Close to finishing Jaron Lanier‘s excellent book: ‘You are not a gadget’. For someone like me who promotes social networking and web 2.0 Lanier certainly asks some tough questions. I will comment in more detail in a later post – but I have to say his criticism of our obsession with the wisdom of crowds and of Wikipedia make a great deal of sense. When I studied English in High School the cheat guides to the classical texts e.g. Hamlet, Persuasion, etc were Coles’ Notes. They provided you with bullet proof analysis/ critiques for the texts – but obviated the need for original thinking/ imagination/ creativity. Likewise Lanier argues that crowds will never produce original thinking on a par with an Einstein.
Today read an interesting piece in the New York Times on Hasbro‘s plans to dumb down a number of their games e.g. Monopoly. They are making an effort to make the games more attractive through inclusion of some unnecessary technology – dressed up as a way to prevent cheating! Seems to me cheating was always part of the fun in these board games. More interestingly they also comment on the fact that younger people’s attention spans are continuing to shrink. Without doubt this is a serious challenge for all educators. And Web 2.0 has contributed significantly to the problem.