Amid the silly Videos and Spam are the Roots of a new Reading and Writing Culture

Does the Internet Make you Smarter” is the title of an article by Clay Shirky, published by the Wall Street Journal Online.

I wasn’t that satisfied with the title after I read the article, since I seem to have “gotten out of it” something different. The tagline,

Amid the silly videos and spam are the roots of a new reading and writing culture

seemed to be more fitting as to what what point Clay Shirky was trying to make in the article…but maybe that is only what I read into it…

Shirky’s article spoke to me. While reading it, I seemed reassured that we are on the right path. All new media and all new innovations NEED time to be experimented with, to find their niche, to develop norms and guidelines to “use it for good” and for learning. It is not something that happens naturally or instantly. Shirky gives several examples from history that make the point that with the onset of new media, there will be a tsunami of “mediocre materials” until “higher level projects” emerge.

It is our misfortune, as a historical generation, to live through the largest expansion in expressive capability in human history, a misfortune because abundance breaks more things than scarcity. We are now witnessing the rapid stress of older institutions accompanied by the slow and fitful development of cultural alternatives. Just as required education was a response to print, using the Internet well will require new cultural institutions as well, not just new technologies.

On the different token, I am experimenting with new forms of “learning” from/through different media. I blogged about “Learning from a Book“, as I took Curriculum21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs apart and remixed my understanding as visuals.

With Shirky’s article, I chose to use an app called “Sundry Notes” on my iPad and take notes, quotes, insert clipart, highlight and arrange ideas in sequence that made sense to me. This process of “taking the article apart” and re-arranging/re-mixing it helps me to digest, make sense of and connect concepts.

What if we allowed students to take books, units, articles, or lectures apart and re-mix them with and in media that make sense to them?