Because I work at a university library, part of my job involves teaching workshops. Last winter I began teaching online for the first time. My coworker Diane and I created a course designed to train our library's staff on web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, social networking sites, and more. A local public library director also took the course. He liked it so much he wanted to make it available to his staff. Diane and I were happy to do that as we had learned so much as novice online instructors. We were eager to create a new and improved version of the course and we offered it this past July-August.
In the summer course one of our students posted the video below to our online discussion on YouTube. In a very thought provoking way this video titled "The Machine is Us/ing Us" explains what web 2.0 is about in less than 5 minutes. For my deaf readers I want to reassure you that it's not captioned because it doesn't need to be. The soundtrack is only instrumental music. All the information you need is visual. Check it out and then read below for my further thoughts on the video's message.
I was really struck by the video's assertion that we are teaching "the machine" [ourselves] every time we participate in social networking online. I immediately wanted to read the entire article that the video highlights briefly. I found it in Wired magazine's August 2005 issue. Wired 13.08: We Are the Web
The premise of the article is that in 1995 we couldn't have imagined what the Internet was to become in 10 years time. Here's a section of the article I found fascinating (keep in mind the article is now 3 years old):
"The scope of the Web today is hard to fathom. The total number of Web pages, including those that are dynamically created upon request and document files available through links, exceeds 600 billion. That's 100 pages per person alive.
How could we create so much, so fast, so well? In fewer than 4,000 days, we have encoded half a trillion versions of our collective story and put them in front of 1 billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population. That remarkable achievement was not in anyone's 10-year plan...
No Web phenomenon is more confounding than blogging. Everything media experts knew about audiences - and they knew a lot - confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment. Everyone knew writing and reading were dead; music was too much trouble to make when you could sit back and listen; video production was simply out of reach of amateurs. Blogs and other participant media would never happen, or if they happened they would not draw an audience, or if they drew an audience they would not matter. What a shock, then, to witness the near-instantaneous rise of 50 million blogs, with a new one appearing every two seconds. There - another new blog! One more person doing what AOL and ABC - and almost everyone else - expected only AOL and ABC to be doing. These user-created channels make no sense economically. Where are the time, energy, and resources coming from? The audience."
In my job I see people interact with computers every day at my library. (The photo at left shows half of my library's computer area.) With a little imagination, I can see all these blank screens as windows into the human experience. If as the author of the article and the producer of the video believe, we are truly teaching the "machine" [each other] by blogging about our unique experience as a human on this particular planet in this specific era, then our blogging is important. The "machine" needs to know what it's like to be D/deaf or hard of hearing. Who can teach it? We can by blogging our stories, our opinions, our disappointments, and our dreams. Don't be afraid to add your voice to the online chorus. The "machine's" [our] education will be incomplete without you.