Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Library in the New Age by Robert Darnton

This article makes some important points about our relationship to information and technology that are particularly relevant to Connectivism and what is happening at Tacoma Community College 's news site -, the Tacoma Challenge. In the article, Robert Darnton argues that every age was an "Information Age" and that information has always been unstable. Each generation, whether from print, telegraph, radio, TV, computers, deals with its own "future shock." This is one of the challenges to Connectivism: is it a learning theory (with a complete epistemology)? or does it merely describe our relationship to networks and information? Does Connectivism give us a theory or explain a learning modality? As media became more pervasive, it became important for educators to understand how people learn via the modalities of sound, vision, etc. As networks and information become more pervasive, it becomes more important to explore how the mind uses networks for learning.

The second part of the article deals with the nature of the news; he says that news has always been an artifact and never corresponded exactly to what has actually happened. One of the criticisms I hear about the Challenge is that it is not run by AP trained professionals as if this is some kind of assurance of integrity. I appreciate the journalistic ideal of the truth but I have read enough news to appreciate it as an ideal and not reality. Traditional reporting in my view has as much integrity as the collective wisdom of the community captured over time as a single report hurriedly scratched out on a deadline and then repackaged by an editor. The Challenge has moved from traditional newspaper to student run news site. The goal is to create a network of information that will have some of the traditional journalistic ideals but not dependent upon them. There will be no single story but people reporting on events, sending in pictures, and responding to postings: a collective story created by the community, not handed down by an authority.

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