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Learning, Content Curators And The Politics Of Power

I found this clip of Jeff Jarvis via Johnnie Moore’s blog. Contained within it are some rather provocative ideas. A few of them are spot on (like how our educational system still operates as if it’s an industrial world). A few of them might be bullshit but I’m still debating internally.

The awesomeness comes in the form of how we interact with learning. So much of our training tells us that an A is better than a C, that a glowing performance evaluation trumps one with negative marks, that perfection looks smarter than blunders. And our training is completely wrong. As Jarvis notes, mistakes must be the goal, the object of the lesson. Life is a beta. It’s messy and complex and in constant flux. We’re never absolved of our responsibility to learn and improve.

What did sort of put a twist in my knickers were Jarvis’s arguments that all the good ideas are taken and that the best we can hope to achieve now is “curator” status. I get where he’s coming from: Why recreate the wheel when great content already exists? Creating content is about the ego and when we get in front of someone – regardless of whether its on stage, in a classroom, or on a blog – we do so in a quest for validation.

What seems to go unsaid is that the audience, student, and reader are merely passive participants of the process. That’s a mistaken assumption. Instead, we should think of content creation as an ever evolving mashup of ideas and personal experience. But maybe this is where Jarvis was trying to lead us. Maybe his idea of a curator is someone who is able to collect diverse information, mash it up, and recreate new knowledge.

What I don’t want to see is a tiered order where curators are relegated to second-class beneath the creators. In such a system, creators maintain their elite status and govern it through the power to release information and knowledge. Okay, so maybe that won’t happen like that but power is an interesting construct. Those who possess it don’t often give it up willingly. So who has power right now? And who will have it tomorrow?

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