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Tnx, U R Gr8! Web 2.0, education, life writing and how we communicate

September 6, 2009
A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.
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The Spetember Wired published 2 great pieces about education and how web 2.0 tools change its rules and character. Daniel Roth talks about how the new ‘cool geek’ could make education cool again and Clive Thompson is showing us a different angle on why technology is reviving our ability to write , opposite the wide spread opinion that powerpoints, texts and status updates has drained any essence of our communication and language.

Ruth’s piece is well worth a read to see how some schools are showing enough flexibility to incorporate current technology and social trends to enrich the lives of students.  Whether schools recognize and adopt it or not, students’ communication and learning behavior is changing rapidly due to changes in technology: iphone, twitter, facebook, ppt on your mobile and netbooks to replace your notebooks. The way we interact with information is changing. What are the consequences of that? Clive Thompson’s column seems to have one response to this question.

In Clive’s column, the impact of web 2.0 tools on our writing and communication is explored, specifically in relation to the students audience. Is language and content getting thinner and simplistic because of new technology? Are constant, frequent content updates on life, thoughts and ideas threatening the quality of other content students are expected to produce as part of their learning? Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, twitter, status updates, etc. open a window to ‘life writing’ a term used by Andrea Lunsford, a Professor of Writing and Rhetoric from Standford University that has been researching the writing of students from 2001 – 2006, as quoted by Clive to say:

“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.

Breaking the boundaries of what we are used to use writing for is about extending the borders of our communication, it is not about ‘either or’ – it’s about more content. We write more, we produce more. This is the second time this week that I am seeing a reference to Greek Civilization. A few days ago, Asher Idan, a Lecturer in Web 2.0 and Post Modernism from the Bar-Ilan University has updated his Facebook status to say

נקודת השבר בציביליזציה , שבה המדיה החברתית-שיחתית הוחלפה במדיה מונולוגית, התרחשה ביוון: סוקרטס היה מגיב בבלוגים הלא-וירטואליים בשווקי אתונה. אפלטון כבר כתב את הדיאלוגים. אריסטו כתב מונולוגים, אלכסנדר הגדול עשה מונולוגים. עכשיו אנו מתקנים אסון שנמשך 2400 שנה

which in loose translation says:

“the breaking point in civilization, where the conversational-social media was replaced with a monologue media, happened in Greece: Socrates has ‘blogged’ in the non virtual markets of Athens, Plato wrote dialogues, Aristotle wrote monologues, Great Alexander performed monologues. We are now fixing a disaster that lasted for 2,400 years.”

A variety of tools, allowing us to voice our thoughts to different audiences, to speak directly to our audience, is breaking a communication behavior we have been conditioned into. The conversational web allows our ‘brains’ , our ‘ideas’ to converse indirectly. Clive claims that before the internet, Americans did not write anything that is not a school assignment submitted to your professor. Sadly, this would many times encourage rewriting your professor’s lecture, to quote back their ideas.  The writing into different tools and website, adapting to different audiences, the conversational web, is changing the rules, characters and versatility of writing as we know it. The conversational web and web 2.0 tools encourage then not only the production of more content, but the individual thought, the versatile thought:

We think of writing as either good or bad. What today’s young people know is that knowing who you’re writing for and why you’re writing might be the most crucial factor of all.

How do you find web 2.0 to impact and shape your communication?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 5:13 am

    Alin analysis and the two pieces from Wired Magazine, can be regarded as an exellent background for Google Wave. Wave take as beyond the dichotomy of Orality/Literacy. See also Mckluhan, Ong, Havelock, Innis, and specially J. Derrida ,” The Plato Pharmcy”

  2. alin wagner-lahmy permalink*
    September 7, 2009 12:03 pm

    Thanks Asher for these references I will be sure to check them.
    I am curious to see how Wave will contribute to the social networking and conversational web, and what does it provide, that other platforms such as Facebook doesn’t. Or maybe it will be an additional – rather than replacing – ‘market’ for users to ‘hang out’ in.

  3. September 7, 2009 12:54 pm

    Wave will be for FaceBook and the Quantum Globalization, what the Alef-Bet was for Monotheism and the Bible, and what the Printing Press was for Science and Newton

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