Today's Web 2.0 story: I took this photo of Lake Champlain earlier this week, as I flew into Burlington's airport. As I learn more about photography, I'm trying out the camera on airplanes (where I spend a lot of time):
Then, when I got home, I published it to Flickr, all tagged up, positioned in my archive, waiting for comments and favoritizing.
A couple of days later NowPublic contacted me through Flickr, asking if they could use it for this story about Vermont floods caused by massive snowmelt. NowPublic is a news media project, crowdsourcing images and news reporting, a la OhMyNews!. I Twittered about this, then agreed to let them use it.
So now the image appears among several towards the top of their story page, alongside the journalistic text. Down below are links to other photos and video clips. If and when you click on my picture, they've set up a page on their site for it, along with comments, tags, RSS, and other web 2.0 goodies. Then back to my Flickr page, a comment/trackback from them appeared immediately. I'm struck by how polite this is, and how I expect some sort of response - they are using my work, so they should provide some benefit. I'm also struck by how easy this is, taking mere minutes. And how amateurish - I know so little about photography, and am not a journalist.
From an education point of view, I was initially going to remark how this plays into connectivism, and how so much of courseware has nothing to do with this kind of ecological operation. Rethinking, though, in terms of the larger web and the increasing dwelling within it of teenagers, a different point occurs to me.
If a traditionally-aged student enters college now, they're likely to have had this sort of experience, and probably many of them. They've felt the global audience kick in, experienced the rhetorical rush of seeing their work consumed by others, and watched others productively respond to it. Now that student gets to use, say, WebCT, Blackboard, or other instances of the BlackWeb ilk. Are they not required to put this experience aside? The more they use such courseware, aren't they thereby increasingly pushing aside this information ecology, unlearning from experience? It's almost a form of deskilling. Then, when they leave college, doesn't this population generally return to the social web, and therefore have to unlearn what we've tried so very hard to teach them in class after class?
I can think of two counterarguments to this. First, students continue to inhabit the read/write open web in college. Some classes use web 2.0. Students use social networking tools. And the open web of basic information and research, largely entered via Google, is increasingly web 2.0-ish.
Second, and more depressing, students come up through most K-12 in filtered and restricted environments. Then they get to enjoy walled gardens in all sorts of places, from banking software to DRM-ed media, corporate or governmental blocks to proprietary databases.
I'm going to give a talk in a few months which I've called "The Great Divide." It's one of the architectonics of our time, at a thoroughly global level. We don't talk anywhere nearly enough about it in higher education. The theme is really inescapable for me, these days. Of course, your reading these words only happens because I publish them on one side of the divide.
I blogged about two related web 2.0 network ecologies stories last month.