I keep running into the term post-modernism and I think it applies to us all. Life as a 21st century educator (building a PLN, participating in Web 2.0, and constantly striving toward best practices of learning in global participatory digital culture) is a fascinating, yet paradoxical adventure. We now live in an era of metaliteracy, metadata, and perhaps “metalife”. We no longer plant, harvest, and cook our food, like The Little Red Hen, because we enjoy our modern conveniences. Yet, we are busier than ever “growing” our networks and “creating/curating” our content.
What powerful tools we have to connect on a global scale! I have colleagues in Greece, Australia, Great Britain and all over the globe. Some have actual met me physically and some have not. Does it matter? In a long ago era (think prior to the Internet), it mattered. To meet someone meant to look into their eyes, to see the lines of age and experience or the wide-eyed innocence of youth. That meeting was the opportunity to get a sense of one’s physical presence. But today, perhaps the digital presence supercedes the physical one. As digital devices have become top priority for communication, our metaselves have become “us”. I don’t mean to sound like a dark futurist or a stuffy academic philosopher. Maybe I am just a rambling librarian who wants to hang onto something physical like a book (and you can read tons of articles about why you would want to! Ebooks are never really owned- only licensed temporarily).
What is interesting is how we pick and choose our personal/professional learning networks (or our online communities for those outside of education) as though we are critically evaluating people as data. A century ago, the number of people we encountered, whether brilliant, annoying, or comical, was limited. Today, we have a flood of information and a flood participants in our incoming stream of networked applications. Today, we can not only curate and critically evaluate information topics, we can curate the people who share the content.
I do think we need to remember one thing. People are more important than data. Behind these words, your words, your online curation, your tweets, and behind every keyboard- is a person. A living person is more than algorithms of interests, more than big data. Maybe, if I take a break and breathe deeply, I will allow serendipity to occur and life to be simply lived. To be alive is miraculous and the funny thing is… just when I think I am grasping the concept of post-modernism- I learn that post-modernism is over. We are entering post– post-modernism. That doesn’t scare me. I am getting used to not understanding life.