Friday May 30, 2008

The tortuous path to Internet research

Oddly, tonight, when I try to find and browse (on my iMac w/ OS-X Leopard) Pew Internet and American Life Project, one of the most credible Internet watchers, using Google Search, I may end up in a place containing a warning that "visiting this web site may harm your computer" or what Google calls a "Malware Warning"—apparently "Google has found that some portion of pewinternet.org/ contains or links to badware or otherwise violates Google's software guidelines."

Now, I used to visit Pew Internet and American Life Project, often, because it has absolutely wonderful papers and research on the use of the Internet.

So, what's all of Google's malware warning about, and what are "Google's software guidelines" which need to be imposed on web sites before Google search would direct the search user to the object of their search, directly and simply?

Monday Oct 29, 2007

Moral Compass and Information

We have a clear proof today that abundance and "free" flow of "news" and "information"—yes, much of it manufactured for nefarious purposes of one kind or another, and yet much of it potentially relevant—does not make a nation morally wise to understand simple facts like the plain immorality of bringing occupation, death and destruction to people thousands of miles away. 

We also have a proof that, through manufactured fear, a nation can be aroused to a frenzy, easily disarmed of its simplest moral sense and compass and made to abandon its most fundamental social skill—placing oneself in the shoes of others

No technology can inoculate a people against such a moral disease—a disease that can only be prevented and eradicated through "moral education," to borrow McMurray's phrase.

Saturday Mar 25, 2006

Edutopia

I don't know what to say about his political writings, but MIT's Michael Schrage's has touched on some important issues in his recent opinion piece for Financial Times, written on a controversial topic in which he seems to possess some expertise ("The 'edutainers' merit a failing grade," FT, March 22, 206, p. 13):

Yes, the internet is wonderful. Yes, children are our future. Yes, state-run school systems require fundamental reform. Nevertheless, the shrewdest policy to improve public education while saving billions in government spending demands abstinence. Keep computers out of the classroom.

The "edutopian" belief that computers should be essential ingredients of classroom curricula is delusional. A quality education has virtually nothing to do with the technological endowment of the school. To the contrary, history confirms that schools are shockingly poor at successfully assimilating new technologies.

...Look instead, perhaps, to technology as a medium that creatively redefines relationships between schools and their communities. In South Korea, for example, Seoul educational administrators recently announced that they would expand a mobile phone service that let teachers text parents the grades, schedules and homework assignments for their children. Korean mothers and fathers were apparently very enthusastic about this innovation.

In this, I hear some echos of John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's The Social Life of Information but it seems to me Brown and Duguid have dug much deeper, and ultimately, it is best to just refer to Hubert Dreyfus' work, including Mind Over Machine.

 

Thursday Dec 08, 2005

Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning, and Identity

I've begun reading Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.

I ran into this book while reading John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's Social Life of Information, about which I've written here earlier. I've always been interested in how social groupings and organizations learn, evolve, prosper and survive, how we learn and work, and how we come to be who we are as individuals.

Wenger's book would be a good start for whoever wants to explore these topics. Wenger is also deeply interested in building the conceptual framework that will help with the design of organizations, artifacts and processes.

Wenger's ambitious enterprise suits the practitioner as much as it stimulates the theoretician. As the book plate says, the material "is presented with all the breadth, depth, and rigor necessary to address such a complex and yet profoundly human topic."

 

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