Since around 1995, when the Internet was commercialized for the general public, millions and millions of us have enjoyed one of the great resources in the history of human communication (and I mean going back not just to telegraph and telephone but, according to historian Robert Darnton, going all the way back, to the invention of writing, in 4000 BC Mesopotamia). The World Wide Web, that open system of all the world’s documents in all the media that sits upon the Internet, is there for most of us, now even accessible through very inexpensive mobile devices that connect even the world’s poorest. And Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, and many other experts is concerned that, unless we all champion the Open Web, we are going to lose it. What a tragedy for human kind!
We have lots of hierarchical, closed systems divided up in specialized fields and disciplines, all inspired by the divisions of labor and task necessary for the industrial age. We’re in a new age now and we need institutions that inspire us and support us and help us learn how to (you guessed it): Think Big. Build Open. Power Everyone.
Our current system of education is priced out of the market of many, often prepares students for jobs that no longer exist, and shortchanges those with different talents and interests that are not encompassed by the basic college curriculum. If we want to address the drop out rate, offering more diverse education . . . is a better, more positive way of diversifying education than labeling students and creating special education courses for the “attention disabled.” Are they disabled or disinterested?”
You probably know that I blog several times a week on the www.hastac.org site as “Cat in the Stack.” I co-founded HASTAC (“haystack”) in 2002, and it has grown from an idea to a network of nearly 5000 individuals and a hundred institutions dedicated to new ways of learning, working, and thinking together in the digital age. I’m very proud of HASTAC but, at the same time, as Founding Mother, I have to maintain a modicum of decorum there.