Shirky Remixed

I’ve been thinking a lot about Clay Shirky’s Blog post Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. I thought I’d remix some of his thoughts from this post into an educational model. All of the bold words are my changes and do not in any way reflect Shirky’s thinking. I’m just trying to wrap my head around this blog posts and thought I’d have some fun and see if I could make it work for education. See what you think! Education and Thinking the Unthinkable Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it. One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can access more information then you in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about that conversation a lot these days. The problem educators face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, and during the early 90s they came up with not just one plan but several. One was to create computer labs in common areas. Another plan was to purchase a couple of computers for the library. New teaching models such as Project-Based Learning were proposed. Alternatively, they could pursue the idea of giving every teacher a computer. Still another plan was to convince tech firms to make their hardware and software cheaper, or to partner with the businesses running data networks to achieve the same goal. Then there was the nuclear option: only allow teachers and administrators access to computers that could be tightly controlled. As these ideas were articulated, there was intense debate about the merits of computer education. Would...

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