Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Substance not popularity, reflection and boredom, not pace

I read with interest Frances Bell's post on Binaries, Polarization and Privacy in which she highlighted the divisive and binary nature of voting and such systems online that favors popularity over complexity and substance in online environments. Of course network theorists, such as Barabasi, have more than ten year ago shown that this development is inherent in online network forming: preferential attachment is one of the main characteristics in network forming: it is the person who gets most votes, the person who has been on the network the longest, the person who is most popular, who gets the attention, not necessarily the person who has something profound to say.

In an educational sense, this is problematic as it would be more important for people who have something valuable to say, and this might be something that is critical of the view point of the majority on the network, or a different point of view altogether, who would stimulate thought processes and debate on the network. In a learning environment where the voice of instructors is heard less and less, for instance in MOOCs, the emphasis should be on collecting the serendipitous, the slightly different to ensure a critical engagement with resources.

I would also like the incorporate here some thoughts on pace. It seems to become more and more valued to do everything fast, presumably as we have less time to give attention to each happening and piece of writing or video, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed this piece by Popova that harks back to reflections from some of the great minds of the past on 'boredom' and its importance in 'getting your act together' and being creative and making connections between information by taking the time for reflection. If there ever was a time in which boredom and reflection is important, it is today!