistakes opens up powerful learning opportunities.  Perhaps we should give ourselves permission to make mistakes, so long as we are willing to say, “I made a mistake yesterday, and here’s what I learned from it.”