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  1. #11
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    I have been listening to the radio at work for the last couple weeks and every Wednesday afternoon there's a program called 'Spark', which is about "21st Century life" and purports to "guide you through this dynamic era of technology-led change, and connects your life to the big ideas changing our world right now".

    It seems that every weekly broadcast contains a segment with author Howard Rheingold, who has written a book called "Net Smart: How to Thrive Online".

    http://rheingold.com/netsmart/

    This past week he talked about participating in the online world, rather than being merely a consumer: http://www.cbc.ca/spark/popupaudio.h...Ids=2299880249

    It reminded me of part of 'We, the Web Kids":

    Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information.
    I wonder what the proportion of people "sharing their expertise" is compared to the overall number of people who use the internet. Anecdotally it seems very small, which carries a danger with it: Web Kids might not become experts in anything. If there aren't any experts then information disseminated on the internet becomes useless, if it is disseminated at all.


    It makes me think about things like Facebook and Twitter too, because social networking seems to be in a grey area between sharing one's experiences and 'consuming' other people's experiences. Then again Rheingold says toward the end of this segment, about Twitter:

    "Small talk lubricates trust, and trust leads to disclosure, so you're not always wasting your time online when you're making small-talk and getting to know people: you may be building trust that would be very useful to you when you need to know something later."


    (I haven't read Rheingold's book but I did find it interesting that this 'guide' to being a good online citizen is not available for download in PDF or ePub format from his website. Instead you click on a link marked "BUY THE BOOK" and it shunts you over to Amazon.com, where you can buy a hardcover copy for US$16.47 (ON SALE! 34% OFF!) or a Kindle edition for $14.99. For a guy who purports to know a lot about being a savvy 'netizen' you'd think he might have done something like Louis CK did: sell an electronic copy of the book straight from his own website for a nominal fee. Louis CK sells DRM-free audio and video copies of his comedy shows for $5. That goes back to the discussion above, about antiquated media distribution models. Rheingold's seems rather pedestrian and ordinary for a self-professed internet expert.)

  2. #12
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    @93JC

    You're not going to find the experts on Facebook or places like that. They typically aren't all that interested in mixing an expert field with mundane blathering.

    For the most part these experts tend to congregate in more exclusive groups, in technical forums and on IRC. For the most part, they are not very welcoming for the average person. They usually will teach you things if you show that you are willing to do the work on your own and think for yourself.

    Information is open but it is open for those who are willing to search, work, and learn on their own first. There are highly knowledgeable people who will help somebody who shows initiative and honestly can't figure it out just on their own, but if somebody is not even able to utilize a simple search engine, these experts will more than likely tell them to piss off.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    You're not going to find the experts on Facebook or places like that. They typically aren't all that interested in mixing an expert field with mundane blathering.
    I didn't mean to suggest that Facebook and the like would be the places to learn calculus and astrophysics. I was speaking of the Web Kids' "shared external memory" and Rheingold's suggestion to participate rather than consume. I was trying to ask rhetorically if Facebook could or should be considered 'participating' in the online world, which is an interesting contradiction considering the crux of Facebook's existence is 'sharing'. Is 'sharing' the same thing as 'participating', or is 'sharing' a form of 'consuming'? You just called it "mundane blathering", so obviously you find that what is being shared on social networks is of questionable value.

    In a way Facebook is the antithesis of 'participating'. Some have accused Facebook of trying to 'AOLify' the internet, trying to convince the naive that Facebook is the internet. In that way it is very much a closed space, walling people off from participating at large; like I said, an interesting contradiction considering the crux of Facebook's existence is 'sharing', or in other words being open.

    Information is open but it is open for those who are willing to search, work, and learn on their own first. There are highly knowledgeable people who will help somebody who shows initiative and honestly can't figure it out just on their own, but if somebody is not even able to utilize a simple search engine, these experts will more than likely tell them to piss off.
    I don't question this assessment but I do find it interesting that it runs contrary to the original article. In other words you seem to be saying people who want to learn something from others must first learn on their own. They need to gain a certain level of competence before an 'expert' will help them, whereas the author of the article says that expertise is very openly available and Web Kids need know things only superficially.

    Maybe it's a disconnect between what the author thinks of 'expertise' and what you or I think of. Maybe the author is wrong, in that true expertise is something that is still very difficult to find, whereas what I think of as "general knowledge" is very easy to find on the internet. It's easy to look something up on Wikipedia, but Wikipedia only goes into a certain level of depth. If Web Kids don't feel the need to be experts then who will write the Wikipedia articles, let alone be the repositories of information found in back-room technical forums and IRC channels?

  4. #14
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    @93JC

    Yeah, I think the guy is talking about superficial stuff. In this context they are probably referring to information about how to cook a turkey or how to change your screen resolution. I think that is where this discrepancy comes from - when people start touting this sort of thing, it's usually pertaining to braindead stuff.

    "AOLified stuff that them newfangled kids do" would be a good way of putting it I think.

    Edit:
    Also, yeah making friends does help, social networking can get you in with an expert that will help you out, but this isn't necessarily available 'in seconds'. Helping people learn stuff in any kind of non-superficial field can be difficult and taxing though, and a lot of people who actually are experts don't have the time for it unless it's worth it to take the person under their wing.

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