The fly in the ointment.

I love books but when I am looking for a break from the denseness of text, I really enjoy slideshare.net as an alternative. I follow a bunch of different people from the fields of design, education and technology. One of my favourites is Norwegian digital designer, Helge Tenno. These are his slides from a TEDx presentation:

I love the sharing aspect of collective technology. The fact that ideas from one end of the world can be shared with the other in a blink of an eye fascinates me. Tenno’s presentation really forces us to remember though that “all that glitters is not gold.” The price to pay for this kind of sharing is the echo chamber. Rather than challenging the status quo, our online world has the potential to reenforce long-held beliefs if we are not careful. “If we only share what we like. What happens to the stuff that we don’t like?”; I invite the brave amoungst us to reflect on that hand grenade. To really move our education system forward, we have to avoid confirmation bias at all costs. Sharing is amazing if we have the ability to take those ideas and reflect upon them. Accepting them at face value can create massive group-think. Opening ourselves up to the cranks who bring up the dreaded “other side of the coin” has real value. Without a healthy respect for contrarian ideas, we will see ourselves degenerating into the MSNBC vs. Fox News dichotomy south of the border.

Tenno’s reference of  Kirby’s Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix” is an important one. Ferguson points out, in his documentary, that of the top ten grossing films from each of the last ten years, 74% were either sequels or adaptations of books, comic books, other movies or video games. Pinterest, Scoop.it, Paper.li, and others are great curation options. They allow us to catalogue stuff that we like and share it with others. I use them and love them. There are countless other curation sites that our students use regularly. They have value but we have to instill a creator’s mentality into our kids as well. The ideas of others can be inspirational but only if we act upon them rather than letting them sit like a dust-collector on a shelf. This is true for all learners both the big ones and the little ones.

It becomes paramount that we create the right environment for creativity and innovation or we risk creating a generation of curators. David Kelley from IDEO does a great job of addressing this area in his recent TED talk:

The right classroom, school and system environment allows our kids to take the abundance of information available to them and do something with it. In order to reach this place of creative acceptance, we have to listen to those contrarians; those who can really tick us off. It is in those dissenting voices that we might find that missing fragment of an idea to really create something wonderful. I have to admit, I am not very good at this. I put the blinders on from time to time and really get got in the echo chamber.  Curious to know, how do others deal with the echo chamber and the potential of curation over creation?