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26 October 2008

Social Implications of Social Computing #3

  • Growth of knowledge
  • Too much knowledge to keep in our heads
  • No more epic poetry
In our tribal past there was a need to keep knowledge in our own heads for use by the individual and for sharing with others, hence the popularity of oral learning such as epic poetry.  For example, great literature as we know it today, but in their time the Iliad and Odyssey were spoken verse.  And that tradition was an important part of learning.

But now we have far surpassed the ability of any human to retain the sum of useful knowledge in their own head. This means that our learning practices need to change.  

This gives rise to two things related to knowledge and our access to it. Firstly, the storage media for knowledge is changing – from oral to paper to digital (and here I include text, hypertext, audio, video and whatever gets invented next.) 

Secondly, there are still some essential knowledge frameworks that must be resident inside our heads for us to be able to decode the storage media. For example, the ability to read is critical.

Thus we still need to equip people with the basic tools of literacy.  But those tools we need to use for broader sensemaking are changing. 

Perhaps it is time to consider adding some tools for thinking to our educational repertoire  – Getting Things Done, goal setting, lateral thinking? Also perhaps time to consider how we can meet affiliation needs by offering collaboration opportunities via technology tools – such as wikis, blogs, social networks?

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

3 comments:

Allison said...

You don't believe that songwriting is a significant example of storytelling that remains strong in the Post Modern Age?

Kate Carruthers said...

I believe that songs or story telling are no longer the only mechanism to transmit information or share knowledge in modern westernized societies. In the past these were our only option. We have books, print & information technology based media for that purpose. However, I do think that songs & stories remain effective ways to share ideas with people. There is current work in Africa about the importance handwashing & hygiene in the fight against disease that is using songs in schools to get the message out. Even the Wiggles are helping with that message. This is necessary because in that environment it is not possible to rely on TV, newspaper or the internet as we in the West would do. And, while songs remain inefficient mechanisms for sharing complex & detailed ideas or specifications, they are a good way to reinforce information already distributed via other media.

Kate Carruthers said...

... oh and I meant purely oral transmission of information.

For education I think we need to use multiple media and spaced repetition. For example: audio + written + activities + video