modified from graphic generated at

WHat’s in your wallet?

I’ve spent a few days reflecting, rehashing, or maybe just recycling something that happened last week. It’s given me some pause, yet given that my position is to use my blog as a place to work out ideas, I;m walking the dog. (My new motto s whenever I feel a cliche coming out of me to mix it up with another one).

Last week I participated in a DML web discussion, coordinated by Jabiz Raisdana on Authentic Student Blogging: Empowering Student Voice in the Social Media Age. I was eager to be part of this, along with Howard Rheingold as host/emcee, Bud Hunt, Alec Couros, Jim Groom, and Melanie McBride. It was too abd Melanie was not there for many reasons, one of which was te all, ahem, maleness of the panel, gathered in a Google Hangout with the session livestreamed out to a larger audience:

It was a great group to sit around and talk/banter, and in many ways, was a lot of us “old guard” bloggers talking about what we have evolved too. Even as I was talking, I had my own slight awareness that this place of where I have gotten to n my blogging wa snot where I started, and I cannot even recall how long it took (or maybe still in progress) to find a voice.

Then again, I browse back to my blogging from my first month in, May 2003, and I am already a smart-ass.

Anyhow, I found it a good discussion, as the moderaters told us an hour went by,

I was taken back a bit when what I thought was a discussion about student blogging was perceived by Lisa Lane as an unhelpful dichotomy:

It seems that there now exists a two-sided model for discussing the intersection of education and web technology, wherein both parties disdain the other’s point of view.

In one corner, we have the edu-techno-utopians, which includes many wonderful people whose work I deeply respect. They want learning out in the open, freed from the constraints of systems (and sometimes schools), where students control their own web spaces, their own digital identities, their own destiny.

In the other corner, we have the cautious majority, worried about exposing our young people to bullying, stalking, identity theft, unemployableness (is that a word?) and other harm. They want protected spaces, gentle slopes of learning, adult control of the environment.

Until recently, the two parties (and many others) were engaged in active and productive discussion. Now their explorations have hardened into positions, pro or con, for or against.

I struggled to understand how that came across, but the first thing helpful to do here (I hope) is to drop the defenses, and try on this assertion. Because if that came across to someone as a perception, whether I agree with it or not, it feels real to the other person.

Am I an edu-techno-utopian who disdains the cautious majority? That felt a bit yucky.

But there is soe basis. I had been trying to more hard slinging stuff, The Question Should Be: Why Are You *Not* Blogging:

In last week’s pre class discussion for the Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class I kind of jumped on someone in the chat who said “I do not have time to blog”. I was probably kind of rude, but I refuse to buy that as an excuse. It’s a copout.

Yes, I know people are busy. But if you give me a detailed log of everything you do in a week, a detailed chronology, I will find the time for you. What you are really saying is, “It is not important enough for me to prioritize what I do” Why not just own that? or “Although I am delighted to consume and reuse open content and information from the nwtworked world, I am not really interested enough in contributing back.”

Kids have a name for that”“ “stingy”.

Yeah, that might be disdain for people who don’t blog. My aim is to stir people up, to come back and counter. But yes, yhr author sounds a bit pompous.

And I went even on more with You Gotta Know When to Walk where I railed a bit about the approach in the online class Lisa was coordinating that I signed up for and then bailed.

So is there really a dichotomy? Are people really on sides? Is there a fog of mistrust? Is the openness closed?

I d not have a disdain for people new to technology who want to embrace it; the disdain I have is for ones who seem to want to stay in what seems like a place of learned helplessness, of telling themselves they cannot do something without even trying, And its not disdain for the person, it is the attitude.

In general I loathe the idea of dichotomies- in fact, in regards to human behavior, I find them all false. We are all on continuum of interests, attitudes, capabilities, and I find the binary construct one hard to accept.

It’s not that the methods/strategies I have been using in being part of ds106, the “throw ’em in and help ’em swim” is right for everyone. Nor is it necessarily true that the methodology Lisa uses is universally applicable. This seems patently obvious, but the assertion of dichotomies suggests to me, if you construct that as a view, then you also buy into ideas that one method always supersedes the other.

I firmly believe the approach Lisa takes is sound because it has developed out of her experience in working with the faculty she coaches. At the same time I am rather convinced the semi-structured approaches we have been trying in ds106 are also effective, or at least worth investigating. Isn’t there room on the spectrum for both (and many more approaches) to be in use? What does this have to do with camps and people being on opposite sides of things?

Yet as I write these things, I have to accept that in some ways I have been asserting this approach I have been using as being a “better” way, and I hope to be more aware of that as not being an attitude I want to be suggesting is “right”.

I don’t believe in this dichotomy, but if people sense there is one, I have to consider what my part in that might be.

The word “Utopian” is not one I like bearing, but I will take on being a Churchillian optimist

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for cogdog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Alan,

    I connected with so many things you wrote today. I too feel that I need to contribute back to online communities and have re-started my humble tech blog and licensed more of my flickr photos to creative commons. I laughed out loud at the Winston Churchill quote, not in a mocking way but more in meta-cognitive agreement way. And I like your dislike of dichotomies. Continuums work for me in oh so many ways, relating to most of my personal interests and self-definitions.

  2. I have my students blogging, and I definitely had to tell them that if they had reasons to not have their real identity on the open web, a pseudonym was okay. We live in a strange world where women get stalked and men are trying to live down former notoreities and the school seems legally bound not to reveal any information about them.

    It’s not so much a dichotomy as having to throw our arms open really wide to get around both sides of the beast.

    And I disdain people who disdain other people! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *