I Feel the Same Way:

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On Norman Foster’s controversial $300-million-plus redesign for the New York Public Library’s main branch:

A handsome design fitted to the specifications of a high-end airport cafe and shopping arcade, but my sensibility is at least 50 years behind both the times and the curve. In a library I like to feel that I’m in the company of books. –Lewis Lapham

I have never been to a real library. I once read a book in the summer of 1986. This library looks like it has way too many books. It looks like they are trying to confuse people with all the books. –Harmony Korine

Connected Learning and the Geeks

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There is nothing about the mixing of peer culture, personal interests, and education that require the following:

“Digital tools provide opportunities for producing and creating a wide variety of media, knowledge, and cultural content in experimental and active ways.”

“Social media and web-based communities provide unprecedented opportunities for cross-generational and cross-cultural learning and connection to unfold and thrive around common goals and interests.”

“Online platforms and digital tools can make learning resources abundant, accessible, and visible across all learner settings.”

– Mizuko Ito, et al. Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design, p.74

They are certainly integral to the case studies that were presented: Massive Multi-Player Online Games, Screenwriting, Webcomics, Hip-Hop Production, programs at magnet schools in New York City, Minecraft, The Harry Potter Alliance, and afterschool programs backed by major research universities. Which is to say this: they are thoughtful and well-meaning, but still interventions which rely on the cultures and models of the dominant and elite in the United States, and with the exception of hip-hop, they tend to valorize silicon valley’s geek culture, and integrate it into a continually worsening economic system.

But “information” was never enough. Information is only intelligible given the proper knowledge, context, and opportunity. Likewise, knowledge is produced and shared within a complex infrastructure supported by a web of different agencies and organizations. Even if made cheap or free for consumers, that knowledge still requires other, more foundational knowledge, community affiliation, and economic freedom to convert into meaningful use.

Education, particularly the education of populations that most need it to improve their lot, is tied up with a political and economic situation that is not sufficiently addressed by merely connecting some of its output to the Internet, or by abdicating public responsibility to do otherwise to the first salesman who offers a sort-of viable alternative, no more than better night travel by car in Atlanta would be sufficiently supported by allowing private companies to connect to the electrical grid, or by providing government subsidies to flashlight manufacturers.

-Ian Bogost, Inequality in American Education will not be Solved Online

Although the examples provided by the Connected Learning group do provide plenty of knowledge, context, and opportunity, they largely reproduce their own subculture’s knowledge, context, and opportunities, and even the name “connected leaning” leans heavily enough on a computer network analogy that you can hear the cooling fans humming. Jocks and other non-geeks need not apply.

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