Free?

The Instagram controversy, however, highlights a more universal truth: very little in life — online or otherwise — really is free.

No matter how seductive the internet can be, and how entitled users of various services may feel, there is ultimately a cost to every keystroke or click, even if no money changes hands.

via cbc.ca

Excerpted from: The Instagram dust-up: Is anything really free online? – Technology & Science – CBC News (link above).

This article uses the uproar over Instagram to point out a truism – ‘free’ is not really free.

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The Internet: More than a place to look stuff up

it is clear the majority of the world still thinks of the internet as a giant encyclopedia filled with information that may or may not be reliable.  The idea that the development of a reliable global network of learners that provide ideas, information, inspiration and encouragement is still foreign to the majority of teachers and parents.

In this post, “For Most, It’s Still a Giant Encyclopedia”, Dean talks about the need to keep explaining that the Internet is much more than a source of information. I use this slide (a variant of it from my friend @dkuropatwa, below) in most of my presentations too. Do you use the Internet to connect, build relationships & share – or to just look things up?

Look Stuff Up (remix)

Change – or a return to the past?

A group of Danish academics say we are passing through the other side of what they wonderfully call the Gutenberg Parenthesis, leaving the structured, serial, permanent, authored, controlled era of text and returning, perhaps, to what came before the press: a time when communication and content cross, when process dominates product, when knowledge is distributed by people passing it around, when we remix it along the way, when we are more oral and aural.

This comment struck a chord with me since I heard a similar sentiment expressed at a recent conference (Social Justice: Educating for ACTion). One of the keynotes was Wade Davis, an anthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence. His talk was mesmorizing, he held the rapt attention of about 700 delegates with his stories of travels and insights. Several things he said stood out, but he did talk about new technolgies (multimedia) as a kind of return to the ancient traditions of storytelling with visual and oral elements, rather than text. As an aside, another statement that struck me was when he was talking about the destruction of indegeneuos cultures, languages and nautural habitat – essentially he stated that the problem is not change, and is not technology, but is often the greed and self-serving interests of globalization and multinationals, many times by people in far off places. So, do the modern communication methods of multimedia, hypertext and open publishing hark back to what came before Gutenburg?

A video of a talk by Wade Davis, similar to the one described briefly above, follows. It well worth a listen:

 

“Bullying”

And here’s where we run into another major component of bullying… attention. In a world of brands and marketing, there’s a sentiment that there is no such thing as bad attention. Countless teens are desperately seeking attention. And there’s nothing like “starting drama” to guarantee both attention and entertainment. So teens jump in, adding fuel to the flame because it’s fun. They know that it hurts, but it also feels good sometimes too. And this is what makes music videos like Eminem & Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” resonate with both adults and teens. The drama is half the fun, even when it hurts like hell.

Combating bullying is not going to be easy, but it’s definitely not going to happen if we don’t dive deep in the mess that underpins it and surrounds it. Lectures by uncool old people like me aren’t going to make teens who are engaged in dramas think twice about what they’re doing. And, for that matter, using the term “bullying” is also not going to help at all either. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life. The issues here are systemic. And it’s great that the Internet is forcing us to think about them, but the Internet is not the problem here. It’s just one tool in an ongoing battle for attention, validation, and status. And unless we find effective ways of getting to the root of the problem, the Internet will just continue to be used to reinforce what is pervasive.

This excerpt is from the blog of danah boyd (apophenia), one of the leading experts on teens & social media. In this fascinating post, danah discusses teen’s views of bullying and makes some excellent points (I encourage you to read the entire post!). I agree completely when she writes (above) about systemic root causes of bullying. Kids see adults bullying all the time – in the home, schools, workplaces, in the media. This is not to impy that we should accept this behaviour and not address the problem when it occurs, however, adults need to model anti-bullying behaviour as well and not, as danah points out, validate these behaviours. Increasingly we see the Internet, and networks like Facebook, blamed for bullying, while this inappropriate use must be addressed, we can’t forget that it is the behaviour at fault, not the technology.

How can we best attack the problem of violent & abusive behaviour – at any age?