Monday, October 04, 2004

Communities, learning, technology, socializing and anarchy; the road we’re on.

Over the last week I learned a lot. A lot about education, learning, technology, how the brain works and the road ahead. I gestalted. The gestalt came from six primary sources;

First, I have been looking for a career change. Not really a change, more like a consolidation. I am consolidating the skills and knowledge I have from 16 years as a technologist with the 8 years I have as college faculty and technology trainer. I love to teach. Always have, most likely always will. I’m also enamored by technology, I love the wizardry. So, at 40 it makes sense that I bring it all together. So, now I’m networking, reading, talking on the phone, studying, doing what it takes to complete the consolidation.

Second, I read an article in strategy+business by Marc Prensky. (yes, I still read magazines). A great article about the language of people born after approximately 1984, they are referred to as digital natives. You can’t get the actual article on-line, you can get to a pdf on the subject via Marc’s website, it’s found in a paper titled, “digital natives, digital immigrants“. The premise of all this is that people born after 1984 (and access to the technology) have brains that are now hard wired differently than those born before 1984. This change is due to the amount of digital exposure they have had. Exposure to TV, video games, cell phones, instant messaging, email, etc… read the article, it all makes sense there.

, I was attending a workshop in my daughters school district. The workshop was called “What Kind of Education for What Kind of World?”. The key speaker was a man named, ‘John Abbott’, he is a founder of the 21st Century Learning Initiative. He talked about brain development. The very early years, the spirit of the family and close ties to others, how some learning times are better than others, the importance of the adolescent years and mentorship, how learning is also community based. All summarized in the proverb, “Tell me, and I forget; show me, and I remember; let me do and I understand.” All this happens at different times and rates as a person grows up in their community. He talked about technological change and how it is affecting everything.

Fourth, I was talking with a fellow who works for IBM in the Learning Solutions area of their practice. We had a great conversation about learning, technology and what’s next. He mentioned the concept of social networks. Social networks? look it up on google. It’s about how all the information you need can be within two degrees of separation and a whole lot more.

Fifth, the guy from IBM pointed me toward a fellow named Lawrence Lessig. He’s a lawyer / professor and he’s doing a lot of thinking, writing and work in regards to intellectual property laws and copyright. In a nutshell, and I hope I’m not simplifying too much, How do we encourage creativity when there is so much regulation and control?

Sixth, A few months ago I was working as a systems architect and I put together a comprehensive technology roadmap so we could get a better grasp of where we should be taking our financial services products. We needed some insight to what was on the technological horizon. During this I became familiar with the concept of the Municipal Area Networks. Essentially, this is a network which services a geographically contained area (municipality). This kind of network makes sense given we pay taxes so we have infrastructure within our municipality to support our lives and wellbeing. So as the online world becomes more pervasive why wouldn’t we have a network for our municipality. Think globally, act locally.

Ok, so what’s my point? Non-disclosure free zones, built upon the infrastructure of a Municipal Area Network, where all those who choose to participate work freely and without intellectual property concerns toward a stronger, smarter community. All wiki like, all ubiquitous, all with like minds, all in the same geographic community (we should still get out and be with others, it’s good for us). ommm.. can you feel it? You get younger community members who are in their intellectual flow partnered with other like minded people (their digital natives, they will do it anyway), including local experts (some older people who have ingrained knowledge, but want to hang with the natives to better understand the culture), learning, growing, innovating, invigorated… Awesome.