You really cannot make this stuff up, but someone out there actually does…

Take a look at that imagery- is that a bicycle anyone wants to ride? Is that an education anyone wants? Can you find any problems with the symbolism? Maybe not.

Me, because I just cannot get enough chasing down the internet, I want to know where the heck the image came from. The internet provides a lot of media, but more and more, no vestige of a credit, no prospect of an attribution (and yes, for anyone keeping metaphor score, that’s the second time in a month I’ve used a James Hutton reference).,

So I start with a search in google images for “bicycle of education” (quotes to get the full phrase) and bingo, first result gets me a match in the data is ugly subreddit. Enjoy the thrashing in the comments.

187 upvotes in a data is ugly subreddit. Fame.

But the link that was posted here merely points to an image uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Here it is once more so you can relish the infographiness of it.

The "bicycle of education"
The “bicycle of education”

This is all we know about it now, a URL https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/21st_Century_Trilling.jpg

But Wikimedia Commons is unlike other places on the internet, every image there has information associated with it- if you can find the entry. But search Wikimedia Commons on “Bicycle of Education: comes up empty.

Back up again. Look at the file name 21st_Century_Trilling.jpg – it does not identify itself as “bicycle of education” thats what the yucksters in reddit did. What does “trilling” mean in this context?

I don’t know, but searching Wikimedia Commons for “21st Century Trilling” gets me more info, the Wikimedia Commons meta data for this image.

The image is licensed Creative Commons Share Alike. I have to like it that even bad infographics are doing well to be shared under Creative Commons. The information on the image is sparse:

trilling-summary

But we have a name. Charles Faden uploaded this, and it is his own work. Blame Chuckie.

Let’s go back to Google, and search there on the same keywords “21st Century Trilling”— BINGO!

trilling search

Trilling is a name, a co-author of Charlie Faden, and their book is 21st Century Skills (featuring a glowing review by Dr Grit).

I’m not going to buy the book, but I would bet a beer that the Bicycle of Education is in it.

Who cares?

Something always emerges in these hunts. Someone else in the reddit thread suggests this is a more worth bicycle diagram

krebs-cycle

but I’mm be damned if I’m going to go look for the source of that (well not tonight).

And MediaWiki Commons has a boat load of bicycle diagram images, thankfully, most of them represent bicycles.

I’d love to teach some lesson of critical thinking starting with that “bicycle of education” but instead I’m going to hop on my teacher set, click through my learning gears, and get my student wheel spinning…


Top / Featured Image: flickr photo by katerha https://flickr.com/photos/katerha/4894373985 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The post "It’s Like Riding an Infographic" was originally zapped with 10,000 volts and declared "It's ALIVE" by Dr. Frankenstein at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2016/06/riding-an-infographic/) on June 1, 2016.

5 Comments

  • Maha Bali

    This would be cool not only to teach critical thinking (your digging does that more than just the image, right?) but also to teach about bad visualization – that you don’t necessarily make it good just coz u made it visual (gosh lots of graphs are like that). I often start such discussions with “what’s wrong with….?” to avoid anyone thinking I want them to actually like it (could get embarrassing)

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I might not start the discussion with “what’s wrong with” because you are already tipping off to students that you think there is something wrong, and they will follow their lead rather than learn to develop their own analytical skills. I’d like to see them figure out of there is a problem at all, and thus start with a mix of good and bad examples.

      That’s one part of this- the other is the issue in a world of retweeting/reblogging/link passing that the context of the original is detached from the media, there is no caption (I go back to Errol Morris on the importance of image captions http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/pictures-are-supposed-to-be-worth-a-thousand-words/?_r=0) Maybe the authors that used this image were highly critical of it? We do not know, because we live in this economy where context is lost from shared media.

  • iamTalkyTina

    Well, hello Still True Friend Alan!

    It should be a special assignment in the DS 106 assignment bank called “Bad Infographic: The Bicycle of MOOCs.” And in it, you get to make a bad info graphic out of the bicycle but with MOOCs parts.

    That would be a fun time.

    Well, bye!

  • Alyson Indrunas

    Hey Alan,
    I don’t respond to your work enough so let me try to redeem myself. When I first saw that infographic years back, I kinda liked it. Having a bike connected to learning–as simplisticly crappy as it is–was really exciting to me. I’m sometimes easily entertained, truly. Here’s what I always wanted to create but never found the time to remix. This info-graphic-y (pronounced “infograph-icky”) message suggests only one rider with learning. One person who pedals yet the wheels signify two different audiences–the teacher and the student. Wait. What? I’m so confused! The bike is nothing without the rider. The charm of seeing a bike inthe infographic suddenly wears off. Had I had the time, I wanted to create a tandem bike and remix this whole idea. Maybe someday. Maybe learning is a tandem bike where there is the stoker and a driver within a peloton. Trust between two people or more. I kinda see it like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandem#/media/File:Flory_och_Elin.jpg
    Anyways, I love the rusty bike photo FWIW. At some point in time, somebody was really happy to ride that bike now rusting away. Interesting post, and thank you for walking the interwebs.

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