Monday, August 11, 2008

John McCain's Wikipedia Problem?

A Wikipedia editor notices some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. They appear similar enough that most people would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived from Wikipedia.

Read the rest of the article here...

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

That's All I Can Stands, I Can't Stands No More...

I just wrote the following in response to David Warlick's blog, Turning the Tables.

The Wikipedia outrage is great theatre, but even unfettered encyclopedic knowledge represents the most superficial aspect of learning.

I've said it a million times, but if the dominant metaphor for using a computer is looking stuff up, then kids will look up in appropriate stuff and adults will behave badly.

Did they distribute crystal balls in Vermont? Why are you engaged in predicting the future when there are things every educator can do today, that have been understood for a century or more, that will make schools better places for children immediately.

Any conference speaker arrogant enough to discuss the future of education should be required to publish their plan for reforming ONE school, complete with supporting arguments and references.

I am indebted to David Warlick for calling my attention to (soon to be?) web sensation, Epic 2015. I could not help but think that the Epic 2015 video is what an L. Ron Hubbard book report would look like if he was a 4th grader with a Macbook.

I suppose that the web video's ominous music and voice of god narration is supposed to scare me about the future in which I will be old and useless. It makes this case by reminding me that sells stuff. Sheesh! I'm unimpressed and pissed that I just wasted several minutes watching this schlock.

OK, let's say that the video's shocking future predictions come true and newspapers disappear. So???

Newspapers disappeared long ago from too many schools. A few years ago, my sensational 7th grade social studies teacher tried desperately to convince 9 of more than 100 colleagues to subscribe to the NY Times in his school 25 miles from NYC. If 10 teachers subscribed, the daily paper would almost free. If more educators read a major newspaper each day they might be less inclined to look for inspiration from speakers who fill their presentations with crappy videos.

These conference presentations are reminiscent of the Andy Kaufman Saturday Night Live routine in which he played a record of the Mighty Mouse Theme and made hand gestures as a form of lazy mime.

Where is the original thought, preparation or practical ideas worthy of an audience's attention?

I'm not a moron and I don't make educational decisions based on random business data. Recommending that school leaders take this nonsense seriously, based on nothing more than production values, will only make schools worse.

Are educators anywhere near reaching their tolerance for hooey? I've just about had it.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Official... Google IS Evil

Google's much-lauded corporate motto has been "Don't be evil."

As the company grows and its stock price approaches a squillion dollars, the company slides ever closer to the line between good and evil.

Let's put aside kowtowing to the repressive Chinese government and look a little closer to home.

The Wall Street Article, "Google Takes Aim at Wikipedia," describes how Google is creating its own site, Knol, where users can contribute expertise on any subject. Those entries will of course be presented alongside ads, Google's core business.

Picking on a non-profit global volunteer effort such as Wikipedia is really low. It reminds us that Google is a giant corporation with quarterly goals to meet and stockholders to please - not just a great big sandbox with salad bar, video games and massage chairs.

This is worth remembering as educators go gaga over the largesse of Google's "free" tools.

As my great grandmother used to say, "There's no such thing as a free search."

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Add This to the Web 2.0 Curriculum

Here's a cute little wrinkle in the Wikipedia story. CIA, FBI Computers Used for Wikipedia Edits. Apparently, the FBI and CIA are "fixing" the history of the Iraq War and the US prison in Guantanemo Bay before the history is even written. The Bush Administration has never hesitated from changing online press conference transcripts or "tinkering" with the ERIC and What Works databases. These folks sure are through!

How will you explain this to your computer literacy students?

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wikipedia's Numero Uno Editor

Smith Magazine (whatever the hell that is) has a really interesting story about Richard Farmbrough of Stamford, England. The Wizard of Wiki is an interview with the man with the largest number of entries in the history of Wikipedia.

You know what? The more I look around Smith Magazine, the more I actually dig it. I may bookmark the site or add it to my RSS feed.

Smith Magazine reminds me that the dream of my own magazine, Stager, may be within reach.

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