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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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My Think Different Challenge…Or Confessions Of A Perfectionist

I’ve been tagged for the Think Differently Challenge meme by Jamie Notter and it’s one that I’ve been giving some of my best mental energy. It’s a good challenge. Like Jamie, I fully believe that “if you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” So if you’re intent on learning and evolving, you have to be prepared to see things in new ways.

First, I have to be honest…it took me a while to uncover a topic worthy enough for this particular challenge. A no-brainer might have been patience (such as having patience with my fellow motorists no matter how crazy their driving or having patience with people doing idiotic things like taking up two parking spaces…hmmm…it appears I have some vehicular issues to resolve, huh?). But my issues around patience lack flair and imagination. No…if I’m going for a challenge, let’s make it something interesting, something provocative, something that’s going to push me in a new direction.

So what is my Think Different Challenge to myself? I’m challenging myself to be less of a perfectionist. Would you like to know how much of a perfectionist I am? I started this particular post three weeks ago and haven’t been able to publish it because I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. Quite honestly, this is one of my major hang-ups when it comes to blogging and creating content for the Alchemy of Soulful Work. I have around two dozen posts in various states of completeness, but they’re still stuck in the draft folder awaiting their own state of perfection.

And it’s not just blogging…other areas of my life tend to suffer from an ingrained desire for achieving perfection. Even as a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, I continue to set an incredibly high bar for myself in my work, as well as a father and husband. Regardless of how far I’ve come, I still have plenty of work to do…so here’s my plan:

Questions, questions, questions…for me, thinking differently starts with asking questions. Here are a few that I can stash in my back pocket:

  • Is the extra attention and detail I’m putting into this ultimately worth it?
  • What am I giving up in order to keep doing this?
  • Am I willing to forgive myself if I screw up?
  • Am I willing to let go of the need to always be the “star student”?
  • What am I trying to avoid by pursuing perfection?

So here’s my post which is not – nor will it ever be – perfect. For perfectionists, this is rather like stripping down to our underwear and running down the street. But then again, nothing I do is ever perfect so donning only my skivvies on a daily basis shouldn’t be anything new, right?

Per the rules of the game, I now get to see if five others are willing to play along. You probably know the rules – they’re similar to most other memes. In this case, write a new blog post in which you “think different.” State that the post is a part of the Think Different Challenge and include a link and/ or trackback to this post so that readers know the rules of the challenge (see Jamie’s post for more info).

Annette Clancy at Interactions – Creative Strategies for Business

Arnie Herz at Legal Sanity

Debbie Call at Spirit in Gear

Patti Digh at 37 Days

Tammy Lenski at Strategic Conversations

And if I didn’t tag you here and want to play along – maybe as a part of an upcoming New Year reflection – jump on in.

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