Battleground future

A few people have been blogging about the battle for the future (coming to a cinema near you), particularly as it relates to how people feel about technological change. Stowe Boyd has been getting in to some good discussions. After Virginia Postrel he calls web 2.0 detractors enemies of the future. He says that Postrel “argues that these conflicting views of progress, rather than the traditional left and right, increasingly define our political and cultural debate.” I think there might be something in this. Left and right, as others have argued, are in some ways definitions from the last century. Other polar opposites have been suggested such as fundamentalism and moderatism, east and west, etc. I do wonder how much of my reaction to events is grounded in my general pro-technology and change stance, regardless of left and right.

I don’t go in for the rather confrontational stance of Postrel or Boyd however, particularly in education, there are those who have valid reservations, have seen a lot of it before, and may just take longer to get around to this stuff. I remember Peter Knight saying to me, after I had been disgruntled about a negative reaction to some proposed change, that disruption was one of the things he relished about academic life. My concern about this labelling anyone who doesn’t agree with us about the wonders of new technology as an enemy, we are stifling valid debate. But, as I’ve posted before, I think a lot of surface valid reasons often hide a much more fundamental position on technology and change.

And then via John Connell there is a quote from Alan Kay, who inverts his own ‘the best way to predict the future is to invent it’ maxim to ‘the best way to predict the future is to prevent it.’

This did make me stop and think. Rather than just being reticent about change, the opposers could be seen as deliberately trying to limit the future. As Stowe Boyd suggests with web 2.0 we need to let it run. This sense of openness is a real mind shift. I came across a good presentation from Brian Kelly (via Beth’s Blog), who has a quote from Michael Nowlan who says his mantra is now ‘Yes before no; allow before disallow; open rather than closed; connect to the network on a device-agnostic basis.’ That could be an approach for any educator, not just an IT director and is very much about letting go of control – control of content, control of interaction, control of the environment, control of the future.

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