Two interesting lectures at a symposium on the above subjects at the University of Salzburg. The first, delivered by Geert Lovink of the Institute of Network Cultures from Amsterdam, explored civic engagement by review. Lovink opened, stating: “We don’t understand a lot about the algorithmic culture but we dedicate a lot of our time to companies like Google.” True that.
His lecture illustrated the power of civic engagement through networks with a thorough case study of Wikileaks. So far, so-so…It seemed a little erratic in content: Lovinnk wondered at the volume of information in our era, despaired at the death of investigative reporting (bit of a myth/assumption there, I think) queried how we can search through this, urged us to ‘stop searching and start questioning’.
In trying to link this to education, I realised the power of the skill-sets being developed by the youth: an ability to sift, process, filter, and scan swathes of information, much like a computer does by automation. How remarkable. Yet is this search somewhat superficial, rather than in-depth? Actually, I’ve heard recently that Professors at America’s top universities insist that today’s students are arriving on a level that far exceeded those of twenty years ago. Conclusive, factual proof, then, that we are getting more intelligent as a species (but, sudden thought, what will machines do in the future when humans finally take over?).
Turning back to his case study – Wikileaks. In terms of civic engagement this lecture demonstrated that at a starting point, an activist website can rapidly go from being a single reference, to a global meme, to a political cause, to a media circus. He described this with all the Wikileak spin-off’s mobilised from its central hub, i.e. cabledrum.net, openleaks, operation blitzkrieg, hackerleaks, Murdochleaks, Guttenplag Wiki…and this list is not inclusive of the many organisations that have been unceremoniously dumped into the eye of the media storm created by Assange: the Bank of America, Canongate, Reuters, and various personalities and government departments… Civic engagement by networking, indeed.
The second lecture I have to meditate on, because it was truly fascinating and I want the next post to stand alone…not that anybody’s bloody reading…xx